Building Your Home Theater Around the PC


For the platform, we recommend a small form factor PC for Intel socket 478 processors. That will let you choose a Celeron 4 processor with 533 MHz system bus, which has good enough performance and is low-priced. The sweet spot now is a Celeron 4 at 2.4 GHz, which has plenty of headroom for the tasks you're going to throw at it. You will need at least 256 MB of DDR memory, but if you can, get 512 MB. You'll also need a brand-name DVD player. The hard disk will store your recordings, video, music and photos. A 120 GB capacity will be good for a start.

That leaves the graphics card, which has to meet two criteria: it shouldn't have a cooling fan, to reduce noise, and it has to have a DVI output to connect it a TV or projector. Get the least expensive model you can that uses an NVIDIA or ATI chipset, since 3D isn't important because the machine won't be used for games. With an entry-level graphics card and a video projector (about which we will go into detail later) connected via DVI, you'll get a picture at least as good as that of a good living-room DVD with an analog connection. You can adapt the resolution of the PC exactly to the native resolution of your video projector