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Cost of MythTV Machines

 

 

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beww at beww

Jan 22, 2006, 8:26 PM

Post #1 of 50 (13036 views)
Permalink
Cost of MythTV Machines

With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.

I have seen some "turnkey" machines offered for what I consider to be
very high prices, even given the fact that the builders deserve a
certain profit. I do not wish to mention names, but $1500 for what
seems to be a minimal front/back-end box with 1 capture card seems
quite high to me, although I will grant that it is a far better deal
than what Sony wants for a DRM-ridden MCE device.

I think if one was constructing a computer specifically for MythTV a
minimal F/B configuration might cost $600, using refurbed components
perhaps, and with 1 MPEG-encoding capture card. $1500 would buy a
very nice machine with maybe 1TB of storage and 3 capture cards.
These guesses include a "computer" monitor but not an entertainment-
quality display.

Anybody have ideas? What "should" a MythTV machine cost? Are the
"commercial" offerings realistic? Obviously a lot of us are re-using
hardware we have hanging around, it may be rare for somebody to
purchase gear solely to build a DVR. I'm just wondering what folks
are doing.

A related matter - What is the position of Zap-2-It Labs on these pre-
built machines? Does this violate the "personal use" license? I admit
I have no idea on this one.


Brian Wood
beww [at] beww



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johnbiundo at sbcglobal

Jan 22, 2006, 9:30 PM

Post #2 of 50 (12966 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Brian Wood wrote:
> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
I bet this is the most common question for those considering jumping
into mythtv. I certainly wondered, and found it hard to really pin down
what an adequate machine would be. I ended up establishing a budget,
which I thought was a bit on the generous side, and just purchasing to
that budget (well, going over a *little* ;-).

I ended up spending around $850 including shipping and tax for all-new
components. My system has an AMD64 3200+ (venice core), Asus A8N-E
mobo, Antec Overture II, PVR-150, GeForce 5200 video card, 512MB Ram,
200GB Seagate Sata drive. I figured for an extra $100, I'd buy in the
sweet spot for CPUs, which was the biggest cost driver (I could have
saved around $100 for a cheaper but adequate CPU and corresponding
mobo). Hard to figure how I could have saved much more than that on new
components (maybe another $25 on a cheaper disk drive, but c'mon!). All
this was from newegg, which was within +/- 5% of the lowest on-line cost
around.

I'm generally happy with it, though the Overture is noisier than I
wanted (which I would have seen if I'd done more research on it; I'm
still hopeful of being able to quiet it when I finally turn my attention
there). I'm also having an oddball problem which may still turn out to
be hardware related, so I'm not 100% ready to recommend this combination
yet.

Anyway, I wanted to say that this topic is probably extremely valuable
for newcomers, and hopefully is something that can get folded into the
wiki (I know there's been a lot of recent talk about "personal
profiles", and this data would fit nicely. I know there's a mythtv
hardware database out there, and it's an OK resource, but it's missing
pricing information, and doesn't seem to be all that active/current.

Just my .02.

john
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kmpatel at yahoo

Jan 22, 2006, 9:57 PM

Post #3 of 50 (12952 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

I would say that it depends on what you are looking for. I
spent $200 for my system which is a stand-alone,
standard-definition system. That's $40 for the computer
(550MHz PIII, 256Mb, 20G) and $160 for the PVR-350 MPEG
board. That got me going with a fully functioning box.
Afterwards I invested another $40 for a quieter, larger
HDD.

--- Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> wrote:

> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I
> wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
> I have seen some "turnkey" machines offered for what I
> consider to be
> very high prices, even given the fact that the builders
> deserve a
> certain profit. I do not wish to mention names, but $1500
> for what
> seems to be a minimal front/back-end box with 1 capture
> card seems
> quite high to me, although I will grant that it is a far
> better deal
> than what Sony wants for a DRM-ridden MCE device.
>
> I think if one was constructing a computer specifically
> for MythTV a
> minimal F/B configuration might cost $600, using refurbed
> components
> perhaps, and with 1 MPEG-encoding capture card. $1500
> would buy a
> very nice machine with maybe 1TB of storage and 3 capture
> cards.
> These guesses include a "computer" monitor but not an
> entertainment-
> quality display.
>
> Anybody have ideas? What "should" a MythTV machine cost?
> Are the
> "commercial" offerings realistic? Obviously a lot of us
> are re-using
> hardware we have hanging around, it may be rare for
> somebody to
> purchase gear solely to build a DVR. I'm just wondering
> what folks
> are doing.
>
> A related matter - What is the position of Zap-2-It Labs
> on these pre-
> built machines? Does this violate the "personal use"
> license? I admit
> I have no idea on this one.
>
>
> Brian Wood
> beww [at] beww
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> mythtv-users mailing list
> mythtv-users [at] mythtv
> http://mythtv.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users
>


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ylee at pobox

Jan 22, 2006, 10:11 PM

Post #4 of 50 (12988 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> says:
> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
> I have seen some "turnkey" machines offered for what I consider to
> be very high prices, even given the fact that the builders deserve a
> certain profit. I do not wish to mention names, but $1500 for what
> seems to be a minimal front/back-end box with 1 capture card seems
> quite high to me,

Presuming you're talking about Mythic.TV's Dragon, $1450 seems to me a
reasonably fair price for high-quality, well-chosen components (solid
motherboard with both gigabit Ethernet and FireWire, for example)
preassembled inside a nice case that fits well lookwise into a
component stack. (Although I do wonder about the Nvidia 6200TC, given
that by most accounts a MX5200 would deliver better performance for a
lwoer price. I'm looking forward to seeing for myself when my cheap
eBay-purchased PCX 5300 arrives this week; thanks, Scott, for pointing
it out.) Plus custom scripts to ease the KnoppMyth installation (I'm
sorry, but one of the cruelest things I can think of is to give a
novice KnoppMyth and tell him it's an out-of-the-box way to turn any
computer into a super-TiVo instantly, as so much online literature more or
less claims. SATA drives require manual installation? Dire warnings
against USB keyboards and mice? Sheesh.) onto the box.

