HTPC Build 2017 - recs?

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HTPC Build 2017 - recs?

Post#1 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:43 pm

Hi all,

I currently have a media center / HTPC that I've been using since 2008... the longest
I've ever had a PC in active use. Still the same case/CPU/MBoard, though I have upgraded other
components along the way (video card, HD --> SSD, etc.). My concern is that, at ten
years, getting well beyond design life and I could come in any day and have it fail (likely the
PS now, as SSD's don't seem to fail on startup the way mechanical drives did...).

So looking on info for doing a new "cold build," probably this year... some specifics about what I'm thinking:

#1. Want to stick with Windows. I'm a "sometimes" gamer, and the wife and I have invested in
XBOX 360's as extenders... got the whole setup working rather well, actually, and don't really want
to change. Also nice to be able to show a PowerPoint presentation (for instance) on the big TV screen, when
desired.

Of course... there is no Media Center for Windows 10, and extended support for Windows 7 ends 1/14/2020,
and on 1/10/2023 for Windows 8.1. That said, I used XP for a while after end of support, with no real
problems... so I can accept this risk.

#2. Will stick with a dedicated/discrete graphics card. Have seen that some are having trouble with
a new Comcast/XFinity H264 compression format, would be nice to address this issue from the get-go.

#3. Want something cool & quiet. The Core2 Duo I'm using in my current HTPC lists 65W (max) power
dissipation, and one would think that something ~10 years newer can come in lower than that. Want as
much passive cooling as possible, although, a 120mm case fan is probably a good idea.

#4. Using the SiliconDust HDHR3-CC HDHomeRun Cable Card device for cable, generally without problems,
so plan to stick with this.

#5. Maybe some new peripherals... new Windows Media Center remotes seem a bit harder to find nowadays,
and my Gyration mouse generally works well, but not much battery life left at ~10 years...

Appreciate any info the community can provide... even links to new(ish) build would be helpful...
most of the windows HTPC builds I've found onlind are now a few years old.

Thanks,

SD
shadowdoc
 
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Post#2 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:58 am

If you want to go the Win10 route WMC and Xbox 360's are a difficult project....but possible.

When I built my last one in 2012, I used a Pheonom Quad Core. One core for the HTPC and the other 3 (1 for each extender) I do give the Pheonom a good workout when everything is running at the same time.

Same with the ram....2 gigs for the HTPC and 2 gigs each for the 3 extenders.

GiG Nic of course, preferably Intel.

I haven't looked at video adapters lately, or their ability to handle Protected H.264.....

All my equipment is H.264 compliant. I believe the problem is the new DRM and HDCP. It appears the recording of TV is coming to an end.
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Crash2009
 
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Post#3 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:22 pm

I think I would stick with win 7 or 8 because WMC on one of those two is much simpler. I would like to build a HTPC on WIn 10 also but I plan to use a combination of Kodi, Emby, & Playon. A lot depends of weather you want to run 4k/HDR, if you will be trying to view that content from a copied disc or from a software player (Power DVD 17 or later). WMC can display content at 4k resolution but it can't display HDR so you will need some other video player either way if that is what your going after. I plan to use WMC around the house for a long time to come but for my best setup, I want HDR, which forces me to use newer software.
jachin99
 
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Post#4 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:46 pm

Thanks for the replies thus far. Some of my "running conclusions"...

- While it can be done, appears that a Windows 10/WMC install is just far more trouble than I want to mess with; I base this
on the replies in this thread, and other scouting around the 'net

- Looks like I can get Win 8.1 Pro on eBay for $40; $10 more for the WMC activation key is pretty much irrelevant to
me, in light of the time/$$$'s I'll be putting into this project overall.

- Don't much care for the Win 8/8.1 interface (and of course, MicroSoft itself abandoned this with Win 10); however, as
this computer will spend 95%+ of its time as a dedicated Media Center PC (with WMC running), probably won't
matter so much... I mainly go to the desktop just to copy movies ("MyMovies" interface)

- Will just have to accept the risk of DRM changes / ending of recorded TV. Unfortunate if this happens, as it
works quite well for us at present. Easy to forget now, but there was a long era where we were "chained" to the
network broadcast time slot... (TiVo & similar did away with that!).

- As for the hardware, probably doesn't matter so much, I can search around for what people are using for a high-end
build nowadays... would be nice to get rid of the fan noise, or at least, most of it.

