Please comment this setup (1 Viewer)

sgryd

Portal Member
November 2, 2005
7
0
Stockholm, Sweden
I bit the grass trying to use EPIA for HTPC. Now I'm starting all over again. Please comment the following setup.

- I want it to be near silent
- Smooth nice playback of DVD, DivX, etc
- DVB-T
- Would be great if it could do HDTV as well

The components:

Motherboard: A8N-VM CSM
http://www.asus.com.tw/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=15&l3=210&model=766&modelmenu=1
This board has integrated nVidia GeForce 6150.
Sounds good, doesn't it?

Processor:
AMD Athlon 3200+ 2GHz
Is this to weak?


Memory:
Kingston PC3200 400MHz CL2.5 512MB
Is 512MB enough?


Case:
Dign H7
http://www.origenae.com/product_h7.htm

Power supply:
Fortron Source FSP300-60GNF (Passive)
http://www.fsp-group.com.tw/english/1_product/2_detail.asp?mainid=1&fid=52&proid=137

CPU Cooling:
Swiftech MCX6400-V
http://www.swiftnets.com/

Arctic cooling 80mm fan (28cfm, 17dB)


TV Decoder:
TwinhanDTV Ter-Cl
http://www.twinhan.com/product_terrestrial_4.asp
Will this work with MP?

Remote:
Microsoft MCE remote

HDD:
A quet HDD. Any sugestions?
Size doesn't matter since I'll probably work mostly on my server HDD over a gigabit network.

This is my first HTPC (I'm not counting the EPIA disaster..). Am I on the right way? Do you think I will get into trouble with the above hardware? Is there anything I have forgot?

Thanks in advance.
 

jdiffend

Portal Pro
January 9, 2005
98
0
sgryd said:
The components:

Motherboard: A8N-VM CSM
http://www.asus.com.tw/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=15&l3=210&model=766&modelmenu=1
This board has integrated nVidia GeForce 6150.
Sounds good, doesn't it?

The specs look good and the GeForce 6150 should offer fast enough graphics for many DirectX 9 games. Doom 3 might prove a challenge.
Pleanty of power for MediaPortal.

I have a Jetway with the ATi graphics and it gets around 1700 Winmarks (2003) with sideport video RAM.
Halflife 2 works great but when I play the Lost Coast demo with the new lighting it's a little jerky... but I have some overclocking to go.
I don't see mention of any video RAM on that board so expect the same or worse.

The video output stuff looks ideal and you will LOVE hi-def audio over the older onboard audio. The difference was noticable on high quality music files and mine takes less CPU time than the older codecs. I'd expect the same from this board.

The Cool n Quiet + their fan control should keep the noise down if you use decent fans... the CPU cooler is the noisiest part of my system and that's about to go.

Processor:
AMD Athlon 3200+ 2GHz
Is this to weak?

Actually, it's overkill if you just run MP for music, movies and TV. (see the minimum specs and threads on what people are running MP on)
It depends on what you want to do with it.

If you are ripping MP3s or movies... the more CPU the better.

Memory:
Kingston PC3200 400MHz CL2.5 512MB
Is 512MB enough?

It will run on that. You can always add more later. Be sure to use identical RAM when you upgrade though.


It's a nice looking case and I think identical to one of the Ahnix cases.
I looked at one of those just a couple days ago.

I didn't like the parallel driven VFD... there are several USB ones out there why have that cable hanging off the back??? But it works so I guess that's the most important thing.

I didn't like the drop down panel on the one I looked at. It just flopped down with a CLUNK and I thought for the money it should have something to slow it as it opened.

It was kinda deep. The only other component I have that large is my receiver.

The power supply looked kinda cheap for the price.

I did like the look, it was solidly built, support for full size cards is nice...

Honestly, if you are going to spend that much money... you should look at one in person.


I'm not familiar with that manufacturer so I won't comment.
I went with an Antec. It's noise level is below that of the room it's in and it controls the speed of the other fans in the case.

Whatever you do don't get some cheap brand. I had a power supply blow smoke and start to catch on fire. I was very lucky that I was there when it happened or it might have burned down the house.

CPU Cooling:
Swiftech MCX6400-V
http://www.swiftnets.com/

Arctic cooling 80mm fan (28cfm, 17dB)

It seems to have good reviews. Also consider a Zalman or Arctic Cooling heatsink/fan combos.

TV Decoder:
TwinhanDTV Ter-Cl
http://www.twinhan.com/product_terrestrial_4.asp
Will this work with MP?

I don't have any experience with it so I can't say.
If you are planning on receiving pay channels just make sure it works with the provider you have or it's useless.


Remote:
Microsoft MCE remote

Look around, there are lot's of good remotes.

HDD:
A quet HDD. Any sugestions?
Size doesn't matter since I'll probably work mostly on my server HDD over a gigabit network.

Seagate or Maxtor SATA drives. Western Digital is ok too.
I think I have one of each brand at the moment... whatever is on sale I guess.

The 160GB drives are cheap but it you want to do a lot of recording I'd get at least a 200GB. I ripped my CD collection in lossless monkey's audio format and takes over 120GB for almost 500 CDs. High quality MP3s are a fraction of that.

Make sure you have enough space for whatever you will access a lot plus a few videos.

This is my first HTPC (I'm not counting the EPIA disaster..). Am I on the right way? Do you think I will get into trouble with the above hardware? Is there anything I have forgot?

Thanks in advance.

