That killer HP Media Center PC deal is back

I wrote about this last month, when I picked up a CableCARD-tuner-equipped quad-core HP Pavilion m9300t PC for under $850. (See Best Media Center deal ever? for the details and this follow-up on the trials and tribulations of installing a CableCARD tuner.)

Today, I notice that the same deal has returned, with a different coupon number and (currently at least) an instant rebate of $100. Details of the current deal are at Ben’s Bargains. If you spec it with a 750GB hard drive the price is slightly higher than I paid, but only just a little. I would go with the 320GB drive, use it as the system drive, and add either a 750GB or 1TB second drive for media storage.

My capsule review so far of my m9300t: Excellent build quality. Easy (but annoying) to remove the crapware. Very, very quiet. Adding a second hard drive was way more difficult than it should be, thanks to a clunky drive cage and some very tight cabling.

5 thoughts on “That killer HP Media Center PC deal is back

  1. Hi Ed,

    The HP deal is back again this week and I’m getting close on deciding if I want to commit to a Vista CableCard set up. I have a simple question for you, is a remote control included with the HP computer? I can’t tell from their website. Thanks much, and if I do go through with this, I’m sure you will be hearing a lot more from me!

  2. Hi Ed,

    I am now a happy owner of a m9300t. Can you point me toward any resources that outline how to get the HDD cage out? I can’t figure it out and don’t want to risk injury (to myself or the pc… ) trying to remove it. HP’s site isn’t the mot intuitive for trying to find a guide. I’m hoping to add a Seagate Pipeline HDD for recording TV, and the layout inside this case is really unfriendly for tinkering. Thanks for any help you can provide.

  3. Hi Johnny, I had the same reaction. The procedure for removing the drive cage is documented in the user manual, which is online. I agree it’s very difficult to work with at first, but once I figured it out it wasn’t too bad. Here’s the high points:

    Assume you’ve removed the side cover and are looking at the interior of the PC with the drive cage on the lower left.

    Remove the two screws on the left that attach the drive cage.
    pinch and remove the cable on the right that contains the connectors for a USB drive.
    remove the SATA power and data connectors from the main drive.
    Reach under the right side of the cage and find the small release button that holds the cage to the chassis, near the edge of the motherboard.
    Hold down that button and slide the cage up a half inch or so. It should now pull out toward you.

    The two remaining challenges are opening the wire bundle to free up a power connector, and then getting a SATA data cable connected to the motherboard, where the connectors are blocked by another wire bundle. You just need to push them forcefully aside for long enough to snap the cable in.

    Once you get past that, you should be able to get everything back together. I agree it’s a lousy design for upgraders. Dell does a much better job with the XPS 420 but also has a noticeably bigger chassis.

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