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Odoyle
Sep 9, 2003
Odoyle Rules!

I've been awaiting a forum like this since discussion of HTPCs is pretty muted over in SH/SC, so let's talk HTPCs!

I've been gathering components for quite a while now (years if you consider all the crappy software-encoding TV cards I've been purchasing since the 90s) but I've yet to actually build my HTPC yet. I'm planning on using MediaPortal since it seems pretty robust and free as my front-end interface. I'm also not too sold on using it as a PVR right off the bat since my TV cards are not readily supported these days in Windows (however, I could probably get decent results with my Matrox Marvel G400 in MythTV if I decided to try a dual-boot linux box). Initially, I'll just be using the HTPC to output DVI-to-HDMI for playback of HD content to my Panasonic plasma tv.

The main reason I haven't built my HTPC yet, though, is that I've not yet got a case for it. My plan is (secret) but I'll post photos once I get the right part. It should be pretty cool once I'm done.

So, let's hear about your HTPCs if you've already got one built and what tips you have for building one.

Edit: There's now a new thread for discussion of HTPC software ("front ends"): http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2874933

Edit: Since this has been stickied I'm going to start updating the root post (thanks for the suggestion Fiverson)

Online Resorces

Forums
HTPC News - http://www.htpcnews.com
Green Button - http://www.thegreenbutton.com
AVS Forum - http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=26

Parts
PC Alchemy - http://www.pcalchemy.com

Guides
http://www.geardigest.com/2005/10/0...ome_theater_pc/ (Windows)
http://www.ramelectronics.net/html/HTPC.html (Windows)
http://www.linuxis.us/linux/media/h...htpc/index.html (Linux)

Odoyle fucked around with this message at 13:40 on Jun 13, 2008

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Rickets
Jul 21, 2006

Them's my dancin' knees!

I've had an HTPC of some sort for over a year now and I don't know how I lived without one.

Specs:
* Asus M2NBP-VM CSM Motherboard
* 1 GB of OCZ Dual Channel PC2 6400
* AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 EE
* Antec Overture
* 320GB Seagate 7200RPM SATA2
* 320GB + 250GB Seagate 7200RPM PATA drives in a JBOD array
* Pioneer DVR-109 DVD +/- RW
* Hauppauge PVR-150
* HIS Radeon X1650 Pro 256MB

Currently running Vista MCE (previously running XP MCE until I upgraded everything 2 months ago) as I really just never did like MythTV. I love it, it plays everything I can possibly throw at it and plays very nicely with my 37" LCD.

ynotony
Apr 13, 2003

Yea...this is pretty much the smartest thing I have ever done.

I've got a hobo HTPC that I put together with my old PC when I got my macbook. I installed a couple hard drives in it, installed Meedio, and pointed it to every computer in our apartment (college). I don't know how I ever did with out it. The HTPC also serves every computer in the apartment so people can use meedio in their rooms and have access to the same media.

I think my next step is to make the htpc just a front end, and build a server with a four 500gb drives in some sort of array. It would be more efficient to because my HTPC can be wireless instead of needing to be wired to the network. right now it serves a lot of machines so it has to be wired.

I also use meedio to launch emulators and stuff too. it's great. and my tech-dumb roommates are 100% comfortable using the software. even random guests know how to use it.

The PC is a roughly 4 year old pentium 4 3ghz "hyper thread" whatever. I have a quiet little 6600gt and it is all in a very low key and quiet case. I have a streamzap usb/iF remote for it. It plays HD perfectly fine (as in 1080p movie trailers).

ynotony fucked around with this message at 00:01 on Mar 20, 2007

K
Jun 2, 2005

Meet me at midnight

Hey people, so I've been researching for the past month or so, getting scant replies in SH/SC and the like.

What I've come up with is a Hauppauge PVR-150, and a VBOX Cat's Eye 100 for HD.

And I'm going to return the Cat's Eye because I mistakenly thought it would be able to work with my HD satellite reciever! Turns out, it will only take over-the-air.

So take this as a lesson, currently there is no way to receive HD from a satellite/cable box unless you purchase and entirely new HTPC system with and ATI Wonder TV Tuner with CableCARD technology. CableCARD and ATI's sweet little gig aren't available OEM, only bundled with certified poo poo.

