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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-16-2007, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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Home Theater Computer...

I've been interested in building a home theater computer for quite some time now. The main reason I want to do this is to store all of my movies(I have about 400+ movies). I'm not afraid to get external storage.

Couple of questions that I have;
1-How good of an upconversion can I get through a computer? Right now, I'm just playing disks through a Toshiba HD DVD player, and the upconversion is amazing! There are quite a few SD disks that come accross as good as HDTV(not as good as HD DVD's, but close). I want the computer to do the same or better.

2-Sound cards. How good are sound cards on computers?

3-How cheap can this be done?

Like I said, the main reason for doing this is to have a place to store all of my movies and be able to lable them in catagories. It's a pain in the butt trying to flip through 400+ movies and find what I want to watch. It would be so much easier to do it through a computer.

Thanks,
Nick
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-16-2007, 04:32 PM
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Are you trying to just use your computer and its monitor as a media center or are you talking about linking it to your current television and use your existing stereo equipment?




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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-17-2007, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KOZMO
Are you trying to just use your computer and its monitor as a media center or are you talking about linking it to your current television and use your existing stereo equipment?

I want to link everything to my current set up(Plasma, Pre amp). Also, I'm going to buy a projector soon.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-17-2007, 07:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n737nc
I've been interested in building a home theater computer for quite some time now. The main reason I want to do this is to store all of my movies(I have about 400+ movies). I'm not afraid to get external storage.

Couple of questions that I have;
1-How good of an upconversion can I get through a computer? Right now, I'm just playing disks through a Toshiba HD DVD player, and the upconversion is amazing! There are quite a few SD disks that come accross as good as HDTV(not as good as HD DVD's, but close). I want the computer to do the same or better.

2-Sound cards. How good are sound cards on computers?

3-How cheap can this be done?

Like I said, the main reason for doing this is to have a place to store all of my movies and be able to lable them in catagories. It's a pain in the butt trying to flip through 400+ movies and find what I want to watch. It would be so much easier to do it through a computer.

Thanks,
Nick
I am building my second HE computer now. My first one just got taken from the living room and became my wife's office computer. I'm building a micro ATX machine this time. Here's a couple of things I did if it's of any help.

BOXDG33TLM LGA775 Intel G33 MATX motherboard: It has DVI and VGA outputs on board along with optical output for 8 channel sound. Connections are 8 USB 2.0, 6 SATA (1 external), and firewire. I was more board than I needed, but it's room to grow. ($126.99)
Dual Core 1.8 GHz processor: I did lots of reading, and this seems to be the best bang for the buck because it's very stable overclocked to 3.2+ ($93.50)
Thermaltake 500W power supply: ($45 after rebate)
Rosewill CPU cooler: $10 after instant rebate
ATECH 11-in-1 flash reader to go in the floppy bay ($19.99 after instant rebate)
Corsair XMS2 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 800 speed ram ($67 after rebate)
PNY VCG8400SXPB GeForce 8400GS 256 MB GDDR2 PCI-E 16x vid card ($60 after rebate): The board has on board video, but I got another vid card so I can send one signal to the LCD tv and another to the DLP projector.
Seagate 320Gb SATA 3.0 Gb/s hard drive ($80 -- I already have a 500 Gb drive to go in it).
Samsung DVD-RW 16x dual layer light scribe drive ($30 after rebate a few months ago).
I got a nice case at Fry's for $10 after rebate a few months ago to hold it all and I already have an XP license at home from an old machine.
I already have a TV tuner card from the old machine to go in it as well.

Now, as for upconversion, the only way to accomplish that is with software. I researched several months back and couldn't find anything that was worthwhile in my search, but maybe someone else can come back with more info. I'm saving one optical drive bay for whenever Blu-ray or HD-DVD drives come down.

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-17-2007, 02:12 PM
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400dvds x 4.2gig each = 1.6ish TB of space to index all of your movies on a computer... is that what you are looking to do?

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-17-2007, 11:20 PM
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This doesn't seem to be a bad deal, I like the case better than mine.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-18-2007, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8mpg
400dvds x 4.2gig each = 1.6ish TB of space to index all of your movies on a computer... is that what you are looking to do?
add in loss per drive for formatting, plus additional storage... Raid setup with 3 or 4 750gb drives would do well, just rip all your dvd into iso's, then you can mount them in a virtual drive and they act just like a regular DVD with menus and everything.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148152

as far as sound, basically all cards and mobos have spdif connections for audio out so as long as your reciever can handle optical you should be good to go

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-18-2007, 02:33 AM
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anyone have any input on the upconversion question? im curious too

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-19-2007, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the suggestions!
Yes I know that a lot of storage will be required. But it will make my life soooooooo much easier! Granted that I won't be able to do it all at once, maybe buy external storage 1 TB at a time when I need it. But I would like to get the basics started.

