HTPC or Media Player

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by GrandmaImp, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. GrandmaImp

    GrandmaImp Member

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    I have been doing a lot research into a HTPC running Plex, XBMC or Openlec (open to any suggestions) I am not quite sure what is needed so thought Id ask someone with a bit more knowledge than me..
    I have an old PC I thought I may be able to use not sure if it powerful enough specs as follows

    Athlon 64 4000+
    A8N-SLI Premium
    NVIDIA 8800GT with DVI out
    2GB DDR PC3200
    Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi
    Antec 550w PSU
    Samsung 500GB Sata
    Fresh install windows 7

    As a media centre my needs are small I would like to be able to hook up my old PC to the TV and watch all my video content on the tele... I have 2 external 2TB hard drives connected to my Netgear 3700v2 sharing content to my new PC in the bedroom and plan to run an ethernet cable to the tele to excess these with the HTPC.

    I have no intentions of wanting to access the content away from the house so am assuming I only need the Plex Media Centre installation or should I install the Plex Media Server to be able to access the external hardrives upstairs, If I can get it up and running Id like to be access some internet content later on so not sure which to install is needed.

    If I decide to go the Openlec path which if I understand correctly suggests you can use minimal computer specs and it is the only software running on the PC I imagine it has all the drivers in place to run this setup and I could still excess the shared hard drives.

    If the PC hasn’t got enough power to run my videos rather than spend to much on hardware my other alternative is a dedicated media player, I have an older WD TV live player but would like to update to something with PLEX or XBMC so any recommendations would be appreciated.

    Hope this all makes sense thanks for reading
     
  2. randomman

    randomman Member

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    The 8800GT should do hardware decoding for H264 so you should be all sweet there. I find MediaPortal on Windows 7 is my favourite, so elegant, but requires a fair bit of work to get it perfect. XBMC is a lot smoother for low power machines and seems to work out of the box better.
     
  3. Benji_Xrt

    Benji_Xrt Member

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    Hi, your machine sounds ok for most HTPC tasks but I wouldn't be running windows 7 with 2gb of ram.

    You may or may not run into problems with 1080p rips but I think the 8800gt can handle it fine.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    GrandmaImp

    GrandmaImp Member

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    Thankyou kindly for your replies,

    I gave Openelec a try with a usb install to see how it went. It wasn’t as smooth as I expected I had nothing to lose giving it a try, I think user issues were the problem not the program I couldn’t get all the bits working,but well worth the experience.

    I went ahead and fresh installed a scant version of Win 7 which seems to be running with no issues, I proceeded to install XMBC and am still having a play with it just on the PC.

    I thought maybe I would pick up one of those DVI to HDMI adapters to give the system a try on the Tele with XBMC see how it goes.

    I think you are both are right though, I may need to look at getting the better graphics and more ram. I have to decide whether to spend the dollars on that or just get a dedicated media player which is a little disappointing I really like XMBC

    randomman i did take a look at MediaPortal on you tube and was very impressed, Please correct me if I’m wrong but it looks like you need a TV card to use it which I really have no need for...
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  5. Chundermuffin

    Chundermuffin Member

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    I used to have a HTPC with an 8600GT running XBMC and had no issues at all. Granted my display was only 1366x768 but 1080p content worked fine. If anything just double your RAM and see how you go.
     
  6. iMomOx3

    iMomOx3 Member

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    You don't need a TV Tuner card for Media Portal. That's just a bonus feature that it has that a lot of other Media Servers/Centres actually don't have.

    Your GPU has enough power, but I would think its a bit loud. I still think it'll be cheaper for you to upgrade the ram and gpu rather than a new media player (a good one for that matter).

    GPU: $30-40 (I spent $37 on Monday for an ATi HD6450, amazing cards for HTPC's)
    RAM: DDR2 is still expensive but I'm sure someone on OCAU will sell it cheap to you and you'll get lucky - better yet, sell your current 8800GT for about $30 and go get yourself some decent ram.

    All in all, you'll spend less than $70 for a cheap and better alternative than to pay $100+ for a half decent media player that's not as flexible as a HTPC.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    GrandmaImp

    GrandmaImp Member

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    I will have to take another look at Media Portal iMomOx3 because it did look very interesting

    As for ram I need DDR PC3200 not DDR2 for this board it pretty ancient and I’m sure if I look in my old computer junk I would find at least another 2x1GB sticks if not more as I have tried to add it in the past, The reason I don’t use the extra ram on the board is because it is so finicky with ram I have tried quite a few different configurations of 1GB sticks on this board and it just won’t boot. I will have a look at see what ram I have and give it another try.

    Next step is to get a new graphics card I had a look at the Nvidia GT610.
    PC Casegear had quite a few and not too expensive, I noticed them particular GPUs don’t have a fan which in one way will make the system a little quieter as long as heat doesn’t become an issue.
     
  8. TRG.dOinK

    TRG.dOinK Member

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    My vote goes for XBMC, I tried MP a year ago and hated it.
    Its a bit confusing at the start, but after that its mint.

