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View Full Version : What's the deal with media center PC's?


maX_Andrews
11-16-2005, 05:26 AM
Are you supposed to stick them in the middle of your living room? Why would you want to do that? Why would you spend $2000+ for a computer that you only use to record TV and play music through? Am I missing something?

JDex
11-16-2005, 06:53 AM
They we're intended to replace systems like WebTV and stereo/vcr systems... Grandma and Grandpa can send/recieve email on the TV, the kids can IM in a PiP window while watching educational programming (LOL) and you can do the Tivo/Jukebox thing without having to be a computer person.

They are infants now... someday, eventually, perhaps, they'll be as widespread as DVD players are now... and do much much more... especially if Fiber to the home opens up the interactive television, true video on demand world.

Saurus
11-16-2005, 09:41 PM
All controlled by a remote control from a comfort of your lazy boy…except when you have to write an email, then you use a wireless keyboard. If you don’t want to put a media center in your living room and you have a 360, you can stream your PC media via 360.



HP has a nice looking media xp:

http://blog.giantchoad.com/photos/uncategorized/hp_digital_ent_center.jpg

MadMax
11-16-2005, 11:06 PM
What's not to get??

I can record 4, yes I said 4 shows at once. Including HD. (I have 4 kids, there is a lot of varied interests here)

I can store 600+ CD's worth of music.

I can store hundreds of thousands of photos and movies/home movies whatever.

My HTPC can stream any of that to other rooms in the house so my kids can watch something I have recorded while I watch something else.

I can pop Finding Nemo in for them and they can watch it in their room without me worrying they might damage the disc.

Of coure 2000.00 + for a meida center PC is a rip off. You can build a vastly superior system yourself for much less.

MattClary
11-17-2005, 12:49 PM
I can record 4, yes I said 4 shows at once. Including HD. (I have 4 kids, there is a lot of varied interests here)

MadMax, how are you doing this??? Also, are you using cable, satellite or broadcast?

lots
11-17-2005, 01:06 PM
4 different TV tuners, one being HD I would bet. Or one dual tuner one single tuner, and a HD tuner. :) Then using something like MythTV (I'd use that just because its linux based :P). I'm guessing all tuners are hardware encoders rather than being CPU bound too.. Then combined with some sort of network storage?

Sounds like a nice HTPC you've got there max :)

MadMax
11-17-2005, 03:31 PM
Actually Lots it's technically 5 tuners. 2 Hauppage dual tuner cards (has 2 complete tuners on a single PCI card) and a FusionHD HDTV tuner card.

DirecTV dual LNB, two lines coming into the house which used to be for Sony dual Tuner box. This is hooked to a multi splitter (not a generic splitter) going into 4 inexpensive (20.00 on eBay or at a swap meet for brand new in the box) DirecTV recievers (required to interpret DTV signal) then run into the back of a HTPC case.

SageTV (A media center application) can control multiple tuners, program guide etc. With an IR controller and a remote, this is like any Tivo box except far more powerful.

This is run into an onboard raid, using 4 250gb SATAII drives. Normal compression for the DTV signal equals 1gb (roughly) of storage for a 1 hour program. FYI, you really MUST have an nForce4 board for this to work as the nForce 4 has everything integrated into the chipset. You need all the PCI bandwidth you can get to proces 4 SD streams in realtime into the computer. A VIA board for example would not be able to handle 4 tuners.

lots
11-17-2005, 04:24 PM
Kinda makes you want the PCIe x1/x2/x4 cards to pick up sooner... That, and Nvidia needs to refresh thier NF4 chipset (NF5?) for more lanes on the north bridge. Currently almost ALL the PCIe lanes are used up by the x16 graphics slot :/

Then again I guess it doesnt really matter until there's a PCIe card to put in there.. It'll be great when they can stop supporting PCI (and wasting die space on the chipset). But judging by the time it took ISA to fade out... that wont be for a while :)

MadMax
11-17-2005, 04:46 PM
Kinda makes you want the PCIe x1/x2/x4 cards to pick up sooner... That, and Nvidia needs to refresh thier NF4 chipset (NF5?) for more lanes on the north bridge. Currently almost ALL the PCIe lanes are used up by the x16 graphics slot :/

They already have.

Didn't you see the new nFore chipset onthe board Asus is replacing the A8N SLI Premium with?

A8N SLI32 or something like that. 2 PCI-e slots, both 16x. And it isn't using a combination of nVidia 2020 and 2050 like our K8WE's do.

lots
11-17-2005, 05:46 PM
Yes I did, though I thought it was a two chip solution.. I'll go look at it again :P It wasn't something I really cared about since I already have dual x16 ;) So i didnt look too closely..

MadMax
11-17-2005, 06:02 PM
ASUS (http://usa.asus.com/products4.aspx?modelmenu=2&model=744&l1=3&l2=15&l3=0)

direct link to the product page.

MattClary
11-17-2005, 06:36 PM
Wow! That's pretty cool! I'm on DishNetwork and have 2 old tuners in the garage (now using a DVR). Maybe one day I will set something like this up when i have more $$$.

TheClick
11-17-2005, 06:56 PM
One thing that strikes me as odd, is that somewhere in this post, already someone said "you can build one yourself for much less."

