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glennbuchan

Home theatre media centre- advice?

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I'm thinking about making a media centre computer for my parents as a present but I need some advice. Has anyone tried to do this before and have any tips?

I'm on a tight budget however I think I can make something pretty decent with not a lot of money.

I think I'll need the following:

Case + PSU

Processor + Cooler

Motherboard (Micro ATX )

Hard Drive (500gb or so)

Memory

DVD Drive

TV card

Keyboard

OS (Vista or XPMC?)

Pretty much decided on the case but everything else is undecided. Any advice would be really helpful.

Also if anyone has any components that they need to sell, I'd be interested to hear what you've got8-)

Thanks

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You'll need a decent graphics card as well.

Thinking about cost, XPMC would be a better bet, not only is it cheaper but you need less RAM to run it. Double saving. Result!

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Worth thinking about a Blu-ray drive instead of DVD?

Also worth noting that your soundcard must be able to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio HD to make it worthwhile heading down that line.

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Also worth noting that your soundcard must be able to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio HD to make it worthwhile heading down that line.

Assuming you're bothered about that stuff and not just the picture quality. :)

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Assuming you're bothered about that stuff and not just the picture quality. :)

Given that he's specified "Home Theatre" in the title i'm guessing it would be worth his while.

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Surely you should decide on what's going in the case before deciding on the case?

If it's going in the living room then it's got to look good, right? ;)

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Surely you should decide on what's going in the case before deciding on the case?

Case was quite important as it gave me an idea of size and design. I think it's pretty flexible what then goes into the case as most HTPCs tend to be micro ATX motherboards anyway. Really liked this case when I saw it and apparently it's quite quiet.

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Case + PSU

Motherboard

Hard Drive

Memory

Blue Ray Drive

Processor

Graphics card

TV card

No idea on what TV card to use? At the moment I have a freesat box for my tv which I picked up in Maplin for next to nothing. It has hundreds of channels and just works off the satellite outside my flat. Does it matter what type of TV tuner card I get?

I've had a major look around and found the above parts which I think would work pretty well. Bit stuck on processor and Graphics card. I was thinking about selling my xbox 360 elite and buying a wireless xbox style controller for the HTPC... This would obviously result in needing a much better graphics card. Any advice?

(By the way, I'm going to make one for myself now instead to see if there's any advice for myself before making one for parents)

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Case + PSU

Motherboard

Hard Drive

Memory

Blue Ray Drive

Processor

Graphics card

TV card

No idea on what TV card to use? At the moment I have a freesat box for my tv which I picked up in Maplin for next to nothing. It has hundreds of channels and just works off the satellite outside my flat. Does it matter what type of TV tuner card I get?

I've had a major look around and found the above parts which I think would work pretty well. Bit stuck on processor and Graphics card. I was thinking about selling my xbox 360 elite and buying a wireless xbox style controller for the HTPC... This would obviously result in needing a much better graphics card. Any advice?

(By the way, I'm going to make one for myself now instead to see if there's any advice for myself before making one for parents)

Sound card?

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Sound card?

I was going to reply saying that the motherboard has pretty good sound on it and plus I currently don't own a surround sound system, same with parents. Might be investing in one soon so I should keep that in mind?

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I was going to reply saying that the motherboard has pretty good sound on it and plus I currently don't own a surround sound system, same with parents. Might be investing in one soon so I should keep that in mind?

Yes, if you can afford to get a decent one now you might as well. Not just for surround, more for the decoding potential. You can Mix-down to 2.0/2.1 as well.

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Ah right. Onboard sound wont decode then?

It might decode some compression formats but i doubt it will cope with the higher end of the spectrum that you tend to get on Blu Ray discs. The onboard DAC on a motherboard won't be as good as on a proper soundcard as well.

Covering as many bases as you can for your money is the best option under these circumstances in my opinion.

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It might decode some compression formats but i doubt it will cope with the higher end of the spectrum that you tend to get on Blu Ray discs. The onboard DAC on a motherboard won't be as good as on a proper soundcard as well.

Covering as many bases as you can for your money is the best option under these circumstances in my opinion.

Thank you!:up:

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Still need advice on graphics card and CPU if anyone can give me some tips?

If you won't be playing any games on the media centre then all you need is a cheapy DirectX 10 compatible card with passive cooling to help keep things quiet. Something like this would do: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX-085-GW&groupid=701&catid=56&subcat=877

The CPU is probably the most important consideration as that is going to dictate which makes of motherboard you can go for and these in turn will dictate what type of RAM / expansion slots etc you are going to have. The Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 would be my suggestion: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP-172-IN&groupid=701&catid=6&subcat=567

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Just noticed the motherboard you linked to has a built-in GeForce 7100 card so that would probably suffice for a media centre. Don't try and play any games on it though!

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Still need advice on graphics card and CPU if anyone can give me some tips?

It's actually a myth that you need a good graphics card. Although I did get a good one in the end this was because I also wanted to play games on it.

The best place for you to go is AVForums as they have a specialist thread about this very thing and you''ll get all the info you need.

Here you go Home Cinema PCs - AVForums.com :up:

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