T57xx Models

HP make a staggering range of thin clients, even some ARM-based ones. Some day I must see if RiscOS could be persuaded to run on one...
...how does one select the model(s) that would make a suitable HTPC?

For the sake of price an older model would be best, but with enough grunt and expandability to get the job done. From HP's line-up I would suggest the T57xx series has good candidates.

HP T5000 Series T5700 T5710 T5720 T5730
T55xx - XP CE

T57x0 - XPe

T57x5 - Linux

Processor Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 733 MHz

(16 meg of RAM reserved for processor)

Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 1.0 GHz

(16 meg of RAM reserved for processor)

Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 1.1 GHz

(16 meg of RAM reserved for processor)

Transmeta Efficeon TM8600 1.2 GHz

(32 meg of RAM reserved for processor)

AMD Geode NX 1500 1.0 GHz

(16 meg of RAM reserved for graphics)

AMD Sempron 2100+

(32 meg of RAM reserved for graphics)

Flash Memory / RAM 192M-256M-512M / 256-512MM 256M-512M / 256M-512M 512M - 1G / 256-512M 512M-1G / 512M-1G
Operating System XPe SP1 XPe SP2 XPe SP2 XPe SP2
Network connector 10/100 mpbs 10/100 mpbs 10/100 mpbs 10/100/1000 mpbs
USB Ports 4 4 6 (4-back, 2-front) 8 (4-back, 2-front, 2-internal)
Graphics card and output port NVidia Quadro4 100NVC / VGA ATI Radeon 7000M / VGA

16 mb graphics memory

SiS741 GX Integrated/UMA / VGA ATI Radeon X1250 / VGA & DVI

32 mb graphics memory

Maximum resolution 1280 x 1024, 32 bit @ 70 Hz

1600 x 1200, 16 bit @ 85 Hz

1280 x 1024, 32 bit @ 70 Hz

1600 x 1200, 16 bit @ 85 Hz

2048x1536, 32 bit @ 60 Hz 2048 x 1536, 32 bit @ 60 Hz (dual monitor support)
Expansion Slot 1 PCI (with optional expansion module) 1 PCI (with optional expansion module) 1 PCI (with optional expansion module) 1 PCI/PCI Express (PCIe) (with optional expansion module)
Height x width x depth 8.9" x 4.0" x 7.7" 8.0" x 2.17" x 7.68" 9.33" x 4.33" x 10.67" 8.47" x 1.8" x 10.5"
-Content from the Thin Client Forum-

The T570x and T571x probably don't have the grunt for media duties, though they would make good home servers. The T573x is still usually a bit pricey though it would do very nicely should you find a cheap one.

A T572x can be picked-up on eBay for just a few pounds and will get the job done so let us examine the specs:

Geode NX1500:

Really a 1Ghz Athlon XP-M that's been under-clocked and under-volted. Don't knock it, it's faster than a 1Ghz VIA Nehemia in all areas and will keep up with 1.6Ghz Intel Atom. Better still it only consumes 6W so just needs a passive heat-sink. A 1.4Ghz NX1750 will also work, though I'd suggest a little active cooling for it's 14W.

Storage:

A T572x will take up to 1Gb of RAM, that's more than enough once you've properly fettled your OS (see software page). The small Flash drive will likely need replacing with something more suitable such as a 2.5" hard drive.

Chipset:

The SiS741 GX really isn't at all bad. Good solid I/O for CPU, IDE, USB, NIC. The integrated graphics isn't going to win any awards but can be supplemented with a GFX card.
The internal sound is surprisingly good. I was going to upgrade mine but haven't seen the need so far...

Expansion:

The included PCI slot may be old but most 'proper' HTPC motherboards still have one. One of the best PCI GFX cards available is a 1Gb Geforce 9500GT - more than enough for the role though far cheaper cards will do.

Conclusion:

So there you go. A T572x will fit the HTPC role very nicely. It's got enough grunt, has the ports and expandability, they can be found dirt-cheap, and it looks the part under the telly.
Mine also fills the role of games-console. It plays (older) PC games fine and with the aid of a few emulators manages all the PS1 / N64 / DC and earlier games I could want.