Your Very First HTPC? But Where do You Start?

  Thread Rating:
  • 34 Votes - 4.47 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post Reply
eskro Offline
Posting Freak
Posts: 8,489
Joined: Nov 2010
Reputation: 198
Post: #61
it does make a difference!!
ask user named Beer40onze!!!
He bought a ZOTAC ATOM/ION motherboard and video played choppy
till he went in BIOS and allocated 512MB's of RAM to his iGPU!!
He told me that by default, BIOS was set on AUTO for that option....
find quote
poofyhairguy Offline
Resident Hardware Guru
Posts: 2,956
Joined: Apr 2010
Reputation: 50
Post: #62
Subliminal Aura Wrote:I guess it'll only help if you're running windows aero or for playing games but for xbmc 128meg ought to be fine right ?

Not even close. Decoding x264 takes WAY more resources than Aero. In fact, you will have problems with 256MB VRAM. 512 is the magic number....

Mini/Micro ITX Frontend (with SSD) + Mediaserver/NAS + Logitech Harmony + LCD/LED/Plasma TV + Nice AV Receiver + XBMC + USENET + sabnzbd + sickbeard +couchpotato

My Setup--HTPC Building Guide- Start Here--Advice on Hard Drives and SSDs--Mediaserver Guide--Harmony Guide
find quote
Subliminal Aura Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 214
Joined: Feb 2011
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #63
poofyhairguy Wrote:In fact, you will have problems with 256MB VRAM. 512 is the magic number....

Rubbish

Come on boys anyone with any decent level of knowledge know why allocating more RAM yields better x264 decoding performance as the two are not directly correlated once you've gone past screen fill memory.

I'm using 256meg gpu - 750 RAM (single channel) and everything is smooth
(This post was last modified: 2011-03-05 06:16 by Subliminal Aura.)
find quote
poofyhairguy Offline
Resident Hardware Guru
Posts: 2,956
Joined: Apr 2010
Reputation: 50
Post: #64
Subliminal Aura Wrote:Come on boys anyone with any decent level of knowledge know why allocating more RAM yields better x264 decoding performance as the two are not directly correlated once you've gone past screen fill memory.

The 512mb level seems to better utilize shared memory. If you are talking a dedicated VRAM that is a different story. It has nothing to do with the screen fill needs, and much more to do with bioses and drivers (I think). There is no downside to the 512mb value in the bios (since its a guarantee XBMC will have enough afterwards) so there is no reason to not do it and hopefully avoid hitting some problem.

But search the forums, there are problems with many mobos if its not manually set on 512. And for the record, Aero does take less GPU resources than decoding. That is why GMA900s can do it, but x264 eats their lunch...

Mini/Micro ITX Frontend (with SSD) + Mediaserver/NAS + Logitech Harmony + LCD/LED/Plasma TV + Nice AV Receiver + XBMC + USENET + sabnzbd + sickbeard +couchpotato

My Setup--HTPC Building Guide- Start Here--Advice on Hard Drives and SSDs--Mediaserver Guide--Harmony Guide
(This post was last modified: 2011-03-05 06:35 by poofyhairguy.)
find quote
Subliminal Aura Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 214
Joined: Feb 2011
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #65
Well that's strange,

I'll try the box with different RAM configurations to see if there's any difference in the way the chipset responds.

ps Of course Aero takes less resources than decoding but aero and compositing on linux can add to unwanted load as the hooks are still in memory even if idle. Basically I had to switch off composite on linux as I found xbmc to be not as silky smooth as I wanted. Once off - smooth as butter.
find quote
MediaMan Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #66
Like most people reading this thread I'm trying to figure out what combination of hardware will fill my needs. This is my first attempt to build a media center, so please excuse any dumb questions I may ask.

Basically I want an XBMC appliance that can sit in my living room and easily play HD (1080p) content from my NAS over a wireless network. So I mostly fall into poofyhairguy's Group 2 category, with the exception that I would feel more comfortable with a celeron instead of an atom.

My highest priority requirements are:
- Works well with XBMC.
- Very very quiet! Preferably silent (fanless).
- Can be controlled with my Logitech Harmony remote.
- Wireless N support
- Small form factor (the smaller the better)
- SSD disk (for speed and noise) reasons.

After reading several of the excellent threads (including this one), the closest thing I found was the Shuttle XS35. It was fanless, but unfortunately atom based. The Zotac ND22 was also close, but it has a fan and I couldn't find a dB spec for it. I'm also not sure if they can be controlled by my remote control.

Can anyone recommend a configuration to meet my requirements above? I don't mind spending extra money to get a small silent system. Assuming the ND22 is very quiet, how can I add IR support to it?

Any help greatly appreciated.
(This post was last modified: 2011-03-05 18:16 by MediaMan.)
find quote
Superorb Offline
Fan
Posts: 458
Joined: Jun 2009
Reputation: 0
Post: #67
^^ High bitrate 1080p will likely be choppy on wireless, you really want a wired connection for 1080p content.

Also, you will never find something prebuilt that is more powerful than an Atom and is fanless.

On my main PC I have an OC'd e2160 from 1.8 to 3.0 and I took the fan off the vertical cooler and it works well. But, that cooler won't fit in any HTPC form factor case.

