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Old 10-15-07, 11:12 AM Thread Starter   #1
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Best way to setup HTPC with other stuff


I plan on updating my entertainment setup this holiday season, based around one of those 42" 1080P Westys, or something similar. I'd like to build an HTPC to control EVERYTHING in the setup. Here is what I'd like to do, tell me if it is the best way or not...and if so...let me know what hardware I need. I'm probably going to teardown the rig in my sig and rebuild it into an HTPC. I plan on adding a 2600 series card instead of the x1800.

So...my current entertainment hardware includes Z-5500 speakers and an Xbox 360 (component, not HDMI). I also have a Wii and a PS2 (might be a PS3 eventually, but for now just a PS2). I will be adding a Westy 42" 1080P as mentioned before and I will be using Time Warner HD cable.

I'd like to plug everything directly into the HTPC and switch between the inputs on the HTPC. This is to avoid the hassle of having the change the input selector on both the TV and speakers. It will essentially give me a universal remote and the only thing I'll have to do is turn on the console to make it work.

I have to use an input switch in my current setup. Every time I want to switch from watching TV or a movie to a video game I have to get up and select the input from the switch. I also have to change the input for the speakers. I'm trying to avoid having to do this again.

I'm new to all of this stuff, but that seemed like the easiest way to me. Would running all of the connections through the HTPC be possible? Would there be any audio or video quality issues?

Are there any tuner cards with 4+ inputs?

Thanks for the help.

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Old 10-15-07, 11:23 AM   #2
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to short answer..

NO you cannot do what you are thinking of doing. There are no tuner cards with more than 3 inputs and even those are 2 coaxial and 1 svideo or something else..

For what you want to do i would recommend a Home Theater Receiver/Home Theater in a box setup..

with the HT or HTIAB you will be able to do everything you wanted but you wont be using your Logitechs for speakers.

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Old 10-15-07, 11:26 AM   #3
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yeah for 400 or 500 bucks you can get a 1000watt sony / LG / panasonic system.
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Old 10-15-07, 11:26 AM   #4
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If the westy has 4 hdmi / video input, then you can just set it all up without having a switch, then u can pick which video source u want from the tv. if not, u can get an hdmi selector w/remote from monoprice.com or somewhere. dont think theres any tuner card with 4 inputs, and u probably wont need it, unless you're hooking up ur cable to your comp.

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Old 10-15-07, 11:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren G View Post
If the westy has 4 hdmi / video input, then you can just set it all up without having a switch, then u can pick which video source u want from the tv. if not, u can get an hdmi selector w/remote from monoprice.com or somewhere. dont think theres any tuner card with 4 inputs, and u probably wont need it, unless you're hooking up ur cable to your comp.
but the only problem with that is you will be using the TVs sound instead of a speaker setup like his logitech 5.1's

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Old 10-15-07, 11:27 AM Thread Starter   #6
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Ahh...

Well that sucks.

I'm not in love with my Logitech speakers but I do like them a lot. The main reason I wanted to do this was to avoid spending money on a new receiver setup.

So I can't do anything? Ugh...

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Old 10-15-07, 11:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satandole666 View Post
Ahh...

Well that sucks.

I'm not in love with my Logitech speakers but I do like them a lot. The main reason I wanted to do this was to avoid spending money on a new receiver setup.

So I can't do anything? Ugh...
well as i stated above.. Unless you want to use the regular tv speakers for all your sound thats really ur only option unless someone can think of something else.

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Old 10-15-07, 11:32 AM Thread Starter   #8
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I was looking at the Westy's audio output. It doesn't say that it has anything besides:

Quote:
L/R Audio out, Switched, Fixed Volume: 1
I have no clue what the hell that is. I'm willing to bet it isn't toslink or coax digital...damn.

