I’ve built my HTPC like one year ago, don’t know why I have never written about it on this website. Well, for today, I will be presenting the place I spend many hours of my life, my Home Theater PC, my Media/File/Gaming/BackUp Server. The idea came many years ago, but without $, it was not possible. Fist my main computer was near the tv, so I used to connect to my old tv using a S-Video Cable and a P2 to a RCA Cable, and as a Tube Tv, the quality wasn’t that good, and I couldn’t almost read any text on the screen, just big texts like subtitles.
When I decided to build a definitive HTPC, I looked for a hardware that would fit my needs, nothing too expensive, but something that would play High Definition files without problems, and also could play some games, like Pro Evolution Soccer (best game to play with friends) or Tomb Raider. By the time, I had a tube tv with component video (good, but could be so much better), and 5.1 sound connected to my Home Theater Sound System.
MotherBoard: ASUS P5W DH Deluxe, excellent MB for a HTPC, with many great features no it, like S/PDIF Port, a digital output for connecting to my 5.1 sound system, two on board 10/100/1000 network cards (two is good if you want to use it as a router or a firewall) plus wireless. USB, Firewire and eSATA makes file transfer to external hard drives easy and fast. It also have a remote control, so you can set the volume, turn it off and on (I don’t really use it very much)
Processor: I got a Core 2 Duo E6420, 4mb cache, very good for playing HD files and games.
Case: The computer case could be anyone, but a receiver looking case would be much cooler. Here in Brazil wasn’t so easy to find one, and getting it from USA would be very expensive. Luckily I found the M Station HT-3000 from 3R SYSTEM, a great case for my project. It comes with a small Blue LCD Display that can be used to show the time, current track song playing on iTunes or Winamp, the time of the film you’re watching or other things you can configure. It also comes with a remote control, very good one by the way, where you can use it to surf on your files, songs and videos, pause, exit programs, exit windows, or do almost anything the mouse/keyboard could do. Well, I believe this pictures show a little more about this case:
Memory: I got 1GB DDR2-667 Corsair RAM memory, It’s enough for the kind of HTPC I want, maybe someday I put more, but till now I don’t need more. Remember to get one compatible with your mother board.
Storage: For the start, I got a 320GB 7200rpm SATA-II, not so much storage, when you talk of High Definition Movies. So I got an External 500GB drive that attend my needs for now, and if I need, I can take it anywhere. Someday I’ll get more and faster drives, as I’m a media lover.
Video Card: I got an e-GeForce 7600 GT 256mb PCI-E board from EVGA, with component, vga and dvi output (before I was using component to connect to my TV). I’m using a DVI to HDMI cable to connect to my LG 32′ LCD Time Machine II screen, so I got now quality digital video on my tv.
Power Supply: For the computer, a 500 watts is good enough.
Mouse & Keyboard: Now I needed a wireless mouse and keyboard, and I choose Microsoft’s wireless mouse and keyboard 2000. They are very good, but the only problem that they don’t have a good range, so when I want to use it from far, I need to put the small receiver near, and it’s so nice, as I need to keep moving it all the time.
Well, as I want it to be not just a media player, but a gaming computer, I installed Win XP (never Vista ^^), so we can play videos and games without needing to use Wine, less time and effort.
Programs I use very much:
- Media Players: Here we have many options, first there are the HTPC software, like the open source project Media Portal, where you can browse your films, musics, read rss, watch forecast and much more, with big letters and everything, it’s a good choice. For a long time I’ve used VLC, great PLAY EVERYTHING software, it’s good if you don’t want to install many different codecs, as it plays everything. Some days ago I discovered GOM PLAYER, it works like VLC, you don’t need to install more codecs, because it already plays everything. And I’m liking it very much, more then VLC, as it have a better interface and works better with subtitles. If you don’t know it, I suggest you to check it out.
- FTPD: A FTP server is one of the easiest way to transfer files across computers, as you have more control of the files being transfered. I’m not a big fan of transferring files using Windows Explorer, many times it doesn’t work, or if anything goes wrong while transferring, you lose it all, and have to start all over again. For FTPD I like GeneFTP, and for Client, I use FlashFXP on Windows and gFTP on Linux (soon I’ll be needing a mac version also).
- VNC: When I need to install programs or do anything on it, I use UltraVNC, so I can access visually the computer from anywhere. Software I like is VNC.
- Torrent: I love BitTorrent, and I use it almost everyday (downloading linux only, of course), and my client of choice is uTorrent, lightweight fast and very complete program, and one thing I like it the WebGUI, so I can check the process of downloading files and manage them from anywhere.
- BackUP: For having my data safe, I use Syncback, the best backup program I know, and it’s free. With it I able to backup my stuff using FTP, from everywhere. I also like to backup my photos to 3 different places at the same time (some can be though windows network, samba or ftp).
- Backup Your DVDs: For backing up my dvds, I’m using DVD Shrink, very good software to save your precious dvds to your hard disk. Also good to save that movie you rented and didn’t have time to watch it.
Here goes some good things to read and links before you start building your own HTPC. (I’ll add more links with time)
I’m still looking for some good photo viewer, I would like to find something like the amazing PicLens, do you know any?
How would you build your own HTPC?