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What small, quiet chassis have you put your HD-3000 into?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:14 pm Reply with quote
CharlesWGreenJr
 
Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 12




I just got my HD-3000 in the mail a few days ago, and now I need to buy a system to put it in! My main concern is the PCI 2.2 / 5V restriction; I don't want to buy a system (some are over $1000) that I can't use for this card! Embarassed

Systems that I've seen that might do nicely include:

- Antec Aria "Quiet Cube PC" (Asus K8S-MX motherboard) http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=15130
- Shuttle SB86i (FB86 motherboard) http://www.silentpcreview.com/article230-page1.html

A couple of other alternatives are the Asus S-presso and the Shuttle Barebones - http://www.pctechtalk.com/?m=show&id=4188

I have an "ED" widescreen plasma TV (852x480 pixels), so I don't think that DVI would offer any noticeable improvement over VGA - true?

So, what system / motherboard are you using? Was the onboard audio / video adequate, or did you need to add more cards to get surround sound or smooth, continuous video while, say, watching a DVD or earlier recorded program at the same time that another is being recorded?

Thanks!

-Charles Green
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:31 am Reply with quote
Scott Larson
 
Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 713
Location: Portland, OR




People still buy complete systems?

I'm using some Asus motherboard. I disabled the onboard audio since I'm used to the Soundblaster Live although I think it would have worked fine through its S/PDIF connector. It didn't have onboard video but I'm sure it would have been lousy if it did (only one motherboard has XvMC video acceleration but it doesn't work at HDTV resolutions).

The main things you probably want:

1. A large chasis that allows for lots of disks and lots of (quiet) fans. Five fans that are barely moving are better than one noisy fan that blows the same amount of air.

2. A video card with XvMC acceleration that doesn't have a noisy fan. The Nvidia FX5200 is really the best deal since it's cheap, it has dual VGA and DVI outputs, it doesn't use a lot of power (see below on power supplies) and it doesn't have a fan. If the system won't be doing anything else, you could get a non-accelerated video card and a fast CPU and have it do all the work but an FX5200 is cheaper than a fast CPU and fast CPU's tend to have noisy fans.

3. Quiet disks. Seagate's Baracuda drives are pretty quiet. I can't hear them spin up and they only make a little noise when seeking.

4. A huge power supply. The last thing that will make noise is the fan in the power supply. Get as big as you can afford. A 450 watt supply will be nearly silent if it only has to supply 250 watts of power.

Don't think just in terms of your ED display. Someday you'll get a better display so you might as well build a system that can work with it right now.
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Re: What small, quiet...
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:20 pm Reply with quote
CharlesWGreenJr
 
Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 12




Scott,

Yeah, when you've got an 18 month old waiting for you when you get home, there's not a lot of time to put together computers, unfortunately. There's also what someone referred to in one of the home theater PC postings as the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) driving me toward the small side of the boxes. But she's the one who wanted the plasma TV hanging on our wall, so I really can't complain! Very Happy

Based on your information, I'm definitely going to go for a box with more than the 1 or 2 PCI slots that some of the smaller ones have, especially since I'll need some sort of remote control in addition to the pcHDTV card, and maybe a second tuner card in the future, along with the video card you mention. (Hm; an IR receiver on a USB dongle on the front of the case could be just the thing for remote control; wonder if anyone makes one...)

I also think it would be slick to have the hard drive spin down when not being accessed; even cooler would be to have a flash memory device as the boot drive (Is this possible? I understand some motherboards have support for flash I/O, but I don't know if the BIOS supports booting from it), so that the hard drive is only for recording/playback of video - unused for normal "passthrough" viewing.

Hm; maybe it's time to take my daughter on her first motherboard-shopping trip this weekend...

Thanks again,

Charles
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:43 pm Reply with quote
Guest
 




I've passed the WAF with what I've built and I managed to build the systems with a 20 month old and 5 year old waiting for me when I get home.

The trick to the latter is that all work must be done between ~9PM and when you go to bed.

For the former I did a split system and used an Athenatech A100BB for the front end (5.75"x13.5"x14.5" microATX). It's a pretty nice case considering the price is so low.

