Ask anyone using a Home Theater PC in their entertainment center to define the “ultimate HTPC” and you’re sure to get a myriad of answers. When I set out to build my own version, I outlined three areas of most concern: power consumption, storage capacity, and quietness/volume. What I designed and built ended up meeting those requirements:
- 74 watts at idle, 83 watts under load (Blu-ray playback).
- 8tb of storage capacity with another 8tb of expansion available.
- <17dBA noise. That’s quieter than a library!
With the initial requirements in mind, I set my eyes on a case from atechfabrication.com called the Mini-Server 5x. This case blends easily with other audio components, holds five hard drives, and utilizes a low power consumption 200 watt power supply with a fanless CPU heatsync design which dissipates heat directly into the aluminum case fins. Atech offers a lot of options to customize the case to your liking and for this build I chose an IR port for a Windows Media Center remote and a Griffen Powermate control knob for volume control. Customization comes at the expense of build time however, as it took 10 weeks (or about the same time it would take to build a custom Porsche) to get a fully completed case. Granted, I had the almost completely assembled case in my hands at 5 weeks, but it took another 5 weeks to get the Powermate knob back after refinishing. Initially quoted at 2-3 weeks, Atech didn’t come anywhere close to the quoted timeframe but I can attest the wait was well worth it. The build quality of the case and components is top notch and the machine work is remarkable.
The Intel DH57JG motherboard was the logical choice for its great feature set in a mini-ITX footprint. Consisting of an integrated 1.3 HDMI port with a 1080p output and ten-channel Intel high definition audio with Dolby Home Theater, the DH57JG contains everything needed for a great home theater experience. I loaded the motherboard with an Intel Core i3-530 2.93ghz processor and a matched pair of Corsair XMS3 4gb DDR1333mhz memory. The i3-530 was chosen because Read the rest of this entry »