About a week ago, after a brief conversation about it with Dror I’ve set to convert my old machine to be a Home Theater PC.
I really wanted an HTPC. But after my last horrible experience buying an out-of-the-box HTPC I was pretty skeptic I’ll make another attempt at it any time soon.
After I got my new PC recently I just had the old one lying around. I’ve installed Windows Home Server on it which was working nice but not all that useful.
Talking to Dror I realized that upgrading my old machine to a basic HTPC simply involves a 380nis expense on a good TV card (Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 150).
Given this new realization, I decided to spend the money required on an initial proof of concept to see the system working. I would then upgrade whatever’s necessary to make it decent.
Phase I – Initial Setup
I bought the card and spent the other day building and configuring my basic HTPC setup.
My current spec is as follows:
- Intel Pentium 4, 2275 MHz (17 x 134)
- MSI 645E Max-C Motherboard
- Gainward GeForce FX 5200 (AGP 4x, 128MB)
- Hauppage WinTV-PVR 150 MCE (Comes with Media Center remote and IR Blaster. Everything you need to get a Media Center installation up and running)
- 360GB Storage
The great news is that it has been working perfectly for 2 days now. I’m ecstatic!
However, it’s not perfect. It makes a lot of noise and, as you can see from the picture, looks kinda ugly in my living room.
It also has a wired keyboard and no mouse which makes things difficult when it comes to doing things the MCE remote can’t do.
Anyway, this leads us to the next phase of my Media Center experiment…
Phase II – Upgrades
There are upgrades I intend to make in the near future:
The current case is ugly, has a poor cooling system and makes a lot of noise so obviously I need a new, decent case.
I’ve been reading about all sort of heat problems with HTPC cases and I’m tempted to go with another Antec P180 which already proved to be a huge success on my other PC.
My current motherboard is old. I want to get a new one that supports USB 2.0 and SATA so I could expand my storage later on. The problem is that Socket 478 motherboards are hard to come by these days. Can anyone in Israel recommend a store that still has such boards in stock?
I need an inexpensive wireless keyboard with a mouse-wheel on it. The Microsoft® Remote Keyboard for Windows® XP Media Center Edition seems like a sensible choice so I’ll probably be ordering this one as soon as possible.
- PCI Wireless Device
Because my 3com wireless USB device doesn’t work well. Its slow and it fails to copy files between my two machines.