I didn't go the Dragon route, but in retrospect perhaps I should
have. Here's what I've spent so far:

* $800 Sony VGC-RB Pentium 4 3.0GHz (nice, understated black case with
Sony logo, although minitower instead of the Dragon's stereo
component-style case)
* $70 Nvidia GeForce 6200TC PCI Express card
* $40 Nvidia PCX 5300 PCI Express card (to replace previous)
* $80 D-Link gigabit Ethernet PCI Express card
* $80 URC MX-500 universal learning remote
* $40 IR wireless keyboard/mouse
* $160 HD5000 HDTV capture card
----------------------
* $1190 Total (to simplify matters I'm excluding sales tax from
everything). The Sony computer cost $800 as part of a bundle that
also included a $200 Sony flat-panel monitor and $120 Epson
all-in-one printer; I'll probably end up selling the monitor, so
that should reduce the $800 cost by some amount.

If I ever want digital sound output I'll probably have to invest $50
in a PCI sound card to replace the onboard Intel HDA audio, and then
I'll lose the ability to put a second HDTV capture card in the
computer. (I guess I could go USB, but that's another box hanging off
the box.)

Now, it is true that with my setup I do get some things I wouldn't
have had with Dragon, like the wireless keyboard/mouse and what is
unquestionably the most sophisticated <$100 remote on Earth. However,
the Dragon approach has certain advantages as well, like a
slightly-nicer case, more slots, 512MB more memory, better sound
hardware, and a second gigabit Ethernet port. Oh, and $210 in cash,
but then look again at the list of things Dragon has that my setup
doesn't. Besides, my time is worth money, after all.

[.The following is *not* addressed to Brian specifically; Brian, please
don't take it as such. It's also in some ways a repeat of what I wrote
in
<URL:http://www.mail-archive.com/mythtv-users [at] mythtv/msg53363.html>.]

I know this is the cue for half the list to jump in with how they
built a great MythTV box out of the parts sitting in the closet, or
how they bought a $100 motherboard and a $25 case and a $100 CPU,
etc., etc., and built a great MythTV box. Hey, more power to
you. Guess what? Most of you aren't even trying to do HDTV, or if you
are you're likely the ones trying to play 1080i with a low-end Celeron
or two year-old AMD and finding that even XvMC doesn't help much. Let
me repeat: My time is worth money. Or, conversely, it can be
worthwhile to pay someone else to do the heavy lifting in the whole
parts procurement and assembly phase of MythTV. Heaven knows this list
is living proof that the software phase is difficult enough!

Don't get me wrong: I appreciate the tinkering and constant striving
toward perfection as much as the next guy. That's why I took the
gamble of buying the PCX 5300 although honestly the HDTV picture I get
right now is quite satisfactory; I really do want to go from a 95%
HDTV picture to 100%. That's why I spent half of Saturday puzzling
over getting the HD5000 plus indoor antenna to finally pick up a few
over-the-air channels (fortunately, including the two HD network
affiliates that RCN cable in San Francisco doesn't carry) after
several false starts at the issue. But can I understand someone who
prefers the destination to the journey, and is willing to pay a bit
more to get there that much faster? Absolutely.

--
Yeechang Lee <ylee [at] pobox> | +1 650 776 7763 | San Francisco CA US
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mtdean at thirdcontact

Jan 23, 2006, 1:14 AM

Post #5 of 50 (12942 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Yeechang Lee wrote:

>I know this is the cue for half the list to jump in with how they
>built a great MythTV box out of the parts sitting in the closet, or
>how they bought a $100 motherboard and a $25 case and a $100 CPU,
>etc., etc., and built a great MythTV box. Hey, more power to
>you. Guess what? Most of you aren't even trying to do HDTV, or if you
>are you're likely the ones trying to play 1080i with a low-end Celeron
>or two year-old AMD and finding that even XvMC doesn't help much.
>
Yep. I spent $150 plus HDD's and PVR-x50's on my first Myth box (SD
only). I'm rebuilding for HDTV, now, and went waaaaayyyy too far to the
other end of the spectrum (more than the $1500 the OP mentioned), but
did so on purpose because I've learned that Myth is worth the money (to
me) and I have a few ideas for some of that (excessive) hardware I just
bought...

> Let
>me repeat: My time is worth money. Or, conversely, it can be
>worthwhile to pay someone else to do the heavy lifting in the whole
>parts procurement and assembly phase of MythTV. Heaven knows this list
>is living proof that the software phase is difficult enough!
>
>
Definitely true. IMHO, a TiVo is *much* cheaper than a Myth box and the
$6/mo cable/satellite-company DVR is an unbelievable price. However, I
don't mind paying significantly more for the Myth box (primarily paying
with my time) because I'm learning so much from it and about it. And,
although Myth has more capabilities than the commercial-off-the-shelf
solutions (the proprietary ones), for many people, the added cost is
significantly greater than the benefits. However, I think Myth is a
good match for me because it's a good hobby for me.

