Two years ago I started using XBMC (now Kodi) to stream video and audio into our living room. At the time I had a spare laptop (an Alienware X11 revision1) with Windows 7. I installed XBMC/Kodi on it and I streamed video to my television set. The audio is streamed through my Pioneer VSX-S300 slim line amplifier. Kodi is a fantastic piece of software and it serves all my needs but operating it with keyboard and mouse is clumsy. Also the Alienware can become noisy and booting Windows can take a long time (even longer when an update is required). Lastly I like my Alienware X11 and always thought it was a shame to use it as a media box. The X11 is still a very nice portable gaming machine for my sons.
|My current set-up with an Alienware X11, a Pioneer VSX-S300 and a pair of Boston Acoustics speakers. Operating is is clumsy with the Alienware keyboard and a mouse
Since I have a spare Celeron G1610 and an LGA1155 based MSI motherboard (BM75MA-E33) from a previous project I figured that I can make a cheap media box out of it. In addition to this I need a small case, a power supply, 4Gb of DDR3 memory, a small and cheap HD or SSD (I only want to stream), Wifi, IR receiver and remote control. I could probably boot from USB and do without the HD/SSD but that would prolong the boot time. Since my son wants to upgrade the memory of his PC I can use the 4Gb DDR3 1333MHz that he is using currently. All in all I’ll try to do this project for $130 (case, HD/SSD, remote control and wifi).
|The MSI B75MA-E33 motherboard with Intel Celeron G1610 and a stock cooler.
As operating system I’ll probably go with OpenELEC (or maybe Ubuntu). OpenELEC is Linux based and it is built around Kodi. It is lightweight and it will therefore probably boot very fast. It has support for Intel and Intel’s HD graphics which are built in to the Celeron.
Next I’ll pick the additional components, order them and build the system.