It's official: We're living in a high-definition world. And with a new generation of affordable, high-quality HD components flooding into the world of PCs, it's high time your computer shared in the fun.
Unfortunately, great HD systems still cost a fortune.
Whether you're recording free, over-the-air HDTV, playing Blu-ray Disc movies, or making light edits
For the purposes of this guide, I assume the reader has a basic level of PC building experience. If you've never built a computer before, I recommend reading Scott Mueller's article
Case and Power Supply
Any good computer starts with high-quality components from the ground up. That means choosing a case and power supply that will be adequate for your needs.
Beauty is beauty--even if it's skin deep. Pick a case that will look good on your desk or in your home entertainment center. Many home theater cases also include displays to show the name of a song that's playing and even navigate media: in a word, slick. I chose the SilverStone Crown CW03-MT for my HD PC, largely because of this integrated LCD display. (Look for this case at various online electronics stores.)
Be sure the software that drives those extras works with your
While you could cram everything into a case the size of pizza box or shoe box, you'll have a much easier time and a broader selection of components to chose from if you stick with a horizontal minitower. Also, the system's heat--and therefore the sound generated by fans keeping everything cool--is going to define your experience. Nobody wants to have to pump up the volume just to drown out a whiny PC fan. Good airflow design will keep things quiet.
Builder's Tip: Before you start building, cover part of a table with overturned mouse pads to create an antistatic workspace, and wear a wrist strap clipped to the case to protect the components.
A 500-watt power supply should generally prove adequate if you're not including multiple hard drives, a high-end video card, and other energy-hungry devices beyond the recommendations given here. (Use OuterVision Extreme's Power Supply Calculator Lite to come up with
When installing your power supply, try to route the nest of cables along the case edges so that they don't obstruct airflow.