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  1. #1

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    Default Mac Pro as HTPC?

    Since I moved out I miss the convenience of having an HT system powered by an HTPC - instead of having all of the components tied together, I now have a TV, VCR, HP Notebook PC, 19" Dell LCD, and headphones for music.

    As space is limited, I would like to *not* have to connect a separate DVD player to the TV, speakers to the laptop, cable to the TV, and laptop to the 19" LCD. It would make things much easier if only one display was used, and TV channels/Blu-ray/Web browser/Word Documents/DVD's could all be connected to one screen.

    I saw this at a local store - http://www.microcenter.com/single_pr...uct_id=0345336 and was wondering how well it would work as an HTPC?

    Would it be possible to add a mac-supported TV tuner card, Blu-ray drive, and graphics card with HDMI out?

    I have no experience with Macs so I have no idea how modular they are. I would like to keep my Dell LCD and not have to use one of the expensive Apple displays. Or would I be better off picking up another HP Digital Entertainment Center like the one I already have?

    As a reference, my current HTPC has the following connections:


    Thanks!
    Last edited by Serendipity; 09-20-2010 at 11:18 PM.
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  2. #2

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    The Radeon 5570 has HDMI out, yeah? I see that Mini DisplayPort is listed as an output. You can get a mini displayport to hdmi adapter. Bluray drives are available for macs, as are tuner cards. Basically, google is your friend on this one.

    Can't tell what outputs you have from that pic. Too blurry. Or my eyes are. Hard to tell these days.
    Are you part of the dirty digital peasants or a member of the great Analog Master Race?

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  3. #3

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    With the apple tv coming out in 4 weeks I am just going to grab one considering they are 100 bucks and will allow me to do everything I want to do with my music movies and photos I think it is a steal. A Lot of people are using mac minis as well but I just do not see using a computer in your living room.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigaudiofanatic View Post
    With the apple tv coming out in 4 weeks I am just going to grab one considering they are 100 bucks and will allow me to do everything I want to do with my music movies and photos I think it is a steal. A Lot of people are using mac minis as well but I just do not see using a computer in your living room.
    If you can afford it, the Mac Mini route should be a bit more functional, but the new Apple TV is fine if you own a lot of crap from iTunes and already have everything in ALAC/WAV/MP4.
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  5. #5

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    I also need to run Electronics Workbench, OrCad Capture, and PSpice, along with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

    What would work best for this application?

    The Apple TV won't let me do word processing or CAD work.
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  6. #6

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    A mac mini would or you can get a regular htpc.
    HT setup
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  7. #7

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    I also do video editing...so at the least want to be able to run Avid/Pinnacle Studio, or Adobe Premiere CS3.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigaudiofanatic View Post
    With the apple tv coming out in 4 weeks I am just going to grab one considering they are 100 bucks and will allow me to do everything I want to do with my music movies and photos I think it is a steal. A Lot of people are using mac minis as well but I just do not see using a computer in your living room.
    Just an FYI, the AppleTV only outputs 720p, and isn't compatible with all file types. If neither of those issues worries you, then it might just fit your needs. Personally, i'd go after a Popcorn Hour set instead of an Apple/Google TV.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I also need to run Electronics Workbench, OrCad Capture, and PSpice, along with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

    What would work best for this application?

    The Apple TV won't let me do word processing or CAD work.
    For anything besides watching/listening to music/movies...you'll want a full-fledged computer. You can get small-form computers that can handle your needs (cad/video editing), but it won't be as cheap.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  10. #10

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    Might want to check again, both the old and new one do 1080P.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigaudiofanatic View Post
    Might want to check again, both the old and new one do 1080P.
    From the Apple website:

    Video formats
    H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
    MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
    Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

