Need help building a computer

Hi all,

I really need some help figuring out the parts I need to build this computer. (prefer someone in the US since I will probably have to purchase from the US)

I’ve been back & forth with the company that provides the software I need & I’ve even had so called computer stores look at the specs I put into a Word doc, but either their quote had extras in it that weren’t needed, or they said there wasn’t enough of this or that in the basics I thought I needed.

Anyone out there that knows a ton about computer hardware & can help me?

It’s to build a computer with multiple TV tuners so I can record different shows at the same time off of cable.

I’ll provide everything once I know there’s someone out there :slight_smile:

Thanks a ton


i’ve got a computer that does exactly that, it has two tv tuner cards and the software is windows media center

it was a stock dell, no customization needed, shipped out from dell canada the next day

i can’t help you build your computer, all i’m saying is that you might not have to build one yourself if all you want is to record tv

Hmm, well the software I want to get (comes with a remote as I need that) is

No offense, but I don’t touch MS products if I can help it.

Does your Dell come with slots for more than 2 tuners?

How much was it?

I’ve never purchased a brand name b4 & I’m on a strict budget.

How long ago did you purchase it & how did you get it hooked up?

Thanks :slight_smile:


that page you linked to says snapstream is $2000 – that’s a hell of a budget you’re on!!

i bought my pc in 2006, windows xp media center, yes it comes with a remote

a quick check at shows a windows 7 “home premium” desktop at $500 that’s for the entire computer with all the software including windows media center

quote: “Windows Media Center is available in the Windows 7 Home Premium, -Professional, and -Ultimate versions”

I have no idea what you are looking at. The software is $99

I just called Dell & they said their tuners can only record one show at a time, so that’s not what I’m looking for.



You would need multiple TV tuners installed to record more than 1 show at a time:

my apologies for not doing extensive research, but the $2000 amount just jumps right out at you from their home page

i have two tv tuners, i can record two channels at the same time (while watching a third recording), or record one channel while watching another, which is what i’m doing right now – recording the saturday night movie with tommy lee jones while watching the ncaa duke/wva playoff game, except i have the game on pause at the moment, while i check da mail, and that’s okay, because i always fast-forward through the commercials…

i dunno, it just seems to me that a $500 computer with all the software built in is ~way~ safer than the headaches of building your own machine

but that’s just me


Maybe I’ll call back during the week in hopes of getting someone in North America, but that’s what the guy told me. Most people have no clue about these things (as I’ve learned).

You never told me how many slots you have for tuners. You have the 2, is there room for more?

Do the tuners record either analog or digital? There’s only one type of tuner that does that I think.

Have fun :slight_smile:

P.S. I never really looked at Snap Stream’s site, I think I just contacted them right away to get the lowdown. That must be for their computer or something. Not sure what that $2k is for.

Unless you need the PC to do other things as well, why not get a dual tuner DVR or TIVO?

Some tuners can record analog and/or digital or both - which do you need for your purposes?

Hauppauge makes a nice line of tuners including this dual tuner piece (one analog - one digital) for under $130 - and I’d highly recommend shopping at


Maybe it’s just me but why don’t you simply get a bunch of USB TV dongles (the Hauppauge twin HVR stick things come with DUEL-tuners, both support cable - at least in the UK they do), plug them into your USB ports and record directly from whichever tuner you want to use - if you have 4 USB ports you could have 8 tuners connected to an Ariel (using a signal splitter)… no new machine needed, just enough USB ports and a decent graphics card :slight_smile:

Ok, first things first :slight_smile:

Rave - Unless I’m unaware of certain things, I need to be able to record at least 6-7 shows at once.

What I’m trying to do is weed myself off of VCRs.

I have 3 VCRs on one TV
1 VCR, 1 recordable DVD & one DVR on the other TV

I can do with 4 tuners to start, but eventually I only want to have the DVR left & maybe just one VCR.

What you recommended won’t do that & I refuse to pay a monthly cost for all of this. If the cost was minimal that’s one thing, but over here it’s like $15-20/month I think & you can only record 2 shows at a time.

That’s NOT including having to buy the bloody thing to begin with.

Alex - I’m not following you. Where would I plug it into? I need the computer to hook up to my TV & to use the software I mentioned to be able to record.

I’m NOT recording from the Internet.

If I’m not understanding you, pls. explain.

Thanks guys :slight_smile:

P.S. I have analog now, but I want the tuners that will record digital too just in case I ever switch to digital I don’t want to waste money & time buying all new tuners.

exoticpublishing, you plug the USB dongle directly into the Ariel (where your TV get’s it’s signal), the signal goes through the hardware, reaches your PC and you can use a piece of software like Windows Media Center to record TV shows or channels directly to the hard disk, from that you can either use a HDMI port to play from the laptop / PC to the TV or you could burn the thing to DVD directly. USB dongles are like miniature cable boxes, you can use as many of them as you like (I think windows allows for a maximum of 4 - if their duel tuners you can have 8). The splitter I mentioned which you can get from any hardware store allows you to plug multiple TV’s or Tuners or whatever into a single Ariel socket - you could have the equivalent of a raid array of TV recorders. 4 duel tuners hooked into your Ariel… and the machine can record 8 channels at one time (the graphics card will process the video). It’s pretty easy to setup and not too expensive. :slight_smile:

PS: TV Tuners have been around for years, look them up. They allow you to watch record TV using your PC… it’s NOT Internet video.

