Author Topic: The TBG Home Theater PC Build  (Read 31298 times)

Ari Altman

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The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« on: March 04, 2014, 01:47:19 PM »
Here's the thread to discuss the "The Home Theater PC Build" on The Tech Buyer's Guru.

The original article can be found here:

http://techbuyersguru.com/HTPCbuild.php

Feel free to start your own threads to discuss your personal builds in this category!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 08:04:20 AM by Ari Altman »

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2014, 02:14:32 PM »
We recently received this inquiry from a reader and thought others would be interested in the topic:

"I'm currently in the process of specifying an HTPC. The operating system
I plan to use is openelec, a dedicated XBMC Linux distribution. I mainly
stream HD mkv videos and my main requirement is that HD video and Dolby
Digital HD and DTS HD Master Audio sound tracks are passed through and
recognized by my Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver. My prototype, installed on an
NVidia GT670 laptop worked perfectly.

Based on your guide will the recommendation of the Intel i3 processor in
combination with the MSI H97M-G43 motherboard correctly pass through HD
video and audio signals through the HDMI port on the motherboard? If
that's the case I can avoid the expense of an NVidia card. If not, I can
add an NVidia card."


--------------------------------------

While this is a fairly technical question, our preliminary advice was as follows:

"Intel has been criticized for not providing timely updates for its HDMI audio drivers.
This may be complicated by running on a Linux system. My suggestion would
be to try it out, and if it does not work, buy a GeForce GT 640 video card
to handle the processing. Note that the 640 is now being sold as the GT 740 by some
manufacturers. It in fact uses the same GPU."

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 02:04:55 PM »
A reader just sent along this question, and we thought it would be helpful to post the e-mail exchange:

"Hello,

I'm looking to build a system and wondering about thermal management in
your system.  I am using a projector and planning to put the HTPC in a
cabinet (with external fans) right next to my seating area.  This makes
noise a key factor.  I was considering to go towards a fanless heatsync
style case, but they are expensive and cumbersome to deal with.

Any recommendation for a low noise setup?"


----------------------------------------------------------

Here's our response:

"Thanks for your e-mail. One thing to keep in mind is that in a cabinet,
you get the benefit of some sound insulation, but you also have a bit less
airflow (even with external fans). Therefore, some active cooling is
probably a good idea. I've never used a completely fanless HTPC setup, but
my experience with fanless video cards suggests that sometimes it's better
to have a small fan than no fan at all to prevent hot spots inside the
case.

I would recommend this Noctua CPU fan.

It will be nearly silent, and I doubt you'll hear anything through a case
and a cabinet. You can probably skip any additional case fans, unless you
are using either a fanless video card or a fanless power supply. In that
case, I'd also add a 120mm Noctua case fan (if using the Silverstone GD05
case), like this one.

For the low-profile Silverstone ML04 case, you'll need the 80mm version of the Noctua
fan.

A Tech Buyer's Guru reader recently put together a silent HTPC in a
cabinet, using all Noctua fans, a Scythe CPU cooler, and the GD05 case.
You can see that build here"
« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 02:23:51 PM by Ari Altman »

Dohara1985

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2014, 06:59:02 PM »
I have been working on my htpc for over a yr. it is constantly evolving and always changing. Originally I was running an old PC using xbmc and plex. I have since replaced that computer with a newer but still old computer. Win 8, 4 GB ram and 2.9 ghz dual core. I now only use plex. For me Plex is absolutely perfect. The main reason I replace the old computer was because it could not handle the three 3 tb hdd I purchase. There was not enough space nor connections. Nor did it recognize the 3 TB. The new computer recognizes it but splits them into 2.2 tb and .7 tb drives. Not a big deal but still annoying. I am now running out of room on the 9 tb and need to add another few hdd. So here is the question. Should I spend the money and buy a nice computer and make it the primary plex server with the other computer as a second with the less used hard drives. Or should I keep the current computer and purchase a NAS. Currently I stream to multiple places both internally on the network and externally. 24/7 it is streaming to a least one device and downloading at the same time works well. Doing anything else on the computer ( like organizing files, unzipping or even browsing) is a choir. Either way I need to expand, what do you suggest?

