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Media Center PC Buying Guide Part 1
Build a Home Theater PC
How to build your media center pc or build a home theater pc? Use this guide to a media center computer build; from the HTPC case, to the CPU, home theater connections, and more. Build your own computer, to your own specifications.
Let's take a detailed look at each of the components that are needed to build a Media Center PC.
You have a couple choices here for your media center case. The case is going to be the visible portion of your HTPC, so it's up to you how much you want it to blend with the rest of your home theater system. With that thought in mind, you can spend anywhere from $75 all the way up to $800 on the media center computer case alone. It's all a matter of what you want, and how you want it to look. With a goal of trying to keep the costs down in this guide, the Silverstone LC20 ATX Media Center case is the recommendation.
It has everything you need for a media center PC, with plenty of room inside for the home theater connections and everything else. The only downside to this case is the single optical drive bay. For this build, it is not a problem, but if you need to have multiple optical drives, then you may want to look at another case..
AMD's Athlon X2 processor, the 4850e is a sturdy unit. This is still a very efficient CPU running at 2.5GHz per core. The price on the 4850e is very reasonable and that, combined with the lower power usage of the chip, makes it a nice choice for a Media Center PC.
This was an easy choice - the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H will pair very nicely with the AMD processor. This board was made for HTPC's and is very stable. This board uses the 780G chipset, which has full hardware decode acceleration for H.264, VC1, and MPEG-2. Seeing as how decoding is one thing that can really slow down an HTPC, this will really help keep things smooth.
A newer version is Gigabyte GA-MA785; it has the 785 chipset (for an improved theater experience).
Checkout the GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-US2H Micro ATX AMD Motherboard. The compact Micro ATX form factor makes it a perfect choice for use in a compact home theater chassis
Seeing as how a Media Center PC has the potential to be an always-on computer, you will need a very efficient power supply.
The Antec Earthwatts EA380 Power Supply is efficient. This power supply is 80 PLUS certified, and will provide plenty of power for the system, while at the same time running cool and quiet.
Memory is cheap these days, so recommending 2GB was an easy decision. The Patriot 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 will do the trick nicely.
This will give you a bit of memory to spare if you go with Windows Media Center; and will be needed if you go with Win 7.
You will want to use a heatsink that can be run without a fan to help keep the noise level down. Since it is pretty useless to overclock an HTPC, this was not too difficult.
The Cooler MasterGeminII RR-CCH-ANU2-GP was made to run fanless and still keep your processor running nice and cool.
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