Product Reviews

DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build and Giveaway

Kannon Yamada 30-05-2014

Most computer builders overbuild their media centers. Oftentimes they end up with highly inefficient, overpowered systems. On a lark, we threw together a do-it-yourself streaming media center using AMD’s just-released AM1 platform.


The AM1 socket aims to bring low-cost, high-efficiency computers to builders everywhere. It offers out-the-box compatibility with the latest version of Ubuntu 14.04 and can operate in a number of roles; primarily office productivity, home theater PCs, light Steam Boxes and more.

While most builds come in around $250, with performance exceeding Intel’s Celeron J1900, our build costs around $400.

We’ll take you through the components and assembly process, then hopefully you’ll be encouraged to build your own unit. Plus, we’re giving this build away, so read through the article and join the giveaway below!

The Part List

To build this low-cost, energy-efficient HTPC media center, we’ll be using these parts:

  • Case and Power Supply: Realan E-i5 mini-ITX HTPC Case — $99.99 via EcoSmartPC
  • Motherboard: ASUS AM1I-A mini-ITX — $54.99 via Newegg
  • APU: AMD Athlon 5350 — $59.99 via Amazon
  • RAM: 8GB Patriot Viper 3 DDR3-1600 — $82.99 via Amazon
  • Hard drive: PNY XLR8 128GB Solid State Drive — $59.99 via Amazon
  • Wireless adapter: Generic 300Mbps USB Wireless-N adapter — $9.99 via Newegg
  • Remote control: Measy RC11 Air Mouse — $15.48 via eBay
  • Operating system: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS — Free via Ubuntu
  • Total: $383.42

Most builders using cheaper parts can put together a build for around $250. If you really squeeze your pennies, it can come in for less than $200.


stack of pc components

Why These Parts?

Realan E-I5 + 60 watt PicoPSU: Realan cases from EcoSmartPC cost slightly more than other mini-ITX cases (such as the M350). They offer excellent aesthetics and construction quality. As an added bonus, the site’s proprietor, Doug, provides quality customer support. Another great feature of the Realan case is that it comes with a 60-watt PicoPSU – at around 96% efficiency, meaning they convert from wall current with a loss of only around 4%. While you can purchase other mini-ITX cases with integrated power supplies, these achieve efficiencies of around 70% and suffer from a much higher rate of failure as well as significant noise production.

DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build and Giveaway htpc media center 1

ASUS AM1I-A mini-ITX motherboard: The AM1 platform includes two kinds of motherboard – those that use the stock AMD configuration and those that add third-party components, such as mini-PCIe slots, additional SATA ports and more. The disadvantage of adding third-party components is that it inhibits Linux compatibility, as the additional features often require drivers that may not exist within the Linux ecosystem. With this in mind, I selected the ASUS AM1I-A which omits all third-party drivers. As a result, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installed without a hitch. As an added bonus, it includes multi-monitor support, a ton of USB ports and both HDMI and DVI video output.


athlon 5350 close up

AMD Athlon 5350 APU: The $60 Athlon 5350 APU (what’s an APU? What Is an APU? The Accelerated Processing Unit, Explained Checking out computer parts for an upgrade? You might have seen an "APU". What is it and how does an APU differ from a CPU? Read More ), and its integrated Radeon R3 GPU, outperform similarly priced processors from Intel in graphics, a crucial element of a media center. Within the budget segment, the AM1 platform also offers a socketed approach. Socketed motherboards offer upgrades when the next line of AM1 APUs releases. On the downside, the 5350 falls short of Intel’s Celeron J1900 in energy efficiency. However, it does offer dynamic frequency scaling, which allows it to adjust its power consumption in response to workloads.

DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build and Giveaway htpc media center 1

Patriot Viper 3: I wanted to allocate as much memory to the integrated GPU as possible – 4GB, with 1GB dedicated to the GPU is ideal, but 8GB would provide room for upgradability and better value per gigabyte – and it was within our budget. It has average CAS timings of 10 at 1600MHz. The RAM kit I purchased was a single 8GB stick — the AM1 platform doesn’t support dual-channel memory, so a single stick won’t hurt performance. If you were to build this setup, you could use two 4GB sticks instead.


back of green machine

PNY XLR8 120GB SSD: The PNY XLR8 series is the best budget-oriented solid state drive on the market. In terms of its performance and construction quality, it’s hard finding a better drive on the market that beats its value at $0.50 per gigabyte. It includes a brushed aluminum shell, (reportedly) synchronous NAND memory modules and solid performance for very little money. Some make the case that SanDisk and Kingston make better budget drives – I would counter that Kingston and SanDisk’s budget lines don’t offer the longer-lasting synchronous NAND and their build quality falls significantly short of the XLR8 line. Ubuntu 14.04 automatically configures itself to work properly with the SSD – by default it enables TRIM (what’s TRIM? Why TRIM is Important to Solid State Hard Drives? [Technology Explained] Read More ) and properly sets up the partitions for optimal interaction with flash storage.

DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build and Giveaway htpc media center 3

Measy RC11 Air Mouse: Measy’s line of Air Mouse products use gyroscopic sensors. The sensors allow users to control the on-screen cursor as if it were a part of your hand. For media centers, this provides for an intuitive, highly pleasurable experience. After using the Air Mouse for a few weeks, it’s hard going back to a regular remote control. The feel is just that good. Note: The Air Mouse our readers will receive may appear slightly different than the one pictured below.


measy rc11 air mouse remote control

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: The latest Long Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu recently released and it includes out-the-box support for AMD’s APU line of processor. While users will still want to install AMD’s proprietary drivers for better performance, the system will work just fine without additional configuration. I picked Ubuntu not just because of its price, but also its software library and overall superior GUI, compared to the desktop-unfriendly Windows 8.

