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  1. #1
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    Building my own media center

    I've decided to take the plunge and make my own media center PC - something I've "needed" for quite some time (I don't own a Tivo, and up until recently (11 months), I didn't even own a dvd player!).


    So anyways, I've put together a simple machine on tigerdirect, and the total comes to $264.95 (Dvd drive, 1ghz + mobo, 256ram, cheap tv tuner (Kworld pci), 20gb hd + the power supply, and case (already have a spare of both)) - but I'm not sure if that'd be good enough. I know the CPU and ram are more than enough to play video, and run freevo (.sf.net), but I'm not quite sure about the video card (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...4&sku=O38-1000).


    Has anyone here ever done anything like this? Should I spend a bit more money, and get another stick of ram, a bit faster CPU, and a better video card (With tv tuner, of course) - so I can also use it as a gaming PC?



    Thanks to everyone who helps, in advanced - I don't want to screw this up ($300 isn't 'a lot' of money, but it isn't chump change either).

    It'd be really nice to get this setup soon, as I'm getting tired of sitting in an uncomfortable chair, watching video on a 19" monitor - when I have a recliner and a 30" TV right beside me





    Edit: I just realized I have a 700mhz, with a TNT2 and 256ram sitting right in front of me - granted, its my working/server PC - but I've been meaning to upgrade it.

    Would it be better to use this PC, slap on a tuner - then build a $300-350 light-gaming PC? I realize it wouldn't be able to handle Doom 3, max graphics - but it SHOULD be able to run it (My 1.7ghz, geforce2, 512ram can run doom 3 on full graphics, at 5-10 FPS, and on low graphics at a playable FPS).

    Anyone out there mind telling me what kind of setup I could make for that amount (Including tuner), but have it be upgradable? (I'm more of a software guy - I can work on hardware if needed, but when it comes to building a more advanced system (I.e. - upgradable low-end, gaming PC), I'm completely lost)
    Last edited by Sykoi; 11-19-2004 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Depends what you're going to do..if you're only going to watch TV and DVDs, this setup would be fine. However, if you want to do a lot of encoding, you might want a faster setup.

  3. #3
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    Well for the media center: I want to hook it up to my network, and transfer videos (Movies, anime, foreign stuff (J-Drama (Hey its not as bad as US drama)), etc.) - then watch them (Obviously); as well as watch dvds.

    I'd use my other PC to encode, then burn with one of my others (I own a dvd-rw)

  4. #4
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    The 'budget' way to do this is to simply get a modded Xbox and install Xbox Media Centre

    For under $300 you will have a very capable DVD player, MP3 Player, downloaded movie/video player, photo viewer, AND an awesome game machine as well.

    The only thing xbox media centre can't do is record. For that you'd need a Tivo or something.

    XBMC lets you play content stored anywhere on your network, and will play online content such as the movie trailers on Apple.com. or Shoutcast streams.

    I am not condoning the use of a modded xbox for illegal purposes such as game copying, but you need a modded xbox for XBMC.

    XBMC does not work on an off-the-shelf xbox because Microsoft will not license the xbox SDK/compiler to anyone except huge game companies that can make them lots of money. XBMC is a free, opensource project.

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by sightz
    The 'budget' way to do this is to simply get a modded Xbox and install Xbox Media Centre

    For under $300 you will have a very capable DVD player, MP3 Player, downloaded movie/video player, photo viewer, AND an awesome game machine as well.

    The only thing xbox media centre can't do is record. For that you'd need a Tivo or something.

    XBMC lets you play content stored anywhere on your network, and will play online content such as the movie trailers on Apple.com. or Shoutcast streams.

    I am not condoning the use of a modded xbox for illegal purposes such as game copying, but you need a modded xbox for XBMC.

    XBMC does not work on an off-the-shelf xbox because Microsoft will not license the xbox SDK/compiler to anyone except huge game companies that can make them lots of money. XBMC is a free, opensource project.

