HTPC Component List
HDPlex H3.S case with IR receiver /remote and internal 80W power supply $280 + shipping
Zotac H67-ITX motherboard $130
Intel i3-2100 CPU $130
OCZ 120 GB Vertex Plus SSD $100
4GB RAM $40
Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit - I had an unused license
Total $680 w/o a Windows license
Here are all of the goods laid out before assembly:
My objective was to build a new HTPC that would act as a client for SageTV. This has become more important since SageTV stopped selling their extenders - they have also stopped selling client licenses but I have a spare client license and there is a hope that they will make client licenses free at some time in the future. I also wanted the PC to be able to play Netflix and other online services and I may use it for other media player UIs like Plex or XBMC.
As a proof of concept I wanted to try to make a totally silent HTPC. SSDs have started to become more prevalent so that way easy - the harder sound sources to eliminate are the fans in the case, power supply and CPU cooler.
HDPlex has a very interesting concept where they use the case as a large heat sink. A copper block is mounted as a CPU heat sink and you connect heat pipes to this copper block and then connect them to the Aluminum case. The heat pipes go right over the PCI slot (which is orange in the photo) so you couldn't use a discrete video card - but the Sandy Bridge video performance is fine for an HTPC. Here is a closeup of the heat pipes:
The build of this PC encountered a problem right of the bat. The motherboard had some surface mount components (see photo below) that interefered with a plastic screw holder that goes on the underside of the mobo that holds the CPU copper block in place - these screwholders have a diameter larger than the white circles on the mobo. I had to take a dremel and trim this piece of plastic so that it no longer sat on the component. It seems that this problem is not unique to this mobo as others have had the same problem with other mobos.
The rest of the build was very straightforward although it is rather tight in the case to screw in pieces like the power plug holder.
The case has enough room for a 3.5" hard drive - which I don't requrire so this case has lots of empty space for my purposes. In an ideal world HD Plex would make a similar case that is quite a bit smaller - big enough to fit an ITX mobo and not much else. You can use an external power brick and a mSATA hard drive.
continued in part 2 below