Building my first HTPC, need tips

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darthdiablo Offline
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Post: #1
Ran XBMC on my MacBook Pro, as well as my WindowsXP machine that has been collecting dust until I dusted it off to serve as a temporary storage & testing box for my home XBMC-synced setup.

Currently, I have two ATV2's and a Synology NAS with MySQL running. Everything is streamed wirelessly, most times in 720p.

The thumbs are synced via pathsubstitution in advancedsettings.xml.

I'm not a big fan of ATV2, even using the Quartz skin (for improved performance), because I'd really rather use Transparency or some more resource-intensive skins.

Plus, I'm also looking for better performance when rewinding/fast-forwarding - on my Macbook pro, it's generally smooth when rewinding/fast-forwarding, but on ATV2 it's unbearable (very very choppy). Need something more powerful than an ATV2.

I'm looking for some suggestions (builds) that can do the following:

Netflix
Hulu
1080p
Take input from Mohi Leaf Plus (I am assuming HDMI? I will receive the device today and check out what outputs are available)
has a BluRay drive (reading only)
Has a SSD for improved I/O performance

Granted, my library is on my NAS, but I'd like to use BluRay reader drive to rip the DVD/BluRays we purchase occasionally and have the contents sit in our XBMC library on NAS.

Questions:
1) OpenELEC, XBMCbuntu, or XBMC for Windows? Which one of those are better based on my needs above? Depending on answer, will help me determine what size I should get for the SSD drive, correct? I'm comfortable with Linux by the way, have no issue with doing things via command line interface.

2) As I understand it, Frodo will introduce PVR functionalities. If I want to have my HTPC "Frodo/PVR" ready, what additional considerations do I have when I do my first HTPC build?

3) Any negativity associated with having my HTPC also house a Bluray drive? I noticed that almost none of the builds in this forum have any optical drive (DVD or Bluray) attached. Is that because the benefits of having optical drive is not worth it?

4) Mini-ITX or Micro-ATX, does it matter much? I'm eyeing Mini-ITX, I like smaller cases, any big downsides with all my considerations above?

5) is XBMC still not able to play Bluray natively today? I saw this commented in a sticky - What exactly does "natively" mean? Does that mean I can download some addon or driver to make XBMC able to play Bluray movies?

I am sure I'll have more questions but will start with those questions for now.
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romasi Offline
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Post: #2
Mohu Leaf is coax I believe - you will need a tuner for your ota antenna.
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lagledavid Offline
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Post: #3
(2012-05-10 22:31)darthdiablo Wrote:  Ran XBMC on my MacBook Pro, as well as my WindowsXP machine that has been collecting dust until I dusted it off to serve as a temporary storage & testing box for my home XBMC-synced setup.

Currently, I have two ATV2's and a Synology NAS with MySQL running. Everything is streamed wirelessly, most times in 720p.

The thumbs are synced via pathsubstitution in advancedsettings.xml.

I'm not a big fan of ATV2, even using the Quartz skin (for improved performance), because I'd really rather use Transparency or some more resource-intensive skins.

Plus, I'm also looking for better performance when rewinding/fast-forwarding - on my Macbook pro, it's generally smooth when rewinding/fast-forwarding, but on ATV2 it's unbearable (very very choppy). Need something more powerful than an ATV2.

I'm looking for some suggestions (builds) that can do the following:

NetflixHulu (Windows)
1080p
Take input from Mohi Leaf Plus (I am assuming HDMI? I will receive the device today and check out what outputs are available)
has a BluRay drive (reading only)
Has a SSD for improved I/O performance

Granted, my library is on my NAS, but I'd like to use BluRay reader drive to rip the DVD/BluRays we purchase occasionally and have the contents sit in our XBMC library on NAS.

Questions:
1) OpenELEC, XBMCbuntu, or XBMC for Windows? Which one of those are better based on my needs above? Depending on answer, will help me determine what size I should get for the SSD drive, correct? I'm comfortable with Linux by the way, have no issue with doing things via command line interface.

2) As I understand it, Frodo will introduce PVR functionalities. If I want to have my HTPC "Frodo/PVR" ready, what additional considerations do I have when I do my first HTPC build?

3) Any negativity associated with having my HTPC also house a Bluray drive? I noticed that almost none of the builds in this forum have any optical drive (DVD or Bluray) attached. Is that because the benefits of having optical drive is not worth it?

4) Mini-ITX or Micro-ATX, does it matter much? I'm eyeing Mini-ITX, I like smaller cases, any big downsides with all my considerations above?

