attribute: Phillie Casablanca

My new (Ion) HTPC



My life until recently has been silent. Not for lack of family interaction, or stuff to do at work, but musically. All our music was on my 'old' pc which kicked the bucket late last year.

It was connected to my panasonic SAPM37MD book-shelf stereo via USB, and also connected to our TV. And served as a media pc with all our music and several videos.

When it went out so did the music.

I finally had a free weekend to hit akihabara and quickly grab parts to throw together a new home-theater pc.

My HTPC requirements aren't that many:
- play music (using itunes -- much of my music is ripped to apple lossless)
- play divx/xvid
- Shared File storage
- output to 1080p (the TV) via DVI (or HDMI)
- at least as quiet as the dead pc (when it ran), silent is best.

That's it. Simple enough right?

In my early saturday morning search for a motherboard I found the ION platform.
This is a intel atom processor paired with a NVIDIA ION GPU, complete with a fan-less heatsink!
http://www.zotac.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=331&Itemid=1

I was looking for the "IONITX-B-D?" (On-board DC Power just plug in a brick and you've got a silent pc), but couldn't find it anywhere. I finally found a "IONITX-B-E" which is the same board with a standard ATX power plug. (Might have the models reversed)

http://www.zotac.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=483

The IONITX-A-# series was available, but I didn't need wifi, and I don't think I need the power (?).

This is my first SATA board, and I have several IDE drives I wanted to re-use. I decided to reuse one as the os so I found a SATA-IDE adapter for about $15. Since this is my 'storage' pc, I wanted to add an additional drive. I was happliy supprised to find that you can pick up 1TB SATA drive for under $100. I grabbed a 1TB HITACHI OEM drive for about $80. Plus a 2GB stick of ram for $30.

It's so nice to shop for pc parts after years of not looking, everything is so cheap now!!

After finding the board, picking up the fillers (HDD, RAM) is easy. The hard part about putting this together was the case. (Keep in mind I'm doing this all in one afternoon in akihabara, with the goal of putting it together that evening at home)

The case requirements:
- Powersupply included (mainly a price thing)
- Plenty of ventilation
- Space for 2 full sized Hard drives.
- Space for 1 optical drive
- not ugly!

I settled on something close to this:
http://www.faith-go.co.jp/parts/detail/?id=105508

This is the closest in size and color. My case is actually nicer. No cheap looking round power button, and nice glossy black front with spring-drive bay cover.

It came with a single case fan and a powersupply.

Putting it all together.

Everything went pretty painless, plugging everything together worked fine, everything booted on initial go. The one thing that bothered me was the case fan noise.

So thinking I went to canabalize my old pc for parts.
I've got a fan speed controller on my old pc, so I pulled that off to use it, only to find that the case fan on the new case uses a IDE power connector and the speed controller uses a standard case-fan power connector. Ok, so first I pulled off my old case fan. After installing and booting it up, I still wasn't happy with the fan noise. I was getting set to give up for now and go buy a 'quieter' fan some other time, until I realized that my old pc's CPU fan was the same size as the case fan, and probably quieter.

It was.

Now my music is back up and the box is not completely silent, but probably more quiet than the old pc was.

My next goals are:

- Get a remote, I'd like to try Windows Media Center or XBMC (http://xbmc.org/)
- Get file sharing working with the other pcs (laptops connecting via WIFI) in the house
- Setup a web-server on it for home applications


monkut // July 2, 2009 // 9:18 a.m.