HTPC: Part 1 – The hardware

Well I finally got around buying a HTPC for my home entertainment needs 🙂
It took me a while, but now that it’s here I’m very content!!

Let me show you what I’ve done to get my HTPC up and running, through some blogposts.
The drilldown

  • Part 1: The hardware
  • Part 2: The software
  • Part 3: The overall conclusion and some pictures

This first part will be about the hardware that makes the HTPC work.

* Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H

I went for this motherboard for 2 main reasons! One it would work perfectly with my intended CPU ( more later ) and secondly it has all the hardware on board for all the needed Home Theater features!
It has Full HD 1080p Blu-Ray playback capability, a S/PDIF In/Out with support for HD 7.1 channel audio and last but not least it supports DDR3 memory.

* CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 605e

AMD is a good option for building a HTPC, because they have some nice cpu’s that try to keep your power consumption low. Meaning your machine also won’t heat up that much and because of this you don’t need to have high speed ( noisy ) fans! Also with the chosen motherboard I’m able to upgrade to a 6 core AMD if I want. For now I’ve chosen the 4 core 605e, because these e models only have a thermal design power of 45w!!

* Case: Antec NSK2480

I just love the design of this case! It just looks stunning and has enough space to serve my purpose… I wanted to add one normal HD and one SSD ( more on this later ). This case incorporates a 380Watt EarthWatts power supply, so the total consumption of power is regulated!
The only drawback of this case is the absence of a IR receiver… but I didn’t want to buy the Antec Fusion Remote because, this case, has a LCD screen that is not needed in my setup and I also dislike the volume button ( because the sound is regulated through my receiver ).
For some people the silver front could also be a drawback, but I’m not that difficult 🙂

* IR Receiver: Antec Veris Multimedia Station Basic

This was the most difficult thing to choose! Because I always thought to use this IR, but I read many ‘problems’ with it on different forums in combination with Logitech universal remotes!! And I own a Logitech Harmony One that I wanted to use in cooperation with the HTPC…
After much reading I decided to still have a go with it and now that the HTPC is in use, I have to say, I can’t complain 🙂
I have to admit it takes some setting and tweaking to get it working, but at the end I’m content! ( cfr my second post on software for more settings details )

* Blu-Ray: Lite-On iHOS104

One of the main features my HTPC needed to get was Blu-Ray playback! So to get this working, I needed to install a Blu-Ray drive. I just opted for one of the cheapest Blu-Ray roms because, writing Blu-Ray’s is not something I foresee to be doing on the HTPC.

* Hard disks: Intel SSD 80Gb X-25M and Western Digital Caviar Green 1Tb

For me a HTPC should be available fast and should be reasonable quiet, but also needs to be able to contain a lot of media data! To get best of both worlds I opted for a SSD as primary HD to boot from and a normal HD to store the media on! In time I could get an extra NAS if more storage is needed…
I have to say that a SDD drive to boot from is just fantastic! The speed is enormous, when you see it in action, you just keep wondering why not all pc’s are equipped with a SSD!!! Nothing but positive reactions when running the HTPC on a SSD.

* Memory: 4Gb of DDR3 memory

The motherboard supports DDR3, so went for that. I added 4Gb because the Windows 7 operating system is 64bits so all memory is used and 4Gb is more then enough for a good HTPC.

Well that’s it for the hardware, stay tuned for the software list in the second blog post.