[WINDOWS] Help to save baldmosher's marriage
#46
So I'm back looking for suitable microATX and miniATX boards now.

mini or micro ATX
H61 or H67
eSATA x 1
PCIE x 1 (two if both usable!)
SPDIF coax & VGA out OR HDMI out
2 mem slots (4 would be nice)

I think that's pretty much all I need....? (I can use Xbox via VGA/toslink using a £10 coax converter if I can't find VGA/coax mobo)

Intel H67, HDMI, eSATA £72 + £10

Asus H67, Toslink+VGA, HDMI, powered eSATA £93 + £10
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#47
hi,

why not make some space in the junk shelf and put HTPC in there ?

then you won't have problems with case sizes ...
and you could close the door, which would help against noise problems.
Reply
#48
Three reasons,
1. I have plenty more junk that I want to store in the cupboard once I've got rid of the current useless junk Big Grin
2. It gets quite warm in there with the door closed (although it's a lot better now I've moved the USB hard disk out)
3. I can't use a remote if it's in the cupboard with the door closed!

I think I've found a suitable case to fit the drawer shelf now, as above, and as I've proved with my Xbox, the ventilation is OK in the drawer, so the current problem is finding a mobo with the required features that is cheaper than this http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-p8h6...-board-mic Smile I don't mind waiting until after Christmas as I don't think I can spare the cash yet. I'll probably buy the case first and then the rest once I'm sure it all fits.
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#49
<off topic>

I tried to install XBMC on Ubuntu on the laptop last night, to see if that was any better... but I couldn't even get it to install! I sudo find Ubuntu frustrating... although it seems to be running a LOT faster today than it was last week, so wonder if it's just taking a while to gradually update itself. I've only booted 2 or 3 times since I installed the OS. So I may persevere with Ubuntu for the next few months, or even try Live, as in theory it should be a more solid platform than Windows 7 for this low spec laptop. I've not even tried accessing DLNA in Ubuntu yet.... god help me

PS for the record, XBMC does run fine in Windows, and it's very quick (especially compared to WMC), and it recognised my DLNA immediately. I'm taking the advice above and having a good play with XBMC to see what I do/don't like about it. I'm pretty sure I've not set up libraries properly though.
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#50
Blimey, I think I've got a build for £215 that will do it, with plenty of breathing room for shopping around for good deals.

Probable mATX build:

Case: XE HTPC case + 230W FlexATX £59
Mobo: Intel DH67GD £72
CPU: G530 £36
RAM: 8GB 2x4 G-Skill Ripjaws £39
Bits: coax bodge (for the Xbox) £10
Total £215

(I already have a 500GB 2.5" SATA HDD; SSD and Tuner to be added later; hopefully there's room for a discrete GPU in this case via riser if I ever decided I need one)

It's £12 less for 2x2GB G-Skill RAM... hardly seems worth scrimping.... but would there be any advantage whatsoever to getting 8GB? If not, could I go for 1x4GB for £17 or does mismatched RAM pairing still pose a problem? If so could I make do with a cheaper brand e.g. Corsair 2x2GB for £22 and then dump them when the need for more RAM arises?

I'll look for a cooler and silent case fans later if the stock fans are a bit noisy - I assume the G530 will come with a HSF or will I have to buy that myself?
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#51
Someone bagged a bargain yesterday!
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/400258176567?s...1438.l2649
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#52
No advice expected here, just updating my thread, although feel free to chip in with suggestions.


I heeded someone's advice earlier in this thread and have spent some time toying around with setting up XBMC on the laptop, to see how I might want it on the HTPC. Biggest problems I've found are a dearth of setup blogs/guides, naturally, as nobody wants the exact same setup... lots of forum advice to sift through, though I am finding it hard to find the answer I need.


"v1.0" setup on the laptop was W7 Ultimate x86, using KMPlayer, Firefox and Utorrent and ext USB storage. The Wife™ couldn't work it out at all. It wasn't user friendly at all, mainly it was far too difficult to navigate around to locate the relevant files & folders.

"v1.1" setup was to add the DLNA router. This meant I could use the BluRay player to watch movies. Works a treat, still too complicated to locate files on the PC though.


I'll call this new pre-HTPC setup v2.0 beta. I do anticipate making a lot more changes before I decide to spend $$$ on new hardware.

So far I've installed:

Windows 7 Ultimate x86 (will eventually be x64)
XBMC (default skin)
Boxee
Navi-X addon - seems like a good idea in principle but I'm not a fan of watching random internet content. Maybe I've missed the point but that seems to be all it does? Have I only scratched the surface?
WMC was already installed - I won't be considering this unless I get a TV card
SickBeard
CouchPotato
Firefox - browser of choice
uTorrent - client of choice (at the moment). I also tried to set up XBMC uTorrent addon, but that doesn't seem to work either, I'm getting script errors when trying to change the settings, and I suspect this is a dead end, and it'll only let me view what's downloaded / already in the queue, and not to add new torrents.
Transmission - doesn't seem to work? Not as good as uTorrent anyway

Abandoned:
KMPlayer
Ubuntu 11 - I still can't get this working convincingly, let alone install XBMC on it, so I'm back to Windows 7 again, probably permanently. I am tempted to try openELEC, once I get the new HTPC up and running, as I won't be using Windows applications all the time, so it might be handy to have the option of using a dual boot W7/openELEC XBMC system? Dunno.