The Media Center of the Future?

Astute observers will notice that this system excludes an optical storage solution, uses an AMD APU and runs Ubuntu. But what about DVDs and Blu-ray you ask? Why did you pick such a weak CPU? What about Windows 8?

media center profile shot dramatic

To answer the first question, I take the position that physical media shouldn’t dominate our computers. Optical storage drives, with their 5.25-inch form factors, take up too much space. Discs become scratched and unplayable, and eventually wear out. Compared to digital media, they fall behind in reliability and operability. By dispensing with physical storage media, we get smaller systems with fewer hassles.

While the Athlon 5350 APU (what’s an APU? What Is an APU? The Accelerated Processing Unit, Explained Checking out computer parts for an upgrade? You might have seen an "APU". What is it and how does an APU differ from a CPU? Read More ) doesn’t stack up to the latest Intel Core i3 in performance, it costs half as much. It also compares favorably in raw performance with Intel’s Celeron J1900, which is among the best per-watt CPUs around. However, as good as the J1900 is, it’s not as fast nor as graphically robust as the Athlon 5350 – although it is about $20 cheaper, the J1900 lacks upgradeability. While AM1 systems won’t play most modern games in anything other than console resolutions at the lowest of settings, it still makes for efficient and budget friendly systems for older games. It will run office software extremely well.

athlon 5350 close up

I want to emphasize the AM1’s extremely low power requirements. As power prices creep up, computer energy consumption will start taking a larger and larger chunk out of our pockets. According to my Kill A Watt, the computer uses around 18 watts at idle and 25 watts during typical use. Its maximum power requirements at full-load came in just slightly over 30 watts. The lifetime power requirement over a 4-year cycle comes out to around $30. In many Scandinavian countries, and Germany, power costs four times more than in the United States. Now imagine how much the average 70-watt system costs.

To answer the second question, Windows 8 is hard to like. I won’t go into detail since many of our writers covered Windows 8’s shortcomings – but many users prefer downgrading to Windows 7. Also, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS plays extremely well with the AMD’s AM1 platform. It installs almost perfectly out-the-box and requires very little hard drive space (around 5 gigabytes), so it plays nice with solid state drives (what’s an SSD? How Do Solid-State Drives Work? In this article, you'll learn exactly what SSDs are, how SSDs actually work and operate, why SSDs are so useful, and the one major downside to SSDs. Read More ). It also configures TRIM (what’s TRIM? Why TRIM is Important to Solid State Hard Drives? [Technology Explained] Read More ) and properly optimizes its partitions and file tables for use with flash storage. In short, it’s a great operating system for use with AM1 motherboards.

media center of the future.

Building Your Own Media Center

I built around three main features – the AM1 platform, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and the awesome software that will turn Ubuntu into a powerful streaming media center. The trick lies in building AM1 systems and installing HTPC-oriented software.

Building for the AM1 Platform

Step one: I started the build by attaching both the APU and the RAM, before anchoring the motherboard into the case. I normally wear anti-static gloves, but most builders I know assemble computers without anti-static implements. I would caution against this — use at least some kind of anti-static implement, either a bracelet or gloves will suffice.

ram slot close up

Step two: Next, I positioned the heat sink/fan combination over the CPU socket. The spring-loaded, plastic guide posts require a little bit of force to insert into the holes on the heat sink. I had to spent a fair amount of time aligning the handles of the guide posts with the heat sink as they won’t otherwise fit through the holes on the motherboard. Once they are pushed all the way through, the longer pins insert through the center of the guide posts, which will lock the heat sink into place. The AM1 socket only uses two pins (as opposed to Intel’s four), so the install process requires less time and effort.

pins close up amd am1

The Realan case required removing a side panel and the PicoPSU to accommodate the motherboard. Once situated over the motherboard stands, I inserted the screws and loosely tighten, to hold the board in place. I then reinserted the side panel and the PicoPSU.

green machine open 2

Step three: With all the main parts inside the case, it was just a matter of connecting the front-panel cables, the CPU (or APU) power cable, the 12V power, USB and finally the SSD to the SATA data and SATA power cables. The entire build process took about 30 minutes – about 5 minutes of that involved me fumbling around searching for a lost screw.

front of green machine


Nowadays, Linux computers can access a very large software library. Unlike Android devices, an Ubuntu system can operate as a word processor, gaming machine or complete home media system – although Android took great strides in streaming media over the past few years an Ubuntu-based machine offers better versatility.

I first installed the awesome XBMC media center from the Ubuntu Software Center. XBMC allows users to operate their computer as a full-fledged home media center with just a few add-ins. Netflix requires a few configuration tweaks and a browser extension, but otherwise works seamlessly. The rest of the software installs without additional complication.

XMBC add on


The AM1 platform makes for a really great home media center. You get low cost, high energy efficiency and the ability to stream 1080p video. It covers all the essential functions of a modern desktop and can function as a light Steam Box. Throw Ubuntu 14.04 and XMBC on its SSD and you get a snappy, minimal operating system with a vast, and free, software library. The cherry on the top: Add a gyroscopically equipped remote for intuitive and easy media browsing.

I’m completely satisfied with my build. The tiny, brushed aluminum Realan case offers an aesthetic quality that would cost a fortune in a larger case. It’s sleek, sexy and fits in tight, cramped spaces. Combined with an Air Mouse, the media center feels like the future of HTPC machines.

