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View Full Version : How good is this?......



zahmad
30-07-2006, 10:11 AM
What do you guys think of this Media Centre PC?......in terms of value and performance......

http://www.playtech.co.nz/product.php?action=showdetail&id=770

pcuser42
30-07-2006, 10:41 AM
:eek: Much better than my Dell Dimension 1100 with intergrated graphics! :eek: I say go for it!

zqwerty
30-07-2006, 11:17 AM
No firewire?

zahmad
30-07-2006, 04:27 PM
I am thinking about purchasing a media centre,,,,,,,,but my budget is limited. So I was wondering if these specs are fine.....or I can build my own system with the new AM2 AMD socket.....but I was thinking it would cost a whole lot more if i do....and how is the upgradability of this system?

cbee
30-07-2006, 06:45 PM
Looks to be a pretty good machine for the money. You may be able to build a comparable machine for similar money but at least with the prebuilt you know the media centre software, tv tuners should all work well together. I've heard of some home built media pc's that have lot's of fun configuring everything to work together nicely.

You'll certainly notice the difference compared to your current setup.

zahmad
31-07-2006, 04:53 PM
Thanks for the reply.......and what are the future upgrade options for this Pentium D?

pctek
31-07-2006, 09:25 PM
Am I the only one that hates these "Media Centre" things? You can build the same thing yourself but with a decent case.


"# Record your favorite TV shows
# Watch, pause, and rewind live or recorded TV
# View your digital photos as a slide show
# View your music by the album art
# Create music playlists and download them to your portable music player"

And? You can do that on any PC with a TV TUner in it.

SolMiester
31-07-2006, 09:36 PM
Hi, my thoughts are......

1 Its a PresHOT core times 2, with a fast speed, so it will get hot, needing greater fan speed, meaning more noise or cpu throttling.
2 You wont be playing games with the boys on your big screen TV if thats something that you'd like, judging from that lame graphics card.
3 The drive is a fair size though if storing movies, 500Gb would be better.

I think its over priced for what you get considering no monitor included.

:2cents:

zahmad
01-08-2006, 04:21 PM
Hi, my thoughts are......

1 Its a PresHOT core times 2, with a fast speed, so it will get hot, needing greater fan speed, meaning more noise or cpu throttling.
2 You wont be playing games with the boys on your big screen TV if thats something that you'd like, judging from that lame graphics card.
3 The drive is a fair size though if storing movies, 500Gb would be better.

I think its over priced for what you get considering no monitor included.

:2cents:
Yes, After I added the price of a monitor and 5.1 speakers, I can build a better system for the same price :D!

BIFF
01-08-2006, 09:51 PM
What do you guys think of this Media Centre PC?......in terms of value and performance......


Looks like quite a fair deal. The components appear to all be on the media center compatibility list. It's well overspeced for a dual tuner system. I am not sure if the the PVR-500 can be used with two set top boxes or just two antennas only however.

Don't worry about games or building a 'cheaper' system out of other components, media center is prescriptive about tuners, sound cards and graphics adaptors (for good reason). A roll your own media center is a labour of love, if you want something that works out of the box buy a pre built one.

A genuine windows media center is a very beautiful thing. Some crappy desktop PC with a $90 tuner with software encoding is a pile of kak in comparison, you wife will hate you if you introduce something like that to her lounge...

linw
01-08-2006, 11:40 PM
If it is for a dedicated HTPC it is way overpowered (see Solmiester, above). Contrary to popular belief, a HTPC doesn't need super power. Its TV tuner card MUST have a hardware encoder, though. Software encoding just won't cut it.

Have a look at www.gbpvr.com and its forums. This is media centre software written and supported in Wellington and it is free! I use this on my everyday machine (it runs happily in the background) and send its output to the upstairs TV via ethernet and the Hauppauge MVP thin client box.

Good luck in your search for a system that suits you. Be prepared for a learning curve, though!!

Rob99
02-08-2006, 12:08 AM
Hard to say, forget all the fluff advertising rubbish like;
- 10/100/1000 networking, you never go that fast
- 7.1 Channel HD Audio with RCA/Optical/Coaxial output, most boards have this now
- Microsoft make nice mice and keyboards as long as they are corded, wouldnt touch their wireless stuff
- ...the list goes on

What are these parts is a better question, what brand of ram/hard-drive/motherboard/graphics card is more important.

On the + side the TV card is great

zahmad
02-08-2006, 07:56 PM
Should I then just buy a case and some more ram plus a tv tuner cars and use my current parts for my htpc :D?

Rob99
03-08-2006, 12:01 AM
Check out my Unbelievable Celeron Desktop!! :D:
http://www.deviantart.com/view/35606932/Cool, I like it, but you have the time in two corners :waughh:

Metla
03-08-2006, 12:11 AM
Should I then just buy a case and some more ram plus a tv tuner cars and use my current parts for my htpc :D?

no

gkar
03-08-2006, 06:02 PM
Here's my :2cents: from someone who has built a dedicated HTPC.

