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Confessions of a Serial HTPC Builder - Part 1

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March 28, 2006 5:40:53 AM

Michael Baggaley likes to build Home Theater PCs and will be describing a few of his builds for us. Part 1 of this series examines a water-cooled oldie, which was low on decibels but a bit too loud for most non-geeks' decorating tastes.
March 28, 2006 2:46:01 PM

Tips for building a HTPC that will not look like a PC, one that will look like a DVD player

01: Fabricate your own casing (Its not that hard. The HTPC casings sold outside look PC-ish to me)
02: Use LCD screen for your front panel eg: 20x4 character LCD screen
03: Add buttons like play, pause, stop, etc on your front panel of the HTPC
04: Use small SFX PSU and mod it to accecpt at least a 80cm fan
05: Use LARGE heastsink and BIG low-rpm fan (increases airflow without adding noise).
06: Use LARGE capacity HDD and if possible use 2.5' laptop HDD (Trust me, 3.5' HDD will generate noise from vibration after long usage)
07: Buy hardware PVR tv tuner cards.
08: Use no larger than a Micro-ATX motherboard.
09: If you are not into gaming, then go for on-board graphic solutions with AT LEAST a output connector to a TV
10: Remote control is a MUST.
11: Use software like Meedio, or MediaPortal for Windows user, or MythTV for Linux fans out there

My hardware for my 2nd HTPC:
-AMD Sempron 2500+ CPU
-Chaintech 7NIF2 Motherboard with TV-out connector
-256MB RAM
-Pinnacle PCTV stereo (I dont do time-shifting)
-Western Digital 7200RPM 160GB HDD
-Pioneer DVD burner
-Custom-made casing measuring 40cm x 28cm x 9cm LxWxH
-Old 230W PSU with a 120mm fan on top of it modded to fit into the casing
-Coolermaster Aero 7+ with the fan replaced by a 80mm fan running @ 6V sucking air from the heatsink
March 28, 2006 5:05:13 PM

I agree with killerliz in that an htpc shouldnt look like a PC at all. It should be almost indestinguishable from a receiver or dvd player.

With that in mind, I'm building a mini-itx box that looks like a nice dvd player with an digital display on the front and most importantly, its fanless and has no hard drive at all.

It will boot up the operating system across the network using a ram drive. This way, if you power it off, you don't loose anything. All of your apps, pics, movies and noisy hardware reside in the back room away from the action.

Cant wait to see the rest of this article.
Related resources
March 28, 2006 7:22:25 PM

I guess you can also consider me a Serial HTPC Builder too :) 

I have built 3 different prototypes of HTPC's in the last 3 years. The one thing that interests me about this article is that I have also used very similar hardware as the author has used for his first HTPC as i did with my second successful prototype with exceptions of a few different components. (You really don't want to know the specs of my very first prototype, although it served it's purpose.)

I was not exactly thrilled with the idea of mini tower, or any type of tower, lights and/or a case with so many darn types of case fans that it sounds like hoover wind tunnel vacuum. That litteraly sucks, no pun intended. After my eyes became sore and brain fried with looking at thousands of cases i finally chose the nice compact microATX Chenbro PC80568-BK. I've had people argue with me that the case is designed only for an intel P4 because of the 200W power supply but I never paid any mind to them. I also yanked some nice gold stereo feet from an old not working piece of junk Pioneer VSX-9500 stereo receiver, I knew it would be useful someday besides being a frustration relief toy.

My other specs are quite similar:

1 AMD AthlonXP 2700+
1 MSI K7N2GM MicroATX w/ nForce2 IGP
2 Apacer 512MB DDR 333
1 ATi All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500 w/ Remote Wonder
1 Seagate Baracuda HDD 40GB ATA100 7200RPM
1 Seagate Baracuda HDD 80GB ATA100 7200RPM
1 3.5" multi memory card reader (to go in the 3.5" floppy bay)
1 Toshiba DVD-RW 8X
1 Conexant 56K modem (for i have no friggin idea why)

For cooling instead of resorting to water cooling i have devised a clever way of controlling temp and noise at the same time. I designed a thermal circuit that will automatically vary the speed of the power supply fan and the CPU fan accoring to the temperature of the CPU and the power supply regulator heatsinks. That design did take some time to come up with and i had to put each fan on an individual circuit. Also i had to go through 24 different fans for both the power supply and CPU to see which had the quieter bearings and blades when having to rotate at a higher speed without sounding like one of those PC's built by amatures and newbies who think the sound of wind rushing through the machine means that it has a lot of power.