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


I have an old HTPC that I love to death, but the thing is huge. Not huge for an HTPC, but larger than I would like. I have been looking at mini ITX and C7 processors, but can find no performance comparisons. I don't need bleeding edge speed, but with AMD's new format on the horizon and mini itx core2duo boards coming out I would like to see some sort of comparison between even a budget mobile intel proc and the 2dhz c7. I just dont want to spend 200 on the proc board and 100 on a case only to have it run media like poo poo.

atothesquiz
Aug 31, 2004


i just put together a newer HTPC out of random parts i had laying around my apartment. Pentium D 805, 2x256mb DDR400, 40 Gig drive(2tb in networks storage though). My friend recently gave me a winfast pvr tuner card with a remote (coolcommand?). I'm new to the whole remote business when it comes to computers so i've a couple questions.

I would love to use the remote with other programs other than the winfast software (like media portal or some other media center software). do programs exist that i can run in the background that allow me to map keyboard / mouse functions to the remote so that i could potentially use it in any program i'd like?

while i'm at it, does anyone know of a program that will allow me to do the following "easily".. i want to be able to catalog some videos i have on other harddrives or networked drives. with this i want the program to be able to connect to online databases, like imdb, and collect all the important information about them as possible and allow me to sort by said information. but the most important thing is that some of these videos have multiple files and the problem i've been running into is that programs will show that i have 2 to 8 or so copies of the same file, i would love to have it sort by directory only and not files. does this exist?

Wiseblood
Dec 31, 2000

THE ONLY JOKE HERE, IS HOW STRONG MY MUSCLES ARE.


Juriko posted:

I have an old HTPC that I love to death, but the thing is huge. Not huge for an HTPC, but larger than I would like. I have been looking at mini ITX and C7 processors, but can find no performance comparisons. I don't need bleeding edge speed, but with AMD's new format on the horizon and mini itx core2duo boards coming out I would like to see some sort of comparison between even a budget mobile intel proc and the 2dhz c7. I just dont want to spend 200 on the proc board and 100 on a case only to have it run media like poo poo.

How small are you wanting to go exactly? Silverstone makes a MicroATX case that's a little less than 4 inches tall:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/lc11/lc11.html

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


Wiseblood posted:

How small are you wanting to go exactly? Silverstone makes a MicroATX case that's a little less than 4 inches tall:

http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/lc11/lc11.html

Way smaller than that. A mini-itx system is more in line with a Mac Mini size wise. That silverstone is only slightly smaller than what I have. I am looking at something that I could just put in my backpack and take to a party.

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

Juriko posted:

Way smaller than that. A mini-itx system is more in line with a Mac Mini size wise. That silverstone is only slightly smaller than what I have. I am looking at something that I could just put in my backpack and take to a party.

i made a carputer that sounds very similar to what you are looking for.

It used this case:
http://store.mp3car.com/ProductDeta...ProductCode=ENC%2D004
and this mobo:
http://store.mp3car.com/ProductDeta...ProductCode=MTB%2D001

with laptop hard drive it ran really smoothly on a touchscreen installed in the car. This could possibly be what you are looking for but I doubt the mobo's onboard video can supply any kind of outputs that would be beneficial for a small HTPC that would fit in your backpack. Maybe a shuttle system would work better?

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

actually now that i look at it that mobo has s-video and S/PDIF output, so maybe that would be a viable option to take to a party. The only downside would then be the lack of storage space.

King Hotpants
Apr 11, 2005

Clint.
Fucking.
Eastwood.


This is the new HTPC thread. Use it wisely.

Heintje
Nov 10, 2004

I sing a song for you

I'm using an antec aria case:


a p4 2.6, big zalman and it can take a drive and dvd drive easily. Apparently it can take 3 hdds but I wouldn't try. It's also micro ATX so easily upgradeable.

Bought a ms media center remote off ebay, and using Mediaportal to mount directories over the network and play poo poo. Works like a charm.

Anyone else use mediaportal? seriously good opensource software:
http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

Technowrite
Jan 18, 2006

I first battled the Metroids on Planet Zebes.

I'm working on a PC for one of my classes this semester, and the perk is that we get to take it home when the class is over with. Since I have no real use for a desktop, i've been thinking about turning it into an HTPC. I know the specs suck, but I was wondering what you guys suggest I should upgrade for it in an affordable price range?

Intel Celeron 2.6GHz
256MB of RAM - Yes, Needs and Update to 1GB or further
80GB Hard Drive - Definite Update
CD-RW - Update to DVD at least
and yes, this needs a video card with TVTuner.

I've been reading a good bit about OSes for it as well. It seems a good bit of Linux-based distros really shine in this department, so what do you guys suggest in that department.

