So I've embarked on my first HTPC/DVR build. I've decided to go with the <a href="http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=15130">Antec Aria</a> case since it seems to be the best compromise between size, flexibility (will take any standard micro-ATX mobo), and appearance (gotta get the wife on board with this project too, and she's adamant that it can't "look like a PC"
My first choice for mobo was the <a href="http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p_spec.asp?model=K7N2GM2-LSR&class=mb">MSI K7N2GM2</a>, as it appears to have a near-ideal set of features for this application. Onboard video with integrated TV encoder, temperature controlled CPU fan header, and SATA (I figure the thinner SATA cables will be a plus with the cramped quarters inside the Aria case). Unfortunately, the K7N2GM2 I received from Newegg was defective; my trials and tribulations with that board are described in <a href="http://www.techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=26006">this thread</a>. Rather than delay the build until I receive the replacement (it was RMAed yesterday), I decided to proceed using a <a href="http://www.dfi.com.tw/Product/xx_product_spec_details_r_us.jsp?PRODUCT_ID=1960&CATEGORY_TYPE=MB&SITE=NA">DFI KM400-MLV</a> I had on hand instead. No integrated TV-out, and no temp controlled CPU fan header... but otherwise it is similar to the MSI board. Ultimately I plan to build a 2nd (even smaller) unit for the family room using one of the <a href="http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc04.htm">Silverstone low-profile cases</a>, so I'll be able to use the replacement MSI board for that instead.
I'm using an Athlon XP 2100+ CPU and 512MB stick of DDR that I had on hand; I also ordered a Thermaltake Volcano 10+ low-profile copper HSF from Newegg. A Hitachi 160GB SATA hard drive and NEC 3540A DVD burner round out the complement of hardware.
Setup of the DFI board has been trouble-free so far. It isn't installed in the Aria case yet, but I've got the <a href="http://justbrewit.net/trstuff/dvrbuild1.jpg">hardware hooked up</a> and the OS installed, and have been running burn-in tests. (I used the integrated video for the initial setup and testing... I'll install an AGP card with TV-out capabilities when I install it in the Aria case.)
Question: Anyone know if a Radeon 7000 will be good enough for video playback? I've got one on hand, and it is passively cooled (two things in its favor). It would be nice if I don't need to buy a video card...
I also checked out the KM400-MLV's onboard 5.1 audio, not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised; it actually seems good enough that I'm considering not bothering with a PCI soundcard.
I'll continue posting updates on this thread as the build proceeds.