hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

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I know there is a list of hardware that works with MCE and that is not what
I want. I am going to build one from scratch, all new parts. I would like
your recommendations.

Does it matter wether I run AMD or Intel?
What nice living room cases do you like, how about the one from Thermaltake?
What processor, Intel or AMD, and which one?
What motherboard, if Intel or AMD? I am going to hook this up to a home
theatre receiver that has optical input so I would like to have optical
output on my mobo. It would work that way correct?

I appreciate your help.

--
Brandon Baker
A+, Net+, MCSA, MCSE




Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

I can answer the Intel/AMD question...it doesn't matter. I have one MCE
running Athlon-64 3000, one running a 2.4Ghz Celeron, and one laptop using a
Pentium M 1.5Ghz. Of course, the faster the better, especially if you plan
to do HD or run multiple tuners. The Athlon-64 would give you an upward
migration path to Vista 64-bit version. If you really want to get to
state-of-the-art, consider a motherboard that would support the dual-core
CPUs.

Dana Cline - MVP

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what
Thermaltake?
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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

Thanks for your fast reply. I do want to do HD, I have a whole home theathre
system at my house with full dolby digital, dts surround sound. Also doing
hi def, the only thing I lack is a MCE pc. Do you think it is really
necessary to get a 64 bit proc? Or is dual core fine. Since AMD is a little
cheaper I will probably go with it. Do you have any other recommendations?
Thanks, I really want to build this thing right from the beginning.



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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

No, 64-bit isn't necessary yet since MCE doesn't do 64-bit and won't until
the Vista 64bit version of Media Center comes out...whenever that is. Just
looking ahead.

Other recommendations? Two hard drives, one for the system and one big one
for your recordings. I tend to prefer Seagate as I've never had one fail,
and they're the only ones with a 5 year warranty.

Dana Cline - MVP

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theathre
little
using
plan
dual-core
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like




RE: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

I just put one together this weekend, it seems to be working great:

Intel D945GNTLR motherboard (SPDIF out) with 820 CPU (dual core)
1GB dram
ASUS EN6600 Silencer fanless PCI-E video card
120GB SATA Seagate OS drive + 300GB SATA Seagate video recording drive
1x Sapphire Theatrix 550 analog tuner
2x DVICO Fusion 5 Lite OTA digital tuners
Antec Phantom 500 power supply
NEC IDE DVD-ROM, silver
Silverstone LC-16SM case
MCE remote

Notes:

1) The Silverstone case's iMON vacuum florescent driver seems to cause
periodic bluescreens, I uninstalled it and now all is well. Also, I never
could get the Graphic EQ display function to do anything. So the VF display
is useless for me until the company that wrote the driver cleans up their
act. It's otherwise cool looking, so I will try newer driver releases when
they come out.

2) The Silverstone LC-16SM case looks really good, but the front panel
controls actually feel cheap.  I don't anticipate using them though, they're
maybe more for looks to disguise the PC case.

3) This setup runs pretty quiet, my wife's laptop makes more noise.

4) I haven't tried the SPDIF out yet, new amp comes in tomorrow.

5) It's easy to wind up with a $1600 PC - are you sure you don't want to
rent a DVR cable box for $10/month instead?

"Brandon Baker" wrote:

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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

Thanks for all the info. No, I don't want to rent a dvr. I have about 10,000
mp3s I also want to stream. Tons of pictures, want to be able to surf from
my couch if needed. So you are actually doing high def? Did you have a
reason for going with the tuner cards that you did, most people use
hauppage, do you like the ones you bought better? Are you going to hook up
your spdif out to your amp for surround sound?








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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

For the analog tuner card, I've tried NVTV, Hauppage (ancient), ATI Elite
550, and Sapphire Theatrix 550. The NVTV and Hauppage cards both showed some
video herringbone noise on certain channels from Comcast. The 550 cards seem
to be equivalent to each other - they have a 3D comb filter that gives a very
nice clean image, less noise than my Sharp Aquos LCD. Sapphire's version is
less expensive than ATI's.