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Old 10-15-07, 11:41 AM   #9
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The Z-5500s have a toslink, coax, 6-channel analog, and a mini-din for inputs, correct? To handle all devices, you're going to have to have some audio switching - no way around it. The consoles alone are going to eat up your inputs. Even a lot of the HTIBs are not going to be able to support all those connections...especially if you're planning on doing digital for every one of them. If the consoles can do coax digital, you might get by on using some splitters, but you'd have to make sure one was off before the other was turned on. Even then, it's only a band-aid for your problem.

Receiver or switch is all you can do.

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Old 10-15-07, 11:44 AM Thread Starter   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon View Post
The Z-5500s have a toslink, coax, 6-channel analog, and a mini-din for inputs, correct? To handle all devices, you're going to have to have some audio switching - no way around it. The consoles alone are going to eat up your inputs. Even a lot of the HTIBs are not going to be able to support all those connections...especially if you're planning on doing digital for every one of them. If the consoles can do coax digital, you might get by on using some splitters, but you'd have to make sure one was off before the other was turned on. Even then, it's only a band-aid for your problem.

Receiver or switch is all you can do.
Switch is a cheaper route I would assume. I was hoping to use the component input (I've never been able to get digital figured out as well as I'd like) from the X-Fi to the Z5500s to control everything.

The sad part is this was the main reason I wanted to build an HTPC. I'll keep thinking on it.

Thanks again.

EDIT: And yes, you are correct about the Z5500 inputs.

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Old 10-15-07, 05:36 PM   #11
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just run the L/R out on the Westy to the logitechs.
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Old 11-15-07, 06:58 PM Thread Starter   #12
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Alright, I've changed my mind about my needs for an HTPC.

I don't think we'll be getting cable any time soon, we are gone too much and aside from some sports stuff most of the stuff we care about is available with an antenna.

So...

I'd like to store my music and DVD collection. I currently have about 100gb worth of CDs and 160 DVDs that I would like to transfer (full disc) to the HTPC. Since the Westy won't have a tuner, I'm going to need a SD and HD tuner so I can watch TV. I might record some things, but that won't be a primary concern. I currently have to plug my iPod into my speakers to listen to music...talk about suckage.

Tell me if this setup makes sense.

Westy 37/42" 1080P TV (sans tuner)

xbox 360 connected to westy via HDMI and Z-5500 via toslink digital

htpc connected to westy via hdmi and z-5500 via component (or other toslink, unsure about that)

possibly a PS3 connected to the Westy via another HD connection and whatever remaining connection on the Z-5500

wii connected to westy via component and not connected to z-5500s

all other systems (nes, snes, n64, cube, atari, etc, etc) plugged into switch and into westy from there.


I think this new setup will more than meet my needs. Is it feasible?

If so...I have some more questions...

I'm going to have 2 motherboards to choose from. An Asus P5B-Deluxe and an Asus P5B-Express. I have a XiFi Platinum sound card that will either go into the HTPC or stay in my new rig after I build the HTPC.

Here's the question about that. I've been told the audio on the P5B-E is terrible. If I use passthrough and onboard audio, that shouldn't effect quality at all, correct? If I decide to use component audio (in the case that I have the 360 and PS3 and it is the only connection still available) should I use the XiFi in the HTPC to improve sound quality?

Also...I want to the be as near to silent as possible. Here is my current parts list.

One of the above mobos (P5B-D or P5B-E)
E6600 (sig) or E21xx series CPU
2x1gb DDR2 800
2400 Pro or 2600 Pro
Tons of HD space...

So. I need a case and a quiet PSU. The case needs to be ATX form factor. I have a spare MCP655 pump and a Storm waterblock...would it be worth it to buy a res and try to go silent watercooling?

If not...I haven't been in the air cooling business for a long time. Last cooler I owned was an XP-90c. HSF combos that are quiet and inexpensive would be awesome.

Ohh...I don't know how important it is...but I was hoping to OC to 3.2ghz on stock volts if I use the E6600 (with speedstep enabled) so it needs to perform pretty well too.

