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    Simple Media Computer for Lounge

    Hello,
    Sorry if this isn't the correct place for this.
    Work in IT in a school. To re-improve my basic computing knowledge I've given myself a project to build a "simple" media PC to sit under the television. Its a standard TV at the moment but I'm thinking I'd get an flatscreen one in the near future.

    I'd like a computer that looks nice because it will be in the lounge under the TV, which also means it needs to be quiet. My primary use for the PC will be to store digital photos and be able to look at them from the comfort of an arm chair. In addition I might as well put the software for my MP3 player on it. It can have internet access - why not.
    It doesn't have to be a PVR or be able to play DVDs - I have other suitable equipment for that and don't watch much TV anyway.
    My budget is only about £200 quid at the moment.
    I just need a list of suitable components. Some of which I might get on auction sites, some kit that work might be chucking out - so free. I'm struggling to identify a suitable case. I think once I've got that the other components will be easy to decide upon and locate.
    Any suggestions welcomed---

  2. #2

    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    As I'm a BIG media PC fan (min costs about £1100+ home built), I have just made a budget one for a friend, but please bear one fact in mind. Almost all media PC's are built to connect to HDTV's, and tube based TV's are on the way out. However, I will give you a list of 'recommended components, but you will be pushed to make a media PC on less than £200 for all components.

    1. Motherboard (built in HDMI\HDCP): Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H, NF 630i, S 775, PCI-E (x16), DDR2 533/667/800, SATA II, SATA RAID, VGA, uATX - Scan.co.uk

    2. Case: (really good for the price this!): EV Black MATX Media Center Case With Brushed Aluminium Front Panel - No PSU - Ebuyer

    3. PSU: 400W Colours IT PSU400MICRO 20+4 Pin, uATX PSU pPFC Silent - Scan.co.uk

    4. RAM: CM2X2048-6400C5 - 2GB Corsair XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800), 240 Pins, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 5-5-5-18 - Scan.co.uk

    5. Blu-Ray\HD-DVD\DVD Drive: LG GGC-H20L Lightscribe SATA 16xDVD±R +RWx8/-RW x6 Also READS - Blu-Ray & HD Disc's black - Retail - Scan.co.uk

    6.Hard Drive: 500 GB Western Digital WD5000AACS Caviar GP, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200 rpm, 16MB Cache, 8.9 ms, NCQ - Scan.co.uk

    I've missed out the CPU, but I would advise at least a Core II 2.0Ghz and above and if you are really serious about watching blu-ray and HD DVDs then any ATI HD4350 series (passively cooled models) and above, but trying to do a media PC on a budget is IMHO a false economy, becuas eyou pay a LOT for silent components (my fanless PSU was £120!), and the case £400+, but the components above, particularly the case and mobo are a great base for a media system, in fact I still use that mobo in my media PC.

  3. Thanks to Dos_Box from:

    RogerL (21st May 2009)

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    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    obviously a lot more then £200 but a mac mini with an external hard drive ?

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    CSNM-Carl's Avatar
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    Does anyone know of such a device that will allow me to watch BBC iPlayer/4oD on the TV? Or is a home media centre PC the only option?

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSNM-Carl View Post
    Does anyone know of such a device that will allow me to watch BBC iPlayer/4oD on the TV? Or is a home media centre PC the only option?
    There is a plugin for Media Center - obviously this requires a Vista / Windows 7 machine to work!

    See TunerFree MCE

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Virgin cable have it integrated into their system.

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    CSNM-Carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dos_Box View Post
    Virgin cable have it integrated into their system.
    Yep, unfortunately not available in my area.

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    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    depending on what type of TV you have will depend on how you connect your desktop to your TV, CRT will most likely be an s video cable with 3.5mm audio jack to RCA ( left and right audio ) and you can get scart converter to convert s video and the rca ( left and right audio ) into one scart socket.

    If it is a HD TV then you can get a DVI to HDMI cable and which ever relevant audio cable you require depending on if you have an amp or just connecting directly using 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio jack or whatever.

    I have my mac pro connected to my HD TV via a DVI to HDMI cable ( ensuring its the correct DVI connector type ie DVI-D or DVI-I or whatever they are )

    and my audio is 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio jack and it works great.

  10. Thanks to mac_shinobi from:

    RogerL (21st May 2009)

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    mossj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerL View Post
    To re-improve my basic computing knowledge I've given myself a project to build a "simple" media PC to sit under the television.
    Without being rude (I really tried not to be).... If your looking to reimprove your basic knowledge, maybe you should of asked for specs rather than components. As half of the battle of building a pc is in buying the right components that are compatible and work in the right way for the job you have in mind (even if the spec is given to you). A ten year old could put the parts together...

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mac_shinobi View Post
    obviously a lot more then £200 but a mac mini with an external hard drive ?
    My (older model) Mac Mini, including screen, keyboard, mouse, USB hub and wireless device, cost £200 off eBay - always worth a try.

    If you want a new TV, Sainsbury's are currently selling 22" models with built-in DVD player, complete with VGA input port, for £180.

    --
    David Hicks

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    RabbieBurns's Avatar
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    I know this defeats the purpose of the activity of building your own, but I have got two of the netgear Eva8000 media players in the house. They are silent, slimline, and awesome. Since the newer model got rreleased they are down to about £150. I recommend checking them out.

  14. Thanks to RabbieBurns from:

    RogerL (21st May 2009)

  15. #12

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    For £200 Apple (United Kingdom) - Apple TV - What is Apple TV? might be worth a look. Don't know if they've added a web browser yet. If they have it'd do BBC iPlayer.

    Or a second hand PS3 is a good option. This is what I've got. Stream media from other computers in the house. Freeview TV tuner available. Blue Ray Player. And web browser to access iPlayer and 4OD. See my http://www.edugeek.net/forums/blogs/...nvergence.html blog for more details.

    If you want to build a system for £200, then look at AMD processors such as the Phenom X3. The processors/motherboards are generally cheaper for good enough performance. Hard Drive space and RAM are more important than Processor speed or Graphics Card (on board will likely do).

    Personally I think RAM is cheap and for this system there's little need to go for 64bit (especially if you're using Windows). So I'd aim for the maximum 4Gb and then spend as much as I can on the Hard Drive.

    If your're are building take a look at Mythbuntu and Myth-TV. Cheaper thanpaying out for a Windows license.

  16. #13

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    Yeah, AMD are a good route. You can get a Gigabyte mATX mobo with HDMI for about £50 from Scan, plus something like the 4850e or 5050e dual-core AM2 chips which are low-power.

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    mrforgetful's Avatar
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    And if it's going under the TV keep a look out for Set-Top box style cases. You won't want an ATX case and personally I don't see the point in Shuttle style cases.

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