Mike
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bean at tafkab

Jan 23, 2006, 5:09 AM

Post #6 of 50 (12948 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Well I did a build from scratch in July last year and happened to still have my online bill as below:

Aria Aluminium Media PC Case @ 56.99 +VAT
Caviar 200GB 8Mb Cache 7200RPM HDD OEM @ 52.99 +VAT
WinTV Nova-T PCI Digital Free-to-air TV Card @ 51.46 +VAT
Sempron 2800 2.0Ghz Socket A 256KB 333Mhz OEM @ 40.95 +VAT
KM4M-V SocketA Graphics Audio LAN MAXT Motherboard @ 24.55 +VAT
128MB Radeon 9200SE DDR TV Out DVI AGP @ 22.72 +VAT
512Mb PC2700 184pin DDR DIMM Memory @ 21.50 +VAT

The only thing I reused was a DVD-RW drive, so even allowing for that a total brand new cost would have been about 375.00 or around $ 650 USD.

----- Start Original Message -----
> > Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 21:26:02 -0700
> > From: Brian Wood <beww [at] beww>
> > Subject: [mythtv-users] Cost of MythTV Machines
> > To: Discussion about mythtv <mythtv-users [at] mythtv>
> > Message-ID: <C635FA7D-B51D-4F04-B447-535761BB02FC [at] beww>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
> >
> > With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> > the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
> >
> > I have seen some "turnkey" machines offered for what I consider to be
> > very high prices, even given the fact that the builders deserve a
> > certain profit. I do not wish to mention names, but $1500 for what
> > seems to be a minimal front/back-end box with 1 capture card seems
> > quite high to me, although I will grant that it is a far better deal
> > than what Sony wants for a DRM-ridden MCE device.
> >
> > I think if one was constructing a computer specifically for MythTV a
> > minimal F/B configuration might cost $600, using refurbed components
> > perhaps, and with 1 MPEG-encoding capture card. $1500 would buy a
> > very nice machine with maybe 1TB of storage and 3 capture cards.
> > These guesses include a "computer" monitor but not an entertainment-
> > quality display.
> >
> > Anybody have ideas? What "should" a MythTV machine cost? Are the
> > "commercial" offerings realistic? Obviously a lot of us are re-using
> > hardware we have hanging around, it may be rare for somebody to
> > purchase gear solely to build a DVR. I'm just wondering what folks
> > are doing.
> >
> > A related matter - What is the position of Zap-2-It Labs on these pre-
> > built machines? Does this violate the "personal use" license? I admit
> > I have no idea on this one.
> >
> >
> > Brian Wood
> > beww [at] beww
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dan.seddon at framestore-cfc

Jan 23, 2006, 5:18 AM

Post #7 of 50 (12960 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Bean wrote:

>Well I did a build from scratch in July last year and happened to still have my online bill as below:
>
>Aria Aluminium Media PC Case @ 56.99 +VAT
>Caviar 200GB 8Mb Cache 7200RPM HDD OEM @ 52.99 +VAT
>WinTV Nova-T PCI Digital Free-to-air TV Card @ 51.46 +VAT
>
>
Sorry for the slight off topic, but saving cash being an important
issue.... Those in the UK might want to know that you can get Nova-T
cards for 40 quid including vat from PC World at the mo, I bought 2
whilst putting my system together at Xmas.......
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tomhines at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 6:02 AM

Post #8 of 50 (13018 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

I assume the systems to which you are referring are HD capable and
"just work". My motive for building my own box was that I wanted to
tinker with VIA min-itx mobos and it was just time for another DIY
project. I forget what the price breakdown was, but I'm in it for
over $600 now.

VIA EPIA M10000 (provides networking, video out, sound)
Haupauge PVR-250
120 GB Hard Drive
DVD+RW (which I never use)
Cheap noname micro-atx desktop case
Quiet replacement fan for the power supply
Wireless keyboard and mouse
KnoppMyth

I had fun building it, but I'm not sure if I will rebuild when I go
for high def. I'm not too happy with MythTV and might give Tivo a
try.

Tom
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rpooser at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 8:00 AM

Post #9 of 50 (12954 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Brian Wood wrote:
> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
> I have seen some "turnkey" machines offered for what I consider to be
> very high prices, even given the fact that the builders deserve a
> certain profit. I do not wish to mention names, but $1500 for what
> seems to be a minimal front/back-end box with 1 capture card seems
> quite high to me, although I will grant that it is a far better deal
> than what Sony wants for a DRM-ridden MCE device.
>
> I think if one was constructing a computer specifically for MythTV a
> minimal F/B configuration might cost $600, using refurbed components
> perhaps, and with 1 MPEG-encoding capture card. $1500 would buy a
> very nice machine with maybe 1TB of storage and 3 capture cards.
> These guesses include a "computer" monitor but not an entertainment-
> quality display.
>
> Anybody have ideas? What "should" a MythTV machine cost? Are the
> "commercial" offerings realistic? Obviously a lot of us are re-using
> hardware we have hanging around, it may be rare for somebody to
> purchase gear solely to build a DVR. I'm just wondering what folks
> are doing.
>
> A related matter - What is the position of Zap-2-It Labs on these pre-
> built machines? Does this violate the "personal use" license? I admit
> I have no idea on this one.
>
>
> Brian Wood
> beww [at] beww
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> mythtv-users mailing list
> mythtv-users [at] mythtv
> http://mythtv.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users
>
>
I would say $600 would get you a very good mythtv machine, HD
notwithstanding - I haven't done any research into that. But, last
October , after having my mythtv machine running for a few months, after
spending $70 on new components and reusing my old-old computer, it came
up in conversation with somone about whether it was worth it over Tivo,
because don't you have to spend $600 on a mythtv machine, which is twice
the price of a tivo without rebate with lifetime subscription? The
answer is no. This is for tivos without HD, btw. I went looking
around, not even trying to find the lowest price on things, and found
you can build a machine much more capable than Tivo for $300. Below you
can see an extremely bare bones mythtv machine using socket 754, but it
is a proof of principle that you can actually build one for the same
price or cheaper than a tivo. Well, you have to add $40 for an encoder
card, as the one there uses software. Also, I kept all the rebate
prices in this list, because no matter when you are buying, there will
always be specific deals on the components that will probably bring your
price to about the same. Also this is like 4 months old now, so for
$300 you are going to get a lot more for your money.