When assembling all of the cables and wires I had to split apart the IDE cable at every 10th strand so i can bundle it up like a single wire and prevent any air from not flowing properly. I also tucked all the cables and wires very neatly inside the corners as much as i could. I covered every ventilation hole with used Bounty dryer sheets. I bet right now you are scratching your head or giving me that strange eye look from my last sentence. Well before you think i need to be committed or examined I will tell you why i did that. I bet you did not know that used dryer sheets make an excellent air filter to keep your PC from having a dust bunny surprise when you use it over time, not to mention you will have a very pleasant refreshing smell everytime your PC is powered on. :)  See you learn something new everytime.

Since this PC case only had 2 3.5" internal slots I had to design my own custom mounting harness to mount the 80GB HDD below the DVD-RW drive.
On the software side I had installed Windows XP Professional and at first i used the ATi Multimedia Center 7.1 which was ~ok at first. I then wanted to upgrade my video drivers and ran into the exact same problem that the author had where the ATi Multimedia Center 7.1 would no longer work so I was brave and downlowed ATi Multimedia Center 8.1 made for only the Radeon 9000 series and up and i managed to get it to work with a little hacking. The problem that the author also experienced with not being able to multitask and system hiccups i have experienced too..but it was not related to the processor. It was the poorly laid out design and programming of every version of ATi Multimedia Center that i have used from what came with my video card to what I was able to get working. Occasionly the system would freeze when starting or finishing a recording and then would end up missing my other programs i wanted recorded. :x I also was not thrilled that I had to go outside the program to use Guide Plus to schedule my recordings. Who ever the heck thought this was clever does definitely need to be examined with a thick tree branch.

After first reading about the Windows Media Center and other programs i figured that i would do a search for a program that will support my software based proprietary ATi TV tuner, lowsy good for nothing proprietary ATi Rage Theater chip..GRRR!!!! :evil:  I did happen to find a program that works perfectly with my ATI and it is Showshifter. It has much better functionality than any ATi Multimedia Center and uses far less of your CPU too. It also has many cool and useful features that blow away the others that i have seen. I can use any of my installed codecs like FFDSHOW and XviD while not going by dumb company limitations. It also has full functionality with my Remote Wonder too. For example when i press the DVD button it opens the DVD menu. When I press the TV button, the TV menu comes up.

I have been very impressed with this program and i can even fully multitask while it is recording a TV show or showshifting, even play a little bit of Rayman 3 if I am not in the mood to watch what is being recorded and not having any dropped frames. To this day i still use it as the center of my home theater while in the process of designing my next prototype. I know if the author might have taken my approach, he might have been much happier with the results like i was and still am.

I would tell you much more goodies and adventures that i went thru while building my second perfect prototype but i think i better get back to work since my boss is looking over my shoulder with his piercing stare burning a hole at the back of my neck. 8O
March 28, 2006 8:41:10 PM

Thanks for you interest in my article. I like your idea of using a ram drive. That will certainly cut down on the noise. One of the challenges that I had with using a SFF box was that there was so much heat and nowhere for it to go. How are you cooling your processor, and what kind of CPU are you planning on using?
March 28, 2006 8:46:45 PM

Whoa. You jumped in with both feet! Those of you who build a case from scratch always have my respect. I Love Media Portal! It's classy, diverse, and free. (Free is always a bonus. :D  ) .
March 28, 2006 9:06:21 PM

Always good to meet a kindred spirit!

