For some, an HTPC is nothing more than a media player, while others will load them up with multiple tuner cards to record television programs. However, the most capable HTPC will also be able to serve as a gaming console. While we'll leave the Blue-ray playback and media organization topics for explorations of the hardware, specifically, we'll certainly load up on the components that'll help evaluate the thermal and acoustical characteristics of each case.
Building a gaming powerhouse requires a solid processor, which we got by overclocking our Core i7-920 to 3.33 GHz on the Asus Rampage II Gene. The motherboard proved itself extremely capable in its review, surpassing the stability and performance of many full-sized competitors.
Cooling is the reason for such a modest overclock on a solid motherboard like Asus'. Because our LGA 1366-compatible performance coolers were all over 6” tall, Intel’s standard unit was forced to take the heat.
Gigabyte’s 2GB GeForce GTX 285 assures adequate gaming power while remaining quiet at low loads, such as movie viewing, when you’d want it to be unobtrusive.
Enormous storage capacity is the most basic requirement of a video-archiving machine, so we threw in two 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black hard drives.
Corsair’s CMPSU-850HX is a little overkill for a single graphics card, yet its 80 PLUS Gold efficiency rating and ultra-low operating noise at medium loads made it a good choice for our specific configuration.