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 Post subject: Zotac IONITX-F-E Mini-HTPC: Small, Ultra-Quiet, and Green!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:22 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Canada
Building the Ultra Quiet Mini Home Theater PC- March 6, 2010

Why build a new HTPC?
I built my first HTPC back in 2006. As with any noob, it took me months to get it stabilized and behaving the way I wanted it. Details aside, I have learned a lot since then and a lot has changed since then. Windows 7 with Media Center has brought things up a significant notch. With only a few minor annoyances, it makes for a great HTPC platform.

My HTPC goals in 2006 were all about: "Can I build one?", followed by: "Can I build it to be quiet?"
My new goals for the 2010 HTPC is to build it:
    1. Completely noise free, (or with just 1 slow-turning 120mm fan?)
    2. To run very cool (this goes hand-in-hand with noise free).
    3. To run "green", meaning a unit that consumes very little power when it is running and next to nothing when it is idle. Hand-in-hand with #1 and #2 above.
    4. Very small. My 2006 HTPC is as big as my Denon digital receiver which is a standard size stereo component. I would like it to be as small as possible without sacrificing airflow (cooling/no noise).
    5. Powerful enough to handle ANY HTPC task and sometimes simultaneously. This includes:
      a. Blu-ray playback
      b. DVD playback
      c. Recording TV off 2 tuners at once, or playing and recording at the same time.
      d. Playing web-based or NAS movies
      e. Ripping a DVD
      f. General web browsing and surfing
    6. With low cost in mind. I spent well over $2000 <eeek!> on my first HTPC. I would like to build this one as inexpensively as possible. under $1K for sure.
All of the above became doable with the Mini-ITX form factor that includes the Atom processor combined with Nvidia's ION.

What I Chose and Why:
This year I decided to purchase as much stuff on-line as possible rather than rely on the limited inventory of brick and mortar stores. Since I live in Canada, I deliberately ruled out any US retailers that did not have a Canadian website. I did this because of the high hidden costs for duty and brokerage fees that UPS and FedEx charge you at your doorstep. It's hard to know if something is really cheaper when you get slapped with these high fees. So all my prices are in Canadian dollars and I ended up ordering most of the stuff from www.newegg.ca. I like Newegg because they have a huge inventory of popular choices, well stocked, and you can check the customer reviews if you are having trouble choosing a component.

Zotac IONITX- F-E Atom 330 Released late November 2009, this latest version of Zotac's IONITX motherboard has some great features:
    • It has the Atom 330 dual core 1.6GHz, so it has a good balance of powerful and power economical.
    • the F-E version comes with a PCI-E slot on the mobo, which means you can plug in a TV tuner card.
    • Need to add your own PSU. Unlike the A series which had 90watts built onto the board, the F-E version requires you to add your own PSU. Although this adds cost, it allows flexibility for choosing components.
    • Onboard gigabit LAN, a must for large video file transfer to and from the Network Attached Storage (NAS).
    • 5.1 audio with S-PDIF and Coax out. Goes right to my Denon Receiver for DTS and Dolby Digital surround sound.
    • 3 SATA ports. I will use them all: 1 HDD for OS/apps; 1 HDD for storing recorded TV, internet TV, and Blu-ray movie files; and 1 optical drive.
    • 2 memory slots for 4GB of DDR2 800 ram. 2GB could suffice, but since this is going to be running Win7 64-bit, 4GB gives me plenty of room.
    • Nvidia's ION is a fully capable GPU that can handle HD video playback. The Zotac F-E comes with an HDMI port (and supports HDCP) so it's ready to plug in my flat panel TV.
    • Wi-Fi is a plus, but I prefer to hardwire this HTPC to my LAN for Gigabit transfer speeds to and from my NAS.
2.5" Notebook HDDs
I am choosing these because they are small, rugged and consume way less power than conventional HDDs, plus they are (usually) quieter than the 3.5" models.
The Western Digital Scorpio Blue 2.5" HDDs were rated highly for how quiet they were, which is high on my priority list. I chose a 320GB for the OS and Apps drive, and 500GB for the TV and media drive. As mentioned, most of my media files (video, music, photos) are on my NAS. I like to put my operating system and applications on a different drive from my media files for 2 reasons: It keeps disk fragmentation on the OS to a minimum. Recorded TV can create plenty of fragmentation. Secondly, I am hoping with the announcement of the 25nm architecture for Solid State Drives (2010 Q3) that the price of SSDs will come down significantly this year. By Christmas 2010 SSDs will be faster, higher capacity, and cheaper. I would like to replace the OS HDD with one of these.

