Description

This is my second HTPC build. Besides playing video / audio media, I had a couple of other goals in mind: I wanted to be able to do heavier console emulation (ps1, ps2, dreamcast, xbox) and steam OS gaming / streaming, but keep the power consumption fairly low.

On my old HTPC (HotBox http://pcpartpicker.com/b/G7Cypg), I liked using Windows Server as my operating system because it comes pre-configured with remote desktop (as a feature anyway). Remoting into the HTPC, with an administrator account from another desktop or laptop, is ideal in my opinion for organizing media, installing software, or downloading files. Then I created an HTPC_user, with limited privileges, that the HTPC would autolog into. And for that user profile, I replaced windows explorer with XBMC, which it would open directly without showing the desktop. My reasons for this somewhat elaborate setup was due to my fully tweaked video settings. In order to get the best contrast and color out of the display, when XBMC is playing video, my Nvidia adapter would report to the display that it was playing video, which would cause the TV to switch to a mode with optimized settings for video playback. Then once the video ended, the adapter would report the change, so the display went back to another mode with sharper display settings, which makes viewing the desktop and reading text much easier. With each mode change there is a delay though, and the movie would already be playing before the TV "caught up" to use the movie settings, and this delay annoyed me. So, to finally wrap up this long story, Nvidia lets you set the content it reports to the display, at all times. Changing the content to video made the desktop a bit ugly to use directly, but removed the delay because the display no longer had to switch modes. And once I had the video settings the way I wanted, I had the HTPC boot directly into XBMC and did all other tasks remotely anyway.

This time I decided to change the OS to Windows 8.1 due to it's optimizations to run well on lesser hardware and getting desktop applications or drivers for the Windows Server operating systems got annoying. I still wanted my other arrangement: using remote desktop to manage the software and media. That was a little challenge to get set up to allow two different accounts to run at the same time. The link below helped me get there.

Remote desktop for windows 8.1: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/49964-Artoo-s-Inter-Galactic-termsrv-dll-Patcher-Tool%99

After that, I've been working the last few months to get all the emulators configured and running via XBMC. Most are organized and working well, but work continues on the more obscure systems (Itellivision, ColecoVision). Steam was a slam dunk in XBMC by adding the Steam plugin. Transferring between the two with the xbox controller is perfect.

This build has been running pretty much 24/7 since May 2014 to November 2014 and has not had any hardware issues. Also, something important to note is the listed temps are while the HTPC has been running inside the closed entertainment center, which has little airflow for heat to exit. The listed temps might be 5 to 10 degrees lower if I moved it to an open area.

Salvaged parts (from HotBox):

  • G.Skill 4GB
  • OCZ Octane 256GB
  • WD Green 4TB
  • Plextor Blu-Ray
  • Astro A50 headphones

These are some alternative parts I thought of, like if I didn't want to do console emulation, and wanted to reduce my power consumption even further (if going this route, you should also select a lower wattage power supply). Also listed a couple of interesting keyboard / mouse / remote gadgets that I might consider buying, if I get tired of the diNovo mini:

Comments

  • 62 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice description,good selection of parts. That motherboard looks like its bending tough lol +1

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Yeah, bending a little because of the graphics card being secured at the back of the case. It's fine though. :)

  • 56 months ago
  • 2 points

there is a fix from corsair... the problem is the case, not the GPU

http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showpost.php?p=709625&postcount=26

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow, nice find! Thanks!

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

you're welcome!

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow that was great write up! Thanks for the links!

+1

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

I would recommend looking into a higher efficiency power supply to reduce your waste heat a little bit.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Higher than 80+ Gold? Are you serious? Maybe more wattage, but the efficiency rating is very high.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Personally I would have went with a fx 8350 and got a better gpu.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

I've had problems with AMD cpus in the past so I usually stick to intel. What motherboard would you put it on? The speed and the price are good, but the power consumption is much higher than the i5, requiring a higher wattage power supply. A better graphics card usually means higher wattage too, and one of my primary goals was to keep the power usage low, since I leave the HTPC on most of the time.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Would have gotten a mini itx with wifi adapter AM3+ for a build like this. Because, I am assuming you are suing a wifi connection, I would as well. Then with the 90$ left over from getting a cheaper yet still awesome cpu. I would have put the money into getting an r9 285. Its TDP is surprisingly low for a raedon, and also it has great performance and a lot of cool features.

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

so i typed in hotbox.com and took me to a **** website xD

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Bahaha! Man, I'm not sure I want to know what that url will bring up, but I feel my will to resist is slipping to my overwhelming curiosity. ;)

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

LOOL RIGHT