The backend didn't matter since it is in a closet on the other side of the wall from my TV but I chose a cheap Athenatech with lots of HD bays and used an ECS P6VEMD MB with Via Nehamiah2 to keep it relatively low power so I could just keep it on all the time (that way I have a general NAS box too.) The ECS MB uses the same chipset as a VIA EPIA MB but it has 4 PCI slots so I can have multiple tuners.
Frontends and backends
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:54 am Reply with quote
CharlesWGreenJr
 
Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 12




Guest,

Right you are - and in our house, given adults going to bed around 10 after taking care of chores, that's usually not much time at all. But fortunately, I'm not in a real hurry - though I'd like to get it going in time to decide if I want to get some more -3000 cards before the June-ish deadline.

While I don't have a closet near the TV, I do have an unfinished basement directly below it, so that may be a possibility. It was my understanding to date (based on very little reading, I admit) that the MythTV "front end", which could apparently now run on our iMac G3 at the side of the family room that's become our audio controller, wasn't what hooked to the TV / DVD, and that it basically was the GUI interface to allow you to control the setup. If the frontend is, however, what hooks to the TV and presumably only needs to house the video out, DVD R/W and IR functions (and an Ethernet interface to the back end, I surmise, to pass the video over?), then I have a bit more thinking to do, and possibly a second Intel-compatible system to put together...

Thanks!

-Charles Green
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Re: What small, quiet...
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:17 pm Reply with quote
Scott Larson
 
Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 713
Location: Portland, OR




CharlesWGreenJr wrote:
Yeah, when you've got an 18 month old waiting for you when you get home, there's not a lot of time to put together computers, unfortunately.

Well my cat keeps me busy by throwing up on everything! Smile Fortunately one of the things he threw up on was my old TV. That's how I got into HDTV.

Quote:
There's also what someone referred to in one of the home theater PC postings as the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) driving me toward the small side of the boxes. But she's the one who wanted the plasma TV hanging on our wall, so I really can't complain! Very Happy

I also can't complain about the cat. He enjoys swatting at the HDTV when I move the pointer around the screen.

Quote:
Based on your information, I'm definitely going to go for a box with more than the 1 or 2 PCI slots that some of the smaller ones have, especially since I'll need some sort of remote control in addition to the pcHDTV card, and maybe a second tuner card in the future, along with the video card you mention. (Hm; an IR receiver on a USB dongle on the front of the case could be just the thing for remote control; wonder if anyone makes one...)

They have motherboards with only one or two PCI slots? I'd steer away from them immediately. You'll be forever dependent on whatever stuff is on the motherboard.

Quote:
I also think it would be slick to have the hard drive spin down when not being accessed;

That can be set in the BIOS or by hdparm.

Quote:
even cooler would be to have a flash memory device as the boot drive (Is this possible? I understand some motherboards have support for flash I/O, but I don't know if the BIOS supports booting from it), so that the hard drive is only for recording/playback of video - unused for normal "passthrough" viewing.

I don't think this will really benefit you. You'll need a drive spinning whenever you use the system for anything anyway.
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Linux HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 6:32 pm Reply with quote
photonwave
 
Joined: 10 Nov 2004
Posts: 45
Location: Carlsbad, CA




Hello all,

I've built a HTPC using a standard size computer case that was orientated horizontally. It's a 2.8 ghz P4 with 1 gig of memory (2- 400mhz 512mb sticks) and a Radeon 9000 pro (128mb) video card. And the pcHDTV 2000 card on a Gentoo 2.6.12r2 kernel. This is all hooked up (via vga) to a 42 inch Plasma (1024x768)

So, here's what I've learned. My machine can play 720p smoothly with no blockiness at all. When I play 1080i, there are just a few frames dropped, which is really only noticeable during fast moving scenes (as in ER when they're all running around).

I installed MythTV but found that it was difficult to view because it was so slow. Currently I just record shows, then watch them later with mplayer.

About hard-drives, I recommend not putting them in your HTPC. As long as you have a 100basedT network, you can put them anywhere and not worry about fan noise or heat problems.

Don S.

