Those of you who wants to get their hands dirty during the weekend with some tech DIY could consider using the AOpen EPC945-M8 barebones, available from Bigpockets, as the foundation for a new HTPC device on a shoestring budget.
The device comes with a mATX motherboard that is powered by an Intel 945G Express chipset and has a LGA775 socket. It is fairly old which means that you will have either to replace it or go the Ebay route to get the other main parts (mainly the system memory and the processor).
It takes up to Pentium D processors and up to four DDR2 memory modules (up to 4GB). Other features include a proprietary cooler, two PCI slot, one PCI Express x1 slot and one PCI Express x16 slot, all of them low profile.
There’s also a card slot, four SATA, eight USB 2.0, one Firewire, one VGA and one Ethernet port (but no HDMI ones sadly). Expansion capabilities is limited to two 3.5in bays and one 5.25in one for an optical drive. Note that it also comes with a remote control.
Expect the device to have a maximum storage capacity of around 2TB and it does support 7.1 channel surround sound via the Azalia audio platform.