A HTPC/Gaming Rig Part 2

A long while back I wrote about the first step of building a HTPC/Gaming rig for the living room. The PC has since then gone through a couple of changes and had a couple of problems.

Video Adapter and TV

AMD/ATI  4870HD - From amd.com

AMD/ATI 4870HD - From amd.com

The first problem I had with the old configuration was that when I connected it to my TV (a Sony W3000)  using a HDMI cable I was not able to change input source on the TV. Let me explain. When turning on the TV, selecting the correct input (the PC) and then booting the PC everything is working perfectly. Well that is everything works perfectly until I want to change the input on the TV to let us say the Xbox. Changing it over to the Xbox works fine but when changing it back to the PC I just get a black screen. I have of course reported this to ATI/AMD support and written about it in the AMD forum but I have not found any solution so far.

As a consequence of having this problem and as I was going to use the PC for gaming purposes I had to get a new and more powerful video adapter. Silly enough I went for another ATI/AMD adapter, a Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 with 512MB of memory (is RAM). This card did of course have the same problem as the on-board 780G chip-set. I was still not able to change the input on the TV without getting just a black picture. The unfortunate “solution” to this problem was as I wrote about earlier, sending Vista into sleep-mode and reinitialize it. When the computer is reinitialized it apparently starts a handshaking process with the TV and I get a perfect picture again.

Hard drives and RAID

Samsung Spinnpoint F1 - From samsung.com

Samsung Spinnpoint F1 - From samsung.com

As I planned to use the PC as a media center and storage for photos, videos, music and so on I preferred using a RAID 1 configuration. RAID 1 uses two hard drives and mirrors the drives so that they have exactly the same content. Even though RAID 1 is a waste of space it reduces the risk of loosing data significantly. One is of course still vulnerable to a simultaneous hard drive crash like in case of a fire or similar but one should be safe from data loss in case of a single drive malfunction. The solution was getting two more hard drives. First, I got another Samsung F1 1TB and used it together with the one I had as data storage in RAID 1. Second, I bought a Samsung F1 500 GB drive and used it as a system disc.

Installing Vista using a RAID or getting the RAID working in Vista was not as easy as it should. It could of course be caused by the fact that I have never done it before. However, a Google search reveals that there are other people with simmilar difficulties. After fixing the BIOS, connecting the drives to different SATA ports and reinstalling Vista a couple of times it was finally running and working as expected.





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