Assembling, configuring and using “Cubby” (the name I gave the media center) required very little effort. My takeaway from DIY media centers using the AM1 platform: It’s fantastic. The total wattage of an AM1 build will will come in at a fraction of most media centers.

MakeUseOf recommends: For budget DIY HTPC enthusiasts, build it. If you don’t build computers or only build powerful systems, this isn’t for you.

How do I win the DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build?

You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.

After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, June 13. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

The Winner

Congratulations, Justin Germino! You would have received an email from Please respond before July 3 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

Related topics: MakeUseOf Giveaway, Media Player.

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  1. David
    February 6, 2015 at 12:30 am

    All of your usages that you mention in this article are related to streaming media, and a little bit of playing (old) video games. If you just want to stream media, why don't you just get a roku for under $100?
    Many people (I think most) that are building HTPCs want the ability to watch live TV and use it as a DVR. So you should mention that if you choose an open source OS and lower end processor and SSD, then you will not be getting what are some of the primary uses of an HTPC.

    • Kannon Y
      February 10, 2015 at 4:30 am

      I also mentioned XBMC (which includes live TV, with certain plug-ins). There's actually a lot more options than XBMC and there's one application that makes everything else look poor in comparison, but I won't mention it here because of certain restrictions that are placed by Google.

      Windows is pretty much the best DVR OS around, though, but Linux does have options even in this category.

  2. Steve
    November 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    The SSD in this instance is only to boot the machine rapidly. For media storage you could have NAS or HDD. SSD would give you no speed increase to watch films and essentially this is a HtPc so I think less could have been better in this instance.

    nice article and informative. thanks

  3. Morrison
    June 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

    120GB storage for a media centre guys, come on - More! :)

  4. Costel
    June 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I'll change the SSD with one bigger

  5. Paul Yates
    June 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Shop around for bigger ssd

  6. Daniel G
    June 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    It's almost perfect, but SSD could be bigger. 250 GB would be enough.

  7. Mary C
    June 13, 2014 at 2:03 am

    I would have you build it for me... so I didn't have to find the free time to do it myself :-)

    • Doug
      September 24, 2014 at 3:56 am

      Mary come visit us at and we can build it for you.

  8. Anne F
    June 13, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Wait....let me go ask my Grandson!

  9. Peter H
    June 12, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    I'd go with Windows since I'm not familiar with Ubuntu.

  10. Alan M
    June 12, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Amazing specs! Perhaps an SSD >128 GB would be welcome.

  11. Adrian Catalin
    June 12, 2014 at 4:51 am

    With a low profile cooler or even a passive cooler and a larger ssd

  12. Francesco Fiorino
    June 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Using a bigger fan and a larger SSD.

  13. Phillip
    June 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Add a larger ssd.

  14. Alin
    June 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I would improve the cooling system

  15. Dorothy H
    June 11, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Use a larger capacity SSD.

  16. Stephen Potter
    June 10, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I would've used a different remote (or at least a larger wireless keyboard + trackpad combo) as I've never found them to be too good

  17. Gheorghe
    June 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I use a large storage capacity

  18. Marv
    June 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    More cowbell!

  19. magykmaster
    June 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Can this be hooked up to a home theater with surround sound? If it doesn't, that should be implemented preferably with HDMI audio output.

  20. Peter N
    June 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I would bump the processor (realizing the $)

  21. Mike A
    June 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I would attach it to a nice flat screen

  22. Zivar R
    June 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I was going to say wifi adapter but you made a pretty good choice for low cost too
    please pick me for this ,i've a been a loyal fan for ever, always in these givs but never won anything ,this would be a great Graduation

  23. Robert Jackson
    June 10, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Bluray and NAS

  24. thiagu
    June 10, 2014 at 9:06 am

    adding a speaker ?

  25. Radite P
    June 10, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I would connect all the gadgets I support HTPC Media Center in order to become a professional home theater.

  26. Jasraj Singh
    June 10, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I would get more RAM and bigger storage in the build

  27. Jonny T
    June 10, 2014 at 6:37 am

    More storage space would be nice

  28. John W
    June 10, 2014 at 5:10 am

    More storage and an optical drive.

  29. Kam
    June 10, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Add more storage + an optical drive would be nice!

  30. Ken P
    June 10, 2014 at 2:50 am

    more memory

  31. Valerie C.
    June 10, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Maybe add more storage

  32. Jon
    June 10, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Getting an Arduino.

  33. Watcher
    June 10, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I'm sorry, this is a horrible HTPC at $400! Way too expensive! The suggestions in the comments make way more sense.

    • Kannon Y
      June 10, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      For $400, we could have used a Haswell or Kaveri APU and turned it into a decent Steam Box at console resolutions, but there's a great deal of published material on this already. Also, for media centers, Haswell and Kaveri are overpowered, unless you're pushing out 4K content.

      The AM1 platform just came out. We're trying to review it AND include something greener and aesthetically pleasing. The $400 in costs is definitely superfluous.

      The typical AM1 build comes in for around $250, although it's possible to build one for $150-170 (depending on RAM prices). At that price-point, and after trimming off physical drives, we can get a 1080p streaming media center for very little. Do other systems outperform it? Definitely. But it's at a good price-point for its GPU performance, wattage and performance relative to J1900 Celeron-equipped desktops.

  34. D
    June 9, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I would get cheaper RAM

  35. VC
    June 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Get rid of that bright blue power LED. That will get really annoying when will the lights are out!

