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HOME ENTERTAINMENT: Building a Windows XP Media Center myself
Posted by Arne Hess - on Tuesday, 04.05.04 - 16:24:21 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 12263x
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Well, it seems to become time to "upgrade" and merge my home entertainment system to something more fancy and state of the art and therefore I thought about building a Windows Media Center Edition "myself". Yes, I know - Windows XP Media Center Edition isn't available to buy but I'm in the happy situation that I have a MSDN subscription and as a MSDN subscriber you can download MCE for testing purpose.

What I wonder about if somebody here has any experiences with building a Media Center yourself? Because this PC would be based in the living room my girlfriend will not accept a "standard looking PC" under no circumstances and therefore I thought about something stylish and silent like a Shuttle Barebone PC System but wonder if that system can host a Media Center anyway?

I've tried to find out more about MCE requirements like TV card, CPU and sound card but since this is still pretty new and also not available from too many vendors the MCE information are still limited. So any clues you can give me would be highly appreciated, in case you already have any Barebone or MCE experiences or even better you have yourself running Media Center on a Barebone system... ;-)

Next question is about the TV card. Here in Munich, where I live, we will be switched from analogue antenna (and no, I don't have cable nor satellite today) to DVB-T (let me call it "the digital antenna") and I wonder if there are DVB-T MCE compatible TV cards already available!? As more I investigate this topic the more questions rising up... :roll:

So if you have any experiences, thoughts, links, resources, addresses, phone numbers or E-Mail addresses - please let me know.

Cheers ~ Arne


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Posted by Filip Norrgård on 04.05.04 - 16:49:57

Well, doing a Google-search turned up something interesting in site talking about building your own MS MCE PC :!: One interesting thing to note is:

"Windows XP MCE 2004 can only handle '''DVB-T''' digital receiver cards." (Too bad that DVB-C is out of luck, I would like to use it instead... sad )

To read more, look here:

OK, there are at least two DVB-T tuner cards that you should look for: Hauppauge's and Kiss Tech's. Hauppauge's does not include a card reader but one external can be bought for about 100 euros extra...

However Kiss' seems to have one card reader built in: http://www.kiss-technology....

Good Luck! wink

Posted by Fidel on 04.05.04 - 17:38:47

Hy everyone!

I've been also trying to figure out how to get more out of my Wi-Fi LAN at home apart from having the PS2 wirelessly connected to my ADSL, for example to see cable TV in every TV set, surfing the web in the living room, listening to MP3 from the PC in my living room home cinema speakers, etc, etc... The only solutions I have found are through RF and I don't want more Radio Waves around my home (you never know...). Any ideas?

Thanks, Fidel

Posted by Arne Hess on 04.05.04 - 19:55:44

Ahhh... the search for the right Tuner card...

When I built my PC last Christmas, I was looking for a TV/Cable/FM Tuner card for my PC.  I would have chosen an MCE card if it was available locally... but then it seems that some of the brands carried here in the Philippines still don't have the right cards.

I tried running MCE on my setup using a second 40GB HD... and sad to say, my current TV/Cable/FM Tuner was not supported.  Even the alternative WDM Drivers only support a certain chip set...

I would still love to have everything to be more integrated with the MCE Remote, and all...  I'm thinking of the Hauppauge cards... the 250MCE versions, I heard, are very good ones...

For now, I'll be using my XP Pro with a TV/Cable/FM Tuner card. :-)

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo

Posted by Mathias Pettersson on 05.05.04 - 07:13:23

I don't have any advice, but I thought You might get a kick out of these images.

Posted by Mathias Pettersson on 05.05.04 - 07:34:12

Posted by Steven -fyiguy- Hughes on 05.05.04 - 19:42:04

Yeah, I built my XPMCE a few months ago on a separate partition, basically a dual boot between XP Pro and XPMCE with a shared partition for video. I got a lot of great help, hints, tips, and hacks from sites like site and forums) as well as and

XPMCE is OK in my book, it has a one more version in my opinion to iron out the wrinkles and will be really cool with the Media Center Extender/Xbox Extender and PMC (portable media center) for sharing and streaming addons will be well as One Voice Technologies' on the soon-to-be released Media Center Communicator that is being announced in the Windows Hardware Showcase at the 2004 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), but "three is the magic number" seems to be the theme song for Microsoft.