_________________
Gentoo 2.6.23-r3, pcHDTV 2000 and HD-5500, CM 4221 Antenna, MythTV
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My wish list for a home theater PC
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:57 pm Reply with quote
CharlesWGreenJr
 
Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 12




Thanks, all, for your comments and suggestions! After doing some research, here's my parts list in an attempt to balance the size / noise / performance aspects. My first cut is going to be a single box for both frontend and backend; in the future, I may make this box into the backend and get a Mac Mini for the frontend (if I can figure out how to use a remote control with it), or just turn it into the home surfing computer:

- Antec Aria microATX case (3 HDD bays, 4 PCI / AGP slots, huge fan). Bills itself as "the quietest" case; not the smallest, but much more flexible than smaller cases.
- Intel P4 (Northwood core for lower heat dissipation, to use Zalman 6500 heat sink). 2.5 GHz available at microCenter; could go up to 2.8 MHz with the heat sink in 'quiet' mode. I don't know that it's worth going for HyperThreading technology; does Linux / gcc make use of it? Different front-side bus speeds are available; need to find out if that affects the RAM speed I need to get.
- MSI motherboard (Supports Serial ATA "RAID" drives): 6 channel sound, 3 PCI + 1 8X AGP slot. I plan to start with the onboard VGA, then probably add the Nvidia mentioned earlier. Need to make sure there's support for the flash card reader on the Antec case, though.
- Samsung Spinpoint 160 GB Serial ATA "Quiet" Hard Drive (not the biggest HDD out there, but again, going for less noise here).
- Maybe a Creative Inspire 5.1 sound system, if I can figure out how the digital audio gets from the motherboard to a connector on the case.
- Some quiet DVD +-*/% RW drive, maybe Samsung SM-352B. Want something that won't go into high speed when simply watching a DVD real-time.

I hope to order / buy this stuff over the next few weeks (most everything but the heat sink and HDD seems to be available at the local MicroCenter), then find the time to put it together. My first quick crack at getting it to work will likely be with KnoppMyth; if I need to squeeze more out of it and have the time, I might tackle customizing a Gentoo build for it.

Thanks again,

Charles
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Re: My wish list for a home theater PC
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 10:39 pm Reply with quote
Guest
 




CharlesWGreenJr wrote:
- Intel P4 (Northwood core for lower heat dissipation, to use Zalman 6500 heat sink). 2.5 GHz available at microCenter; could go up to 2.8 MHz with the heat sink in 'quiet' mode. I don't know that it's worth going for HyperThreading technology; does Linux / gcc make use of it? Different front-side bus speeds are available; need to find out if that affects the RAM speed I need to get.

HT isn't so dependent upon the compiler. The questions are: Is you kernel compiled with SMP and the HT scheduler tweak enabled? Is the application multi-threaded (does it use pthreads)? (The answer is yes for myth.) Does it make a difference? I don't know as I haven't tested with it turned off.

Is dual channel memory required? I don't know but I will tell you that my normal desktop which is a 2.53GHz Northwood with 400MHz FSB and 4x AGP isn't quite enough but my normal frontend which is a 2.8GHz Northwood with HT, 800MHz FSB (dual channel ram), and 8x AGP has no problems. Is one of the differences the factor or is it a combination? I don't know. Note that I use seperate FE/BE systems. (I'm the same "guest" that posted earlier in the thread.)

If you underbuy on your machine you will be mad when it falls short. I bought what I did for the FE as I figured it would be enough to get the job done yet I was still on the good side of the power knee. Switching to Prescott or getting a 3.0GHz Northwood would have put me on the bad side of the knee. Unfortunately you pay a little premium to get the 2.8 Northwood.
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 11:15 am Reply with quote
Scott Larson
 
Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 713
Location: Portland, OR




All of the Linux MPEG programs (xine, mplayer and many others) use threading so hyperthreading (or even just two regular processes passing data) will work but in the programs I've seen, one thread doesn't do much more than read the data and pass it on to the other thread which does 99% of the work. I haven't had any problems running these programs on my single non-hyperthreading CPU.

