Antec Minuet 300, ASUS P5L-VM 1394 & Toys

In the Fall of 2006 I needed a small but powerful computer which I could put in a closet and run large software analysis jobs overnight (see cqsat). I got this combination with an Intel dual core CPU @ 3.2GHz custom built at Central Computers in downtown San Francisco. It's worth noting that central offers pretty low prices and is the only computer store near the busy Moscone convention centers. Customer service however is even cheaper than the prices and I did not have a good experience buying this computer (they scratched up the casing and the manager then played games to cover up). So this is a favorite store of mine to check out hardware in the flesh (so to speak) before buying guilt-free online.

The Antec Minuet 300

Minuet300.jpg This is a small box with a nice shiny black and silver luster finish. The 350W power supply maybe a little underpowered if you are planning on adding many disks or a demanding graphics card. If your media PC is near your TV and/or entertainment center then noise (or lack thereof) will be an important factor - so do the math on how much power you want to consume. My system runs stably with 2 internal hard disks. I've encountered hardware issues with 3 and 4 disks while experimenting with different hardware configurations. The case mounted fan has a manual 3-speed switch which I leave on the lowest setting.

In terms of external connectors it's got what you would expect, but it is missing a 9-pin serial connector. This might be a consideration if you are going to home-brew infra-red components ala. lirc. The box has a front firewire connector, this will be a plus if you have an HD set-top box.

The ASUS P5L-VM 1394

p5lvm1394.jpg Not much special to note here. This motherboard does have have on-board firewire (I guess hence the 1394 in it's name). The Linux support for the atl on-board NIC was shaky as of initial OS install of late 2006. That seems to have been addressed in later (2.6.20+) kernels. Make sure you change the CPU usage/fan speed profile in the BIOS to quiet/low power, otherwise the CPU fan will be howling like a banshee as you watch TV.


Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1950 USB
HDHomeRun ethernet dual digital tuner