After discussions on a recent article I wondered if it is possible to build a set-top box sized HTPC with dual-tuner cards inside. To achieve set-top box size means going Mini-ITX, but with the release of a range of Mini ITX AMD Fusion boards this is the easy part. Mini-ITX normally only includes 1 expansion slot, so to include 2 tuners requires a creative solution.
I found a range of appropriately sized Mini-ITX cases with 2 horizontal expansion slots and a dual PCI–E riser card. In theory is should be possible to fit all of these parts together to produce the desired result, however, it doesn’t look straightforward. The riser is not a flexible riser and requires a vertical slot to mount in. This may or may not be possible in the low-profile case, it certainly wont be possible with the full-height bracket attached. The next issue is attaching the 2 tuner cards (with low profile brackets) securely to the case — which is optimised for full-height cards! Finally, I don’t know if there is space at the side of the case for the riser sockets that the tuner card plug into.
Despite these issues, it looks like it could probably be cobbled together with some gaffatape and cable ties. I will keep looking as there may be more suitable cases and or a flexible dual pci-e riser (that splits 1 x16 slot to 2 slots)
I have now found a better riser card. However the site offering it warns that “Use for motherboard with chipset that supports bifurcation”. I have no idea if Fusion boards support “bifurcation” — but as there are microATX boards with several PCI–E slots, I am hoping it does.
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