Component Name Price Shipping and rebates
Mobo ECS 760GX-M 46.5 2.99
Proc AMD Sempron 64 2600+ Palermo 63 0.99
RAM Adata 512MB DDR400 44.95 -5
Graphics Onboard
Sound Onboard
DVD ROM Lite-On SOHD-16P9SBLK 19.99 4
DVD burner NEC ND-3540A 37.99 0
Case Athenatech A202BB.L220 44.99 15.99
Power Supply Included
TV tuner Card Leadtek TV2000XP RM with Remote Control 29 -15.01
Hard Drive Seagate 200GB ATA Hard Drive 110 -60
Ethernet On board
Wireless TRENDnet TEW-424UB IEEE 802.11b/g USB 2.0 20.5 -5.01

Total price 416.92 -61.05
Final total: 355.87
Without DVD burner or wireless: 302.39

Sorry for the formatting. Yes this system sucks, but on the other hand
my current mythtv machine is far worse in specs and can do 640x480
software live TV or record and watch previously recorded simultaneously
without so much as a single hiccup. So, $600 in my mind gets me an
ubermythtv box, nevermind $1500, lol. Err of course that $600 would be
probably 700 before rebates... but that is the nature of the beast these
days, and sometimes you can get lucky and go w/o rebates.
Raphael

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brummett at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 8:01 AM

Post #10 of 50 (12954 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 1/22/06, Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> wrote:
> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.

I doubt you'd be able to boil it down to any single "average" number,
because there's so much variation about what a MythTV machine does.
For example, my first MythTV box cost me less than $200. I used a
900MHz PC I scavanged from work and an old bttv capture card I got on
extended loan from a friend, and just had to buy a large hard drive to
store things on, and an el-cheapo Nvidia video card with TV-out.

My current setup was only a little more expensive. I have 2 frontend
machines: the same one above, and another I put together from parts I
had laying around (cost: about $30 for another Nvidia card). The
backend I bought all new parts for (1.5GHz AMD, a PVR-250, 2 80G hard
drives, cheap case). It was, maybe, $500 three or four years ago.
Pretty much any machine you can throw together today is going to be
fast enough for standard-def TV.

I'm currently putting together an all new frontend that can playback
HD, plus a tuner and more hard drives for the backend. It'll probably
all be $900 to $1000 because I'm going to be splurging on a nice case
that'll fit with the other stereo components, and make everything
super quiet. I'm probably overspending on a few things, but I'm
hoping it's fast enough that I won't have to do this again any time
soon.

-- Tony
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gavin at nodecaf

Jan 23, 2006, 8:12 AM

Post #11 of 50 (12959 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

You know, the true answer to this question really is; how much do you WANT to spend?

Me, I got by on my original attempt with around $100... that was because I happened to have the components sitting around wasting space, so building out a PC to host Myth was just a matter of getting the capture card (in my case a PVR-250). Many geeks like me probably have a bits box full of parts that they could build a machine out of. My initial build was an AMD 800 with 768Mb RAM and a 60Gb hard drive. Even the case was an old Gateway Destination (remember those?) case that I happened to have picked up a few years back and never used... so it matched my stereo components rather nicely. OK, so the motherboard's not a perfect fit, but it's good enough (the back panel has no aluminum plate).

Once I'd built this out and tested it for a while... and once my wife had decided she really liked it I began to upgrade. I purchased a new mobo, memory and CPU... but ended up not using them because the new mobo fit but I didn't have a power supply with the Pentium 4 connector. Bummer... but just a stupid oversight on my part. At about the same time I had purchased two 160Gb drives, and I installed those in a mirrored set to replace the single 60... much better (I filled 60Gb in a disturbingly short amount of time). Since my upgrade budget was toast, no new PSU... but the mobo's still in storage for future development.

Cost of a total Myth setup will also depend on HOW you plan to set it up. Dedicated front and back ends will obviously cost more, but will provide almost unlimited expansion potential. Single-box front/backends will be cheaper, but you might find yourself hitting the upper limits of operability quickly. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Personally, I've found recently that my PIII-700 laptop with 256MB of RAM will run a frontend quite happily with no impact on my AMD 800 backend/frontend box. I paid less than $250 for this on Ebay about a year ago... and it's nice to sit with my wireless card in and seclude myself in a relatively unused corner of the house and watch Battlestar Galactica while my kids watch TV in the family room.

So in summary... what do you feel like spending? What have you got you can use to build out a frontend? How motivated are you?

-----Original Message-----
From: mythtv-users-bounces [at] mythtv on behalf of Tom Hines
Sent: Mon 1/23/2006 8:02 AM
To: Discussion about mythtv
Cc:
Subject: Re: [mythtv-users] Cost of MythTV Machines



I assume the systems to which you are referring are HD capable and
"just work". My motive for building my own box was that I wanted to
tinker with VIA min-itx mobos and it was just time for another DIY
project. I forget what the price breakdown was, but I'm in it for
over $600 now.

VIA EPIA M10000 (provides networking, video out, sound)
Haupauge PVR-250
120 GB Hard Drive
DVD+RW (which I never use)
Cheap noname micro-atx desktop case
Quiet replacement fan for the power supply
Wireless keyboard and mouse
KnoppMyth

I had fun building it, but I'm not sure if I will rebuild when I go
for high def. I'm not too happy with MythTV and might give Tivo a
try.