Lastly...since I have a copy of Vista Ultimate now I will probably use that as my front end. I'm not well versed in Linux and I'm really going for ease of use on this one. Will all of the above hardware (2400/2600 I guess) work alright with Vista? I also need to pick out either a combo SD/HD tuner or one of each that will work with Vista. Any recommendations are welcome.

And another quick question. How does divx content look on the the Westy 1080ps? I was thinking about using divx to rip my DVDs to save some space.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 11-15-07, 07:21 PM   #13
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fwiw, the Z5500 satelites can run off any reciever. so you could use your speakers for whatever, and it would just replace the LCD/volume thing.

Im not positive about the sub though, I think the amp is in the sub. so the sub would need to be replaced....

I do know HTPCs run tv only, they are a video source, they in no way replace a good reciever. they are a replacement for, or an addition to a cable box. but a cable box also would run into a reciever and should handle your switching needs. even if you could input your video games, every program Ive found delays the feed, for DVR purposes, just like a tivo or whatever. and I dont know of a way to go to TRUE live tv. so it doesnt work at all, since your control inputs are a second delayed or whatever.

in regaurds to your last post, if you dont get a reciever of some sort to handle switching, I would run all the sound into the TV, and then the TV will have an audio out, run that to the Z5500. now your sound switches with your TV source, rather than messing with the logitechs and trying to fit it all into the sources it can accept.
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Old 11-15-07, 07:36 PM Thread Starter   #14
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Quote:
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fwiw, the Z5500 satelites can run off any reciever. so you could use your speakers for whatever, and it would just replace the LCD/volume thing.

Im not positive about the sub though, I think the amp is in the sub. so the sub would need to be replaced....

I do know HTPCs run tv only, they are a video source, they in no way replace a good reciever. they are a replacement for, or an addition to a cable box. but a cable box also would run into a reciever and should handle your switching needs. even if you could input your video games, every program Ive found delays the feed, for DVR purposes, just like a tivo or whatever. and I dont know of a way to go to TRUE live tv. so it doesnt work at all, since your control inputs are a second delayed or whatever.

in regaurds to your last post, if you dont get a reciever of some sort to handle switching, I would run all the sound into the TV, and then the TV will have an audio out, run that to the Z5500. now your sound switches with your TV source, rather than messing with the logitechs and trying to fit it all into the sources it can accept.
Disregard everything I said about connecting EVERYTHING to the HTPC above my last post. I've changed what I wanted to do.

The only thing this HTPC is going to do is act as a tuner for the Westy and playback DVDs/music from the hard drive. I might record an occasional episode of House MD if I am going to miss it, but I doubt I'll do any scheduled recordings.

With that being the case, I think the Z-5500s will work fine. I know they aren't designed for home theatre as much as computer gaming, but I like them quite a bit, I already have them, and they work ok in the home theatre role.

I rambled quite a bit in the previous post. Let's see if I can boil it down a little bit.

I want to design an HTPC to function as a tuner for a Westy 37/42" 1080p. I need it to play DVDs from the hard drive, mp3s, and work for both SD/HDTV OTA broadcasts.

I plan on using Vista Ultimate as my front end, being as I already have it.

I need recommendations for:

To go watercooling or not (MCP655/storm+ what rez?). If not, what HSF should I use to keep really quiet. I also need a good recommendation for a case that can hold about a fair amount of HDDs and either run quiet with air cooling or have enough room for water cooling.

Will a 2400/2600Pro work well for this and with Vista? I plan on adding a blu-ray/hd dvd combo drive when the prices are reasonable so I think I need at least the 2400 Pro.

Whats a good tuner that can do SD/HD (if it is cheaper to buy an SD and then an HD one that is fine too) and plays well with Vista?

I think that's about it...thanks.

EDIT: I forgot to ask. Your idea about running the sound through the Westy would simplify things. Is there a digital out on the Westy? If so, will it retain 5.1 surround along with all of the DD and DTS stuff? If so that is a great idea.