I record and watch OTA SD and HD all the time. Daytime shows are mostly SD,
but many primetime shows are HD and are spectacular. Watching regular analog
video makes me want to clean my glasses. Screwing with an antenna can be a
pain, but once it's sorted out, you're all set. I'm hoping MCE does introduce
cable-ready operation soon, maybe Comcast will feed me some non-network
digital channels I can't get OTA.

I am planning to use Nvidia's Purevideo "SPDIF Passthrough" mode to feed
surround to my amp.

Be sure you get an Nvidia 6600 or bigger video card, so you can use the
purevideo feature in the Nvidia decoder - it cuts CPU usage for display in
half. Lots of good info at thegreenbutton website.

"Brandon Baker" wrote:

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RE: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

From my experience, the dual core is a bit of overkill for an MCE machine.  I
run an Athelon64 3200+ and watch HDTV and DVDs on my setup.  I also have one
of the lowest powered video cards that is qualified (ATI 9550) so I can't use
the new Purevideo feature.  I have monitored my CPU usage while recording an
HDTV show and playing back another one and the CPU usage was running between
40-60%.  The picture is excellent and there isn't any stuttering or other
problems associated with CPU overload.  

Unless you are planning to do a lot of other computing while watching TV,
you shouldn't need more horsepower, especially if you get the 6600 video card.

"Brandon Baker" wrote:

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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

I wouldn't be doing anything else at the same time. What tuner cards do you
use, for hd and analog?
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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

I use the ATI HDTV Wonder card for the ATSC tuner and the EVGA NVTV single
tuner card for NTSC.  I don't really use the NTSC card, but MCE requires it
to be there to get the HDTV card to work.  The best part is that the EVGA
card came with the NVidea decoders so I didn't have a problem with trial
versions expiring.

I also chose the ASUS A8V Deluxe motherboard which can be support both 64
bit AMD cpus as well as the dual core AMD chips.  It also has an optical
SPDIF out that you can feed into your receiver.  I loaded it up with 1 gb
memory and it works fine.  I packaged the whole thing in a Silverstone LC-10
case, added a gyration mouse and keyboard and threw it in my equipment rack.

The system has been going for about 8 months now and I am qite happy with
its performance.

Mike
"Brandon Baker" wrote:

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RE: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

I agree with Mike.  If you're not computing while watching, even a 2.26 GHz
CPU is enough to record one HD stream while watching another.  I frequently
watch HDTV in a window while working on something else (internet, etc), and
it got slow.  So I sprang for the extra $100 for a slow dual-core CPU rather
than a medium or fast single-core.

The fanless 6600 video card I'm using was $129, not too bad. Some people
have luck with a 6200 card, others have stuttering.

"MikeM" wrote:

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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

Not really an overkill, you will need the computing power when you edit the
HD programming recorded.


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Re: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

The Dual core might be useful if you think you might use FFDSHOW w/
Theatertek DVD player via My Movies plug in.



RE: hardware recommendations for new MCE pc

I just completed building my system. I am very happy with it there are some
"twaks" required for me to be totally happy. with the case.
Here is what I have:

Thermaltake "Black Tenor" chassis - very good looking with other components
and accepts full ATX mb and PS. Fans are not temp controlled so I have to add
adapter to utilize the fan controls built into the MB. Modified  the 3.5"
face plate to have front USB ports. Will Add audio later. (my component rack
is too narrow to utilize the side ports that are factory installed)

Asus A8N Deluxe MB - Supports SLI if that added power is required in the
future for gaming. (comes with WinDVD Deluxe)

Geforce 6800 - Looks great even on my old 50" analog TV (getting HD soon)

AMD 64 3800+ - Can't beat AMD for price-performance

1GB OLC DDR

Will install a Hauppage TV tuner card in the interrum (have one laying
around) but will eventually get a WinTV card that has video scaling and HD
support.

Good luck!

"Brandon Baker" wrote:

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