Completed BachManiac's PAL HTPC Notebook (1 Viewer)


Portal Pro
October 15, 2007
Home Country
Austria Austria

After about 1,5 Years of testing, playing and also beeing angry a quite times I now want to introduce my finished HTPC.

"Finished" means, it runs completely like I want it to and it makes no problems anymore.
Really finished a HTPC can never be, because there are always a lot of interesting plugins like "my series" ect.

The fact, that makes my HTPC a little unique is, that it is a notebook!
Most of all HTPC's are normal or small desktop-systems but I believe, a notebook is more suitable for HTPC-use because of its look, its power consumption and its "silenceness".

Since two years I work only with notebooks anymore because they are very smaller, much quiter, have less power consumption and are easier to use in any case for me.

A Desktop-PC has about 100-200W in HTPC-mode, my notebook has 25W when I watch TV!

Basically, my whole HTPC-System is designed for PAL Resolution, because I am sure to wait for HDTV at least 3-4 years.

The notebook I use is an IBM Thinkpad R52!
I always choose IBM Thinkpads because they are, in my opinion, the most reliable and long-life notebooks. The R52 is a standard-quality model. For HTPC-use I don't need an expensive T-modell with titanium-composite-housing, because the notebook always stays at the same place and never will be touched.

With RMClock i undervolt and underclock the Cpu (the Pentium-M Dothan would run with 600 Mhz and 0,7 volt). If it needs more power, it clocks up to 1,5 Ghz within milliseconds on demand. I've compared Mediaportal-performance with this settings and "always-max" settings and I saw no difference. So it is very practicable to underclock the CPU on MP.

With TP-Fancontrol i have control over the fan. I can deactivate the fan and program it for different speeds on different cpu-temperatures.
The problem with the R52 is, that the lowest fan-speed is about 3000RPM and this is a little noisy. For common notebook-relations this noise is average, but other notebooks have f.e. 2000RPM at lowest and this is hardly to hear! But there is no chance to change that on the R52 because the speeds are fixed in bios and I can only switch between them with this tool. Otherweise my T60p runs on 2950rpm at lowest, but this is also nearly herable. The T60p must have a much better fan than the R52, so the fan noise depends on the model.
Other Thinkpads like a X60 would have less power consumption and lower fan speeds, but these are more expensive.
But anyway, the R52 is much more quiter than a low noise desktop-pc.

I set the fan to switch on by a cpu-temperature of 60° and switch off by 50°. With this settings the fan runs about every 15 minutes for ~1 minute. So the Pentium-M can run about 15 minutes without any fan and reach only 60°. I've not tested how far the temps go up when I never turn the fan on. I know the CPU also works on 90° but if it run every day at this temp it is definitly not goot for the cpu and especially the whole notebook needs a minimum airflow, because all components like HDD, RAM, Northbridge become warm, especially the RAM gets hot.

The standard 2,5" HDD is very quite, so the notebook is not hearable during work,
with the exception of one minute where the fan runs.

A nevative aspect from a notebook is, that it is not "addon-able" like a desktop-pc. Almost all addons are possible but in other ways (external via usb or internal by PCMCIA or Expresscard) that are mostly a little bit more expensive then on desktops.

So I have to choose an external DVB-S Box instead of a PCI-Card.

My first choice was bad: Terratec Cinergy-S USB. The card makes many problems, MP got unstable, TV didn't work by no reason ect.
Then I risked the purchase of the most common, the most recommended, and especially most expensive DVB-Box, the FireDTV S2 (S2 because it was only ~20€ more expensive than the PAL-Version, and on upgrading to a HD-HTPC I don't have to buy a DVB-device anymore).
But I can say now: It is worth it! The most problems were gone, just by replacing the TV-box!

The first half year with my HTPC I have installed DVBViewer, and because there where a lot of problems with it, I moved to MediaPortal. But the problems would not be much less, until I got the FireDTV. So if I have bought the FireDTV in the very beginning, I might have never moved to mediaportal and I have missed a great program!

The HTPC goes in standby when I press the Power-Button on my MCE-Remote and the TV-Box also kicks off, because of the master-slave power-plug. It recognizes, when the HTPC needs less then 8W and turns the plugs off from power. So there is no power wasted! If I would leave the FireDTV on power all the time, it always stays warm.

