Media PC

Having become utterly disgusted at my X-Box 360s failure as an all-round media player I've decided I want to build an ultra-cheap mini system I can use to push HD content to my telly. I don't want it to take on any transcoding/encoding duties, I just want to install ffdshow and Media Player Classic to play content directly on the screen. Also, the content will be stored elsewhere and shared over the network.

Here's the kit I'm thinking of:

Antec Solo Quiet Mini Tower Case - Piano Black/Silver - No PSU
MSI K9AGM2-FIH (on-board HDMI output is the real sweetener here!)
Athlon64 X2 3600+ (65nm process)
Crucial 1GB kit (512MBx2) DDR2 PC2-4200
Seagate 80GB Barracuda SATAII 7200RPM 8MB Cache

The price comes to just over £200 ($400) which I couldn't believe at first! This will need to play at least 1280x720 h.264 content.

Such a system seems the only way to me as media player devices are crippled by their limited codec options. Any ideas/input/advice?

EDIT: I already have 580w power supply I would put in it so that's why I haven't included it.
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  1. i would upgrade the hd. 8mb is not enough Cache. also, think about getting a second stick of ram. also, what about the tv tuner card, sound card, video card, and os. im actually turning my pc into a media center pc.
  2. Well video and sound are both onboard and output through the onboard HDMI connector. That was the whole attraction of this all-in-one motherboard.

    Why do you say 8MB wouldn't be enough cache? My current desktop PC plays HD files just fine with SATA I drives that only have 8MB cache.
  3. you can do the onboard video and audio on the mobo, but it will slow down your system. and for the 8mb, if you get a higher mb it will allow you to read and write faster. if your going to do video recording it will help
  4. Well, from what I've been led to believe the 8meg cache doesn't show a large decrease in performance over 16mb....

    I'd say you're good. Later on down the road you can add a graphics card/sound card/more memory/ larger HD whatever you like. But it looks like a pretty good Media Center Pc to begin with! ( I always like adding onto what I already have)

    Were you (caligula) planning on recording tv?
  5. No, I want it purely to play HD content stored elsewhere on the network. I'm not interested in recording/encoding/transcoding.
  6. So, you should be fine then...
    I would say that if you added in a graphics card that had HDMI (which then includes the sound with the video) that would be your next step do boost performance. But with what you are doing, you would only see a quality difference between onboard and offloading the work to a graphics card with that capability. That's your next upgrade, if you want to.
    Otherwise, I see no problems with only 1gb for now and a smaller hd (mainly for storing little things, as you are streaming content from another source.)

    Your cpu is a dual core, so it should be GREAT! That'll be a great media center, good luck and have fun building it!

    EDIT: what are you planning on using for an OS? If you need a copy of one, then you may want to include the price of one :P
  7. It already has HDMI output for sound and video...

    I have an OEM copy of XP Pro lying around to use on it as I don't want to piss about with MCE.
  8. Quote:
    It already has HDMI output for sound and video...


    Yup, i got that part already. What I'm trying to say is i know that integrated doesn't always have the BEST quality of video and sound....It is fine for you, but IF you find that the quality is lacking a bit, that's because it's integrated. I don't forsee any issues with it, just saying that in the future, if you get a graphics card that supports HDMI, your video and sound quality may be a bit better than the integrated.

    But, for now, you're good to go!
    Good luck with the build!
    let us know how it goes once you get everything going!
  9. Ah, I see what you mean now, thanks.

    Well, the parts are ordered so hopefully I can give an update some time next week. Total cost with Google checkout discount was £193 and I swapped the mini tower case for an Antec media case around the same price. Not as flash as the Fusion sadly but it takes the headache out of finding room for it in a TV stand or cabinet.
  10. Recommendations for TV tuner card?

    I own a Sapphire Theatrix Theater 550 Pro TV Tuner Card, and I like it OK but it's not compatible with MythTV
  11. I'm sorry with that one. I do know that Hauppage cards are highly used by people, (my friend just got one, but is still working with it to understand it). Otherwise, I do not have any recommendations on a specific card.

    Stick with Hauppage and you shouldn't have any big issues...
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