Build a Media Center PC…

So I just built my very first media center PC and man was it a pain! Most computer builds are simple but between heat and noise issues I found this build very frustrating.

First I had to find a case, not just any case but a case that would match or look good with my Harmon Kardon receiver, HD PVR, TV, etc. I also wanted to the case to lay flat rather then stand like a regular desktop, after all I wasn’t building a desktop! So shopping at my regular destination(s) Memory Express, Future Shop and Mushkin’s online website the fun began.

The parts I purchased are as follows:

  • Case = Silverstone LC-13E
  • Power Supply= Rocket Fish 700 watt (I work at Future Shop so the price was right!)
  • Processor = Intel Quad Core 9300
  • Memory/RAM = 8GB of Mushkin DDR3 10066
  • Hard Drive(s) = Two Seagate 320GB (configured in RAID 0)
  • Video Card = Passive Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 512 GB GDDR3
  • LG Super Multi Combo Blue-ray/HD DVD-ROM
  • ATI 550 Pro TV Tuner
  • Zalman CNPS7500-CULED (CPU cooler)
  • Microsoft Multimedia 7000 Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit (upgraded to SP2)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (latest updates applied)

Now originally I started with the stock Intel heatsink and a Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 1GB GDDR3… but I soon found out that the Intel stock heatsink wasn’t going to cut it (big surprise) and that the 4850 produced to much heat for this case. To be perfectly honest this Media Center has some overkill parts in it! Parts like the Quad Core, 8 GB of memory/RAM and a 4850… So based on the initial build and results I swapped out the 4850 for the 4670, after all I am not going to be playing video games on my big screen as I prefer my desktop. I may eventually want to upgrade but I doubt it, I have to keep reminding myself that the media center is for movies, music and maybe some surfing.

Performance wise I am very happy, between Intel’s raw processing power and ATI’s graphic processing power this puppy flys. Thanks to the built in HDMI/7.1 on the HD 4670 both video and audio is amazing! I configured my hard drives in RAID 0 for ultimate read performance, after all I am streaming media from my server which is on a gigabyte LAN (home network) which means I don’t have to worry about data redundancy. The 320 GB hard drives configured in RAID 0 might be overkill for a media center but the speed and capacity is very appealing. As for the memory/ram well I figure that as everything starts going 64-bit it makes sense to buy all the same memory at the same speed.

Overall I am happy with the end results. I have a media center that looks and sounds wonderful on my Samsung 40″ 5 Series LCD and Klipcsh/Harmon Kardon 7.1 Surround Sound! If I were to build a media center again I would probably recommend doing more research on cases as I find the Silverston LC-13E cramped and doesn’t cool as well as I would like. I might be expecting to much in the way of cooling but the cooler you can keep the case the longer your hardware will last!

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