After 2 tries, (8500DV and the 9600 that will be featured in part II) I have given up on the all in wonder cards. Conceptually, they are amazing and the 9600 put out a clean picture, but there's something to be said for being able to install a tuner without having to hack something or other to get it to work. (I hacked the 8500DV to work with MMC 8.1, and I used "adjusted" drivers to get the 9600 to work with MCE.) Sigh. :roll:

Good work on the fan system. It doesn't take long to decide that noisy does not go well with home theater does it? :D 
March 28, 2006 10:34:31 PM

Im going to use a via sp8000. I would have gone for the nano itx board but it was twice the price.
March 29, 2006 1:14:09 AM

What about using a cracked Xbox as a HTPC? After reading the Tom's article on "Turning your Xbox into a NAS", it seems that the Xbox would be well suited for HTPC work. Granted it does not have Video in capabilities, but for a Divx library running MythTV or Freevo it could work. Especially since you can get one for $100 on ebay. What do you think?
March 29, 2006 2:29:51 AM

Quote:
What about using a cracked Xbox as a HTPC? After reading the Tom's article on "Turning your Xbox into a NAS", it seems that the Xbox would be well suited for HTPC work. Granted it does not have Video in capabilities, but for a Divx library running MythTV or Freevo it could work. Especially since you can get one for $100 on ebay. What do you think?


Actually, if you don't mind that it won't do TV, there is a fantastic open source media center program that has been written for a modded Xbox. http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/ It will do photos, music and videos of any kind. I haven't set one up myself, but I have a friend that swears by his.

Throw a big HD in there and you'll have a pretty nice video jukebox.

Good luck!
March 29, 2006 3:27:25 AM

Excellent, thanks! I'm in the process of getting one working soon, I'll let you know how it goes. A little off topic, but what programs do ya'll use for DVD to avi (divx) conversion? (I've been having trouble finding a good reliable one, tinkered with FLASK)
March 29, 2006 3:47:34 AM

Flask is a great program, but it's oh-so cumbersome to work with. I used it quite a bit while I was making my first HTPC, but I gave up on it because it took so long to figure out the settings for each video that I encoded. Too much work=I give up. :D 

A friend recently turned me on to AutoGK (Auto Gordian Knot) version 2.27. You can make Divx and Xvid files and the interface is really simple. It's free and seems to make a decent file. http://www.autogk.me.uk/
March 29, 2006 4:07:29 AM

I guess I did it the quick and easy way. I bought a shuttle case, replaced the fan with a quieter one and added hardware. Except for the blue LED that is too bright, the machine fits perfectly in a cubby hole in my tv stand and is barely audible.

Shuttle SFF, 512Mb Ram
P4 2.6 HT
300 gb Seagate
PVR-500 dual analog tuner
Fusion HDTV USB Tuner
MCE Remote
Beyond TV
ATI 9600Pro
Gyration Mouse/KB

I didn't pay much more than the author did for his system if you include the water cooling. This system perform very well and has three tuners, one of which does OTA HDTV and displays in full 1920*1080
March 29, 2006 4:17:08 AM

:idea: Try to have your fan attached to your casing in a way that it pumps air out from the casing to the outside world. If possible mount it at the top of the casing.

I did it with my CPU heatsink. The fan was attached in such a way that it sucks air out from the heatsink. The heatsink was designed in such a way that the air can only flow through the fins of the heatsink. This makes my HTPC cooler, as the hot air is pumped out straight to the top of the casing. I drilled holes below to allow air to flow from below, as it looks professional having no ventilation holes at the side of the HTPC, and makes the interior of the HTPC less dusty. My area gets dusty very easily

I managed with only two fans for my HTPC : 1 120mm fan running at 6V to cool my PSU, and a 80mm fan ruing at 6.8V to cool my CPU The CPU temperature stays between 50°C to 55°C and never exceeded 58°C, when burning DVDs. The PSU temp stays at 56°C. The system temp ranges from 35°C to 40°C. I lived in Singapore, where room temp ranges from 25°C at night to 31°C at noon.

will post pictures of my HTPC soon, though i have dismantled it a week ago to build a temporary PC. Will be building a third HTPC soon using Athlon 3000+ S939 CPU. These CPUs are easier to cool due to their ability to clock down to low MHz when running low-intensive tasks like watching videos, and are cheap compared to Pentium M. They are also able to decode recent video formats like h.264, and the ability to support dual core CPU means i can swap my CPU to a dual core when there is a need for performance. I never like to use VIA CPUs as they dont have the power to decode h.264 videos smoothly, and they are limited in their upgradibility
March 29, 2006 4:41:24 PM

Quote:

Actually, if you don't mind that it won't do TV, there is a fantastic open source media center program that has been written for a modded Xbox. http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/ It will do photos, music and videos of any kind. I haven't set one up myself, but I have a friend that swears by his.

