Since the beginning of time, (or at least that’s how long it feels like it’s been) wherever the word Media Server has been said, there has always been the reply “Why would you buy that when I could just build my own?” Last weekend my friend Joseph Travinksy and I got into what I like to refer as “Who is a bigger nerd” or HTPC’s vs. Media Servers. We always have this conversation because he knows I am an Integrator at Vsys Automation and has heard my whole speech about why Media servers are better, Etc… So during one of our heated debates I thought I would type out some of his thoughts on the subject and give him a voice on this site so that you could hear his story on HTPC’s, and you can comment with your thoughts.
An HTPC, apparently is just as good or better (in some peoples minds not my own) than owning a Media Server. I would love to make this post about an epic battle between the two but that is another story entirely. This is about how to build your own HTPC and what you can do with one. Joe had this to say on the subject:
“If you can’t afford 40k a good Kaleidescape system, or you want more control over your system and you are some what computer literate, then you could always build your own HTPC. An HTPC is a home theater personal computer. You can build it for under 800 dollars. You will also now have access to Windows Games, emulators, and potentially Netflix instant streaming video, as well as any other internet streaming video web sites. Using Xbox 360 systems as routers, you can access your media from the server using Windows Media Center.
If you decide to spend a little more on your HTPC build, this will add an extremely better gaming aspect to your HTPC. I’m an avid emulator buff and I love playing all the games from my youth. Thanks to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, you can purchase a Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver and use the wireless Xbox 360 controllers as game pads. This removes the wires out of the equation, makes it easier to play, and looks cooler. You can also use those controllers for most new PC games as well.
Windows Media Center supports streaming to Xbox 360’s and is a fairly decent front end piece of software but there are other options. If you were simply looking for one room solutions, I might suggest going with Myth TV or XBMC. Myth TV has some awesome software that records TV and removes the commercials at the same time. Myth TV is Linux based (I believe), so you would need to run Ubuntu or something. Ubuntu also has a ton of emulators, so this will not remove the gaming aspect of your build.”
Here is Joe’s build out list:
A-data game series 4GB
Video Card –
GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800
CPU fan/cooler –
COOLER MASTER Intel Core i5 compatible Gemi…
Blu-ray Drive –
SONY Black 12X BD-R 2X BD-RE 8X DVD+R 5X D…
APEVIA Black X-MASTER-BK/500 ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
(black looks like it belongs in the living room)
Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB
Internal / External Solid State Drive (my build the SSD would be internal and only be set up to boot the system. Faster boot times, etc.)
Zalman S Series
SSD0064S1 2.5” 64GB
Motherboard and CPU combo package
Intel BX8061615661-KIT9 Intel Core i5-661 3.33 GHZ LGA 1156 Intel H55 ATX Motherboard/CPU Combo
Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard
QWERTY Keyboard mini remote with touchpad for mouse.
Microsoft – 360 Wireless Controller
Targus USB Ultra-Mini Bluetooth…
I may not agree with Joe’s “HTPC’s are better than Media Servers” thought, but he does make some very valid points. I like the gaming feature of his build because I’m a gamer myself and gamers build Home Theaters too. I mean let’s face it if your not reaching out to the gamers in this industry, well you’re doing it wrong, and by wrong I mean life. So now that you have this info and if you decide to go Joe’s route, may I suggest trying out XBMC and using the Kaliedescape replica skin (which I cant seem to find right now and I can’t do all the work for you), but check out AEON and Back Row. If you like what Joe had to say or didn’t, you can tell him what you think in the comments or give him your two cents on his at his Twitter account (@MasterTurkey).
You can also check out his blog here: