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Newbie wondering if i should get a car pc

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  • Newbie wondering if i should get a car pc

    Hi im new to this and have been reading around here for a few days and have had an idea on how to build my own car pc but cost is going to be an issue so thats why i was wondering if it would just be better to buy a head unit and leave it at that.

    well i was thinking of getting a second hand laptop (preferably with a broken screen so i can get it even cheaper), a touch screen monitor to go in the dash and an amp and sub.

    I havnt done anything like this before (havnt had an amp and sub before either) so i was wondering how much would all of this cost and would it be possible to wire all the car speakers, sub and amp to the laptop and if so how?

    also having read lots of stuff here most people are creating PC's to use in their cars and not laptops, why is that? wouldnt a laptop be much easier to remove when needed, and its smaller so it takes up less space and cos its a laptop it has its own battery so when you are in the car doing waiting for someone you can still use it without having to start up the car

  • #2
    Sounds like you have a lot of research ahead of you. Hit up the FAQ section first. That will probably give you the answers to a few questions you've asked. http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/advfaq.php

    Now as far as cost, that all depends on what hardware you go with. And the laptop vs desktop debate, that's all really a matter of preference.
    Tidder

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    • #3
      Yea like tidder said hit up the FAQ section and do a lot of searching.

      I started out in the same position as you, never done any wiring in my car, no amp, no aftermarket radio. And now I have done the whole car computer deal in one and I'm planning it out for my new car.
      Just do your research, the people on this forum are great, tons of knowledgeable people, willing to help just make sure you aren't asking a question thats been asked 5000 times before There is just about anything you would ever want to know on this forum.

      Oh and laptops are good for all of the reasons you stated, but are slightly harder in certain areas such as the lack of upgradeability and the need for a more advanced startup-shutdown compared to their desktop counterparts(DC-DC PSU w/integrated controller). You can more info on this too...
      Car PC Project Status
      Audio......[====================] 100%
      Computer.[====================] 100%
      Car.........[====================] 30%
      <------ If my information is helpful, give me some rep! The scale thingy :)

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      • #4
        lol, yes ALOOOT of research you have in store of you .lol

        i am also a newbie. wen i 1st came to this site, my intention was the read enuff and have the carputer install the following weekend.....that was two months ago.
        i am now purchasing all my items to be installed in the car.
        my budget was $1200 for all the parts and and extra $300 for the just in case .
        i am now @ 1440
        quickly running out of budget money. dont wanna cross that line yet.

        keep reading thou, u will learn ALOT, and it is VERY exciting!!! i gurantee it.
        trinybwoy

        2006 Mazda6 Carpc

        2008 Acura TSX Nexus 7

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        • #5
          ok well just a quick question then, amps have channels and each channel goes to a speaker right? to if i get the laptop to go the amp and then each speaker out of a seperate channel on the amp, dat would work right?

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          • #6
            Sure. You'll probably want to do more research on that too. Amps have all kinds of different inputs.
            Tidder

            Try RevFE
            The best resurrected frontend I've ever used, period.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Namso View Post
              ok well just a quick question then, amps have channels and each channel goes to a speaker right? to if i get the laptop to go the amp and then each speaker out of a seperate channel on the amp, dat would work right?
              yup..just as a guide...you would begin looking into an external usb soundcard.
              that way you can split the discrete channels into the sub and then there're off to their respective speakers
              trinybwoy

              2006 Mazda6 Carpc

              2008 Acura TSX Nexus 7

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              • #8
                As mentioned, laptops/desktops are a matter of preference. Laptops are good because they are built for tougher environments. But, they are harder to upgrade, and decrease your mounting options. Desktops are easy to upgrade, and the mini's can be installed in your dash. I started with a laptop in my trunk. I would recommend more research before doing anything else. It sounds like your budget is tight. Once you get involved in a carpc, it can get expensive. Take your time and plan. It will save you a lot of green.
                I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet .

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                • #9
                  I believe its simple, just look at your intentions.

                  Anything demanding like watching HDTV or HD content will require a PC with power, more than likely a dual core CPU above 1.8Ghz. If you desire to keep it small, then your GPU options are limited to what's on board or IGP.

                  I say this because you can have a less powerful CPU if your GPU will accelerate DXVA (OTA-HD) or any of the many codecs to shrink HD content.

                  Do you have space to work with? Maybe you might want to build miniTX board with one of the automotive style cases? Maybe a full sized mATX inside a Mini or slim tower?

                  If budget is factor (and it usually is), consider an Eee Box instead of a broken laptop. It tiny, comes with Windows XP pre-installed and all the outputs you need. Its limited on USB outputs but that's solved with a power USB Hub.

                  For basic Navigation and Media Playback it will do the job. With some tweaking and depending what front end you use, you MIGHT be able to watch HDTV content.

                  Provantage currently has the Eee Box B202 for $180. Check out this build - http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...s-eee-box.html

                  If you get a Metra Kit + LCD Frame + LCD from Bybyte.com, you could have most of the parts you need for less than $500.

                  You can run Ride Runner aka Road Runner for a front end, its low cost (ie:free) or you can run Street Deck which is built around Windows Media Player

                  For the rest of your system, you could run a Kicker ZX700.5 amp which is available refurbished for less than $250 and puts out roughly 700w+ RMS. I don't think you'll get more "amp" for the money elsewhere. The only downside is overall size of the amp.

                  You could power your factory speakers for the time being and focus on a subwoofer and again it comes down to what you have in mind. I would say if you listen to popular music (Rock, Rap, Top 40, etc) you need at least (1) 10" subwoofer.

                  Add in other minor parts, cables and other stuff, you could do it for well under $1,100.

                  Personally I don't think hardware selection is nearly as hard as troubleshooting the Front End and all its features once its up and running and if you spend more than $1500 in parts, I think your pursuit of audio perfection or watching HD content is what runs your budget into the ground.

                  Oh I should add, having an FM tuner or Sat Radio will add to the cost...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rizaydog View Post
                    As mentioned, laptops/desktops are a matter of preference. Laptops are good because they are built for tougher environments. But, they are harder to upgrade, and decrease your mounting options. Desktops are easy to upgrade, and the mini's can be installed in your dash. I started with a laptop in my trunk. I would recommend more research before doing anything else. It sounds like your budget is tight. Once you get involved in a carpc, it can get expensive. Take your time and plan. It will save you a lot of green.
                    Planning is the key here. I don't quite understand this harder to upgrade idea floating around here. Its simple to future-proof yourself, its going to cost you money.

                    Street Deck min req are Windows Media Player and Pentium II 266 Mhz, w/ 256 Mb ram.

                    What on earth do you need to power Street Deck or Centrafuse to run Navigation or playback music???

                    My goodness mobile phones don't have a problem with either.

                    If you have XP you need at least 512MB of Ram at the fastest speed available on that motherboard. If you have Vista you need 2GB of Ram, its what is recommended to get the max speed in response. Win 7 falls somewhere in between....

                    Intel IGP's are good enough to do just about anything but HD content or serious gaming (even mild gaming for that matter) and supports most 3D as long as you aren't demanding 60fps.

                    That should NARROW your hardware choices WAY down. You can use older hardware which keeps the price down.

                    Where it gets expensive is pursuing outside the mainstream, like watching HD content or playing Cyrsis while waiting in morning traffic. Those embedded boards are fairly cheap and do the job, so where this expensive credo coming from???

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by djfourmoney View Post
                      I don't quite understand this harder to upgrade idea floating around here.
                      Laptops are harder to upgrade. Period.
                      Tidder

                      Try RevFE
                      The best resurrected frontend I've ever used, period.


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