Has anyone tried using one of this for an HTPC? Unfortunately dell's website isn't all that useful in terms of saying what is actually inside these things, and google searches haven't turned up much else.
They seem like a good deal (been trying to piece together an HTPC and am having difficulty coming in under their price tag), but if it doesn't work properly doesn't really matter how cheap it is.
Technically speaking, nearly any computer can be used as an HTPC. However, what do you want your HTPC to be capable of doing?
It's primarily going to be used as a replacement for cable. So we'll be using it to stream shows (netflix, hulu plus, shows on websites, etc.), play video files (ripped HD and non-hd files), and play movies.
Even with relatively similar components (I can't figure out what mobo is in the dell) and a few minor upgrades (bigger HD, blu-ray player, which isn't a must since I generally just rip movies on my desktop anyway) I'm a couple hundred dollars over what the dell is (basically the cost of Windows 7)
Dell uses a proprietary m-ATX mobos in their small PCs just like any other major brand name. The Inspiron 560s and 580s have two 5.25" bays and two 3.5" bays. But they only have a 250w PSU. Granted there's limited room for upgrades anyway, but a 300w PSU would have been nice.
I suppose the integrated X4500 video card will be good enough. If not then look for a low profile HD 5450 or HD 5550 video card. The HD 5550 probably about $30 - $35 more than the HD 5450, but it has some extra hardware that allows for better video quality.
I guess the question is, if I were to build a htpc with an H55 and core i3, using the integrated video on the h55, would there be a large performance difference between that machine (otherwise comparable specs with the dell, besides larger HD and things like that) and the dell?
you can do it by upgrading parts and getting parts that will go into that case..
what exactly are you wanting and what do you think you already know you want.?
easier than you think and you have more options then you might think with that unit..
I'm not exactly sure what you mean. If we do go with the dell we'll most likely replace the DVD drive with a blu-ray (it's supposed to be an option, but apparently dell is always sold out of the blu-ray capable ones). Rather than upgrade the HD, I already have most of my media on various external harddrives (ranging from 500 Mb to 2 Tb). Beyond that, as long as video playback is clear and smooth I don't see any need to upgrade anything else. We won't be using this for gaming or anything like that.