Please help me spec a gaming/htpc rig

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Hi guys,

I'm just about to receive a little bonus and I'm planning on spending the £1500 on a gaming/htpc setup for my bedroom.
Straight away £500 is getting spent on a 27" LCD, which leaves £1000 for the pc.
Considering that it's intended for the bedroom, I would ldeally like it to be as quiet as possible.
It also must have 2GB RAM and PVR capability. I have a standalone player for DVDs and DIVX movies, but I will be using the PC for streaming video from the web.
I already have a DVD±RW drive and a 300GB SATA drive, but apart from that I need a stylish case, motherboard, CPU, RAM, TV card and a graphics card capable of playing games like The Godfather.
It doesn't need to be a powerhouse, just fast enough for playing games and recording video.
I would also like to hear your reccomendations on what OS to go for. I hear that XP Media center is good, but also I've heard good things about MythTV.
Thanks.

Oh yeah, one more thing, must have SPDIF coax or optical output, as it will be connected to an Eltax AVR-280 amp, that does not have analogue 5.1 input.
 
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Try looking at something like this....You have more money to play with here and the Zalman case I put in can take a normal ATX mobo instead of Micro:

CA-006-ZA Zalman HD160 Home Theatre PC Enclosure - Black (CA-006-ZA)
£186.95 £186.95
CA-000-SS Seasonic S12 430W Silent ATX2.0 Power Supply (CA-000-SS)
£52.95 £52.95
MB-000-BG BFG RNF4U nForce4 Ultra (Socket 939) PCI-Express Motherboard (MB-000-BG)
£59.95 £59.95
CP-152-AM AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3800+ (Socket 939) - OEM (CP-152-AM)
£159.95 £159.95
HS-015-ZA Zalman CNPS9500-LED Aero Flower (Socket 939/754/478/775) CPU Cooler (HS-015-ZA)
£27.95 £27.95
MY-046-GL GeIL 2GB (2x1GB) PC3200 Value Dual Channel Kit CAS3 (GE2GB3200BDC) (MY-046-GL)
£104.95 £104.95
GX-121-SP Sapphire ATI Radeon X1800 XT 256MB GDDR3 AVIVO TV-Out/Dual DVI (PCI-Express) - Retail (GX-121-SP)
£144.95 £144.95
HD-002-HI Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 NCQ 250GB SATA-II 8MB Cache - OEM (0A31636) (HD-002-HI)
£52.95 £52.95
CD-033-NE NEC ND4571 16x16 DVD±RW Dual Layer LabelFlash ReWriter (Black) - OEM (CD-033-NE)
£24.95 £24.95
GX-084-LT Leadtek Winfast DTV2000H Hybrid Digital & Anologue TV Tuner Card (GX-084-LT)
£39.95 £39.95
SW-008-MS Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre 2005 Edition - OEM - 1Pk (M93-00200) (SW-008-MS)
£64.95 £64.95
Subtotal £920.45
Shipping (City Link Parcel Next Day (Delivered Mon-Fri)) £10.95
VAT £163.00
Total £1,094.40
 
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Not bad spec, but motherboard has a fan, and ATI card isn't exactly quiet. Think you've overspecced though, 1GB and single core should be sufficient. Case is considerble % of the total price also, if you're prepared to spend close to £200 without PSU for a case.
 
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also he already has a dvd and a 300GB sata so that can be removed.

The case should be less than £100 and is usually down to personal taste. Worth getting the 2gb ram if in budget as this will help.
 
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looks decent. I am a bit worried about some of the compoinents being a bit noisy though.

430W, do I really need such a beast of a PSU? Just thinkin of my leccy bill.

Any more suggestions for mobo & gfx?
 
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Take a look at the antec nsk2400 case. It looks good, has an airflow design specifically with low noise in mind and costs about £60 with a PSU.

Marc
 
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DeeJay-Mo said:
looks decent. I am a bit worried about some of the compoinents being a bit noisy though.

430W, do I really need such a beast of a PSU? Just thinkin of my leccy bill.

Any more suggestions for mobo & gfx?


