The HTPC, or Home Theater PC, is a central component of my endeavor. It will be responsible for playing DVDs, playing CDs, playing MP3s (or whatever other encoded music files I have), playing games, scaling video input (from cable, Tivo, whatever) for the projector, playing games, surfing the web, controlling the other theater components, and receiving/decoding IR signals from a remote. That may sound like a pretty tall order, but most of it is enabled by "off-the-shelf" parts.

The PC is built with the following hardware components:

Most of the hardware, in particular the CPU heatsink/fan, hard drive, power supply, and video card, were chosen for the relative quietness. The mainboard was chosen for driver stability, built-in Dolby Digital encoder, builtin S/PDIF output, lack of chipset fan (quiet), and builtin ethernet. The case was chosen because it was cheap and I plan on building a custom aluminum case someday anyway. I also plan on upgrading the CPU eventually as CPU prices are always falling, but the Duron is very capable of running all the software I'm using.

The following software will be used:

The first thing I did when I got all these goodies was to paint everything flat black. I carefully disassembled the DVD drawer, took the LEDs off the inside of the case bezel, sanded the case, and spray painted. I used a vinyl paint on all the plastic and Rustoleum on the metal parts.

As you can see here, the case is very black. In fact, it's so black it seems to be sucking the light out of the picture. It's difficult to see any detail at all.

I'm not sure if you'll get any more out this picture either.

This is a close up of the FrontX ports. I believe they now make a black version but when I bought this all they had was beige.

Here's a shot from above the open case. There's not too much to see since this is a pretty standard PC.

A little better view of the inside. This was taken before the serial and video card were added. You can see the Zalman Flower heatsink/fan.

The PC is very quiet; much quieter than the projector. You can't tell it's on (expect for the lights) when it's in the rack with all the other equipment.

This hardware aspects of this part of the project are done, but much remains to be done in the area of software. I'll probably add more sections to the sight as those areas are explored.