We Build Four HDMI-Based HTPCs

The Intel Fork: Motherboard And CPUs

Because we chose two mobile Core 2 Duo processors for our testing, we got a small, quiet stock cooler with the motherboard. Those who've seen a Pentium M will immediately recognize the T7200 and T7600 as their more powerful, dual-core cousins, with low power draw and miniature coolers to match. We chose an Asus N4L-VM to play host to our Intel processors.

Asus N4L-VM DH
Northbridge Intel 945 GM (MCH)
Southbridge Intel ICH7-M (DH)
Voltage Regulator Six Phases
BIOS AMI 0502 (04/03/2007)
266.7 MHz (FSB667) 266.7MHz (+0.0%)
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard 1x PCIe x16
1x PCIe x1
2x PCI
2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
1x COM
1x Printer
1x TV out
1x Floppy
1x Ultra ATA
4x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
1x Front Panel Audio
1x S/P-DIF In/Out
1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)
1x Fan 3 pins (Chassis)
1x Clear CMOS Jumper
IO panel 2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)
1x RJ-45 Network
4x USB 2.0
1x IEE1394a port
1x eSATA port
1x optical S/PDIF output
1x coaxial S/PDIF output
1x DVI-D
1x VGA Out
8x Analogue Audio (7.1 Channel, Mic-In, Line-In)
Mass Storage Controllers
ICH-7M (DH) 2 x SATA 1.5 Gb/s (RAID 0,1,Matrix)
1x Ultra ATA-100 (2-drives)
JMicron SATA Controller 1x Internal SATA 3.0 GB/s (RAID 0,1)
1x eSATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0,1)
GbE LAN controller Intel 82573L
HDA (Azalia) Controller Interface Realtek ALC882M 7.1 Codec
TI TSB43AB22A 2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mb/s)
Integrated graphics Intel Graphics GMA 950
Dual channel
2x 240-pin DIMM
Up to 2 GB of unbuffered 667/533 DDR2

The N4L-VM conforms to Intel VIIV specifications, which means it works especially well with Windows MCE, and is built around the Intel 945GM and ICH7M-DH chipsets. Its only noticeable drawback compared to the AMD mobos mentioned in the preceding section is built-in support for HDMI (but you can get that from the graphics card and this unit's internal S/PDIF header or use its external S/PDIF output to pipe audio through the graphics card's HDMI output).

Intel System Hardware
Socket 775 Processor Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T7200
(Merom 65 nm, 2.00 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T7600
(Merom 65 nm, 2.33 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
RAM Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8500C5D
2x 1024 MB DDR2-1066 (CL 5.0-5-5-15)
Hard Drive Hitachi Deskstar HDS725050KLA360, Firmware K2AOAB0AACCB, 500 GB, 7,200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA/300
Graphics Card Asus EN7600GT, P/N: EN7600GT/HTD/256M/A Nvidia GeForce 7600GT - 256 MB
Power Supply Zalman ZM460-APS Silent Power Supply - 460W
System Software & Drivers
OS Windows XP Professional Media Center Edition 2005 Build 5.10.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform Drivers NVIDIA Platform: nForce 9.53
Intel Platform: INF
Graphics Driver Forceware 97.92
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