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2014, 08:10:09 PM »
I have been working on my htpc for over a yr. it is constantly evolving and always changing. Originally I was running an old PC using xbmc and plex. I have since replaced that computer with a newer but still old computer. Win 8, 4 GB ram and 2.9 ghz dual core. I now only use plex. For me Plex is absolutely perfect. The main reason I replace the old computer was because it could not handle the three 3 tb hdd I purchase. There was not enough space nor connections. Nor did it recognize the 3 TB. The new computer recognizes it but splits them into 2.2 tb and .7 tb drives. Not a big deal but still annoying. I am now running out of room on the 9 tb and need to add another few hdd. So here is the question. Should I spend the money and buy a nice computer and make it the primary plex server with the other computer as a second with the less used hard drives. Or should I keep the current computer and purchase a NAS. Currently I stream to multiple places both internally on the network and externally. 24/7 it is streaming to a least one device and downloading at the same time works well. Doing anything else on the computer ( like organizing files, unzipping or even browsing) is a choir. Either way I need to expand, what do you suggest?

Good question - sounds like you're definitely getting the most out of your current HTPC setup.

First things first - you should be able to access the entire 3TB of your drives in one partition with a new motherboard - typically vendors provide an app that allows the OS to access the entire 3TB. You might check the manufacturer's website for your current motherboard to see if there's an app available for your model.

Now, secondly, it seems like you have two significant limitations with your current PC: (1) space for additional hard drives and (2) performance while multi-tasking. The space issue could be addressed simply with a larger case, without changing any of the other components, or alternatively using a NAS, as you mentioned, or even external hard drives via USB 3.0. I wouldn't recommend a full system upgrade just due to your need for more storage.

The performance issue you mention could be one of two things. If you have an older model dual-core that lacks Hyperthreading, you may be running into the limits of your CPU. Any later-model i3 dual-core, such as the 2.9GHz i3-4130T, wouldn't have problems multi-tasking, so the answer depends on which dual-core you have.

Another concern is whether you're operating your OS off of one of your mechanical storage drives. If they really are streaming/recording 24/7, I'd make sure to get the OS onto a solid-state drive. That would be a significant boost to overall multi-tasking performance.

To summarize: if you have less than a Core i3, you should probably upgrade the CPU, if you already have an i3 but not an SSD, add an SSD for the OS. And if you have both an i3 and an SSD, it sounds like all you really need is a NAS for additional storage.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 11:10:12 PM by Ari Altman »

ploppy

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 10:49:10 AM »
I'm planning on copying the build from your post. I'm going to place it on an open shelf on my tv stand with no other electronics next to it. I'll be using the ML03B case though instead (just don't like that cover in the front). Do you recommend additional fans for the build? If so, anything specific or just the Noctua fans you suggested in the previous post? I saw an older build somewhere else that was using the same case but had 4 of these http://amzn.to/X24k58 Also, how many?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 10:51:51 AM by ploppy »

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 01:00:05 PM »
I'm planning on copying the build from your post. I'm going to place it on an open shelf on my tv stand with no other electronics next to it. I'll be using the ML03B case though instead (just don't like that cover in the front). Do you recommend additional fans for the build? If so, anything specific or just the Noctua fans you suggested in the previous post? I saw an older build somewhere else that was using the same case but had 4 of these http://amzn.to/X24k58 Also, how many?

My advice would be to start with a couple of 80mm fans. If you use the Noctua CPU fan that's mentioned in the CPU section of the HTPC build, the CPU will definitely be fine even without any fans, but to get a bit of airflow, those Enermax fans you linked to would work. You might also try this Noctua fan, which is more expensive but is definitely very high quality.

ploppy

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 08:02:31 AM »
I'm planning on copying the build from your post. I'm going to place it on an open shelf on my tv stand with no other electronics next to it. I'll be using the ML03B case though instead (just don't like that cover in the front). Do you recommend additional fans for the build? If so, anything specific or just the Noctua fans you suggested in the previous post? I saw an older build somewhere else that was using the same case but had 4 of these http://amzn.to/X24k58 Also, how many?

My advice would be to start with a couple of 80mm fans. If you use the Noctua CPU fan that's mentioned in the CPU section of the HTPC build, the CPU will definitely be fine even without any fans, but to get a bit of airflow, those Enermax fans you linked to would work. You might also try this Noctua fan, which is more expensive but is definitely very high quality.

