I build my first MCE a few years ago and since then not looked back – despite a few of my screw ups. In our household the MCE is used a lot and it really has changed the way we watch TV. One starts taking things for granted such as the ability pause live TV or rewind when you did not quite catch the last dialogue. And this was brought more in focus when during the transition from the old MCE to the new MCE (more on that in a second).
I decided to build another MCE– mainly as the old MCE had started dying. It was not dead (yet), but had started to hobble towards its grave. There were a few things which were bugging, such as:
- Every few minutes the display card would stop for a second or two and then start working on its own – and the frequency of this occurrence was slowly increasing.
- I already had changed the memory once as it got corrupt. Also this was only 1 GB and Vista was quite slow.
- Disk space while not an issue was something to keep an eye on.
- Channels were not being changed reliably – which meant you had to remember to change the channel to whatever before say going to bed at night so it can can record that program, etc.
I wanted to buy a MCE instead of building it and had my eye on the Sony TP Series – which in my opinion is a beauty. Unfortunately, the sales guys were not sure if this can be used with Sky (that’s Satellite TV for those not familiar). I did not want to buy it and then if it did not work get in the whole hassle of returning it.
So I decide to build one again. Looks were important as this sits in the living room and cannot look like a “computer”. Also efficiency and noise both were important. Wanted this to be green and quite.
Here is the config of the new MCE:
- Case: Moneual 932 case which has a 7 inch LCD Touch Screen built in.
- Power Supply: Zalman Z500 Heat Pipe cooled PSU
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EG45M-DS2H iG45 Socket 775 with Onboard VGA 8 channel audio mATX. I wanted a G45 chipset mobo which could do HDTV and had a fanless northbridge.
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33 Ghz
- RAM: Corsair 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Kit CL5 1.9V
- HDD: 2 x Western Digital 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache – OEM Green Power
- DVD Drive – I had originally gone for a BluRay drive, but because of the layout of motherboard in the case, could not get that to fit (more on that another time) so used an existing DVD drive I had. I don’t have HDTV, so not having BluRay drive is not a deal breaker in any case.
- Graphics Card: Sapphire HD 3450 512MB DDR2 VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card. The mobo on board graphics card is quiet powerful (for MCEs) but it only has one VGA out and I needed two – one for the TV and one of the touch screen on that case. Hence why i got this fanless graphics card.
- TV Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV HVR1300
I got Win 7 RC1 running on it without any issues and its lovely! I have pictures I took along the way and will be uploading them here sometime soon.