HTPC build

vurbano

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Ive held off a long time but finally ordered components for my first HTPC that will reside in my rack replacing my Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player and Avel linkplayer2

The HTPC will include:


G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ

Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDX945FBGIBOX

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply

HIS H467PS1GH Radeon HD 4670 iSilence4 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

Antec Silver Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

Cooler Master GeminII S Copper Base Aluminum Fins 5 Heatpipes CPU Cooler - (RR-CCH-PBU1-GP)

ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim PCI Sound Card Retail
I already own a LG GGW-H20L HDVD/BD reader/burner which I will add to it.

I have PowerDVD9 Ultra (which is useless now that I purchased the Xonar?)
and WinDVD9 (equally worthless if I get TMT?)

AnyDVDHD, CloneCD, CloneDVD2 and Clone Virtual drive

Windows Vista 64 Home Premium

And I take it that Total media theater is indluded with the xonar.

I intend to take it via HDMI to a DENON AVR790 and a 56" sammy HLS-5687W DLP

I like the fact that the video card is silent, and that the motherboard has no fan except for the cooler. Can any of you experts look over this equipment and give me advice? I think I am in for a LOT of work

I plan on playing HD DVD and BD movie discs, as well aas ripping my HD DVD's to the HD for playing. I also would like to make copies of my BD movies and perhaps store HD video's on BD or HD from my Tivo HD (hence no ATSC tv tuner in the PC) Gaming would be very light, thats what my PS3 does best.
 

diogen

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Apr 16, 2007
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As a general comment: I think both, the motherboard and video card are in the short list of the best in its class for the task at hand.
But I believe it is a bad idea to build a PC for double duty - HTPC and gaming.

HTPC-only would not need the external video card - its onboard video capabilities paired with the CPU are more than enough for HD/BD playback.

I can't comment on the audio part since my setup doesn't allow playback of lossless audio codecs from the discs. But your soundcard paired with the right softplayer should do the job.

You will have no problem ripping HD/BD discs (with the right software).
If you install Win7 instead, you'll be able to play those rips without any additional codecs as long as the sound track is regular AC3/DTS.
Install Haali splitter and you can play any torrented/created MKV.

Think about installing Windows 7 instead of Vista and on a separate hard drive.

Diogen.
 

vurbano

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AnydvdHD and virtual drive allow me to do that under windows vista with ripped HDDVD iso's under windvd9. There is no way that anydvdHD is not going on this machine if just for the simple fact that it keeps "the man" out of my business by disabling BD live. Those Basssturds have no business knowing what I do in my own home.
 

vurbano

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As a general comment: I think both, the motherboard and video card are in the short list of the best in its class for the task at hand.
But I believe it is a bad idea to build a PC for double duty - HTPC and gaming.

HTPC-only would not need the external video card - its onboard video capabilities paired with the CPU are more than enough for HD/BD playback.

I can't comment on the audio part since my setup doesn't allow playback of lossless audio codecs from the discs. But your soundcard paired with the right softplayer should do the job.

You will have no problem ripping HD/BD discs (with the right software).
If you install Win7 instead, you'll be able to play those rips without any additional codecs as long as the sound track is regular AC3/DTS.
Install Haali splitter and you can play any torrented/created MKV.

Think about installing Windows 7 instead of Vista and on a separate hard drive.

Diogen.
when I assemble this thing and set it up with windows and etc I am thinking I should do so at my desk hooked up to keyboard, mouse and a small lcd monitor to get everything working before I try to put it in my rack in the Living room. At that point, I will have to figure out how to make it work with my samsung HL-S5687W DLP through my Denon AVR790 reciever. Does that sound like the right game plan? Ive never done this before.
 

JAG72

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when I assemble this thing and set it up with windows and etc I am thinking I should do so at my desk hooked up to keyboard, mouse and a small lcd monitor to get everything working before I try to put it in my rack in the Living room. At that point, I will have to figure out how to make it work with my samsung HL-S5687W DLP through my Denon AVR790 reciever. Does that sound like the right game plan? Ive never done this before.
That sounds like a good plan. Get everything working the way you want it and then move and finish the setup. This way you don't introduce to many changes into the mix at any given time.
 

diogen

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Apr 16, 2007
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Does that sound like the right game plan?
I think so, too.
When talking about OS install, there is hardly any difference between an HTPC and another PC.

If you go with Win7, there is a very good chance you won't need to hunt for drivers, the RTM disc will have them all.
If you do need drivers, try Windows Update first, it's much better at that than Vista and XP.
If you can't find them this way, get the Vista drivers and install them using Device Manager->Update Driver->Have a Disc routine.

