- Part 1: the hardware
- Part 2: the software choices
Because I don't need a regular desktop at home these days, I was free to explore other options and decided to put together a media center PC, but it needed to meet the following requirements
- Virtually instant on (boot from cold start in a matter of seconds)
- Virtually silent
- Low power consumption
- Hardware decoding of 1080p video
- Fully remote controllable by Android and iOS devices
- Less than ¥35,000 total price
It wasn't impossible, but I did go over budget. Everything cost me ¥36,710. I could have done it for about ¥34,000, but the extra money got me twice the disk size. Here's what I got, all of it purchased in the backstreets of Akihabara (Map).
|Item||Description||P/N and kakaku link||Store||Price|
|"Barebones" Case||Shuttle fanless case with Intel Atom D525 dual core CPU, NM10 chipset, Nvidia ION2 graphics||XS35GT v2||Ark (online)||¥21,470|
|Solid State Drive||60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 Sata II SSD (285/275/250 Mbps read/write/sustained)||OCZSSD2-2VTX60G||Tsukumo #12 (online)||¥8,980|
|Memory||Kingston DDR3 204 pin SO-DIMM 4GB 1066 MHz notebook RAM||KVR1066D3s7/4G||Tusukmo #12 (online)||¥3,480|
|DVD drive||LG Slimline notebook DVD read/write drive||GT40N||Ark (online)||¥2,780|
What really makes this possible is the "barebones" X35GT V2 from Shuttle. This is a fanless case with an Intel Atom D525 (1.8 GHz dual core) processor, onboard Nvidia ION2 graphics with both VGA and HDMI, and up to 4 GB of RAM. It even has a card reader. And comes with a tiny 40W external power supply, which uses less energy than one typical incandescent light bulb. (I understand it uses about 20 W at idle and 30 W under usage.)
Into this case, I installed one of the best and fastest, SATA II solid state drives (no moving parts) for about ¥9,000, the OCZ Vertex 2 60GB SSD drive on sale at Tsukumo via the web or at their number 12 store in the backstreets of Akihabara, two blocks west of Chuo Dori. (Same drive is $140US on New Egg, ¥12,000 according to kakaku.com, and google shopping finds it in the ¥16,000 to ¥17,000 range). Right now, it is sitting, locked in a glass case at Yodobashi Akiba for, incredibally, over ¥30,000!
For an optical drive, I briefly considered going with a blue ray drive, the least expensive of which was about ¥7,000, but that either would have me buying a license to windows or being very frustrated trying to make it work on linux, so I stuck with a DVD read/write slim drive. I ended up getting a LG GT40N for ¥2,780 (the cheapest price listed on kakaku) from the Ark store, a few blocks southwest of the intersection of Chuo and Kuramae Dori. [NOTE: I don't recommend this drive - it is "sticky" and not smooth to open.]
I could have saved about ¥600 yen by buying from other stores, primarily saving on the cost of the memory, but I decided to buy from a place that I am familiar with (and have a point card for). Besides, the XS35GT v2 for at slightly cheaper price at Tsukumo was not in stock.
In the next post, I'll cover the software. For now I'll leave you with one last picture. This is all I need to fully control this computer, from start up to shutdown, including playing music and videos.