Great thanks Ari. One final question. I ordered 2 of the Enermax fans for the case. If I don't go with the a separate CPU fan do you think I have to worry about overheating or would the fans be enough to keep things cool? If a CPU fan is still needed I suggest adding one to the build so other users like me, don't accidentally melt their CPU's.

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 08:04:46 AM »
I'm planning on copying the build from your post. I'm going to place it on an open shelf on my tv stand with no other electronics next to it. I'll be using the ML03B case though instead (just don't like that cover in the front). Do you recommend additional fans for the build? If so, anything specific or just the Noctua fans you suggested in the previous post? I saw an older build somewhere else that was using the same case but had 4 of these http://amzn.to/X24k58 Also, how many?

My advice would be to start with a couple of 80mm fans. If you use the Noctua CPU fan that's mentioned in the CPU section of the HTPC build, the CPU will definitely be fine even without any fans, but to get a bit of airflow, those Enermax fans you linked to would work. You might also try this Noctua fan, which is more expensive but is definitely very high quality.

Great thanks Ari. One final question. I ordered 2 of the Enermax fans for the case. If I don't go with the a separate CPU fan do you think I have to worry about overheating or would the fans be enough to keep things cool? If a CPU fan is still needed I suggest adding one to the build so other users like me, don't accidentally melt their CPU's.

Oh, don't worry - the Intel CPU comes with its own CPU fan! It's definitely capable of cooling the CPU, even without any case fans at all. It's just a little loud, and HTPC users often look to minimize fan noise as much as possible.

ploppy

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2014, 07:45:31 AM »
Hi ari. Finally got around to putting together this build. Ive run into an issue trying to connect the power though.

The secondary power supply cable is an 8 pin connector. The motherboard JPWR2 connection is only 4. Am i missing an adapter or something?

Images are attached. Any help is appreciated.

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2014, 07:59:49 AM »
Hi ari. Finally got around to putting together this build. Ive run into an issue trying to connect the power though.

The secondary power supply cable is an 8 pin connector. The motherboard JPWR2 connection is only 4. Am i missing an adapter or something?

Images are attached. Any help is appreciated.

The 8-pin power connector was released after the 4-pin version, and is designed to provide additional power to the CPU if needed. Your motherboard is designed for lower power applications, so it doesn't need that much power and therefore uses a 4-pin connector. Typically the 8-pin connector can either be physically separated, or if not, half of it can be used to plug into the motherboard. Can you confirm which power supply and motherboard you have? The only issue would be whether the 8-pin would overhang in the wrong direction and hit another component of the motherboard, preventing it from being plugged in, but this would be very unlikely, because every new power supply has an 8-pin connector and motherboard manufacturers know that.

Note that the pins in the connector are keyed by shape so they cannot be inserted incorrectly. You should be able to identify the matching key on one of the halves of the power supply connector.

I've copied below instructions from the Corsair CX430M Power Supply manual, as an example. Note the last subsection, regarding use with 4-pin +12V connectors:

"Step B: Installing the Corsair power supply
1. Make sure the power supply’s AC power cable is not connected.
2. Follow the directions in your chassis manual and install the power supply with
the screws provided.
3. Connect the main 24-pin power cable. The main 24-pin power cable has a detachable
4-pin mechanism in order to support either a 24-pin or a 20-pin socket on the
motherboard.
 A. If your motherboard has a 24-pin socket, you may connect the 24-pin main
 power cable from the power supply directly to your motherboard.
 B. If your motherboard has a 20-pin socket, you must detach the four-pin
 cable from the 24-pin connector, and then plug the 20-pin cable onto your
 motherboard without connecting the four-pin connector.
4. Connect the eight-pin +12V (EPS12V) cable to the motherboard.
 A. If your motherboard has an eight-pin +12V socket, connect the eight-pin
 cable directly to your motherboard.
 B. If your motherboard has a four-pin socket, detach the four-pin from the
 eight-pin cable, and then plug this four-pin cable directly to your motherboard."
« Last Edit: October 11, 2014, 08:06:10 AM by Ari Altman »

ploppy

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2014, 12:28:56 PM »
Okay, i was able to split the connector as you suggested.

I have 2 final connection questions.

