HTPC: The Pieces


When I first started to think about building an HTPC I was faced with an enormous number of choices.  What HTPC case should I buy?  What motherboard should I get?  etc.  There were many buying decisions to make and this just seemed like a daunting task. 

It helps when you can look to someone for some advice.  For me, it was Sandy Bird.  I asked him for recommendations on several items and he sent me a list.  Decision made!  The 3 big items here were the motherboard (ASUS P5E-VM HDMI), CPU (Intel Q6600) and power supply (Corsair VX450W).  The ASUS motherboard is nice since it has built-in HDMI support, something I considered a must for the HTPC.  The graphics capabilities are adequate, but a beefier graphics card can be installed if gaming is going to be high on the activity list.

One component where I wanted something different from what he had was the HTPC case.  Here I wanted a horizontal enclosure which would blend with my A/V components since the case was going to be in plain sight.  Again, there were several choices but in the end I went for the Silverstone GD01 case.  Among the attractions were a VFD, an IR receiver, a multi-card reader and of course the styling.  I also considered offerings with built-in touchscreens; such cases were attractive because you could navigate the menus without turning on the main display.  The added cost was a factor, but more importantly, I also wanted a flexible remote option (more on this in a later blog) which could get me this functionality in a hand-held format.

For the most part, the choice of this enclosure has been good.  The included software which controls the VFD is “good”, but it could (and should) add a lot more customization capability.  The enclosure is reasonably quiet, but I would like the fan and drive noise level to be lower.  Maybe I will try some other fan options at a later point.  The IR sensor works well and I can use my IR remote to control Windows Media Center.  The one part I don’t like is the access to the optical drive which is behind a drop down door; this makes accessing the drive mildly inconvenient.

The one big area where I don’t have a good solution yet is storage.  Here I am looking to build a NAS with RAID capability.  There are several good candidates and I am in the process of narrowing down the choices.  The enclosure has a large drive bay and the ASUS motherboard has a RAID controller, so this option also exists.  For now, I am using an internal 750 GB drive.  The capacity is running low and it is not backed up.  I hope that this drive will endure the rigors in the short term!