RAM
I just chose whatever was popular and inexpensive on Newegg.ca. WINTEC AMPX 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) 4GB will do the trick.

TV Tuner Card
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 PCI-Express x1 Interface.
It was essential to me to have the ability to record TV. I trust Hauppauge even though I had some bad experiences with my first 2006 TV tuner card. Their customer service was excellent however, and they even replaced my first card with a more stable one. Hauppauge has come a long way and this new low profile, dual tuner card with NTSC Cable, QAM, ATSC , with IR Remote control seemed like the perfect fit.

The Case
This was a tough decision and I went down many different form factor ideas to finally arrive at my decision.
I really trust Antec. they make a high quality, well designed case that is actually a PLEASURE to assemble. their ISK-300-150 is a really nice case: http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=MjIzOQ==
The only downside is it requires a slim optical drive. Since I am looking for a Blu-ray reader, DVD writer combination, I discovered there is not many choices in slim optical drives and they can be very expensive. I find optical drives can be one of those components that fails or goes out of date before anything, so it seemed prudent to me to go with a full height 5.25" optical. Although this means more power consumption, consumer options and competition make these a better choice. This unfortunately rules out any cases requiring the slim laptop optical drive form factor, so farewell Antec...

Another factor is cooling, I hate fans smaller than 120mm because they move little air for how fast they have to spin. High RPM means high noise. Any slim line case has very little room for fans, and they usually have 80mm fans or smaller in them. These are noisy little insects, so no slim cases.

A-Tech Fabrication wins for the coolest (no pun intended) case ever! The HeatSync 300 is, well, one big heat sink!
http://atechfabrication.com/products/He ... Client.htm
The only down side is it would cost $545CAD with shipping which is about half the cost of my entire build! Check the link and drool on...

Fitting the low profile PCI-E 1X TV Tuner card is another consideration and although you can get many PCI-E adaptors to change the orientation of the slot, it just made more sense to buy a case with room and an opening for the low profile card.

I ended up choosing from what was available on Newegg.ca meeting the above mentioned criteria. I decided on:
APEX MI-100BK Black Steel Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case 250W Power Supply. I like the Shoe box form factor of this case only because it will fit neatly on the shelf beside my Denon receiver (11.80"D x 8.70"W x 5.10"H). It accommodates the 5.25" optical drive, and has plenty of room for cooling. Frankly the 250W power supply is not worth using at all. By removing and installing a PicoPSU instead, I can cheat the heat by keep the AC-DC adapter externally, thereby reducing heat and fan noise.

Power Supply
I chose the PicoPSU because they are quiet, cool, and it creates more room in the case.
PICOPSU-150-XT Power Kit: Includes Pico PSU 150W DC-DC ATX PSU & 105W AC-DC Power Brick
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php? ... e=Mini-Box
It was difficult to determine how much wattage I would really need for normal, peak, and maximum power conditions. After talking to the manufacturer Mini-box: http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.13/.f and the people at Zotac , I discovered the motherboard runs at about 65W under maximum load, the TV Tuner card (~+14Watts),the 5.25" optical drive (~+25W), the extra HDD (~+4W). This comes to ~108 watts at maximum power. This number is theoretical so I have to test it to see what it really is. Until I test the finish system under load, I felt that the 150watt PSU with the 105Watt AC Adapter would be the best choice. See the results below.

NOTE: the Zotac IONITX-F-E comes with a 20pin PSU connector. You will need a 20-24 pin (male-female) adaptor if you decide to use the 150watt PicoPSU. All Mini-Box's other models of PSU (120w, 90w, 80w, 60w, etc.) are 20pin PSUs. I just ordered a 20-24pin adaptor from Newegg.

The 5.25" Blu-ray Optical Drive
I chose the Asus 8x Internal Blu-ray ROM, 16x DVD-RW, SATA BC-08B1ST. It was available locally and it was only $120CAD. One attractive feature I have yet to test is the TTHD. ASUS claims the technology is:
    "...an innovative suite of advanced video enhancement technologies that deliver unsurpassed quality for DVD movies on PC-based home theatre systems. TTHD fills the gap between standard resolution content and high-definition display capabilities, Boosting DVD video quality to achieve HD-like results and smoother playback, TTHD enables you to enjoy your high definition display."
Here is what a review said about the technology: http://www.bjorn3d.com/read.php?cID=1787&pageID=8424
    "The TTHD (True Theater High Definition) enhancement improved DVD playback quality tremendously and the technology impressed us to no end. TTHD changes DVD quality to almost HD quality and it happens in the background with no degradation of playback speed. "
So an nice bonus for the old DVD content!

