2009 HTPC components and specs

  • Motherboard: ASUS AT3N7A-I $155

    • RAM: PQI Turbo 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 $50

    • HD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 320 GB 7200 SATA $50

    • Case: APEX MI-008 Mini-ITX $40

    • Case fan: Yate Loon Low Speed 120mm (28dBa,47CFM) $4

    • PSU: picoPSU-90 $33 and 80W AC-DC power brick $25

    • Cheap DVD burner

    • Free copy of Ubuntu!

I set out to create a low power living room computer capable of smooth HD playback. This system was built in September of ‘09 and has been running in the living room almost non-stop since then. So here is a follow-up on what I like and where I went wrong.

The best choice for a low power HD capable ITX motherboard was (and possibly still is) based on an ION 330. At the time I was teetering between the ASUS and a Zotac IONITX-A-U. The Zotac has an included 90-watt power supply and wireless-N but no PCI slots. The ASUS has bluetooth but lacks wireless or power supply. Wish I purchased the Zotac.

The ASUS CPU fan is not quiet. The built-in bluetooth will not work with current drivers. The case rattles if I wedge the 120mm fan in the side. Regardless, I love this little thing! It’s not loud enough to be annoying (with chassis open and 120mm fan resting on top). Plus it plays videos flawlessly and uses very little power. I used XBMC on it for awhile but favor Boxee much more lately. The apps that come with Boxee are great and the user interface is pretty darn good as well. For now the whole thing works well.