i have had a Zotac IONITX-A-U motherboard for a couple of weeks now.http://www.zotacusa.com/zotac-ionitx...therboard.html
i built a pc using this case...http://www.mini-box.com/M350-univers...-itx-enclosure
total cost of the pc was $265 including shipping.
- motherboard $190 from amazon
- RAM $20 newegg
- case $55 including shipping and screws to mount on back of tv/monitor.
Note: pick whatever hdd you want to add. i left it out in case you want to compare price to popcorn hour or other devices that come without hdd. i paid $240 for popcorn hour including the shipping.
i am running windows 7 rc 32bit. I also setup a dual boot drive with win7 64bit and ubuntu linux. IMO when this board has been around for a while so that more people can get involved, it should be possible to easily use linux free o/s. so, the o/s should be free once things get going. however, win7 IMO is a killer o/s. I think it will be worth the extra $. win7 should be out in oct/nov.
my short answer:
I am very impressed with this pc. It plays 1080p mkv files no problem... and all other files i throw at it. my popcorn hour is going on ebay.
lets get this one out of the way....
one flaw: there is no bitstreaming of hd audio. however, since i am a long time htpc user, i couldn't care less about this. if i rip movies i convert the audio to flac lossless audio. the pc converts the flac to up to 7.1 LPCM over hdmi. it sounds exactly the same.
my long answer:
advantages over an nmt-type devices...
1) - yiou can choose whatever case you want (note: popcorn hour has a mobo only option also but it is not cheap)
i chose to use a case (m350) that mounts on the back of the tv. it also has a compartment for usb devices. it comes with no power supply which is perfect since the zotac a motherboard already includes the power supply.
BTW zotac has another version that doesn't include the onboard power supply....http://www.zotacusa.com/zotac-ionitx...therboard.html
- motherboard $170 from amazon
- RAM $20 newegg
- case $40-$60 or more if you prefer - look at mini-itx cases with power supply from whatever retailer you prefer.
System cost for this setup is lower than mine because you can get a case with power supply for what i paid for the M350 case. So, with this configuration (and a bigger case) the total would be about $240.
2) choice of cpu
both of these boards mentioned above include the N330 dual core atom processor. Zotac also makes versions of the board for less $ that include the slower single core processor. I have no experience with those boards. i have attached a copy of the windows "experience index" for my pc.
- gigabit ethernet
- wireless 802.11 b/g/n
- esata port
- 3 sata ports on the board
- 6 usb ports (4 more on mobo pins)
- hdmi, dvi, vga outputs. supports dual displays if one is vga.
- SPDIF coax and optical
- 5.1 analog out
- 7.1 over hdmi
i installed a usb tv tuner in the usb compartment of the m350 case (one reason i wanted that case + it is tiny).
full support for addon rom drives (obviously since it is a pc). i tested with a $50 rosewill usb powered external dvd burner and an lg bd/hddvd combo drive.
it will play bd/hddvd/dvd off disc with the right software... if you want to do that.