Tom
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rpooser at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 8:13 AM

Post #12 of 50 (12942 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Tony Brummett wrote:
> On 1/22/06, Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> wrote:
>
>> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
>> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>>
>
> I doubt you'd be able to boil it down to any single "average" number,
> because there's so much variation about what a MythTV machine does.
> For example, my first MythTV box cost me less than $200. I used a
> 900MHz PC I scavanged from work and an old bttv capture card I got on
> extended loan from a friend, and just had to buy a large hard drive to
> store things on, and an el-cheapo Nvidia video card with TV-out.
>
> My current setup was only a little more expensive. I have 2 frontend
> machines: the same one above, and another I put together from parts I
> had laying around (cost: about $30 for another Nvidia card). The
> backend I bought all new parts for (1.5GHz AMD, a PVR-250, 2 80G hard
> drives, cheap case). It was, maybe, $500 three or four years ago.
> Pretty much any machine you can throw together today is going to be
> fast enough for standard-def TV.
>
> I'm currently putting together an all new frontend that can playback
> HD, plus a tuner and more hard drives for the backend. It'll probably
> all be $900 to $1000 because I'm going to be splurging on a nice case
> that'll fit with the other stereo components, and make everything
> super quiet. I'm probably overspending on a few things, but I'm
> hoping it's fast enough that I won't have to do this again any time
> soon.
>
> -- Tony
> _______________________________________________
> mythtv-users mailing list
> mythtv-users [at] mythtv
> http://mythtv.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users
>
>
Sob sob! Why can't ATI play nice with linux and let me use my all in
wonder in mythtv? I have a whole extra machine sitting around with the
evil windows MCE2005 on it, and it has way more power than my mythtv
machine... with an all in wonder 9700pro inside, the only component that
won't work in linux :(
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rtsai1111 at comcast

Jan 23, 2006, 8:21 AM

Post #13 of 50 (12921 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On Sun, Jan 22, 2006 at 09:26:02PM -0700, Brian Wood wrote:
> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
> I have seen some "turnkey" machines offered for what I consider to
> be very high prices, even given the fact that the builders deserve
> a certain profit. I do not wish to mention names, but $1500 for
> what seems to be a minimal front/back-end box with 1 capture card
> seems quite high to me, although I will grant that it is a far
> better deal than what Sony wants for a DRM-ridden MCE device.
>
> I think if one was constructing a computer specifically for MythTV a
> minimal F/B configuration might cost $600, using refurbed components
> perhaps, and with 1 MPEG-encoding capture card. $1500 would buy a
> very nice machine with maybe 1TB of storage and 3 capture cards.
> These guesses include a "computer" monitor but not an entertainment-
> quality display.
>
> Anybody have ideas? What "should" a MythTV machine cost? Are the
> "commercial" offerings realistic? Obviously a lot of us are re-using
> hardware we have hanging around, it may be rare for somebody to
> purchase gear solely to build a DVR. I'm just wondering what folks
> are doing.

The problem with your question is that you cannot really hope to
capture the essence of a "standard" or even a "minimal" configuration.
Split or combined frontend/backend? HD-capable or not? Those two
parameters alone will severly impact the numbers for a "standard" or
"minimal" configuration.

I purchased stuff solely to build a DVR. I've described it here:

http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php/User:Rtsai1111

I think I did OK with the shopping at the time; I think your estimate
of $1500 is too low for "a very nice machine".

> A related matter - What is the position of Zap-2-It Labs on these
> pre- built machines? Does this violate the "personal use" license? I
> admit I have no idea on this one.

--Rob
Attachments: signature.asc (0.18 KB)


david.l.jones at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 8:50 AM

Post #14 of 50 (12920 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

I think one key aspect to point out is the cost of the tuner cards used. If
you want to use a digital cable box over firewire, you only need to spend
$15 for a firewire card and you can get by with a fairly "cheap" set of
components for the rest of the box (probably even a scavenged box). However,
if you skimp (like me) and grab the $20 Hauppauge cards, you will pay for it
with what you need on the rest of the components. I have a Celeron 2 GHz
doing both FE and BE with the 2 bttv tuners, and it stutters when recording
2 and watching 1.

Taking lessons learned, I would much rather spend $100 more per tuner to get
an MPEG 2 capture card rather than cough up an extra $100-200 for a more
expensive CPU and motherboard.

(nonsensical tangent warning)

What this means for the "average cost" debate is that it really isn't as
simple as a couple of cheap tuners and and old PC... at least if you don't
want to end up saying "gee, I could have spent less money and bought a
Tivo." It's actually somewaht counter-intuitive to spend more on a nice
tuner card rather than make the "processors are getting cheaper" argument
and buy the fastest PC you can with the cheapest tuner. The reality,
however, is that the cost is first and foremost determined by what you will
use as a tuner. I spent maybe $200 plus old parts to build my box. However,
I would never reccomend somebody go the route that I did. Myth gets a whole
lot tougher to sell when you come to the realization that you just won't
build something good without a $130 tuner card.

All that being said, I think that $500-600 is a fair threshold for what I
would consider a "minimal" Myth box that *works well* and looks good. I'm
figuring a PVR-x50 (although an HDx000 card is not a whole lot more), a
bare-bones CPU/mobo combo, a couple of hundred gigs of storage, and 512 MB-1
GB of RAM. Running down the last Fry's ad, that comes to about $550. (I'm
not sweating specifics here... just the weekly specials aside from
tuner/video cards. Of course, a nice Silverstone case would add to that, as
would more storage, etc. etc. etc.)

