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 Post subject: Small HTPC as Media Extender
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:40 pm
Posts: 7
Location: California
I'm unhappy with the UI on any of the media extenders I've seen (the best for me is the WDTV Live, which still has its problems). I want to duplicate the usability of the great interfaces you see with software like Media Portal. I am serving music, pictures and video from my WHS (an HP EX485) via a wired ethernet connection.

I'm exploring a mini-ITX, low power, system that would fit into the M350 case with 60w power supply, or a uITX case that is reasonably small and quiet. I have a 2.5" laptop drive to use in the system with Windows XP. This would be streaming content from the WHS and act mostly as a "media extender", but with the ability to get a better interface that would meet the stringent WAF requirements of my house.

Not sure which motherboard to get. I have to be able to output video via HDMI, with audio also sent via SPDIF or coaxial (or, easily selectable between the two depending on source?) IR control is also a must, but I realize I can get that with a USB IR receiver.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:14 pm
Posts: 676
Location: in the depths of hell
I'm using the Zotac IONITX-A-U (w/90W onboard PSU) with this case. The Zotac GF9300-G-E would have been nice but placement of the northbridge heatsink isn't very ideal (sits directly below HDD and may cause overheating).

If you're not married to that specific case, consider alternatives such as the Antec ISK310-150. Personally, I think it looks right at home in the AV rack. You might have to replace the 80mm fan, though.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:40 pm
Posts: 7
Location: California
Thanks, that mobo looks like it fits the spec; I'm also concerned about noise so I would love to go fanless if possible. Going larger usually means a power supply with a fan, and I'd like to avoid that. I'm wondering if I need a dual core processor for "passing through" media from my WHS. I'll have to check the specs of Media Portal again to make sure (and also make sure I can turn transcoding off).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 9:04 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:40 pm
Posts: 7
Location: California
Just an update to what I settled on:

    Zotac IONITX-B-E motherboard (Atom 230 processor, Nvidia graphics, SPDIF and HDMI)
    2 GB RAM
    LG DVD Drive (it was on sale)
    80 GB 2.5" Western Digital HDD
    Ubuntu 10.04
    xbmc
    Antec MI-008 Mini-ITX case


I found the motherboard on eBay and liked that it has no problem serving standard def video without needing any fans on either the processor or GPU. The Antec case was reviewed here and found to have a very quiet stock PSU, and it is nearly silent in my build (perhaps it never spins up to full RPM). There's plenty of ventilation; since the review here, ventilation holes have been added to the the other side that was formerly solid. The ability to add a full size DVD drive was a plus.

SMART data shows the HDD running at about 120F max, under the 150F max temp WD advertises. I think I'm OK with that ... I'd really like to avoid adding another fan to the case.

I'm almost done with configuration of xbmc and Ubuntu ... at least as much as I can do before I hook it up and tackle the audio-over-hdmi task and getting everything to work with my audio system, etc.


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