Proposed Best TIVO-like Media Center PC System


Below is the system that I am thinking of building which I have spent hours upon hours researching trying to build the best multimedia entertainment system when weighing functionality and price. It will be the first system that I build and any hints on building a system or weblinks to how to build a system will be appreciated. My main info on building a multimedia system is from MaximumPC's December issue and their weblink on how to build systems. I would appreciate any input regarding compatibility issues, installation, selection of components.
I picked different component's than MaximumPC because newer/better components are now available in my opinion.

My needs are a system that will:
1. Act as TIVO multimedia center(I plan on using Snapstream software)
2. System needs to be able to run fast enough that it can run about 6 browser windows and a word processor at the same time in addition to another application(snapstream) along with IM chat.
3. Should be able to run all software coming out in the next 3 years. Desire a system that will be useful for 3-4 years(meaning not painfully slow because the software at that point in time requires certain hardware).

Outline of the system and why I chose it are below. Basically, I chose:

1. CASE: Shuttle XPC Barebone System for Socket 754 AMD Athlon 64 CPU, Model SN85G4
Reason: Shuttle is known to make quiet systems and I don't need a ATX case. Also, preliminary reviews of this case are good. If you know of any negatives, please let me know

2. PROCESSOR: AMD Athlon 64 3000+, 512KB L2 Cache, 64-bit Processor . I chose this processor as I would like to be able to run 64bit software when it comes out though I do wonder when there will be plenty of 64-bit apps to use. I chose this processor to allow me to run future software that will be written in the next 3-4 years as after that I will retire this system and it will become a dedicated entertainment center and rarely used for other functions.

3. RAM: Kingston Hyperx Series 184 Pin 512MB DDR PC-4000. I believe that this is the RAM highlighted in the MaximumPC Nov article that was highly overclockable. I am not sure if I will overclock yet I would appreciate any input on this RAM.

4. HARDDRIVE: Maxtor 250GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model 7Y250M0. I have tried to find out if this drive has Fluid Dynamic Bearings(FDB). I believe it does and believe it was the one recently rated on Tomshardware in Nov along the Hitachi/WD drives ( I didn't choose the Hitachi as it is close to $80 more and the Hitachi Min/Data transfer rates(important for video/audio transfer) was lower than the Maxtor and WD. I didn't choose the WD because it doesn't have FDB despite being $20 cheaper than the Maxtor and having slightly higher Min/Data transfer rates. Can someone confirm that this Maxtor drive has FDB as I checked the website and the areas I checked didn't mention it or maybe I am confusing model numbers. I just called Maxtor and they said that the Y in the model number indicated FDB even though the data sheet on their website does not mention it.

5. DVD/CD: Plextor 8X DVD-RW/+RW Drive, Model PX-708A/SW . I chose this because of SPEED SPEED SPEED and the price differential was not that great for upgrading to this model. I don't want to wait minutes longer to copy stuff.

6. VIDEO CARD: ATI AIW RADEON 9600PRO Video Card, 128MB DDR I would have chose the 64MB model yet I don't think it is currently available. I don't play video games at all and I don't need to pay for the 128MB> For video purposes, I chose this card over the 9800 due to price and the 9600 has the tivo like features for FM radio. I chose this card over other TV Tuner cards due to the translucent feature allowing me to watch TV while computing on the same screen. Haven't seen this feature demonstrated so I don't know how well it works in the real world.

7. SoundCard: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro PCI Sound Card. This last item I haven't researched heavily and simply took MaximumPCs suggestion and Tomshardware uses this card in their evaluation of speakers. If I get a sound card right now then I want it to be 7.1 because I want would like to invest in such a sound system in the future. I may just wait on a sound card as my intended use for the next 3-6 months is to simply use the sound from the tv or my monitor speakers since this will be mostly of bedroom use until I build an entertainment system. Does anyone know how to broadcast video signals wirelessly to from my PC in another room to my TV in the living room? I can wait to purchase as prices fall and technology changes. Also, I want to find to choose a card that works well with voice recognition software and not sure if this card does that yet as I need to check out the forums on Naturally Speaking's website.

Thanks for any input on the selection of components that I have made as I may not have considered all factors. In addition, input on building or things to be concerned about please let me know. Is there anything else that I need to buy to build it besides basic tools, anti-static wrist strap and gel/pad to adhere processor? Any suggestions on adhering the processor as I don't want to fry it?
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More about proposed tivo like media center system
  1. I have a suggestion: Go with a Micro ATX desktop that more closely resembles your home stereo, and a REAL motherboard/power supply.

    <font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
  2. Could you please post a weblink to the Micro ATX that you are refering to so that I may compare the motherboards and power supply.
  3. It seems you are going a little high end for a "Tivo" system. You could cut back on a lot of those items--such as the Audigy or 250GB SATA.
  4. Consider your options! Tom's has done several case review, including a recent Micro ATX review. There are several ATX and Micro ATX cases that are well suited to home theater racks:

    ATX style:
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Ahanix</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">another Ahanix</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Antec</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Silverstone (natural aluminum)</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Silverstone (black)</A>

    Micro ATX:
    <A HREF="" target="_new">
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Powmax (silver)</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Powmax (black)</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Maxtop</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">Athenatech (looks good laying on side for HTPC)</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new"> Athenatech (lay this one down too)</A>

    That low profile Silverstone case turns the cards sideways using rizer cards, but still offers compatability with standard Micro ATX boards. It's over 1 inch shorter than an SFF box!

    And those are just a few of the choices from Newegg. Look around, you'll see more!

    <font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
  5. Hi Jp5,
    What components would you recommend that are cheaper and that still offer good performance. Please let me know the reasons you pick each component. I admit that I am going a little high end on some components yet I want to make sure that my computer is still revelant in 3-4 years. It will be interesting to see what components you switch and with which.

    It seems you are going a little high end for a "Tivo" system. You could cut back on a lot of those items--such as the Audigy or 250GB SATA.
  6. I just built a lesser but equally tivo like system for my sister. I looked at various keyboards. I chose the

    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A> Ultra.

    I’ve played a few games and I found no problems with it even in the other room. My nephew on the other hand has blamed the controller and keyboard for game errors. He is 9. I’m not saying it’s the best but it is a darn good product. Staples has them on sale this untill the 24th for $69 (rebates) so shop today or tomorrow if interested. I spent the $99 retail price. The wireless gyroscopic mouse feature rules compared to the 9600 remote mouse feature.

    <A HREF=",3973,1128548,00.asp" target="_new">Review</A>

    Dichromatic for your viewing plesure...
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