Not sure how these PSU's draw electricity, but AFAIK 430W is the maximum output the power supply can handle, it shouldn't draw 430W whilst you're in low power mode during idle. HTPC and gaming really doesn't go together as gaming requires fast videocards, hard drives all with higher heat/noise over htpc- and you don't want or need gaming GFX cards in a htpc. Unless you go watercooling but that'll cost a bit. A Micro ATX system will be suitable for HTPC (built on last week with Asus A8 CSM) Laptop hard drives are really quiet, but not amazingly fast and quite expensive per GB and not as high capacity as desktop drives. So is this gaming machine first, HTPC second? Or the other way round?
 
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squiffy said:
Not bad spec, but motherboard has a fan, and ATI card isn't exactly quiet. Think you've overspecced though, 1GB and single core should be sufficient. Case is considerble % of the total price also, if you're prepared to spend close to £200 without PSU for a case.

Some compromises need to be made somewhere....He'll want 2gb cos he wants it for gaming, its also very hard to find a good silent gfx card that doesn't cost a fortune.
 
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DeeJay-Mo said:
looks decent. I am a bit worried about some of the compoinents being a bit noisy though.

430W, do I really need such a beast of a PSU? Just thinkin of my leccy bill.

Any more suggestions for mobo & gfx?
If you want to game on it then yes 430w is about the minumum!
 
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I like Monstermunch's spec. To get a quieter graphics card you would have to go nvidia, or just buy an aftermarket cooler. Nvidia 6800's have passive cooling and are cheaper, at the cost of performance. It sounds like you will be playing new games that come out as well, so I wouldn't advise going down the 6800 route. A 7900 GT will be as good as the 1800 but more expensive.

Are you going to be leaving it on all night downloading? If you aren't, then you can just turn it off at night (think of the leccy bill). The power the psu draws idle isnt near the 430w.

If you plan on playing games at all, go gaming first htpc second, because all you really need is a tv tuner card to make it an htpc.

Do you want a separate sound card or onboard? Most people could live with onboard. You know how particular you are for your sound. If you do go the onboard route, keep in mind the possibility that it might be unacceptable for you and you would have to buy a sound card.
 
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squiffy said:
is this gaming machine first, HTPC second? Or the other way round?
probably gaming first, htpc second, as I already have quite a lot of home theatre kit.
Onboard sound should be fine as long as it has spdif out.
Yes indeed, I may be leaving the machine on at night, so good power managment is essential.
Is there anything special I have to do to make sure that the PSU draws less power whilst idle, or will the system sort that out autimatically?
The HIS Excalibur Radeon x1800 claims to be silent. Is that really the case? Will that card be any good for playing The Godfather?
 
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MB-111-AS Asus A8N-SLi Premium nForce4 SLi (Socket 939) PCI-Express Motherboard (MB-111-AS)
£89.95 £89.95
CP-152-AM AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3800+ (Socket 939) - OEM (CP-152-AM)
£159.95 £159.95
HS-003-SY Scythe Ninja Plus Heatpipe CPU Cooler (Socket 478, 754, 939, 940, LGA755) (HS-003-SY)
£26.95 £26.95
MY-046-GL GeIL 2GB (2x1GB) PC3200 Value Dual Channel Kit CAS3 (GE2GB3200BDC) (MY-046-GL)
£104.95 £104.95
GX-028-HA Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500 Media Centre Edition Dual TV Tuner (GX-028-HA)
£94.95 £94.95
CA-023-EN Enermax Noisetaker 535W EG565AX-VE(W) SFMA ATX2.0 SLI Compliant PSU (CA-023-EN)
£44.95 £44.95
CA-005-AK Akasa Eclipse-62 Aluminum Case (CA-005-AK)
£69.95 £69.95
GX-037-OK OcUK GeForce 7900 GT 256MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI (PCI-Express) - Retail (GX-037-OK)
£164.95 £164.95
SW-008-MS Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre 2005 Edition - OEM - 1Pk (M93-00200) (SW-008-MS)
£64.95 £64.95
SW-009-MS Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre 2005 Remote Controller (SW-009-MS)
£18.95 £18.95
Subtotal £840.50
Shipping (City Link Parcel Next Day (Delivered Mon-Fri)) £10.95
VAT £149.01
Total £1,000.46


silent mobo as heatpipe not fan. SLI mobo hence the 7900GT... can upgrade later. could also silence the 7900GT further with a VF900 or something.

dont know much about TV cards but haupage are supposed to be the top dogs and this one has its own processor so you can record whilst watching something else.

scythe ninja CPU cooler is supposed to be great and the enermax PSU is really quiet. :) and the case has 120mm fan space so i've left that up to you to decide how much you want to spend on fans. im not really up on fans so couldnt reccomend any.
 
