Upgrading to a new Media Center PC – Part 2, The Swap

As mentioned in the previous post, there are many reasons for getting a HTPC.  Mine was outdated, so this is how the upgrade went.  It was supprisingly easy actually.

The first step was removing the old PC.  This wasn’t too hard, but it always takes a leap of faith to pull the cords out of your equipment as the new equipment is unknown.

dusty compac pc

The old Compac PC

After unhooking the power cord, HDMI port, and VGA cord, sliding it out from in back of my subwoofer (a great hiding place) was fairly easy. Unfortunatly, dust builds up fairly quickly back there, so a good cleaning of all the cords, the PC itself, and the area surrounding it was in order.  I used some anti-allergen spray as well for good measure.

Anti-alergen spray is probably a good idea when changing HTPCs

Anti-alergen spray is probably a good idea when changing HTPCs

Once clean, the little Acer PC slid into the open space quite easily.  The power and VGA cables were never removed from the TV or power socket, simply plugged right into the new PC.  The new PC didn’t have an HDMI port (used for audio on the previous PC – had some issues getting it to fill the entire screen), so an RCA cable had to be used to go out of the line out jack to audio input to my receiver.  One of these was readily available, so it wasn’t an issue.

From the time I started to the time I could see a picture on the screen from the new Acer computer was probably less than an hour.  It took a little more time to get everything dialed in, but it was a fairly easy process overall.

HTPC upgrade in progress

HTPC upgrade in progress

One thing that was a bit of an issue to begin with was that the screen was shifted slightly to the right.  I tried adjusting this with the Nvidia control center, but this didn’t help.  As it turns out, it was an issue with the TV itself needing adjustment, so don’t assume it’s always the computer.  A simple command to adjust the screen left a few pixels on the LCD TV and the picture looked perfect.

I tested it out by streaming Black Hawk Down from Hulu as it has a lot of action and fast panning scenes.  The computer worked very well with this.  Some video taken on an HD camcorder was loaded, and it decoded everything very well in Windows Media Center. VLC Media Player was used initially as it tends to do a good job of decoding various formats, but for whatever reason it worked poorly especially when panning.

Testing the HTPC setup with Black Hawk Down on Netflix. It looked better than the picture on this site would indicate.

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As for how everything else is set up, check out the next post!


  1. Some other Computer Parts I tried to Engrave | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on January 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm