Well, I decided to burn some unused vacation time and do a little relaxing through the holidays this year.

My wife, Yoshi, proved to be the most awesome incredible Santa ever!  She even came early!

My long time interest in assembling a high quality replacement box that I could deck out as a Windows Media Center machine at home was finally realized.

Here’s what she got me:

  • Dual proc Opteron board… I decided on the Tyan Tiger K8W.
  • Opteron 246
  • 1 Sony double layer DVD burner
  • 1 200 GB 7200 Hitachi HD
  • 2 Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drives for RAID 0 (striped)
  • 2 GB Corsair XMS Low Latency PC-3200 RAM
  • Antec Sonata quiet case
  • Windows Media Center OEM remote control

Wow! 

It took the better part of the night the day before yesterday putting it all together.   The Tyan board caused me a little grief due to the physical layout of the board.  Most of the connectors for the case electronics (i.e. the power switch) were located at a difficult area of the board to access with the Antec case.  The case also included a 3 pin power LED connector where the board wanted a 2 pin.  It was also difficult to get the heat sink mount to properly mate with the supplied Opteron heatsink and fan.  After a bit of careful struggling I was finally able to get it to go, but I would’ve liked to have the process go a lot smoother.

Once I got everything assembled, I installed Windows Media Center 2005 and began getting the media center stuff up and running.

I had a Haupauge WinTV – PVR 250 that I transferred over from my old machine that I installed an updated the drivers on my new box.  I was initially thwarted by the lack on DVD decoder software, but a quick trip to Intervideo site and a download of WinDVD fixed things.  For those of you who are putting together MCE boxes – don’t forget the DVD decoder software!

Wow, have I been really impressed by the MCE experience!  The MCE team did a great job of putting all my important media in front of me in a slick, easy to use UI.