BLOG > HTPC a la Cornell Solar Decathlon

Unlike many of my other builds, I wouldn’t consider this one to be an “ultimate computer“.  The Cornell University Solar Decathlon Engineering Controls Team had something different in mind for this computer.  As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, Solar Decathlon is a team at Cornell that is building a fully solar-powered house.  In October, we will bring that house down to Washington to compete against 19 other international teams in a competition that judges the houses on design, feasibility, power consumption, and more.  My particular role, along with the rest of the Engineering controls team, will be to get everything in the house connected and working.  I can’t go into too much detail, because it’s top secret (kinda), but a small group of us are focusing on the home entertainment and automation systems.  This home theater PC is just a small part of the final system.

There are few design goals that we had in mind for this system which haven’t applied to previous computers that I’ve built:  It needs to be totally silent, very energy efficient, and 100% reliable.

For those reasons, we decided to go with a solid state hard drive (media content will be stored elsewhere on the network), A motherboard with high energy efficiency and a built-in Nvidia 9300 GPU, and an 80+ certified 430W PSU.

The video is embedded below.  Check it out, and also stop by the Cornell Solar Decathlon Website.

PS: If you like the music, stop by the project page at to download it for free!  You can also find the parts list there.

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