  36. Jon
    June 9, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I would add considerably more storage mainly. Also would want an optical drive for the discs I already own.

  37. Linda
    June 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    nice to have a media center

  38. József B
    June 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I would put instead of SSD some big HDD(s). Because media center is about storage, not access speed.

  39. Gabriela
    June 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    For me is a task that is beyond me

  40. Rishon
    June 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Add an optical drive

  41. Rullyzam R
    June 9, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Add an extra storage since this is HTPC build. Let say 4TB maybe, or more. Cloud is a waste if you have a super slow itnernet unless you have NAS storage. And I suggest use Android instead others since Android is lighter and can perform better.

  42. Isaac C
    June 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Support Android

  43. Jason England
    June 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Add an optical drive. I know we're moving to cloud and hard drive based media, but many of us have a big collection of dvds or blu rays already.

  44. jim
    June 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    no way could if i had it i might

  45. JasonC
    June 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I personally would have used an intel cpu and supporting mobo and a minimal centOS (RHE6) Operating System. Also worth mentioning that with XBMC you can install an app on your phone / tablet to control the software with your compact device.

  46. Six6Sicks
    June 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    SSD for sure.

  47. jared Hudson
    June 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I would ensure that the power supply was rated 80 gold or higher and use a Windows 8 Enterprise evaluation copy for 3 months(repeatable) use of windows. Windows would be much better for the everyday computer user and it would be able to be used as a full computer by anyone. other than that its a really nice computer i looove the case!

  48. Ritchie Annand
    June 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Dual-boot with Android and of course a bigger SSD :)

  49. John R
    June 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    For me, a media PC is all about the storage. More hard drive space would be my recommendation.

  50. Joel
    June 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I would either include a larger hard drive in the build or add an external (I have a lot of digital media.)

  51. Nguyen H
    June 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I would go with something less memory-intensive like Lu/Xubuntu.

  52. Liz A
    June 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I would add AC wireless

  53. Lori Bahn
    June 9, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I would add android to it

  54. Simone
    June 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    a tv card

  55. Scott H
    June 9, 2014 at 7:06 am

    I would use Crucial MX100 512GB SATA 2.5" 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive. It's over 4 times larger at only $0.40/GB.

  56. Shacha G
    June 8, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Install android OS on it too

  57. Rahul R
    June 8, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Use an SSD.. :)

  58. Sam K
    June 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    will take time to improve. Need to start with basic and then keep on adding on top of it.

  59. Ryan
    June 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    An SSD ! :D

  60. Steven C
    June 6, 2014 at 11:16 am

    bigger hard drive

  61. peppe
    June 5, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    nothing in particular, at least it could be more nice aesthetically

  62. Ted W
    June 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    i would make it a difm build

  63. Aleksandra H
    June 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    additional HDD

  64. Mocanu Cristina
    June 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    It's perfect the way it is, hope i win! :)

  65. Steve Rydel
    June 4, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    A thinner lighter case would be nice. I'd scrap anything from AMD and go all intel nVidia where possible. twice as much system memory and dedicated video memory. I would be thinking about putting SteamOS on it personally, but thats down to personal preference.

  66. Zak L
    June 4, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I'd improve a DIY build with a flame decal

  67. Edmund S
    June 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I would replace the stock heatsink/fan with a larger one so the noise level is lower. Also, I would add a resistor to the blue LED in the front because I know it will be a distraction next to the TV.

  68. AlSam
    June 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    beefier CPU for transcoding and more RAM

  69. Alex Kim
    June 4, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I'd opt for a different Linux distro.

  70. Amazingdx
    June 4, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    How hot does the APU get? It would be a great idea to replace the stock fan with a more silent one or even go fanless if the remaining space and airflow on the Realan E-I5 allow it.

    • Kannon Y
      June 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      At full load, with an undervolt, the fan produces almost no noise. But that's with an undervolt. There's no after-market coolers, unfortunately.

      There's a direct relationship between the surface area of the heatsink and the total wattage that it can passively cool. Around 15-watts is the limit on most small form factor (65mm in height) heat sinks. 25-watts, even with dynamic frequency scaling, is going to require a lot more aluminum. I'm sure some manufacturers will release passively cooled boards when they migrate from the Kabini architecture to Beema or Mullins. AM1 came out of nowhere, though, so you might not hear an announcement until next year.

  71. Nancy B
    June 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    How would I improve a DIY build? ..... I get my sons to do them! I would have no clue where to start and my youngest built my main PC when he was only 16 (now 25) and put in the upgrades to keep the speed up over the years as well as other upgrades. I tried a newer Dell someone gave me and mine was 4 times as fast and had much higher storage etc. (other son is an IT guy for the government, so just as capable if not more!)
    So any tech devise DIY I would get one of them to build over doing it myself!

  72. Paul B
    June 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I would replace the processor with something that has a little more "umph". It's hard to do Plex-style transcoding with a weak processor.

  73. FJQ
    June 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Double the Memory

  74. Stan P
    June 4, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I would swap the motherboard with a one that incorporates a faster cpu. While i'm not an AMD or Intel fanboy, i'd rather go for a Intel CPU with a decent gpu for better efficiency.

  75. Jayendran
    June 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Use Linux Mint instead of Ubuntu

  76. RKB
    June 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Could this thing handle dual drives with the 60 watt psu?. It looks pretty good, I would add something like a logitech k400.

    • Kannon Y
      June 3, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks for the comment RKB!

