New computer help

I haven’t owned a computer in 4 years and the one I had then hadn’t been fully functional in 4 more, turns out it’s not a good thing to not have virus protection on the dorm network while downloading thousands of songs. Since I obviously don’t use a computer much in my personal life I’ve skated by the last couple of years on my iPhone and doing all my computer related tasks while at work.

I’m finally in a situation where I can see a need for me to have a computer but since all of my knowledge is completely outdated I figured I’d turn to the collective wisdom of the Dope to at least get pointed in the right direction. I use my 360 for all of my gaming needs and I’m planning on buying a PS3 this year so I don’t need a computer capable or running any games although I’m probably going to break down and buy Civ 5.

The most intensive task that I want from my computer is to store my DVDs on and play them on my TV (which I’m planning on using for a monitor). I’ve got about 300 movies right now and typically buy about 20-30 a year so I’d need room to store all of that. I was going to buy a surround sound system separately but from what little research I’ve done I can get a computer system that will be more then adequate for my 8x10 room. I don’t have a desk in the room and the computer will be set up in my entertainment center so I’ll need wireless keyboard and mouse. That’s about all I can think of let me know if there is any other information you need as far as usage.

I’m pretty flexible on my budget but I don’t want to spend more than about 2K for the whole system and I’m not opposed to learning how to build it myself.

If you’re not going to be doing any gaming, you sure as hell don’t need to spend $2k. You don’t even really need to spend $200.

That’s good news. I have no idea what type of video or sound card I’d need to play movies on a 42" TV or run a surround sound system. I was just giving a max I’d be very happy to spend less.

Any PC, even one with integrated graphics, can plug into a 42" TV and run at 1080p, and they all come with 5.1 surround sound on the motherboard these days. I’d recommend a dedicated graphics card for better video playback, and so you have something capable of running Civ 5. It needn’t be anything expensive though.

If you’re going to be using it as a HTPC (home theatre PC), any noise from internal fans can be an issue.

As you said you’re willing to learn to build your own:
Tom’s Hardware.
Build your own.
Has guides to systems at various price points.

Tech Report.
Build your own. Step by step.
System guide.

Ok sweet, so basically I just need a bottom of the line components. I think this is going to be pretty easy.

That Runner Pat for that site I’ll look through their guides and I should be good to go.

When you say you want to “store your DVDs” on your computer, what do you mean? Store the contents on the hard drive? If so, that could be a lot of storage, well over a TB. If you just want to play DVDs, why not just buy a DVD or blu-ray player, or were you planning to ditch the discs after moving them to the hard drive?

That’s what I assumed he meant, which was why I was going to recommend getting the biggest couple of hard drives you can. And don’t be afraid to reencode anything. You should be able to save a lot of space that way, especially with regular DVDs.

And don’t actually ditch the disks, just keep them somewhere safe for backup purposes.

Go to You can build it right on the site and make it to your specs and price. They build it and ship it to you. I love mine and am so glad I went with a larger flat screen. I got an Inspirion and it’s so quiet I don’t know if it is on. It is also fast and love Vista. I have never bought a cheap one but usually get a little more then I need so I have my computers for years by having room for expansion.

I run two anti virus programs and you should never be without it.

You will need a LOT of storage to stow 300+ movies. Count on about 7 Gigs/DVD. You would probably want to start with about 3 TB of storage, meaning two drives of at least 1.5 TB. The good news is if you wait for a sale/good rebate these are down to about $100 range.

At any rate if you want to build your own htpc check out these hardware recommendations on avsforum. Other than the large hard drives you are going to need, the low end m-atx setup would fit your needs.

I ended up going with the Utility Player from Runner Pat’s link. It seemed like I could up grade it if I want to get into computer games again. It also had the 1TB hard drive so I should be able to store a bunch of my movies. I was talking about storing them on the computer and using it kind of like a jukebox but like BigT suggested I’m not getting rid of my originals but at least I can keep them from getting scratched.

I also added a wireless keyboard and mouse and some Logitech Z-550RT speakers. I didn’t upgrade the sound card from the onboard since I figure if the sounds isn’t as good as I’d like it I can always upgrade later. I’m going to pick Windows 7 64bit for my OS but I still need to purchase it since I forgot to include it in my original order.

Besides that all of the parts are showing up today, hopefully it’s snowing right now, and I’ll probably at least look over the parts and possibly try to get started tonight. I’ve got the guide Runner Pat provided printed out if anyone has any advice or tips that I can use the first time out let me know.

For storing movies on your computer, use a program like meGUI or Handbrake to encode them down to 0.5-1.5 GB per movie. Check out the guides and forum at Doom9 for more information.

I would be really careful how much you compress your DVDs. On a decent size HDTV, it is easy enough to spot compression artifacts on a DVD that is played as is, that much one that has had further processing performed on it. You have already spent quite a bit (probably more than you needed) on your computer, you might as well just spend the money to get an additional 2 GB harddrive. I would at least rip one DVD using iso/file mode and then using one of the above encoding programs and see how apparent the difference is before doing your whole collection one way or the other.

As far as build recommendations, start out with the absolute minimal connected. Hook up MB, power supply, CPU, one stick of ram, and video card (if onboard video is available on MB, don’t even connect video card yet). See if it will post. If successful you can then add hard drive, remaining ram, make all the case connections, any other add on cards, exc.

Well, I’m managing to post this from my new computer so I guess I didn’t screw things up too badly. So far I’ve downloaded all of the drivers for the hardware as well as added Firefox to my computer and added adblock to it. I’m currently setting up my iTunes.

I need to get a virus protection software does anyone have any recommendations? Also are there any programs that I should get that will make my life easier? I’m headed off to try and search the old threads but that is always a pain in the ass.

Thanks for all of the help to get me this far a week ago I never would have believed that I would put together a computer.

High five!

Here’s the sticky thread on malware protection and cleaning.

ETA: For virus protection, I use avast!

Not anymore: How to search the sdmb on Google.

And congrats on the machine.