Throw a big HD in there and you'll have a pretty nice video jukebox.

Good luck!


I have this set up and I love it! I stream movies and music from my MCE PC to my HDTV (you wouldn't need a huge HDD for this) - Works perfectly! Plus the Xbox doesn't really look like a pc next to my tv. I hightly recommend this set up. You could stream media from your current noisy desktop in the office to your HDTV in your living room/Home Theater.

Great article, Michael, I'm looking forward to the next installment
March 29, 2006 6:48:28 PM

My way of making a quiet HTPC was to use components that wouldn't need much cooling.
First of all, the TV tuner (PVR 150) is installed in my main machine (A64 3400 , 1GB ram, 500 GB hdd's) This is the machine that does all the video encoding, home dvd editing etc. I wouldn't want to do this in my living room, so why put a powerful PC in there ? There are several movie folders on this PC, and they are shared via network .
Now -are you ready? - the HTPC monster is only athlon 900Mhz with 512 MB ram (it used to work on 256 just fine, but I sold this stick) shared video and 5.1 sound card. The hard drive is only old 10GB 5400 rpm. Those were running a lot cooler ,so no fan needed. The only thing installed on the hdd is the operarating system, software DVD player and video codecs. The processor has a copper heatsink and low rpm 8cm fan on it. Other fans have been removed from the case.
All movies are being watched via network. The comp in my office does the recording of programs while I watch movies in the living room.
My next step is going to be replacing win2k on HTPC with a linux.
March 29, 2006 7:44:59 PM

Can anyone recommend a stand-alone PCI/PCI-E TV tuner for me to use? I'm trying to build a new system but it calls for SLI and there is no nVidia equivalent of an All-In-Wonder. If possible, this should work well with MythTV as well. I'm looking for as much power as possible: 2 HD tuners that can also do standard analog TV as well, but if HD isnt possible then I will use two analog tuners. Thx a bunch.
April 1, 2006 4:10:20 AM

As for keeping things quiet, I have an underclocked CPU in mine. Runs nice and cool with just a passive cooler... and the powersupply fan is temperature controlled, so, again.. nice and quiet... in fact, when doing anything but watching HD, the fans are turned off. Also, just a small slow HD in the system, virtual memory turned off, and SageTV (which IMHO is the greatest media center software available, though not necessarily the cheapest) runs off of a network share, so once booted up, the HD spins down and pretty much stays there. No video card (on board GeForce4MX), 1GB RAM, onboard sound (using just the SPDIF output), and onboard LAN... only card in the box is a WinTV HD card, since my antenna is run just to my living room. The rest of my tuners (3 SD Analog tuners) are hooked up to basic cable in my office, in the workhorse PC. Sage uses all the tuners perfectly, no conflicts... May invest in a second WinTV HD card for the living room though, so i can record and watch at the same time. Also, want to get the media extender, when they are back in stock.
April 1, 2006 4:35:56 PM

Thats all a very cool setup. I'm shooting for several things in my project.
A, a cheap "head unit" that will do MPEG 1-4 and can be turned on and off like any other electronic home theater equipment.
B, Surround Sound 7.1 if possible,
C, Access to all audio and vidio sources in my network.
D, ability to play and store AM,FM,XM Radio, TV, cd's and dvd's for play back later.
E, Size, ease of use and administration.
F, Expandable Back End that will accomodate several head units.
G, The ability to use a front control panel to control the head unit or a remote control.

