I'm folks, I'm looking to build my first HTPC and I'm having some trouble sorting out a few things that I'm hoping you all can help with. This build will be used for the following, in priority order:
- Watching web based video, specifically Hulu & Netflix through Windows 7 Media Center
- Playing BluRay DVDs
- Streaming music from both HD (MP3 & Windows Media lossless) and online services (Rhapsody, etc.)
I'd like to have a fairly small, quiet, low power system and I don't need infinite expandablity. Here are the areas I'm still confused about.
Mobo/CPU - I like the mini-ITX form factor and in looking around I like the look of the Zotac boads because they have wireless and graphics built in. I'm wondering about two specifics in this area:
1. Pros/Cons of going with the Zotac IONITX with the Atom chip (Option 1) versus a Zotac/Wofdale combination (Option 2). I've seen both in the forums but don't have a good feel for how they each behavior. Specific options are blow.
2. Second question is about power, you can get the Zotac borads with or without a 90W power supply. Is it worth going for the on-board power or skip it and use the PS that comes with most the cases?
3. Finally, I haven't really found a case that seems right yet. Most the mini-ITX cases seem to only allow the slim DVD drives, but I have not found any BluRay drives in that format. Any recomendations for cases that fit this system? (Note: Expandability isn't an issue, I'll build a new HTPC if I ever need more functionality.) Cases I'm considering at this point:
The Atom-based system will be able to do anything but HD or fullscreen Flash video--as of yet there's no way to move Flash processing to the GPU and streaming something high-res will overwhelm the CPU.... dropped frames, etc.
There's also no way to run that Atom system without the external power adapter... notice the blank area on the board where there would be a standard 24-pin ATX power connection.
I'd go with the 775 based system for the added CPU muscle. It should handle any HTPC duty you might want to throw at it, even if the GPU is a little less powerful. It also has the standard ATX power connector. As it uses a higher-power processor, it will have a CPU fan and a bit more noise.
On cases, go with something you like the look of. If you can afford to buy a somewhat more expensive notebook blu-ray drive, you can do that and use a case that only allows slim drives. And I'd recommend one with a decent PSU, or purchase your own. Remember that the power requirements of the Pentium system will be a lot higher than the Atom system.