First impressions, Boxee is really, really slick, and really, really simple. Second impressions were that I'll be pushing The Wife™ towards XBMC long term. I found it rather odd that they appeared to render my test video file (Blazing Saddles 720p MKV) differently. Couldn't decide which I preferred. I assume there's no DXVA via my Intel onboard graphics, so maybe they just use different codecs? XBMC and Boxee will run simultaneously (obviously not both playing files!) so I can switch between the two as needed.

I gave The Wife™ her first walkthrough of the v2.0 beta setup last night and she understood Boxee immediately (it is brilliantly simple) but she didn't warm to XBMC, which is clearly more geek-friendly. I reckon The Wife™ will get used to its layout.

re: torrents / SickBeard / CouchPotato
Neither SB or CP particularly enamoured me as I don't have a Usenet account (they both go on as if NZB is the only realiable method of downloading). No doubt they would be amazing if I did. Is BT a viable second option? If so, do I need a BT client always running as a host? If so, does it have to be on a separate machine? They both mention "Black Hole", and CP mentions Transmission BT client, which I promptly installed on the laptop, but CP doesn't seem to be talking to it. Can I not use other BT clients?

Above all else, I did a random search in CP and it didn't find "Angel A" 720p, but then I immediately found an active torrent via Google and set it going in uTorrent. I also did a quick search in SB for "House" but couldn't get past the second search screen to actually start downloading. Again, I could find this in under a minute via Google/uT.

Neither app seems to have the ability to choose where to download shows/films to (I'd use the DLNA folders by default). This doesn't bode well for WAF-friendliness, since it doesn't even seem to work, so I wonder if those who rave about CP and SB have Usenet accounts??
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#53
Updated signature with possible Intel / AMD builds. No difference, except for the platform. Obviously 1155 gives more upgrade potential, but for just £15 more the AMD has onboard GPU, but I have space in the case for a low profile GPU card anyway which would only be £20 extra, if I needed it.

I'm surprised there's so little difference in real world price & performance.
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#54
Update time, I bought the case

I'm also leaning very heavily towards AMD now, for a few reasons

1. A6-3500 (inc HD6450) is virtually the same price as G620+GT210 and a touch more CPU power (although only for multi-core apps)
2. FM1 mobo specs are better than H67, bang for buck (+ can handle o/cing, if it ever comes to that)
3. the A8-3850 is a stonking CPU, and if I ever did decide to upgrade to the equivalent power 1155 CPU, I'd want a new mobo anyway. The A8 is currently out of my price range, but with Ivy Bridge on the horizon, that may all change in March if AMD have to slash their prices in response.... fingers crossed.
4. I've not bought an Intel CPU since 1996 Smile and their laissez-faire approach to onboard GPUs is pretty embarrassing really (although I could say the same about AMD's approach to their CPUs)
5. the case I bought (see below) is a bit smaller than anticipated, and so with only 3 PCI backplates, a cheapo 300W (Flex ATX) PSU, and concerns about airflow, I'd prefer not to have a discrete GPU card

And so, the case... http://ow.ly/7HpD1

Paid for it on Saturday, went to pick it up (it's local) on Sunday. It's the case pictured on the auction listing, but the seller sent me a photo of the insides of a different case!! This one has 3 (not 4) half-height PCI slots, space for one 70mm (not 80mm) case fan next to the PSU, two 40mm fans, and no fan above the PCI slots, although there are vent holes. The whole side opposite the PSU is drilled, so it's gonna be draughty in there. Smile It all unscrews and comes apart easily, it's quite a well-designed case really. 1.5mm aluminium housing (so it's pretty flimsy) with strengthening struts everywhere to give plenty of scope for internal drives. One slim optical drive slot, which I'm not intending to use, but I might do eventually. Two 3.5" HDD slots - I've got 1x2.5" HDD so that's more than enough for me.

The Wife™ couldn't "believe I'd paid £50 for that". She is a mechanical engineer and I did ask her first if she would make me one. I pointed this out last night and she said "yeah, fair enough" - she's promised to spray paint the insides of the case black for me though. Sexy. Smile

The PSU fan shield was bent inwards into the fan... no idea how. Don't have mobo so can't test it for rattles, but fan bearings are very easily damaged. Hoping the seller is willing to accept my offer of a partial (£20/£56) refund, as I'd prefer to spend a bit more cash and get a better PSU anyway. Local store selling 250W 85+ for £35, so I hope she thinks that offer is fair.
EDIT: no such luck with partial refund, swapping the whole thing tomorrow. Will probably stick the case PSU on eBay (if it works) and take my chances and get the more efficient PSU anyway

My only other concern (it's very minor) is that there's only 90mm total case height, so I might struggle to find a CPU cooler to fit. Should be fine though.... and above all else, it fits in the drawer shelf!!!! Big Grin
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#55
Well what a load of faff that turned out to be.