The USB 3.0 cable from the front panel is really close to where it should plug in to the MB. It came with a 20 pin to 10 pin (9pin? 1 is really a no-pin) adapter but the manual doesnt list any other usb 3.0 connections, just 2.0. If i connect it to those will i still be able to use 3.0 cables for my devices?

My second question concerns the SATA wires for the HDD and bluray drive. The MB manual says to not bend them at 90 degrees, but i have 2 places that have to get bent right at the connection point. Should i be worried?

Im using The MSI H97M-G43 MB and the case is silverstone ML03.

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2014, 12:48:27 PM »
Okay, i was able to split the connector as you suggested.

I have 2 final connection questions.

The USB 3.0 cable from the front panel is really close to where it should plug in to the MB. It came with a 20 pin to 10 pin (9pin? 1 is really a no-pin) adapter but the manual doesnt list any other usb 3.0 connections, just 2.0. If i connect it to those will i still be able to use 3.0 cables for my devices?

My second question concerns the SATA wires for the HDD and bluray drive. The MB manual says to not bend them at 90 degrees, but i have 2 places that have to get bent right at the connection point. Should i be worried?

Im using The MSI H97M-G43 MB and the case is silverstone ML03.

Excellent - glad you figured out the 8-pin vs. 4-pin CPU power connector issue.

Now, as to your other two questions:
(1) You said the USB 3.0 cable is really close to where it should plug in - are you saying that you can't bend it sufficiently to get it properly inserted? That is one of the issues with USB 3.0 cables - they are typically very thick and not particularly pliable. It's a bit of luck of the draw whether the motherboard and case are a perfect match to make the connection easy. You can either try to bend it (gently) to get it installed, or you can use the included 20-pin to 10-pin connector. What that is doing is converting the USB 3.0 to work with USB 2.0. It's intended mostly for motherboards without a USB 3.0 header, but in this situation, it can also be used if you simply cannot reach the USB 3.0 header. The only drawback is that devices plugged into the front USB 3.0 jacks will operate at USB 2.0 speed.

(2) With the SATA cables, it again sounds like we're running into a clearance issue, common with small form factor cases. You can try bending the cable, making sure that it doesn't put too much pressure on the motherboard (if the SATA header looks like it could pull off the motherboard, you should refrain from proceeding). I believe that at least one of the two cables included with the MSI motherboard has a 90-degree connector on one end, so perhaps try that, but if you do indeed need two 90-degree connectors, you may need to order them separately. Amazon sells the Monoprice model for about $3, but feel free to source it elsewhere.

My suggestion would be to try using the cables you have, but as you install other components, make VERY sure that nothing gets caught on or drags across those cables in a way that would pull on the motherboard headers.

Ari Altman

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2014, 10:32:17 PM »
Okay, i was able to split the connector as you suggested.

I have 2 final connection questions.

...

My second question concerns the SATA wires for the HDD and bluray drive. The MB manual says to not bend them at 90 degrees, but i have 2 places that have to get bent right at the connection point. Should i be worried?

Im using The MSI H97M-G43 MB and the case is silverstone ML03.

I have some more info for you. Taking another look at the MSI motherboard, it turns out you may need a "left angle 90 degree" connector if you can't get the included SATA cables to work. A left angle 90 degree connector will plug into a top SATA port and then point upwards, allowing you to route it to the drive. Most 90 degree connectors are right angle, and will point down, potentially hitting the bottom of the case and preventing motherboard insertion.

ploppy

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Re: The TBG Home Theater PC Build
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2014, 02:41:10 PM »
The connection angle was only something i worried about when i saw the wire bending warning in the manual. The SATA connecter from the optical drive is straight, but my wires get bent almost 90 since theres so little space between it and the power supply.

The HDD SATA cable to the motherboard has a 90 connector that fits fine in the top SATA slot on the motherboard. If i had realized this was gonna be an issue i probably wouldve moved these around but due to some other problems ive already had to screw and rescrew a lot of pieces and this all seems to be working fine so im not going to worry about it.

Ive run it with the case still open and have been able to install my OS, ipdate my BIOS, and install most of the stuff i want with few roadbumps.

I do have 2 casefans left to install but im not sure where they should go. The ML03 case only has space on the right to screw them in. 1 would blow over the cpu and mb, while the other would be blowing over the front panel wires and not much else. Any suggestion on how they should be placed or if theyre even necessary? All my pics are too big to post :(