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Published on October 23rd, 2012 | by John I.

Performance and power requirements for a media centre pc

These days there is an immense amount of options when it comes to who or what provides you with quality television. There is no question that for live sports you need one of the main stream providers otherwise “LIVE” isn’t going to be a feature. But if all you do is watch TV shows and movies is a standard television package the right thing for you, and are you getting value for money?

Freeview these days often can be brought to your living room by simply paying your TV licence and then buying a simple decoder, some people choose to expand this with a box that can offer recording of Freeview for when you are at work or out of the house.
But what is a step further than this if you aren’t a sports fan? The answer to this question is becoming ever more popular among tech buffs and with a little ingenuity you can build a media centre TV at a fraction of the cost of ready-made ones which can be personalized to your linking!


What will you need?

  • Micro ATX or Mini ITX motherboard. These are the perfect size motherboard for this kind of project. Most of them come with Intel atom pre-installed processors which are fan-less and many have Nvidia ION gpus making them perfect for a TV box as this offers perfect quality video and a very low power consumption. It is worth mentioning that AMD offer another great alternative, their most recent fan-less CPU offers a buffer between computing power and graphics rendering power making it possible to get greater video rendering as soon as required.
  • Since these cards have built in graphics (on-board) and a low profile CPU heat-sink they can go in fashionable low profile cases.
  • There is a massive variety of cases for this kind of set up. I personally recommend looking through Amazon as there you can pretty much get anything, including cases with touch screen displays.
  • Fan-less PSU this might seem less obvious but if you are going to be using your media centre PC for watching television on you are not going to want a constant background whir of a fan. You can either do this by getting a rather expensive PSU with a gigantic heat sink instead of a fan but this will not fit inside your mini ITX case so you are going to need a Pico ATX PSU which has a “brick” style power adapter rather like a laptop and this can easily be converted with a few cables to a full ATX PSU connector. Luckily you can get away with this as your motherboard and CPU are so low power.
  • TV card! This will allow you to watch and record live TV! You might want to choose one with multiple inputs so that you can watch and record at the same time.
  • For storage you are going to want a SSD. These may have a low capacity but they make your whole system lightning fast
  • Remote control, there are plenty of USB remote controls for windows media centre that do not costa a fortune that give you a massive deal of functionality.

OPTIONAL Fan less GPU, if your pre-installed motherboard graphics are not good enough you might want to get a larger graphics card but remember to make sure it only has a heats ink on it and not a fan so that there is no whirring sound when you watch my TV.

Written by Jack Cornwall. Stay tuned for his next article on how to set up your media centre PC to get the most out of it.



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