Any interest in a Home Theater PC Specification?

I have been playing with a spec of sorts.
Taken pieces from a variety of sources.
Have not had it built ... please feel free to comment and make suggestions ... now it will be very cheap to change.

The biggest challenge so far is keeping it QUIET.

Here you go ....
HTPC Specifications / Wish List

General system requirements:
•HDTV Decoding at 480i/480p/720p/1080i natively
•Recording HDTV to hard drive
•DVD and CD-Recordable Drive
•Highest Quality Case and quiet cooling
•Progressive Scan DVD output at up to 1080p
•Dolby Digital and DTS via S/PDIF or 8-Channel analog output

Pre-installed SW
•Windows XP Pro
•TheaterTek DVD Player
•Cyberlink's PowerDVD XP4.0
•EnTech's PowerStrip
•MyHD HDTV Application

Specifications (options are in italics / DC =
•Black (powder coated not spay painted) Metal Case / Cast aluminum faceplate (prefer 17" wide to match other components)
•Enermax P4 Compliant 350W "Whisper" Dual Fan Power Supply ($49 @ DC model number EG301PFMA)
•Optional use of a Zalman 300W Silent PS ($??)
•Silencer Quiet 80mm PC Case Fan 20dB @ $12
•Zalman Quiet CNPS6000-ALCU Copper Heatsink/Fan (available for P3 @ $40 or so from DC)
•Optional Zalman Quiet Pentium 4 Socket 478 Copper Heatsink Cooler @ $50 from DC)
•ASUS P4B533 ATX Motherboard with Intel i845 Chipset 9 (preferred)
•P4 (1.8 GHz minimum)
•Zalman Silver Rounded Cables Aluminum Braided Cover (Premium IDE and Floppy Rounded cables)
•MyHD MDP-100 HDTV Tuner/Decoder PCI Card
•Toshiba's new 16x12x10x40 with TheaterTek @ $120
•Pioneer DVR-A05 DVD-R/CD-RW Drive (painted black - at DC for $309)
•ATI Radeon 9000 AGP 64 MB DVI/VGA Graphics
•Zalman Copper Heatsink Fins Copper Video Card Heatsink Wings no Fan ZM17-CU @ $22 for Radion video card
•M-Audio Revolution PCI 24/192 Digital/Analog 8 channel sound card w/TheaterTek (just released @ $139 at DC)
•512MB PC2100 DDR, 1.44MB Floppy Drive
•80GB Primary/120GB Hard Drives (Seagate Baricuda V / No Vibes III suspension)
•IEEE 1394 Firewire
•56K V.90 Fax/Modem and 10/100BT NIC (Cable/DSL Modem)
•Windows XP Pro with CD Pre-installed
•Infrared Wireless keyboard and mouse

Case & Power Supply
1.a Kanam HT-200B (black @ $245 - DC) seems a good choice and can be ordered with 350W Enermax PS with adjustable fan ($65at DC)
2.Avance CI-6004BM Low Profile Black Plastic Bezel ATX 300W PS @ $99
3.The ideal case is the one used by RKR called the Titan RD Home Theatre PC
4. There is a "Barebones rack mount system which includes Pioneer DVD & P4 / motherboard for around $1000
Video Card (please advise - I am open to selecting the best for progressive scan DVD 720p & HDTV)
- ATI Radeon (I am not a gameboy ... want the best VGA projector match - Runco 930 DTV CRT)
- most stable and least number of bugs

- Toshiba's new 16x12x10x40 with TheaterTek if possible ($120+ at DC)

- FusionHDTV with remote control ($178 at DT)
- not sure it is required but I saw it advertised and it may be of interest.
Install a faster scsi C drive and a several ultra ata discs for the storage of the .wav and video.

Get a modded Radeon from

Consider a more expensive sound card and use a reference spdif cable.

Put everything including the battery onto a Symposium Ultra.

Consider using dynamat on the inside of the case.

Get a utility like rambooster and consider a Gig of ram at a minimum. You would prefer all ram activity rather than touching your disc and thereby avoid disc chatter.

Consider the I-Win Q800 full tower case. It will hold more stuff inside. It doesn't need to fit on a stereo rack.

Make sure your dvd drive is quiet when it spins up or use a utility to slow it down when reading data such as when you are playing a movie.

Put a reference power cord into the battery backup and power line conditioning into the system.

Consider a diffuser at the back where the fans go.

good luck! it sounds like you are going to have a great computer.
Thanks for the input.
Will review and update the spec.
There are three things you may want to improve.

One get a faster processor. Intel has come out with hyper threading technology that boosts the fsb to 800mhz.

Two upgrade to the sata (serial ATA)drives. They are expensive but they have speed.

Last when choose your video card make sure it has video in, video out. You might also want to check out the nvidia Geforce FX. It is supposed to be a vast improvement on the Geforce 4

I am using a Pentium III 800MHz cpu and love my machine. I use a Telemann HiPix DTV-200 HDTV card for HDTV decoding and Tivo-like time shifting. I can fill my 80GB disk really fast, though.

The Telemann card uses their own hardware decoder and the speed of the cpu becomes meaningless.

Same for the DVD decoding via the SigmaDesigns XCard.