      The case fits two 2.5" drives. If they're platter, spin-up drives (which are standard on laptops), they can consume up to 5-watts, depending on the kind of drive. A solid state drive will use about 1 watt at maximum pull. Some use substantially less power than even 1-watt.

      A 3.5" hard drive can use as much as 20-30 watts on spin-up, but much less afterwards. I think the Realan case can fit a single 3.5" drive, depending on the size of the heatsink.

      I actually have a K400 - great HTPC keyboard. I prefer using Air Mice, though.

  77. Travis Faulkner
    June 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    No friggin idea

  78. Dan J (Kilgore T)
    June 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm


  79. Serg
    June 3, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Bigger SSD, more RAM

  80. Corry F
    June 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I would add a 4tb External and gaming controller, then a flip up LCD display for when i only want to listen to music

  81. Sergey E
    June 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Larger SSD

  82. Jim Morgan
    June 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Wow! You guys are the experts - any changes I would recommend would probably brick it.

  83. Endracion
    June 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    All it needs is a gaming controller - pairing a 360 one should do just fine :)

  84. Chris Osborne
    June 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Next Gen APU

  85. Mic B
    June 3, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Larger SSD

  86. Tom S
    June 3, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Bigger SSD, more RAM

  87. Saad Ahmad
    June 3, 2014 at 12:54 am

    I would add a more powerful and recent APU.

  88. Vic L
    June 3, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Adding SSD will do the trick...

  89. ita9080
    June 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

    More Memory :)

  90. ann
    June 2, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Def could use more storage.

  91. Jacob
    June 2, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    I would add an external hard drive - ideally 500GB

  92. Jimmy Naidoo
    June 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    A nice Ubuntu sticker on the case is the only improvement I can think of...

  93. Mark Hansen
    June 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    More storage, definitely. Move away from ssd all together: more storage, same price. And I've never had a problem with loading time. For a luxury feature though, just using a ssd with more space. But all in all, 120 GB is not that much for an enthusiast.

  94. nicolette collazo
    June 2, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    better apu (possibly an i3-325 for the hybrid graphics), upgrade to 16gb ram, install a tv tuner, download windows 8.1 and xbmc to have the ultimate htpc experience!

  95. Mike K
    June 2, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    More storage and keyboard but he way you made it its just perfect!!!

  96. RcRon7
    June 2, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I would cut a hole in the top for mesh to help provide better ventilation.

  97. Martin W
    June 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Storage and memory.

  98. Charles Lenington
    June 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    will it run OS X.9

  99. Lev
    June 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Bigger keyboard is needed and bigger storage like good size SSD :-)

  100. Jerri B
    June 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Larger HD.

  101. Steve G
    June 2, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I would add a full sized wireless keyboard with built in touch pad.

  102. Tate S
    June 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Add a larger storage for more videos

  103. Kurt Liget
    June 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    A media center should have at least a 1TB hard drive.

  104. Eric B
    June 2, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I'd add storage, and possibly pick a different linux.

  105. Derek S
    June 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    A hamster in a wheel

  106. sam
    June 2, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    i'd use an a6 for a little more power, although this might be redundant as any games could be streamed from a dedicated pc using steams new in home sharing thingamabob

  107. Brian
    June 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Larger Hard Drive

  108. Alexandru S
    June 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Bluray and more storage probably.

  109. John P
    June 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I'm still new to the Media Centre arena so I think what you've got looks pretty good. Excdept maybe the mini-kbd. My hands are generally too big so I'd opt for one of these or something like it:

  110. Pedro Antonio J
    June 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Blue Ray may be a must for a media center.

  111. moorandro
    June 2, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I'd add some storage to it

  112. Zeus A
    June 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Larger hard drive and more RAM

  113. Stephen
    June 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Blu Ray and bigger HDD would definitely be the two things I would add.

  114. Stephen G.
    June 2, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    "Improving" the build by switching to more expensive components would work against the budget box goal, so I won't do that. I'll just note that I appreciate this guide. I'm not so interested in building a HTPC, but I have just begun thinking of building a small, low power, budget home server, and the A1 motherboards and processors look interesting for that purpose as well.

  115. Lucian C
    June 2, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    bigger SSD

  116. Rodolfo L
    June 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I'd add a bluray player and a bigger HDD

  117. Mustaghfirin A
    June 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I would add bigger harddrive and an USB tuner.

  118. Xenios K
    June 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I would go with an AMD A10 CPU, Futureproof !!!

  119. Jeremy D
    June 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I would add a more powerful GPU, now they can make powerful GPU's a lot smaller, like an nVIDIA GTX

  120. Judy Geiger
    June 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I would add more RAM, for starters.

  121. Betsy G
    June 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Larger hard drive and more RAM

  122. Alex
    June 2, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Maybe I would use a better cooler which can run at lower speed to decrease the noise.

  123. Prabhath K
    June 2, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I would add a bigger hard drive!

  124. Stian
    June 2, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I'd give it more storage

  125. Bill
    June 2, 2014 at 6:24 am

    bigger and more powerful

  126. Kelly N
    June 2, 2014 at 6:20 am

    i need help that for sure..not a pc guy

  127. Johnna Rhodus
    June 2, 2014 at 5:04 am

    I would add a bigger hard drive!

  128. Saiful Zaree J
    June 2, 2014 at 4:34 am

    I'd try elementaryOS on that better hardware wherever possible

  129. Nero T
    June 2, 2014 at 3:16 am

    Add more RAM and extend the storage.

