I was asked to give a run down of the XBMC computer I am currently using. It was assembled from parts and is running openELEC.
My XBMC PC is capable of:
- Playing 1080i video with no stutter or buffering. (Both local files and files from a Windows file server)
- Playing 1080i streams of local cable TV channels.
- Recoding those streams DVR style.
- Playing 720p streams of premium cable TV channels via USTVNOW. (The 720p limit is from USTVNOW, not the computer)
- Using my surround sound system for 5.1 sound.
- Playing older video games from Super Nintendo, NES, Game Boy, Genesis, ect.
- Throwing some colors on the wall with a Light Pack.
- Case: Antec ISK 300-150 Black ($79.99)
- CPU/GPU: AMD A6-5400K Trinity 3.6GHz ($59.99)
- Storage: Samsung 120GB SSD ($109.99)
- Memory: Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB ($44.99)
- Motherboard: MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 FM2 ($89.99)
- TV Tuner: HDHomeRun HDHR3-US ($90.38)
- Game Controller: Generic SNES Controller Clone ($33.95)
- HDMI Cable: Link Depot HDMI-2-HDMI 6 ft ($4.99)
- USB Extension Cable (for controller): 6FT USB Extension ($3.99)
- Lighting: Light Pack ($120.00)
Total Cost: $638.26
Not cheap. You get what you pay for.
Some notes on the hardware:
My previous HTPC was an ASROCK Ion 330. It was prone to overheating. A lot of this was due to the small case size. The CPU fan lay under a spinning hard drive with a 1/4 inch gap. The fan blew hot air onto a hard drive producing its own heat. This was then blown out of the case by a 25mm fan. Because of the cramped quarters I didn’t have any other options for larger fans or moving parts. While the PC never got hot enough to shutdown it did get hot enough to make me worry about.
The case on this XBMC PC is roomy. The fan from the CPU isn’t constricted. It has a 65mm case fan with room for a second. I’m using an SSD drive as they produce little to no heat. The SSD has the added benefit of being silent. The PC as a whole is quiet enough that you cannot hear it without putting your ear near the case. Even under a load it doesn’t get hot enough to spin the fans up. Idle temperature is around 40C, loaded is around 55C.
The CPU has an integrated GPU. It comes with a heat sink and fan in the box. The CPU is overkill for playing videos. I went big with the CPU because someday I plan on emulating N64 and Playstation games. Possibly even Game Cube.
The HDHomeRun is for watching cable TV. If that’s not applicable to you, then no need to buy one.
- XBMC USTVNOW Addon
- USTVNOW and HD Home Run Stream File Creator
- Zaggash’s build of RetroArch for openELEC
- Confluence Customizable Mod Skin
Putting it all together gets you this:
ADAlight demo from adafruit industries on Vimeo.