SILENT Streacom FC8 Build, A6-3500

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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #1
The Goal

I have a Streacom FC8 and I have just finished a build into it.

I went with this passively cooled case because I want complete silence - not 'very quiet' - really silent - as, with young kids, I often watch with the volume off using subtitles etc, and even 'very quiet' fans are audible in my lounge at night...so total silence was rule #1.

Cost was not an issue as I had a credit to work with.

I want PVR support, and ideally HD audio support as soon as I can get it too. Zero interest in the gimmick that is 3D.

Parts

From Rylun Home Entertainment (Australia):

1 * Streacom FC8 HTPC Case
1 * Power Supply Wesena 150W Pico PSU + 10A Power Adapter
1 * Philips RC260 Remote + Receiver
1 * Slimline SATA Power Data Adapter Cable (needed for the molex to sata to hook up the bluray drive)

From eBay:
1 * Sony 5600S slot load bluray/dvd combo
(has button on left to match the FC8 case but you could use something else and jsut use software eject)

From AusPC market (http://www.auspcmarket.com.au/) - I had a big credit so went a bit 'gourmet' with some of this Smile

1 * Deepcool Z9 Thermal Paste
1 * 60 GB Intel 520 Series SSD
1 * ASRock A75M-ITX motherboard
2 * Corsair 1333MHz CL9 DDR3 RAM

Cost - don't know, don't care Smile Honestly, I would guess about $1000 all done @ retail. But for me this was well down on the list as I don't spend much on myself and I use my htpc a lot...

The Build:

Basically a very simple build as there aren't that many parts.

I had the following difficulties:
  • No documentation came with case, I downloaded some but it's very basic
  • The cords (for USB ports, power etc) are not labelled with polarity so had to google USB wire colours
  • The Wesena IR Receiver started to literally smoke the first time it was plugged in - I am told it goes into a USB header (and can power on) - but again no documentation...they (Rylun) have offered a replacement and will send a guide with it this time..curently using a USB IR receiver, works fine.
  • Big Problem - I should have gone with a Streacom recommended motherboard - the ASRock is a fine mobo and I got it free, but the RAM slots are in the wrong spot and get in the way of the heatpipes (also the PSU 24 pin connector is a bit close as well). I see now that other mobos have the ram slots parallel to the rear ports, but these are perpendicular along the side where the heatpipes connect. I got it to work by manually and gently bending the heat pipes a little but this is definitely not ideal and it means the cooling block is sitting just slightly askew. When I later change mobos (to trinity + 1 is the plan) - I may need new heatpipes. Fortunately it appears it's transferring the APU heat very well though.
  • I'd never actually done thermal paste before - should have got some more as you need to put it in a lot of spots when doing this sort of build.

Results

It's 100% silent and running stable across several days of continuous and heavy use. The case gets quite warm, almost hot (it's supposed to!) and I have seen the APU temps vary from about 45 to 75 depending on how hard I have thrashed it. Average is about 60 I'd say. I have not experienced any crashes due to temps or anything. Temps under both OSs seem pretty similar although OE reports lower temps I am not sure if they are accurate. Both Windows and OE seem to report slightly lower temps than the BIOS hardware monitor.

Software

I am trying both Windows (April nightly window build with AE) and Openelec (1.95.4 or Beta4) on it. I set it up as a dual boot...

Both generally work ok.

Windows

Boot time with zero special tuning is about 25 secs from bios to operational XBMC. Very fast for Windows with no tuning.

Is way more work to set up and get working well with remotes, a few focus stealing issues etc, but I have got it going quite well and have seen the HD light on my receiver for the first time in 3.5 years of owning it Smile - very cool. Video quality appears very good - although SD quality is noticeably lower than on my ION systems. I think there is some work on direct X scalers at the moment? It needs it...720 and 1080 are both very good looking. I have been considering integrating the MCE TV parts for a PVR solution as is quite do-able, but I don't think the Live TV can be shared to other machines with WinMC like say TVHeadEnd.

System is extremely responsive in general. Remote is using MCE keys mode, see below...

Openelec

Boots from BIOS to XBMC in maybe 5 seconds. Insanely fast.

- Complete fail on all 'fusion' versions - apparently these are for older fusion chips and hang on startup with A6s etc
- Video fail (extensive skipping) on versions below Beta 4.
- 'Generic' Beta4 (which contains the patches from FernetMenta for xvba that are not yet in mainline xbmc) - works very well, although it too suffers from poor SD video quality and audio sync does not seem quite as reliable as with the ION systems, but that might be just the files I played, I only really noticed it on one Boardwalk Empire. 720/1080 quality is of course good but slightly more digital looking than I am used to with ION...I think slightly less good than the Windows video quality but it's hard to be sure. ATI linux drivers are not well loved....that may be influencing my perception!!

System is somewhat less responsive than on Window but this is probably more to do with the remote timings than anything - OE seems to limit the max speed of the harmony as it use MCE remote mode, not MCE keys. Bit overall it just seems a little slower.

Conclusion

Since I use OE PVR (with tvheadend), I will be sticking with Openelec I'd say, because this machine is my 'tv server' and pipes TV to other ION based machines in the house. It's fantastically easy to install/upgrade/configure compared to Windows. But overall the windows experience is probably better, IF you don't need live TV that you want to share to other clients. I may yet move my TV to my server (Win 7 using Hanewin NFS) - and then just run my boxes as clients, OE for ION and maybe Windows for A6-3500....not sure yet.