So that's $500 more than a Tivo. Why even go the MythTV route? Well, picking
components carefully buys you a lot of advantages. First of all, there are
not a lot of HDTV PVRs on the market. There are none, for that matter, which
would let you archive your shows to DVD (and I am thinking native HD
resolution .nuv/.avi files on DVD, not the HD-DVD/BluRay battle which, as
far as I can tell, will end sometime around 2012 or the Apocalypse). Chosing
an MPEG2 card immediately buys you the ability to burn DVDs of SD
programming, too. What else is in that $550? For one thing, 400 GB of hard
drive space... that's a lot of hours of storage. You also get other
abilities... you can build an MP3 jukebox, an AVI jukebox, a web browser
hooked to your TV, your own S/FTP, rsync, cvs, svn, ... server to access
from anywhere on the internet, and if you don't mind a little script
hacking, a DVD jukebox/copier which integrates into the fronted (ahem, only
for titles which you are expressly given permission).

You get the idea. When I first bought a Tivo, my friends thought that was
pretty cool. Now they all have Tivos. But with Myth, I show them that I can
pop in a DVD and load it to the library, then go and watch the AVI archives
of old seasons of TV shows, then put my music library on shuffle, then read
Slashdot on my TV, and they are once again pretty impressed. The downside?
Well, if time were money, I would be bankrupt. :) And nobody could afford
hobbies.

On 1/23/06, Tony Brummett <brummett [at] gmail> wrote:
>
> On 1/22/06, Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> wrote:
> > With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> > the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
> I doubt you'd be able to boil it down to any single "average" number,
> because there's so much variation about what a MythTV machine does.
> For example, my first MythTV box cost me less than $200. I used a
> 900MHz PC I scavanged from work and an old bttv capture card I got on
> extended loan from a friend, and just had to buy a large hard drive to
> store things on, and an el-cheapo Nvidia video card with TV-out.
>
> My current setup was only a little more expensive. I have 2 frontend
> machines: the same one above, and another I put together from parts I
> had laying around (cost: about $30 for another Nvidia card). The
> backend I bought all new parts for (1.5GHz AMD, a PVR-250, 2 80G hard
> drives, cheap case). It was, maybe, $500 three or four years ago.
> Pretty much any machine you can throw together today is going to be
> fast enough for standard-def TV.
>
> I'm currently putting together an all new frontend that can playback
> HD, plus a tuner and more hard drives for the backend. It'll probably
> all be $900 to $1000 because I'm going to be splurging on a nice case
> that'll fit with the other stereo components, and make everything
> super quiet. I'm probably overspending on a few things, but I'm
> hoping it's fast enough that I won't have to do this again any time
> soon.
>
> -- Tony
> _______________________________________________
> mythtv-users mailing list
> mythtv-users [at] mythtv
> http://mythtv.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users
>


ross.campbell at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 9:25 AM

Post #15 of 50 (12950 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 1/22/06, Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> wrote:
> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.

That's sort of like asking a bunch of gamers what the "average" cost
is for a gaming PC is. I know gamers who would spend $600 on a
graphics card ...

Here are some questions to consider:

- How much is silence in your living room worth?
- Do you (and other family members) want an "ugly" old computer
showcased in your living room?
- How much did you spend on audio/video gear in the past?
- How much money do you normally spend on your computer hobby?
- How many hours of recordings do you want to keep? (HINT: it's more
than you would ever think when your building your first mythtv box)
- When one of your hard drives fails and you lose your
system/recordings, how much would it be worth to you to be able to go
back in time and set up RAID?


My MythTV box is now at around 600gb and that seems like just about
enough storage for me for now with non-HD recordings, but I can see a
day in the not too distant future where the bulk of my mythtv expense
will be STORAGE, and not computer parts.

I'd be interested to know how much storage the "average" mythtv user
has on their system. I'd also be interested to know the % of mythtv
users who don't use RAID.

-Ross
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beww at beww

Jan 23, 2006, 9:39 AM

Post #16 of 50 (12923 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

All in Good Fun (but basically honest) :-)
>
> Here are some questions to consider:
>
> - How much is silence in your living room worth?
Nothing
> - Do you (and other family members) want an "ugly" old computer
> showcased in your living room?
Yes
> - How much did you spend on audio/video gear in the past?
Way Too Much
> - How much money do you normally spend on your computer hobby?
See Above
> - How many hours of recordings do you want to keep? (HINT: it's more
> than you would ever think when your building your first mythtv box)
Everything Ever Recorded Since Recording Began (apologies to Don Imus)
(I actually have stuff on 2-inch Quad Tape, but no way to play it
anymore :-()
> - When one of your hard drives fails and you lose your
> system/recordings, how much would it be worth to you to be able to go
> back in time and set up RAID?
RAID? Do I have Insects?

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mtdean at thirdcontact

Jan 23, 2006, 10:16 AM

Post #17 of 50 (12995 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 01/23/2006 11:13 AM, Raphael Pooser wrote:
> Sob sob! Why can't ATI play nice with linux and let me use my all in
> wonder in mythtv? I have a whole extra machine sitting around with the
> evil windows MCE2005 on it, and it has way more power than my mythtv
> machine... with an all in wonder 9700pro inside, the only component that
> won't work in linux :(
>
And, replacing that 9700 Pro with a PVR-150 will cost you $60 and you
can use the 9700 Pro for output (just not input) or, pay $40-$60 more
for a GF4MX440 or GF5200 and re-use the ATI in some other Windows box
(makes a pretty good gaming graphics card).

Mike
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ckotting at wideopenwest

Jan 23, 2006, 10:23 AM

Post #18 of 50 (12972 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

> - How much is silence in your living room worth?

Rather a lot, a 200 kw turbogenerator is stone silent comapared to my 6-yar
old, so...

> - Do you (and other family members) want an "ugly" old computer
> showcased in your living room?

No, so I have it behind the wall unit and use an RF keyboard and mouse.

> - How much did you spend on audio/video gear in the past?

Not a whole lot, though it seemed a bunch at the time (older gear, but it
suits our purposes).

