This week's "Build Me A PC"

Posting for a friend. He’s looking for suggestions on which CPU/motherboard to get…here are the parameters:

  • low budget, myth box (will run linux, will have tuner cards in the future)
  • CPU choices are AMD X2 3800+ or slightly higher, or Intel Pentium D
  • prefer mobos with built-in video by Nvidia (wow the choices just narrowed)
  • really like it if component video output is supported, but not necessary
  • prefer mobos with built-in sound; preferrably digital output (isn’t this a given nowadays?)
  • low budget…shooting for CAD$600 for the whole thing (cpu/mobo/ram/disk/case) so, roughly US$500?

OK qt3. Tell my friend what to buy! Thanks.

Depending on how he wants his digital to be output, no, it’s not.

  • low budget…shooting for CAD$600 for the whole thing (cpu/mobo/ram/disk/case) so, roughly US$500?

Does he intend to watch hi-def with this myth box? If so it may be pushing things a bit to have that price point set. He’ll want at a minimum:

1.5 GB Ram (from my own experience trying to use Myth to watch Hi-Def and still have it capable of recording/transcoding/anythin gelseing in the background).

350 GB of hard drive (Hi Def is approx 8GB an hour).

That’s 40% of his budget right there. The CPU is another 20%. I suppose it’s doable still but it gets rough quickly especially if he needs to buy a decent remote ($30-$50). If he doesn’t care about hi-def it gets better.

Oh, we also need to know how many tuners he’ll want in the box eventually (i.e. what form factor box are we building?) Many of the mATX motherboards with integrated video only have 2-3 PCI slots. 2 PCI slots means a max of two tuners. May sound like a lot, but it’s not considering it’s one tuner per simultaneous use. Many times my myth box is recording 2 shows (one analog, one digital/hi-def) and I find myself wishing for a 3rd tuner so I could also watch TV at the same time.

Really we need more info as to what he wants his myth box to ultimately do and what his form-factor constraints are. Unless he must have HD over cable he may be better off buying a vista premium box instead. Myth is still somewhat… particular.

Thanks mouselock, here’s some more info:

  • yes, this will be for hi-def. He already has a SD myth box setup for quite some time, so I’m sure he can raid that box for remote controls, maybe even tuner cards and hard disks.
  • of tuner cards…he was speculating 2 tuner cards in the future, although I suppose hi-def tuner cards are expensive, and he’ll be getting them in the next 2 years or so. maybe 1 card this year, 1 card next year

  • he might have underestimated the budget…he was surprised at the prices for the motherboards. I think we were expecting ~$100, but they are all $150+. Also, we both haven’t been following motherboard trends, so we don’t know which one to actually look at. Hence this post.