I decided to build my own multimedia box but since it has been almost a decade from my last PC construction I have no clue what I need and what would be the outcome.
The best resource in this matter is AVS discussion forum dedicated to Home Theater systems. After check up and consideration I came up with those demands:
- smooth full HD play
- build on proven hardware,
- stable system and software,
- small but well cooled,
- low noise.
My case – symbolic video
From research and price and performance lookups I defined basic setup:
- Zotac Nvidia 9300 LGA755 board
- Intel E2140 1.6 @3.0 with stock cooling
- 1G ram
- 1T Seagate Baracuda @7200 rpm
- Case Chieftec BT-02B with 180 watt PSU
- 4G SD card in sata to SD converter
- USB IR PC Remote
I choose well supported open source platform XBMC as my main multimedia application. After some test installs I determined that
- Ubuntu 9.04 as operating system
- XBMC Dharma as multimedia shell
- TV Headend as VDR and TV guides
is my final setup. System runs from CF card so hard drive spins down while watching TV or else remote content.
HTPC is further connected to:
- 500 watt 5.1 DTS sound system
- 42″ full hd
- 10 Mbit optical fiber
Core software is girlfriend friendly multimedia source selector / connector and it’s used for:
- watching cable channels,
- watching Flickr, TED and Youtube,
- watching Movies and TV Shows,
- listening Shoutcast radio,
- checking local Weather.
Building can cause troubles and is time consuming but result is simple and stable system which gives more or exact what you need. There is way too much junk so choose smart which plugin to install! You can get decent multimedia ready made box in your local store … but it’s more fun to build your own.
Some parts are from local stores, some were shipped from China, some are used. Nevertheless all together – PC + TV + speakers is possible to get for less than 1k EUR.