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building cheap media center pc

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  • Homebuilt
  • Media Center
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
March 19, 2006 8:40:33 PM

im looking to build a media center pc using some old spare parts. the purpose of this machine is to pick up any media file (music, movie, pic, etc) and display it on the 42" hd tv and play through the 5.1 surround system. what i have so far is as follows:
1.3GHz AMD Thunderbird cpu
40gb 7200rpm hd
creative 5.1 sound card
winxp pro

what i need is:
a cheap motherboard that will run this thing decently, should have on onboard nc.
cheap DVI video card to connect to the tv
cheap ddr memory to go along.

I am on a budget, but i would like some suggestions. any help is appreciated.

More about : building cheap media center

March 19, 2006 9:32:45 PM

Biostar M7VIG works well, and is dirt cheap $39, has onboard NIC, sound and Video. Biostar boards have non-existant failure rate despite cheap cost. Another choice is the Epox 8KMM3I-X. Don't fall into the trap of using PC-Chips or ECS, both are extremely high fail rates. DDR brands that are good quality but low cost are Supertalent, and All Components. Stay away from Centon, and anything with Specktek chips. Many inexpensive video cards with DVI, for low cost look to Chaintech, Xmdia, MSI or Asus. Stay away from EVGA, PNY or No-Name ATI clone cards. (Saphire is fine if do ATI)
March 19, 2006 9:41:05 PM

Instead of XP Pro, try to get XP Media Center Edition.

If you want the best sound for your media center, the Soundblaster X-Fi Platinum would do the best job.

If you download a lot of media, then your going to need more than a 40Gig.

That should do the trick. If you want to make it look the part too, theres plenty of cases out there worthy of sitting under a TV.
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March 19, 2006 10:25:31 PM

I'd also invest in a TV Tuner (the Leadtek TV2000XP/EXPERT card works great for $40), as PVRs are....awsome! Either way, definitely get a bigger HD, at least 160GB, you'll use it up, guarenteed.
March 20, 2006 2:25:49 AM

I would normally second the recommendation for the leadtek tv200xp expert, but not with the processor you plan to use. That capture card needs at least a 1.6 Ghz AMD or a 2 GHz Pentium 4 to work properly. An All-In-Wonder by ATI would be a better choice, killing 2 birds with one stone. A Radeon AIW 7500 fits all your needs, and you can pick one up one Ebay for the same price as the leadtek winfast capture card. Plus, it cools passively, so no needless noise for your media center PC. :wink:
March 20, 2006 3:26:56 AM

Quote:
Biostar M7VIG works well, and is dirt cheap $39, has onboard NIC, sound and Video. Biostar boards have non-existant failure rate despite cheap cost. Another choice is the Epox 8KMM3I-X. Don't fall into the trap of using PC-Chips or ECS, both are extremely high fail rates. DDR brands that are good quality but low cost are Supertalent, and All Components. Stay away from Centon, and anything with Specktek chips. Many inexpensive video cards with DVI, for low cost look to Chaintech, Xmdia, MSI or Asus. Stay away from EVGA, PNY or No-Name ATI clone cards. (Saphire is fine if do ATI)


As a system builder, I ordered 10 complete systems, unassembled, using Biostar MB's. 3 MB's out of those 10 were bad. After inspecting these boards, I found many cold solder joints. I was able to repair these myself instead of doing an RMA. I've had similar failures in the past with Biostar. I also have Biostar boards still in use after 4 years. It's a crap shoot.
Yes, the boards I repaired are still up and running. Personally, I'd opt for a better quality board.