PVR’s and HTPC’s have become much more than simple media players. You can game on them and, if you really want, you can even get some work done on them.
Last year, BYOPVR ran an extensive guide to creating your own media setup. This year, we’re going to focus exclusively on custom builds. Simply because they are the most versatile, so will give you the most fun in the long run.
Internet and Live TV HTPC
The first build, by Clay Montgomory, focuses on getting the PVR part right. There’s a lot of information in the guide for configuring the software, so definitely take a look.
In this article, I’m focusing on the hardware. Clay uses a larger Silverstone case, which has the advantage that you have a larger choice of components and that there’s more room to extend if the harddrive (inevitably) becomes too small.
Here are the most important components:
- Silverstone Tek GD04B-USB3.0 Aluminum Front Panel and SECC Body Micro ATX HTPC Computer Case with 2X USB3.0 Front Ports Cases (Black)
- Seasonic S12II-380Bronze 380W ATX Power Supply
- ASUS P8H77-M/CSM LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
- Intel Core i3-3225 Dual-Core Processor 3.3 GHz 3 MB Cache LGA 1155 – BX80637i33225
- Pick a tuner that matches your cable subscription. This one uses the free signal (ATSC/clear QAM): SiliconDust HDHomeRun DUAL High Definition Digital TV Tuner HDHR3-US (Black)
Small, Low Power HTPC, Ready for Gaming
This build, by Jeff Atwood, is aimed at low power consumption. However due to the massive power that the hardware manufacturers can put into their components these days, it’s also a fairly good gaming machine. The trade-off? There’s no tuner, so no recording of live TV.
With Steam’s Big Picture mode and their upcoming Steam Machines, I’m sure we are going to see a lot more of these builds.
The components that matter:
- Antec ISK 310-150 Black Mini-ITX Desktop Computer Case 150 Watt Power Supply
- PicoPSU-90 + 60W Adapter Power Kit Cyncronix Rating
- ASROCK B85M-ITX -LGA1150 Intel B85 Chipset DDR3 SATA3 USB3.0 Mini-ITX Motherboard
- Intel I3-4130T 2.90 3 LGA 1150 Processor BX80646I34130T
The Hacker’s Media Server and HTPC
This final build is for those who want full control, don’t mind playing around in Linux and would like to do some case modding.
Benoit Frigon’s setup consists of a home media server and a separate HTPC. It does contain a few items that you can’t just pick of the shelve. But that’s what makes this build stand out from the others.
The media server components.
- Start from any hardware that you’ve got left over. This is a customized version of iStarUSA D Value D-118V2-ITX 1U Rackmount Mini-ITX Server Chassis (Black)
- Intel DN2800MT Marshalltown Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard – BLKDN2800MT
- A popular ATSC/clear QAM recording option: Hauppauge 1229 WinTV-HVR-2250 White Box for System Builders Dual Hybrid PCI-E TV Tuner Board
- Modded version of the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 2000, but, again, just pick whatever hardware you’ve got left and never use.
- Intel Desktop Board DH61AG Thin Mini-ITX
- And another vote for Intel’s i3: Intel Core i3-2100 Dual-Core Processor 3.1 GHz 3 MB Cache LGA 1155 – BX80623I32100