I'm also very curious about the upconversion capabilities of a HTPC. My Toshiba does a badass job at upconversion, and I would like it to be as good or better than what I already have now.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-19-2007, 09:29 AM
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Have you thought about an external HD rack with a hardware RAID controller. It would be more costly to start but you will not have to deal with a cramped computer case and being limited on X amount of drives. Get an external rack, hit the cheaper 320 or 500 gig drives and mount 10 or 12 of them with a dedicated hardware RAID card. Plus the transfer speed between "on board" RAID and an actual RAID card is twice to three times. Of course if space is at a premium then opt for the Tera drives that Hitachi is selling. Get four of them in SATA and use a good case.

Eric

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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-27-2007, 09:05 PM
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I've got a more "plug and play" type system in my house.

In my workout room, I've got three servers. One with a 3.2TB array running Gentoo, one with a 1.5TB array running unRaid, and another running MythDora with a couple tuners (it records to the 1.5TB array via HD QAM from Time Warner).

On the 3.2 TB array, I've got all my dvds ripped. They average 7gig each, since I simply rip them as ISO files (do the math, if you have to rip + transcode you're looking at 400+ hours of ripping and transcoding!!!)

Throughout the house I've got Xboxes (the old kind) running XMBC. This underpowered little box outputs 1080i or 720p [via component] for all non hd content (it can't play HD content) like DVDs or stuff downloaded off the net. Sure it's not as good as some of the more $$ players, but it works great and my wifes parents can even use it.

I've got a MythDora front end box in my living room that I use to watch the HD content that the MythDora backend records and so far it's working fairly well.

Anyway, you won't want an HTPC with a lot of hard drives in it in your living room. Too loud and hot. I recommend making a server (unRaid is free/cheap and works really well with minimal setup) or getting a NAS and hiding it away somewhere. Then, for now, use cheap, soft modded Xboxes (that you can buy for $50) until something better comes about (like XBMC that is being ported to linux to run on PC hardware, not the crappy xbox hardware).
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-27-2007, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakesford
add in loss per drive for formatting, plus additional storage... Raid setup with 3 or 4 750gb drives would do well, just rip all your dvd into iso's, then you can mount them in a virtual drive and they act just like a regular DVD with menus and everything.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148152

as far as sound, basically all cards and mobos have spdif connections for audio out so as long as your reciever can handle optical you should be good to go
Much easier to get a true storage unit that comes with management software and can be accessed from anywhere on the network. I have a Buffalo Terraserver with 14Tb on it. I've had it for a couple of years so I'm sure they have come down in price. It is also upgradeable via direct USB expansion.

I use my Xbox's as media centers and serve everything off of the Terraserver.

--wes
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-28-2007, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin
I've got a more "plug and play" type system in my house.

In my workout room, I've got three servers. One with a 3.2TB array running Gentoo, one with a 1.5TB array running unRaid, and another running MythDora with a couple tuners (it records to the 1.5TB array via HD QAM from Time Warner).

On the 3.2 TB array, I've got all my dvds ripped. They average 7gig each, since I simply rip them as ISO files (do the math, if you have to rip + transcode you're looking at 400+ hours of ripping and transcoding!!!)

Throughout the house I've got Xboxes (the old kind) running XMBC. This underpowered little box outputs 1080i or 720p [via component] for all non hd content (it can't play HD content) like DVDs or stuff downloaded off the net. Sure it's not as good as some of the more $$ players, but it works great and my wifes parents can even use it.

I've got a MythDora front end box in my living room that I use to watch the HD content that the MythDora backend records and so far it's working fairly well.

Anyway, you won't want an HTPC with a lot of hard drives in it in your living room. Too loud and hot. I recommend making a server (unRaid is free/cheap and works really well with minimal setup) or getting a NAS and hiding it away somewhere. Then, for now, use cheap, soft modded Xboxes (that you can buy for $50) until something better comes about (like XBMC that is being ported to linux to run on PC hardware, not the crappy xbox hardware).
wow...way over my head

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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-28-2007, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8mpg
wow...way over my head

XBMC= Xbox media center
NAC= Network attached storage
RAID= Redundant array of inexpensive disks
HTPC= Home theatre PC
QAM= ??

