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My First HTPC (early 2005)

By mrHTN – HTN Guru from Orlando, FL
Aug 27 2007 10:16 pm

Cooler Master’s TAC-T01-E1C Wave Master

My first HTPC started out as a plain old office PC. I was still in the TV on the box days so I didn’t have a home theater. Hence, the “HT” from HTPC had to be dropped. However, I did build the PC with the intentions of connecting it to a HDTV one day. I also built my HTPC-to-be with the intention of placing it in my home theater room so I made sure the case was worthy of displaying. I settled on Cooler Masters TAC-T01-E1C “Wave Master” which is pictured to the right. HTPC style cases were tempting, but slightly out of my price range. The Wave Master was cheaper, and didn’t look like a standard PC case with its hidden blue LEDs and its curvy shape.

After I picked my case, I started looking for video cards. I didn’t know if my HDTV would have DVI inputs so I made sure I picked a video card with a component output. I picked ATI’s Radeon X800 Pro, which was a pretty fast card three years ago. In fact, it’s still pretty fast today as it plays Half Life 2, F.E.A.R. and Command and Conquer 3 at high graphic levels.

Half Life 2 was also why I went with AMD’s Athlon 64 3500+ processor. All the tests back then showed Half Life 2 performed the best with AMD processors and ATI cards. Can you tell I’m a diehard Half Life fan?

It’s been three years so I don’t remember why I picked Asus A8V Deluxe motherboard, but it does have built-in 5.1 surround sound. Too bad I never got to put them to good use.

Macro Image Technology’s MyHD MDP-130 capture card

I decided to buy a HDTV capture card so I wouldn’t have to look for a HDTV with a built-in tuner. I picked Macro Image Technology’s MyHD MDP-130 capture card because it had built-in hardware encoding. Therefore, I wouldn’t have to slow down my processor speed whenever I was recording a TV show. This is important if you’re recording a HD show and upscaling a DVD at the same time.

I knew DVD viewing would be a primary function of my HTPC so I looked for a quiet DVD-ROM drive. Sony’s 16x DDU1613 did the trick as I have never noticed any sound coming from the DVD drive. To burn DVDs, I bought Sony’s DVD+/-RW 16x DRU710A dual burner.

To speed things up, I went with a RAID 0 configuration. RAID 0 will almost double your hard drives read/write speeds, but the chance of hard drive failure is increased two-fold. I didn’t see this as a problem since I back up my data all the time. To get the RAID 0 configuration, I purchased two of Maxtor’s 200GB SATA hard drives.

For keyboard and mouse, I used Logitech’s Cordless Elite Duo. It’s Bluetooth so I knew I could easily get the 15 feet range I would need.

In summary, here are the computer parts for my first HTPC:

  • Cooler Master’s TAC-T01-E1C Wave Master case
  • ATI’s Radeon X800 Pro video card
  • Macro Image Technology’s MyHD MDP-130 capture card
  • AMD’s Athlon 64 3500+ CPU
  • Asus A8V Deluxe motherboard
  • Sony’s 16x DDU1613 DVD-ROM
  • Sony’s DVD+/-RW 16x DRU710A dual burner
  • Maxtor’s 200GB SATA hard drive (x2)
  • Logitech’s Corless Elite Duo
  • Window’s XP
  • APEVIA Chameleon ATX-AS550W power supply
  • 512MB DDR400 RAM (x2)

A picture of my HTPC with the HDTV I eventually purchased is shown in my Home Theater Room Connections post.

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