Vista Media Center Hardware

My hardware desirements currently consist of:<

I prefer two drives, but this is not essential. I like to separate the operating system from the media. I have found that the additional set-up steps is far out weighed by the simplicity to reinstall cleanly and quickly if necessary. As I said, I tinker, so occasionally I want to blast things back to basics with minimal interruption.

You could also partition a single drive for the same benefit, but I read somewhere that having a second physical drive for data read/writes improves performance.
Being that my HTPC is primarily a digital video recorder (DVR), this seemed to ring true.

I modified the case, replacing the hard drive indicator LED with one that runs from a COM port header. Just being able to visually see the operating mode as coloured light makes the unit feel much more like a set-top box.

This is connected to an AV amplifier via SPDIF and a 46″ 1080p HD LCD TV via DVI.
(Previous hardware did not have HDMI and as I didn’t/don’t need audio to the screen, DVI was fine - so that’s the cable in the wall. With hindsight, Not very future proof.)