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Addressing 'recording video' (& somewhat 'htpc/silence'):
  • Intel Pentium 4 950 Dual Core "LGA775 Presler" 3.4GHz (800FSB) - Retail (CP-114-IN) £194.95
  • Corsair 2GB DDR2 XMS2-5400 TwinX (2x1GB) (MY-095-CS) £149.95
  • Antec Overture II Piano Black Quiet Media case - 450W Smart Power PSU (CA-038-AN) £53.95
  • Leadtek GeForce 7600 GS SILENT 256MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI (PCI-Express) - Retail (GX-082-LT) £74.95
  • Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500 Media Centre Edition Dual TV Tuner (GX-028-HA) £94.95
  • Zalman CNPS7700-CU Ultra-Quiet CPU Cooler - Retail (HS-010-ZA) £19.95
  • Asus P5WD2 Premium Intel 955X (LGA775) PCI-Express Motherboard (MB-105-AS) £119.95
  • Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre 2005 Edition - OEM - 1Pk (M93-00200) (SW-008-MS) £64.95
  • Subtotal £773.60
  • Shipping (City Link Parcel Next Day (Delivered Mon-Fri)) £10.95
  • VAT £137.30
  • Total £921.85

Good guide on HTPC here :D
 
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CA-049-AN Antec P180 SPCR Advanced Super Midi Tower Case - No PSU (Black) (CA-049-AN)
£79.95 £79.95
CA-000-SS Seasonic S12 430W Silent ATX2.0 Power Supply (CA-000-SS)
£52.95 £52.95
MB-014-DF DFI LanParty UT NF4 Ultra-D (Socket 939) PCI-Express Motherboard (MB-014-DF)
£79.95 £79.95
CP-152-AM AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3800+ (Socket 939) - OEM (CP-152-AM)
£159.95 £159.95
HS-003-SY Scythe Ninja Plus Heatpipe CPU Cooler (Socket 478, 754, 939, 940, LGA755) (HS-003-SY)
£26.95 £26.95
MY-046-GL GeIL 2GB (2x1GB) PC3200 Value Dual Channel Kit CAS3 (GE2GB3200BDC) (MY-046-GL)
£104.95 £104.95
GX-121-SP Sapphire ATI Radeon X1800 XT 256MB GDDR3 AVIVO TV-Out/Dual DVI (PCI-Express) - Retail (GX-121-SP)
£144.95 £144.95
GX-028-HA Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500 Media Centre Edition Dual TV Tuner (GX-028-HA)
£94.95 £94.95
SW-008-MS Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre 2005 Edition - OEM - 1Pk (M93-00200) (SW-008-MS)
£64.95 £64.95
Subtotal £809.55
Shipping (City Link Parcel Next Day (Delivered Mon-Fri)) £10.95
VAT £143.59
Total £964.09

this would be enough for gaming needs, and at low noise too - you just might want to add a VF900 to replace the GFX stock cooler.
 
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Monstermunch said:
But it looks ****, and will it take an ATX mobo

I quite like the look of it compared to other 360 cases ... but if looks are that important to you wait for the fusion version with a VFD, stealthed drive bay etc.

And does it take atx? no .. but is that essential? Unless you need more than 2 PCI cards any of the 6100 or 6150 boards will do everything you need. If you want to overclock - you'll get 300+ ht from the biostar. If you want features then a 6150/430 board like the asus or msi.

Marc
 
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marc mercer said:
I quite like the look of it compared to other 360 cases ... but if looks are that important to you wait for the fusion version with a VFD, stealthed drive bay etc.

And does it take atx? no .. but is that essential? Unless you need more than 2 PCI cards any of the 6100 or 6150 boards will do everything you need. If you want to overclock - you'll get 300+ ht from the biostar. If you want features then a 6150/430 board like the asus or msi.

Marc
If you read his initial post....It clearly says he wants it for a gaming rig as much as anything else, so a normal ATX board is preferable over a micro ATX.
 
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