Thinking of a cheap improvement

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sorethumbs

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Thinking of a cheap improvement

#1

Post by sorethumbs » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:15 pm

I'm relatively new to Media Center. Got myself a mini itx board (Asus AT3N7A) with ION graphics, a little cheap mini itx case with a psu, couple gig of ram (which i already had), Compro S350 DVB-S satellite card and a 1TB Samsung hard drive. Think in all it cost me about £170

I've always had a bigger PC so making a tiny little media center was quite fun and it all works really well. Recently however i'm starting to think its time to maybe sacrifice space for something with a bit more grunt and expandability. The Asus board is a great little board with the built in Atom and graphics, has HDMI port which i prefer to use but drawback is it only has 1 standard pci slot.

Freesat in the UK has recently seen BBC HD move to DVB-S2 and my tuner is only a single DVB-S - I've seen the TBS6981 dual DVB-S2 topic on this site and going to get that.

Now i have other components which i'm hoping i can put together to make a small half decent HTPC to try and avoid spending out too much, i already have
Gigabyte GA-G31M-ES2L iG31 Socket 775 onboard VGA 7.1 channel audio mATX Motherboard http://www.gigabyte.com/products/produc ... id=3134#sp
Corsair 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR2 800
Point Of View 8800GT
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Intel Core 2 Duo E4300

I've got 2 processors which i could make use of, both ageing but which would be recommended? The graphics card is also pretty old (but a bit overkill still for media center?) so would this one do a reasonable job (fanless so quiet) http://www.ebuyer.com/product/247432

Any opinions on anything??

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newfiend

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#2

Post by newfiend » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:17 pm

I have a Q6600 In my HTPC.. I think its great to have a little extra HP instead of the dual core.. sometimes I like to re-encode on the HTPC and the xtra cores are great for that. Are you planning on adding any extenders?
As far as the Video Card goes.. a lot of people have had mixed results with ATI/AMD cards. especially with the frame rate bug on some channels. I would recommend a nvidia EVGA GT 430. It's small but a great HTPC card and not very much money. It also supports the HD Audio codecs and 3D TV's. Most people that have this card are very happy with it, Including myself. It has a small fan but is really quiet.. I never hear it.
HTH,
newfiend~

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sorethumbs

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#3

Post by sorethumbs » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:17 pm

I will take a look at the Nvidia card. I've always had Nvidia in my main PC's only bought the missus an Ati 4550 last year and for such a small cheap card i was quite surprised how well it performs.
We have one Xbox that we rarely use as an extender so thats not a big issue.

I'll also need to source a case as small as poss to fit this matx board, the TBS698 is low profile and so are either the ati/nvidia cards mentioned so thats ok but i have an arctic freezer cooler which i guess would be far too tall for those low profile cases. So either need a low profile socket 775 cooler or go for one of the normal size matx cases.

sgtpokey

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#4

Post by sgtpokey » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:46 pm

If you like to tinker or find the right part for a job (and it sounds like you do), i'd recommend a "normal" sized microatx case. Otherwise you'll find your self limited in parts, especially when you go for more silent parts. As for which micro-atx I don't have a particular recommendation for you as not sure what your budget is. I assume you want a horizontal case and not a vertical tower, but from there you've got the expensive HTPC makers vs the cheaper more computery looking cases.

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newfiend

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#5

Post by newfiend » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:38 pm

Sgtpokey has a point.. the small cases are very limiting..
If you have to have a small case these are ok http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product
But if you prefer a slightly larger case these are nice: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... te%20black
it looks more like a piece of stereo equipment than a PC case. I have this one and its well built!
The software that runs the display is not perfect but since they released some updates recently it has been much better.
newfiend~

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tony_park

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#6

Post by tony_park » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:26 am

Hi ST,

I agree with the nvidia 430 graphics card - nice little card now that some driver issues are sorted - depending on what cooling your new case has, you could go fanless - http://www.scan.co.uk/products/1gb-zota ... vi-hdmi-dp £67.

You may want to check out quiet PC components at quietpc.com/uk to see what they offer - they're really good on advice in their forums, and have a good range of kit, including low profile CPU coolers.

My very first HTPC case was a very low profile case - probably one of the first on the market, really was dvd player sized, but only had space for 2 cards to be used, I wasn't convinced that my processor at the time was suitable for the case, an AMD single core 3000 chip, it was always very hot, so the case went on ebay, and was replaced with something with more air flow and expandability. So in my opinion, don't go too small, unless you plan to use some software on a server to dish out tv signals, such as dvblogics network pack etc.

Tony

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