About 4-5 months ago, our 61″ rear projection TV — the cornerstone of my home theater setup — stopped working for no reason. I don’t know why.
About 10 days ago, my media desktop PC started turning itself off randomly until it wouldn’t turn on at all. I don’t know why.
What I do know is that I’d been talking with Sarah about upgrading the PC for about a month, and the TV for about a year (what with the impending death of analog over-the-air signals in February, 2009). The only thing I can figure is that the TV wanted to go out with some dignity before it was obsoleted b and the lowly Celeron decided a Core 2 Quad would spank it so much that it felt it had to commit suicide.
So, I’ve spent virtually all of my free time for the last 10 days researching replacements. In the end, I decided to combine my two goals of a Home Theater PC and a CA art/music CAD PC (you know, Poser for 3D, Photoshop for 2D, FL Studio for music, etc.). On its way is $800 of:
- Antec Aluminum Veris Fusion Black 430 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case with IR receiver – Retail
- ASUS P5E-VM HDMI LGA 775 Intel G35 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard – Retail
- Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 Yorkfield 2.66GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80569Q9450 – Retail
- CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 – Retail
- Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive – OEM
For the computer literate, I made some concessions to keep the price, noise and heat down, with components that still fit into the case, which is probably the best engineered HTPC case I’ve seen for cooling and acoustics. C’est la vie.
For the less computer-literate, this is an audio-component-looking case that fits in my stereo rack with the DVD, VCR and tuner that’s connected to my Dolby surround sound speaker setup — only this case has a quad-core PC instead of a stereo. I already have the OS, a DVD burner and external ATSC tuners for digital over-the-air broadcasts that I’ll move into the new unit to complete the setup.
The only thing I’m missing is the monitor/TV, which I’ll order the next time it goes back on sale for $490 (I missed it overnight Sunday), which seems to be every other weekend:
We haven’t really missed the TV that much, and this monitor will not only work as a dandy desktop monitor for the music/art/CAD work, but also as a 1/4-size home theater screen, since the DVD can connect directly to it (and I still get full surround sound through my home theater setup). I love dual-use. Triple-use, actually, since we’ve moved exercise equipment into the old home theater room, and my intention was to be able to use the computer from a treadmill with a wireless KB/mouse. I think that’s doable from 4′ away with a 28″. We shall see.
Geeks, what do you think? Bear in mind I’ve already ordered everything but the monitor, so I’m not looking for alternatives at this point. Does it look like it’ll work, or am I in for disappointment? (There’s no discrete video or audio cards — although I can put them in later for about $100 combined, if needed — because there’s no gaming going on, just HTPC and CAD, which are far more CPU-intensive than graphics-intensive.) I’m actually pretty impressed with what I can build for this price. (I spec’d out a lesser system for about $600, but I really liked the case, so I decided to go with the higher end components instead.)
Oh, yeah, and I gave away the TV in my first CraigsList transaction, saving me $60-70 ($30 to donate it for recycling and $20+gas+taxes, etc for a U-Haul to take it for recycling, since it wouldn’t fit in the Expedition) in the process.