First, please note that this is one of two discussions I am starting here, and this is based on the hardware side of it. (Look for me in the programming forums for the software side at .)

I have a Mac that I have pieced together from parts online. it is a Quicksilver Powermac G4 Dual 800 Mhz processor with maxed out (1.5 gigs, in case you didn't know) RAM, 3 hard drives (6, 80, and a 160) and a DVD burner, currently running OS X 10.4 and OS 9. It has a 5 USB/3 Firewire (1 of each are internal) card, an Alchemy TV/DVR Card (should be 2, but the cable part of one is busted, and it may not be much good anyways), the Airport card, and an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 Mg Graphics card. The motherboard recently got upgraded to the 2002 version, meaning it can now take full advantage of the 160 gig HD in it (although it will need a reformat to do so.) To top it off, I have a Griffin Radioshark AM/FM tuner and an external 500 Gig WD MyBook.

There are a number of things I want to do to it or ask about:

#1.) This particular case has heating and fan problems galore, and if possible, I'd like to completely change the casing. Since it's going to be the Media Center computer when done, it would make sense to either retrofit an existing PC Media Center Case or build one from scratch. Which would be the better option, and where would the best place for materials for both silencing and cooling be found?

#2.) What would be the best way to add an internal hub setup? There are certain components such as BlueTooth and 802.11n wireless, as well as adding front USB and Firewire ports, to which this would be handy.

#3.) If I have to build the case from scratch, there are a few things I will want: Front function buttons, a Volume knob, some sort of Audio output (for headphones) and a small touchscreen LCD to act as a second monitor for functionality. The volume knob will be the easiest (hack a Griffen Powermate, hook it up to said hub in question 2), but what about Mac-compatible function keys and the small touchscreen?

#4.) I want to keep everything internal and eliminate as few external components as possible. I'd also like, however, to try to use 10.5, if possible - something the DVR card is not capable of. Since I'm interested in upgrading the sound and adding SATA, and since I know the Alchemy card itself is essentially a modified Hauppage card, would I be able to buy and modify the parts to replace this card with something more up-to-date? It'd be nice to add a dual tuner on one card without having to buy two or three USB dongles (though, of course, I could use the setup from question 2 for this, I suppose...)

#5.) Are there working PATA SSD's that would work for a boot drive? If not, would making a boot drive from one or two USB Flash Drives also work?

#6.) I've seen a few listings on eBay for Mirror Door Drive CPUs that say they're compatible with my motherboard. Is this, in fact, possible? Is there any limitations to be aware of? If not, will I see great DVD-MP4 conversion gains or dual DVR capabilities by upgrading to the 1.6/1.8 duals currently found online?

#7.) Finally, there is a cost factor to consider - If I have to upgrade the processor to see the best speed gains on my DVR/Mp4 conversions, I might want to go the route of the hackintosh, since I'd gain heavily on speed at a fraction of the cost. (Some of the stuff would remain the same - I need to upgrade the HD's anyways, and it'd be nice to have the Bluetooth and other stuff built-in.) Which route sounds better?


Edited by w2ed (11/24/09 12:05 AM)
Edit Reason: Editted for grammatical errors, to change the headline, and add the software link.