5) is XBMC still not able to play Bluray natively today? I saw this commented in a sticky - What exactly does "natively" mean? Does that mean I can download some addon or driver to make XBMC able to play Bluray movies?

I am sure I'll have more questions but will start with those questions for now.

you need windows for netflix

My HTPC AMD A8-3870K CPU/ SilverStone ML03B/ASRock MB-A75M /Seasonic SS-400ET/Corsair XMS3 4GB
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-10 23:50 by lagledavid.)
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darthdiablo Offline
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Post: #4
(2012-05-10 23:47)lagledavid Wrote:  you need windows for netflix

So that narrows it down considerably. What size SSD is good for XBMC on Windows? I only want minimal amount needed for the OS, as well as a BR-rip program, and room for contents off a BlueRay disc I own so I can transfer it back toward NAS (assuming having a BR drive in my HTPC is a good idea)
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darthdiablo Offline
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Post: #5
How's this?

$81 Crucial 64 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s CT064M4SSD2 http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-64-2-5-Inc...y_e_text_c

$115 AMD A8-3850 APU Quad-Core Processor (AD3850WNGXBOX) http://www.amazon.com/AMD-A8-3850-Quad-C...483&sr=8-1

$75 ASRock MB-A75M Socket FM1/ AMD A75 FCH/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&GbE/ Micro ATX Motherboard http://www.amazon.com/ASRock-MB-A75M-Soc...B0058HBNY2

$60 SilverStone Aluminum/Steel Micro ATX Media Center/HTPC Case ML03B (Black) http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Alumin...182&sr=8-1

$44 Corsair Builder Series CX V2 430-Watt 80 Plus Certified Power Supply Compatible with Intel and AMD Platforms - CMPSU-430CXV2 http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-430-Watt-C...247&sr=1-1

$40 Kingston Hyper X Plug n Play 4 GB (2x2GB Modules) 1866MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL11 Desktop Memory (KHX1866C11D3P1K2/4G) http://www.amazon.com/Kingston-Modules-1...132&sr=8-1

$57 LG UH12LS28K LightScribe 12x SATA Blu-Ray Combo Internal Drive, Bulk (Black) http://www.amazon.com/LG-UH12LS28K-Light...B004U65FM8

Total so far: $472 (no tax, no shipping - I'm an Amazon prime member)

questions: Do i need case fan(s)? How many, what size?

Which cpu fan do i need?

If I buy the BluRay drive listed above which XBMC apparently cannot play BluRay discs natively, can I still play DVD in XBMC using this drive with no issue?

Remote.. HELP! Which one should I start with? I've used XBMC remote which I understand is HTTP-based (or JSON-based?) and I like it, are there physical remotes designed this way?
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-11 03:31 by darthdiablo.)
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darthdiablo Offline
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Post: #6
The build above is based on one of eskro's builds http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=114890 with a couple of additions (BR drive, 64 GB SSD).

Would love to know if XBMC will still be able to play DVDs from BR drive, and also what CPU cooling solution I need to consider and what case fans I'm going to need, among with remote recommendations. Thanks :-D
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Dougie Fresh Offline
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Post: #7
128GB SSDs aren't that much more so I would consider that. I've seen the Crucial M4 128GB for sale recent from $99.99 - $109.99. IMHO, it's worth the extra $20-$40 over the 64GB to get double the space.

Also, that ML03B is very shallow. Consider one of these very good SFX12V power supply that comes with an adapter to mount in the ML03B:

300W
http://www.amazon.com/FSP-Certified-300-...004VF4R4U/

400W
http://www.amazon.com/FSP-Certification-...005CP07BA/

One of the great things I've learned about the FSP GHS power supplies is under light load they turn off their internal fan. That is fantastic for HTPC. FSP is a very good name in PSUs. I buy FSP, Antec and Seasonic only.

For cooling, try stock first and if it's is too noisy there are many good solutions out there. Also, you may not need a case fan. Try it first w/o and add one later if needed. It's only needed if CPU cooler is working too hard and is too noisy. With now HDD making heat the CPU heatsink should be enough to keep the motherboard/CPU/etc. cool and there is plenty of venting for convection to remove the heat.

BR drives can play DVDs.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-11 16:20 by Dougie Fresh.)
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darthdiablo Offline
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Post: #8
(2012-05-11 16:11)Dougie Fresh Wrote:  128GB SSDs aren't that much more so I would consider that. I've seen the Crucial M4 128GB for sale recent from $99.99 - $109.99. IMHO, it's worth the extra $20-$40 over the 64GB to get double the space.

