The Build:

Me and the wife have been kicking around the idea of cutting the cord from cable for quite some time. I finally got her to agree when the new price for our Directv kicked it after our 2 year contract ran out (100 bucks a month!)

I wanted to keep the main build around 500 dollars so that once I bought the antenna it would still be under 600 bucks, which would put my ROI around 6 months or so.

The case was pretty easy to work with, I had heard that cable management would be a nightmare, but It wasn't too bad, I did tighten things up a bit after I took the pictures.

The Parts:

So far I am loving the i3-4130T, it is quiet, low power consumption, and everything is running very snappy. I really can't give enough praise to the Intel HD 4400 which is more than enough power to do everything HTPC related. I am playing all of my BluRay rips at full 1080p with full HD audio without a hitch. It even allows me to play a lot more games than I was expecting. It plays all the new and old Lego games, and several other games that should keep the kids busy for a while.

The ASRock H81M is nice, it's small it works well with the case and came with the options that I wanted.

The RAM is just some budget stuff that had some decent timings.

The PSU is great, it's modular and I highly recommend it for this case since it is smaller than most PSUs and it will accommodate a Bluray drive, which a normal sized PSU wouldn't.

The case is beautiful, It looks just like a normal part of the entertainment center, I think it is a lot nicer on the eyes than the box that I had from Directv.

The keyboard is great, but you really need some sort of extender to get it from behind the unit if you want to use it comfortably from the couch. I sit about 9 feet away from my TV, and the reception was horrible until I used a USB extender to get it around the front of the case, now it works great.

The SiliconDust HDHomerun Dual Tuner works great, you have to use their software to set it up initially, but after that Media Center picks up the slack and everything runs beautifully.

The RCA ANT 751 High Quality Durable Compact Outdoor Antenna is great, but I did end up having to purchase an antenna mounted amplifier to get the signal to remain stable, this is due to my semi-remote location though.

The Software:

I went with a Windows 7 media center build. I decided to go this route due to familiarity for my wife and my kids. I was going to try Mythbuntu (and I may still try it later) but I needed to get everything running ASAP to replace the Directv DVR and this was the easiest route, it also lets us use the PC as a gaming console on the main TV.

Media Center's DVR works great, and I couldn't be happier, we can record 2 shows at a time, and I can always buy more tuners to put on my network if needed, but it shouldn't be an issue.

Overall it was a simple build process that works great hooked to our 65" TV. I still have some kinks to work out with filling in the gaps from the missing cable channels, (prob will subscribe to Hulu Plus) but other than that I could not be happier.


  • 71 months ago
  • 2 points

I like it! It looks at home in your setup, congrats on your build! Less than $600 for a home grown DVR, Media storage box that can grow with you, looks amazing, and has high quality internals!

If you wanted to play around with other input devices, I saw this Lenovo mouse and keyboard combo on someones HTPC video: I think I like the K400 better, but I like to point stuff like this out anyway in case it catches anyones fancy.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, I have looked at those keyboards in the past they are pretty sweet.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Looks nice in your TV stand, the brushed look gives it a nice high-end feel. I'd say you did a nice job with cable management.

I just got a smart Blu-Ray player and got it setup to stream files from PC over my home network off my PC using DLNA but when I'm ready to ditch paid TV service, I may go this route.

  • 71 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, it really wasn't as bad as some if the reviews were saying it would be for cable management

  • 71 months ago
  • 2 points

Most would probably disagree with me, but unless you have a windowed case or cabling could affect airflow, that's far less important than any other feature of a case anyhow.

  • 68 months ago
  • 1 point

Please list all of the functions of your media centre. I understand you are using it to record TV, so are finding limitations with only 1TB HD? Are you also serving media with it? If so, to what?