    Videos should all run ok with the card you have, where the cpu matters imo is when you use FF etc. Maybe just add a little more ram and give it another go.
     
  9. Dr Evil

    Dr Evil Member

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    I can't comment on how your system will be for a HTPC setup but when you go that route its at least 100x better then a Media Player. I've had over 4-5 Media Players and every single one was just dreadful. From $100-$200 in the range you will only get garbage.

    XBMC + Different Skin + Auto-Fetch Movie/Show art and you will never look back. I also have an ASUS GeForce GT 610 and it runs perfectly as well. Full 1080p with Audio and not a single issue, it also runs fairly cool in use so it only needs a small area for ventilation or low-rpm fan that can sit far away from it.
     
  10. Muddy222

    Muddy222 New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I have just updated my old computer and replaced it with a entire new system.

    I presently have a media player....
    TIVX 6600n as my media player, I purchased it a few yrs ago... from memory I think 5 yrs ago could be longer.
    Divco tvx, which has closed down in 2011 so no further firmware updates or support.
    This media player has been a gem, played nearly every format with no problems. (will not play ISO files)

    The media player is coming to the end of its life. Its continually shutting down the internal fan no longer work, I have removed the hard disc and it has numerous corrupt or bad sectors. (HD ide) so that's another problem finding a good IDE replacement hard drive.

    Ok lets get back on track.

    I have this spare computer which I am think about turning into a HTPC, windows 7 home premium.
    Pentium dual core E5400 2.7 GHz
    4GB ram
    32bit operating system
    GEFORCE 7600GT

    I will upgrade the video card with a new card capable to run HDMI ($100)

    I have an extensive LAN setup with a Qnap NAS running raid 5 (10TB)

    I have numerous shared files which the TVIX access and plays, MOVIES / Music.

    I would like to start to store my Blu-ray movies on the NAS server as well instead of continually operating my Blu-ray player.

    I suppose the question should be put to everyone, What would be the best option or the best setup.

    Is it worth the hassle or time to set this old computer up or should I just bin the old thing and look at getting another mediabox or a new computer system.

    Computer systems are not very expensive these days, would it be better to get a MEDIABOX or maybe even a new computer to run as a HTPC.

    I have seen other computers running mac system as a HTPC which is very impressive, I prefer to stay in the Windows world due to compatibility with my present LAN system and easy setup with HOMEGROUP and sharing files.

    Any advice or direction would be appreciated.


    thank you in advance
     
  11. Fishface

    Fishface Member

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    A GT610 is all you require for around $40 The fanless ASUS is a good choice.

    The other specs are fine for a HTPC
     
  12. emueyes

    emueyes Member

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    I'd vote for a handmade HTPC too. I have an i3 based machine with a 7770 and MCE remote runnning XBMC, works exactly as I've set it up which is the point: you get to decide what it does. An i3 really isn't top shelf, nor is the 7770 but I've tried out some 4k clips recently and that setup plays them perfectly (downscaled of course, I don't have a 4k screen:)

    Going further, I wanted an Apple remote, just because they look so nice (the aluminium one). An Arduino and a little circuit got it interfaced to the PC, and AutoHotKey manages its input. There's so much flexibility in a PC setup, you can do whatever you want.

    On the other hand I see a great improvement in media boxes, like this for example

    http://linuxgizmos.com/4k-ultrahd-media-player-runs-android-4-2-on-tegra-4/

    and XBMC runs just fine on Android.

    I think it depends on how much you want to get involved in setup.
     
  13. kesawi

    kesawi Member

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    Hardware is fine, just add a GT610 as suggested above. How do you find the noise of this current system? Ideally you want something that is very quiet for a HTPC as you don't want to hear a lot of fan and hard drive noise when watching something.
     
  14. TRG.dOinK

    TRG.dOinK Member

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    1. TVIX is still alive
    2. Fairly certain, it takes SATA HDD, up to 2TB
    3. There is a fan control option in the TVIX menu
    4. Not sure about PC specs, seems ok, can give it a go, and if its slow (mainly when Fast Forward etc), then upgrade, mainly its the CPU, not the Video Card, actually onboard video from the new cpus are good, id get a new mobo/cpu and use the video from the cpu.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2013
  15. power

    power Member

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    my HTPC doubles as a Steam box with Steam BIG picture mode, that alone means it is better for a gamer.

    limited budget? Some kind of media player.

    no budget? HTPC every time.

    Even then, my HTPC is ALL hand-me-down stuff expect for HDD's (although it has a hand me down SSD).

    Old P5B-Deluxe, Q8400, 6GB RAM and a 560Ti, 128GB SSD for the OS - so quick and smooth.

    Oh, need HDMI? - simple grab a DVI-HDMI cable, done.
     
  16. emueyes

    emueyes Member

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    Also consider though, a 45nm generation based PC will consume significantly more power than an ARM based media player.
     

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