An HTPC in every room! Well not really but it sure feels like that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Long story short I wanted to add HTPC functionality in my bedroom. Too keep it unobtrusive I opted for something that would look good sitting on the furniture, but wasn’t massive overtly obvious it was a PC. Of course Quiet and low thermals were at the top of the list. While this really isn’t blazing new territory here I opted for a SFF build.
What no SandyBridge?
Hey Mike how come you just didn’t use sandy bridge for this build? Well at the time I embarked on this build Intel had recalled all of the boards. So I was stuck using older i3/H55 combo and I wasn’t too sure what mITX motherboard selections would be available in the new B3 stepping. Not a huge deal for me. So I went ahead and used the following components.
- Intel Core i3-530 CPU
- Gigabyte H55N-USB3
- 4gb G.Skill Ripjaw DDR3 1600 RAM
- Toshiba 80GB 2.5” HDD
- Corsair CX430 PSU
- Lian Li PC-Q07R
- AVS Gear MCE IR Remote
This Little Guy is Full Of Win!
Going with this case it blends in well with décor and adds a touch of color to the room. Assembly wasn’t too difficult. I opted to use the OEM HSF first. if it’s too loud I’ll upgrade to a quieter aftermarket unit. I mounted the HDD to the floor of the case this will allow a 3.5” to be added in the future should I want local storage. By far the most difficult aspect of this build was trying to shoehorn the PSU into such a small case. I considered trimming the PSU with my trusty wire cutters, but felt I was up to the challenge. I also may upgrade this to a PICO PSU in the future, so I wanted to keep the PSU in its virgin state. I did mount the PSU so the fan was facing the CPU to help facilitate airflow out of this case. No other fans are present in the case. Once I had it all mounted I loaded up windows off a USB drive and proceeded to give it my standard HTPC software load out.
- Windows 7 x64 PRO
- Haali Media Splitter – to enable WMC support of MKV files
- MediaBrowser – for frontend access to my media server
- Boxee – For their excellent apps to access things like Rev3, TWiT, YouTube, etc… and the integration tool to get it into WMC
- Hulu Desktop – For whatever Hulu is good for. Lately its been useless and the integration tool to get it into WMC.
- SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive – Great for mounting ISO files inside MediaBrowser
- Slysoft AnyDVD HD – ;P
- Microsoft Security Essentials – my go to AV client
Well Not So Much
I’ve had this server running for a few weeks now and it’s very quiet……too quiet because it spends more time off than on. It just isn’t convenient enough for either myself or my wife to use. So while the execution of the PC build was on point. the actual use case was an epic fail. Right now it’s just a bright red reminder that I spent $400. Perhaps I should have bought an XBOX360 for half the cost and had gaming support. Maybe a Roku or WDTV would be a better fit? I‘ll have to rethink this room for now. In the mean time I’ll have to find a good repurpose of this little guy. Perhaps a WHS2011 box? Or a VM server? Super router? stay tuned!