So Far, I've found everything I need and am done with my planning stage. I'm just putting things together ATM.
April 3, 2006 6:41:12 AM

Quote:
What about using a cracked Xbox as a HTPC? After reading the Tom's article on "Turning your Xbox into a NAS", it seems that the Xbox would be well suited for HTPC work. Granted it does not have Video in capabilities, but for a Divx library running MythTV or Freevo it could work. Especially since you can get one for $100 on ebay. What do you think?


Hello! I have just a such xbox. With a chep modchip(all the modchip does is change the bios) and the wonderful XBMC-program i use it as a competent dvd-player. Runs all divX-videos perfectly. Total cost: about 166 $. Hehe. Runs games too but the graphics sucks. HAs 100 Mb network too. What is lacking is video-in of course....
April 4, 2006 3:12:37 PM

Here are the photos of my HTPC just before i dismantled it.




The front cover was not attached due to some "serious error" as i found out that when i tried to fit the panel to the HTPC, the buttons on the PCB board won't align with the panel. After that i didn't really bother to do a new one.

The RCA audio ports are above the VGA and S-Video output connector.
The TV tuner (not shown) is right to the USB port on the rear
April 4, 2006 4:28:06 PM

Nice Shape
April 5, 2006 7:16:17 AM

Thanks, IVAces
April 6, 2006 8:55:32 PM

Quote:
Here are the photos of my HTPC just before i dismantled it.


Wow Killerliz, you get ups for building your case from scratch. Too bad the front panel didn't fit right. Good luck on your next builld. I agree with your choice of processors. I use a similar one and it's very easy to keep cool. (I'll go over it in Part III of my HTPC series)
May 6, 2006 9:27:04 AM

Quote:
I like your idea of using a ram drive. That will certainly cut down on the noise.


Certainly. What about an ability to boot and run Windoze from small flash/RAM/ROM? ;) 

Actually, I can tolerate if HTPC has only one spindle -- inside HDD. Preferably from Samsung (it's quiet and cooler than Seagate). WD is a plain crap in this respect. I can tolerate more spindles, if there's a RAID in HTPC. But there must be no fan.

Quote:
One of the challenges that I had with using a SFF box was that there was so much heat and nowhere for it to go. How are you cooling your processor, and what kind of CPU are you planning on using?


The problem is that AMD/Intel CPUs are a plain crap. Really. Who wants to live in one room with hot, power-hungry and noisy crap? I don't. IMMV.

Power consumption of modern ARM core starts at 0.5Wt

Power consumption of modern PPC CPU starts at 10Wt IIRC, and this includes FPU (unlike ARM) and, I think, AltiVec extensions so you don't badly need to pack DSP cores with processor as is typical with ARM-based designs.

Thus, I'd better use old PPC-based Mac mini or smth. like PegII:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasos
http://www.pegasosppc.com/pegasos.php
http://www.pegasosppc.com/homemedia.php
Maybe soon there will be an option of hacking:
Xbox 360 (PPC)
Sony PlayStation 3 (PPC)
Nintendo's Wii (surprise, PPC again, why not an Athlone? ;) )
May 8, 2006 1:33:57 PM

PPC's are great on heat and power consumption but, they still lack horse power. MPEG conversion takes a lot of clock cycles and memory. For my, it's looking more like the new VIA EPIA EN15000 http://www.epiacenter.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=s...
It has everything but PCI express slots. Its also only slighly more expensive than the SP8000 I was eyeing.
That MB combined with a pasive heat sinc case
http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/23_62...
and you have a very slick ram drive HTPC
May 14, 2006 10:26:13 PM

Quote:
PPC's are great on heat and power consumption but, they still lack horse power.

If you think C7/Eden is better, why there's no any in PS3/XBOX/Wii ;) ?
Quote:
MPEG conversion takes a lot of clock cycles and memory.

Actually, not that many AFAIR. 200MHz ARM core is able to play MPEG4 at smth. like 320x240 IIRC without even having FPU/MMX/AltiVec or any form of SIMD...
Quote:
For my, it's looking more like the new VIA EPIA EN15000 http://www.epiacenter.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=s...
It has everything but PCI express slots. Its also only slighly more expensive than the SP8000 I was eyeing.

