Random rants

Building my own HTPC (Home Theatre PC)

, posted: 30-Mar-2007 10:02

So I'm going to build my own HTPC (Home Theatre PC)
I'm just looking to get the mix right and thats where I want your suggestions...
I dont get into games, but I am a big movie buff, so the primary uses for this machine will be playing movies, internet and creating documents such as word. Thats it.

Heres what I intend to put in it so far, but I'm wanting your suggestions as to what you recommend for particular components like the sound card, capture card/tv tuner and motherboard etc...

Case: Silverstone lc16m.....(only $350, has VFD/IR, 7 expansion slots and is full ATX)
Processor: Intel Pentium Core2 Duo 2.14GHz
Motherboard: (brand, model expansion slots ?????)
Operating system: Windows Vista Ultimate
Memory: 2GB (brand, type ?????)
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT graphics card (256MB)....compatiable with case
Hard drive: 80GB 7200 rpm hard drive....(already have 720gb, and expansion slots mean add more later)CD/DVD drive: DVD±R/RW drive with LightScribe and progressive scan playback
Networking: 10/100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45); Wireless receiver (802.11a/b/g)
Sound: Intel High Definition Audio 5.1 or 7.1 channels with spdif output (brand, model ?????)
Tv Tuner/Capture Card: PVR with standard and digital TV tuners (brand, model ?????)
Keyboard/mouse: MCE wireless keyboard with mouse incoperated, and MCE remote
Monitor: Another purchase, will get 42' HD LCD

So any recommendations, changes will be appreciated, especialy for the motherboard, I have not got any clue what to choose there.
Baring in mind I'm trying to keep the initial cost down, and can add to it later.

Other related posts:

Comment by chiefie, on 30-Mar-2007 11:42

Are you currently in USA? If not, then you'll want to get PAL version of TV Tuner/Capture card.

For 7.1 HD Audio, any sound card should be fine. Our HP's MCE has built in soundmax's 7.1 and it's fine for doing what it needs to do, and have coaxial SPDIF in and out.

Highly recommend 3GB+ for memory, 4GB+ if using 64-Bit, but then you'll have limited 64-bits drivers support.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 30-Mar-2007 12:28

Woops, just copied specs from another review, meant to mean a digital and standard tuner....

Author's note by TheBartender, on 30-Mar-2007 12:33

How about this system...uses the case I'm after too...$2350
Mediamax PC Deluxe Plus

Comment by psycik, on 30-Mar-2007 12:53

I just went and rebuilt my PVR, GBPVR based with an ASUS M2V motherboard (built in 5.1 sound with Digital Coax SPDIF!!).  Was one of the only AM2 based boards I could find with 4 PCI slots.  The other requirement want SPDIF either on the back plane or as an addition with a daughter board.

As for case I'm just using a regular and not an HTPC one
Current Case

Currently using an ATI x550 and when I get a decent screen I'll look at changing to something with HDMI or DVI with HDCP.

Comment by sbiddle, on 30-Mar-2007 12:55

My system is a lot simpler

* Budget Case which I will replace soon, possibly with a Thermaltake Mozart or something black such as the Silverstone you mention.

* Giabyte K8VM800 Motherboard

* Sempron 3000+ CPU

* 512MB RAM

* NVidia FX5200 video card

* Windows XP

* Hauppauge MCE150 card

* DSE 5.1 soundcard which uses C-Media 8738 so 3rd party drivers allow full 5.1 output via optical SPDIF.

* Misrosoft MCE remote
* 320GB Seagate HDD

* XMLTVNZ for my EPG

And last but not least it's running GB-PVR IMHO the best PC based media centre software and best of all it's written by a Wellingtonian.

This is plugged into my 50" Pioneer Plasma running at 1280x768

It all works extremely well and to be honest other than an upgrade of the capture card in the future to DVB-S card shortly and then probably a DVB-T card early next year to get HDTV. Other than that here isn't much else I would change, it all works extremely well.

Author's note by TheBartender, on 30-Mar-2007 13:48

I've looked at many HTPC cases, and these have made my shortlist:

1) Zalman HD160XT $1050 from iFocus
2) mCubed HFX510 $640 from Ascent 
3) Accent HT540 NA?
4) Silverstone SST LC16M $350 from Ascent

Author's note by TheBartender, on 30-Mar-2007 14:07


I don't see much point in ya changing from your current current Budget Case to a Thermaltake Mozart, as there is nothing to gain.
The model you linked to is just a pretty case, but has no functionality, such as a VFD display or media hotkeys...
The next model up (and price up) Thermaltake Mozart is the same with those features, in my mind justifying the change...but the looks of a PC is totally once own preference.

Comment by sbiddle, on 30-Mar-2007 15:04

I'm only looking at a new case purely for aesthetic reasons. It sits below my black TV in a black glass cabinet with a black dvd player and black amplifier so looks a bit ugly! :-)

It also runs a bit on the warm side and despite having 60mm fan slots in the back putting 60mm fans (even supposedly quiet fans) makes the unit rather loud which seems to be a common issue with 60mm fans. While the mozart is still a silver unit it looks nice and has quite a bit more black on it, it also runs very cool and is pretty quiet with the stock standard fans (so I've been told).

