I got this wild idea in my head a few months ago that I wanted to build a Media Center for my bedroom. Our digital cable doesn’t extend that far, so basically we only have a DVD player in there. Which is fine, but if I want to catch up on the latest episode of Lost or House, I have to leave the room and go to the living room or my office to watch it. Sometimes I would rather just lie in bed and rest my weary old bones. So that’s when the idea came to me that I should build a media center. There was a small problem with it thought, I had no idea how to build one.
I can build a computer with no problem. I’ve been doing it for years. But a Media Center is a whole nother animal. It is, as the name implies, all about the media. Games are entirely possible, but why waste the drive space? I planned on ripping my DVDs of Rob & Big and hitting up Fancast.com on the regular. So obviously I had to make this thing WiFi enabled to access the web. It had to have a DVD-R on it. Lightscribe would have been cool, but who really needs more than one of those in their house? So the Lightscribe is out. I searched around my office for anything that would give me a decent start at a media center without having to dump a ton of money into it. (We are in a recession, after all.)
After a little while, I came across a processor I had gotten from Alan a few months back. He had no use for it, and frankly neither did I at the time. So it went in a drawer in my desk. A 1.8Ghz Celeron LGA775. I don’t plan on ripping HD or anything of that nature, so this should more than handle streaming media and DVD playback. Then another problem presented itself. I don’t have an Intel motherboard. I’m typically an AMD user. So I got on eBay to see what I could find that would match up to this processor. I had a cube-style case here, so I didn’t need one of those. However, if I wanted to use the case I had to have a micro-ATX motherboard. No problem.
Except that every motherboard I saw on there was around $75. More than I wanted to spend to watch television in my room. And I still had a few other things to buy for this thing as well. So after about an hour of fruitless searching I came across a motherboard on Geeks.com that might do the job. It wasn’t the best of models, but like I said before, I’m not trying to build a gaming system either. I didn’t like the fact that it used old DDR RAM, but what can you do? Anyway, I still had a 512MB stick tucked away in a box of hardware, so that was one less thing I would have to buy. Doubts still flourished though, even as I punched in my credit card information and clicked the confirmation button.
Fast forward three days later. I come home from work to find a UPS box sitting on my doorstep. I hate when they do that. So I took the box into my garage and opened it up to see where I was. Everything looked nice, no bent or broken pins. No burn scores. It looked good. So I broke out the thermal paste and put everything together. I decided to put an Antec Earthwatt PSU in it to do my part for global warming. Not to mention keeping my electric bill to a minimum. So with 380 watts of electricity pumping to it, all the plugs and cords connected, a 160GB SATA HDD in place, I hit the power button. It’s Alive!!!!
Wait. No… no it wasn’t. The power came on, but nothing happened. I double checked everything, but could find nothing wrong. AGP video card was in place and seated properly. Memory was good, I had already checked it. The computer was powering on, but there was no video and no beep from the motherboard speaker. I waited to see if there was simply a delay in the POST, but there was nothing. I think I have a dud. I took the memory out, took the CPU out, and unhooked the HDD and DVD-R drive. I then powered it on again. It ran, and continued to run until I turned it off. Yeah, this was a crap motherboard. Back to Geeks you go, you ass.
Currently, I sit waiting on the next motherboard to arrive at my doorstep. This time it’s upgradeable to Core Duo and takes DDR2. I managed to arrange a deal with a friend of mine on eBay and got it for around $30 including shipping. I ordered a 1GB stick of DDR2 as well, and as I wrote the last sentence my doorbell rang. UPS just dropped off my MCE Remote Control. I am a little more excited and antsy that this thing is going to come together properly than I was with the last motherboard. For now, I am going to sit back and play a little Warcraft and wait for the goods to come in.