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Building My Media Center
Posted: 11 Oct 2015
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Building My Media Center
  


I did a lot of research while building my media center, and here’s what I learned:

  1. The correct term is “HTPC” Home Theater PC
  2. The computer doesn’t need to be powerful if you’re just using it for video watching.
    • Playing DVD/Bluray
    • Playing Video Files (MKV, MP4, etc…)
  3. A Video Card is not necessary.
  4. A Sound Card is not necessary.
  5. BluRay drives wear out quickly.
  6. BluRays will not play with standard video programs.

Knowing this.. let’s make a list of what you’re going to need.

  1. Case
    • Case size all depends on what you plan on putting into it.
    • HTPC cases are available from every major computer parts supplier, but have limited space for multiple storage drives.
    • I would recommend no smaller than a mid-sized, however, if you plan on having multiple internal storage drives, a full size may be for you.
  2. Motherboard w/ video (HMDI) & CPU
    • Unless you’re building an all purpose machine, and plan on gaming.. you don’t have to go big here. While some people swear by Intel, a HTPC can function just fine with the lesser expensive AMD brand – in fact, that’s what I’m using.
  3. RAM
    • Again, this depends on what you plan on using the machine for.
    • I would recommend no less than 8gb
  4. Video Card with HDMI / Sound Card
    • Recommended only if your motherboard doesn’t have them built in.
    • But, if you DO need one.. minimal is fine, with HDMI out.
  5. Hard Drive for Operating System
    • Go minimal size on this.. you want the OS to boot up quickly, but I don’t recommend using this for storage of your files.. if you ever need to re-install your OS, you don’t want to wipe out your movies at the same time, right?
  6. Storage Drives
    • Here’s where your machine gets expensive.
    • Good quality, high volume, storage drives are a must. You don’t want to spend all that time getting your discs archived, only to have the drive fail on you, a few months down the road.. trust me.. it happened to my first HTPC. What a pain in the neck.
  7. Operating System
    • Windows is probably the best way to go.
      • Run your Library Software
      • Browse the web if desired
      • Netflix, HULU, YouTube all easily available.
      • Your HTPC becomes your living room computer.
  8. BluRay Drive
    • You need a BluRay drive to play or archive bluray discs.. there’s no getting around that.
    • You’re going to pay between $60-130.
    • Make sure to get one with the player software.
      • Player software is propitiatory, meaning that if something happens.. your software may not work if you don’t replace the drive with the same model, or pay for bluray player software.
  9. Disc Archiving Software
  10. Library Organization Software
    • There are a few choices out there, but I recommend KODI (Formery XMBC)
    • Easy to set up, community support, many UI Themes to choose from
    • Organizes your library collection in every way possible, using data from IMDB
    • Plays your video files without needing external players.
    • http://kodi.tv/
  11. DVD/Bluray Player software (for non-archived viewing)
    • Most bluray drives come with player software. Usually a free version that you can upgrade for a nominal fee.
      • Player software is propitiatory, meaning that if something happens.. your software may not work if you don’t replace the drive with the same model, or pay for bluray player software.
    • Currently, I’m using a free version of PowerDVD that came with my drive.
    • For DVD or file playing, of all types.. VLAN is the most popular
  12. Cataloging
    • How do you buy movies without the worry of picking up a duplicate title? Catalog your library!
    • I’m currently using MyMovies
      • Keep your list handy on your computer, and smartphone.
      • Searchable
      • Enter or Search for Movies, Ratings and Reviews
        • Title Search
        • Barcode Search!
      • Add movies to your catalog by scanning the barcode on the case, or text entry.
      • Available offine, in case you’re in a store with no net connection.

That’s all! Enjoy countless hours of archiving your dvd collection.. it took me 3 months to get caught up.