Frequently Asked Questions
What Can an HTPC Do?
1. Why are you called “Assassin HTPC” ?
“Assassin” is the screen name and alias of one of the founders of Assassin HTPC whose expertise and knowledge is well respected in the HTPC world. He has helped dozens of people with building a HTPC in the past 7 years and now wants to make it even easier by providing high quality HTPCs to consumers which are ready to use out of the box. Since he was already so well respected and people were calling the systems he originally built “Assassin” systems anyways we thought we would just stick with the name!
2. What is a Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC)?
This is open to debate but in our opinion any computer that is simply connected to a home theater or HDTV is NOT necessarily a HTPC. To us a HTPC is a specific computer whose very creation was meant to act as a central hub for entertainment. This goal is echoed in our hardware choices for appropriate performance, minimal power needs, decreased heat and decreased noise. It should be able to handle all HD video and audio without flexing at all while not overspending on performance that you will never use in the HTPC platform. It also should have enough storage (or be attached via a network to enough storage) to playback various HD file types regardless of size. It also should be able to handle 3D video, music, act as a TV tuner and DVR if needed, surf the internet, stream online content such as Netflix and Amazon prime, play classic games as an emulator, download and playback torrent files, view family pictures and movies, be capable of playing modern games with an added gaming card while also acting as a general PC if needed.
3. What is involved in making and setting up a HTPC?
To have a HTPC you not only need to be proficient at building a PC but even more importantly you must have a great deal of expertise in setting up the software and compressor-decompressors (codecs). For the novice HTPC user this will take literally dozens of hours spent in building, troubleshooting, installing and configuring your HTPC. Often times unsuccessfully. We have the expertise, experience and knowledge to do all of this for you leaving you with a top of the line system that’s ready to go out of the box.
4. Why is an Assassin pre-built HTPC better than a PC at one of the big box store like Best Buy or online giants like Dell?
Put yourself in the mind of the CEO at a large PC company. Your customers want to buy stats — specific CPU, “x” amount of RAM and hard drive space, etc. So you can take the lowest bid to get these stats and your customers won’t know the difference. We have the exact opposite philosophy. A computer is much more than stats. We build HTPCs with only the best consumer grade components. Each piece of hardware is researched and chosen individually. We have a “no cut corners” approach to our hardware selection which results in a HTPC with impeccable quality both inside and out.
The large PC companies also often use proprietary connections on many of their components. That means that in 3 years if your power supply decides to quit you have to either buy a new one from the large PC company (assuming they have any) or buy a completely new PC as these parts are not always readily available. Another thing that many of the large PC companies do is hinder some of the options in bios resulting in decreased performance or flexibility in options. This will never be the case with an Assassin HTPC.
Also if you have ever bought a PC from a large company you undoubtedly have noticed the boatload of bloatware that comes preloaded on your PC. This is software that the large PC company was paid to include on your PC by other companies. These programs usually run at startup automatically and are very difficult to remove. Even if you took the time to remove all of the programs manually you are still left with numerous changes to your Windows installation which slows down your computer. We install only the absolute minimum to get you HTPC running and will never include any bloatware.
Finally you will notice that our HTPCs are usually about the same price or even less than one from the large PC companies. This is all while having better quality parts, having a fully operational and unlocked bios and including absolutely no bloatware.
5. How is an Assassin pre-built HTPC better than one I can build myself?
Our parts selection is heavily researched and our HTPCs are professionally built. But the thing that sets us apart is our expertise in building Home Theater PCs. Your Assassin HTPC will come pre-assembled with Windows 7 installed and your bios optimized for the components in your machine. The heart and soul of the HTPC is the user interface and media playback and this will also be done and ready for you to use when you receive your HTPC. After viewing a few short tutorials included on your Assassin HTPC you will be ready to begin adding and enjoying media within minutes. Compare that to the dozens of hours that it would take you to build, troubleshoot, install software and configure software on a HTPC that you tried to build yourself.
6. What software is included on an Assassin HTPC?
Our HTPCs are available loaded with all the software that you need to begin using your HTPC literally within minutes. Through our experience and research we have not only installed and optimized Windows 7 based on your hardware but have installed and configured the core programs that you will need to enjoy your HTPC. Your HTPC will come all necessary software that is required to begin enjoying any media format within minutes. We also have made it easy for you to “drop” your media into the appropriate files to begin almost immediately. We also include our guide to show you step-by-step how to use your new HTPC.
In short we have taken most of the guess work on how to operate your new HTPC which will save you many frustrating hours of setup. Owning a HTPC has never been easier. If you decide that you would just like the machine without the software then this can be purchased as well.
7. Would this make a good “regular” PC?
Absolutely! These HTPCs use the most current technology available and would make an outstanding “regular” PC as well. Currently PCs with SSDs are very limited for purchase and often cost well over $1,500. We have one for less than $1,000.
8. Does a HTPC make a good present?
Of course! A HTPC really is the ultimate gadget. A HTPC makes an excellent present, especially to the man/woman that believes they have everything. We’ve built them as presents for all genders and ages. Gifts for men, women, families, college students, service members, grandparents….literally everyone.
9. How can a HTPC save me money?
Because of all the capabilities of an HTPC many users end up either cancelling or lessening their subscription to other services (cable subscriptions, online movie rentals, movie ticket purchases, Bluray purchases, etc). In our experience most customers are able to cut on average around $50 from their lives each month from subscription and entertainment services they no longer need…and if you download your media then this number grows as quickly as your media collection. Here is an example of one HTPC user’s monthly bill they sent us as thanks before and after buying a HTPC
BEFORE OWNING AN HTPC = $124.08 / month
AFTER OWNING AN HTPC! = $6.38 / month
10. How much power does it take to run an HTPC?
Assassin HTPC’s use about 32 watts of electricity which is about the same as a DVD player (in comparison a ceiling fan which uses about 120 watts) and far less than a normal computer which can use between 120 watts for energy efficient machines, and up to 300 watts for gaming and other media machines.
11. How much information can I store on an Assassin pre-built HTPC? Each HTPC comes with a 2TB hard drive (that’s 2000 gigabytes) which is one of the largest currently available. If the average mp3 is 4MB, that’s 500,000 songs. Or if the average downloaded HD movies is 2-4GB that is 500-1000 downloaded HD movies. If you ever were to fill up this hard drive external hard drive(s) could be easily added which could double, triple or even quadruple the amount of available storage.
12. What other accessories should I consider purchasing initially?
Depending upon how much functionality you want from your HTPC and what components you may already own the minimum recommended system is the HTPC system, a keyboard/mouse combo, a hdmi cable, and a remote control. After selecting your system there are many parts you can customize and add before checking out such as wireless internet, TV tuners, etc. Remember, if are unable to run a wired internet connection to your system you will need a wireless internet adapter. As always if you have any questions please contact us.
13. Why don’t you just include all accessories in your pricing?
Our HTPC’s are all custom built and one-way we keep costs down for you is by not included extra options you may never use. For example, if you don’t ever plan on using your HTPC to watch live HDTV, then you shouldn’t have to pay to have a HDTV tuner card installed. This way you only get exactly what you need and you only pay for what you use. But don’t worry, if you want to add features onto your system after you’ve already receive it you always can.
14. Can my Assassin HTPC replace my TiVo or DVR?
Absolutely! Using an antenna you can capture free HD TV channels and your HTPC has built in DVR software if you add a tuner device. There are also cable card devices available for purchase as well. Most consider the uncompressed over the air HD signal to be the highest quality HD signal you can get. Contact us for additional details.
15. What if I'm not exactly sure what I need in my system?
If you have any questions or concerns about what you might need in your system, or are confused about any of the parts that go into it, please do not hesitate to call or email us so we can talk you through and clear up any confusion you might be feeling! Our ultimate goal is to make sure you get the HTPC that's best for you and your budget! One of the most common themes we see when people build their own is overspending and using components not best suited for their needs. We'll not only explain each component, but also why we chose that specific component for you. It's a personal building and purchasing experience found nowhere else in the world!!!
16. What is a SSD and why should I get one?
A SSD (solid state device) is a storage device with no moving parts, no heat production and blazing fast transfer times. These devices are many times faster than the typical hard drives found in the majority of computers today resulting in blistering startup times and quick Windows response times. SSDs represent the most cutting edge technology at this time and in a few years will be standard on most machines. Our machines offer this amazing technology today for a fraction of what the others charge — if they even offer this technology at all.
17. I don’t know much about computers. Can I still use an HTPC?
Of Course! HTPC’s are incredible machines but can as basic or advanced as the features you use and add. Furthermore, our custom step by step guides that are included with each system will help you get started with your Assassin HTPC from performing basic functions like adding movies and media to more advanced functions like customizing the appearance and audio options of your system.
18. How does a HTPC connect to your TV?
Thanks to HDMI, a once complicated system of separate audio and video cables is now simplified into a single cable that is able to transmit both audio and video over the same cable. However, DVI and VGA (computer monitor) cables can also be used for older systems. For audio, a digital fiber optic hookup is on board if needed.
19. How big is the HTPC Unit? How much noise does it create?
Because HTPC’s are created to be used in an entertainment system they are designed to be small and silent. Our units are about the size of a shoebox. In fact there are some pictures on our Screenshots page that demonstrates just how small these units are next to coke bottles for scale (the xtreme is in a slightly larger computer-style case due to advanced components that are larger and need more space to keep cool). They operate at a near whisper so as not to interfere with any media you might be watching or listening to.
20. How long will it take to receive my HTPC?
Because each Assassin HTPC is custom built for our customers please allow up to 21 business days to receive your finished computer from the time the order is placed. Often times it may arrive sooner but customization takes time and each HTPC is built to order.