Home > hackintosh, media, movie, music, photo, software, television > Hackintosh HTPC part 1

Hackintosh HTPC part 1

For the past few year’s I’ve used an Xbox running Xbox Media Centre to play video files on a TV, streamed from first a Windows machine then a Synology file server. This setup is easy to use and picture quality is fine on a standard definition set. Mrs Basshead has recently become a lot more convinced of the need to upgrade to High Definition after watching a 40 inch Samsung 6 series for a while, so the second requirement (after buying a suitable LCD TV) is a HD capable media streamer.

There are two options here, a dedicated HD media streamer or a PC with suitable software. The media streamer has the advantages of lower cost and smaller size, and many of the devices on offer are capable of playing a wide range of formats including Mpeg 4 and H.264 at 1080p. One that looks very good is the Popcorn Hour A-110. Americans get this for $215, unfortunately the British financial market’s desire to commit suicide means an exchange rate of $1.38 to the pound as I type.  The UK price from authorised resellers is £219. Still very good for a device of this flexibility and quality, but I have some concerns over the long term support for the device with regard to new formats.

The other option is to build a Home Theatre PC, so why not build a Hackintosh HTPC? Apple’s Front Row software is slick if a bit limited but there’s an excellent free alternative in Plex. This is a Macintosh port of the old XBMC, and having tried it on my current hackintosh I’m massively impressed. The advantage here is that if none of the Macintosh home theatre software is suitable I could always run XP, Vista or Windows 7 for the included media Centre’s. There’s even a port of XBMC to Windows called Media Portal which looks every bit as impressive as Plex. That’s several good options without even considering the Linux alternatives. I’m convinced.

Building a HThackintosh has other advantages. It slots into my network easily and can be used as a Mac for email, web browsing and anything else a mac can do, needing only a wireless keyboard and mouse.  Mac’s currently enjoy a virus free experience so there’s no need for security software slowing down the machine. Also, a big hard drive in the HThackintosh can hold all my media and reduce the space taken up on the Synology file server. There’s also the option of adding a receiver card/box in SD or HD to alow recording TV. It’s almost a year since I built the first hackintosh which doesn’t need upgrading so this makes for a nice project to keep me going until I can get started with my Midi Bass Guitar (that’s one for another article)

In part 2 I will look at hardware for the HThackintosh.

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  1. January 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I use the Linux port of XBMC running on Ubuntu with a cheap Microsoft Media Centre Remote, this works extremely well. There are Windows, OS X and Linux ports of XBMC, and even ATV but the ATV hardware is said to be not so great for 720p x264/mkv files.

    My hardware is a Gigabyte G31 matx motherboard and an E5200 with 2GB of RAM, which would work fine for OS X or Linux and was very cheap here in Canada at $160 CDN for the CPU / Motherboard bundle, and a passively-cooled XFX 8500GT for Video for another $70. This system works extremely even for high bandwidth 720p rips. I even have torrentflux installed for downloads, and afp / bonjour running as per this post ( but haven’t tried Time machine yet as I have a mere G wireless network ):

    http://www.kremalicious.com/2008/06/ubuntu-as-mac-file-server-and-time-machine-volume/

    HTH, Jeff

  2. Jding
    January 30, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Eagerly awaiting the next post to figure out the hardware. I’ll probably build one in parallel with you.

  1. January 31, 2009 at 3:53 pm
  2. September 10, 2009 at 9:16 am

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