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Hardware for Linux and XBMC - Calmiche - 2007-11-06

Okay, I'm not a Linux newbie, but I am a novice. I've played around with Red Hat, Suse and Ubuntu for quite some time and have Ubuntu 7.10 on my laptop right now.

However, there are always problems with my hardware with Linux. I've always had problems with 3d Graphics and graphics acceleration, especially with ATI cards.

My Xbox is starting to age rather ungracefully (e.g. High Def video and not enough bandwidth for streaming said videos to my hi-def TV.) and I am going to be in a position to purchase hardware for a Linux box designed for XBMC here next month.

What kind of suggestions can people make for supported hardware, specifically video cards and perhaps a tuner card if XBMC Linux will support it? Anything special I will need? How about a good remote control or good hi-def output? I'm trying to futureproof it as much as possible for future versions of Ubuntu and XBMC, as well as perhaps having other software on it to fill the gap until XBMC is fully mature.

Any and all suggestions welcome, and linkage is preferred, especially to Newegg.com or other reliable seller. Thanks!

- coastal - 2007-11-06

This will be an interesting thread to follow. I'll be looking to do the same ... at some point down the road.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on low powered options esp. any itx type builds. I was tempted to run a laptop as a media server but couldn't bring myself to risk it . But 60w is better than 360+w.

- Calmiche - 2007-11-06

Yah, I'm wondering about that too. I've got a BIG media server in my computer room and I stream everything. I'm wondering if it would be easier and cheaper to put together a small set-top box, passively cooled or at least very low dB and footprint with a small hard drive, but with enough power to stream hi-def. Think AppleTV with more power.

It's either that or a big home theater center PC, with a dual/quad-core processor and lots of power. It might have to be water cooled to get the dB down. What type of processor are we looking at for good 1080p?

I'm assuming that we aren't going to get DRM, BlueRay or HDDVD decoding for a long time, but that is something to consider as well.

Is Linux XBMC going to support TV recording?

- griffore - 2007-11-06

I think these days These days, I don’t think you can really go wrong with either nVidia or ati drivers. Just ensure that whatever card you get it supports both DirectX 9c and OpenGL 2 – for the proper shader version support.

You will probably want to stick with an Intel chipset as the core duo/quad CPUs generally fair quite a bit better in benchmarks then AMD. For 1080p I would get either the E6750 or Q6600 chips.

Load it up with memory but not a crazy amount. I would suggest 1 or 2 GB – 4 is good if you want to spend the $$$, but not really necessary for XBMC.

I stream all my videos from my RAID-5 file server so I am not concerned too much with hard drive space but you do want to stick with at least a 7200 speed drive and a size of at least 80 to 120 GB.

- ekurin - 2007-11-06

Ha talk about timing, I was just about to post a hardware thread myself. Hope you don't mind I hijack and ask a few questions.

I have some questions regarding Intels chipset/graphic solutions and the requirement of OpenGL 2.0 and Shader Model 3.0.

I've set up a test box, a HP d530 with a Intel 865G handling the graphics and a P4 2.8 CPU. The XBMC GUI runs smooth and the box even handles 720p but fails at 1080p (no surprise there).

I've been thinking about acquiring a Gigabyte GA-G33M-S2H because it has a DVI-output. The question here is regarding the graphic chipset the Intel GMA 3100 whether it could run XBMC smooth. Since judging from the table in the link it only support Shader Model 2.0 and Open GL 1.4. However since the chipset in my testbox runs XBMC smooth and it's quite older than the GMA 3100 it would run ok?. Maybe the devs can answers this one? The support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 isn't perhaps fully integrated yet and will be required later on?

Would also love to hear any success stories with the GMA 3100 and 1080p playback. (I know the user Redhound has successfully played Hi-def with the X3100 but it's more powerful than the regular 3100). Maybe the GMA 3100 and a Intel E6750 will be enough?

- Calmiche - 2007-11-07

Okay, I have been doing some more research and am looking at this card as an affordable, fairly high end card. (I have had good luck with EVGA cards.)

EVGA 256-P2-N752-TR GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail


It's Nvidia based, supports OpenGL 2.0, DirectX 10 (and 9) and has DVI, VGA, S-Video and composite outputs. It also does HDCP for when/if XBMC supports it and I should be able to rip apart a Xbox360 HDDVD drive to throw in the box to run in Ubuntu until then. Any thoughts or objections?

- Calmiche - 2007-11-07

Hey ekurin, That's a pretty little motherboard. I actually prefer AMD's, even though they run a little warmer.

