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Building An HTPC

How To: Build An HTPC (With Windows 7)

Here’s the great thing: putting together an HTPC is just like building any other computer system. You start with an empty chassis. You snap in the custom I/O plate for the MSI motherboard (the back of the board looks nothing like you’ve ever seen on a desktop PC before) and install the motherboard. Drop the CPU and memory in next, leaving the expansion cards for later. While you still have a nice, open chassis to work in, connect the chassis’ USB and FireWire headers, along with the front-panel audio connectors and power/reset switch leads.

Next, slide in the power supply, which should have plenty of room. Our Corsair unit’s cables are all plenty long enough to reach to reach the components we’ve installed and will be installing. Right off the bat, plug in the ATX and +12V auxiliary connectors.

Given the compact nature of the HTPC 1000B chassis, it’s a good idea to get storage installed next. If you drop in the amplifier add-in card, you won’t have enough room to slide out the case’s storage shelf. The enclosure is truly meant to house 3.5” hard drives, not 2.5” SSDs. So, we installed Seagate’s 500 GB PipelineHD drive as AMD shipped the system and screwed in the 5.25” Blu-ray DVD drive as well. With the drive shelf propped up, connect power and data cables before sliding the arrangement into place.

Almost finished. The only step left is dropping in the add-in cards—here, just the TV Wonder and MSI amplifier card. There is a PCI Express x16 slot available for a mainstream graphics card, if you’re looking to game. But for our purposes, the integrated Radeon HD 3200 core is ample. Note that the five-channel card runs the full length of our micro-ATX motherboard and will block two of its four SATA ports if you don’t connect them prior to adding the card. Additionally, it requires auxiliary power from a four-pin Molex plug.

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