I love putting together new computers and if you have been reading my reviews you know that one of my recent projects was to put together a Home Theater PC (HTPC) using the MSI Media Live case. We all know that version 1.0 never works out the way we expect, so there must always be a 2.0. This time around I am building the HTPC using a different case, motherboard and adding an additional tuner card. I have chosen to use the Antec Fusion Remote Black case, the GigaByte GA-MA78GPM-DS2H motherboard, and the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 tuner card.
Each part that goes into an HTPC is very important because it must serve a specific purpose. For this reason I chose very specific parts. For the case I chose the Antec Fusion Remote Black. For the motherboard I chose the GigaByte GA-MA78GPM-DS2H. Finally, for the TV tuner card I am using the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250. If you haven’t already, I recommend that you read the reviews I did of each individual part. I am also reusing the CPU and tuner card from the MSI HTPC that I built earlier.
By this point you should have read all the other reviews and familiarized yourself with all the features and parts. The only thing left to do is put it all together and use it.
As I mentioned before, this case it taking the place of my old MSI Media Live case, so I am using much of the hardware from that machine, the only thing I had to add was a motherboard and power supply (PSU). Putting everything into the case is fine, I did not have any trouble with cables being too small or with pieces not fitting.
As far as power goes I used an Antec EA 380 PSU. This has an 80 PLUS power supply, which means that it is very efficient and because it is only 380 Watts it uses a very small amount of power. I chose this PSU because the HTPC will be running 24/7 and I want it to use the least amount of power as possible. As you can see from the images below, this machine uses between 80 and 90 watts, which is well under the 380 Watts that are available. This means I have a lot of room to grow.
With everything put together I am left with only one thing to do, it is time to install Windows Vista and try it out. This is my first time using Vista in an HTPC, so I was curious to see how it compared to XP Media Center. The interface is quite a bit different, but as far as I am concerned, the basic functionality is the same. It still has a two analog and two digital tuner limit which is extremely frustrating. There is also some additional functionality, like internet video, that does not affect the ability to schedule, record and watch TV.
I could go through a bunch of benchmarks and give you all sorts of numbers to show how fast the system is, but the point of building an HTPC is not to get the fastest machine, it is to get one that works. I am happy to say that the HTPC does work, and it works really well. I am able to watch and record TV shows in both standard and high definition. I can utilize all 6 of my tuners at the same time without any system slowdowns. I am very happy with this setup and have not yet found anything to complain about.
Warranty and Support
Because this is a do-it-yourself project you have to provide your own support and hopefully you bought parts that had their own warranties.
I am really happy with the parts that I have used this time around. I don’t foresee the need to change anything unless a new operating system comes out that has much higher requirements. For now this setup should last me a long time.
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