The Glow Lounge
has been at the forefront of the build-your-own HTPC movement for a number of years. As well being a physical Internet café in Clapham Common, South London, this online retailer was one of the first places you could buy a copy of Windows XP Media Center Edition without being forced to buy a PC along with it.
But as rewarding as it might be to build your own HTPC, getting Windows XP MCE to function correctly can be a real trial of patience. Install one component in the wrong order and you may find you have to start all over again.
For those who can’t face the hassle, the Glow Lounge is now offering MCE systems in various stages of completion. As well as providing a fine range of Shuttle XPC-based HTPCs, the company also builds systems based on SilverStone LC11 and SilverStone Sugo SG01 chassis.
We are looking at a PC based on the latter, which has the added bonus of being our first experience of Korean company Dvico’s innovative FusionHDTV, which squeezes two digital TV tuners onto one, low-profile PCI card.
- SilverStone Sugo SG01 case
- Asus A8N-VM motherboard
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+
- 2GB Kingston PC3200 DDR SDRAM
- ASUS NVIDIA GeForce 6600 graphics
- SoundMax HD 5.1 audio
- 320GB Western Digital WD3200JD hard disk
- Shuttle CR40 DVD-RW
- Dvico FusionHDTV dual-digital TV tuner
- 430W NeoHE Ultra Quiet Active PFC power supply
- Windows XP MCE 2005 (including IR receiver and remote)
- Price: £1,322.35 inc VAT
As the Sugo B is built to order, the Glow Lounge also offers it with a wide range of component combinations. One obvious enhancement would be better graphics, and options range up to an ATI Radeon X1900XT. There are even NVIDIA Quadro workstation cards available, should you fancy a bit of 3D modelling in between your TV shows.
If you don’t need the TV out and only have modest 3D acceleration requirements, you can save £81.50 on the price of the system as specified by leaving out the graphics card entirely. Although GeForce 6150 is better suited to Reversi than F.E.A.R., it’s more than adequate for general video acceleration. You might also consider the 2GB of RAM a bit much. Dropping down to 1GB would save around £75. But other than that, the choice of components is pretty well balanced.