Shuttle Windows Media Center HTPC

I’m excited to have ordered parts to build a new home theater PC that will feature Windows 8 and Windows Media Center as my DVR/HTPC. More importantly, because Windows 8 now offers a type 1 hypervisor (Client Hyper-V), my always-on DVR/HTPC will also be my home lab and will run a few virtual desktops and virtual servers.

My HTPC Components / Hardware

Total price was $940 for these parts. Should take me about two hours to assemble the hardware and two hours to install the base OS and drivers.

Why I chose each part

Crucial 16GB Memory: This machine will be both my DVR/HTPC and my hypervisor. I plan on building brand new Windows 8 virtual machines that will serve as primary desktops for my wife and me, which we will access remotely via RDP. I’ll also likely use Windows Server 2012 Essentials as our domain controller and Sophos UTM Home Edition as core VMs. The rest of the RAM capacity can be used by other VMs I’ll build and destroy in my home lab.

Crucial mSATA 256GB SSD: In order to have the base OS and at least four other virtual machines running on the same disk, I need the SSD for performance and the 256 GB for capacity. This single drive should be able to meet my home lab needs.

EDIMAX USB Wireless Adapter: This was only $10. In production, this server will be wired to my LAN. But I thought it might be nice to have a wireless option, say, while I’m building it on the dining room table.

Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz: I wanted all of the Advanced Technologies in virtualization that this CPU offers. With hypertreading, its four physical cores will appear as eight in Hyper-V. Its on-board Intel HD Graphics 4000 capabilities will also help with the DVR/HTPC role.

LITE-ON 8x Slim Internal DVD Burner: Nothing special here. Just a slim DVD burner. Didn’t want to fuss with getting Blu-Ray since Windows Media Center does not natively support that format.

Rosewill Infrared Remote Control: All I really needed was a USB IR receiver that will work with my existing Media Center remote controls. For the price, it was just as easy to add in an extra remote with the IR receiver.

Seagate Momentus 750GB: The DVR will record shows to this drive. Since I have only two network turners, this drive has enough IOPS to record two shows while playing a third.

Shuttle XH61V: Mostly came down to form factor. My current five-year-old shuttle is the old XPC cube form factor. The XH61V, however, is even smaller but still has enough room to cram in the features and ports I desire. I almost went with Intel Desktop Boards – Next Unit of Computing (NUC), but didn’t like the USB 2.0 ports and lack of options. Shuttle won my business again.

Assembly Forthcoming

Later this month I hope to follow up with my assembly and configuration notes, as well as a review.