Have you seen this motherboard?

GIGABYTE GA-MA69G-S3H AM2 AMD 690G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail


4 SATA connections instead of 2, twice as much RAM supported, more PCI slots, and the newer HDMI 1.2 revision.

It does, however, have a ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 onboard video chipset, and I'm not sure how well that would work. It's also ATX instead of micro-ATX.

(Why are they STILL putting LPT ports on motherboards obviously dedicated to video?!)

- Nick8888 - 2007-11-07

I am too interested in this discussion and will be following it but may be of limited value as I dont have much experience. However I'm looking at trying to build a high end relatively future proof system.

Im currently looking at
The mother board calmiche posted.. or relatively similar
nvidia gts8600 video card.
2gb ram (would like option to upgrade to 4)
500gb harddrive (options to upgrade to about 2tb(future proof))
leadtek 1000 dual hdtv tuner card (possibly x2)
A moderately cheap dvd burner.

I am planning on using xbmc with mythtv but currently don't know how this will be integrated so I'm just sitting back. Curious about what CPU so I will definately follow this thread and others knowledge.

- Jonsson - 2007-11-07

The Xpress 1250 does not work well, i got the matx version of that board..=/

no support for Xv and i got bad tearing in video playback, and i have turned vsync on in both the driver and in xbmc, so the drivers are not good for the 1250 just yet..=(

- Calmiche - 2007-11-07

So, no ATI Radeon Xpress 1250. That's good to know. Thanks Jonsson. I'll keep that in mind.

I'm down to either on-board Nvidia or a separate video card. No point in buying the GIGABYTE GA-MA69G-S3H if I'm going to use a separate card.

How about tuner cards? I hadn't heard of the Leadtek 1000 dual HDTV card, but I've heard good things about Hauppauge. I had an Radeon All-In-Wonder 9800, but it was pretty poor, performance-wise. I don't even have it in a machine right now.

Dual channel recording on one card seems to be pretty poor right now. I'm thinking of going with just two single channel PCI cards. Specifically:

Hauppauge WinTV PVR 350 Video Recorder, TV/FM Tuner Card PCI Interface

My local cable is still unlocked, so I don't need a set-top box. (That looks like a nightmare, setting up IR receivers and controls. What are we, in the 80's?)

Case? Sound card? - kabirh - 2007-11-07

Does anyone have case recommendations? I've got a Harmony remote and I'm hoping I can find a large HTPC case with a built-in IR sensor that LIRC loves. Also, sound card recommendations with optical and/or coaxial SP/DIF ports that work in Linux/XBMC would be great.

I'd like to turn this into a gaming HTPC that can stream video from my file server for XBMC, or be used in Windows for gaming.

Case? Sound card? - kabirh - 2007-11-07

Does anyone have case recommendations? I've got a Harmony remote and I'm hoping I can find a large HTPC case with a built-in IR sensor that LIRC loves. Also, sound card recommendations with optical and/or coaxial SP/DIF ports that work in Linux/XBMC would be great.

I'd like to turn this into a gaming HTPC that can stream video from my file server for XBMC, or be used in Windows for gaming.

- snappz - 2007-11-07

On a side note for people looking for hardware, a lot of motherboards come in various models in the same line. (ie some have S/PDIF, firewire etc but the basic version might not)
On a number of these boards they are just missing the connectors (headers). I have modified 2 asus motherboards to use S/PDIF that were bought without the option. I just grabbed a pin header from an old board and soldered it to the Asus, used a CDROM (I think it was) audio cable and a chasis mounted RCA connector.

I have seen (but not tried yet) a firewire and an IR header space on the same board.

This may be cheaper or even allow a bit more choice when looking for motherboards.

- Calmiche - 2007-11-07

Cases are interesting too. They are actually making cases that look like they belong in a home theater setup. Antec has some, but they are REALLY expensive and while they have some cute gimics, they aren't executed very well.

This is what I think I'm going to end up with:



It is a space for an IR port. It also shouldn't be to hard to drill out a space for a programmable LCD for XBMC, like my xBox has. It actually looks like the only place to do that is right over the logo. Ah well.

The case is a bit bigger than some, but I'd prefer more room for airflow anyway.

- ekurin - 2007-11-07

I would like to recommend the Shuttle SG33G5M. That case with the included motherboard topped my list over HTPCs. Unfortunetly the only thing it hasn't got is a DVI-output which I need :/

Does anyone have the answer to my Shader 3.0 / OpenGL 2.0 question a little further down in the thread?