  130. Tina F
    June 2, 2014 at 3:14 am

    bigger hard drive and that would be that

  131. Joe P
    June 2, 2014 at 1:04 am

    use an intel processor and board

  132. Bienvenido C. Masaluñga Jr.
    June 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Adding a USB3, bigger SSD / RAM and upgrade the processor. <3

  133. Justin K
    June 2, 2014 at 12:32 am

    How would I make it better? I wouldn't...couldn't. I'm too far out of the game! :)

  134. D Mistry
    June 1, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I'd improve my build by connecting either Kinect and/or LeapMotion type gesture and voice controller. It'd be nice to run basic commands like changing "channels" or media source without having to type.

  135. Piroska
    June 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I would put in a bigger hard drive. Other than that, I wouldn't change anything else. :o)

  136. Neil Mathieson
    June 1, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I have a 256GB SSD that would go great inside of this PC. Other than that I might double the RAM, but not sure about that.

  137. Anita T
    June 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Lots of ram and a big processor. lol

  138. Todd H
    June 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I have been wanting to build a media PC for some time now. This build looks perfect for what I want to do. If I don't win, I will probably do a build on my own just like this!

  139. Chris K
    June 1, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    There are a few issues I would like to confront.
    1. media reader (Blu-ray slim)
    2. RAM (double it)
    3. HDD (external storage options)
    4. OS (Arch-based perhaps? or slimming down the GUI of Ubuntu)

  140. Peter Rogala
    June 1, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Solid job with the hardware selection, but would likely add a slim DVD reader and definitely a larger capacity HDD.

  141. Iggy
    June 1, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    The hard drive is way to small for a Media center, need something bigger, RAM would help too.

  142. Eric R
    June 1, 2014 at 5:26 am

    more RAM and large ssd

  143. David Smith
    June 1, 2014 at 3:31 am

    I would install a larger SSD, other than that, anything extra would probably plug in through USB.

  144. Gimm
    June 1, 2014 at 2:57 am

    * Adding USB slim DVD writer..
    * Some Monster sticker on case to show it has high performance while being little size.
    * I will love it if I win..
    @ Thanks for this opportunity and Thanks for keep open global :)

  145. Alan Tong
    June 1, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Bigger SSD.. wireless keyboard and mouse... A very good HTPC build. Nicely done!

  146. txvoodoo
    June 1, 2014 at 12:10 am

    more HD, tv tuner card

  147. Dave C
    June 1, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Just probably want to increase the SSD size

  148. David Yang
    May 31, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I would use Windows 7 instead since I have no knowledge of Linux.

  149. JimH
    May 31, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    I'd have opted for windows as I've never played with linux, but I'd give it a good go if I won this!

  150. Jo-anne P
    May 31, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    It is perfect but if i had to add anything it would be the ability to turn it on and off with the remote.

  151. Joel G
    May 31, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    I would change the following devices for a durable and reliable system:

    Cheaper RAM
    Kingston HyperX Fury Black Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model HX316C10FBK2/8 ($64.99)

    Hard Drive space since we are talking about a media center PC, without compromising the fast performance
    Seagate Hybrid Drive ST500LM000 500GB MLC/8GB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s NCQ 2.5" SSHD ($71.49)

    A better and reliable Wireless adapter
    EnGenius EUB9706 Wireless-N USB Adapter ($38.77)
    I know it costs a lot more, but is really reliable. We use this adapter at work and it has been flawless.

    Otherwise any of these will be ideal with the option of dual band:
    EnGenius EUB600 USB 2.0 Dual-Band Wireless-N Adapter ($41.35 + $3.24 shipping)

    EnGenius EUB1200AC Dual-Band Wireless 802.11AC USB 3.0 Adapter ($39.99)

    Total of $405.70

    If you choose a better Wifi adapter it will only go up $5.82 or $1.22 respectively

  152. ??????? ??????
    May 31, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I would add an usb3 external raid for media storage

  153. Mukola Obizuyk
    May 31, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I would replace the case, on the case with passive cooling

  154. Victor Obizuyk
    May 31, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Install hal to watch Amazon prime

  155. Elaine
    May 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Love the play-by-play and why-fors, Kannon. Getting the most bang for the lowest buck while keeping it fairly simple and super low on wattage use gets my brain firing on all cylinders. Creatively interesting put-together, now on my current wishlist.

  156. Gord
    May 31, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    It's perfect the way it is.

  157. Nicholas S
    May 31, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I don't think there's much to improve. You did an awesome job.

  158. Jake
    May 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Use steam in-home streaming with this and your main gaming rig! The only thing I would add for streaming is an ethernet cable :)

  159. Scott H
    May 31, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Install hal to watch Amazon prime

  160. Aleksandr C
    May 31, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    i think this box need ac wireless USB adapter

  161. Igor S
    May 31, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I would upgrade SSD

  162. Reshard
    May 31, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I would use these comments to reevaluate the possible additions or alterations that could potentially be made. From extra storage, to USB function, or other additional capabilities.

  163. Bruce
    May 31, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I'd award it to me!

  164. Stephen L
    May 31, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    More LEDs!!

  165. Raymond C
    May 31, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    ill add a larger hard drive

  166. Adly A
    May 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    More storage

  167. Wally Krasiy
    May 31, 2014 at 11:51 am

    More storage will be great

  168. animejayce
    May 31, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Enable it to control the x-10 plugs and lights in your house, too.

  169. Anthony
    May 31, 2014 at 11:24 am

    For a living room PC, quiet operation is always key - so quieter fans or maybe even water cooling.

