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Building The Ultimate Home Theater PC


Hiper Media Chassis Silver Hi-Fi design is attractive. However, the hardware components available on the market unfortunately cause heating problems.

Still, as far as appearance goes, the Hiper case hardly looks any different from a standalone DVD player. It is small and smart, just what one would expect from a computer fit for the living room. Once the appropriate hardware was purchased, we had to give in and admit that we'd reached our limits. Either the hardware did not fit into the desired case, or important basic components vital to the HTPC were lacking.

Right now, the AOpen i915GMm-HFS represents the ultimate motherboard for us. The board has onboard graphics with one D-SUB-VGA port and one DVI port. The motherboard also has S-Video, composite (cinch) and HDTV component connectors. Don't forget, the motherboard works with the Pentium M mobile CPU from Intel, which not only saves power but also produces less heat loss in the form of heat than an Intel desktop CPU.

An open case lid produces the desired functionality, but it was only in the practical test that the heat problems occurred. Under stress, the interior temperature reached just shy of 90°C, which can be attributed to poor airflow in the Hiper case. An alternative platform with an AMD Athlon64 showed us that heat problems could be controlled - albeit at the cost of functional scope. Due to the lack of an adequate motherboard, the AMD platform could not reach the desired targets.

We are still not satisfied with the results of our Home Theater PC, and are temporarily giving up handcrafting our own hardware. But it looks as though a better solution is within reach. In the second part of our review, slated to appear in the next few weeks, we will try again. In any case, the manufacturer of the Hiper case wants to provide us with a better alternative.