Reader How Tos: Build a PC for TV

How To Build A PC For TV, Continued

The SS51G will cost you at least $300 [all prices are from PriceGrabber], but you can probably save expense with the Chieftec Flex-Net ($41) and, for example, an Asus P4B533-VM ($113). That said, however, you must then find a low profile AGP card to purchase, which can be difficult. If you decide to build your own system, do some homework by reading about what is available. Make sure you get the outputs and PCI/ AGP slots that are compatible and what you want. Also, make sure your motherboard is at least USB 2.0, as there will be loads of add-ons available soon for USB 2.0. For example, you may need your drive bay for only a Creative Live! Drive to remotely access your MP3 files.

The front and back of the SS51G.

Here, you can see the SS51G case in "barebones" mode. Does this look good enough for your living room? Better ask your spouse first, since you don't want to spend big bucks on a great looking case that will be hidden away in a cupboard.

One PCI slot, an AGP slot, Firewire, USB 2.0, 5.1 channel audio with SPDIF in/ out and 100Mbit LAN should be enough to meet my needs, and it looks good compared to the other alternatives.

Chieftech Flex-Net and In-Win offerings. These were the other Case choices. My girlfriend responded to these with a resounding "NO!"

So, I selected the case and motherboard, and now I need the other key parts. What type of CPU do I need? I do want enough power to play games, but I don't want to spend all of my remaining budget on the CPU. Also, the CPU can't produce much heat, as I want my system to be quiet. I could even "underclock" a CPU with 533 MHz FSB to get a lower temperature. The Celeron processor is cheap, is fabricated in 0.18my process, and the 1.8 GHz Celeron radiates 66.1Watts. (The 2 GHz version became available when I was writing this article. It should also be considered, since it is based on the 0.13my process). The 2.26 GHz P4 radiates only 56.0Watts at 533 MHz FSB, and I would venture that it runs somewhat cooler at 400 MHz FSB. As a compromise, I chose the 2.4 GHz SL67Z with 533 MHz FSB, in case I decided to underclock it. The 2.4 GHz is also a good choice from both a price and a performance perspective.