So I’ve been on a tear, building HTPCs for every room. The cost was starting to get ridiculous though. so I started looking through my old parts to see what I could piece together with minimal cost. Since this was going to be for my home gym, the typical specs for an HTPC really didn’t matter. HTPCs are usually thought of quiet, low power, and blend in with home theater gear. In this case none of that mattered it just needed to fulfill the role. TV, MKV, ISO, Boxee, Hulu, MP3 playback was the goal.
Sometimes It Pays To Be A Hoarder
Luckily it had been awhile since I clearance some of my older gear. Rummaging through various boxes and totes I scrounged up the following parts list. Looks like I don’t need to open the wallet after all.
- AMD 5050e Athlon 2 CPU
- Asus M3N7-VM motherboard with nVidia 8200 IGP
- 2gb G.Skill DDR2 RAM
- Corsair 400w PSU
- Hitachi Deathstar 100GB 2.5” HDD
- Unknown 90mm triple heat pipe tower style HSF
- Lian Li PC-60
- Craptasic ebay IR remote
Assembly was fairly Straight forward as I had a ton of space and didn’t really care about about the cable management too much. The case is equipped with 4 80mm fans, airflow wasn’t an issue, and I forgot how nice a slide out mobo tray was. 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 x64 media splitter for MKV support
- MediaBrowser PlugIn – Frontend for access to my media server
- Boxee – For their excellent apps to access things like Rev3, TWiT, YouTube, etc…
- Hulu – For whatever Hulu is good for. Lately IDK
- SlySoft VCD – Great for mounting ISO files inside MediaBrowser
- Slysoft AnyDVD – ;P
- MS Security Essentials
Now realizing this hardware wasn’t exactly state of the art, I wasn’t expecting much as far as performance. DVD’s and Boxee I expected to be a non-issue, but the HD content I didn’t think was going to be smooth. Suffice to say I’m pleased to report I’ve had no issues with playback in any format. Now granted its playing back through the less than ideal 2.0 sound from the 32” LCD speakers. So no awards for stunning surround sound or anything. Power consumption was suprisingly low, idle was about 34w and full load was less than 55w, not too shabby with 4 80mm fans whirring away. Otherwise considering its purpose this build really hit it out of the park for me. While I don’t recommend a build like this as your home Theater’s HTPC. For the kids playroom, or perhaps a garage this really fits the bill.
You can hear more about this build on BYOB show 43
–Michael M. (no-control)–