so i'm planning(plotting is more like it 😉 to build an HTPC/media-server and i've come
up with two possible paths:
1) a Shuttle based system(looking at the x48 with a 9300 or 9450, an hd4870 and a
couple TB of disks)
2) a more expandable system(quad 9300 or 9450, an hd4870 or a 9800gtx+ and a
I'd probably do some casual gaming(NFS, unreal and whatever the kids want like
harry potter, etc.) in addition to the HTPC functions. The Shuttle is appealing because
I wouldn't do much to it once it's completed, except for maybe e-sata expansion after
I use up all the HD mounts. The more expandable system would be a bit more
expensive, but allow for upgrades as things got obsoleted or expire.
So my questions for all you experts are:
1) if you were designing a Shuttle based media center, would you go for the
latest(x48) for longevity(upgrade-wise) or tried-and-true chipset(p35) for stability?
2) any thoughts on 790i ultra SLI vs. an Xfire mobo now that they're pretty
closely matched? i'd be starting out single-GPU but would prefer the option of
SLI/Xfire in the future.
3) media-center folks: do you watch TV/cable/satellite on the PC, or do you pipe
the video from the PC to your tv/hdtv? do you use an HDMI switch?
4) W.A.F. - Wife Acceptance Factor: for those of you with htpc/media centers,
was looks an important factor in choosing a case, or was it all ok as long as it
worked and wasn't hideous?
I am planning much the same thing you are sans the Shuttle part. The reason I am not going that route is the F.A.F. Female acceptance factor. IE my sister that I am building it for. A lot of people care what it looks like in the entertainment center/living room. I have pretty much decided on a Silverstone HTPC case. Another important factor, to me, is heat and noise. You cram that Shuttle with that much stuff and going to get hot. Just my opinion though. As far as I know, SLI still outperforms CF for now. If that's changed someone post and let me/us know. And personally, I would go for the DDR2 based P35. DDR3 is still too expensive and unless you buy the fastest and most expensive DDR3 it's slower. Again thats just my opinion though. I will post a link to the Silverstone case I am looking at. There are some good pics of it to look at. I hope some of this helps.
1) Id go for the newer one. Although shuttles are a bit limiting. You can find some nice microatx cases that are not much bigger that shuttles for cheaper and they are much more expandable.
2)Crossfire is getting much better. I think it almost comes to personal preference with the 9800gtx+ and 4850. you wont be disappointed eather way.
3)I use the switch build into my tv to switch from pc/cable box. I do watch movies and play games from my computer to the tv.
4) There are some nice looking cases around that can meet anyones needs. Look around at newegg or frozencpu. Include your wife in the case decision. Grab 5 or 6 that meet your needs and let her pick the one that she likes.
Oh and welcome to HotHardware.
Bob's right on all points. If you go to FrozenCPU, make sure the wife sees the prices as she looks. LOL. A lot of the really nice looking cases can start at $500 and go up.