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Build a silent Media Center - Part Two

Now you'll need to install the drivers for your hardware, starting with the CD which came with your motherboard. If you're using the Aopen i915GMm-HFS from Part-1, insert the CD and choose the 'EZ-Install' option. If you're using a separate graphics card, install its drivers afterwards.

Next, install the MCE drivers for your TV tuner cards. MCE will be doing the tuning itself, so don't bother with any utilities which came with the TV cards - you only need the drivers. If you're using the AverMedia A16A digital cards recommended in Part 1 you can download the required drivers from www.mediaatlantic.com/product.php/20224/0/

Finally, install DVD player software which is confirmed to be compatible with MCE - we recommend PowerDVD version 6 from www.gocyberlink.com. Start the DVD player software and enable hardware acceleration from its settings, then close the program down.

To start the actual configuration of MCE itself, click on the Media Center icon in your Start menu and follow the on-screen instructions. After agreeing to the license, confirm your region, then the number of tuners you'd like to configure, then agree to using the guide, enter your postcode, select your TV transmitter from the list and the system will then download the free 14-day EPG. Next scan for services to tune the TV channels. Once complete, you can optimise MCE for your display and speakers, or leave them for later.

In search of optimum performance

The system may now work, but it requires a few tweaks to run smoothly. First in order to fully implement the silent standby and remote control wakeup feature, you'll need to perform a small adjustment to the Windows Registry. First open Notepad from your Accessories menu and copy and paste the following lines (in bold):

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\usb]
"USBBIOSHACKS"=dword:00000000
"USBBIOSx"=dword:00000000


Now save this file with any name, but use the extension .REG - for example hack.reg. Now exit Notepad and simply double click the reg file to install it, then restart your PC. Your system should now be able to suspend into silence and wake back up again at a press of your remote control.

To keep your MCE system running smoothly, it's also important to install Microsoft's official updates. At the time of writing, there's already several which should start automatically downloading as soon as your machine's connected to the internet. A few more are optional. This page has an update which will improve DVD creation. UK users with digital tuners who can receive E4+1, but not E4 itself should visit this page instead to see what needs to be done.

We'd also recommend everyone who's building their own MCE system visit the excellent forums at The Green Button website, www.thegreenbutton.com