HTPC – Home Theater Personal Computer

I’ve had a HTPC for a long time now, my original one died and it was getting pretty outdated anyway so I decided it was time to upgrade. I built myself a new pretty powerful machine, thinking that I would be using my HTPC for Blu-Ray playback, which changed when I bought the Playstation 3. Here is the equipment in my current HTPC:

Some of these parts are carryovers from my old HTPC but the majority of it is new. I went with the ASUS P5E-VM HDMI LGA 775 motherboard because it had HDMI out which would cover both my sound and video. I ended up really regretting this. I had nothing but trouble using the HDMI out on this motherboard, I was seriously plagued with blue screen errors and nothing I did to try and fix it worked. I think I was having so many problems because I was running dual monitors and I also blame a lot of the problem on Vista (which I feel has been a major failure for Microsoft). I finally gave up trying to use the HDMI out on the motherboard and bought myself a Radeon HD 4850 video card which also uses HDMI. This helped the problem a lot, but it still didn’t eliminate it.

I got so fed up with all the headaches that the HTPC was causing me I ended up going in a different direction in my theater. Instead of using the HTPC to watch movies I bought an Oppo DVD player, a decision I haven’t regretted at all. I no longer use the HTPC as a DVR, my Comcast cable DVR works just fine for me, the only problem being the lack of being able to permanently archive things (I just use torrents for that now).

Pretty much my HTPC is just used for listening to my vast collection of MP3′s, watching video files and for gaming. My system has way more horse power than it needs for listening to music and watching videos but it’s great for gaming. I love playing first person shooters on the 106″ screen.

I used to be a much bigger fan of HTPC’s than I am now. When they work properly they are great, but when things start to go wrong they can really have you pulling your hair out and screaming at inanimate objects. I will most likely have one in my system for a very long time coming, I have all of my music in digital format and the HTPC is great for that, I also do a lot of torrenting so the HTPC makes it easy for me to watch that stuff in my theater, and of course gaming is always fun.

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Comments

10 Questions/Comments/Trackbacks so far

  1. Posted by: Michael
    February 22, 2010 7:04 pm

    Moe you need to get a Popcorn Hour (Network media tank) it is amazing… you can store all of you bluray movies on a hard drive and play via hdmi to your projector with full 1080p,dts hd master, dolby true hd audio the works. This machine will handle anything you throw at it you can even add a movie juke box which is excellent YAMJ (Yet Another Movie Jukebox) just google the popcorn hour and YAMJ…The stuff you could do is very nice you tube has some demos of the popcorn and YAMJ and the different skins (movie jukeboxes) you could use it great for just under $200 its a steal…

  2. Posted by: Moe
    February 22, 2010 7:38 pm

    Looks like a cool device but I see absolutely no reason why I should get one. I have media server which now has 5TB of storage and I have an HTPC which does everything this thing does and more.

    For someone who doesn’t already have an HTPC this device would be cool. But I see absolutely no reason for someone with an HTPC to get one of these.

    I have a sneaking suspicion you work for the company :P

  3. Posted by: Derek
    June 16, 2010 7:30 pm

    Two suggestions with regard to your HTPC:

    1. You *really* need to move to Windows 7 x86-64
    2. You should take a look at the soon-to-be-available Ceton InfiniTV 4 CableCard TV tuner

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Posted by: Derek
    June 16, 2010 7:32 pm

    p.s. to prior comment:

    - Upgrading to 4GB of RAM would be good
    - The reason for Win7 is that it is greatly improved over Vista (both with regard to features and performance/reliability)

  5. Posted by: Moe
    June 18, 2010 10:34 am

    While I am no fan of Vista, I really see absolutely no “need” to upgrade to Win7, especially 64bit. 4gigs of RAM would be severe overkill for my HTPC, the 2 gigs I have now is plenty. I have no problem playing 1080 rips.

    While a cable card would be pretty cool, I am quite happy with my Comcast DVR and it’s a hell of a lot less headache than my old HTPC based DVR was. To be fair my old HTPC based DVR was many years ago and I am sure the software is much better now. But as I said, I am pretty happy with my Comcast DVR and if there is anything I ever want to keep, I’ll just get it via torrent.

  6. Posted by: Chris Andrew
    June 14, 2011 10:10 am

    Hi… just a quick question. Love your mp3 site … and your HTPC site ! I was wondering what software you use for mp3 / video playback. Also … what software did you use for all your coverart etc. I too have a large collection .. and every mp3 management software has failed.

    thanks,

    Chris Andrew
    wxlvandy@aol.com

  7. Posted by: Moe
    June 14, 2011 10:23 am

    Chris,

    I use a program called J. River Media Center http://www.jriver.com/index.html it is hands down the best media software I’ve ever used, in fact it’s some of the best software I’ve used period. It’s not cheap ($50) but it’s worth every penny.

    I wrote about it here http://moesrealm.com/htpc/software/media-center/ but that page is very out of date these days.

    Regarding cover art, J. River has something built in to get cover art. So I usually start there, if that doesn’t find a good enough cover for my tastes I then use google images or another (free) program called Album Art Downloader http://sourceforge.net/projects/album-art/

    J. River offers a free 30 day trial. The program does have a pretty steep learning curve as it’s insanely powerful. But they have a great wiki and a very active forum where you can usually find the answers to your questions. I highly recommend giving it a try.

  8. Posted by: Chris Andrew
    June 14, 2011 1:27 pm

    Thanks Moe ! I played around with the JRiver music center version … seems good enough … I never tried loading it with 1.5 terrabytes of data yet.

    This is a cool progie.. ( not yet tested with 1.5tb ) : http://www.zenpoint.org/
    I did the trial … and it’s way cool. Never shut it down though… takes forever to re-load your tracks. One thing I do like is if you have someone in your house connected to your wifi… and you give them the IP address on their Iphone.. they can request songs. I haven’t tested this with the full 1.5t. yet.. but I do realize I need to erase tags… rebuild tags and artwork. I have alot of compilation albums, where I’d like the album artwork to load “pertrack” like say .. Lady Gaga.. I want the album artwork to load… not the compilation artwork. Still looking for a fix to that. I too have been around music for a long time in college radio – 21years, and counting … lots of rarities. ;) … for your movies, do you transcodethem into smaller – or do you keep them full res ?

  9. Posted by: Moe
    June 14, 2011 1:47 pm

    I am managing ~4.5TB of media with J. River and it’s still fast and responsive.

    From a quick look at zenpoint, I don’t see much that it can do that J. River can’t. J. River has an ability called WebRemote which allows you to control it via a web browser, so you can remote control it via your phone. It also has a feature called WebPlay so that you can stream your media to your phone from anywhere in the world.

    You can assign album art work on a per track basis in J. River.

    For movies, I generally do a very high quality transcode.

  10. Posted by: Chris Andrew
    June 15, 2011 12:59 pm

    Thanks Moe… I think you sold me on JRiver ! :) I’ll let you know how I make out !