The Home Theater PC: A Source to End All Sources Page 3

Performance

Watching Netflix, I noticed slight lip sync issues. Not horrible, but enough that I'd be annoyed by it long term. I'll add this to our "investigate" list.

I played some Portal 2, some Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer, and checked out my rarely played EVE character (yep, still training). There were problems, though - big ones.

I've been a computer gamer practically all my life - thanks Mom and Dad for the Apple IIc - and at various times I've been pretty hardcore. My senior year in college I think I played more hours of Counter-Strike than I went to class (yet I still had a 3.5 GPA - thanks Ithaca Kollage!). This is to say, I am very particular about mice and movement. If you don't have smooth control over your aiming, you'll never enjoy a first person shooter. So sitting on my couch, using the cushion beside me as a surface for the mouse, I was getting owned. Unacceptable. In the short term I'm going to try a few different surfaces, something convenient. Honestly, not sure what, but I'll add that to our list of upgrades. It's also possible it's just the mouse I bought, so maybe I'll check out some high-end wireless gaming mice and see how they perform.

The keyboard, though a little awkward on my lap, was fine. I'm not going to write In Search of Lost Time on it, but let's be honest, I wasn't going to write that anyway.

Issues aside, playing awesome PC games on a 102-inch screen with a full 5.1 audio system is unbelievable. Once The Old Republic comes out later this year, I can imagine never leaving my couch. I've played plenty of great console games on this A/V system, but this was the first time I've experienced the added realism and quality of PC games on it. Wondrous.

I tried to play a Blu-ray movie and . . . turns out I don't have the software. So we'll add that to the search.

It's also a little loud, as gaming rigs tend to be. Not too bad, but I'm going to see about making it quieter. A new video card would be logical, as I bet I can get the same speed as my older card with fewer noisy fans. Maybe water cooling is next? I've always hesitated going that route, but it does hold the promise of much quieter performance.

Up Next

I'd like to make this HTPC my main gaming PC, but it's not there yet. The mouse issue is the biggest concern. If I can't get comfortable with my interactions on screen then this fails as a gaming PC and, to me, as an HTPC as well. Back it will go into my office, there to distract me while I try to get work done.

If I can get that sorted, there are the other upgrades I've mentioned above. Once I get the computer up to "usable," it'll all be about making it better. First up, a new video card, which (aside from getting us quieter performance, as I mentioned earlier) would mean audio over HDMI. And, 1,920x1,080 isn't that hard for a video card to drive, so it doesn't need to be an expensive screamer. A mid-range card should easily be able to handle that resolution with all the fancy bells and whistles like full-screen anti-aliasing maxed.

This is an ongoing project that I'll come back to every few weeks, or whenever I have something new to report. In the mean time, if there's something you think I've missed, or something you want me to try out, I'd love to hear it. You can add it to the comments section below.

Future topics and upgrades:

- Audio over HDMI (new video card?)
- Blu-ray software
- Heat management
- Lip sync issues
- Mouse issues (different surface? better mouse?)
- Keyboard stand? Maybe a low table?
- Make it quieter

Then:

- As a DVR?
- Cool HTPC software
- Totally replace . . . what? What sources don't I need anymore?

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