I have a pair of Seagate 200GB Baracuda drives set up in a RAID 0 (i.e. striping, not really RAID) array six feet from me right now and I can barely hear the seek motors. If you really want a really quiet drive, you can put an IDE drive in a USB enclosure. The only noise mine makes is a tiny fan on the back which I have to hold up to my ear to hear. This also lets you move the drive anywhere a USB cable will reach.
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Sempron 2800+ fast enough with nVidia FX 5200?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 6:35 pm Reply with quote
lisch
Guest
 




I agree with the big case mentality. I looked around at small cases, and decided on the LC-10M, which takes full ATX boards. That way I can fit two HD-3000s, an FX 5200, a sound card, and still have room for more.

My current plan is to use MSI K8N Neo Platinum with a Sempron 2800+ (the new 90nm flavor, which supports PowerNow!). I am going for quiet, so I plan on replacing the heatsink and fan with a Zalman 7000 AlCu. I don't think I'll even need the fan running most of the time; the huge heatsink will usually be adequate.

Although the Barracuda IV has long been the benchmark for quiet disks, I've read good thinks about the Samsung SpinPoint drives, and plan on getting one of them. Samsung also applies their noise reduction to DVD-ROM drives, so I'll get a Samsung DVD reader, too.

I think the Sempron 2800+ should be plenty of power for decoding 1080i, when used with the FX 5200. But I'd hate to buy everything, put it all together, and only then find out I was wrong...
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 9:03 am Reply with quote
Scott Larson
 
Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 713
Location: Portland, OR




My local nerd shop doesn't carry Samsung drives but it's great that manufacturers are getting into making their drives quiet. For the longest time Seagate was the only one who seemed to be working on the problem while others were making their drives noisier every year. I have one ten year old Quantum drive that I like to plug in just to appreciate how far we've come. It sounds like a dentist's drill.

Some cases have a feature to reduce noise from the DVD drive: a door on the front. It's simple and I was surprised how effective it is.

With an FX5200, you should be able to decode 1080i with half the CPU you're getting. Nothing to worry about there.
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My MythTV hardware choices
PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 2:17 pm Reply with quote
CharlesWGreenJr
 
Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 12




Thanks for all the comments! I went back to do some more research and finally settled on the following (yes, I'm building the system backwards from the heat sink (Smile ):

- Zalman 6500Cu-B (couldn't find anything else that would let me run an equal or faster CPU without mounting a fan directly on it, and it was mentioned in SilentPCReview specifically in conjunction with the Aria case) - ordered.

- Intel P4 2.8 GHz / 800MB FSB / HT (the beefiest processor I could find that would work with the heatsink in 'quiet' mode) [The review mentioned earlier specified a 2.8A processor; this one may be a C, not sure if the letters are indicators of front-side bus speed, or what) - received.

- Abit IS-10 motherboard (one of only two I could find with microATX [OK; I'm building the system to match the heat sink *and* the case], socket 478, 800MHz FSB, dual-channel RAM, 3 PCI slots, 8X AGP, and onboard IrDA and S/PDIF; the other was an Asus) - ordered.

- Antec Aria case (just got this today).

- HD-3000 card (got that first).

Not yet nailed down:

-TBD 2x512MB DIMMs (the price for 1GB DIMMs to max out the board, which I'd otherwise want to do, is more than twice that for 512s at the moment, apparently).

After I put the above together with old IDE and CD-ROM drives lying around my house and make sure it flies (I plan to start with KnoppMyth):

- Aforementioned Samsung SpinPoint SATA hard drive.

- DVD +- RW drive (sounds like Samsung may be a good quiet choice for this as well).

- Creative 5.1 sound system with Dolby decoder and remote control (didn't write down the model). [Or is it a Logitech?] (This is also replacing an all-in-one surround-sound home theater system.)

- Something to attach to the motherboard IrDA connector so I can use it for a remote control (ideas on this?).

- Finally, assuming the onboard video doesn't quite cut it, an 8X AGP graphics card. Some folks say it's good to get XvMC support, other folks say it's unreliable and locks up when you do certain things. Comments?

Thanks again,

Charles
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What small, quiet chassis have you put your HD-3000 into?
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