This is a IMHO statement, the video isn't as crisp as it should be and it almost seems like a soft filter is applied to the video, due to some processing loss similar to the first versions of 4000/5000 series ReplayTVs did. In a side to side comparison I actually preferred the interface,capabilities, and streaming from Snapstream's BeyondTV. They also have a working beta of Beyond Media that looks very familar to XPMCE. There is talk of them coming out with dual tuner support and DV support for the rare HD cards already mentioned from Kiss and Haupauge which is an add on card to an already existing tuner card. VBox Communications recently announced support for PCs running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 in its latest generation of Digital TV ATSC cards, DTA-150 and DTA-151

I just purchased a GO Video DVD Networker D2730 (if you heard of the one from Gateway Connected DVD  the ADC-220 it is the same thing, but with a Gatway rebrandingr, however the ADC-320 the bigger brother seems to be better and supports XPMCE, I am sure the little brother should be able to do it as well if the software is updated since the transcoding is done by the computer) with WiFi card for around $130 from eCost to act as a streamer from the PC in our workout room for music and MPG2 video. If it works out well I may get another...

The cool thing about Snapstream is that you can stream live video to a mobile device or computer if your data connection is fast enough. Plus you can set up recordings in real time via a smartphone or internet access.

I am still flip-flopping between each since each has some different features than the other, but a cheaper alternative is Snapstream if you already have a compatable video capture card and exisisting system and can't get ahold of the XPMCE...and you can output video onto your Pocket PC or Smartphone either via storage card or streaming...

Posted by Arne Hess on 05.05.04 - 20:30:34

@Steven: Well that's also one reason why I'm loving my canle TV on my non-MCE box right now...

My setup seems to work pretty well... and I kinda like the PVR capabilities of my setup too :-)

But if there is a card out there that performs as well as the one I have and works with MCE... I'm going MCE all the way...

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo

Posted by Andrew on 06.05.04 - 08:56:33

I'm not sure if it's the same in Germany, but I've just ordered a card from for the uk. It's supposed to have the drivers for the card already built into mce.  There's a review here:

I thought of getting a shuttle, but decided to get a SilverStone Sst lc03b from as they are not available directly from the UK. These cases are great as they take standard ATX motherboard and power supplies but can blend in with a current hi-fi setup as they are the same width.

Posted by theone3 on 13.05.04 - 14:58:31

Take a look at the opensource alternative

It might do what you want, and if not, you can always add it in wink

Posted by theone3 on 13.05.04 - 15:00:06

Sorry, it's not open source. I gotta get my facts straight before I post sad

It's still free though,

Posted by jpadua on 02.06.04 - 10:46:16

been looking for a hardware Mpeg2 encoder card here in the philippines and there are none.. sad to say.... I really want to use SageTV on my HTPC, but it requires you to have a CX23316 chip which are only available on the newer hardware mpeg2 encoders.  sad I called the prolink distributor here in the philippines and they are still deciding weather to bring in the pixelview playtv@P7000 which works with MCE and Sage... they tell me that the philippine market may not be ready for this type of product... bummer.

Posted by John Davidson on 27.06.04 - 14:53:53

John from California asking anyone out there if they know that a new high definition video card will work with a 32 bit motherboard for the xp media center. please let me know at

Posted by jon on 28.07.04 - 22:57:11

If anyone out there has built an MCE box, I have a question.  When I run the install disks downloaded from MSDN, it prompts me to enter the 2nd CD and then XP service patch 1.  Since sp1 is not on MS site anymore I put in sp1a but with no luck.  I have to cancel and then have a lobotimized MCE install.  Anyone work around this?

Posted by Carl on 20.11.04 - 00:22:00

[13] jon: You can get SP1 from the MSDN-download area or an old msdn-disc.

Posted by Blaschko on 28.07.06 - 10:37:52

I ordered the Silverstone SST-LC18 MCE 2005 Dual 2 Core Entertainment System from and i'm very happy. A wonderful htpc.

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