Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tech: HTPC build

I built a home theater PC recently using parts from Newegg and running Windows 7 media center.  I’ve been pretty happy with it so far, watching Netflix, Hulu, DVD’s, and home videos has worked out well.  There are however a couple issues I’ve noticed:

1.  I had to uninstall the Realtek audio drivers to get the HDMI audio to work.
2.  The HDMI video connection to my television doesn’t always work.  Sometimes I have to restart the computer or put it to sleep for the connection to be made.  It seems to work best if I turn the television on and set it to the correct input before turning on the computer.  I haven’t read any other reviewers having this issue, so it might be an issue with my Panasonic plasma.
3.  There is about a 1/2 inch black border on the outside of the television.  This isn’t all that surprising, however I did expect the ATI catalyst control center to allow me to correct the overscan.  This really is not noticeable though, and doesn’t bother me too much.

Here are the parts I used:
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor
RAM: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5
DVD: Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD Rewritable Drive Black SATA Model AD-7240S-0B
Case: hec Black 0.7mm Thickness SECC 7K09 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

The total cost for the system was $325.  I had access to Windows 7 via my TechNet subscription so that saved me an extra $200.  This was my first build using a micro-ATX motherboard and case, it was a tight fit getting all of the pieces in the case.  I also had to use an IDE to SATA power adapter I had, the power supply only had one SATA power connector.