The Windows Vista Media Center interface

The Windows Vista Media Center interface

My media center box, the unit which does all of my TV recording and all that good stuff, finally gave up the ghost this week.  Early Wednesday morning we had a big storm which flickered our power.  When I got home last night I decided to see what the Media Center had recorded recently.  When I powered it up, I got a little surprise.  Nothing, no familliar “whirr”, no little “buzz, click wizz”, nothing.  I took it apart and saw that the motherboard was getting some power, but something wasn’t working.

So the problem might be the power supply, it could be the CPU, it might even be the motherboard, or a bad RAM stick.  Who knows for sure?

Last night I quickly priced out how much it would cost me to replace one or more of those items, and I came to a sad realization.

No iPhone for me.  🙁

The dilemma was this.  A new power supply would be about $70-$90, it needs to be quiet, and it needs to be pretty robust.  However, I don’t know for sure that it’s the problem, and at this point if I buy a new PS, and I need a new motherboard, I might have to buy a different power supply.

It’s been a little bit flaky lately.  It crashed a couple of times in the last few months, and has never really come out of sleep mode very well.  We tried to rent an iTunes movie the other night, and it froze repeatedly because the poor little CPU and RAM couldn’t keep up.  So maybe it’s time.

I priced out the rest of the parts and figured I could build a nice little system for around $300.00.  Roughly the price of my proposed iPhone upgrade.

Sigh.  A nice shiny new “toy”, or a useful apparatus which we use every day in our house.  In the end there wasn’t much of a decision.

So here’s what I added to the Media Center:

Already there:

  • Coolermaster case
  • LG DVD RW DVD Burner
  • Hauppage 500 WinTV-PVR-500
  • 250GB Western Digital SATA Hard Drive
  • 500 GB Samsung IDE Hard Drive

New to this box:

I’m going to take the 500GB SATA hard drive out of Charlene’s computer and put it in this box, and put the IDE drive back into her machine. Add Windows Vista (with built in Media Center), and call this machine done.

This will now be the fastest machine in our house, and it still cost even less than the HP machine that Charlene uses.

A big shout out to my buddy Loc who gave this machine to me before he moved down under.  It’s still an awesome rig my friend, and it looks oh so sweet in my setup!