questionsany wooters out there whom have built their own…

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I would suggest getting on to the forums of Techreport.com and reading as much as you can. HTPCs aren't for the faint of heart, but definitely go for it. But read, read, read, and read some more.

I built one myself, but not as the "replacement" for cable TV. You'll want to do some serious research into which platform you'll be using, beginning with the OS. Linux may be the answer if this is to be a truly media PC. There are many programs which then operate as your media center. Again, can't stress enough to do research into each aspect of what you're trying to do, from components down to software.

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Can't any new i5 computer with a good GPU and sound card be a HTPC?

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I recommend looking at the "nettop" PC's on Newegg. Some are barebones, meaning you would need to add a hard drive and ram (and an operating system) but others are fully-functional PC's.
I recommend Xbox Media Center as a program to play videos. You can play files on your PC and get streaming video from online as well.

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@trinnic: Right but XBMC is software you run on a Windows or linux computer (http://xbmc.org/download/). I have heard that linux won't play bluray either but I have absolutely no experience with bluray so I don't know that for sure. So, if you have windows and a bluray drive (or the files on your hard drive), XBMC should be able to play it.

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To make it very easy, if you own either a 360 or a PS3 you could use a network server to stream media. With the PS3, you have bluray capabilities. You could also use cheaper hardware for the NAS/streamer, as it doesn't have to be as quite as an HTPC, or as aesthetically pleasing.

I have been pretty happy using a 360 for Netflix, these days it is used more for that than for games. If I ever get around to it, I have the parts to rebuild a workstation and set up a VM as a server for streaming media, which will increase the capabilities a bit further. If you don't have a PS3, you could also rip any blurays to HDD and just play them back that way.

Going the HTPC route, I have had pretty good luck with the Zacate motherboard I have been playing with, but it isn't perfect. A lot of people seem to swear by a Core i3 with a decent video card.

If you want to read various opinions, here is an excellent place to start:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=26

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@iggz: In short, certainly... But you may spend more than is necessary if it's only purpose is media. There are also GPUs and CPUs best paired for video decoding. And again, ultimately, the appropriate OS and software for your needs need to be considered.

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@trinnic: This sounds more complicated than I was anticipating but somewhere in my subconscience I knew it was going to be complicated. Sounds like a fun challenge! Thank you for the insight and info. Have a great weekend.

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@jimmyd103: Don't shy away from it! It's rewarding when you get it all going. It's also incredibly frustrating, but it's a great learning process. :) Good luck

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I don't know about building a HTPC if you're really set on that, but although I use an old laptop that happens to do just fine with full screen Flash on my HDTV for all my TV watching, a friend of mine uses something like this as a HTPC http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883103297

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@benyust2: No BluRay with the Xbox unfortunately.

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Don't forget to check out Aggregators like Boxee Box.

http://www.amazon.com/D-Link-DSM-380-Boxee-Box-by/dp/B0038JE07O/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1313790418&sr=1-1

http://www.boxee.tv/

Essentially it's a small HTPC that runs the Boxee software. It connects via HDMI and has a few hundred apps for it (Netflix, Pandora, etc). It also has a browser for going to sites that might not have an app for Boxee yet.

It takes a little bit of setup if you're streaming over local shares, but you will NOT find a better option for playing any sort of codec on the planet.

It doesn't have an optical drive so no blu-ray, but it's pretty easy to use and gets updated often. I just bought one and love it.

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All great stuff.
Thank you!

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I never built a media center pc I just took my old computer and stripped it down to the bare essential software, then installed xbmc and set it to run on startup. My main computer has tversity on it with all my movies and tv shows. Firefox has hulu and netflix ready to go at a moments notice. Simple, but gets the job done.

Screw boxee, get xbmc.

Also, here are some good remotes for a htpc:

http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Control-Infrared-Receiver-Ultimate/dp/B00224ZDFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1279284829&sr=1-1

if you prefer a full keyboard:

http://vnnphim.org/store/product_info.php?i=B003UE52ME

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Maximum PC magazine seems devoted to DIY PC builders, and also publishes special issues each year detailed specs for several grades of build-it-yourself PCs; a lot of their content is available from their website as well. TigerDirect will sell you kits with all the necessary components to build your own PC. Finally, Commodore USA has a Barebones version of their C64x "retro-look nettop" Linux-based reimagining of the old Commodore 64; their forums include several build lists from Barebones buyers who have built them into nettops (and you can add Windows 7 to it, too, if you want).