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Old 11-15-07, 10:02 PM   #15
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I have no clue about the TV ports unfortunatly, my new TV has an optical out, if yours does, your all set, the Z5500 will accept that fine.

whether your TV actually keeps the signal digital all the way... no idea. I wouldnt really worry about it though. some things are just beyond your control.

I would not watercool. just because of the cost. you wont be overclocking(or shouldnt, wont need to) and you can get any HS that will fit in your case and run the fan at super low speed, noise shouldnt be an issue. if its a big case, you could probably even run it passive if you have a bunch of low rpm case fans. of course cirulations gotta come from somewhere. specially if the PC is in with the video consoles and all, lot of heat in 1 place. and they all make noise anyway.

as for a case, I dont know, if your not recording though, shouldnt need a ton of hard drives I wouldnt think. MP3s are simple, if you have 100gb of songs Id be amazed. and I guess DVDs could be an issue. but Id opt for 1tb hard drives, surely 2 if not 1 would handle your needs and most any case should accommodate that. what case would depend on your setup, might want a HTPC case designed for horizontal placement.
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Old 11-17-07, 06:57 PM Thread Starter   #16
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If you don't plan to game at all what is the HTPC difference between the 2400 series and 2600 series cards? I'd love to snag an awesome HTPC vid card for $44, which is the cost of a 2400 series card.

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Old 11-19-07, 05:24 AM   #17
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You mentioned that you want to OC to about 3.2 GHz... watercooling would help keep it quiet. You already own the expensive parts of a good setup: pump and block, skip a res... use a t-connector and some extra tubing, if you have a radiator good, if not get a low profile one that will handle the heat load of your proc and get/use quiet fans. Alternatively, the geminiII heatsinks for the LGA 775 procs are huge, and silent, with no fans to make noise. if you do need fans they come with mounting brackets just in case. I've installed these sinks on several customers' computers and they have loved how quiet their boxes are.

As for storage, I second 1TB drives, since they are becoming more affordable. (299.99 for seagate's at the egg).

Either of the listed vidcards (2400 or 2600) will play nice with vista, and this place is a great resource for building a HTPC, the link is specifically for vidcard recommendations, nvidia and ATI. They recommend either the pro or xt flavors of either card.

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Old 11-19-07, 07:15 AM   #18
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I don't think you know what you want to do. A receiver solves all the first dozen posts. Secondly, check the screen you want to buy and make sure it has a DVI input. without it you will battling and compromising for the rest of your ownership, and several HDMI inputs for growth.
At least you're trying to detrmine what your rig will be used for, thqt way you can build to meet your needs.
Glad to see this HTPC forum actually being used.......finally!

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Old 11-21-07, 07:45 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satandole666 View Post
If you don't plan to game at all what is the HTPC difference between the 2400 series and 2600 series cards? I'd love to snag an awesome HTPC vid card for $44, which is the cost of a 2400 series card.
Get a 2600-series card. UVD in the 2400-series cards has been found to be inadequate for reliable VC-1 and MPEG4 HD content in many cases. You may have luck with it, but for the price difference, it just doesn't make sense to attempt it. Some 2400-series cards, while including the UVD onboard, have it disabled. I'm not sure which these are or where they're still circulating, so I'd rather not take my chances, once again.

I have a 2600Pro myself, and haven't had any issues with any content. I plan on getting another shortly for my bedroom HTPC (x800Pro in there now has been more than serviceable so far).

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Old 11-22-07, 05:54 PM Thread Starter   #20
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Thanks for the tips.

I'm even thinking about putting the build off for a month or two and using one of the new 3870 cards instead. A Hybrid gaming/HTPC computer. It would save me a ton of money (would only need a tuner and the card). I'm thinking about doing something like Navig's Console PC (http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=507942). I like his Console2 idea (post 29). It would save me the money of buying a HTPC and a TV stand for the new flat screen. That and I would easily be able to use watercooling with all of the space I would have.

Either way, I'll keep you guys posted on what I want to do.

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