HTPC Update

I’m getting close with my HTPC.

I waffled long enough that the Biostar m7ncg-400 motherboards available were at version 7.2, which offer control of voltages and multipiers — Just the thing for running a cool system. I matched that with a Athlon Mobile 2500+ processor, 512 MB of memory and a 160 MB Barracuda (or was it 160). I stuffed them all in a Athenatech A100 case. All and all, compact and not too ugly to put into the living room.

Its a bit noisy though. The 60mm case fans don’t help, and the CPU fan is probably running faster than it needs to, since the CPU temp roughly matches the case temp (32C under load). I’m going to wait until I have the thing configured fully though before I start tweaking. I’m planning on cutting out the stamped fan openings and putting in wire grills for less turbulent flow, and perhaps using quieter fans. I’m definitely going to work on lowering fan speeds. The HDD is pretty quiet, but I may try isolating it from the case with rubber washers or something. The final possibility is to ditch one or more of the 60mm case fans in back and add an 80mm in front, which will likely require improving the airflow through the front panel.

Still left to do on the hardware software side:

1. Network connectivity in the living room. I’ll probably use wireless. I could get away with 802.11b since video storage is going to be local and I already have an 802.11b access point. However, since I need to acquire additional hardware, I’m thinking of going with something 802.11g ready so that at some point in the future, I could actually use a storage server somewhere else and still deal in high quality MPEG2 video

2. The actual tuner and PVR software. Probably going to go with SageTV and a Connexant Blackbird reference design based card.

3. THe TV front end. Sage does most things (TV, other vid files, pictures, music) in its own UI, so I’ll probably start with that, but I may need to try something else if Sage’s parts aren’t up to snuff.

4. Configuring the remote. I bought an ATI remote wonder and will have to set it up to drive whatever front end I use.

One final note: I started out with Corsair Value Select PC3200 CL2.5 RAM and it gave me fits. The system would reboot whenever I did anything even slightly graphics intensive. Memetst86 didn’t show any problems. I suspected the powersupply, but neither sever over or underclocking made a big difference as far as stability went. I finally started to believe other reports of problems with the above mentioned ram and the onboard video on my motherboard, so I swapped it for some Kingston Value Ram with similar specs which may have actually been cheaper, and my problems went away.