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Friday, 13 January 2012

Fanless Sandybridge iTX HTPC

I built a new iTX HTPC a while ago now but I thought I’d share my build on the blog. The HTPC is based around the Tranquil PC bare bones ixLS chassis and motherboard.

Components List:
  • Tranquil PC bare bones ixLS chassis
  • Intel DH67CF(B3) iTX motherboard
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM chip
  • Intel i3 2125 CPU
  • Sony BC-5600S Blu-ray Slim slot drive
  • Corsair Force Series 3 60GB Sata3 6Gbs Solid State Drive (Operating System)
  • Western Digital WD20EARX 2TB Caviar Green SATA3 6Gbs 3.5” Hard Drive (Data)
  • 120Watt 12Volt 10Amp External Power Supply brick
Software List:
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
  • My Movies 4.02
  • Arcsoft Total Media Theatre 5
  • Slysoft AnyDVD HD
  • Shark 007 Codec Pack V3.1.6
Product Description
Bringing beauty, power, efficiency and reliability to your desktop. Designed from the ground up, to provide a reliable and fan less cooling system for the power user, the ixLS Power PC can process any application with ease.
The ixLS PC, often used as the basis of the ultimate media centre, or an exclusive desktop PC - build yours to your own specification with this bare bones kit.
High definition video, complex 3D rendering, or just writing a letter - just do it. Fit your choice of 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor - any version delivers stunning performance.

Initially I had big problems with Windows 7 blue screening allot and there was no real indication as to why? There were no memory dump files being created by Windows and the error message on the actual blue screen wasn’t helping. I first thought it was a heat problem? This being my first totally passively cooled rig I naturally thought it was heat related, but after contacting Tranquil PC support and going over the heat temps shown in the Bios and in the Intel hardware monitor program, it seemed it was not over heating at all.
I then eventually figured out that the problem was with the Corsair Solid State drive and I found on their forums many other users having the same problems. I found a firmware update for the SSD and since I updated the drive it has not blue screened ever again.

The Tranquil PC chassis is beautifully made and my HTPC is totally silent which is a big improvement over my old Micro ATX ATI/AMD based HTPC which had several fans in side of it. Silence really is bliss.


The system is very fast it boots from shutdown and launches Windows Media Center in less than 10 seconds and it resumes from S3 Sleep mode instantly. The Solid State drive really does make everything feel much snappier. Its not the cheapest HTPC you can build but the quality does really shine through. I just wish I had one in every room in my home! Blu-ray’s play seamlessly in Windows Media Center / Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre. The Blu-ray optical drive is the only thing that makes any noise if I play a disc, however with the Blu-ray discs ripped to the Home Server and streamed over the local network the Blu-ray optical drive is not used and so silent.

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One thing I don’t like is Tranquil PC do not supply in the price of the barebones package an internal IR receiver. As this was a demo unit Tranquil were good enough to throw in a free IR receiver. However they do not use the proper CIR Receivers for these Intel Media motherboards. But instead the supplied IR receiver connects to an internal USB header and not to the dedicated CIR (Consumer Infrared Receiver) header.

I do have one problem with the IR receiver that is installed at the moment and that is the Windows Media Center discrete Power On/Off commands in the Logitech Harmony software do not seem to work 100% with the HTPC. I think I will buy one of these CIR’s off eBay and see if that works better?


Overall I am happy with my new HTPC, its certainly the nicest one I have personally owned in my own home! Although I have built many nice top end HTPC’s for clients.


ericdraven said...

Is the HTPC still running smoothly? Any upgrades since the build? What did all the components cost? What tuner card did you use? I don't remember seeing one.

ericdraven said...

Is the HTPC still running smoothly? Any upgrades since the build? What did all the components cost? What tuner card did you use? I don't remember seeing one.