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Thread: My Home Theater PC Hardware

  1. #1
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    Default My Home Theater PC Hardware

    Aware of the fact that my current PC was celebrating it's first birthday, it seemed only right to waste my hard earned cash on a shiny new system. But after spending far too much time specing out a new PC, I decided to stick with my existing rig - put simply, I couldn't justify upgrading a relatively new system for the sake of a few saved seconds of encoding time.

    With this unaccustomed attitude, I was soon frivously specing out a small form factor PC that would replace my DVD player, Video Recorder and gamecube. Hey, I'd saved myself a small fortune by not upgrading my PC, so the least I could do as reward was to build a new one. At the same time, my existing system could be reserved for the more refined practices of video editing and web design.

    I once again found myself specing out a new system. But this time performance was less of an issue. This time a was out to buy a budget, compact system. I'd been looking at the shuttle bare-bone PCs for a while and now I had the perfect excuse to buy one.

    But I was looking at building a multimedia PC, and a short search led me to the MEGA 180 from MSI. This was perfect and before long I'd settled on the following setup:

    MSI Mega 180 Deluxe
    Kingston HyperX 512MB (2x256MB) DDR PC2700
    Samsung SP1213N 120GB 8MB Cache
    AMD Athlon "Barton" XP3000+ 333FSB
    Philips DVRRW200 (lying around on my shelf)

    All ordered from www.overclockers.co.uk and deliverd a day after. After taking a while to read the manual (yer, right) I was soon assembling this unit and marvelling at its size (about a quarter the size of my full tower PC). It was perhaps the easiest PC I've ever assembled, but this was before I'd decided to upgrade from onboard VGA.

    I'd been dissapointed by the graphics peformance of the on board graphics supplied by the nVIDIA nFORCE2 chipset and the its TVout performance - one of the main reasons for assembling the unit was to play PES3. This is where the problems began.

    Without a card in the AGP slot, the idle temperature of the CPU was 37C. Nothing really special and meant the CPU fan was almost inaudible. The addition of the graphics card upped this idle temperature by 5C to 42-44C. The reason? Well, the fans ontop of the CPU act by sucking in cold air on one side and blower it out the other. With a hot grahics card right next to it, its warm, not cool, air thats dran accross it.

    However, maximum CPU temperatures actually decreased in Pro Evo. I haven't had the chance to see how high the temps go after prelonged use but I've not been much above 60C and I'm happy with that (I think the absolute max is 90C for barton AMDs, so although its high, after allowing for an error margin, it's not terminal - I hope!). Many people on the official MSI forums are talking about the temperature issue, and I think this may be something I will have to address.

    The installation of the card in the AGP slot itself was traumatic. I'd firstly experimented with my dual DVI card, but the second DVI slot meant there was no way the card was going to slide in. So I eventually opted for a card with a D-sub connection at the to allow the card to slide it. The card was a Asus Radeon 9600XT which vastly improved video performance and the TVout quality.

    That's the system specs. After I'm happy with the system temperature issue, I shall add a digital TV card such as WinTV Nova to create a fully featured PC. Then it's a matter of settling on the software...

  2. #2

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    As for your cooling situation, I've known of a couple of people who have cut out a big piece of their SFF PC's side panel and replaced it with a layer of mesh, to improve ventilation. They all found that doing so lowered their CPU temperatures by 3-8 degrees C.

  3. #3
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    The ventilation on the Mega PC (i.e the holes in the case) is pretty good. It also runs pretty hot with the case off Kinda wished I'd gone for the ATC-620 case with a microATX mobo now.

  4. #4
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    Right, that does it - I wish I'd spent the same money on a Coolermaster ATCS 600 plus a BIOSTAR M7NCG-400. Same money, much better looks, lower temps

    Pleeeeeeeeeeeease someone send me one for "review" LOL

  5. #5
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    Just for the record, I ended up taking out the Radeon 9600XT and puting it in my main machine - meaning I now have a dual DVI ti4200 on my shelf LOL

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