After stumbling onto a TV tuner card called the InfiniTV 4 by Ceton, I decided to try my hand at making a Media Center PC. There was potential to save some money on my cable bill and get some additional functionality that isn’t offered by Cox.
First I needed a PC to put the InfiniTV card in. I didn’t want to install it in my main system as it might end up in the living room. I decided to use a small form factor. The case I chose was a Silverstone ML01 case. It is a nice looking low profile case that supports both mini-ATX and mini-ITX motherboards. It has places to mount either two 3.5″ hard drives or three 2.5″ hard drives. The case does not come with a power supply so I had to add that to the mix. One thing to note, the PSU would need to be no deeper than 5.5 inches to leave room to put a DVD drive in. The DVD would also need to be as short as possible to ensure there would be enough room for cabling.
I picked a Rosewill 400W PSU, in hindsite, I could have used a smaller PSU. Something in the 250W to 300W range would have been find and would run cooler. But this is a nice PSU that has a quiet 120mm fan. The DVD was an ASUS DRW-24B1ST drive (OEM 24x DVD burner). The two worked together to leave just enough room to route the SATA power and data cables between the drive and the PSU.
For the motherboard, I picked the Asrock FM2A75 Pro4-M. It is a mini-ATX form factor board for the AMD FM2 socket. It has all solid state caps. For outputs, it has VGA, DVI and HDMI. It also has an optical sound output, and supports USB3 and eSata. The motherboard fits nicely in the case, but the front panel header is on the front edge of the motherboard. You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, except that the case front panel connector is very tall. The case has a plastic hard drive shelf that goes between the motherboard and the case front. With the front panel header on the front edge and the case connector installed, the drive shelf won’t fit without putting a serious strain on the motherboard. To avoid the strain, I removed the drive shelf.
Fortunately the alternate 3.5″ hard drive mount was under the DVD drive bay. The Seagate Barracuda ST1000Dm003 (1Tb 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s) drive fit there nicely. There are rubber grommets on the mounting holes to reduce drive noise. The grommets work great. I can hardly hear any drive noise.
I put 8Gb of DDR3 memory on the board (Crucial Ballistix Sport low profile DDR3 1600). That was probably overkill, I could have gotten away with 4Gb. Continue reading “My First Media Center PC”