> - How much money do you normally spend on your computer hobby?

As little as possible. I have other hobbies, as well.

> - How many hours of recordings do you want to keep? (HINT: it's more
> than you would ever think when your building your first mythtv box)

Yes it is, but I archive off to DVD anything we deem worth keeping longer
than one viewing.

> - When one of your hard drives fails and you lose your
> system/recordings, how much would it be worth to you to be able to go
> back in time and set up RAID?

Not a thing. I backup my system drive whenever I do an upgrade (both before
and after) and the /video directory (on it's own drive) can go "poof" for
all I care, I'm only out the cost of a replacement drive.

What did I spend?
Combined Frontend/Backend SD
$36 - DVD Burner
$25 - 40 Gig HD (eBay)
$75 - PVR-150 (eBay)
$9 - Case and PS
$7 - homebrew speed control circuit for PS fan
$20 - RF wireless Keyboard & Mouse
everything else (700 mhz Pentium III, MB, 640MB ram, 20 Gig system drive) I
had lying around the house.
Cables to hook it all together (I splurged here) $45

Total: about $220 Like most things, the key to a satisfactory purchase is
to know what you want to do, and shop carefully and patiently.

Chris K.
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mtdean at thirdcontact

Jan 23, 2006, 10:25 AM

Post #19 of 50 (12938 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 01/23/2006 11:50 AM, Dave Jones wrote:
> If you want to use a digital cable box over firewire, you only need
> to spend $15 for a firewire card and you can get by with a fairly
> "cheap" set of components for the rest of the box (probably even a
> scavenged box).
Isn't that $15 plus $6-$10/month forever... Adds up to $60 (cost of a
PVR-150) really fast...

If you want digital TV (and HDTV!), the HD-3000 for $169.98 plus an
antenna (I got a high-end 16'x12' VHF/UHF antenna for $130) and no
recurring payments... but that assumes your local broadcasters are
actually transmitting HDTV.

> However, if you skimp (like me) and grab the $20 Hauppauge cards, you
> will pay for it with what you need on the rest of the components. I
> have a Celeron 2 GHz doing both FE and BE with the 2 bttv tuners, and
> it stutters when recording 2 and watching 1.
>
> Taking lessons learned, I would much rather spend $100 more per tuner
> to get an MPEG 2 capture card rather than cough up an extra $100-200
> for a more expensive CPU and motherboard.

Definitely. With hardware encoders, you can keep adding them. I've
done 4xPVR-250 while watching a previously-recorded show, but I can't
imagine trying to do 4x software encoding while watching something else.
> The downside? Well, if time were money, I would be bankrupt. :) And
> nobody could afford hobbies.
Exactly!

Mike
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les at totalgraphix

Jan 23, 2006, 10:27 AM

Post #20 of 50 (12932 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

Ross Campbell wrote:
> On 1/22/06, Brian Wood <beww [at] beww> wrote:
>
>>With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
>>the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>
>
> That's sort of like asking a bunch of gamers what the "average" cost
> is for a gaming PC is. I know gamers who would spend $600 on a
> graphics card ...
>
> Here are some questions to consider:
>
> - How much is silence in your living room worth?
> - Do you (and other family members) want an "ugly" old computer
> showcased in your living room?
> - How much did you spend on audio/video gear in the past?
> - How much money do you normally spend on your computer hobby?
> - How many hours of recordings do you want to keep? (HINT: it's more
> than you would ever think when your building your first mythtv box)
> - When one of your hard drives fails and you lose your
> system/recordings, how much would it be worth to you to be able to go
> back in time and set up RAID?
>
>
> My MythTV box is now at around 600gb and that seems like just about
> enough storage for me for now with non-HD recordings, but I can see a
> day in the not too distant future where the bulk of my mythtv expense
> will be STORAGE, and not computer parts.
>
> I'd be interested to know how much storage the "average" mythtv user
> has on their system. I'd also be interested to know the % of mythtv
> users who don't use RAID.
>
> -Ross
> _______________________________________________
> mythtv-users mailing list
> mythtv-users [at] mythtv
> http://mythtv.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/mythtv-users
>
>

Good points, Ross. I put together my myth box just over a year ago and spent almost $1200CDN on it.
The original configuration had one PVR-350, P4 2.4GHz, ASUS P4P800SE mobo, 40G + 180G (IDE) for
recordings. It has since expanded with the addition of a PVR500 and another 300G SATA drive. All
inside an Antec Overture case. Noise is minimal but certainly not absent. I also had to wield the
ever-useful Dremel tool to get the CPU heatsink to fit beside the Overture's drive bay.

The storage is non-RAID; This is only TV, after all. The mythconverg data gets dumped into a backup
directory on the recordings partition in the event of disaster, but otherwise I could just as easily
rebuild the box as restore it (Thanks, Jarod!). Your recordings will expand to fill the volume
alloted to them, much like an ideal gas. If I can't get around to watching something in the
approximately three months it takes to become eligible for auto-expire, I can go without. Having the
scheduler re-record it if it shows up again is a nice bonus, though.

If I have to add more storage, I will seriously consider a separate storage server with better
cooling and tuck it away in the basement. With the Olympics coming up, I can see a flurry of
auto-expires taking place if I don't format-shift a bunch of movies onto DVD, though.

Cheers,
Les
--
Les Gondor, Total Graphics les [at] totalgraphix
If you don't know what you're doing, do it neatly
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mtdean at thirdcontact

Jan 23, 2006, 10:27 AM

Post #21 of 50 (12923 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 01/23/2006 12:25 PM, Ross Campbell wrote:
> My MythTV box is now at around 600gb and that seems like just about
> enough storage for me for now with non-HD recordings, but I can see a
> day in the not too distant future where the bulk of my mythtv expense
> will be STORAGE, and not computer parts.
>
I agree completely. I'm moving from an SDTV Myth box with 360GB storage
(and I've been using extremely low-bitrate recording parameters to give
me not good quality at 1.15GiB/hr) to an HDTV Myth box. I wouldn't have
even considered switching to HDTV without 1TB minimum storage--and I'm
counting that as a starting point.

