Musings of a PC

Thoughts about Windows, TV and technology in general

HTPC technical details

As promised, here is the specification of the system I ordered from Hush.
 
It is a Hush E2 in black with a Gigabyte GA-EG45M-DS2H M-ATX motherboard, E8500 Intel Core2 Duo processor, 4GB memory, Sony BC5600S slot Blu-Ray player/DVD burner drive, 4x500GB 2.5" hard drives and Hauppauge Win TV Nova-T-500 dual DVB-T tuner. The front panel for the case has a VFD graphic display and a 14 in 1 card reader/writer, along with the standard ports of 2x USB, 1 x FireWire, microphone and headphone sockets. The system also came with an RF-based remote control, Vista Home Premium, Avira anti-virus software and Nero 8 Essentials.
 
The Hauppauge card is a PCI card that sits in the riser card at the back of the system. Because I knew that the Silverstone DS351 came with its own eSATA PCI Express card, I explicitly asked for the riser card to have the 2nd socket as a PCI Express slot instead of PCI.
 
The G45 chipset on the Gigabyte motherboard was one of the reasons why I had held off on buying a system earlier last year. The chipset improves over the G35 in terms of integrated HDMI capability and hardware support for high-def decoding. It is also supposed to support PAVP which would allow bitstreaming of BluRay content but none of the software players support this yet.
 
There were a few things I decided not to include in my order. I didn’t bother with a keyboard or mouse for a couple of reasons:
  1. As an HTPC, it wouldn’t need one connected full time and
  2. I have Microsoft’s Wireless Entertainment keyboard. This is a Bluetooth keyboard with a USB BT receiver. The keyboard has mouse-emulation capability.

The Microsoft keyboard works really well and has allowed me to get a lot of the configuration work done without needing to reach around the back of the PC to plug a keyboard in. I just plug the BT receiver into one of the front USB ports and off I go.

The chipset provides an on-board RAID capability which I’ve used with the 4 drives to create a RAID 5 array of 2 LUNs – one for the OS and applications and the other for initial storage.

The board has 12 USB ports! 6 of them are on the rear panel of the system and the other 6 are internal. So far, I’ve used three of the rear ports – Wi-Fi adapter, IR remote receiver and a Siemens DECT adapter for our handsets to support Skype.

Although the system does have an eSATA port on-board, I couldn’t use it with the DS351 as the latter requires port multiplier support which isn’t provided on the motherboard.

The DS351 itself came with everything apart from the hard drives. There, I decided to fill it to the gills with Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB drives.

The DS351 has on-board temperature monitoring that is displayed at the front of the case. For the Hush PC, I’m running SpeedFan which does a good job of reading the chipset sensors.

More about my experiences of getting this lot up and running in future posts …

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