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-28-2007, 06:39 PM
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QAM is Quadrature amplitude modulation.

Basically, Time Warner puts the HD channels into some bandwith in the analog channel range (analog channels 80ish-115ish). I can use an HD TV Tuner card that supports QAM to get the signal directly without using a converter box or an antenna (plus I get TNTHD this way). If you've got a newer HDTV with an integrated tuner, try plugging your analog TW cable signal into the back of it and do a channel scan. If you get channels like 107-1 (CBS-HD), then your tv supports QAM.

MythDora is a distribution of a linux PVR called MythTV. It allows you to have multiple backend servers for recording, transcoding, commercial flagging and data distribution to multiple front end machines that display the content. It's a pain to setup, but I get lots of control with it.
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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-28-2007, 06:51 PM
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-28-2007, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin
QAM is Quadrature amplitude modulation.

Basically, Time Warner puts the HD channels into some bandwith in the analog channel range (analog channels 80ish-115ish). I can use an HD TV Tuner card that supports QAM to get the signal directly without using a converter box or an antenna (plus I get TNTHD this way). If you've got a newer HDTV with an integrated tuner, try plugging your analog TW cable signal into the back of it and do a channel scan. If you get channels like 107-1 (CBS-HD), then your tv supports QAM.

MythDora is a distribution of a linux PVR called MythTV. It allows you to have multiple backend servers for recording, transcoding, commercial flagging and data distribution to multiple front end machines that display the content. It's a pain to setup, but I get lots of control with it.
thanks, learned something today.

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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-29-2007, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin
I've got a more "plug and play" type system in my house.

In my workout room, I've got three servers. One with a 3.2TB array running Gentoo, one with a 1.5TB array running unRaid, and another running MythDora with a couple tuners (it records to the 1.5TB array via HD QAM from Time Warner).

On the 3.2 TB array, I've got all my dvds ripped. They average 7gig each, since I simply rip them as ISO files (do the math, if you have to rip + transcode you're looking at 400+ hours of ripping and transcoding!!!)

Throughout the house I've got Xboxes (the old kind) running XMBC. This underpowered little box outputs 1080i or 720p [via component] for all non hd content (it can't play HD content) like DVDs or stuff downloaded off the net. Sure it's not as good as some of the more $$ players, but it works great and my wifes parents can even use it.

I've got a MythDora front end box in my living room that I use to watch the HD content that the MythDora backend records and so far it's working fairly well.

Anyway, you won't want an HTPC with a lot of hard drives in it in your living room. Too loud and hot. I recommend making a server (unRaid is free/cheap and works really well with minimal setup) or getting a NAS and hiding it away somewhere. Then, for now, use cheap, soft modded Xboxes (that you can buy for $50) until something better comes about (like XBMC that is being ported to linux to run on PC hardware, not the crappy xbox hardware).
what would you suggest as a cheap way to build a home theater computer... Im looking for around 2.5-3tb of storage? Software is always free...so thats nice

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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-29-2007, 09:15 PM
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cheapest way?

Get 500 gig SATA drives from Fry's when they are $100 each (they've been $110 the past month or so). 750 gig drives aren't cheap enough yet (nor are 1TB).

Then get a motherboard/CPU (one with built in video is a good choice, since you won't need to buy a video card then) on sale from fry's (< $100 normally) and get a couple SATA controllers from somewhere like Newegg (I sprung for the promise 4 port ones, but you can get cheaper).

You can use something like freenas to run on the box (if so, make sure that the controllers work with it first).

You'll need a case and some memory too...
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin
cheapest way?

Get 500 gig SATA drives from Fry's when they are $100 each (they've been $110 the past month or so). 750 gig drives aren't cheap enough yet (nor are 1TB).

Then get a motherboard/CPU (one with built in video is a good choice, since you won't need to buy a video card then) on sale from fry's (< $100 normally) and get a couple SATA controllers from somewhere like Newegg (I sprung for the promise 4 port ones, but you can get cheaper).

You can use something like freenas to run on the box (if so, make sure that the controllers work with it first).

You'll need a case and some memory too...
I have a 1.6ghz dual core processor at home and it has going through hell trying to play a blu-ray file. It was taking up 100% of the CPU usage but not much ram. Gonna have to get something kinda nice for mobo/processor.

