Home Theatre PC (HTPC) Build – Part 1

A few weeks ago I was throwing away some garbage at the local recycle/container park. Whilst I was throwing away my garbage an older guy in a big Dodge RAM pulls up at the same container and also starts throwing away all types of stuff. We were standing at the “Big Waste” container, so anything goes. After helping him with hedging some heavy stuff over the edge of the container, I notice a small computer-like device in the back of his trunk.

And you can see where this is going. I, of course, asked for the state of this small form-factor computer when he made the intention to throw it away. “Does it still work”, I asked. “Yeah, it should”, he replied. “Can I have it?”, I returned. With a small shrug and a certain disinterest in the small device, he gave it to me, saving him the 50m walk to the correct (e-waste) container.

Safely back from the recycle park, I took a closer look.

The small-form factor PC I got for free, It’s about 19cm in height

The front of the case provides the option to have a 5.25″ Optical drive station at the top, a 3.5″ station below it and at the bottom it provides several USB ports, audio jack and microphone.

At the bottom, there’s a useful sticker:

It’s a Shuttle XPC SH570R6.

With this information, we can search around the Internet and find some more information about the device.

中央處理器Inteli7-11700K3.6GHz (1200 pin)1
The specs found in a dodgy Taiwanese PDF file.

Sadly for me, when I opened the device some of the pieces mentioned above were gone.

Opening the goods.

As you can see, I’m missing some Crucial (pun intended) parts here: no CPU, no RAM and no disks or flash memory.

Also notice the somewhat abnormal heat sink. It’s made such that there can be one or more hard disks (or optical drives!) above the CPU without having the cooler/fan sticking out like a sore thumb. The heat sink fits into the metal case of the fan which you attach to the backplate of the Shuttle case. Neat but it remains to be seen whether it’ll actually cool enough when we run the computer.

The plan

First things first, having a working computer at this point would be good goal. Sadly, even though I have quite some e-waste in my cabinets, I don’t have a CPU that would match the socket (LGA1200) of this device.

But this also brings opportunities. Although the specified device above would have been amazing (i7, 32GB RAM, …), having none of that means that we can do what we want.

The ideas floating in my head were:

  • A NAS for backups: But it feels wasteful to leave it running 24/7. The current prices of electricity don’t help to combat this idea.
  • A Dev server: This would mean I would build a machine that’s faster for Development than my current AMD Ryzen setup loaded with plenty of memory. That’s gonna be expensive and there would be no point unless I would want a 24/7 pc that runs public websites as well.
  • A HTPC: Put it in the cabinet under the TV, hook it up and use it to watch any media that I have.

From the title, it’s probably clear what I want to do with it. Since I actually rarely watch TV (expect for the news at 19h), it seems that this box might replace my expensive TV subscription with the free option of watching VTM GO! or VRT Nu Max and then also allowing me to watch much much more by running XMBC Kodi or whatever Media Library software I’ll pick.

“But Adriaan”, you will say. “You could that with a much cheaper Raspberry Pi as well”. And you’d be correct in saying that. And I do have more Raspberry Pi’s in my e-waste cabinet than I’m willing to admit.

But besides playing the obvious on-line content, I’m also going to make use of the 5.25″ optical drive station possibility so I can play my collection of Blu-Rays (and DVDs). Furthermore, the device has 4 SATA connectors, allowing me to directly attach my entire media library without much hassle. And all that in a nice case of €0!

To be continued…

See ya in part 2 where I’ll assemble the device with the parts that I will have found by then to make an HTPC.

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