First HTPC build - feedback/suggestions please

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legiong Offline
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Post: #1
2012.04.28 Update.
HTPC assembled and running.

Build specs:
Case Antec ISK110 - $105
CPU/GPU AMD a6 3500 - $79
Mobo ASRock A75M-ITX - $99
RAM 8GB Corsair CML8GX3M2A1600C9 - $65
HDD Hitatch 80GB 2.5inch 5400rpm (recycled from my PS3)
OS1 Openelec
OS2 Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Remote controlSamsung Galaxy S with xbmc Remote Control

I went with voruxis's advice:
  1. Put the drive in the centre of the drive bays in case I put a MeORB CPU coolder in later.
  2. Got a 4 pin ATX power extender.
Thanks voruxis! I wouldn't have been able to power it up for a couple of days if you didn't show me how short the power cable is!

eskro's advice:
  1. Reduced the fan speed to 5 and you can hardly hear it.
  2. 8GB Corsair RAM CML8GX3M2A1600C9

I spent a while trying to get the cables as neat as I could. I hope you're impressed Tongue
So far I'm really happy with this build, super cheap and super quiet.
I love it how it can group movies in a series, ie. Harry Potter, Aliens. The meta-scraping is awesome too.
I've got my Galaxy S working with the xbmc remote control, and I'd forgotten how good the back button is while watching videos, instantly skipping back 5 or 10 seconds is such a convenient thing.

I can confirm the power board in the case is MD80 just as voruxis showed in a picture.

I picked up a nice cheap USB bluetooth dongle, unfortunately I didn't realise that it won't activate until Windows boots up. So it's unable to select the OS at the dualboot menu. I also haven't got it working in OpenElec yet and I'm not sure if I will be. I've read on the webs that standard bluetooth keyboards won't work until the OS is running because they need the drivers to have loaded, but Logitech unifying wireless keyboards will work at any stage because the boffins at Logitech have done some funky stuff with their devices.
I'll either buy a K400 keyboard w/ touchpad or switch to single-boot setup.

I still can't get Wake-on-LAN to work. No idea what's wrong, I've installed the ASRock LAN driver, enable Wake-on-LAN in BIOS, enabled in Windows, enabled Receive magic packets but it just doesn't work. I've contacted ASRock support to see if they can help.

Things to resolve:
1. Wake-on-lan


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Solved Problems
Audio problems
Switched to using Optical out from the HTPC and now all sound is working.
My TV obviously can't pass DTS and DD through from HDMI in to its Optical out.
Long term solution I'm going to upgrade my amp to one with HDMI.

Windows fails to boot
Boot into Ubuntu via the USB drive.
Edit extlinux.conf and change the Windows line so that it says HD0 1 instead of HD1 0.
  • My plan to have dual-boot openelec and Windows 8 didn't turn out perfectly, I got Windows 8 installed and then got openelec installed, but I now can't boot to Windows 8 when I select it. I get an error stating "Cannot get disk parameters". I need to read through the rest of the tutorial for setting up the dual boot and hopefully there's a solution there.

Subtitles won't turn off
Ok, so this one was just me not knowing how to use xbmc. It turns out the movie I was watching through Windows 8 just didn't have subtitles versus the one I watched in OpenElec did have subtitles.
I've found the option to switch off subtitles under the audio section when watching a movie. I'd love to know why the option to switch off subtitles is under "audio" and not "subtitles", it's fairly counter-intuitive.
  • I can't work out how to turn off subtitles in OpenElec. All movies have subtitles on by default. I press menu while playing the video, go over to subtitles and the only option is None or No subtitles and if I select that nothing happens. No such problem in xbmc through Windows 8. I've just upgraded to OpenElec 1.95.2, hopefully that's fixed it but I'm yet to test.

DHCP message
Boot into BIOS.
Change boot order to 1 - USB, 2 - HDD.
I don't know if this message was to do with setting Wake on LAN.
  • When I first boot the computer I get a screen with a DHCP message, like it's trying to aquire an address or something, but it takes about 30secs to finish before going the dualboot menu. Once I get to the dualboot menu I can easily and quickly get into OpenElec.
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Original Post
I'll be ordering all the parts in the next week, here are the specs so far:
Case Antec ISK110 - $105
CPU/GPU AMD a6 3500 - $79
Mobo ASRock A75M-ITX - $99
RAM 4GB - undecided, single dimm or dual channel, suggestions?
HDD Hitatch 80GB 2.5inch 5400rpm (recycled from my PS3)
OS Openelec

What I want out of it:
Quiet
Boot quickly
Stream music, pictures and videos up to 1080p from my server (over Gb ethernet)
Play emulators
Control via android app
Is wake-on-LAN possible?
I'd love to get my Logitech PS3 keyboard working on it too, but not sure if that's possible.

I'm opting for Openelec due to quick boot times and it's free, I may decide to do a Win7 combination down the track when I can get my hands on a cheap copy, and wouldn't have a problem using linux either.
I've looked at Corsair RAM and can see it's about half the price to get single dimm rather than dual channel, are there big arguments either way?
And I need to look into a game controller that'll work with it.

