So for Christmas I really only wanted one of two things. Either a used Nook or a new HTPC so I could finally move my desktop back to where it belongs, my desk. I missed the Nook refurbs on Ebay so I took my search to craigslist.org. While I’ve had great luck in the past using craigslist for finding stuff this time was less then stellar. The few people that were selling were wanting too much in my opinion. So after talking to my wife about it, we decided it was time for me to build a proper HTPC.
I’ve had a wish list going on newegg.com since may of this year. I’d update it with newer parts or a better case to suit my needs but never had the money to fit it into our budget at the time. After talking with my wife I got motivated to finish it and buy it. (An hour after I purchased everything, B&N put their refurbed nooks on sale again, oh well.)
So I ended up going with a Athlon II X2 because when monitoring performance on my triple core desktop, CPU usage was never very high, even while watching 720p mkv files. I went with the 500gb 2.5″ drive for heat and noise reasons and couldn’t be happier with the performance for the price. I’m not too thrilled with my case selection only because the stock case fan is too noisy. I’m planning on replacing that and the cpu fan with much quieter models before moving it all to the entertainment center in my living room. The case had decent build quality and I didn’t have too many space issues except where the ATX power plug is on the motherboard is directly below the back of the DVD drive.
My total build time was around 4 hours from unpacking to being able to watch live tv in MCE. I’d much rather have a 64gb SSD for OS to speed up the boot and switching between MCE/Boxee/Hulu Desktop/XBMC but I can live with the few seconds during transitions.
I’ve spent time since cleaning up MCE with Media Center Studio by applying a beautiful theme, cleaning up the menus a bit removing stuff we don’t use. Automatic logon for Windows 7 is much needed for any HTPC that uses a password (I use one because I map shares from my WHS).
Overall I’m very happy with my purchase and build. In the next few months I’m hoping to upgrade the DVD drive to a blu-ray drive and replace the case fan and heatsink/fan for the CPU with much quieter alternatives. I did ask my wife how she liked it and she said she didn’t even know I had swapped it out. So I guess I did my job well enough.