I spent a few hours reading about what computer hardware other MythTV users are successfully using. I wanted to build a system that went together as quickly and easily as possible--but more importantly, stable and reliable. So here's the shopping list.

  • Aesthetically, the most important component is the case. We chose a Silverstone Lascala 10; it matches well with the rest of our black A/V equipment, is quiet, and stays fairly cool. This case doesn't come with a power supply, so I chose a Thermaltake TR2 for it, which is also quiet. Minimizing noise is important, particularly when watching a quiet movie, or anything later at night.
  • The Asus K8U-X motherboard has a digital audio output, which is necessary for 5.1 surround sound. An AMD Sempron 64 2600+ CPU will run a little cooler than an Intel Celeron. 512 MB of Corsair ValueSelect RAM rounds it out.
  • I chose an older Geforce MX4000 video card. It runs cool and MythTV doesn't make use of any 3D rendering or similar effects. The hardware video decoding will lighten the CPU load and provide a superior picture.
  • The TV capture card is really what lets MythTV do its thing. We decided to build a two tuner system so that we could record two different channels at the same time. The card I picked is the Hauppauge PVR 150, which provides hardware encoding of the video stream, again lightening the load on the CPU. I didn't choose a PVR 500 (a dual-tuner card, as opposed to using two single-tuner cards) because of all of the reports that indicate slightly inferior picture quality.
  • A remote control is important for a piece of A/V equipment. There were a few other less-exciting parts, too: a DVD writer (which we'll also use for playback of DVDs), a wireless keyboard and mouse, and a handful of different kinds of cables. I have a 200 GB hard drive for the computer, too.

I've just finished assembling the computer. It boots up and seems to be work ok. Preliminary judgement: the case is awful loud for a home theater. Most of the noise seems to come from the large fan in front--unplugging it instantly makes the system much quieter. I'll leave it plugged in and monitor temperatures for a while, then try monitoring without that fan. Maybe I'll need to buy a more quiet replacement.

I'm about to start installing KnoppMyth now.

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