Windows 7 is available? or just the beta? Why install it on a separate HD?
It is RTM if you can find it.
If not - install the RC (it was available from MS for a while and can be found many places).
It will run till March 2010, enough time to decide whether you like it and get a copy if you do.
I believe it is so much above anything else - for HTPC purposes - it's not even funny.

Because you might switch between OS's, I find it a good idea to have the OS on a separate drive.

Diogen.
 
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vurbano

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Im not about to hand Bill gates 200 bucks just to keep from searching for codecs. I will find them and save the money.

AS far as software goes it looks like I am returning PowerDVD9 ultra doesnt support Asus Xonar HDVA 1.3 for all of the HD audio formats only the new Auzentech card. Screw them they didnt play HD DVD discs anyway. And WinDVD9 is going back as well. It looks like I had every piece of software except what I needed.... TMT 3. The Xonar comes with TMT2 but that isnt integrated into VMC. So when it arrives I will install TMT2 and then upgrade to TMT3. From what I have read it plays BD and HD DVD discs as well as mounting and playing both as Iso's under virtual clone drive. Argh... this mess is why I put this off so long. The new HD audio formats and hardware is so complicated even the manufacturers and system builders do not know what is down sampling, bitstreaming, or Lpcming what. This HDMI + HD audio stuff is really a clusterF*&*K http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1093445
 

diogen

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This HDMI + HD audio stuff is really a clusterF*&*K ...
Very much so.
Unless you are a real audiophile, start without support for lossless audio playback from BD.
If lossless playback is a must, you should have started with NV9400-based boards (LPCM).

I believe both those external audio cards that allow lossless bitstreaming are just a proof of concept and will go down in history as such.
AnandTech: Auzentech HomeTheater HD Preview: Bitstreaming True HD/DTS-HD MA

Diogen.
 

vurbano

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Very much so.
Unless you are a real audiophile, start without support for lossless audio playback from BD.
If lossless playback is a must, you should have started with NV9400-based boards (LPCM).

I believe both those external audio cards that allow lossless bitstreaming are just a proof of concept and will go down in history as such.
AnandTech: Auzentech HomeTheater HD Preview: Bitstreaming True HD/DTS-HD MA

Diogen.
look at the chart in the AVS link I posted. At best those 9400 boards are downsampled to 48 khz 16 bit, not lossless. The Xonar is a superior solution it will bitstream all of the HD bluray audio formats over HDMI. Some say DD+ is the problem, I think you need spidf for that. The Auzentech is way overpriced and tied to powerdvd which means no HD DVD playback. I picked up the slimline version for 136 bucks.

