HTPC fun

I’m pulling my hair out trying to find a resonably priced combo of case, socket A motherboard and video card for a home entertainment pc.

Ideally, the motherboard should be microATX with integrated sound and video (and svideo out) for cost effectiveness and compactness and it should support full overclocking options so as to allow underclocking the processor (or the use of a mobile processor) in order to limit heat production and reduce the need for noisy cooling.

Unfortunately, svideo out is pretty rare on mATX motherboards, only the Chaintech NIF2, the Albatron KM18G-Pro and the Aopen MK79G-N provide it (at least among Nforce2 boards, which, for some reason, I have limited myself to). Asus also has a board that supports it, but only by adding a $20 agp card. Whats worse, they don’t all have good support for digital audio in/out (S/PDIF)

Similarly, few if any mATX boards support a full range of overclocking options and near as I can tell, none of the Nforce2 boards with vid out do.

So I started looking at full ATX boards, since they typically offer more options for overclocking, but svideo out isn’t just rare on Nforece2 ATX boards, it seems to be nonexistant.

Whats more, just about every ATX case is huge, deeper than my stereo or TV cabinets can take. There are one or two cases from Silverstone that are relatively shallow but the are in the low to mid $100s with out powersupply, which is a lot to spend for something that 1) I’m trying to do on the cheap 2) might not prove very useful. I guess I could probably recoup my money ok selling the case on e-bay, but it sure wouldn’t work well in my office.

All this is giving me a headache. I think my next step is to see if there are any decent mATX motherboards with reasonable overclocking options and no onboard video that I can price with an ATI 9600SE vid card which will also give me a relatively inexpensive upgrade path from svideo to component out to my TV.

Blah blah blah. I thought I’d have everything ordered by now!