Mike
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mtdean at thirdcontact

Jan 23, 2006, 10:34 AM

Post #22 of 50 (12919 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 01/23/2006 01:23 PM, CHRIS KOTTING wrote:
>> - Do you (and other family members) want an "ugly" old computer
>> showcased in your living room?
>>
>
> No, so I have it behind the wall unit and use an RF keyboard and mouse.
>
>
Actually, by threading an IR sensor through the wall, you can use IR,
too. However, I recommend the RF keyboard/mouse, anyway--a remote, on
the other hand, may not be worth going RF. I have an RF keyboard/mouse
and remote, and I still put the receivers in the viewing room (with
wires threaded through the wall).
>> - How many hours of recordings do you want to keep? (HINT: it's more
>> than you would ever think when your building your first mythtv box)
>>
>
> Yes it is, but I archive off to DVD anything we deem worth keeping longer
> than one viewing.
>

Remember, though, that even that first viewing can be hard to come by
when you've got a Myth box that's happy to just sit around and record
stuff for you. I have 360GB and delete every single show after viewing
(I purchase DVD's of the shows I want to keep--i.e. Stargate SG-1 and
Firefly). However, I /still/ got down to less than 5GiB storage--and
that's after copying 100GiB of recordings to my non-Myth fileserver!!!

Mike
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chris at cpr

Jan 23, 2006, 10:35 AM

Post #23 of 50 (12937 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On Mon, Jan 23, 2006 at 01:09:28PM +0000, Bean wrote:
> Well I did a build from scratch in July last year and happened to
> still have my online bill as below:
>
> Aria Aluminium Media PC Case @ 56.99 +VAT
> Caviar 200GB 8Mb Cache 7200RPM HDD OEM @ 52.99 +VAT
> WinTV Nova-T PCI Digital Free-to-air TV Card @ 51.46 +VAT
> Sempron 2800 2.0Ghz Socket A 256KB 333Mhz OEM @ 40.95 +VAT
> KM4M-V SocketA Graphics Audio LAN MAXT Motherboard @ 24.55 +VAT
> 128MB Radeon 9200SE DDR TV Out DVI AGP @ 22.72 +VAT
> 512Mb PC2700 184pin DDR DIMM Memory @ 21.50 +VAT
>
> The only thing I reused was a DVD-RW drive, so even allowing for
> that a total brand new cost would have been about ? 375.00 or around
> $ 650 USD.

There is another way to look at the cost, of course. My MythTV
system cost me exactly $179 (Cdn). That was $149 for a WinTV card
for the box in the basement, $10 for some ethernet cable, and $20 for
a used XBox for the livingroom to act as a frontend. The rest of the
system was already there handling my email, acting as a network
fileserver, etc. All the old hardware was sunk cost -- the money was
spent whether I added MythTV or not, so it doesn't count against the
MythTV setup cost.

--
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and
carrying the cross." - Sinclair Lewis (1935)
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urban at inetdesign

Jan 23, 2006, 10:42 AM

Post #24 of 50 (12935 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

John Biundo wrote:
> Brian Wood wrote:
>
>> With some recent discussion here about CPUs and costs I wonder what
>> the "average" cost of a MythTV machine might be.
>>
>>
Just thought I would weigh in on this as a bit of a warning. When I
first started playing around with capture cards and a home built dvr I
spent close to $3000 Canadian. Why so darn much? Well first thing I
did was purchase a few non-encoding cards (3 to be exact). Two of them
worked with the bttv/cx drivers. One I never did get working and gave
it to a friend of mine with a windows box. I also went through two
mother boards before I found one I like. 4 HD's (slowing getting up to
250 Gigs). And two processors (slow duron and a faster athlon). Then
there are the monitors (2) and all the cabling in the house.

The moral of the story. Plan your hard ware purchases! Don't always go
for cheapest and don't always go for newest. Listen to people when they
say to get a PVR-1/2/350 as they are the best I've found. Don't just
settle for a 100 gig HD as you will run this out of space if you record
alot. Wait for the next paycheck and get at least 250. My advice to my
co-worker was to pick up the pieces as you can but make sure you get
what you know from others will work.

Stephen
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david.l.jones at gmail

Jan 23, 2006, 10:57 AM

Post #25 of 50 (12927 views)
Permalink
Re: Cost of MythTV Machines [In reply to]

On 1/23/06, Urban Nightmare <urban [at] inetdesign> wrote:
>
> The moral of the story. Plan your hard ware purchases! Don't always go
> for cheapest and don't always go for newest. Listen to people when they
> say to get a PVR-1/2/350 as they are the best I've found. Don't just
> settle for a 100 gig HD as you will run this out of space if you record
> alot. Wait for the next paycheck and get at least 250. My advice to my
> co-worker was to pick up the pieces as you can but make sure you get
> what you know from others will work.


Absolutely right... the best thing is to do opportunistic buying. If you
live close to a Fry's or comparable computer/electronics
store/warehouse/barn, spread out your purchases over a couple of months.
That way you *know* you can get the $0.20/GB hard drive special(s), the
Antec Sonata for $60, the P4 mobo/CPU combo for $105, the gig of RAM for
$60, etc. This applies to online shopping, too. And mail in any 0% credit
card offer you have so you don't end up paying 200% of the final cost up
front, or paying interest on rebates while they process.

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