Thanks again for everyone's input!
shadowdoc
 
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Post#5 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:15 pm

Has anyone looked at some of the mini pcs for HTPCs?

https://www.topminipc.com/fanless-mini- ... c-i5-4200u

Integrated graphics, will need to have a tuner on your network, limited disk space (but I offload my recordings to the NAS) ... any other issues with these?
ruff_hi
 
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Post#6 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:14 pm

My primary goal is to have an HTPC built on WMC7 on the CHEAP.

I recently purchased one of these for just under $100 delivered right to my door. It doesn't look much bigger than the unit you're looking at.

Mine included 8GB of RAM and Win 7 Pro (64). I threw in a 250GB SSD for $65, installed a 4GB secondary (plus external USB drives) and my Hauppauge tuners from my old machine and I couldn't be happier.

I was into the whole thing for less than $175.

YMMV!
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StinkyImp
 
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Post#7 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:23 am

So I can totally see going with one of the inexpensive / small form factor options --
particularly if you're going to put it out of sight, and go with a LAN TV tuner and
LAN bulk storage (i.e., NAS).

However, I'm personally going to try and duplicate, more or less, the look & form
factor that I have right now--

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6811129030

...blends in nicely like a piece of home stereo equipment, and I've certainly
tinkered with / revised it over the years. Can probably do without the LED display
screen next time around; so, maybe something like this--

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6811163260

Looks like finding a WMC Remote can be a bit of a trick nowadays, although,
I do have the option of just using the old one (working fine... for now).
shadowdoc
 
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Post#8 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:22 pm

shadowdoc wrote:However, I'm personally going to try and duplicate, more or less, the look & form
factor that I have right now--

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6811129030

...blends in nicely like a piece of home stereo equipment, and I've certainly
tinkered with / revised it over the years. Can probably do without the LED display
screen next time around

Looks like finding a WMC Remote can be a bit of a trick nowadays, although,
I do have the option of just using the old one (working fine... for now).

Everybody's build is custom. That's one of the reasons I love HTPC's (and the reason I mentioned YMMV).

The Dell that I bought (according to the specs) seems to have a smaller footprint than the Antec and seems to work nicely in my cabinet. In fact, it's smaller than my receiver!

As far as a remote? I've always used a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse...

These pictures aren't the best, but you can tell how it fits in my cabinet.

NOTE: Please excuse the mess... Since I knew the doors would always be shut I didn't spend a lot of time on cable management (but I did put cooling fans in).

Cabinet pictures

Best of luck with your new build! Please post some pictures of your completed project!
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StinkyImp
 
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Post#9 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:06 am

Still getting ready to move forward with this project (yeah, I know
it's now '2018' LoL...)

Rethinking about which windows to use, a number of forums suggest
MCE is more straightforward on Win 7 (which is what I have now).

Only issue is it hits end-of-life in about 2 years. Any suggestions with this?

Thanks.........
shadowdoc
 
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Post#10 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:29 am

Look into the length of time 2015 LTSB 1507 is supported

https://forums.mydigitallife.net/thread ... st-1412607
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Crash2009
 
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Post#11 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:12 am

Look into the length of time 2015 LTSB 1507 is supported

So, yeah... after looking around some more on the 'Net, it appears that
Microsoft no longer offers the Media Center upgrade for Windows 8 / 8.1...
One would have to find a legit upgrade key somewhere, which doesn't
seem to be a terribly straightforward task, based on what I've seen.

So right now, my options insofar as a Media Center OS goes seem to be as follows--

#1. Windows 7 Professional. Available on eBay, and it's what I'm running now.
Pro- the simplest, most straightforward path; possibly the least expensive
Con- end of life in just 2 years.

#2. Windows 8.1
Pro- support lasts longer than for Windows 7
Cons- no official support for MCE at this point; and Win 10 seems a better host for one of the
'workarounds'. Put simply, there doesn't seem to be a point to choosing Win 8 / 8.1 given that
MSFT no longer lets you add-in MCE... Win 7 or 10 are better choices, either way...

#3. Windows 10. *The* current version of Windows; widely available at retail, etc.
Pro- end of life a ways into the future still
Cons- no "official" MCE, will need to use 3rd-party work-arounds... which may or may not quit
working with various updates, etc.

#4. Go with something else (other than Windows Media Center)
- most difficult option with the steepest learning curve
- do any non-windows options support extenders? (I have several, and they actually work pretty well)
shadowdoc
 
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Post#12 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:23 am

What did you decide? My vote would be for WMC7. Otherwise, I only use it to transcode, but check out the DVR functionality with Plex. In my experience, they are still ironing out some kinks with their software, but they are actively developing and expanding.
tardyturtle
 
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