Let me know what you think I should/could change. Is this totally over the top for what I want to get out of it?

Thanks to eskro, beer40oz and waver123 for insprations!
Related threads:
beer40oz's HTPC build
eskro's thread on the ISK300-65 which includes waver123's build.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-28 04:44 by legiong.)
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eskro Offline
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Post: #2
RAM: for OpenELEC, even 1x1GB is enough.
if you plan on using windows at some point, get 2x2GB
http://www.scorptec.com.au/computer/4158...3m2a1600c9

when using OpenELEC, it'll boot quickly enough,,,
again, if you plan on using windows at some point, get at least a 32GB SSD.
and if you feel like gaming alot, 64GB SSD.
http://www.scorptec.com.au/computer/4158...4m4ssd2cca

Wake-on-LAN seems supported by the A75M-ITX mobo.
http://www.asrock.com/download/e-catalog/A75M-ITX.pdf
so your android tablet could be used for it.

that Cordless MediaBoard Pro Keyboard uses Bluetooth,
all u need is to buy a USB Bluetooth adapter since
your motherboard doesnt have bluetooth built-in.
http://www.scorptec.com.au/computer/38204-179201

i dont game here but,
to me, if i had to, i would get the XBOX360 wireLess gamepad for windows!!
http://www.scorptec.com.au/computer/40669-jr9-00012
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-11 13:48 by eskro.)
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legiong Offline
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Post: #3
1866 ram seems pretty rare in 4GB, all I can find near me is Patriot PXD34G1866ELK.
If I go to 1600 then there's heaps of options, will it make a big difference?
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eskro Offline
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well, i saw the prices, their steep!

get this
http://www.scorptec.com.au/computer/4158...3m2a1600c9
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legiong Offline
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Wow up to 8GB now Smile
I think it's just australian prices. I've been searching on http://www.staticice.com.au/ which goes thru all local PC shops and they seem pretty close priced to others... for most stuff.
Otherwise I'd been thinking of this: CMX4GX3M2A1600C8 or this CMX4GX3M2A1600C9.
But I'm no expert on memory so I'm just looking at brands and pricetags, lol.
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bluray Offline
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Post: #6
(2012-04-11 12:25)legiong Wrote:  HDD Hitatch 80GB 2.5inch 5400rpm (recycled from my PS3)
OS Openelec

Quiet
Boot quickly
If you want to have quieter and faster bootup time HTPC, you might want to consider this "Patriot Torqx 2 PT232GS25SSDR 2.5" 32GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)".......you don't need 32GB, but it'll give you some extra room for storage too..

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-12 00:17 by bluray.)
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eskro Offline
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(2012-04-11 14:19)legiong Wrote:  Wow up to 8GB now Smile
I think it's just australian prices. I've been searching on http://www.staticice.com.au/ which goes thru all local PC shops and they seem pretty close priced to others... for most stuff.
Otherwise I'd been thinking of this: CMX4GX3M2A1600C8 or this CMX4GX3M2A1600C9.
But I'm no expert on memory so I'm just looking at brands and pricetags, lol.

those are cheaper but then run at 1.65V ...
get the one from the link i posted... 1.5V better for stability.
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legiong Offline
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(2012-04-11 16:57)bluray Wrote:  If you want to have quieter and faster bootup time HTPC, you might want to consider this "Patriot Torqx 2 PT232GS25SSDR 2.5" 32GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)".......you don't need 32GB, but it'll give you some extra room for storage too..

Thanks bluray, I'll build initially with the recycled drive and upgrade to that next pay.

(2012-04-12 00:05)eskro Wrote:  those are cheaper but then run at 1.65V ...
get the one from the link i posted... 1.5V better for stability.

Thanks, I saw you'd posted about 1.5V in the Antect ISK300-65 thread, I've been struggling to find memory with that spec.

I might go order parts at lunchtime Smile
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eskro Offline
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all looks good to me
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eskro Offline
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oh by the way, i emailed ANTEC support
and asked them if the ISK110 has a MD-90 power converter.
so answer is YES, the ISK110 truly has a 90W PSU.
well, if ANTEC support said correct of course..

as we know, the prior version ISK100 had the MD-80 power converter.
so even tho they supplied it with a 90W power brick,
you'd still have to think as if you had an 80W PSU.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-12 02:09 by eskro.)
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legiong Offline
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Post: #11
Thanks eskro!
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eskro Offline
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no problem, if you end up going for the ISK110,
show us a pic of the MD-90 Smile
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legiong Offline
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Post: #13
Picked up CPU and RAM. Rest of the parts will be in next week.
Pictures will definietly be posted.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-12 05:42 by legiong.)
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eskro Offline
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sweet, keep us up2date!
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legiong Offline
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I'm now thinking I'll have a multiboot Windows8/Openelec.
I found this guide on how to set it up.

I figure this way I can easily compare a Windows + XBMC setup vs Openelec.
I've prepared all my USB installs and am highly anticipating the arrival of the case & mobo... fingers crossed they'll be ready for pick up on Monday.
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