    TV compatibility

    Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI and capable of 720p 60/50Hz,2 including popular models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse
    Maybe it can output to 1080p, but it only says it's compatible with 720p.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanjoachim View Post
    For anything besides watching/listening to music/movies...you'll want a full-fledged computer. You can get small-form computers that can handle your needs (cad/video editing), but it won't be as cheap.
    I do videos for Church/Summer Camp/etc. and have been getting by with Avid's Pinnacle Studio. But I want to step up to Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. And the CAD programs I use are for simulating circuits - they can run on a Dell Optiplex PC (2-3 years old) but run much better with modern hardware. Something dual core is preferred with more than 1-2GB of RAM. Also HD video editing takes up a LOT of hard drive space, so the bigger the better. A short film can easily use up 500GB of HD, and the closer I run my HD to the full point the slower Windows runs.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I do videos for Church/Summer Camp/etc. and have been getting by with Avid's Pinnacle Studio. But I want to step up to Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. And the CAD programs I use are for simulating circuits - they can run on a Dell Optiplex PC (2-3 years old) but run much better with modern hardware. Something dual core is preferred with more than 1-2GB of RAM. Also HD video editing takes up a LOT of hard drive space, so the bigger the better. A short film can easily use up 500GB of HD, and the closer I run my HD to the full point the slower Windows runs.
    Here's the question - do you want an HTPC, or a work computer that you can use to output videos onto your tv?
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanjoachim View Post
    Here's the question - do you want an HTPC, or a work computer that you can use to output videos onto your tv?
    Both. I use the HP Digital Entertainment Center z560 as an HTPC, but it's also got FireWire ports for DV editing and ample hard drive space (I have added an external 500GB drive) so it serves double duty as a PC. Also have Microsoft Word and PowerPoint installed for presentations, both to output video to the projector AND for presentations.
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  15. #15

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    You're a glutton for punishment.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Face View Post
    You're a glutton for punishment.
    Coming from someone that upgrades their rig every 6 months...
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  17. #17

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    Stick with a PC.

    And except speakers, I'm done for at least another 6 months. :D
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    Both. I use the HP Digital Entertainment Center z560 as an HTPC, but it's also got FireWire ports for DV editing and ample hard drive space (I have added an external 500GB drive) so it serves double duty as a PC. Also have Microsoft Word and PowerPoint installed for presentations, both to output video to the projector AND for presentations.
    I would recommend a mid-range AMD build. AMD cpu's are cheaper, but you don't lose a lot of power compared to the intels. You can get a quad-core 3.4GHz cpu from amd for just $165. Add in the rest of the parts, and you can get an HTPC-ready workhorse computer for around $700. And you could trim that down to around $500, depending on what kind of power you needed.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Face View Post
    Stick with a PC.

    And except speakers, I'm done for at least another 6 months. :D
    Now that the wife and me are splitting up, I may be able to get some speakers for my system finally...i've wanted PC speakers for ages. I'm too hard on headphones.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  20. #20

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    How about this instead? Similar hardware to the Mac, with a much better price.

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_pr...uct_id=0337327

    I'm not building a PC. Been there, done that. Don't want to deal with loading drivers and swapping PCI cards.
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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    How about this instead? Similar hardware to the Mac, with a much better price.

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_pr...uct_id=0337327

    I'm not building a PC. Been there, done that. Don't want to deal with loading drivers and swapping PCI cards.
    If anything goes wrong with Windows on that computer, you'll have to "load drivers" and such anyways, but I digress.

    That is a very nice computer. You're paying a couple hundred for labor, but it's still nicely priced. If possible, i'd look into getting a 60GB+ SSD to use as your boot drive, as it will greatly decrease the time it takes to do anything.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanjoachim View Post
    If anything goes wrong with Windows on that computer, you'll have to "load drivers" and such anyways, but I digress.
    Nope, on my HP systems I would just do a system recovery. There is a recovery partition on the hard drive that allows you to do this.

    If your hard drive ever goes, you can get the disks from HP for $29 and it restores an image of the factory build. No problems whatsoever.

    Not sure about Dell.
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  23. #23

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    In response to your post in the Mac thread... if video editing is your primary goal, don't do ATI video cards, go with NVidia.

    This would be a one big reason, especially if you want to try those free FPC alternatives:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDPAU

  24. #24

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    How's this configuration? I added some extra goodies that can easily be taken away, like the water cooler, and I put in a SSD drive for OS and no data HDD's as those would be easy to add, especially if you kept that SATA HDD bay.

    Load your OS and do HD image backup copy, that way you don't have to worry about drivers. Today, drivers aren't really such a big hassle, almost everything will be configured by OS installation automatically, whether it is Windows or Linux.

