HTPC Windows Media Center

What’s In Your Media Center?

As many of our readers know, most of our contributors are big fans of Windows Media Center. And so are many of our readers and podcast listeners. We often get requests to learn more about how we have our own Windows Media Center HTPCs configured, so we thought we’d share some information about our own, respective specs. If you have a setup you’re particularly proud of, leave us some information in the Comments section. We’d love to learn more about how our readers are using what we still believe to be one of the best home media hubs and DVRs available today. [Beware the affiliate links if you click through to buy any of these products for your own rig…you may end up helping us to keep this site running!]

Josh

Josh began using Windows Media Center full-time in the Windows Vista days. His family loved having greatly increased storage capacity for recorded TV, access to all of their music, photos, and videos, and a fantastic user experience. He began by using an Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender before building the ugly HTPC you see here in 2009.

joshhtpcCustom-built HTPC
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5200+ @ 2.7 GHz
Gigabyte GA-MA780g ATX Motherboard (on-board Radeon HD 3200 video)
4 GB RAM
1 TB HDD (80 850 GB partitions)
Internal BluRay Drive
Windows 7 Ultimate SP-1 64-bit
Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCI

Additional Hardware

Ceton InfiniTV 6 ETH
Atom-Powered Windows 8 “Server” for Movie Storage

Additional Software
Cyberlink PowerDVD 13 Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
DVRMSToolbox
ComSkip
Haali Media Splitter
MCEBuddy

Media Center Add-ins/Utilities
Ceton My Media Center
Audio Renderer Updater
My Channel Logos

Richard

Richard’s been using Windows Media Center since Windows XP Media Center Edition. It’s not the primary DVR in his home, but it is the central hub for movies, archived TV, and Recorded TV overflow. Richard’s been known to rage about not giving up his Media Center until Microsoft pries it from his cold, dead hands.

What's In Your Media Center?Mac Mini  Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
Intel Core I5-3210M @ 2.50 GHz
8 GB RAM
OWC Mercury 80GB SSD
Windows 7 Professional SP-1 64-bit

Additional Hardware
Microsoft Media Center IR Receiver
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
FAVI Mini Bluetooth keyboard Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime
miniStack MAX w/ Blu-ray reader (3TB for recorded TV)
Drobo 1st gen (5TB for TV series storage)
Drobo 5N (12TB for movie storage) Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]

Additional Software
Amazon Unbox Video
AnyDVD
ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 6 Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
DVRMSToolbox
Virtual CloneDrive
Haali Media Splitter
iCloud
ShowAnalyzer

Media Center Add-ins/Utilities
Ceton My Media Center
My Channel Logos
My Movies
Niveus SiriusXM
Recorded TV HD

Chris

Chris has been using Media Center since early Windows 7 days. This HTPC underneath his TV records over-the-air programming for his cord-cutting ways and gets over-the-top content that would otherwise be unavailable.  The Wisconsin Badger wards off bad TV shows with great efficacy.

htpcCustom-built HTPC
Intel Core i3-2120 @ 3.3 GHz in an ASRock H67M-ITX
2 GB RAM
500 GB HDD (9 TB on the Home Server 2011 box)
InWin BP655 Mini ITX case Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
Windows 7 Home Premium SP-1 64-bit

Additional Hardware
AVerMedia AVerTVHD Duet Dual ATSC Tuner
Bunny ears
Logitech Harmony Smart Control Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
FAVI FE01-BL Mini 2.4GHz Wireless Keyboard with Mouse Touchpad (Black) Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
ASUS internal Blu Ray player
Samsung HT-C6600 HTIB 5.1 surround (upgrading this soon!)
Atlantic 77305018 2 Speaker Stands for back and front speakers
Wisconsin Badger

Additional Software
ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]

Media Center Add-ins/Utilities
Relaunch [for YouTube and a few other web apps]

Jon

Jon has been using Windows Media Center exclusively as his DVR/home theater OS since 2007.  He’s been a vocal proponent of Media Center since the very beginning—even going as far as stoking a heated email argument with Walt Mossberg, who didn’t include Media Center in a DVR column back in 2006. Some say that he can still be heard spouting about how Media Center is the best home theater OS ever made to this very day, even as Microsoft provides virtually no assurance of a viable future.

What's In Your Media Center?Custom-built HTPC
Silverstone Tek GD04B case Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
Intel Core I5-2500k @ 3.3 GHz
8 GB RAM
SeaSonic Fanless Power Supply
Intel 128GB SSD HD (OS/Apps)
4TB WD HD (for “unlimited” DVR)
Windows 7 Professional SP-1 64-bit
ASUS Blu-Ray/DVD burner
Ceton InfiniTV4 PCIe CableCard Tuner
Microsoft Media Center IR Receiver

Additional Hardware
Logitech Harmony 880 remotes (3)
Logitech DiNovo Mini
Microsoft Home Server (6TB for movies/videos)
Google Chromecast Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]
Linksys DMA2100 Extenders (2)
Ceton Echo Media Center Extender Buy this at Amazon.com [affiliate link supports the DMZ]

Additional Software
AnyDVD
Remote Potato
XBMC

Media Center Add-ins/Utilities
Media Center Cast
My Channel Logos
Home Server Plug-In
My Movies 5
Niveus SiriusXM
MacroTube
XBMC launcher
Hulu launcher

You

What’s in your Media Center? Custom hardware or pre-built? Do you have any favorite add-ins and accessories? Let us know about your Media Center in the comments.

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