Also, that ML03B is very shallow. Consider one of these very good SFX12V power supply that comes with an adapter to mount in the ML03B:

300W
http://www.amazon.com/FSP-Certified-300-...004VF4R4U/

400W
http://www.amazon.com/FSP-Certification-...005CP07BA/

One of the great things I've learned about the FSP GHS power supplies is under light load they turn off their internal fan. That is fantastic for HTPC. FSP is a very good name in PSUs. I buy FSP, Antec and Seasonic only.

For cooling, try stock first and if it's is too noisy there are many good solutions out there. Also, you may not need a case fan. Try it first w/o and add one later if needed. It's only needed if CPU cooler is working too hard and is too noisy. With now HDD making heat the CPU heatsink should be enough to keep the motherboard/CPU/etc. cool and there is plenty of venting for convection to remove the heat.

BR drives can play DVDs.

Appreciate your response, especially part about PSU's.

When I built computers in the past, I've never really paid attention to how much wattage I actually need, I just go out and by a 450-watt PSU.

Sounds as if 300 watts will suffice here - no real concerns here for daily usage with my build if I go with 300watts?

Edit: I answered my own question here http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine

Looks like 300 watts is more than plenty.

When you say try stock CPU cooler first, does that mean what normally comes with the CPU itself?
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-11 17:03 by darthdiablo.)
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Dougie Fresh Offline
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Post: #9
(2012-05-11 16:35)darthdiablo Wrote:  When you say try stock CPU cooler first, does that mean what normally comes with the CPU itself?

Yes. Since what constitutes "noisy" depends on the listener and environment, I would see if you personally find the stock cooler too noisy first before spending money on a aftermarket cooler. It's very easy to swap out a CPU cooler. There's a kit and instructions from ArcticClean for cleaning off the old Thermal Interface Material (TIM) and putting on new TIM for the new cooler.
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pyrospawn Offline
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Post: #10
(2012-05-11 01:08)darthdiablo Wrote:  
(2012-05-10 23:47)lagledavid Wrote:  you need windows for netflix

So that narrows it down considerably. What size SSD is good for XBMC on Windows? I only want minimal amount needed for the OS, as well as a BR-rip program, and room for contents off a BlueRay disc I own so I can transfer it back toward NAS (assuming having a BR drive in my HTPC is a good idea)

this link so how to set up your regular mce remote (i use the mediagate mce remote) to work with xbmc and also windows mce, TMT, etc... http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=78179

AnyDVD HD is a good decrypter and also allows you to rip your BDs.

This link shows how to set up xbmc to play bluray disc within xbmc, XBMC can play most BD iso natively (just main movie,no menu), but not the physical BD disc (using TMT) http://www.avforums.com/forums/14741493-post202.html

As far as Netflix, and Hulu, I did not like the hulu and netflix plugin from, xbmc. Thus I config the advance launcher in xbmc to launch the hulu desktop app, and the Netflix plug-in from windows MCE. (http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=107997).
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-12 09:19 by pyrospawn.)
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bluray Offline
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Post: #11
(2012-05-12 09:17)pyrospawn Wrote:  AnyDVD HD is a good decrypter and also allows you to rip your BDs.
If you alreeady installed AnyDVD HD, you should be able to playback blu-ray movie directly on BD-ROM with XBMC "Play Disc" option...

(2012-05-12 09:17)pyrospawn Wrote:  This link shows how to set up xbmc to play bluray disc within xbmc, XBMC can play most BD iso natively (just main movie,no menu), but not the physical BD disc (using TMT) http://www.avforums.com/forums/14741493-post202.html
You can find so many threads related to XBMC external player within XBMC forum, and here are a few major one- Another External Player Code, but Very Simple to Setup, [WINDOWS] External Player Support Thread, or a simple search "external player"......

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
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pyrospawn Offline
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Post: #12
That is great news bluray, I havent tried bluray disc lately. Tested, and as you said xbmc can play bluray disc fine through playdisc option (main movie only, no menu). My info is old. Appology to all Sad
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bluray Offline
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Post: #13
(2012-05-12 21:00)pyrospawn Wrote:  That is great news bluray, I havent tried bluray disc lately. Tested, and as you said xbmc can play bluray disc fine through playdisc option (main movie only, no menu). My info is old. Appology to all Sad
XBMC don't support blu-ray menu.....

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
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