On to my question.
How come when someone posts a question on how to gather materials and build a HTPC, they get no response around here? But if someone was to post something around the area of "I want to buy a HTPC" I'm guessing they'd get responses full of links and hardware vendors and systems, mostly all being over $2,000.

Almost like:
"I'm not only the CG Artist, I'm also the CG Salesman"

Oh well, feel free to do what you do, and don't do what you don't.

MadMax
11-17-2005, 07:07 PM
How come when someone posts a question on how to gather materials and build a HTPC, they get no response around here? But if someone was to post something around the area of "I want to buy a HTPC" I'm guessing they'd get responses full of links and hardware vendors and systems, mostly all being over $2,000.


Funny I don't recall seeing a question in this thead about how to build one. Perhaps if you spent some time with the search button instead of whining, you would see this question has been asked and answered before.

However if you want to ask how to build one instead of whining about it then ask. Otherwise put a cork in it.

lots
11-17-2005, 07:10 PM
As far as I can tell, its a two chip setup consisting of the new C51D (similar to the Geforce6100 motherboards, without the integrated GPU) and the NF4 SLI linked together with a hyper transport between the two. Each chip (like our K8WEs) provides one x16 slot.

Asus's page provides further info by saying "Chipset NVIDIA nForce™4 SLI X16 (NVIDIA nForce SPP 100 / NVIDIA nForce4 SLI)"

I assume SPP100 is the name given to the C51D.

That linked with this picture: (never heard of the review site so take that as you will :)) http://images.tweaktown.com/imagebank/a8n32_chipset.JPG Though it looks like an nvidia slide... *shrug*

And the fact that there definately appears to be two chips on the Asus, with definate traces from each chip going to separate PCIe x16 slots, I'm thinking its a two chip operation :P

http://www.tweaktown.com/popImg.php?img=a8n32_09_l.JPG
http://www.tweaktown.com/popImg.php?img=a8n32_07_l.JPG
(only pics I could find with a glare to see the traces on the board...)

selden
11-17-2005, 07:22 PM
CGTalk may not be the best place to ask about Media Center computers or home-built equivalents. Experts on such things are more likely to be found on the AVScience Web forum at http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/index.php?
in the Home Theater Computer section.

mrloco
11-17-2005, 07:23 PM
I guess it would be nice playing cod2 on a plasma with a nice 5.1 system no?

.src.visualisation
01-21-2006, 05:28 PM
Just picked up this thread. I'm wondering if I should convert my old home PC into a HTPC and move it into the front room. It's current specs are as follows...

AMD Athlon 1600+
512MB DDR RAM
80GB + 40GB HDs
ATI Radeon 9000 series
5.1 Sound Card

If I'm understanding the whole HTPC thing correctly, should this be adequate, with some mods, to serve the purpose? I would have to add a TV card, obviously, and replace the 40GB HD with a 250GB at least.

What would be a good TV card to pick up Digital? (I'm in UK).
Would all my stuff transfer into a Media Centre case? (It would be nice if it could look good)
Should I get Windows Media Centre, or is there other scheduling software that will pick up UK channels?
If I want to go dual-tuner, can I just plug another tuner in and away we go?
Will my g/card be ok with my CRT TV? It has S-Video out.
Will I be able to plug my sound card into my Amp?

Sorry for all the questions, just not sure about some of this stuff.

Beamtracer
01-22-2006, 09:25 AM
Isn't that 'Viiv' thing supposed to take over from media PCs?

.src.visualisation
01-22-2006, 03:49 PM
Isn't that 'Viiv' thing supposed to take over from media PCs?

First time I've heard of it. I've just had a look at Intel's website and it doesn't strike me as anything new. Is it a different chipset? It's not a new processor from what I understand, and it doesn't look like a different way of doing things - I think it's just a PC with XP Media Centre that Intel are marketing as something special.

But I may be wrong.

MadMax
01-22-2006, 04:47 PM
First time I've heard of it. I've just had a look at Intel's website and it doesn't strike me as anything new. Is it a different chipset? It's not a new processor from what I understand, and it doesn't look like a different way of doing things - I think it's just a PC with XP Media Centre that Intel are marketing as something special.

But I may be wrong.


Nope you are correct, nothing new. Intel ViiV is just a collection of already existing technologioes lumped together, the same as the Centrino label for laptops.

I am more interested in AMD's "Live!" approach.

The ViiV depends on everything created by intel. Audio, Video , software. No standards for interoperability.

AMD Live! has a number of partners supplying components for it like nVidia (Soundstorm returns?) Nero and others.

Of the two, AMD is likely to be the far more attractive package, but will get the least exposure.

lots
01-22-2006, 05:23 PM
Think of Viiv (rhymes with five) as a collection of already available technology. Much like Centrino. Intel is merely packaging all these technologies into one brand, Viiv. It is no more or less able than what you can put together your self, but it enables Intel to sell all of the parts to you at once. It also garantees it works the way you think it will.

If you know what you are doing you can most likely put together a better system for less money than a Viiv system would cost, as the Viiv branding most likely will cause an increase in price as well ;)

EDIT: Heh, max :P Maybe I should hit submit on stuff after I write it, insted of going out to lunch :P

MadMax
01-22-2006, 06:19 PM
interesting the wording being almost identical.

freakin scary.....

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