Build/Salvage HTPC vs X360/PS3

Hey guys,
I have to make a decision regarding my future home theater plans, with finances being the biggest factor in whatever I do. I'd appreciate any and all suggestions.

I) What I have:
1) A PC with: Athlon 64X2 4600, 2 GB RAM, ~ 1 TB in 4 HDD's, DVD-RW,
GeForce 8800GTS 320MB, with 2 DVI outputs, a HDA-Digital
x-Mystique 7.1 soundcard, all housed in a massive and loud
Thermaltake case, running Windows XP Professional 32.

2) A cheap Phillips DVP640 dvd player.

3) Klipsch 5.1GMX speaker set: These are 5 PC speakers, with an ok Dolby
decoder and can take in optical input.

4) 20.1" Dell Ultrasharp that I do all my work at home on.

II) What I'm getting and need:

1) HDTV: I'm buying a Sony Bravia 46V3000 1080p HDTV, which luckily
my dad is getting for me.

2) Some way to watch my ~400 DVD's on the HDTV, play music, watch
either HD or Blu-ray, and maybe play games on the TV.

3) PC to do my work at home on and maybe play games on if I don't end
up playing games on the TV.

III) Options:

1) Buy an XBOX360/PS3 to use as a media center - I'm sure they would
suffice as a media center but then I'll be left playing games on a 20.1"
LCD (I prefer PC games to console games by far). Also, it seems to be
a waste of the video card I splurged on. I'm also not sure if there's a
difference in video/audio quality I'd get from using the 8800GTS and
X-Mystique to do upscaling of DVD's etc compared to the PS3/360.

2) Put the good parts of my PC in a smaller case with a Bluray/HD drive.
Then I could play all my games on the big screen, play music/internet,
do other things that are easier to do on a PC.

For work, I would buy one of those ~$400 Dell PC's and hook that up
to my LCD.

What do you guys think? I'm definitely getting the TV sometime early in Jan. I'm a grad student so I can get Vista Business for free incase that's somehow going to help the HTPC out a lot.

I'd like suggestions, plans, things to wait for, things to consider and any general advise I can get.



I'm reading up on HTPCs myself so I'm far from an expert. Based on your PC's specs it looks like you're almost there. I'd get the LG combo Blu-ray/HD DVD drive when it's available. It's on backorder most places but listed @ $299. You'd need the newest version of PowerDVD or other software to play the HD movies. That would take care of all your movie playback needs. If your going to rip movies to play straight from your hard drive Slysoft's AnyDVD or ANYDVD HD are good.

I didn't read all that, but basically, if the logistics allow you to use your PC as an HTPC (i.e., it's near enough to the theater area, wiring is no problem) then that's the way to go. The consoles are still way too limited in what they can play.

How important is it for the HTPC to have a wired net connection? I can either continue using my wireless network around the house or maybe drill holes to run the Cat5 through?

Also, my condo has these cable connections ports on the walls (the kind that the cable modem box hooks up to) in every room.

What are these generally for?



Hook the PC up as is and try it out for a week, then go get a 360 and do the same, return the 360 if you don't like it.

I had my PC on my HDTV for the past year, and honestly the lack of a seamless user experience and elegant control system wore me down. I got 360 two months ago and just moved the PC back up to the office. It sits up there unused, and I'm not moving it back down, despite TF2 looking twice as good, playing smoother, and having mouse control. I honestly think I may not buy another PC game, and this is coming from someone who up until 2 months ago mocked console gaming and console fps players.

The PC is torrent/work box now with an 8800 sitting in it, and the 360 is just so much better for the living room that it doesn't even bother me. I use the extender to watch all TV/torrents/play music and it works as well as MCE did (when I'm not actually using the MCE extender, like for xvid or whatever). The PC, or more specifically Windows I guess, isn't ready for the living room.

Maybe not everyone gets as frustrated with the absurdity of using a keyboard/mouse to game on the couch, but I tend to think they are just forcing themselves to make do like I did for a year.

For 1080p you'd probably be better off using wired ethernet (that's some high bitrate stuff), but there's no harm in trying the wireless first.

"Also, my condo has these cable connections ports on the walls (the kind that the cable modem box hooks up to) in every room.

What are these generally for? "

Maybe you can plug your router into one and then just plug any other components in other rooms into the wall jack and have it all be connected? Dunno.

The advantage of PC over 360 is that it can easily support every format. 360 only just now got around to adding divx. All the good HD-DVD/Blu-Ray rips on the net are x264, and 360 can't play them (it supports the codec, but not the particular specs used in the HD encodes; nor does 360 allow surround sound with h264 video; nor does it support subtitles).

Also, the video tweaks you can do with your PC can get you a way better picture than you'd get with 360.

I just saw this post on That's where I've been researching my HTPC build. Excellent choice.