- What do you really intend to do with it? Just multimedia/browsing or games as well?
- Do you want futureproofing for DTV or possibly even HDTV at present?
- Are you a tweaker? Or just want to build & forget?
- How do you intend to control the unit? Keyboard/remote or both?
- How do you intend to transmit sound & video? S/PDif or mounted speakers.
- How much post processing will you do? For things like upscaling standard DVDs to 720p/1080i

What I do:
-DVD Playback (using Zoomplayer (ZP))
-Media playback of DivX/XVid files in Matroska container for chapters' skipping (ZP)
-Music playback (GB-PVR)
-TV programming capture via GB-PVR utilising an EPG grabbed with xmlTVNZ executable
-Video editing of media & captured files using various freeware programmes.

I personally stayed away from the MCE OS as there are a number of issues surrounding the peripherals like extenders etc. I had a copy of WinXP Pro so I went with that & I think Home is a perfectly acceptable solution.

As stated prior, stay away from the Prescotts. They generate way too much heat = more cooling =more noise. Unless you go with water or a remote location (not viable because of media loading issues etc.) The only benefit is with 5.1 Dolby Digital if you are playing back sound via speakers -not S/PDif)


My Configuration:
* -AMD 643000+ Venice CPU :-I wanted some futureproofing for DTV & the venice core generates less heat than its predecessor. I also wanted excess for post processing power

* -Zalman CNPS7000alcu CPU cooler :-cuts down significantly on external noise & the for a non-overclocked unit the straight copper cooler is overkill & almost twice the weight (relevant for midi(tower) cases)

* -MSI K8N NEO4-F mobo :-has most things I need. Don't require firewire or SLI. Is PCI-E for the future. I S/PDif everything to my Denon HT receiver. Has GB-LAN for network to my desktop. As the HTPC is not internet ready so I don't have to worry about antivirus; firewall; spyware or any of the bull that goes with net connectibility. The only issue is it won't power up off my USB keyboard. Bummer.

* -MSI NX6600LE graphics card :-am not playing games on this unit. This card comes with component-out dongle for HDTV resolutions although I will probably need to upgrade when I update my SDTV to an LCD model and/or higher resolution projector. Most overseas HTPC experts recommend Nvidia over ATI due to superior TVoutput & increased compatibility with Nvidia Purevideo decoders. Others will say ATI over Nvidia. I listened to the majority. However, I am forced to use older 84.21 drivers as the later ones do no allow proper aspect ratios via the TVout. Be aware, there are also drivers issues with ATI concerning HTPC.Bugger

* -1GB DDR400 Geil Value RAM :-again; the unit is not overclocked

* -40GB PATA HDD :-OS is installed on boot partition
& -160GB HDD :- went with Seagate as they got best reviews for HTPC useage. Media & music stored on separate partitions.

* -Hauppauge 150MCE tuner card :-Yes, you can use an MCE variant on a non-MCE OS machine. Just be prepared for major config time in working what drivers/apps software is best for you unit. This is true for any Hauppauge card.

Its TV tuner card MUST have a hardware encoder, though. Software encoding just won't cut it. Definitely. Learnt the hard way. Tried a software card (Winfast TV2000XP deluxe) but had capture audio sync issues. Unable to resolve. Although Hauppauge cards are a major pain in the a*&e to configure, they are probably the best out there at present. nvidia are introducing a card onto the market, I believe. Don't know anything about it, though

* -Silverstone Lascala LC14 HTPC case :-I liked its look & price for what was available at the time. Stay away from the VFD models as there are incompatibilities with IMon units installed in their cases. Good internals for hardware fitting. Three installed fans are quite quiet for standard models.
http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc14.htm

* -Enermax Noisetaker 420w PSU :-Compromise between silence & price. I sit some 4 metres from unit & I have to consciously listen to hear it going.

* -BTC 9019URF USB keyboard with mouse (joystick) :-I liked its setup & incorporation of a mouse-style joystick. Does take a second to activate the pointer, though not a biggie.

* -serial remote receiver for control of apps using Girder (when I get around to configuring it :rolleyes: )

I think that about covers it. Anything else; ask. Well, it was probably nore like 50cents worth. :D

zahmad
03-08-2006, 06:07 PM
Here's my :2cents: from someone who has built a dedicated HTPC.

- What do you really intend to do with it? Just multimedia/browsing or games as well?
- Do you want futureproofing for DTV or possibly even HDTV at present?
- Are you a tweaker? Or just want to build & forget?
- How do you intend to control the unit? Keyboard/remote or both?
- How do you intend to transmit sound & video? S/PDif or mounted speakers.
- How much post processing will you do? For things like upscaling standard DVDs to 720p/1080i

What I do:
-DVD Playback (using Zoomplayer (ZP))
-Media playback of DivX/XVid files in Matroska container for chapters' skipping (ZP)
-Music playback (GB-PVR)
-TV programming capture via GB-PVR utilising an EPG grabbed with xmlTVNZ executable
-Video editing of media & captured files using various freeware programmes.

I personally stayed away from the MCE OS as there are a number of issues surrounding the peripherals like extenders etc. I had a copy of WinXP Pro so I went with that & I think Home is a perfectly acceptable solution.