Heh, what are these doing inside _HTPC_: "2 Fan connectors: CPU/Sys FAN"?
// Do VIA engineers have any clue about what HTPC stands for?...
Quote:
That MB combined with a pasive heat sinc case
http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/23_62...
and you have a very slick ram drive HTPC

At first, the most noticeable parts there seem to be references to VISA, MasterCard, PayPal etc.

Sorry, maybe my attitude/arrogance is playing a bad joke with me making me to ignore some true jem of CPU design in form of new brave fast C7 of radically uncommon and yet-unseen-in-the-universe-architecture, but IMNSHO, VIA can't make decent CPU. It never was able, it's not able and won't be able, ever.

P.S. dear THG, maye you will be able to provide us with real life benchmarks for ARM/PPC/VIA CPUs? So that we will have better arguments pro/contra the abovementioned platforms than "IMNSHO", "they still lack horse power" etc.?
May 15, 2006 4:37:22 AM

Your sarcasm about my idea is amusing as is your price reference to my choice of cases however, epiacenter.com has some comprehensive benchmarks on several mini-itx systems as well as crusoe systems and my idea of an HTPC is somthing that looks (as in not looking like a computer and that case design is simple a reference for what I'm going to be making) and acts like a simple piece of electronic equipment such as a surround sound receiver or dvd player (ram drive accomplishes that). While I'm not discounting the arm technology (I'm actually very fond of my HP IPAQ), I have not found anything that runs them with major features like gigabit ethernet, ddr2 support or mpeg co-processing. As for horse power, my horse power will reside in the back room on my san or my server along with all the noise and heat that accompanies them. Your criticism of being able to boot windows is a simple solution. By utilizing a ram drive that gets its os from a linux server OR a shared folder on a windows box running tftp, you can load an operating which seemlessly loads mythtv for my or for those who need familiarity, it will use remote desktop connection to connect straight into one's windows multimedia edition pc with little fuss. One could even make it use both systems by using a VMware image, and running it on the free vmware reader on a windows media center pc. Then you could switch back and forth adhoc. I'd all be a matter of setting up the remote the way you need.

I was not attacking you X. In fact, if you are able to show my a product that uses the arm technology that you're prescribing and that meets my needs more so than an epia en15000 or sp13000, I'll be more than happy to purchase it on good faith, and give it a try as a platform for my ideal system.

I've already tried a give me crusoe 5500 system. It worked well enough to convince me to start investing the money to further my project.
May 16, 2006 6:32:16 PM

Quote:
The problem is that AMD/Intel CPUs are a plain crap.


I share your fascination with RISC processors and I agree that they perform efficiently, In all fairness, however, the world has jumped onto the Intel/AMD bandwagon and price, availability, power, and compatibility are all major factors in an HTPC build so I’m not sure it’s fair to rule out the processor behemoths just yet. :) 

Quote:
I'd better use old PPC-based Mac mini or smth. like PegII:


What kind of media center app are you planning on using? I heard that Mac is going to release (if they haven’t already) an official media center program but I understood that it is not quite ready. Are there others?


Quote:
my horse power will reside in the back room on my san


I love those mini ITX mobos! My favorite is the nano. It’s not ideal for a media PC but you have to hand it to them. It’s crazy small! I think that VIA has done some amazing things with their mini boards and I’m sure you’ll end up with a great front end-back end HTPC system. The case that you picked out is very slick. Good luck!
May 16, 2006 9:17:21 PM

Quote:
Your sarcasm about my idea is amusing as is your price reference to my choice of cases

Sorry, my sarcasm is towards x86/windoze arch only, not about you or your freedom of choice, in any way. In fact, I'm rather glad that you mentioned VIA's platform. It's better that we discuss it here and show all strong and weak points, eliminating as much as possible of uncertainty.
Quote:
While I'm not discounting the arm technology (I'm actually very fond of my HP IPAQ), I have not found anything that runs them with major features like gigabit ethernet

Well, in a Lab I have smart ethernet switch with 16 gigabit ports :) , and it's a dual core ARM 710 system with proprietary OS AFAIU.
Quote:
ddr2 support or mpeg co-processing.