Swapped the first case for a new one: seller had to return it to mfr for a refund so couldn't offer a discount on damaged PSU (see last post). Refunded my £5 fuel costs, no harm done.

Second case & PSU looked fine. No mobo at my house, so took out the PSU to test on a mate's machine and burn it in for a few weeks. Heard a rattle. Something loose inside the PSU. There are sticky marks where an old rating label used to be seated on the opposite side to the current label. So I suspect the mfr has fitted a reconditioned PSU. Perhaps the whole batch is like that.

In any case, seller is happy to refund in full, and will pay return postage, so no harm done, it's been an adventure.

However... they have now agreed to accept my original £20 partial refund offer, if I still want to, as they "won't be able to sell the case in used condition", which is fair enough, but I thought they had to be returned to mfr? Great service, rubbish stock.... but I digress.

I've just resigned myself to mITX instead of μATX, in a smaller case, but I'm wondering if mITX is the right way to go for me. I'm gonna start a new thread for a possible mITX build, as I don't want to get this one too convoluted (he says on page 6)
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#56
OK, brief foray into mITX found that form factor is a bit restrictive and the mATX case I bought fits the drawer, so took the £20 rebate from the seller for the faulty PSU, and will decide on my own PSU. (Considered a ColorsIT ITX case w/300W for £30, but no PCI slots and equivalent ITX board is also £15 more than mATX)

So back here in mATX again. I've heavily edited my first post.

I've now connected up my TV to the amp via digital coax, which is now fantastic for switching my HDMI audio sources automatically via the TV, and I also still have the original toslink/coax audio connections direct from each source, so I can switch to each device individually if I want to or if the TV is switched off.

Unfortunately there's no digital audio input on the TV, so I will have to use HDMI on the HTPC - and I will also need a separate SPDIF output (either coax or toslink) on the mobo, so that I can listen to music without needing the TV switched on (although it may passthru HDMI-coax in standby mode - I've not tested this yet).

If I can't output HDMI and SPDIF simultaneously with XBMC (and there is a dual audio patch) then I will just stick to using MediaMonkey for audio and XBMC/Boxee for video.
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#57
Quote:1. A6-3500+HD6450

Sorry, if I've missed something, but what do you need a separate videocard is in this config for? Considering that A6 has basically the same videochip built-in.
Reply
#58
You haven't missed anything - and I don't - and yes it is. Smile Just illustrating the point with Intel vs AMD price comparison.

If the A8 were available and priced more competitively compared with i3, the question would be much trickier to answer. As I keep saying, Ivy Bridge could completely change the market. AMD are completely screwed at the low, medium and high ends of the market. They still have the monopoly on HTPC builds. For now.
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply
#59
Concerning WAF undrr XBMC, I found so far that the easiest skin to navigate without too much prior configuration is Aeon MQ3. The default skin is harder to navigate and most other skin will only have "Videos" where Aeon MQ3 will have most relevant playback options ("Movies", "TV Series", "Play disc", "Concert", etc...) on the "Home Screen".
Reply
#60
Just an update... a few months later... I'm still using the N40L with a GT 530 installed (with 8GB RAM and an SSD). I'm mainly using KMPlayer, because it was easier to set up than XBMC for GPU acceleration (still a faff though) and since the machine isn't just a HTPC it's easy enough to navigate like a normal PC with Explorer and the RF keyboard.

I've still got the eBay case waiting for when I'm ready to build an mATX or ITX machine, but since the N40L does everything I need it to, I'm not in much of a hurry any more. The N40L setup was seriously good value for money. Funds are not tight, but it's something I simply don't need.

However, I might yet start ripping my CD collection (800 or so albums) to FLAC for storage on HDD, and I would definitely require a faster CPU than the Turion to do that (probably an i5), and I would then relegate the N40L to be a glorified NAS. By selling the CDs (naughty - but the artist/label already got paid) that will probably pay for the whole setup twice over.

I do still have XBMC 11.0 installed, but it's not got high enough WAF, it's great and all, but it's just not reliable enough compared to Explorer & KMPlayer. The Wife has the patience of a hyperactive teenager when it comes to learning new things. (She's on her second Android phone, but still doesn't have her phone contacts sync'd to the cloud...)
baldmosher™
Trying to save his marriage with a HTPC
Current system: TV unit, 37PFL5405H, Microserver N40L (as HTPC), Xbox360, BDP-S370, FoxsatHD, Azur 540Rv2, Keysonic 540RF, Harmony 300
Planned W7x64 AMD mATX (HT)PC build: Case, PSU, RAM, Mobo, CPU Total £240 + IR + HSF? + SSD?
Reply



Logout Mark Read Team Forum Stats Members Help
[WINDOWS] Help to save baldmosher's marriage0
This forum uses Lukasz Tkacz MyBB addons.