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-21 07:39 by bossanova808.)
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Beer40oz Offline
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Post: #2
Very nice bossanova808!!!!!

Congrats and cheers! it's so nice when we meet our goal......

Incredible no fans at all..... 75C it's high up there but it should not give you problems..... (60C most of the time)

Enjoy your system ......
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #3
Yeah silent is great. My Shuttle runs @ 70 to 80 24/7 for about 2.5 years now with no issues, so I don't anticipate issues here.

Openelec actually reports about 46 degrees most of the time, so if that's accurate no issues at all, but my guess is it's low. But the heat is clearly getting to the heat dissapating fins....I have it all in a pretty small space, with not great airflow, so it it's ok there is should work damn near anywhere.

(PS thanks to you, eskro, bluray etc. for all the informative posts on A6 builds, I have been lurking and following!)

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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eskro Offline
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Post: #4
wow, fantastic man!

any pics for us to enjoy? Smile
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Mick1152 Offline
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Post: #5
That's the same blu ray drive I have for my system, although I haven't put it in yet as I'm waiting on a 5.25" bay adapter to arrive to fill in the empty space it will leave. Mine was harvested from a friend's dead laptop. Can't wait to get it in my system... and then it will be complete!

I love the Engrish on the photo "Bru-Ray" drive!!!

HTPC 1 - AMD A8-3870K, ASRock A75M, Silverstone ML03B, Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3 1866, Crucial M4 64GB SSD
HTPC 2 - HP Stream Mini, 6GB Ram
unRAID 6 Server - Intel Celeron G1610, 20TB Storage

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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #6
Sorry, no pics - I did some with the parts all laid out but then I ran out of time and had to do the build while talking to a client at the same time...so forgot to take more.

Finished though it looks like this - really a very nice, AV style case.

[Image: fc8-b-025-315.jpg]

One thing about the bluray - the switch on the front is kinda mushy - I was surprised it works in a way...its seems fine but I am worried it won't last. That being said, I own zero blurays and don't really plan to either - it was just for the odd kids DVD or whatever...so shouldn't be an issue.

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #7
(I mean the switch on the bluray drive itself, the button the the case is just an extension really and fine, but the sony bluray switch is quite mushy

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #8
Ok an update on the remote:

I have a new one (thanks to Rylun HE - they were very helpful) - and it is technically working. However under Windows and OE, it's recognised as a keyboard/mouse combo rather than your classic eHome RC6 type receiver...so it's a pain in the arse, basically. Several of the keys works but the mappings are weird and quite frankly it doesn't even work in MCE all that well - so a bit disappointing. In XBMC is really pretty crap.

On Windows you can apparently change to the eHome driver from the default but I can't find any docs about this and only one person saying it still has issues, even with MCE.

I haven't really got the time to work it out right now so have unplugged it and am using my trusty USB receiver for now. Hopefully someone puts in the time with XBMC.

I will probably keep it just in case they can get it to work, it's only $22 worth. But why they can't jsut put a proper and near universal RC6 eHome in these things I will never know....idiotic.

Other than that the case continues to go very well, it definitely gets warm (again, as it is supposed to since the heatpipes basically turn the entire case into an open air heatsink) - but it's completely stable from a hardware point of view.

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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filthycatbox Offline
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Post: #9
I love that case. I would have gone for that exact one if I did my build again.
I'm surprised about the remote though, I was going to get that next week. Figured it must be an MCE as it has the Windows button!?
70 degrees would make me a bit paranoid, but if it runs well, great!
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #10
Typical running is more like 45. I have seen my shuttle go to 90 and run ok (= fanless atom plus ion2, averages about 65).

Also, re: the remote - the little window is a decent size and there's enough room behind it to put a different receiver in, eBay has internal RC6 receivers on it for about $15, or you could pop open a USB one and use the guts easily enough. Bit of double sided tape and you're done...

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-26 11:27 by bossanova808.)
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filthycatbox Offline
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Post: #11
Yeah, that's what I was thinking of doing until I found this little baby; http://www.pulse-eight.com/store/product...apter.aspx which will enable most HDMI tv remotes to operate xbmc including my Sony Bravia.
Not heard of this before, could have saved myself a lot of time, money and s**tty remotes Smile
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #12
Yeah I am not sure my tv is cec friendly and even so I am v happy with my Harmony remotes... But it's an interesting idea...

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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jack0w Offline
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Post: #13
You could consider repinning an Inteset CIR so you can turn it on and off via the remote!

I have one myself and setup with a harmony remote, works perfectly as an RC6 receiver. Mounting was a little tricky with my case, though sounds like you already have somewhere to mount, presumably with a window for the IR sensor - any chance of taking some pictures of this part of the case?

Looks a very nice case too! Smile
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-26 15:31 by jack0w.)
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #14
You can actually see an inteset CIR mount in an FC8 in this post:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid...pid1063807

(bottom left).

And the IR window is just right of SD reader on this one:
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid...pid1108039

(sorry, can't be arsed taking mine apart to do pictures!)

What exactly does 're-pinning' mean - do you have to solder or is it just plug type stuff?

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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bossanova808 Offline
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Post: #15
Wierdly, I am thinking of putting an nvidia GT430 fanless in this case - for linux - so best of both worlds, in a way - ATI under windows and NVidia under linux.

Is that absolutely crazy??

Sorry, no help w/out a *full debug log*
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