New MythTV Build

I’ve ordered the hardware for my new build!

MythTV is pretty versatile and can be tailored to meet your viewing needs. It consists of “backend” computers which do the recording and storage and “frontends” which do the playback. As the content can be shared using standard technologies such as DLNA, other devices can also be used to watch it, such as smart TVs, PS3s, smartphones, etc.

For my setup, I use a combined backend/frontend connected to my main TV. I find this to be the most complete way to run Myth, as everything can be done easily and cheaply. When I built my last system, the big concern was how quiet the PC was. Depending on the layout of your living room, it may be easy to hide even a large box. Alternatively, you could go for a stylish media centre case and have it on display. Or a tiny separate frontend. That’s the beauty of Myth – choices.

In my new house, I actually have the PC in the attached garage, connected to my TV through a hole in the wall! With this setup, I have no worries about how noisy or big or ugly the box is, and the living room is as neat as could be. My wife used to hate all the cables nested behind the TV gathering dust!

So, for my new build I decided to go for state of the art, but very generic hardware. When you try to do things pretty or quiet they start to get more expensive. So, with a budget of about £400 I just picked what seemed reasonable…

The design brief was a combined backend/frontend, dual tuner Freeview HD (DVB-S2), decent storage for videos. Connected to a TV over HDMI.

With HD playback required, the biggest question was what to do for the graphics. In the past, I have always gone for AMD CPUs and nVidia graphics. nVidia have always had the best support within Myth and HD works well. However, things change.

I am intrigued by the latest Intel kit, which has a combined CPU/GPU. There are open source drivers and excellent Linux compatibility. In theory, it sounds perfect. So, I will give it a try. Worst case, I can always stick an nVidia card in there!

CPU: Intel Pentium G3420 Dual Core
Intel’s 4th gen processor Haswell CPU for about £45. Should be super speedy and do the HD decoding using the in-build GPU. We will see.

Motherboard: Gigabyte B85M-HD3
Micro ATX, Socket 1150, USB3, SATA 600 and the right price. £45.

Memory: Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 DDR3
I splashed out and went for 8GB of RAM. Probably overkill, but 4GB just didn’t seem enough on a modern PC. £60.

PSU: Corsair Builder Series CX 430W
Cheap and good quality power supply. Not modular, but the interior of this PC won’t be entering any beauty contests. £30

The disk for the Mythbuntu OS install will be a small (60GB) SSD for speed and reliability. All the content will be on a couple of big 3.5 inch disks. £40

HDD: Western Digital Green 2TB
I already have one of these from my old machine, so this one will make a pair. Did think of getting the WD Red but read that they are more intended for RAIDS and these are better for a second drive. £60

Case: Fractal Design Core 1000
Fairly small case with room for a full size PSU. Looks nice in the pictures and from a respectable company. Looking forward to seeing this. May be a little squashed with 3 drives in but there won’t be an optical drive so there should be just enough space. £30

Tuner: TBS TBS6280 PCI-E DVB-T2 Dual
2 tuners in a tiny footprint. This will replace the 2 Hauppauge cards I currently use (which don’t do HD). Linux support is good, even though the drive is proprietary. Only drawback is that the supplied remote is not supported. No big deal ads there are plenty of other nicer remotes on the market. £72

So, that lot should be winging its way to me from Amazon as we speak. Looking forward to putting it together…