Hi Alex,

Ok, I’m learning so bare with me pls. :slight_smile:

I don’t go behind the TV, it’s a nightmare over there figuring out what connection comes from where & goes where.

I believe the cable that comes from the wall goes into a spliter box (but that’s for cable, not for USB) & I still want the TV on in the background, so I don’t see how that can be done because I’d have to unplug the USB Dongle each & every time I record & I’m just not prepared to squeeze back there every time.

Also, I have to be able to record the shows hours before they start. That’s how I do things now. I use onscreen programming. I’m not sure if the Windows Media Center allows for that, but of course Snap Stream does. Plus I still need the remote so I can watch a show easily.

Just so everyone knows, I don’t want to burn to a disk. I want the same kind of thing I have now with the Sony DVR where it’s a HD & I can choose which show, be recording while I’m watching, etc.

I also want fairly good quality like the HD provides now.

I hope I’m on the right track.

Thanks :slight_smile:


I never liked Tivo myself because of the monthly fees and use a Panasonic DVR/DVD burner that I love.

Since you want to record so many channels, seems like a PC with either internal or external tuner cards would do the trick and allow you to start small and scale up as needed.

I’d suggest asking the folks at happauge or snapstream how many cards can be used in one system and what kind of specs you need to do this. I know snapstreams built pcs with up to 11 tuners before so its possible - just a question of what hardware you need to support it.

As far as computer supplies go, I can’t imagine one not being flexible enough to offer you a system with just what you need - they’re certainly out there but it sounds like you just need to keep lookin.

If Dell doesnt offer 2-tuner cards, buy just a decent pc from them and be sure it has a few extra PCI-E slots that most of these tuner cards seem to need.

As I already mentioned, I’ve already asked Snap Stream to help me & while she did try & help, I still don’t have a definite list of all the parts I need. That is why I came on this forum to find someone who will go thru my list & discuss it with me.

I don’t want to go with Dell b/c I tend not to go with brand names b/c they are more expensive.

Thanks :slight_smile:


exoticpublishing, there are cables you can buy which turns a single “Ariel” connection into two (just ask your hardware store for an Ariel splitter), this means that you can still have that connection into the back of the TV (just with the cable between each existing connection) and you’ll have a spare “point” where you can connect to the TV card. Media Center allows you to set the time you want to record the program (based on schedule or physical time) and it’ll record from that point using that channel when you want. As long as the machine is turned on it’ll do the job perfectly (and it’ll be up-scaled to digital format so DVD quality rather than VHS). If you have the splitter and an Ariel extension lead plugged into the spare socket you can just plug the USB dongle into your PC (attached to the Ariel) as and when you want to record something. What you want is a TV card, it’ll do exactly what I said… it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out how to set one up, and if you got plenty of splitters you could attach multiple USB TV cards into each split point and have them daisy chained into USB ports on your PC.

See the below diagram for what I mean:

Alex, I’m sooo sorry for the delay. I’ve been really busy & I asked someone to look at your post to see what I need to purchase to do it your way, but he just disappeared.

So, it looks like I would still need a computer from what you’ve listed, correct?

I won’t use mine, it’s a biz computer, so what stats would I need for the computer? That begs the question if it’s better to get a laptop.

Is there some device that can make the laptop wireless? That is where I would be using the software & doing the onscreen programming, correct?

What’s a roof ariel? Is that the ears? I use cable, not local TV.

So I need the following?

  1. 3 splitters which will give me 6 recordings at once?
  2. One Ariel connection? (Don’t know what this is, are there certain types I need?)
  3. One Extension Lead (again don’t know what this is)
  4. One USB TV Card (that goes into the laptop, right?)
  5. One USB Cable?

Do I have this right?

Thanks a ton, & I hope you are doing well :slight_smile:


Yep you would need a computer (as the devices connect to the machine via USB and the computer records the television stream as it broadcasts), in regards to the type, if you have a decent amount of RAM (like 4GB+) and a decent graphics card, you could go with either a laptop or a desktop (your choice), in regards to making the laptop wireless, if a wireless USB hub exists you could possibly plug all of the TV cards into that and have it beam all the data to your machine… it may well work if you have wireless N as there’s a lot of bandwidth on those. Otherwise you would be out of luck and would need to have all the wires connected to the cards connected to the USB ports on the machine (if that makes sense). Yes the ears would be the Ariel, though if you use cable you just get cable USB TV cards instead, as those will go through the cable instead of the ears (the TV card just gets the reception from the place where your TV does). :slight_smile:

As for what you’ll need, look for duel (or quad if they exist) tuners, with duel tuners it means you’ll get two input streams through the cable connection, this means you’ll be able to record two things at once… therefore 6 recordings you’ll want three duel tuner TV cards (for cable) (and 3 available USB ports + USB cables for them to plug into). And for the splitters you’ll want 3 of them too! (each has 3 connections), the first will have one end plugged into where you get the cable, one into the TV and the third connected into the next splitter (which will have two available connections therefore), one goes into a TV card and the other goes into the third splitter which again has two connections spare which both have the remaining TV cards left in, it’s like one big jigsaw puzzle with cables.

In Summary: For 6 channels using duel tuners… 3 TV Cards, 3 USB Cables, 3 Splitters.

PS: If you’re having trouble keeping up, it might be worth printing this out and taking it to a store which sells the stuff, they should be able to give you direction. :wink: