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Thursday January 15, 2009 11:25 pm

HTPC Building Series: Selecting our hardware


Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In our quest to build a great HTPC on a budget, one thing we need to think about is the hardware and software we are going to use to build and run everything. We are going to be really ambitious here, scouring deal and coupon sites to find great hardware and software at even greater prices. If you come across anything, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

The first piece of hardware we are focusing on is a motherboard from MSI that integrates the “Maui” platform - the MSI K912GM-FIH. This is one of the biggest leaps forward in HTPC technology, and as such, we are going to build this machine around this board. In case we need to prove our case further, check out this video we did on the motherboard before its release:


So, there you have it. That’s our motherboard. Now that that’s settled, we need to settle on a processor. From the looks of things, I think we are going to go with something like a 65W AMD Phenom chip, more than likely, the Athlon X2 5200+. It’s inexpensive, pulls little power when idle, and when combined with the motherboard we have chosen, is more than enough for a home theater PC.

The great thing about computer that is specifically meant just as a home theater component is that you don’t need much RAM. Two 1GB DIMMs should be plenty here, and that is also dirt-cheap. We will need a place to store all the content that we load and download, and I’m thinking that we can get a single, large 7200 RPM hard drive. We will also need a tuner card or two, and we will have to see how many we are able to afford. The AMD ATi Wonder 650 is more than sufficient there.

We need a chassis to put all this into, and the Antec Fusion boxes are fantastic for what we want to do here. They are quiet, a little expensive, but you don’t need to buy a separate power supply because the ones they ship with are actually really good.

So there you have it, that’s our hardware list. It’s time for us to go shopping!

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