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Atom / Ion update!


eobie
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Well I finally got the little bugger built. The part list was as follows:

ZOTAC IONITX-F-E Intel Atom 330 (1.6GHz, dual-core)LINK

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 LINK

LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Reader LINK

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAJS 320GB 7200 RPM LINK

APEX MI-008 Black Steel Mini-ITX Tower LINK

AVS Gear GP-IR01BK Windows Vista Infrared MCE Black Remote Control (Used just for the IR Receiver) LINK

I'm not going to go over the actual build so much since anyone that has the ability to assemble a 12 piece puzzle can do it. Instead I'm going to go over everything I did to get this thing working as a functional/capable Media Center PC.

The Zotac Board I got is a 1.6 Ghz Dual-Core Atom with an Ion Chipset. The board also has a PCIx16 slot for future upgrades (cablecard!). I have never personally ever needed more than 2 gigs of RAM for a HTPC, so that's all I used here. As you can see below the case is quite cramped, so I added a 120 mm fan and replaced the stock Zotac chipset fan with a 40 mm that is super quiet in order to keep things cool.

case.jpg

case1.jpg

case2.jpg

Ok lets talk about Media Center. I used Windows 7 32 Bit for this build. Media Center 7 is very nice, but it is missing some native support for some of the most common containers. If you are like me a maintain your movie collection in MKV format, Windows Media Center will not work for you out of the box. You must install some additional software in order to make those containers visible to Media Center.

The first thing I did is install MediaBrowser. In my personal opinion this is the best movie jukebox out there.

In order to play MKV, you must then install Haali Media Splitter

Next I installed ac3Filter This enables me to passthrough DTS audio over spidf.

At this point I have everything I need to play MKV. I still need to get Blu-ray support inside of Media Center. I only have experience using TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum After you install this you will notice that you now have TotalMedia Theatre as an option inside Media Center.

Since I store some of my Blu-rays and DVD's on my Windows Home Server in iso format. I went ahead an installed Daemon Tools. MediaBrowser allows you to specify a program to mount iso's in the background. It would work like this... browse blu-ray in MediaBrowser, select movie, the movie is mounted in the background on a virtual drive, media center starts TotalMedia Theatre. This works flawlessly and is practically seamless.

Lastly I used Media Center Studio to tweak the look of Media Center.

I get all my meta data for MediaBrowser through <meta>browser running on my desktop. This monitors my Windows Home Server shares for new media and downloads the meta data automatically.

My final major tweak was to my hardware. Since MediaBrowser is pretty graphic heavy it can put some stress on the Atom. Luckily the Zotac allows you to overclock it just by upping the Front Side Bus. As you can see below, my 1.6 Ghz Atom is running at 2 Ghz..! With the extra cooling I am running at 40C while playing a 1080p MKV with DTS audio.

cpuz.jpg

Some MediaBrowser pics..

main.jpg

movies.jpg

final.jpg

If you have any questions, ask away!

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Hi,

EXCELLENT work, thanks for posting your build here, this is one we'll have to mention on the podcast.

John (homeservershow).

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With the new 10.1 flash, having a really nice low power htpc is now attainable at a very low cost.

I just built a 7MC machine with an amd x2 250 with a blu-ray player for around 300 dollars to go with a 1080p 120 inch projector for the bedroom.

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yeah 10.1 is good for hulu and whatnot... but honestly i dont use it. Netflix is my only streaming video and that uses silverlight which supports hardware acceleration.

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My wife and I have given up on paying 200 bucks a month on cable television since march and so far it has been good.

With all the content thats out there, we are quite busy watching things that are online.

I do however, miss the Yankees regular season and Sunday football, lol.

We have 2 1080p projectors and a 60" Kuro, and have them all networked now with Moca and our Fios router.

Works extremely well and fast all connected to our WHS.

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Are you using the wirless? Also, do you have the fan sucking in or blowing out? Does that case have other venting?

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No I'm using gigabit ethernet. The 120 mm fan is blowing fresh air in over the heatsink. I also have a 40 mm fan on the heat sink. Both sides of the case has vent holes. Fresh air in one side and it blows out through the other.

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