LAST UPDATE 9:40 AM EST 8/13/2009Added the ASUS Slimline card because it is widely available now. The rule is that a card will be added when it is available for immediate purchase at a B&M retailer or online distributor that is widely regarded as “reputable” but not before then.
The intent of this thread is to provide up to date information on what the CURRENT status of HDMI in an HTPC is. This first post will not attempt to rate or promote any particular solution. Instead it will list many of the features that are related to HDMI output and what solutions will provide or not provide those features. It will be up to the reader to determine what features are most important to them.
Please Note: That this thread is in a constant state of update. If you don't see an item listed or a feature listed please post a comment. The point of the thread is that no one person could test every card and every feature. It is up to the community to provide all of the information.
Windows XP and Vista with current drivers
Feature|IGP Intel G35|IGP Intel G45|IGP ATI 3200|ATI 4XXX series|ATI 3XXX series|ATI 2XXX series|IGP nVidia 8200/8300|IGP nVidia 9300/9400|Asus Xonar HDAV Audio Card|Asus Xonar HDAV Deluxe Audio Card|Asus Xonar Slimline Card|All Nvidia Based Graphics cards
Slot Type|IGP|IGP|IGP|PCI-E|PCI-E|PCI-E|IGP|IGP|PCI-E|PCI-E|PCI|PCI-E|
Blu-ray DTS-MA Bitstreaming| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | !(1) | !(1) | !(1) | X
Blu-ray DD True-HD Bitstreaming| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | !(1) | !(1) | !(1) | X
Blu-ray DTS-HD Bitstreaming| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | !(1) | !(1) | !(1) | X
Blu-ray DD+ Bitstreaming| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | !(1) | !(1) | !(1) | X
Blu-ray 7.1 Lossless un-downconverted PCM| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | *(1) | *(1) | *(1) | X
Blu-ray 5.1 Lossless un-downconverted PCM| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | *(1) | *(1) | *(1) | X
HD-DVD Bitstreaming(All HD formats)| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | *(9) | *(9) | *(9) | X
48 Khz 16 Bit Down Converted 7.1 Channel PCM| Y | Y | X | !(2) | X | X | Y | Y | !(3) | !(3) | !(3) | X
48 Khz 16 Bit Down Converted 5.1 Channel PCM| Y | Y | X | !(2) | X | X | U | Y | !(3) | !(3) | !(3) | X
Supports bit perfect 192 Khz 24 Bit FLAC with 7.1 Channel PCM| Y | Y | X | Y | X | X | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | X
DD HDMI Bitstreaming| Y | Y | Y | !(2) | !(2) | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | *(5)
DTS HDMI Bitstreaming| Y | Y | Y | !(2) | !(2) | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | *(5)
7.1 Un-downconverted Analog Output| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X | *(8) | X | X
24FPS Support| !(4) | !(4) | !(4) | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | !(6) | !(6) | Y | Y
Hardware Video Acceleration| X | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | X | X | X | *(7)
Supports PowerDVD versions 7,8,9| Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y
Supports ArcSoft TMT V2| Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y
Supports ArcSoft TMT V3(Currently TMT is the only software that can bitstream HD-Audio)| Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y
Supports ASUS version of Arcsoft's TMT(Currently TMT is the only software that can bitstream HD-Audio)| X | X | X | X | X | X | X | X| Y | Y | Y | X
Supports WinDVD9| Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y | Y
Dual digital monitor output Support| X | X | X | Y | Y | Y | X | X | X | X | X | Y
Current Average Street Price| U | U | U | $65-$200 | $30-$200 | U | U | U | $180-$215 | $215-$248 | $150 | U
Key:
Y - Works Perfectly
! – Works Inconsistently (See note number below)
& - Works but disables other features (See note number below)
* - Limited Functionality (See note number below)
X – Does not Work
U - Unknown
- Card does not exist yet
(1) The HD Formats can now be bitstreamed in the ASUS version of TMT and in ArcSoft's TMT 3. The ASUS version of TMT comes with the Asus HDAV 1.3 and TMT 3 currently can be purchased at a discount from the ArcSoft website. There are reports that bitstreaming is inconsistent with Windows Vista.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showpost.php?p=16966165&postcount=255
(2) The ATI cards do not support audio over HDMI for some HDMI inputs of some receivers. See this thread for a work around. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=15202002#post15202002 The latest 9.1 ATI Drivers have also resolved this issue for Yamaha receivers.
(3) Users have experienced a DTS Bomb like noise when selecting 7.1 or 5.1 in the Asus version of TMT instead of the HDMI option. Warning it is so loud it can easily damage your speakers! http://vip.asus.com/forum/view.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&id=20081207153438016&board_id=21&model=Xonar HDAV1.3&page=1&count=11 Look at the very last post on page 1. The latest drivers and TMT software claim to have resolved this issue. I have not experienced it since I have upgraded.
(4) There are some reports of 24p stuttering http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=15249118#post15249118
(5) Some Nvidia video cards(ie: GTX 280) support SPDIF(Standard Dolby Digital, DTS, and 2 channel PCM) pass through over HDMI.
(6) All 2008 ASUS HDAV cards do not support 24 FPS. However, all 2009 cards do support 24 FPS. See the link below for details on how to tell what card you have. If you have a 2008 card you can RMA it for a 2009 card through your local ASUS supplier.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=15741239#post15741239
(7) Supported on all 8 series and later GPUs, except for the Geforce 8800 Ultra, 8800 GTX, 8800 GTS (320/640MB). These cards do not support hardware AVC (h264) decoding.
(8) Supports un-downconverted 7.1 analog output only in the ASUS version of TMT.
(9) Supports Dobly Digital True-HD, DTS-MA, and DTS-HD bitstreaming with the HDMI option in ArcSoft's TMT V3. DD+ titles will not play any audio with the HDMI audio selected in TMT V3. However, they will play standard DD from DD+ tracks if the SPDIF option is selected. myAV has stated that it is unlikely that ArcSoft will ever fully support HD-DVD bitstreaming for all codecs. Cyberlink has stated that PowerDVD 9 will not support HD-DVD playback.
 

diogen

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Apr 16, 2007
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look at the chart in the AVS link I posted. At best those 9400 boards are downsampled to 48 khz 16 bit, not lossless.
That seems to be a software limitation. No doubt, bitstreaming is better.
The question is - how much you pay to make it work (in $$ and time).
Is it worth it?

Diogen.
 

vurbano

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That seems to be a software limitation. No doubt, bitstreaming is better.
The question is - how much you pay to make it work (in $$ and time).
Is it worth it?

