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How to replace your home theater pre-pro with a HTPC!

by Nyal Mellor June 06, 2013

The concept

In a previous blog article - deconstructing the home theater pre-processor - we introduced the idea of replacing the pre-pro with a home theater PC (HTPC). This post provides the meaty details of how we did exactly that!  

Overview of the system

Our media server HTPC build is based on the CAPS Zuma but uses a larger chassis with an optical drive to allow DVD and Blu-Ray ripping and playback from optical media. It is a silent PC using heat pipes to cool the processor and contains no fans. We are using a Lynx AES16e card with external DACs from DEQX (the HDP-4) and a Metric Halo (the LIO8).  

Hardware bill of materials

Most of the parts are the same as the CAPS Zuma so please see that article for product links.
  • Case: Streacom FC10. This is a larger case than the CAPS Zuma with space for two expansion cards and a slot loading optical drive. Two expansion cards allows use of the Lynx AES16e 16 channel digital output card and either a USB card like the SoTM or a video card.
  • Motherboard: Intel DH77EB.
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 i3770S.
  • Memory: Crucial 8GB DDR3 1600.
  • SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 120GB.
  • Power supply: picoPSU-160-XT + 192W Adapter Power Kit. This is a larger power supply than used in the Caps Zuma and requires the power entry on the rear of the Streacom case to be enlarged using a drill.
  • Expansion card: Lynx AES16e. This is a 16 channel PCIe to AES converter.
  • Expansion card riser: Logic Supply flexible riser.
  • Optical drive: slot loading blu-ray, whatever you can find. I used a TEAC.
  • Cables: a couple of special cables are required a) the cable included with the picoPSU is too short to reach across the case so I had to extend it using crimp connectors and a short lengths of hook up wire b) the slot load optical drive requires a SATA to miniSATA and power supply adaptor cable.

The build part 1 - installation of the motherboard, processor and heat pipes

Nyal Mellor
Nyal Mellor


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Nyal Mellor, Founder, Acoustic Frontiers

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  • Fairfax, Northern California, USA

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