As stated prior, stay away from the Prescotts. They generate way too much heat = more cooling =more noise. Unless you go with water or a remote location (not viable because of media loading issues etc.) The only benefit is with 5.1 Dolby Digital if you are playing back sound via speakers -not S/PDif)


My Configuration:
* -AMD 643000+ Venice CPU :-I wanted some futureproofing for DTV & the venice core generates less heat than its predecessor. I also wanted excess for post processing power

* -Zalman CNPS7000alcu CPU cooler :-cuts down significantly on external noise & the for a non-overclocked unit the straight copper cooler is overkill & almost twice the weight (relevant for midi(tower) cases)

* -MSI K8N NEO4-F mobo :-has most things I need. Don't require firewire or SLI. Is PCI-E for the future. I S/PDif everything to my Denon HT receiver. Has GB-LAN for network to my desktop. As the HTPC is not internet ready so I don't have to worry about antivirus; firewall; spyware or any of the bull that goes with net connectibility. The only issue is it won't power up off my USB keyboard. Bummer.

* -MSI NX6600LE graphics card :-am not playing games on this unit. This card comes with component-out dongle for HDTV resolutions although I will probably need to upgrade when I update my SDTV to an LCD model and/or higher resolution projector. Most overseas HTPC experts recommend Nvidia over ATI due to superior TVoutput & increased compatibility with Nvidia Purevideo decoders. Others will say ATI over Nvidia. I listened to the majority. However, I am forced to use older 84.21 drivers as the later ones do no allow proper aspect ratios via the TVout. Be aware, there are also drivers issues with ATI concerning HTPC.Bugger

* -1GB DDR400 Geil Value RAM :-again; the unit is not overclocked

* -40GB PATA HDD :-OS is installed on boot partition
& -160GB HDD :- went with Seagate as they got best reviews for HTPC useage. Media & music stored on separate partitions.

* -Hauppauge 150MCE tuner card :-Yes, you can use an MCE variant on a non-MCE OS machine. Just be prepared for major config time in working what drivers/apps software is best for you unit. This is true for any Hauppauge card.
Definitely. Learnt the hard way. Tried a software card (Winfast TV2000XP deluxe) but had capture audio sync issues. Unable to resolve. Although Hauppauge cards are a major pain in the a*&e to configure, they are probably the best out there at present. nvidia are introducing a card onto the market, I believe. Don't know anything about it, though

* -Silverstone Lascala LC14 HTPC case :-I liked its look & price for what was available at the time. Stay away from the VFD models as there are incompatibilities with IMon units installed in their cases. Good internals for hardware fitting. Three installed fans are quite quiet for standard models.
http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc14.htm

* -Enermax Noisetaker 420w PSU :-Compromise between silence & price. I sit some 4 metres from unit & I have to consciously listen to hear it going.

* -BTC 9019URF USB keyboard with mouse (joystick) :-I liked its setup & incorporation of a mouse-style joystick. Does take a second to activate the pointer, though not a biggie.

* -serial remote receiver for control of apps using Girder (when I get around to configuring it :rolleyes: )

I think that about covers it. Anything else; ask. Well, it was probably nore like 50cents worth. :D
Thanks, I like you 50 cents :D!

CorbinH
04-08-2006, 05:57 AM
Hmmm... Seems extremely expensive to me...

gkar
04-08-2006, 10:07 AM
Hmmm... Seems extremely expensive to me...

Corbin,

I see you're from the USA. Do you have an HTPC? If so, how do you use yours? Are you basing the expense off $US or converting to $NZ?

These aren't meant to be construed as criticisms; I'm just curious as I used two American sites dedicated to HTPCs to decide what I needed & the best hardware formula to get.

http://www.htpcnews.com/index.php
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=26

If you're just doing basic capture & movie & music serving then it may seem overkill, but for the more intensive operations, like post processing (with fDDShow), upscaling & video multitasking, then they recommended having a higher CPU.

Apart from the CPU, let's look at my config:

mobo -is one of the cheaper models available

graphics -is the base 6600 model: minimum requirement to utilise Nvidia Purevideo decoders to their maximum. The 6200 is not really an option as it has lower pipelines & uses system memory to supplement its rendering + not able to 720p component-out to monitor/screen

case & CPU cooler -designed for aesthetics & silent mode so not to be intrusive on hearing whilst viewing

USB input -required for maximum control of unit. Having cords running across floor not an option

PSU -as stated

HDD -not that large compared to some recommendations. You need space for high quality capturing & file storage

OS -only viable Windows option. Linux still too much of a learning curve for someone like me. Commandline illiterate :rolleyes:

Tuner card -well, what can I say. It was expensive in terms of time spent configuring

Software -except for decoders, the rest is freeware: GordianKnot & associated apps; GB-PVR; Winamp. In retrospect, I probably should have just used DScaler decoders but the Nvidia Bronze package was only NZ$33.

The hardware cost somewhere in the vicinity of NZ$1000-1200 as I sourced it from cheapest stores that had good reputation.