This is the third of five (?) articles about my Windows Media Center build in anticipation of the new Ceton CableCARD tuner release. Tonight I will be talking about the drives, memory and OS that will be installed into the Alienware P2 Chassis.

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Background

The plan is to have this system replace my Moxi Charter Cable DVR AND my WMC PC.

The two previous articles can be found at:

http://moviesgamesandtech.com/2009/12/08/windows-media-center-ceton-prime-part-one-case-and-power-supply/

http://moviesgamesandtech.com/2009/12/17/windows-media-center-ceton-prime-part-two-motherboard-cpu-and-cooling-fan/

The Rig

The chassis is a Alienware P2 case with light kit.

Ceton Prime Part Three

Timeframe

I get paid every two weeks and will get a few items each paycheck. I should be done just in time in January for the well before the Ceton release. This paycheck I bought the hard drives, OS and media drives.

Ceton Prime – Revisited

I am naming her Ceton Prime in honor of the Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card I hope will be released someday soon. March 2010?

http://www.cetoncorp.com/

With their 4-tuner card, according to the Ceton web site, I will be able to have:

  • 1 TV set watching live TV while the Media Center DVR records 3 other shows at the same time (4 live streams total)
  • Four HD channels recording on 1 TV set while other TVs in the home are playing back previously recorded shows.
  • 2 TV sets each recording 2 live shows at once (4 live streams total)
  • 2 TV sets watching a different live channels each, while 2 other TV sets are each recording 1 different show to the DVR (4 live streams total)

This Paycheck – $434

$130 for the two WD drives, $110 for the OS, $90 for the memory, $67 for the Blu-Ray, $27 for DVD burner and $10 for the card reader. Newegg had a deal on the DVD, memory, BR and reader while Microcenter had a deal on the drives and OS. I am sure glad I had a birthday in December.

The amount spent so far is $434+$355+$225 for a subtotal of $1,014 (no tax) with about $250 more for video cards. Again, this system will replace my current desktop with four monitors.

Ceton Prime Part Three

Hard Drives

I stressed for a couple of weeks about the drives. I also had some input from members and comments on the last article. One big drive or two smaller drives? RAID or not? What’s a boy to do…

I ended up purchasing two 500GB WD Caviar Black drives.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=552

One of the reviews that affected my decision is at:

http://www.harddrivebenchmark.net/hdd_lookup.php?cpu=WDC+WD5001AALS

I will try it without the RAID for a while and see if it performs as expected.

Why Two Drives?

My thought is that if I set the Recorded TV to save to the second drive I can get better performance during recording and playback. I currently get a little stutter once in a while currently with one drive so I would expect a quad core with two drives to perform very well. Well anyway…

Windows Media Center

As you can see above, in Windows Media Center you can set the Recorded TV save location. A 500GB drive should hold about 60 hours of HD video. Now remember, WHS will store most of my Recorded TV, but there are some series and shows I just keep on this desktop since I know I would never watch them over the network.

My current WMC location is shown below:

Windows Media Center

Microsoft Operating System (OEM Version)

64-bit Windows 7 Premium. No need for the XP, backup or network options.

Compare versions at:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/compare/default.aspx

DDR3 Memory

My main concern was voltage. I had read that for the EVGA motherboard I needed to be around 1.5 – 1.6 volts so I found memory with a good Newegg rating and a decent price. I also checked the compatibility before I made the purchase. I can always double the memory later on another paycheck.

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ

More information on the memory is at:

http://www.gskill.com/products.php?index=88

Media Drives

I wanted a separate Blu-Ray and DVD drive. No reason really. Well, actually yes. I hate blank plates on the front of PCs. So there, I said it. I also needed a card reader on the front that accepted the SD card from my camera.

I bought a Lite-On Blu-Ray and a Sony DVD burner. Since most of the media will be from Charter Cable I just bought the most inexpensive models at Newegg. They both come with software I need to play including Roxio and Power DVD.

More information on the Blu-Ray player is at:

http://www.liteonit.com/global/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=51&Itemid=169

I also bought a cheapie $8 3.5” Rosewill internal card reader.

So yeah, 3.5” reader not going to fit in that 5.25” hole. Time to eBay a floppy drive mounting bracket. It is $8 but now I have to wait a few more days. Crap.

Ceton Prime Part Three

What is next?

For my next paycheck I will get the two video cards. I think I will go with two EVGA video cards.

Oh, and at some point I will need to assemble this whole thing and load Windows 7. Maybe after CES…

See you next paycheck,

Tim