Is there a room adjacent to the TV? I have my HTPC in the closet of my office and just run a few feet of cable through the wall to the TV on the other side. Silent and out of sight, plus I keep the TV antenna in that closet too.
find quote
MediaMan Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #68
The files on my NAS are mostly mkv files (ripped from blu-ray disc). I have no problem watching them from my PC or my blu-ray player (which has a very basic media center built in). I think those files still qualify as HD, but they are typically 4-8GB in size. In any case they still look good on my projector screen! I have no plans for streaming 40GB blu-ray files over the network.

I suspected that I might need to built my own. Which means I'll probably need a larger form factor, but I would still like to keep it as small as possible. An option is to go with a case that allows for one large (but slow rotating and quiet) fan to do the cooling. I'm hoping someone in these forums might have some good hardware suggestions.
find quote
Superorb Offline
Fan
Posts: 458
Joined: Jun 2009
Reputation: 0
Post: #69
MediaMan Wrote:The files on my NAS are mostly mkv files (ripped from blu-ray disc). I have no problem watching them from my PC or my blu-ray player (which has a very basic media center built in). I think those files still qualify as HD, but they are typically 4-8GB in size. In any case they still look good on my projector screen! I have no plans for streaming 40GB blu-ray files over the network.

I suspected that I might need to built my own. Which means I'll probably need a larger form factor, but I would still like to keep it as small as possible. An option is to go with a case that allows for one large (but slow rotating and quiet) fan to do the cooling. I'm hoping someone in these forums might have some good hardware suggestions.
Remember that it will be your video card that will be doing all the heavy lifting, so unless you intend to emulate modern game systems there's no need for a powerhouse CPU. Like I said before, I'm using a 12 year old Pentium 4 single core on a modern-ish video card and everything plays well.
find quote
SpectreX Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 278
Joined: Oct 2010
Reputation: 0
Post: #70
If you plan on using Windows as the OS, get a AMD Zacate board with the fanless heatsink (the Asus mini-ITX one, not the AsRock one with a fan) + Antec ISK100 mini-ITX case with the side fan set to around 500rpm. If you plan on using Linux (or Live) get a Celeron Scythe Shuriken cooler + Nvidia GT220 low profile fanless and an Antec ISK 300 board, or a low profile GT430 if you want HD audio bistreaming. In both cases at around 500rpm the fan is inaudible, even by silent pc freaks standards.

And Wireless N can in some situation handle even 40Mbps video streams, i get a constant 10-11MB/s ( times eight that`s 80-90Mbps) on my Cisco 610N router. But you need a good router, dual band 2.4-5Ghz (200$ and up models) and a good USB dongle. And not may walls between them or large distances.
find quote
Subliminal Aura Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 214
Joined: Feb 2011
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #71
Spectre has some good points although I'm not sure how hot the Zacate fanless gets. The ION get very hot :o

I've looked at buying the ND22 for months but didn't fancy running the fan at quiet and letting temperatures rise to 80-100C so I ended up with a self build based on the IONITX-P-E, I removed the wireless-N adapater as I needed the machine to be a htpc/nas combo so gigabit was the best option.

Temperatures are always going to be an issue with very tiny cases like the Zbox and the one below but nothing a silent Scythe Mini Kaze can't fix.

http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthr...t=18247761

I'm thinking of ripping the ICE heatpipe out of my shuttle and using that but tbh it will make the whole thing look like a hovercraft Laugh
find quote
Superorb Offline
Fan
Posts: 458
Joined: Jun 2009
Reputation: 0
Post: #72
Subliminal Aura Wrote:Spectre has some good points although I'm not sure how hot the Zacate fanless gets. The ION get very hot :o

I've looked at buying the ND22 for months but didn't fancy running the fan at quiet and letting temperatures rise to 80-100C so I ended up with a self build based on the IONITX-P-E, I removed the wireless-N adapater as I needed the machine to be a htpc/nas combo so gigabit was the best option.

Temperatures are always going to be an issue with very tiny cases like the Zbox and the one below but nothing a silent Scythe Mini Kaze can't fix.

http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthr...t=18247761

I'm thinking of ripping the ICE heatpipe out of my shuttle and using that but tbh it will make the whole thing look like a hovercraft Laugh
That IONITX-P-E board setup, is that newly released? I don't remember seeing it lately.
find quote
Subliminal Aura Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 214
Joined: Feb 2011
Reputation: 4
Location: UK
Post: #73
Superorb Wrote:That IONITX-P-E board setup, is that newly released? I don't remember seeing it lately.

It's old old old Big Grin Came out last year sometime ?

It's ION1 and does what it says on the tin, almost flawless. My only gripe is with temperature.
find quote
MediaMan Offline
Junior Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Mar 2011
Reputation: 0
Post: #74
Thanks for the hardware tips. I'll definitely take a look into them. One thing I don't understand is how do I make my custom system remote control friendly. I assume that some sort of receiver card must be installed in the case and that it must have a sensor on the front of the case, but I rarely see any specs about this when looking at PC cases. I also don't see many people mentioning what IR receiver card they are using.
find quote
Hammi Offline
Senior Member
Posts: 164
Joined: Dec 2009
Reputation: 0
Post: #75
I have this built into my current case. Just one cable which you need to deploy somewhere for the IR receiver. The nice thing about this receiver is that it can also power on the HTPC.

My next case should have an IR receiver built into it already. There are some who have this, often together with a VFD.
find quote
Post Reply