You could probably spend half that and still have a decent MediaPortal box. But if you can afford it... go for it. I don't see anything wrong there.
 

civikdude

Portal Pro
March 17, 2005
110
0
U.S.A.
Hi sgryd,

Have you pieced together your project yet? I'm curious how you find the A8N-VM CSM to be, especially with video. I'm considering a similar setup as my next HTPC. My current one (specs in sig) is horrible.

Thanks!!
 

civikdude

Portal Pro
March 17, 2005
110
0
U.S.A.
sgryd said:
The board wasn't available, so I started some other projects instead. I'll probably build the HTPC in the beginning of next year.

I found this competitor board by Gigabyte which is a pretty good match: GIGABYTE GA-K8N51PVMT-9, review here.

Anyone else wish to comment on their HTPC use of the ASUS A8N-VM CSM or the GIGABYTE GA-K8N51PVMT-9?
 

jdiffend

Portal Pro
January 9, 2005
98
0
civikdude said:
I found this competitor board by Gigabyte which is a pretty good match: GIGABYTE GA-K8N51PVMT-9, review here.

Anyone else wish to comment on their HTPC use of the ASUS A8N-VM CSM or the GIGABYTE GA-K8N51PVMT-9?

The video benchmarks for the Gigabyte aren't that great. I'm guessing that board doesn't have side port video RAM.
My Jetway does way better because of the on board video RAM... but it's also more expensive.

In spite of that it should be fine for MediaPortal. Just don't expect it to be a games machine.

Next year we should see improved solutions from NVidia, ATi and an alternative from VIA/S3.
 

civikdude

Portal Pro
March 17, 2005
110
0
U.S.A.
jdiffend said:
The video benchmarks for the Gigabyte aren't that great. I'm guessing that board doesn't have side port video RAM.
My Jetway does way better because of the on board video RAM... but it's also more expensive.

In spite of that it should be fine for MediaPortal. Just don't expect it to be a games machine.

Is your board the JetWay A210GDMS-Pro? If not, which one? Are you using it for all aspects of MediaPortal and find it problem-free?

Also, you say the Gigabyte board should be fine for MP. Do you find the specs of the ASUS board to be better for an MP-dedicated machine?

I'm sorry for these questions, it's just that it seems I have bad luck when it comes to piecing a machine together (see sig for current setup, which performs horribly).

Thanks for your help!!
 

wishywashy

Portal Pro
January 31, 2005
495
13
Hill AFB, UT
Home Country
United States of America United States of America
civikdude, what issues do you have? Look at my sig, I am useing pc upgrade leftovers and my systems performs flawlessly (TV, DVD, MP3...) and it dosn't even compare to yours.
 

civikdude

Portal Pro
March 17, 2005
110
0
U.S.A.
wishywashy said:
civikdude, what issues do you have? Look at my sig, I am useing pc upgrade leftovers and my systems performs flawlessly (TV, DVD, MP3...) and it dosn't even compare to yours.

Which motherboard are you using? Anyway, it's probably these differences (and the combination of which) that are the problem:
  • My Athlon 64 vs your Athlon XP
    My Gigabyte GeForce FX5200 vs your __ GeForce FX5700
    My Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 500MCE vs your Roslyn 250
My motherboard is an ECS K8M800-M2 Socket 754 VIA K8M800 Micro ATX AMD. Read the specs here.

I read something about VIA chipset and Hauppauge not working together well.

As for the issues I have, the CPU is constantly maxed out, the picture suffers from jitters when just watching live TV, I cannot use WMP visualizations as it eats up all CPU, overall picture quality should be better than it is, FF/RW is not smooth, synchronization between picture and sound eventually gets behind, and a general lag in commands issued from the remote and MP response. This is all using VMR9 and any variation of codecs. Also, running updated drivers on all components.

wishywashy, do you use all components of MP? Live TV, timeshifting, VMR9, My Videos, WMP visualizations?
 

jdiffend

Portal Pro
January 9, 2005
98
0
civikdude said:
Is your board the JetWay A210GDMS-Pro? If not, which one? Are you using it for all aspects of MediaPortal and find it problem-free?

It is the A210GDMS-Pro and I've built several systems around that board for friends and for work. I actually purchased a refurbished model for $50 and it has worked just fine for me. (they are now sold out btw)

I'm not recording video with it (yet) which sounds like the most difficult thing to get working properly so I can't say how that will be. However, I think that has more to do with the TV card you choose and Media Portal's code than the motherboard.

Also, you say the Gigabyte board should be fine for MP. Do you find the specs of the ASUS board to be better for an MP-dedicated machine?

Media portal really doesn't require a lot of speed from the graphics. It just needs DirectX 9 support for the best video playback.
I was actually running MP on a much slower machine (1.3GHz Athlon, 512MB RAM, Radeon 9600se and VIA chipset) and it even runs fine on my parent's older ATi chipset machine which uses about the equivalent of a Radeon 9200.

I'm sorry for these questions, it's just that it seems I have bad luck when it comes to piecing a machine together (see sig for current setup, which performs horribly).

Thanks for your help!!

No problem.

There are a lot of things that can cause performance issues on ANY machine. TechTV er... um... G4 TV's 'Call for Help' had an episode where they found that changing what is launced at startup can offer an 18% speed increase on XP. BTW, .net itself steals some performance and MP uses .net.

Setting your RAM timing, making sure your CPU is clocked where it's supposed to be, using the latest hardware drivers and some minor software tweaks can offer significant performance gains.

Check for a bios upgrade for your board as well. A small code error in the bios can make a huge impact on system stability and speed.
 

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