This function did make some problems because on wakeup the TV-Server didn't find the TV-Box.
But playing around with mpstandbyhandler ect. is not needed anymore because MP 1.0 final works by itself!
This is a great improvement!

Why I took 1,5 years to get my HPTC full working?

Because the first TV-card was crap and this took a while to acknowledge and prove.
The old versions of MP were also very buggy 1 year ago.

The problem with the switched-off TV-Box on standby was not the only one:
Unstable MP, freezes, lost TV-Card-connection, black screen / not responding on resume, double input signals from remote, automatic reboot-handling without PVR-collisions,... this were the biggest problems and all these are solved. Some by MP itself in new releases, some by selfmade solutions.

The HTPC controls two "Outputs":
1. a standard TV
2. a projector

The Projector is a BenQ MP612 DLP with 800x600 resolution and only 26db noise which is the quitest in this cost-range!
I know, a XGA-projector would be the best for widescreen-pal-dvd's but such a projector would have been much more expensive than this one.

Both of these Screens are supported by the HTPC on the same time, so I don't have to change any settings around on the HTPC, just turn on the projector and lets go.
This is possible, because the R52 can access two external devices, 1 by TV-out, 1 by VGA-out. By pressing "Fn+F7" it switches between Notebook-Display and VGA-out. The TV-out is permanently on. So I have always VGA-out and TV-out activated and I never have to "stand up and handle around directly on the PC for settings".

The projection screen is also self-made. professional screens are too expensive, my projector has a huge amount of brightness and so I was satisfied with the image projected on a blank white wall. But my screen has to be rollable so I made a rollable screen by myself, also the projector-mounting. Instead of a professional screen I just took paper sheets! I coudn't find Din A0 sheets so I had to take Din A1. But anyway, also with A0 I had this big horizontal break in the middle of the screen. This appeares because the paper would bend itself when it is rolled up after a few days. Now I would have a solution - taking A0 plotter-paper (45m-roll), so I could built a screen without horizontal split. The image qualitay on the paper anyway is, in my opinion and related to a PAL-picture, which is projected to a 2200x1650mm screen, good enough for me. ;)
Playing wii-games is even now possible when light is turned on due to the good brightness of the projector.

My videos are stored in an external 2TB-Storage connected to my "server" (is also a notebook, but this takes only 7w during work° ;) ) and is accessable over LAN.

In future, when I replace my whole equipment with a HDTV-equipment I just know what to do for that:

A notebook again, because the plan of a silent, small and understatement HTPC was a full success.
But on the next time, I take a spec which is not too close to the minimum requirements (like mine yet), because in some situations the HTPC is a little bit slow (for example: 3s switch-time in transponder, 4,7s between transponders is much time for a PAL-system)
Integrated graphic which is not too close to the minimum specs: The new Intel X4500HD is the first full-HD capable, but maybe or not, it would be better to take a graphiccard from the next generation to work without full load, keeps the system cooler and also faster.
In a few years SSD's become more interesting, so I could use a very fast 32GB SLC SSD for Windows, MP and Timeshift, so MP should also run much faster, and a slower, cheaper one for recordings. Maybe a CF-Card in the PCMCIA- or Expresscard-Slot because small notebooks only have one slot for one HDD/SSD, and I definitly want a small notebook for HTPC. My actual HTPC is a 15" notebook, maybe a 13" notebook would be my HD-HTPC, based on a Lenovo Thinkpad SL300, which is theoretically full HD-HTPC-capable because of the X4500HD, HDMI-output and Blu-Ray-Drive.
So it should be possible to set up a special notebook for HD-HTPC which is nearly inaudible.



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Portal Member
April 2, 2007
Home Country
Belarus Belarus
Cool system you have there, BachManiac (and I mean literally cool :) )! I also use notebook as my HTPC, Toshiba Qosmio F30 + Sony Bravia 42' LCD and DvbWorld S2 tuner for satellite reception. With MP 1 my system became much more stabler and I can enjoy both SD and HD with such setup. The only problem for me is DVB USD card - I have bad selection in my country and there are few models that I can buy. I had to use Diseqc 1.0 and 1.2 for LNB switching and motor operation.

I think notebook HTPC has an advantage in sense of size, power consumption and noise over desktop based systens. Good work!

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