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post #21 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 8mpg
I have a 1.6ghz dual core processor at home and it has going through hell trying to play a blu-ray file. It was taking up 100% of the CPU usage but not much ram. Gonna have to get something kinda nice for mobo/processor.
I would say to stop bothering with bluray at all (for more than one reason [which I'll leave that rant off here]).

I'd say that if your watching on a display < 50" then, all things being the same, you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference between an upscaled DVD and an HDDVD. And if you did, then you're watching the video for the wrong reason (not for the content, but for the display, which is mighty boring).
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post #22 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin
I would say to stop bothering with bluray at all (for more than one reason [which I'll leave that rant off here]).

I'd say that if your watching on a display < 50" then, all things being the same, you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference between an upscaled DVD and an HDDVD. And if you did, then you're watching the video for the wrong reason (not for the content, but for the display, which is mighty boring).

I'll say that you are completely wrong sir.

HD DVD is a HUGE improvement over standard DVD's on my 42 inch plasma. I'll agree with you when you say that Bluray is a waste of money, but not HD DVD. Sorry, but I just had to through my $0.02 out there on that one

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post #23 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n737nc
I'll say that you are completely wrong sir.

HD DVD is a HUGE improvement over standard DVD's on my 42 inch plasma. I'll agree with you when you say that Bluray is a waste of money, but not HD DVD. Sorry, but I just had to through my $0.02 out there on that one

Nick
What source are you using for the standard DVDs? If you used a good upscaler, then the quality difference wouldn't be so much that you couldn't enjoy the movie.

For someone that's got 400+ dvds already, there's no reason to go rebuy the whole library just to get it in HDDVD... which you can't rip easily to your media server anyway.
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post #24 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-30-2007, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofygrin
What source are you using for the standard DVDs? If you used a good upscaler, then the quality difference wouldn't be so much that you couldn't enjoy the movie.

For someone that's got 400+ dvds already, there's no reason to go rebuy the whole library just to get it in HDDVD... which you can't rip easily to your media server anyway.


I have 400+ standard def dvd's right now. I play them though the Toshiba HD DVD player(which, IMO is the best upconverter I have seen to date).

Standard def DVD's look about like HD TV
HD DVD's are sooooooo much better!

I don't plan on replacing any of my movies for HD DVD's. But when the new ones come out, I buy them in HD over SD.
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post #25 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-05-2007, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juiceweezl
I am building my second HE computer now. My first one just got taken from the living room and became my wife's office computer. I'm building a micro ATX machine this time. Here's a couple of things I did if it's of any help.

BOXDG33TLM LGA775 Intel G33 MATX motherboard: It has DVI and VGA outputs on board along with optical output for 8 channel sound. Connections are 8 USB 2.0, 6 SATA (1 external), and firewire. I was more board than I needed, but it's room to grow. ($126.99)
Dual Core 1.8 GHz processor: I did lots of reading, and this seems to be the best bang for the buck because it's very stable overclocked to 3.2+ ($93.50)
Thermaltake 500W power supply: ($45 after rebate)
Rosewill CPU cooler: $10 after instant rebate
ATECH 11-in-1 flash reader to go in the floppy bay ($19.99 after instant rebate)
Corsair XMS2 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 800 speed ram ($67 after rebate)
PNY VCG8400SXPB GeForce 8400GS 256 MB GDDR2 PCI-E 16x vid card ($60 after rebate): The board has on board video, but I got another vid card so I can send one signal to the LCD tv and another to the DLP projector.
Seagate 320Gb SATA 3.0 Gb/s hard drive ($80 -- I already have a 500 Gb drive to go in it).
Samsung DVD-RW 16x dual layer light scribe drive ($30 after rebate a few months ago).
I got a nice case at Fry's for $10 after rebate a few months ago to hold it all and I already have an XP license at home from an old machine.
I already have a TV tuner card from the old machine to go in it as well.

Now, as for upconversion, the only way to accomplish that is with software. I researched several months back and couldn't find anything that was worthwhile in my search, but maybe someone else can come back with more info. I'm saving one optical drive bay for whenever Blu-ray or HD-DVD drives come down.
Been doing some research and you are right on with that motherboard.. I just wish it had a HDMI output instead of DVI. The 6SATA is great for storage and the onboard video is actually good enough to process 1080p (according to intel)

Im going to be buying that mobo soon and using my comptuer that I already have for most of my htpc. I have a1.86ghz dual core processor that Im going to bump up a bit as well to hit th 2.5ghz range.

Thanks for the info....

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