How to Build the Ultimate 3D Home Theater PC



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I built this computer the way Maximum PC said to, but my 3D Home Theater keeps shuting down. It does not give me a blue screen, it just shutsdown. Which leads me to belive that the computer is overheating, or the PSU is overheating and shuting down. How do I test this?

The case has 3 fans, but the mobo only supports 1 fan.

How do I make sure my computer is not overheating?



I ran into the same problem.  I finally gave up and put on the stock AMD fan which is quite loud.  How did you guys get around the overheating with the NT01-E?




Gordon what are your thoughts on subbing out the GT 240 video card, MSI motherboard and cpu for an Sandy bridge solution ie.. I3 and Asus motherboard (ASUS P8H67-M EVO and Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz)   Of course I would keep everything else. 




I built this per the article except for 100gig OCZ solid state drive and the Nvidia GT430 video card since it now has a protective path for the audio so Blu-Ray works.

My problem is with Media Center, soon as I start it shoots my memory usage up to 90%+ and stays there even if I close out Media Center.

So I tried it on my gaming computer (Intel I7 3.0gzh, 6gb Ram, GTX 480) and it does the same thing, soon as I start Win 7 Media Center my memory usage shoots up to 90%+

Movies seem to play ok although I did hit some stuttering when I tried to start another movie.  I think my memory usage was hitting close to 100% by then.



Why no mention of Mitsubishi DLPs?  I was planning on buying one and a setup like this.  Is there some type of compatibility problem?  My friend has a 73" DLP and it is amazing.  Sure maybe some of the high-end plamsas may have an edge with details, but 73" is....well 73"!!




I don't see any mention of the HTPC being "controllable" by a remote.  Did I miss it, or does this need to be added?  What parts would allow me to add this?

Also, I see the high end sound card allows you to run HDMI into it, which I assume combines the video with sound to run to your reciever?  Is there a less expensive card that does this?  I don't need the High End Sound -- 5.1 would do it for me!

Thanks for any input.  I know I am late to the party. 




Just throwing this out there for anyone planning on Building an HTPC. I have built a few now and the verry best HTPC Case is the Thermaltake Black SECC Japanese steel LANBOX Lite VF6000BWS Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case.

If you want a great case that runs cool, and is just plain easy to set up and add on to this is the only way to go! I have mine running, with just a CPU Heatsink, And the stock fans. It is always silent, and I have had it running for 5 weeks straight, using it to its max, and has not heated up at all. Just Thought I would through that out there for ya!

Thanks for the Great Article.



There are a few things that I would value the community and moderator opinions on.

Sound card.  How does the Diamond  Xtreme Sound 7.1 XS71DDL compare to the Auzentech card?  It uses a PCI 2.2 interface.  Does this pose any problem with this setup?  The Auzentech just seems WAY high priced in this setup compared to other options out there.

OK. The Centon card is about as hard to get a hold of as an honest politician.  What is with the delay or staggered availability.  It makes me want to look for other options.  I'm not one to be happy building 95% of anything and just sitting here waiting on a manufacturer to figure out how to manufacture.

I'm comtemplating winding down cable service all together.  I'm new to this so I need some help with my logic.  The thought is to have streaming compatible devices at all TV's in the house, subscribe to Hulu Premium, and get the rest of our content off of the internet through IP TV channels.  For the kids cartoons, is there IP access to Disney channel content, Nickelodeon, etc.?

The way I see it, the cost of internet access plus $10/month for Hulu Premium plus the Major League network or the NFL network may be cheaper than months of full cable bills. 



Nice build!  I just recently went through the same exercise and made a few different design choices.  Since I wanted a low profile case, I can't use a discrete graphics card.  However, an integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 will still do 3-D (simple games and even non-BluRay video up to 1080p).  Not bad for a no extra cost solution to 3-D!  It might even be able to do BluRay 3-D once ATI adds hardware accelerated support to their drivers.  Alternatively, a fast enough cpu should work too.

One thing is certain, gaming and the video demos are really stunning!  I showed my friends and family what 3-D was like in our living room they were impressed!  This is not the old Anaglyph (Red/Cyan) that you remember as a kid!

Once the dust settles and there are more than a handful of 3-D BluRay titles out there, I think there will be widespread graphics driver support and more of us will be able to enjoy this.




SiliconDust is going to release a product that will compete with the ceton card.  It will be network-attached, and should be a little more flexible than the ceton card.  I had a ceton card on preorder, but cancelled it so I can get a look at the SiliconDust product before I make a decision.  The ceton people keep saying that they are having supply chain and shipping problems (the excuses are getting really old at this point), so unless you've had a preorder for their card since March/April/May, the best likelihood is that you will be able to get the SiliconDust product first, anyway.



PreOrders only!! I like (Hate) it when they say "Will be available by the time you read this". Whats the problem? Is there problems with it, and therefore holding back until bugs are out?