    What about buying a pre-modded x-box from ebay (With games) for around $200? Would that be worth it? I've been looking into getting one anyways (And my friends have been bugging me to get one (LAN)), but I'm not sure... I'd want a mod thats well-done (With an on/off toggle - Which I can easily do myself), but I'm not sure if they've changed the newer x-boxes, to not allow modding (As stupid as it sounds, Microsoft could, and WOULD find a way )


    Thanks a bunch for reminding me about this! There have been so many great looking releases on x-box (Not to mention the fact that the only two consoles I own are PS1 and Dreamcast (+Gameboy (original), but thats not worth counting)).

  6. #6
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    For the media box you would need either a good cpu (2ghz), or a tuner with onboard encoder. The latter being preferable -- something like a pvr-250 from hauppauge; for software I recommend mythtv.

  7. #7
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    I would worry about buying a modded xbox on ebay. Especially if it came with games installed. That would be illegal. If you think it is hard to get refunds from ebay/paypal for a legitimate transaction, just imagine you chances of getting hosed buying something illegal.

    Buy a nice xbox bundle at your local mallWart or Best Buy, and find someone local to do the mod who comes recommended on the message boards. Just google "xbox mod [your town name]" - you'll find someone.

    The newer mod chips work in the newest xboxes. You have to solder on tiny little surface-mount components to install one, so you don't wanna do it yourself. I believe most of the current ones allow you to turn them off (so you can use xbox live).

  8. #8
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    Originally posted by sightz
    I would worry about buying a modded xbox on ebay. Especially if it came with games installed. That would be illegal. If you think it is hard to get refunds from ebay/paypal for a legitimate transaction, just imagine you chances of getting hosed buying something illegal.

    Buy a nice xbox bundle at your local mallWart or Best Buy, and find someone local to do the mod who comes recommended on the message boards. Just google "xbox mod [your town name]" - you'll find someone.

    The newer mod chips work in the newest xboxes. You have to solder on tiny little surface-mount components to install one, so you don't wanna do it yourself. I believe most of the current ones allow you to turn them off (so you can use xbox live).
    Good point... Forgot modchips aren't exactly 100% legal.

    And I'll be going to wally world in a few days to check out what they have (Don't want a bundle, they rarely have good games in them), and as for the modding: I've been soldering and tearing apart anything electronic, for 10+ years, I think I can add a simple mod-chip (And no, there is no google match for anyone, anywhere near me (Even in my county), that will mod an xbox).

    As for the soldering part: How tiny is 'tiny'?

    ---------

    westcan: isn't 2ghz a bit overboard? I don't need to record video (I should of mentioned that), just watch it - and possibly have an onscreen guide.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Sykoi

    westcan: isn't 2ghz a bit overboard? I don't need to record video (I should of mentioned that), just watch it - and possibly have an onscreen guide.
    Oh, ignore what I said then -- I thought you would be recording live tv, etc.

  10. #10
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    Re: Building my own media center

    Originally posted by Sykoi
    It'd be really nice to get this setup soon, as I'm getting tired of sitting in an uncomfortable chair, watching video on a 19" monitor - when I have a recliner and a 30" TV right beside me
    Sykoi, just if you don't know the picture / video quality on your TV is going to be really bad compare to a 19" monitor. Unless you have a 30'' LCD TV.
    Sid Shroff
    Senior Enterprise Web Administrator
    IIS, .NET, MS SQL

  11. #11
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    Re: Re: Building my own media center

    Originally posted by LessHost
    Sykoi, just if you don't know the picture / video quality on your TV is going to be really bad compare to a 19" monitor. Unless you have a 30'' LCD TV.
    I know the resolution will be lower (452x??? Something like that?) - but the quality won't necessarily be lower; in some cases, it may even be better (Better LOOKING - not as many pixels, but less grain)

  12. #12
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    Bit Off Topic

    This is what I'm thinking about getting:

    http://www1.us.dell.com/content/prod...=19&l=en&s=dhs

    Even though it's not a HDTV, it's a EDTV plasma. I read a bunch of articles on HDTV vs. EDTV and decided HDTV is not worth the extra $1k yet + I don't really watch that much tv; more movies.

    Anyways, 42" Plasma's starting at $2,299!

    Just a year ago they were $5,000 +
    Sid Shroff
    Senior Enterprise Web Administrator
    IIS, .NET, MS SQL

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