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


Technowrite posted:

I'm working on a PC for one of my classes this semester, and the perk is that we get to take it home when the class is over with. Since I have no real use for a desktop, i've been thinking about turning it into an HTPC. I know the specs suck, but I was wondering what you guys suggest I should upgrade for it in an affordable price range?

Intel Celeron 2.6GHz
256MB of RAM - Yes, Needs and Update to 1GB or further
80GB Hard Drive - Definite Update
CD-RW - Update to DVD at least
and yes, this needs a video card with TVTuner.

I've been reading a good bit about OSes for it as well. It seems a good bit of Linux-based distros really shine in this department, so what do you guys suggest in that department.

If you go linux mythTV is the only good choice in my opinion. I also don't really belive linux shines in the HTPC market. I just think there is a lot of crossover in the markets(guys that want an HTPC also end up bring DIY's people, and linux users). Mediaportal, meedio(out of business, but has sprouted another project and still can be used) GBPVR and a tone of commercial projetcs all work great. Don't forget Media Center, which is actually a great piece of software.

More ram and a tuner is really all you need unless you want to do full HD, and at that point you would need a totally new machine. My low spec htpc (onboard everything, pvr150, 512 ram and an old xp2800) does everything an HTPC needs to do perfectly. Great emulation box too.

lignicolos
Dec 6, 2001



I have a question about video output. I built a HTPC using an nvidia 7600gt video card connected to my TV via component. I do not have an HDTV but a regular SDTV. My problem is that I could not figure out a video resolution that looked good on my TV.

XBMC on my xbox outputs at 720x480 on component and looks great (for non-hd), so I attempted to set my HTPC to that res, and it looks like rear end. Also, I couldn't figure out a way for it to take up the whole screen per say, there was a lot of black area around the edges, yet my xbox doesn't have this probem. What is the xbox doing to its video output that my HTPC won't do?

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


The xbox honestly has some of the best analog video output you can get for an HTPC. The thing is designed to hook up to a TV in SD so it shouldn't be suprised.

The Resolution is a tricky issue, because in reality your card decides how the output is handled. First off your drivers should have an overscan/underscan configuration option. That will let you deal with the black bars. As for resolutions you just need to play around with them, but realize no matter what it won't look as crisp as your xbox's output most likely.

taxidermistpasta
Dec 18, 2004

They could be lollipops. They could be paddles. They could be a chinaman.

^^^^ Can anyone reply with how this applies to DVI->HDMI connections? I'd be pretty bummed if the picture outputted through this method was less than stellar and would really put a damper on my hopes of putting together a HTPC for use with an HD-TV.

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


HDMI is just DVI with a different connector and audio channels. Going DVI-HDMI is just a simple adaption, and is why you should never be tricked into spending a lot of money on the adapters. As long as your TV has proper input it will be like using a monitor, and look fabulous.

ragzilla
Sep 9, 2005
don't ask me, i only work here




K posted:

So take this as a lesson, currently there is no way to receive HD from a satellite/cable box unless you purchase and entirely new HTPC system with and ATI Wonder TV Tuner with CableCARD technology. CableCARD and ATI's sweet little gig aren't available OEM, only bundled with certified poo poo.

Actually, a lot of cable boxes have firewire ports which you can record off (and even control them over the firewire connection). Also you can get QAM tuners for your PC which will let you record unencrypted HD on cable networks (ie, all the broadcast HD in your area assuming your cable operator carries it)- but you won't be able to record any premium channels without a CableCARD capable QAM tuner like ATI's.

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

question:

so i've built my HTPC and it has been fine for casual DVD watching streaming to my TV. I am trying to make the HTPC HD compatible and am running into some issues.

I have a few 720p movies that play fine on my normal computer but are all choppy on the HTPC. The CPU is a P4 running at 2.26Ghz and there is 768Mb of Ram. It's on a pretty old mobo but everything else works solidly. The video card on the other hand is a Ge Force MX 420, a dinky AGP 8x vid card with only 64Mb of onboard memory. I am using the S-video output of the video card to watch on my TV.

Is my bottleneck the video card or is there another problem I should try first? I installed CoreAVC on the HTPC and it made no difference. I can play the file (albeit choppy) in media player classic, but in VLC it plays for a few seconds, freezes, and then crashes. The file will play choppy on the TV or on the computer monitor as well.