Diogen.
the mother board was 89 dollars and the sound card 136. The card comes with TMT2 and I will pay to upgrade to TMT3, since you have to have something like powerdvd or TMT the software is a wash. Trust me, Ive read the posts from the anandtech editor over at avs and he says a motherboard will be out in a month or two that can do it all but I bet its in the 400 dollar range and I aint goin there with all of my eggs in one basket..
 

diogen

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...he says a motherboard will be out in a month or two that can do it all but I bet its in the 400 dollar rang..
Actually, Anand claims it will be in the sub-$100 range and out next year.
I do believe there are a number of reasons to opt for a HTPC over a PS3 or set-top Blu-ray player, but I’m just not convinced that there’s value in these cards. I’ve seen the roadmaps, we’ll start getting chipset support for bitstreaming these codecs next year. That’ll mean a sub-$100 investment in a motherboard for the same sort of support you get from a $250 sound card
That's when hidef HTPCs will become a competitor to all things video playback again...

Diogen.
 

vurbano

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Well I got it up and running and the trueHD bitstream and DTS-HD master audio are definately superior to PCM on my system. All of the effects are more defined IMO, gunshots are more defined, breaking glass more distinct etc. Asus gives you TMT3 for free, a 99 dollar program as an upgrade from their website from the stock program, IMO its a great deal for 135 bucks. PowerDVD alone costs you 100. I just may upgrade to win 7 now since they have a 30 dollar student upgrade available. I am still new to this. The only problem left for me is getting the imon software and antec veris remote integrated with TMT3 and windows. I am a little lost there. Once I figure that out I have a nice player on my hands and a BD duplication workhorse as well as anything else you can do on a 56" screen.
 
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vurbano

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Actually, Anand claims it will be in the sub-$100 range and out next year.

That's when hidef HTPCs will become a competitor to all things video playback again...

Diogen.
I think the MB's that come out that replace a 100 dollar MB and a 250 dollar sound card will be well over 300 dollars this year and I do not believe they will drop 200 dollars in a year. But if it happens I will buy one and upgrade another computer in the house.
 

diogen

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In terms of silicon, I don't think there is anything left to be done.
If mobos with NV 8 and 9 series onboard video as well as Intel G43/G45 can do lossless LPCM, just drop the decoding and spit it out over HDMI.

Licensing is the issue. Like Anand explained - the Everest of studios' stupidity!

Today to implement PAP and work through the licensing issues costs $250.
I believe in a year on Win7 it can be part of a $100 motherboard.

Diogen.
 

vurbano

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Wow, just used clownBD last night to burn Xmen wolverine BD. It stripped 49GB down to just the movie and DTS HD master audio to 22 GB and it all fits on a single layer BDR. Incredible
 

vurbano

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In terms of silicon, I don't think there is anything left to be done.
If mobos with NV 8 and 9 series onboard video as well as Intel G43/G45 can do lossless LPCM, just drop the decoding and spit it out over HDMI.

Licensing is the issue. Like Anand explained - the Everest of studios' stupidity!

Today to implement PAP and work through the licensing issues costs $250.
I believe in a year on Win7 it can be part of a $100 motherboard.

Diogen.
Its the licensing thats going to drive up costs or it will be the reason you do not get superior bitstreaming. I also think it is naive to believe that MB manufacturers are going to throw away a "got you by the balls" opportunity to make excessive profit. In the mean time the answer is a definite yes to "was it worth it?". Effectively it only costs 40 dollars to add bitstreaming HD audio to your system with the 130 dollar ASUS card and free TMT3. What I do not understand is why someone would pay 350 bucks for the Auzentech+powerdvd9 ultra solution. That price advantage also competes with your 100 dollar MB at least intially, I dont think hey are going to hand out free copies of PowerDVD or TMT3 with it. BTW the editor of anandtech, last month said this month for the MB to come out over at AVS.
 
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diogen

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What we have today is a customized hardware+software solution.
And because there are just two of them, they can charge what they want.
I can't see how this situation can last for longer than a year or so. I believe Win7 will be a big part of it.

I watched a few movies on NV9400 with 8 channel LPCM out (the soundtrack was not better than 16/48, so no downconversion was performed). I also once ripped and re-encoded the lossless soundtrack into FLAC to get to listen to the "real" thing. For whatever reason - ears? speakers? receiver? room? all of the above? - my experience had absolutely nothing to do with "blown away"... I have no problem with trading in lossless audio for the simplicity of playback. 1.5Mbps DTS does it for me nicely.

I also believe we are much closer to having a open source DTS-MA decoder.
When this happens this whole PAP discussion will become irrelevant (I'm watching only ripped movies, my HTPC doesn't even have an optical drive).

Diogen.
 

vurbano

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I have no problem with trading in lossless audio for the simplicity of playback.
My playback is Very simple. If I stick a BD with HD audio in the drive it plays. Some movies make you select the HD track, but it seems a lot do not. And If I rip it with only HD audio track it is also simple. The only caveat to my system is if No HD audio exists then I simply click on TMT3 and select 7.1 instead of HDMI. its pretty simple. You will never have a 100% hardware solution for HD audio. The movie makers will not allow it. there will always be some licensing issue.
 

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