Album Cover: Wincing the Night Away

"It's like I'm perched on the handlebars of a blind man's bike."
The Shins / Spilt Needles

Posted on June 15, 2008 10:28 AM in Computers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

This post is loooooooong overdue. Back in April, I built my second computer. This new computer was built to serve an entirely different purpose than the first I built. It was built to completely replace a miserable combination of hardware and software known as a Comcast DVR. Sticking with a long-standing tradition, I named the new computer "Lando."

Just like the time before, the first step was ordering all the parts for the cheapest prices I could get them. I ended up taking advantage of the exact same motherboard/CPU combo deal from Fry's of which I had taken advantage when building C3PO. I also managed to find a good deal at Fry's on a 500GB internal hard drive, so I purchased that there, too. Everything else ended up coming from Newegg. The list of all the components follows:

I actually ended up going with a different motherboard than the one I used in C3PO, but the aforementioned combo deal was too good to pass up, so I actually have a spare ECS 945GCT-M motherboard laying around now.

When all was said and done, I'd say I spent about $700-800 to get all the parts I needed to build my new HTPC. On April 4th, with the exception of the TV tuner card, which would arrive a few days later, all the essential parts arrived from Newegg (I'd had the hard drive and CPU sitting around for a few weeks before that since I bought them separately), so I stacked everything on my dining room table and got to work:

Computer Components Boxed and Sitting on a Dining Room Table

Once I had everything unboxed, everything was still boxed, but it wasn't long until I was securing the motherboard in the very roomy SilverStone case:


Once the motherboard was in place, I installed the processor, followed by the hard drive, the DVD drive and the memory. Next came the power supply, which was a new experience for me since C3PO's case had a power supply built-in when I received it. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the Rosewill power supply I bought, from everything to the sleek, black packaging all the way down to the mesh wiring enclosure:

Rosewill Power Supply and Cables

Once the power supply was snugly fit into the case, I started plugging things in to the motherboard, which got increasingly more difficult as more components and wires started to get in the way of the things I was trying to hook up.

Then came the beast, the Diamond Radeon HD 2600XT 256MB video card that was way bigger than I expected it to be:

Diamond Radeon HD 2600XT Video Card in an HTPC Case

Luckily enough, and thanks again to a very spacious case, I was able to route the wires and cables around the back of the video card and get it to fit (barely). I then closed the case and gave a quick look at the front and the back to make sure everything looked right. It did, so I plugged it in and held my breath, just like any inexperienced computer builder does, as I waited to see if all of the components had been installed correctly. The two blue lights on front were an early sign of at least some success on my part:

Computer Lights

It was fun seeing the BIOS screen show up for the first time on my 50" plasma TV, but not as fun to see a CPU fan error message. That was quickly resolved, though, by replugging the fan in to the motherboard (it must have come loose as I was pulling on and moving the other cables). Next thing I knew, I was right where I wanted to be, getting messages that Lando was ready for an operating system.

I unhooked Lando from the TV and brought it into the office, where I could be a little more comfortable (i.e. not sitting on the floor in the living room) as I installed Windows Vista Ultimate on it (for no reason other than Windows Media Center). Once I'd gone through the whole install / install updates process, I quickly started transferring HD content I'd been saving for this very moment over to Lando. I then hooked Lando back up to my TV, and before I knew it I was looking at Lois Lane in high-def and browsing some of my photos on the big screen.

Needless to say, I was so pleased with the way things had gone and the way the HD content and photos looked, I was already itching to get my TV tuner card installed and start recording HD content over-the-air. When the AVerMedia AVerTV Combo PCIe tuner card w/ Media Center remote finally arrived on April 7th, I was ready to go. I quickly got acquainted with the new remote and within minutes I was browsing my local listings:

Media Center Guide Listings on a Plasma TV

The story continues from there and gets much more exciting and interesting, but you can look forward to that in upcoming posts. The point of this one was to provide a thorough recounting (if only for my own recollection later on) of the process I went through purchasing the parts for and building my new HTPC, Lando.


Ian Clifton on June 15, 2008 at 11:59 AM:

This photo is private.

You must REALLY like TV ;) I debate if I should get a big screen, since I don't watch much TV (I don't pay the evil company for cable TV, and I watch the few shows I like online or in the lounge area of the apartment complex). It would be really nice, and I tend to pick one out every 6-12 months, but then I realize that it would essentially just be for a couple of movies a week and I am able to hold myself off.


Bernie Zimmermann on June 15, 2008 at 1:12 PM:

Good catch, Ian. I made that picture public.

And yes, I really do like TV. I'm usually pretty frugal about things, so the fact that I bought a plasma TV and have invested so much into my own HTPC should give an indication of just how much I enjoy TV. ;)

Then again, the argument could be made that I'm now saving money on TV, but I'll get more into that later.


bjyibtuo on May 15, 2017 at 5:22 AM:

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