Sam Fujiyama
Jan 16, 2001

"But Quince, I have a date tonight!"

perfect posted:

Is my bottleneck the video card or is there another problem I should try first? I installed CoreAVC on the HTPC and it made no difference. I can play the file (albeit choppy) in media player classic, but in VLC it plays for a few seconds, freezes, and then crashes. The file will play choppy on the TV or on the computer monitor as well.

CoreAVC is entirely CPU bound, so your problem is there. Also, make sure you SWITCH OFF X264 decoding in ffdshow because it requires far higher resources.

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

so your saying this is CPU related and not video card related?

Also, do you mind explaining how to switch off x264 decoding in ffdshow, i can't find it and don't really know where to look.

thanks

Sam Fujiyama
Jan 16, 2001

"But Quince, I have a date tonight!"

perfect posted:

so your saying this is CPU related and not video card related?

Also, do you mind explaining how to switch off x264 decoding in ffdshow, i can't find it and don't really know where to look.

thanks

It's most probably CPU related, is all I can say. To switch off x264 in FFDSHOW:

- load up All Programs/ffdshow/Video decoder configuration
- Find the 'codecs' section on the left
- On the right look for H.284/AVC under the Format header.
- Select the decoder dropdown to 'disabled'

If you're serious about using FFDSHOW for x264 streams, try the builds from here http://x264.nl/

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

unfortunately i cannot disable the h.264/AVC codec, all the options are greyed out and i see no dropdown box.

Oh well, maybe this will finally push me into upgrading my HTPC with some newer components rather than using old spare parts.

10-8
Oct 2, 2003

Level 14 Bureaucrat

Girdle Wax posted:

Also you can get QAM tuners for your PC which will let you record unencrypted HD on cable networks
Can someone recommend a good QAM tuner card for PC? This is what has been holding me back from setting up an HD HTPC.

Inept
Jul 8, 2003

3 olives has a payment plan with his phone company for his cell phone

perfect posted:

I am using the S-video output of the video card to watch on my TV.

S-video can only output in 480i and playing HD videos won't look any better than standard definition content such as DVDs.

VulgarandStupid
Aug 5, 2003
I AM, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, UNFUCKABLE AND A TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT TO EVERYONE. DAE WANNA CUM PLAY WITH ME!?


If I were to build a HTPC, I'd get a NSK2400.

It houses a MicroATX board, comes with a 380W PSU, has 2 120MM fans, good ventillation, is pretty quiet, and is basically based off the 180B. Also, it's a desk/hometheater case, as it sits on it's "side."

Also, it's freaking 50 bucks from Antec's B-stock.
http://www.antec.com/us/pro_b_stock.php

Rort
Sep 23, 2006


perfect posted:

unfortunately i cannot disable the h.264/AVC codec, all the options are greyed out and i see no dropdown box.

Oh well, maybe this will finally push me into upgrading my HTPC with some newer components rather than using old spare parts.

In the options menu in MPC go to the "external filters" section, click "Add" and you should see "CoreAVC" in there, add that and set it to "prefer"

If that doesn't help try turning off de-blocking in CoreAVC's settings.

And if that doesn't help try uninstalling ffdshow and see if that's your problem.

Beyond that, you're most likely looking at a cpu (your current cpu should be able to handle 720p without a problem) upgrade if you want to play HD MPEG4 video.

WhyteRyce
Dec 30, 2001



perfect posted:

I can play the file (albeit choppy) in media player classic, but in VLC it plays for a few seconds, freezes, and then crashes. The file will play choppy on the TV or on the computer monitor as well.

Doesn't VLC use it's own internal decoders for playback?

Mister Biff
Dec 26, 2006



I've always wanted to build a HTPC, but the only hardware I've got lying around is a G4 Mac tower.

Therefore, a few questions:
  • Am I correct in assuming that MythTV is my only option? I'm not new to linux by any means, but I've never come across any outstanding Mac OS products in my travels.
  • If the MythTV/Linux thing is the way to go, are there even any internal video capture cards for the Mac? I did a quick Google search, and only came up with some external POS made by Hauppauge.
  • Lastly, assuming this is all well and good, is it even worth it to use hardware that's lying around my house? Or should I just scrap this notion until I have a few hundred bucks to sink into this project to do it "the right way"

Edit: The Mac is a dual-867Mhz w/1 GB of RAM. HDD is irrelevant because that's cheap.

Mister Biff
Dec 26, 2006



WhyteRyce posted:

Doesn't VLC use it's own internal decoders for playback?

It does for most content (like WMV), but I think it relies on outside codecs for some formats.

Crackbone
May 23, 2003

Vlaada is my co-pilot.



To pitch in about Linux HTPCs being a loving bear, here's a new development:

http://linuxmce.com/

Apparently it installs overtop a standard Ubuntu install and works really well out of the box.

Early word is it's on par or better than MCE, although of course you tend to get that attitude with linux zealotry. Still worth a try before slapping windows on it, especially if you're trying to do upscaling/HD resolutions with an older machine.

Crackbone fucked around with this message at 20:09 on Mar 22, 2007

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


They have some videos of linux MCE out there, and it is what you would expect from a linux media center. Overly complicated, to many features and lovely UI. It honestly has one of the worst UI's I have seen in a media center app, and I have seen a lot. It suffers from "use every square inch of the screen" syndrome and shows no design cohesion.

Seriously, feature wise it seems awesome, but function wise it seems unusable. Lord forbid someone that isn't a serious user has to handle it because I am pretty sure they would die from overload.

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

Rort posted:

In the options menu in MPC go to the "external filters" section, click "Add" and you should see "CoreAVC" in there, add that and set it to "prefer"

If that doesn't help try turning off de-blocking in CoreAVC's settings.

And if that doesn't help try uninstalling ffdshow and see if that's your problem.

Beyond that, you're most likely looking at a cpu (your current cpu should be able to handle 720p without a problem) upgrade if you want to play HD MPEG4 video.

thanks for the help, i tried all of these suggestions and unfortunately there was no effect. The CPU/Mobo is from a 5 year old computer so maybe that is my culprit. I guess short of purchasing a new CPU (if thats even possible for something this old) i'm pretty much stuck.

thanks for trying

VulgarandStupid
Aug 5, 2003
I AM, AND ALWAYS WILL BE, UNFUCKABLE AND A TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT TO EVERYONE. DAE WANNA CUM PLAY WITH ME!?


On the input hardware side of things. I used to have some TV Tuner card that worked fairly well for a while. My brother lent it off to a friend and I'll never see it again. What I do have now is an Adaptec Game Bridge USB-TV. So, it has all the same connections as the card I had before, except its USB2.0 instead of PCI. So, there is Composite, S-Video, L/R Audio, and cable coax. What sort of problems could I run into? I have it working on my desktop. If I later made a HTPC (also a desktop), would there be an real disadvantages to using this vs a PCI card?

Juriko
Jan 28, 2006


VulgarandStupid posted:

On the input hardware side of things. I used to have some TV Tuner card that worked fairly well for a while. My brother lent it off to a friend and I'll never see it again. What I do have now is an Adaptec Game Bridge USB-TV. So, it has all the same connections as the card I had before, except its USB2.0 instead of PCI. So, there is Composite, S-Video, L/R Audio, and cable coax. What sort of problems could I run into? I have it working on my desktop. If I later made a HTPC (also a desktop), would there be an real disadvantages to using this vs a PCI card?

Lack of support. I have no idea if something like the gamebridge is supported in software. Does it actually have a fully working cable tuner?

Rort
Sep 23, 2006


perfect posted:

thanks for the help, i tried all of these suggestions and unfortunately there was no effect. The CPU/Mobo is from a 5 year old computer so maybe that is my culprit. I guess short of purchasing a new CPU (if thats even possible for something this old) i'm pretty much stuck.

thanks for trying

I should have mentioned this above, but are the movies you're trying to play in an MKV container? If so, you should probably check out Haali Media Splitter.

You'll have to add it under the external filters in MPC the same way as above.

perfect
Jun 11, 2005

Fire. Beer. Mayhem

They are in the .mkv container. I tried the haali splitter and still didn't notice any better results.

This is really bumming me out, i don't know what else I can do to make it work.

LET ME TELL YOU
May 4, 2003

Welcome to Flavor Country

I've been looking for a decent wireless keyboard w/build in mouse control or multimedia remote for the system I have hooked up to my projector. Any goon tested and recommended products?

edit: looking around or under $100

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Mister Biff
Dec 26, 2006



Juriko posted:

They have some videos of linux MCE out there, and it is what you would expect from a linux media center. Overly complicated, to many features and lovely UI. It honestly has one of the worst UI's I have seen in a media center app, and I have seen a lot. It suffers from "use every square inch of the screen" syndrome and shows no design cohesion.

Seriously, feature wise it seems awesome, but function wise it seems unusable. Lord forbid someone that isn't a serious user has to handle it because I am pretty sure they would die from overload.

Which package was this?

I've seen some screens of MythTV, and they didn't strike me as that at all.

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