Mini HTPC build

I've had my HTPC downstairs in my living room for about a year now and I've loved it. Upstairs in my bedroom I've been running a MVix media player, and it's been ok but it has it's faults. I've also been spending some time at my girlfriends place and she has DirectTV. I was really digging the ability to start watching something in one room and then move to another room and continue watching. I remembered reading that there was some developmental stuff with XBMC that would allow you to do the same thing but it was difficult to set up.

I did some further research on the matter and found out that the new XBMC build would allow for an easier intall of a shared database.

After I built the new system I found some sites that explained the installation process of Fonz fun_plug for my DNS-343. Took me a little while, but I now have a running MySQL server on the same NAS box that serves up all my media. With that database storing all media info such as thumbnails, what's watched, and where I've paused or stopped videos; I now basically have a homemade DirectTV room-to-room system.. that I can customize to my liking.

A couple downsides of this new system and a shared database are: slower response times when you're loading full lists of media (like for all TV shows or for all Movies); and I had to re-index all of my media so that it would play nice with the MySQL / network pathing.

Here's a list of the parts for the new system. By the way, the new system is about 1/3 the size of my original build and almost completely silent.

  • Motherboard: ASUS E35M1-I DELUXE - mini ITX - AMD Fusion E-350 - AMD A50M - USB 3.0 - Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n - onboard graphics - HD Audio (8-channel)
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B Desktop Memory Kit - 8GB (2x 4GB), PC3-12800, DDR3-1600MHz, 9-9-9-24 CAS Latency, Intel XMP Ready, Unbuffered
  • PSU: picoPSU-150-XT + 150W Adapter Power Kit
  • Case: M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure
  • Harddrive: Seagate Momentus XT 500 GB 2.5 Inch Solid State Hybrid Drive
  • Remote: Rosewill Windows Vista Certified Media center Infrared Remote Control RRC-126
  • Wireless Card: Intel 6200 IEEE 2.4GHZ-5GHZ 802.11n (draft) Wi-Fi Adapter - Mini PCI Express - 300Mbps

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The CPU & GPU are integrated into the board and has a giant heat sync to dissipate that heat. If one of them ever go out it'll be a pain to replace, but at least I don't have to deal with fan noise.

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This case is pretty sweet. It's nothing special to look at, missing a power LED and a reset button, but it makes up for that with a completely modular design and small form factor.

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The case comes with one bracket to mount fans or a harddrive. I bought an extra bracket so that I could mount one fan, and one harddrive. The brackets can be mounted one on either side, or just one in the center.

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When you order the case you can specify for them to cut out this little ring in the back where the power cable goes so that you can fit a bigger cord in. Mine almost fit, but I had to shave it down a little bit so that I could squeeze it in.

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The scews barely went into the holes for the plug, so I ended up applying a bit of super glue in key areas to ensure it wouldn't come loose when plugging or unplugging the cable.

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Never gotten a hybrid drive before, but this thing has been pretty solid. A small portion is SSD so booting is quick, and since the rest is platter based it kept the cost down.

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I ended up having to remove the heatsinks from the RAM since they made the RAM too tall to fit inside the case.

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You can see the RAM sitting snuggly right underneath the bracket that the harddrive is attached to.

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The wireless card that came installed was on the lower end and wouldn't connect to my 5G network so I took the standard one out and put in the new one.

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Tags:
DIY, HTPC, Tech, XBMC

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