Help Me Build A HTPC

bpmou

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Great Forum! I am looking to convert my HP Pavilion a6242n into a HTPC for my living room and go OTA HDTV antenna and stream video from HULU.com on my 47” widescreen HD Projection TV. The PC will be in the family room with the TV and the internet connection. The specs for the tower are below, and there is also a link to my mother board on the HP Site. Here is my question: I don’t think my graphics are up to snuff for an HTPC and I don’t have a TV tuner. My Goals are:

Be able to receive/record HDTV signals from OTA
Stream HULU.com content
Stream other online video etc to TV
Maybe stream Netflix??
Play Blue Ray with Upgraded Drive
Play stored DVD that is in media center from the PC
And last but not least still be able to use Vista as a PC with a wireless keyboard to check e-mail edit photos etc.

What upgrades should I make to do all of this? I am trying to cut my $90 a month cable bill with this project. I was thinking I could upgrade to the ATI 4650 or 4670 HD video card, and a Happauge dual tuner card. What else do I need or should consider? I am not currently running a receiver, but would rely on the TV speakers. My goal was to use my existing HDMI connection on the TV for the connection including sound. Do I need a new sound card as well?

What about wireless keyboards and remotes?

Also, I need to down grade my internet, if I want to stream hulu etc, can I get by with 1.5 meg or should I go to 7meg?

Any information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Manufacturer Hewlett-Packard
Model name Pavilion a6242n-b
Mother Board- Asus M2N68-LA
Processor model Athlon 64 X2 4800+
Processor speed 2.50 GHz
Frontside bus speed 2000 MHz
Ram 3.0 GB
Maximum memory capacity 8.0 GB
Memory speed PC2-5300
Memory type DDR2 SDRAM
Hard drive capacity 320 GB x1 and a 240GB x1
Video memory 128MB dedicated, 623MB total available
Video hardware nVidia GeForce 6150 SE with TurboCache
Audio hardware High Definition Audio, 8-speaker configurable
Included integrated drives LightScribe DVD±RW/DVD-RAM/DVD±R DL
integrated memory card reader yes
number of USB 2.0 ports 6
number of VGA video ports 1
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium with Media Center
 
What is the budget for this upgrade? Without knowing your budget, your system should be able to do what you want with these upgrades:

ASUS EAH4670/DI/512M/A Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121274 $69.99 - $10 MIR

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 PCI-Express x1 Interface - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116036 $139.99

LG Black 6X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Model GGC-H20L - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136133 $109.99

Total - $319.97 - $10 MIR

You can send both video and audio over the integrated HDMI port on the GPU and the TV tuner card comes with a remote.

I have a HTPC that uses Hauppauge HVR-1600 and HVR-2250 tuners. I use the remote that came with my HVR-1600 to control Vista Media Center. I send video and audio over HDMI to my TV.

The Hauppauge TV tuners work great for OTA HD content.
 

IzzyCraft

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imo if you want low heat and power consumption get a integrated gpu. Amd's 790GX and nvidia's 9400 mobo chipsets are good.

Else hauppauge tuner is good and LG and samsung are good drive manufactures.

About sound card most hdmi able dedicated cards will have a wire that you hook up to your mobo to run the sound but really if you have a sound card then the sound card should be hooked up to a dedicated sound system.
 

IH8U

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Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129046
$190 Antec FusionRemote 350 (no need to replace the PSU)
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131324
$78 ASUS M3A78-EM 780G (very good onboard video for an HTPC)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103672
$40 AM2 X2 4050e (OEM)
HSF: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118048
$30 Zalman CNPS7000C (quiet for the HTPC)
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231112
$40 G.Skill DDR2 800 2x2GB
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148337
$130 Seagate 1.5TB
BRD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106294
$90 Lite-On Blu-Ray disk player 4x
Capture: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815293003
$80 ASUS My Cinema-PHC3-100
OS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116485
$100 Vista Home Premium 32bit

Total: $778 + S&H (Not counting MIR, Combo, or Specials)
 

Wolfshadw

Titan
Moderator
I'd say you're good to go with your current system and the addition of a TV Tuner card and graphics card.

I'd recommend going with the dual Hauppauge tuner you're looking at, but downgrade the graphics card to an ATI HD4350. Since you're not playing hi-end games on this system, you won't need much more and it shouldn't require a power supply upgrade. It's more than enough for video playback (even blu-ray).

Netflix and Hulu both require a broadband internet connection, but don't recommend going below 1.5Gbps (1500kbps). Downgrading from 7.0Gbps "shouldn't" cause you any problems, but 1.5Gbps is as low as I would go (if I had to).

For wireless keyboards/mice, I like the NMediaPC wireless keyboard with MCE Remote.

-Wolf sends
 
+1 to keep the PC and add a TV tuner, graphics card, blu-ray drive, and wireless keyboard+remote.

Since you need both a video card and a TV tuner, you can opt for an AIW HD3650 video card (combines tv tuner and video card in one for about $135):

All-%20In%20-Wonder%20%20hd%203650%20.jpg



If your budget will allow it, the HVR-2250 will allow you to record two OTA broadcasts at once while most TV tuners can only record one at a time.

Here's my recommendations:

TV Tuner: HVR-2250 w/remote $140
Video Card: Passive HD4550 with onboard HDMI $50
Blu-Ray Drive: LG GGC-H20L Retail $110 (retail will get you the software to play blu-rays bundled)
RF Keyboard: Moncaso MK700 $30 (cheap, but works well and has a small footprint)

Total: $330 + S&H

If you plan on ripping DVD's (or BD's), also plan on getting a big HDD, 1TB or bigger.
 

bpmou

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I am the OP. So I think I will keep the original PC, and add some of the stuff recommended here. I am still thinking about going with an ATI 4650 card though. Anyone have any thoughts on the HVR 2250 w remote?

Also if I go OTA, do I need more then one antenna for HD?

PS, budget is around $300, as I am going to sell my HP W2207 minitor since the tower will be hooked up to the TV in the family room.

Any one have any thoughts about the 1.5 vs 7 mb internet?
 

IzzyCraft

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You only need a card that receives the new standard ATSC to get the digital signal in the us. And then either your house antenna or one you bought would be hooked up to the card and the card can decipher the signal most tv tuners will accept multiple kinds of signals.
 
My upgrade suggestions above come in just above $300. They would be right at $300 if you get a 4550 or 4650.

You only need one antenna to receive OTA HD. You don't need a special antenna. I use the old roof-top antenna that was on my house when I bought it.

I don't really have any experience with the 1.5 vs 7 internet. I went from dial-up to a 6Mb connection then upgraded to a 8Mb connection. I think 1.5Mb is cutting it a little close for streaming HD, but it will probably work. I'll let someone with more experience with a 1.5Mb connection weigh in.

I bought my HVR-2250 without a remote since I already had the one that came with my HVR-1600, so I don't have any experience with the one that comes with the HVR-2250. The reviews of the remote seem pretty good. Hauppauge makes quality components, I don't think you need to worry about that.
 

bpmou

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Good find, I just ordered this card. Now I just need a tuner and antenna. I am trying to do an indoor OTA HD antenna. Any recomendations?
 

bpmou

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I think I will just go with the 7mb connection from Qwest. I looked at antenna web and I am less than 30 miles from all the stations I want for HD.