  170. Paulo Henrique S
    May 31, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I would put Windows, and advanced launcher, so i can play all my steam games :)
    And, an external Blu-ray drive would be welcome

  171. Patrick
    May 31, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Maybe make it DLNA capable.

  172. ?????? ?
    May 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Extra storage.

  173. Roger C
    May 31, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I would add about 10TB to house all my media.

  174. Dmitriy S
    May 31, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I would upgrade SSD!

  175. Ben B
    May 31, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Build a massive NAS to store all my media on!

  176. Jonathan S
    May 31, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I would just add a external hard drive with with a minimum capacity of 1 TB.

  177. Valentin B
    May 31, 2014 at 6:54 am

    I would add a bigger hard drive to the build

  178. Beh H
    May 31, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Upgrade the SSD to 512GB!

  179. Thomas Stachelski
    May 31, 2014 at 6:05 am

    A cable tuner card would be nice.

  180. Simon B
    May 31, 2014 at 5:32 am

    I too would add en external USB drive for extra storage.

  181. Philip Y
    May 31, 2014 at 5:02 am

    I'll add a NAS unit or external RAID for media collection

  182. Aaron
    May 31, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Include a Cable Card tuner.

  183. pmshah
    May 31, 2014 at 2:54 am

    First of all I do not quite approve of your component selection of motherboard and CpU. I am not sure if AMD has improved in their hardware implementation in past 2-3 years but I would not touch it with a ten foot pole. I would prefer to use any suitable Asus mother board with a T suffix i3 processor. I would specifically look for either a "via" or "NEC" chip set for USB implementation. Both Intel and AMD are bad at this, bad might be an understatement. With my suggestion you could also be downloading files in the background, ripping or resizing your video in the background without a glitch in the video. To top it all you can load any current version of Windows!

  184. Ajarn D
    May 31, 2014 at 2:28 am

    I would love to win this. It would be a great compliment to my hi-tech multi media HP computer that I use for teaching.

  185. Eric T
    May 31, 2014 at 1:37 am

    I'd love to win this, as I need an updated HTPC :)

    Aside from other suggestions, I would add a spacious external HDD, or even possibly a NAS array, for storage.

  186. paulie
    May 31, 2014 at 1:26 am

    not a fan of AMD cpu's but this setup sounds great so i wouldn't change a thing

  187. David
    May 31, 2014 at 12:34 am

    More Storage space

  188. Dave W
    May 31, 2014 at 12:02 am

    By winning it please, thank you.

  189. Juan Rodriguez Morais
    May 30, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    A bigger space SSD.

  190. Julian A.
    May 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I'd add some fun stickers to it :)

  191. Jan H
    May 30, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Looks quite amasing to me, but adding USB 3 for external large drive makes it Perfect.
    Hope i can win

  192. Andrew
    May 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    I'd put in a Blu-Ray player. I have very little bandwidth, so streaming is not very useful for me, and downloads take a very long time. Also, the 120 GB SSD in this build doesn't give a lot of storage.

  193. Shemp
    May 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    BlueRay player. I know you intentionally excluded it, but I think an HTPC needs more than streaming only.

  194. Organic Black
    May 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    128 GB is really small for a HTPC especially if you are doing video. I have an old Dell Zinio that I use as a HTPC and it has 750GB which is still to small. 750GB is the minimal and 2TB should be the standard, You get your music, video, and DVR capabilities and the 2TB is 3/4 full.

  195. Joe
    May 30, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Hope to win this! But, I'm already a winner. I didn't know about pipelight. Now I have it installed and working on two Kubuntu precise Notebooks.

    My next stop is to check out the Measy RC11 Air Mouse.

    Thanks for the info.

  196. Dan D
    May 30, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Water cooling?

  197. Daniel V
    May 30, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    It's pretty nice already.

  198. Va D
    May 30, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Upgrade the fan or use more fans.

  199. Kim M
    May 30, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I have no idea, I think it is already great!

  200. Jean-Paul Jeral
    May 30, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I know, but it seems that many users would like it with not fan at all -
    then how much costs a Peltier effect cooler? And would it perform?

    Also maybe the selected motherboard does provide USB connector but
    I dont see it explicitly - or my eyes are tired!



    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      That's a good question Jean-Paul. The motherboard has several USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports in the rear. It also provides connection for only a single USB header, for case USBs. But these are USB 2.0, which is disappointing, but definitely not a deal-breaker, since it has rear USB 3.0 ports.

  201. Howard B
    May 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    USB 3.0 drives are becoming very cheap, so I'd add one for storage. Otherwise, this looks like a great HTPC build!

  202. Joe
    May 30, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    The only thing I'd do is add a big external drive to it .

  203. 5lita5
    May 30, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I'd add my home environment and then kick up my media experience.! :)

  204. Ed
    May 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    The only change I would make is finding some sort of fanless solution for the heatsink. Other than that, fantastic job as usual Kannon!!!

    You and I had long discussions about the Kabini mini-ITX motherboard from ECS a few months back.

    My kabini build, same size as your case, has been sitting in its box because of the Odroid-U3 I bought from Hardkernel back in February. Smaller than a Raspberry Pi, it has been running Debian Jessie and XBMC just great from the same ARM processor as a Samsung Galaxy S3. I love the Odroid-U3.

    This article has given me the urge to pull the ECS kabini build out of the box and install the release version of Ubuntu 14.04. The alpha versions this past winter were not giving me a good 720p or 1080p experience. I'll have to see how the final LTS of 14.04 works now.