This was a great article, especially with the information on 3D and Blu-Ray. I've been using an HTPC for my DVD Movie collection for a couple years and always looking for a better/easier way to manage my media library. I noticed that XBMC was listed as a "free alternative", but really it is far superior than Windows Media Center (at least for this purpose). I've looked into several addons for Windows 7 Media Center, but none compare to the streamlined interface in XBMC. There are several addons for Media Center that are supposed to help catalog your movie collection, but each one has drawbacks and take a lot of customization to set up.

With XBMC, you just install it and point it at your movie/tv folders and the info it pulls from the internet is amazing. Surprisingly accurate and no complicated setup. Additionally, there is a Android App for it that lets you use your Android phone as a remote for HTPC (or hacked xbox - granted no HD support for the xbox solution). The Android remote is amazing! It shows incoming text messages on your TV screen and automatically pauses your movies and displays incoming phone calls...if you want it to.

I recall there being a great article in Maximum PC within the last year about XBMC, and surprised it wasn't mentioned more in this guide.



I got your point!!

Very thankful for the feedback provided.

In the near future I will post the setup I finally did and how it worked for me, so other members have another reference.


best regards!!




Great article (as always!) but I'm wondering what CHEAP tuner cards are available that will will work with cablecard (and thus be compatible with the new comcast "All digital" format). Not all of us can throw that kind of money at the problem for an infiniTv card just because comcast changes their network. I don't need the ability to record 4 shows at once, just one or two would do fine. Any ideas?





This was a good piece. I especially appreciated the inclusion of a piece about the mkv with WMP. I'm glad you threw a bit of light on the ultra cool quad core. There doesn't seem to be enough noise about quad cores using single/dual core thermals in a desktop package. The thorn for me is where do you buy one? I've used a dual core in a media pc, but inevitably I'll find something new that puts it to task or attempt to play a game on the big screen and find the want of something more. I recently put in an 8300 c2q, but it's a tough nail to bite going from 65w to 95w. It's not something I want to see running all the time with those numbers and the constraints of the cooling to quiet. I'm leery of obscure retailers found only with general searches, and AMD's site isn't much help.

Okay. You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires
burning. And if we're not back by dawn... call the president.



I've been using a HTPC with media center x64 and OTA HD for years now and its great! I only pay $60 month for basic cable and 16Mbps internet (Comcast forces me to have basic cable, says it makes bill cheaper?).

I also use ffdshow, ac3filter and Haali Media Splitter (mkv) to watch my stored videos (with subtitles) inside media center. My onkyo receiver takes care of the digital audio. I even have an external led that lights up when media center is recording shows (like on a regular dvr). This is driven by an awesome free program called ledsdriver.

Recently, I discovered the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Network-based Dual Digital HDTV tuner which connects to your network and sends OTA HD or QAM to any network connected PC. It also works with media center, MythTV or even VLC! (Maybe its time to dump my PCIe tuner cards?)

Can you expand your article to include OTA HTPC setup?



I couldn't locate the CPU on the AMD site and all the Night Jar PSU's have fans. I couldn't find a ST40F. The rest of the PSU's all had fans.

  Is it just me or have I missed something?



I got the parts coming in the next two weeks, the only problem is the Ceton Video card. It was supposed to ship the end of May, now it is being shipped the end of July. Looking foreward to this machine.

Thanks for the feedback it made my day that it wasn't me.



AMD Athlon II 610e, not 640e. Who knows where I pulled that out of. The PSU is the ST40NF model. 



The cheap price quoted for Comcast internet in the article said $20, but that's only if you're adding it to a cable "bundle" If you just sign up for internet it's $42. Just an FYI. (I hate paying $42/mo for internet)



This was a fantastic write up!  But you missed the essential plugin for Windows Media Center which is Show Analyzer to do automatic commercial skipping of recorded TV.  MCEBuddy is not capable of processing the WTV files that 7MC generates, Show Analyzer is the only application that is capable of analyzing WTV files and automatically skipping commercials.  I've been using it for about a year now and both my wife and myself think it's pretty much the greatest thing ever.



 I hope you continue to keep us updated on this kind of build.  $1500 is too much for me, but I would like nothing better than to depend on the internet alone for all entertainment.

Actually, as I think about it, what I really want is a connected house.  Max Pc has covered multiple individual elements that could be used for this but I don't believe ever from a holistic approach.  Anyone know of such a site?  Otherwise great article.

"Either we conform the Truth to our desires or we conform our desires to the Truth."



This is one of those articles that I don't fully understand. Why go high end on everything but the GPU. If your trying to budget this rig, then you could get away with this rig for a lot less of the price. When you scrap the overpriced tv tuner, and over the top sound card you'll be in business for a lot less. The point is.. if your going to go all out then do it. I realize $1800 isn't your most expensive build but still yet.. you shouldn't be stretching that much money on pure crap.



For HTPC applications.

The reason we didn't go with a hotter GPU in the build is because we wanted to keep it quiet. The machine is dead silent. George ran it at his house and his laptop was louder than the PC. Our write up does mention that the PSU is rated to run a GTX470 card which would be louder, but would give you enhanced gaming capabilities at the cost of noise and power consumption.

