Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NineBall Versus Pythia 2.0: Upgrading a HTPC, Part 1

For a few years now I have been running a home theatre PC (HTPC) as the main component of my primary viewing area. It has served me well and has been well used by family and friends. It has also been a let down in some areas, under utilized in others and simply requires an upgrade in several places. Here is the link to the original build log on a forum I frequent; eventually I will port that log here as I started to do with Project Hydra. As it was built well before I started this blog, I will outline the components used here until I port that log over.
  • Chassis - Antec Fusion Black 430 - $180
  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H - $86
  • CPU - AMD Athlon 64 x2 4850e - $105
  • CPU cooling - ThermalRight XP-90 w/ Nexus Real Silent 92mm fan - $48
  • Memory - Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x1GB Kit - $55
  • OS Drive - Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB 3.5" SATA - $70
  • Optical Drive - LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray/HD-DVD/DVD±RW - $140
  • Video Card - Sapphire Radeon 3450 PCIe Fanless - $51
  • NTSC Tuner - Nvidia DualTV PCI - $212
  • OS - Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit OEM - $103
  • Remote - Microsoft MCE Remote Control and Receiver w/ 2 blasters - $27
  • Joypads - 2x Microsoft XBox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows - $69 (total)
Original Total - $1146

This setup has allowed all the media playback/ripping capabilities you would expect in a HTPC, casual gaming and recording/playback of 2 NTSC channels at a time. Moving forward, I expect to see improved media playback/ripping performance, more serious gaming capabilities and the ability to record/playback up to an additional 3 ATSC channels. As I am replacing the OS already, I will also take the opportunity to update all my software, both of which should add alot of visual appear and usability to the system.

My upgrade path is currently as follows: I will be replacing the CPU, video card and OS and adding the ATSC tuners. A friend has also provided me with a slightly newer motherboard if I can fix it (should be easy from his description) which would also require DDR3 memory. In the next part, I will outline all the new components that will be making up the Pythia 2.0 build.