Comment by Jonathan, on 19-Jun-2007 15:17

I too have been looking at viable HTPC cases. When you add up all components it comes in the same price as a HTPC case itself.

HTPC cases are overpriced. Most of the price comes from the front faceplates which is done by lazer cut machine. Something that is very fast to do but costs alot of money. But more that $300 for a case is still too much.

What I am planning to do is make a case myself. I'll get a old desktop case and append faceplates to it. The problem is that how do you exact holes in metal?

Comment by Bob, on 27-Jul-2007 18:45

Where did you pull the specs from originally?

I'm looking at a Silverstone LC16M case for a new mythtv setup but the lack of space for graphics cards concerns me.

I would have thought the GeForce 7900 would be to long but your specs say otherwise.

Do you know if there is a list of card lengths somewhere?

Author's note by TheBartender, on 2-Aug-2007 09:40

This is the page of the maufacturor

This is a New Zealand website that states: 
'LC16M is not compatible with GeForce 6800 series cards & above'

This is a New Zealand website that makes and sells many HTPC setups, states all have been built and tested, so components all compatiable

My assumption is based apon the promax website statements/testing/configurations, and disscussions I have with another local PC builder.
It may or may not be correct, I do not know as I have to put this system together.

Comment by Tim, on 2-Oct-2007 15:26

Have you looked at the Antec Fusion?

Comment by Robert Spatz, on 2-May-2008 03:15

I am in the process (waiting for the parts) of building a HTPC using the same LC16B-m case. Here's the list of other parts:

ASUS P5E-VM HDMI motherboard

Thermaltake W0106RU 700W power supply

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 processor

Corsair XMS2 2GB TWIN2X2048-6400C4 memory

4 WD Caviar GP ED10EACS 1TB hard drives

Lite-on Black SATA Blu-ray DVD-ROM DH-401S-08

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 MCE Ket 1128 tuner card

Logitech 1500 Wireless Cordless keyboard/mouse

MS vista Home Premium

Author's note by TheBartender, on 4-May-2008 15:37

Robert Spatz: 4 WD Caviar GP ED10EACS 1TB hard drives

Be interesting to see how you go keeping that monster cool, without generating excessive noise from additional cooling fans.

Comment by Steve, on 24-Jun-2008 13:24

I'm looking to build my first HTPC, preferably with a digital tuner like the Hauppauge Nova-T 500, but the case I'm thinking of using is the Silverstone Grandia SST-GD02B-MT M-ATX Home Theatre Case, Black, with 4.3" Touch Screen

as available on ascent.co.nz, it's $500NZ, but looks nice. I've selected a Gigabyte motherboard and an AMD quad core, has anyone found the AMD's to be difficult to work with? Also any comments on the case are welcome.

Comment by shyst12, on 10-Aug-2008 20:38

Hi there,

I am an ABSOLUTE total amateur at computing but i've been interested in bulding my own HTPC also.

Would it be possible to just to add the requirements needed for a good media centre PC to a regular slim desktop.

Example: could i make an ACER VERITON L460 into a media center or HTPC?
The system specs are:
*Cpu: Intel CORE 2 DUO E4500 CPU
*Memory: 2Gb DDRII DDR667 Dual CH Channel
*Hard Drive: 320GB S-ATA hard drive 7 (7200 RPM)
*16x Dual Layer DVD SATA Burner

If so, what would i need to add at the cheapest but good quality expense?

Author's note by TheBartender, on 10-Aug-2008 21:15


You can use that pc as a HTPC if you desire...
I read it has a DVI connection and HD audio...a required minimum for a HTPC....

You would likely want a TV tuner, so you would have to find out if there are any spare PCI slots on the motherboard, but being such a small/slim case, I am guessing there is not the space anyway, so your only option there may be an external TV tuner...

You also need to ask yourself if you plan to watch HD movies and/or TV broadcasts, as the intergrated graphics may not be sufficent, and could put alot of strain on the CPU...this is where a graphics card with H.264 may be recommended, but once again, your limited for space.

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euanandrews's profile

Euan Andrews
Lower Hutt
New Zealand

I'm a 32yo male, living and working in the Wellington region.

I currently work as a manager for Interislander, having worked in the Hospitality industry for about the last decade.

I have interests in computers, gadgets and information, and love to be 'in the know', hence I read vasts amount of information online, anything from tech news, gadgets to current events and history.

Being a movie buff and having an interest in computers, I setup a wiki about Home Theatre PC's, and have recently built my own HTPC.

I was also heavily involved with the setup and design of the NZ Connections Wiki, having been invited by Cokemaster to help, as a result of my extensive and ongoing interest in ISP's. 

NZ Connections Wiki
My profile (TheBartender)

Compaq Pressirio 5000
Case: Silverstone LC16M, CPU: Intel Quad Q9400 2.5GHz, Motherboard: abit IP35 Pro, PSU: Corsair 520HX, Optical Drive: Samsung SH-S203D DVD Writer, Graphics card: Leadtek WinFast PX8500 GT TDH HDMI, Hard drive: 2 x Western Digital Caviar GP WD7500AACS Hard Disk Drive, 750GB, 5400rpm, Wireless: D-Link DWA-547 Rangebooster N 650 Desktop, TV tuner: Blackgold BGT3540, Keyboard: Microsoft Remote Keyboard for Windows Media Center
Nokia N900