 I'm sorry, but I would not describe Ceton's quad channel cable card tuner as crap nor overpriced. If you are paying the cable company, say $20 a month to rent two dual-channel PVRs, that's about $240 a year. This card would pay for itself in a year and a half and start saving your money after that. AND you can copy HD recorded content to other machines (those that are flagged to let you do this of course). Can you do that with your cable box and wimpy 500GB hard drive? 



240 a year, let's say, for five years. $1200.

This would be comparable in time, hopefully, around five years...for $1,800.

Basically, they spent to much.  And I agree, it's WAY better to have one of these than a standard box, but at that price, you would need to come to terms with losing just over a hundred dollars a year...and I don't know.

Basically, it's too pricey here, who needs four simultaneous recordings? I'd settle for two. And a fan or two, or three, or ten, won't bother me one bit.  I have a gaming rig, and it's got seven or eight fans, and is not bad at all, in fact, it's silent.  This thing is too overpriced to be practical.



wow, that is indeed one bad ass HTPC! Also costs over 6 times what I paid for the parts for mine, but much more awesome. Great article! 

I was afraid of spouse complaints about the lack of on-demand (which I hardly use, but she does alot) and any complaints if the computer had issues so chickened out with a DVR from verizon. The HTPC is basically a boxee box for network and online/netflix content, but even that is amazing.  

The lack of online sources has kept me from using WMC7. As I'm sure you know, Boxee integrates into my library video from the CBS, comedy central, ABC, etc websites, which from what I can see is not possible in WMC? Boxee is open source and beta so has a few bugs, but I have not seen a better solution around. For someone who only watches shows once, and hardly own DVDs, this is perfect. 



Try this website it has lots of info on WMC7.



Kind of disappointed that MythTV wasn't mentioned.  I've been running a MythTV box for about 3 years 24/7 now.  Just keeps going and going.  Sure, it's a real pain to set up and configure, but once it's running it totally beats Windows - and it's free.




I will appreciate if someone familiar with this new incoming technology (3D systems) can provide some feedback on what I am planning.

I was looking to contact the staff since according to this report they are the experts on it!!! but I could not reach them directly.

I am building the second stage of my Home theater; which is already HD ready and hopefully will be upgraded to be compatible with both NVidia 3d Vision and BlueRay 3D.

I already have two PC's capable for 3D playback (Win 7, Nvidia 240GTX and 250 GTX video cards, Dual and Quad Core and BlueRay Burners). One of them is currently attached to an LCD monitor via HDMI (1080P/5ms response) and the other to a 42inch Panasonic Plasma 6Gen (720P).

My budget allows me to get a Pioneer VSX 1020K 3d compatible receiver, so now I am on the run to decide which 3D projector to get between: Viewsonic PJD-6531W, Optoma GT720 and BenQ MX750.

Lastly my biggest concern - Which shutter glasses I may get??? Are there any kit compatible with both technologies?? Nvidia 3d Vision (w/InfraRed transmiter) and DLP Link.

I've seen that all brands releasing 3D HDTV's and projectors are promoting their own set of shutter glasses and as I understand this technology may be cross-compatible. Is this correct?? how DLP link communicate with the glasses (is it IR too?? or RF)

Since I want to be able to watch a blueray 3d movie and also play 3d games without the need to purchase different types of shutter glasses, and considering that my wife wants to see the movies in 3d (it means another pair of glasses) and my nephew wants to play 3D with me. In the end I may end up buying 4 pairs of glasses (two for watching movies and two for playing) paying almost $150 for each would definitively get my out of budget.

Any help will be greatly apprciated, Best Regards




3D Vision does not support DLP Link. If I get this right, any projector with DLP Link will have to use the glasses that comes with it. It's possible that 3D glasses that work with other DLP link TV sets may also work with the DLP Link projector you're thinking of getting. But frankly, the way the market is right now, I'd stick with what you know works. If you buy X projector or TV set, use brand X glasses with it. If you have 3D TV Play installed, you should be able to play your games on the TV or Projector using the glasses that came with it. However, make sure that 3D TV Play supports the projectors that you are going to use. Since you won't be using the NV IR emitter, the drivers will have to pass the timing for the 3D signal to the projector/set over HDMI. Right now, Nvidia has to qual each different TV since apparently standards for TV makers are about loosely interpreted as standards for PCs.




Did you guys run into any problems with having to resized the Desktop?  At 1080P my desktop is wider than my screen. Put another way, I can't see about 10% of my desktop on the screen.  I bought the 240 on MaxPC's recommendation but should have reseached a little more.

It seems completely Idiotic the was nVidia wants folks to resize the Desktop.  They want it don't by changing the resolution LOL!

Do you guys know of any 3rd party app that can re-sized without changing the resolution?  Over and Under Scan doesn't work on the 240 for me.





I own this motherboard and was curious how you got the three system fans working since the MB only has one CPU fan and one system fan connector.





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