What you actually mean is kind of open/expandable platform. We both know that there was no sufficient demand for such from ordinary customers like you and me, and available options are not numerous (but there are probably more ARM cores deployed than Intel and AMD x86 cores together ;) ).
Quote:
As for horse power, my horse power will reside in the back room

Then this won't be an HTPC IMHO.
Quote:
In fact, if you are able to show my a product that uses the arm technology that you're prescribing and that meets my needs more so than an epia en15000 or sp13000

IMO, PPC is better suited for this. It has FPU while ARM typically doesn't. PPC-based product that will suit your needs is e.g. pegII. Or old PPC-based Mac mini. Also, there exists a lot of so called Development or Evaluation boards both for ARM and PPC. Cheapest of these 3 options is Mac mini, of course, because pegII board with CPU costs about $500 IIRC and dev bords not less (usually thrice more at least). Complete PegII HTPC costs $2500 BTW :-/.

I think it's customers who are guilty for lack of demand and therefore absence of competition between vendors...

I myself work with AMD/Intel and ARM platforms, the latter having Linux/VxWorks and proprietary _hard_ real time OS. ;)  The power of the ARM platform surpasses fastest x86/Windoze tens of times for a special job (it's not ethernet switching BTW), mostly due to efficient design of HW _and_ OS/SW, not just MIPS/horsepower availble (well, we have specialized DSPs which you won't find in x86, so I'm lying about horsepower).
Quote:
I'll be more than happy to purchase it on good faith, and give it a try as a platform for my ideal system.

Availability of open HTPC platform based on PPC/ARM is a matter of price/time/market. All three are not yet ready, but this will happen soon, remember my words.
May 17, 2006 8:56:31 AM

Quote:
In all fairness, however, the world has jumped onto the Intel/AMD bandwagon

Let's better say "the world has become Intel/AMD addict" (jumped onto Intel/AMD needle). ;) 
Quote:
and price, availability, power, and compatibility are all major factors in an HTPC build

Generally, yes. But HTPC systems are more "on stylish side" and this market is less price sensitive I think.
Quote:
I'd better use old PPC-based Mac mini or smth. like PegII:

What kind of media center app are you planning on using? I heard that Mac is going to release (if they haven't already) an official media center program but I understood that it is not quite ready. Are there others?
Honestly, I was going to use Linux there or port SW from Linux until I find something more stylish for Mac...
Quote:
I love those mini ITX mobos! My favorite is the nano. It's not ideal for a media PC but you have to hand it to them. It's crazy small!

Compare e.g. with this: Kuro Box HG WR

Also, some info that might be interesting for you:
*http://penguinppc.org/embedded/kuro/
*The inside story on how IBM out-foxed Intel with the Xbox 360
May 17, 2006 2:27:08 PM

I like the PEGII because it has the some of the save features as the EN15000 and SP13000 however, the price 8O . The size is also unacceptable in my opinion. I definitely think that this box has captured the spirit of what I'm trying to do.

I also like the look of the kuro box but its lacking on some small things that I consider a necessity (IR). On the WIKI, they are also touting the Buffalo products. I can't take anyone seriously who thinks that Buffalo makes anything more than mediocer products. Uniquie in concept but definitely mediocre on performance and function.

You're definitely onto somthing with the PPC stuff.
May 20, 2006 9:38:09 PM

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however, the price 8O .
Agreed.
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The size is also unacceptable in my opinion.
Well, there's mini-ITX format EFIKA, but performance/features/connectivity suck IMO.
But, there used to exist micro AmigaOne boards (µA1-C) which are more feature-rich IIRC. Not to mention various dev boards again (but price still hurts).
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I also like the look of the kuro box but its lacking on some small things that I consider a necessity (IR). On the WIKI, they are also touting the Buffalo products. I can't take anyone seriously who thinks that Buffalo makes anything more than mediocer products.
Sorry, I can't judge as I lack an experience with Buffalo products. Also, I'm not sure the Kuro is related to Buffalo anymore...
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You're definitely onto somthing with the PPC stuff.
Actually I spend much more time with ARM stuff %).
September 19, 2010 3:19:43 PM

This topic has been closed by Reynod
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