Both the Telemann and the SigmaDesigns cards have S/PDIF out that I run into my processor for exquisite sound.
I just built my system similar to the specs you outlined:

- Asus PC4800 MB: 800 MHz FSB, USB, Firewire, IDE Raid, Firewire, SPDIF Digital Out, 10\100\1000 Nic, SATA controller
- Intel P4 2.6 GHz w\ Zalman CPU cooler
- 512 MB PC3200 RAM
- Toshiba DVD-ROM\CD-RW
- ATI Radeon 9600 Pro w\ Zalman Heatpipe
- Seagate Barracude 120GB
- Antec Sonata Quiet PC Case w\ Quiet PSU, Drives mounted on rubber grommets
- Windows XP Pro, WinDVD, WinAMP, Exact Audio Copy (EAC)

I was using a RME DIGI96 Sound Card with SPDIF Digital Out to a Boulder Mod Art DIO DAC but I got MUCH clearer sound from the onboard SPDIF Digital Out to DAC so I took the card out. The RME card worked fine in a previous system.

The system is nice. Not as quiet as I expected but you can't hear it once the music plays. The case is very nice looking in gloss piano black. I may disable the blue neon lights though.

I play uncompressed WAV's stored on several file servers located throughout my house on a 100 MB network. I also use it for occasional DVD to a SAMSUNG Syncmaster 171MP LCD monitor.

My only dilemma in this system is to replace my Van Alstine Fet Valve Preamp, Antique Sound SPM-25 SET Tube Amps and Bolder Mod ART DIO DAC for a Home Theater Receiver to get true surround sound for DVD and a future SACD\DVD-A player.
Okay Then........

To any of you who can answer this question, my question is this:

"I have been reading with great interest the possibility of creating a new PC and making it part of my entertainment system (either audio or video, or both) in the coming months, and what I want to know is IS it possible that I can do that with a garden variety PC (a/k/a.... a Dell Dimension 4600) that's going to be more of a "jack-of-all-trades" PC as well???"

What I want to do is crunch numbers which will allow me to keep up with a household budget every month, run an internet business on the side for extra income, surf the internet (with an always on connection via a cable modem or DSL), exchange e-mail with constiuents, play an ocassional game (but I am not a hard core gamer either) and download ".wav" and MP3 files off the internet and play an ocassional movie on the DVD drive every now and then. So, with that said then, my requirements are:

All that was stated above, plus the ability to do the following:

. HDTV decoding at 480i/480p/720p/1080i natively
. Recording HDTV to Hard Disk with the ability to download to DVD Recordable media using "TiVo" like functions
. Progressive Scan DVD output up to 1080p
. Dolby-Digital and DTS via S/PDIF and/or 7.1 Channel capability

And the software package that I plan to use to achieve this end includes:

. Microsoft Windows XP Home with Microsoft Plus
. "RealOne" Player Plus with Universal Media Playback

And now, here is how my PC is going to be speced when I finally go ahead and buy in early-to-mid August.

Dell Dimension 4600

. Pentium IV Processor at 2.8 GHz and 800 Mhz HT Technology
. 512 MB Dual Channel DDR SDRAM at 400 Mhz (2 x 256 Mhz)
. Dell Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard
. Dell Two Button Scroll Mouse
. 64 Mhz ATI "All-In-Wonder" 9000 Pro with TV Out
. 120 GB Ultra ATA/100 Hard Disk (7200 RPM)
. 3.5" Floppy Disk Drive
. 56K PCI Telephony Modem
. 16X DVD-ROM Drive
. 4X DVD+RW/+R Drive with CD-RW and Roxio's Easy CD Creater
. Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Sound Card with 5.1 Capability and Premium Sound
. Microsoft Windows XP Home with Microsoft Plus
. Earthlink Internet Access

Now, what I want to know is can I achieve all of the above (especially the audio/video functions) using this PC??? Do I have a good PC to begin with, but change some of the components and make some modifications inside of it in order for me to have me the great PC that I desire to have??? Or do I have to go a local vendor and make me a custom PC altogether like you guys are doing???

Any input or suggestion is highly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any replies that may come my way.

If you want the best video quality, you need to get an Immersive Holo3DGraph card. Preferably the new H3DII that is coming out now. It will act as a capture card via S-video, composite, component and SDI. The H3DII has the newest faroudja chip, uses a 12 pot scaler and has add on options for an HDTV I/O board, an MPEG hardware decoder board like the XCard, an RGBHV output card and an extra input card for up to 4 more SDI inputs. It does everything in hardware, so you could put it in a PC with a real low end CPU like the 1.12 GHz celeron, which is famous for being able to run WITHOUT a fan. You would only need the fan for your power supply and you are set.

For cases, the best looking cases are the CRT Cinema and A-Tech fabrication cases. Unless you knew the cases beforehand, you wouldn't know it was a computer.
I see that PC's used for HT are becoming more and more popular.

Looks like your rolling DVD player/decoder, audio preamp/processor all into one unit.

Is the quality a PC puts out better? or is it just cheaper?
What gives? I'm wondering why people are using this alternative to the typical "boxes"
An $1100 home theater PC will look a lot better than a $10000 DVD player/video scaler combo.

You are rolling the DVD player and scaler into one unit, but are not using it for an audio pre-amp. The HTPC isn't going to top a low end stereo receiver in that category, but it is pretty tough to beat for DVD playback. With an SDI modified DVD player and an H3D card, you will probably be beating anything short of a Teranex.

A $2000 reference VHS deck won't look as good as a $400 DVD player. Likewise, a $2000 reference DVD player won't look as good as a much cheaper HTPC. It isn't even close. Go to AVS forum and find somebody in your area who has one and ask if you can come over and see it. Once you do, you will understand.