Archive for April, 2010

Building a HTPC

I decided to start building a real fully featured HTPC. I originally was using my PS3 to play my videos and movies on my TV which was alright but unfortunately I have a lot of multiple formats (particularly MKVs). I was not going to convert my entire collection (which would of course lower quality). I had to use PS3 Media Server on my main PC to transcode it to the PS3. But it was not without problems…

  • Most of my videos are high quality rips like 1080P, h264 and FLAC. I had to use wired connection (as wireless is too slow).
  • I couldn’t seek  (most likely due to the high quality).
  • It would crash a LOT. This would mean going back to the PC just to restart the application.
  • Some formats are just unplayable (don’t know the specifically why, codec problems?).
  • It is POWER hungry. My PC is a high powered gaming PC and then we have a PS3 (old fat version). The PC also has to decode/encode on the fly which consumes a lot of CPU and memory especially since they are high quality rips.

So I started deciding on my parts for the HTPC but then I thought, why not make it a gaming HTPC (might be weird considering one of the issues above was power). Like I would like to play my emulators (PS2, SNES, etc.) in my living room instead of my PC (clunky chair). Yes my PS3 has PS2 support but it doesn’t upscale very well (PCSX2 does it way better) and highly doubt Sony will continue to update/improve support on the PS3. Also playing some PC only games would also be nice :)So here are the parts I gathered…

  • Case – nMediaPC HTPC-5000B – Decided on a large case as I will be using a full height video card. As well, it would be better for cooling (rather than a small cramped cube case).
  • Motherboard – Gigabyte H57M-USB3 – I like the Gigabyte motherboards so I decided on this one. It has USB3 too (even though it is on the back).
  • CPU – Intel Core i5 660 – No reason for a quad core so dual core is fine. This should power the Ps2 emulator nicely.
  • Memory – 4GB (2x2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3 CMX4GX3M2A1600C7 – Whatever was on sale.
  • Power Supply – Seasonic X650 Gold – The most energy efficient power supply right now.
  • Primary hard drive – Intel X25-M 160GB SSD – I was highly undecided for the primary hard drive. SSD drives are still expensive (even though I remember buying hard drives years back at this price) but they use less power and will boot this computer in seconds. I decided to go through with it.
  • Secondary hard drive – 2TB Western Digitial WD20EARS Green 64MB cache – Until I get a full media storage server, this will do.
  • Video Card – XFX Radeon HD5670 1GB – I was thinking of going for the lower 5570 as uses just a passive heat sink instead of a fan like this one. But this should give a boost in processing power as it is GDDR5.
  • Optical Drive – LG CH10LS20 Blu-ray player and DVD writer – I decided to put in a blu-ray player even though the PS3 is a much more superior player (as it can be updated when the 3D blu-rays come out). The players are not much difference in price from a DVD writer ($35-ish vs $100).
  • Keyboard/Mouse – Logitech diNovo Edge – Way too expensive IMO. Hopefully it works as good as the price.

Late Contest Wins

Forgot to post the following contest wins…

$100 Shoppers Drug Mart gift card – won from a Flintstones Vitamin – A Taste for Learning contest. It came via registered letter mail.

District 9 Blu-ray and echochrome download code – won from a Joystiq Christmas Naughty or Nice swag contest. It is good thing I didn’t win the Naughty prize as it was Godzilla (Amercian version). It came with the UPC scratched off which I understand why but really ruins the prize IMO (as I am a collector). I got it via Fedex but Fedex also charged me $13 for handling fees 🙁 which is pretty much made me wish I didn’t win and just buy it normally due to addition of the UPC scratch. Lucky Joystiq came to rescue and gave me a download code for echochrome for the PS3 to compensate the fee. They really didn’t need to (as per rules the fees were my responsibility) but it was really nice of them.