Linux AMD? or IntelGMA? or nVidia?
#1
Hi all,

First, a little about me: I know my stuff when it comes to computers (#nerd-jargon welcomed), but i'm pretty new to XBMC, and i had a few questions.

Second a little background: i'm going to install xbmc-Live, (or ubuntu12 with xbmc) on a mini-pc that i will be getting pretty soon, and my boss told me to look into the forums here to figure out exactly what i'm looking for. the problem is, i don't know what to look for! i know i want a barebones/mini-box that has at least one USB 3.0 port in it (#deal-breaker), but also one that's not too expensive. (i'm thinking about $150-$200 before adding ram and a hard drive.) my idea is to have a mini-pc to be able to do anything i may want to do with it (for example samba filesharing, and other fun things) with the main focus being on being able to play 1080p movies with no hitches, hiccups, chops or drops.

from what i understand, aside from the gpu, just about any new mini-pc or barebones machine can play 1080p. so, it's come down to graphics cards.

i checked in the wiki for the recommended video processors. my current predicament is that, i want to get something on par with the recommendations, or better, but i'm not sure what to look for, or what kind of drivers/support xbmc-live has out-of-the-box, or readily available without compiling or building. (i'm going for easy and cost-effective Rofl )
my boss said that AMD is pretty unstable and doesn't perform as well as nVidia (#or Intel..?), but AMD seems to be integrated with much less pricey machines. (ex. i found a machine with the AMD Radeon 6310 for a good deal, as compared to the Intel GMA 4500 that was almost double the price!) my boss also suggested i look for the nVidia ION or ION2 chipset. i found one good box with the ION2 but i don't even know if there are drivers or support for any of these!


A little help?!!

Thanks in advance.
-What i Wonder Huh
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#2
I have an i3 machine and an i5 laptop. DXVA2 works on both and accelerates pretty much everthing, so its nice and smooth. However, some video files have strange artifacts and are unwatchable, and I have to turn DXVA2 off to watch them. I'd say this happens on roughly 5% of files. Its frustrating and annoying, but I have not found a fix. The percentage of files that don't play properly has gone down with every XBMC version, and every intel driver version - so it is being worked out, it just takes time. It's been over a year, I figured it would be totally sorted by now.

Previously my htpc had an ATI 5450 card, it provided flawless playback, but subjectively I would say the image didn't look as good as with the intel processor.

ION / ION2 is old stuff... I'm sure it works fine, it is well supported, but the platforms built with it are aging.

Basic nvidia stuff seems to be the most stable and most supported hardware. Look at the entry level HTPC cards. Choose one of Eskro's builds, you can't really go wrong.
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#3
most of the machines i've been looking at are intel atom, or the AMD equivalent (E-series).

so between the three major GPU companies, nVidia is the most supported with xbmc... so which series (#plural) would be recommendable?

and what about the AMD-brand gpu's? ... do you think the 6310 or similar would work well with xbmc?
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#4
Amd fusion(E and A series) works well with the xvba branch(not yet in mainline xbmc)
take a look here: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=116996

as for Nvidia(incl ION): its probably the best supported gpu for xbmc, but Atom tends to be even slower then the AMD E-350/450 when it comes to everything else.
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#5
And there is also a guide to get it to work on intel, but if I understood it correctly the cheapest integrated intel GPUs did not support that method.

I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to make it work and AMD e350 with xvba branch seems to be the way to go.

I use ION 330 now but those boards are slightly more expensive. I would still recommend it as it is very easy to get to work.
I am very happy with the ION but lately I got interested in the Nox skin and it is a bit too heavy.
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#6
looking around at machines ... found the Asus EeeBox. looks like it's got everything i want nVidia ION, Intel atom 1.66 dual core, USB 3.0 .... but it's stuck with DDR2 800. ... is that a dealbreaker? ... i'm wondering if that will bottleneck any of the performance. seems like every other box that has a decent gpu has DDR3.

(#just running this by) another idea i had (which is the reason usb3 is a must) is that i would get a small sata solid state drive (like 16gb) for the OS/xbmc, and use a 2tb usb3 drive i use for external storage. solid state for the os would definitely cut down on the bottleneck for the main operations and leave resources for rendering and playback.

and how's the performance comparison between integrated gpu vs pcie x1?

What i Wonder Huh
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#7
It all comes down what you want to do with the box besides XBMC. The atom/ION combo will handle XBMC alone well, but having cpu intensive background task might break that experience.
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#8
I do most of my development on a Zotac ZBox ID80: Atom D2700, NVidia gt520M. GT520M is successor of ION2. When running XBMC the CPUs are almost idle, there is enough room for lots of other tasks.

Note that AMD E-350/450 won't play 1080p60. It is maxed out at approx. 50fps. There is no hw acceleration for mpeg2 atm and for h,264 Level > 4.1 there is still no support. (ION2 has no problems with this)
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#9
probably the most cpu-intensive task i will run while running xbmc would probably be local file transfers or downloads/uploads. so i don't think we'll have problems there.
sounds like the D2700 is the best/most supported between the two cpu brands. .. i want to be able to play anything i find. so unsupported formats for 1080p would not be optimal.
that narrows it down quite a bit.

(2012-06-08, 15:48)FernetMenta Wrote: There is no hw acceleration for mpeg2 atm and for h,264 Level > 4.1 there is still no support. (ION2 has no problems with this)

ION2 supports it. ... does the original/next gen ION support it?


What i Wonder Huh
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#10
update:
as i'm looking around and researching, i'm narrowing down what machine i want to purchase.

looks like it's down to this barebones machine:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6856205006

and this video card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6814500230


any suggestions/advice/criticism?


What i Wonder Huh
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#11
That doesnt look bad costwise. Didnt find anything like that here.

I think the fan less GT210 is very popular.
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#12
How are you going to install that video card? I couldn't see a, PCI Express slot or b, slot on the back of the box to connect cables
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#13
stats say it has a pcie x1 port. i guess they forgot to mention that there isn't a profile for it.
but they also didn't mention what kind of onboard video it has. i checked the reviews, it seems okay. aside from the unknown.

guess i'll keep looking...


What i Wonder Huh
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#14
(2012-06-08, 23:11)whatiwonder Wrote: update:
as i'm looking around and researching, i'm narrowing down what machine i want to purchase.

looks like it's down to this barebones machine:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6856205006

and this video card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6814500230


any suggestions/advice/criticism?


What i Wonder Huh

Don't buy such an old video card. Look for a gt520 or gt430.
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#15
another update...

i was looking into the Zotec ZBOX ID80-U

for running a smooth XBMCLive along with 1080p playback, how much ram would be recommendable? looks like it maxes out at 4gb. but would 2 be enough?


What i Wonder Huh
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