    More fun for the weekend.

    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Hey Ed, you were responsible for me looking into a better Ubuntu-based platform to run a media center from. Thanks for all the tips and advice!

      The ODroid-U3 is a really great board. I was tempted to get one myself for a Ubuntu box, but I need to make use of what I've got on hand already.

      Right now I'm trying to fit Ubuntu 14.04 onto a dual-boot Windows 8 machine - the fanless Kabini build that we spoke of earlier. I'm cloning a Windows 8 installation right now. I'll let you know how it goes so you don't have to waste your time. Thanks again Ed!

  205. Jitendra A
    May 30, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Once I win this I will start experimenting!

  206. Druv Boodoo
    May 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Give it a nice paintjob. Red and gold, Ironman style.

  207. Philip Arny
    May 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I can usually hear CPU fans pretty clearly in a quiet room. I wonder if you could replace the fan with a copper block or plate, perhaps in contact with the top of the case so the case could help carry heat out?

    • Kannon Y
      May 30, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Great question. I wondered about that myself.

      I applied a substantial undervolt to the APU and it runs about as quietly as one can expect. Not all AM1 boards support undervolting, unfortunately. But I suspect a fanless sub-65mm heatsink combined with an undervolt can allow the system to run fanless in Windows and maybe even in Linux.

  208. Antonio R
    May 30, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Maybe some USB3 ports.

    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      It has USB 3.0 in the rear ports already. Unfortunately, it doesn't have them up front. :-(

    • Antonio R
      May 31, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks for mention it, I didn't realize; maybe I made a bad read of the post . I agree with you on the need of usb3 ports in the front.


  209. Don
    May 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I'd probably just go openelec and skip the ubuntu route. That way you get a quality XMBC experience without the OS overhead. That said, you wouldn't have Steam, Netflix, or Hulu support (or it would be harder to set up).

    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Hey Don, thanks for the comment!

      I tried an earlier build of Open Elec on a similar board (Kabini-based) a little while ago. Unfortunately, it wouldn't run properly.

  210. Loren S
    May 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Improve it? I just want to own it!

  211. Tomas P
    May 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Not much to improve. A wireless keyboard would be nice.

  212. Ray M
    May 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I'd also go with a dual tuner card.

  213. Rick
    May 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    A couple of external USB3 hard drives for media storage.
    I like the DriveStations from Buffalo, 'cause they spin down when not in use.
    And IOCell NetDisk enclosures 'cause they do too, but are on your network.

  214. LarryL
    May 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    TV tuner

  215. Renee D
    May 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    dual tuner and remote access

  216. Dmitry
    May 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    usb3 external raid would be great! more drive space needed

  217. Brian
    May 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    If I knew how to improve it I wouldn't need to win it!

  218. s tom
    May 30, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Will a tuner card fit in this form factor? That would complete my wish list.

    • Kannon Y
      May 30, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      There's various ways to squeeze a tuner card into a small form factor. The easiest would be a USB TV tuner card.

  219. Bart B
    May 30, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I would add the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 for the full HTPC experience. I have one at home and I love it. There is a newer version with backlit keys that just came out as well.

  220. Laurel N
    May 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Needs a TV Tuner card.

  221. sully
    May 30, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    smaller case

  222. Dan R
    May 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I would add a cool TFT display to display stats or maybe an audio spectrum??? Even a tiny one would be cool.

  223. JeffC
    May 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I would add cappuccino maker to it! Then it would be perfect!! :)

  224. Cesar
    May 30, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I would add a larger SSD

  225. Paul W
    May 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Bigger SSD but it seems set outside of that

  226. Nabil Z
    May 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Goes fon an android os and a bluetooth adapter

  227. Rachel K
    May 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I certainly couldn't do better than you! You are the experts!

  228. John K
    May 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I would vent the cabinet that it would be going into.

  229. Paul V
    May 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I wouldn't change anything, great job Kannon!

  230. James
    May 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I would recommend a USB Wireless AC adapter for better coverage.

  231. Alex J
    May 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I would probably look into adding a different heatsink/fan.

  232. Mklopez
    May 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I would have used a mobile Intel CPU, even if it could have increased the cost.

    BTW, the XBMC Hulu plugin is basically broken beyond repair at this point.

    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      That's a shame. There's a similar problem with Navi-X right now. According to the dev's website, they're upgrading their servers, but that's been going on for several months now. :-(

  233. Justin
    May 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I would have added an after market heat sink and fan to allow better airflow

    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Hey Justin, thanks for the comment. It doesn't look like any AM1 heatsinks are available. Some users are installing Intel heatsinks, but they're not perfect fits.

  234. Tyler
    May 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Maybe go with a bigger SSD? I don't know...your setup seems pretty spot on.

  235. Theo E
    May 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I'd add Plex Server.

    • Jason N
      May 30, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      That would be my first installation as well.

    • Kannon Y
      May 31, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      I completely forgot about Plex server. Thanks for mentioning it Jason!

  236. Ahmed K
    May 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    That fan looks small for a quad core / Bigger is quieter/soft
    [ Does it RUN CRYSIS ] show me

  237. Yodster
    May 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    The build is pretty solid and I can't find much to change. The possibility of making it a windows build for easier compatibility with some applications/games, but that would add a lot to the cost.

  238. Mitch
    May 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I'd probably go with a Plex server and let this little beast feed the Roku.

  239. Scott M
    May 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Hear hear bill.

  240. Bill M
    May 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I'd a dd a HDMI pass through