    If you want something like this running Ubuntu and all those video editors I mentioned, just let me know, I can configure it for you.
    Attached Files

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sami View Post
    How's this configuration? I added some extra goodies that can easily be taken away, like the water cooler, and I put in a SSD drive for OS and no data HDD's as those would be easy to add, especially if you kept that SATA HDD bay.

    Load your OS and do HD image backup copy, that way you don't have to worry about drivers. Today, drivers aren't really such a big hassle, almost everything will be configured by OS installation automatically, whether it is Windows or Linux.

    If you want something like this running Ubuntu and all those video editors I mentioned, just let me know, I can configure it for you.
    Thanks, I already have purcahsed retail versions of Windows XP and Vista (also have an OEM edition of Windows 7, but haven't used it yet) and would like to use it along with Ubuntu. The XP and Vista are already installed, but usually a call to Microsoft telling that I changed my mobo or hardware lets me deactivate the old copy and install it on a new PC.

    I have a .iso file for the Windows 7 and need to burn it to a disc. For some reason, every time I've tried burning it I can't use the disc to boot up and install Win7. Is there a special program I need to install this?

    I would like use this copy of Windows 7 (hasn't been activated yet) on the video editing machine.
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  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I saw this at a local store - http://www.microcenter.com/single_pr...uct_id=0345336 and was wondering how well it would work as an HTPC?

    Would it be possible to add a mac-supported TV tuner card, Blu-ray drive, and graphics card with HDMI out?

    I have no experience with Macs so I have no idea how modular they are. I would like to keep my Dell LCD and not have to use one of the expensive Apple displays. Or would I be better off picking up another HP Digital Entertainment Center like the one I already have?

    Thanks!
    I almost always use Other World Computing for my Mac upgrades. They have good tech support and it looks like they have what you are looking for here:
    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/video/editing
    and here:
    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/optic...s/superdrives/

    Good luck,

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    I like reliability and simplicity. Take it out of the box and it works fine. Of course you are going to pay more vs. build your own, but I think it's worth it in the end.

    For example, you can take a Corvette and do the following - build the motor, install an intake, exhaust, heads, and cam, dyno tuned to perfection, race tranny, 4.10's and a converter... something like that will run low 11's in the 1/4 mile maybe even a high 10 at the drag strip...

    Or you can buy a brand-new ZR1, sure it's going to cost more but it's still running 10's in the 1/4 mile and has a warranty (see here: http://www.autoblog.com/2007/12/05/1...6-on-run-flats). Plus there's no tinkering involved and basically good to go out of the box.

    Which one would I choose? Of course the option with less tinkering, the one that is good to go without any modifications, and no driver issues.
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  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I like reliability and simplicity. Take it out of the box and it works fine. Of course you are going to pay more vs. build your own, but I think it's worth it in the end.

    For example, you can take a Corvette and do the following - build the motor, install an intake, exhaust, heads, and cam, dyno tuned to perfection, race tranny, 4.10's and a converter... something like that will run low 11's in the 1/4 mile maybe even a high 10 at the drag strip...

    Or you can buy a brand-new ZR1, sure it's going to cost more but it's still running 10's in the 1/4 mile and has a warranty (see here: http://www.autoblog.com/2007/12/05/1...6-on-run-flats). Plus there's no tinkering involved and basically good to go out of the box.

    Which one would I choose? Of course the option with less tinkering, the one that is good to go without any modifications, and no driver issues.
    Wimp!!
    Quote Originally Posted by MrNightly View Post
    "Dr Dunn admitted that his research could also be interpreted as evidence that women are shallower than men. He said: "Let's face it - there's evidence to support it."
    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    Best Buy is for people who don't know any better. Magnolia is for people who don't know any better and have more money to spend.
    My System:


    Blu-Ray player: Samsung BD-P1600
    TV: SAMSUNG UN55B7000 55" 1080p LED HDTV

  29. #29

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    #1 is a good option if you have the time to tinker around.

    #2 is more expensive but it guarantees you will have something that works.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    Or you can buy a brand-new ZR1
    Not that great of an example as in this case money can't really buy you the best possible option. Then again, you probably don't really need that anyways. Unless you want to do animation stuff, like Blender or Maya, a nice i7 configuration will do wonders. If animation however is your thing, then a cluster would be a must... :p

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