Adding HTPC/DVR to existing system


Nov 17, 2009
Purpose: Upgrade an existing computer for (in order of importance)
Home Theater/DVR duties
Media center capabilities
Mid/high range gaming at some point in the future

Price range: Not firm, preferrably in the <$500 range

What I have that I won't be replacing:
ATX Aluminum case w/ 2x 120mm inflow fans
Gigabyte GA-MA790GPT-UD3H (2x PCIe x16 slots - will run at x8 with 2 video cards)
gSkill Ripjaws 2x 2GB (OC'ed to 1600)
AMD Phenom II X2 (550be) Callisto @3.1 GHz (all 4 cores are unlocked & running but not OC'ed)
Maxtor 160 GB SATA I (7200 RPM w/ 8MB cache)
AZiO AWD102N PCI Wireless Adapter (however the router is only a "g" router) and my broadband connection is 921 Kb/s tops (and is often significantly less)
[my only DVD RW (no blu-ray) currently resides in another much less capable system but it can be moved]
Windows 7 Home Edition

What I have and am willing/will need to replace:
Stock AMD Phenom II Callisto CPU cooler
Antec EarthWatts 380W PSU EA-380

Sometime in the next 12-18 months I will probably purchase an HD TV that will serve as one of the "heads" for this system. Until that time, one head will drive a conventional 32" TV. I'd also like to get a dedicated video card to drive a separate computer monitor so that the same system can be used to play games.

Will I need any special software to support DVR capabilities? How about commercial skipping? I have a friend that recommends MPG4 encoding over MPG2. The HW listed below encodes in MPG2, are the video input cards that encode in MPG4, or should I just let the CPU handle that workload?

Will I need to upgrade my Win7 Home Edition?

Also my current system is very quiet. I would prefer that all additional components are also quiet.

My NewEgg wish list looks like this (roughly in order of importance):
Vi: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600 ATSC?? $100
DVD: LG Black 8x BD-ROM 16x DVD-ROM 40x?? $100

Total $200

PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D?? $55
Vid: Radeon HD4850?? $100+
HSF: Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120mm?? $40 (-$10 rebate)
HD: 3x Samsung Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB?? $90/ea

Total >$465+

I suppose that if I'm not getting a dedicated high-end graphics card, then I won't need the new PSU either.
I won't need the after market HSF unless I plan to over-clock.
Ultimately I will need/want the RAID 5 capability because I have nothing that even approaches the ability to back that data up. However, $270 for such a system seems pretty steep. I could go with cheaper drives (say 0.5T for $55) but that's not nearly as good a price point for the amount of storage I gain.

If only money wasn't an issue :(


Apr 1, 2008
What type of TV signal are you hoping to record? TV tuner cards work great for OTA transmissions, but you'll only get unencrypted channels if you're using cable. I would get the HVR-2250 instead of the 1600. I have both in my HTPC, but the 2250 is better. It has a dual tuner that can be used for either analog or digital recording. The 1600 only has one analog and one digital tuner.

I wouldn't get a 4850. The new 5xxx series are perfect for a HTPC and light gaming. Here's a very nice card for the money:

HIS H577FM1GD Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card $152.99 - $10 MIR

I would get this cooler instead of the Sunbeam one. The Sunbeam is harder to install and conflicts with the motherboard heatsinks on more motherboards.

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler $34.99

There's no reason to use anything but the Media Center built into Windows 7 IMO. That's all I use and it works great.


Nov 17, 2009
Thanks for the tips & advice!

>> There's no reason to use anything but the Media Center built into Windows 7 >> IMO. That's all I use and it works great.

Will I need to upgrade my Win7 Home Edition to get this capability?

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