The Cost
All items # are from Newegg.ca except where noted.
Product Description Prices In Canadian $ (CAD)
WINTEC AMPX 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
Item #:N82E16820161182
$93.98

ZOTAC IONITX-F-E Intel Atom 330 (1.6GHz, dual-core) Mini ITX
Item #:N82E16813500036
$189.99

Rosewill 8" Sata Power Splitter Cable
Item #:N82E16812119010
$3.49

BYTECC 6" Power Supply Cable
Item #:N82E16812270169
$3.49

Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB 2.5" SATA
Item #:N82E16822136314
$94.99

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit, Dual TV Tuner
Item #:N82E16815116036
$139.99

APEX MI-100BK Black Computer Case
Item #:N82E16811154093
$59.99

Western Digital Scorpio Blue 320GB 2.5" SATA
Item #:N82E16822136197
$69.99

ASUS Blu-ray drive with tax (Not From Newegg.ca)
$126.00

The 150Watt PicoPSU kit with 105W AC adapter with Shipping and Tax (not from Newegg.ca)
$87.00

SYSTEM TOTAL $922CAD
There it is. Just under $1000CAD...

Software
As I mentioned this will be Win7 64-bit running Media Center primarily. Win7 will decode DVD movie formats right out of the box and has a ton of codecs built in to support other video formats (it will even play Quick time formats without installing it from Apple, you just have to associate the format with WMP11.

What to use for Blu-ray playback?
I used to be a big Cyberlink PowerDVD fan until discovered they removed the ability for it to play ripped Blu-ray movies. It may seem like a waste of time to rip Blu-ray movies but sometimes, for convenience, it is required.
I am now using Arcsoft's TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum
http://www.arcsoft.com/estore/software_ ... Code=TMT3P
It works very well as a stand-alone player, as well as having a menu item in the Media Center interface. And yes it plays ripped Blu-ray files! Which, as of Feb 2010, is no longer an option in Cyberlink Power DVD. Update: I had some issues with TMT3 170 build as it blue screen crashed on me. I rolled it back to TMT3 161 build. I hope they can fix the problem soon...

Internet TV
If you like watching internet TV (like Revision3 shows) and podcasts, I would recommend installing Miro
http://www.getmiro.com/ Miro is free and will automatically download the latest editions of your favourite shows and store them for as long as you like. Miro has not embraced the remote control or the 10ft. interface yet, which is the only drawback to this software; so get out your keyboard and make your best squinting face.
As an added bonus, Miro will play MKV video files, so to date I have yet to install any extra codecs on my Win7 HTPC.

One Remote to Rule Them All and In the Darkness Bind Them...
Yes everyone's dream. I am not a fan of the Logitech Harmony remotes. Although they offer task-based ease of operation and a great way to program them on-line, they are, frankly ugly and have too many buttons on them. I may be a bit old fashioned but I like a remote with tactile buttons, so you can feel when you press a key also without looking at it. The windows MCE style remote like the one that comes with the Hauppauge card I think it a really great design; a simple set of well-placed buttons. I want to be able to program those 4 coloured buttons to blast IR to my Denon Receiver and my LCD TV.
I will be using LMRemote as my way to program the remote for all my apps and devices. I find it hard to recommend this application simply because it is very difficult to get it all working the way you want. It's powerful, but complex, and not as user friendly as it could be.

A Note on Adobe Flash Video Playback
As you may have read, Atom motherboards are not the best at handling Flash. This is due to Flash 10.0.X using CPU for processing video streams and not using GPU to accelerate any video. I don't think this is a huge concern because Adobe's next version of Flash 10.1 will take advantage of GPU for video acceleration and Adobe already (Mar. 2010) has version 10.1 of flash in Beta testing. Once fixed, this will not be an issue anymore. Also HTML 5, the future or HTML, it will decrease our web dependency on Flash.


Assembly (See RESULTS and CONCLUSIONS after the pictures below)
Assembly was pretty easy, but tight; I am so glad I ditched that 250W PSU that came with the case. The PicoPSU is such an elegant implementation, and provided way more room for airflow.

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So much hope, so much promise...

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Get that Huge PSU outta there!

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Mounted the DC jack for the AC power adapter here

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This was a great solution for mounting the drives in this case

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Had to mount the drives backwards so the SATA cables would not get in the way of the fan.


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Note that this 120mm X 12mm high fan was replaced with the 120mmx25mm 1200rpm Scythe KAMA PWN Fan. The new 120mm X 25mm fan still fits and moves more air.

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So Tiny compared to my old HTPC...

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Right next to my old Denon Amp.

Wattage results
So with all that hardware correctly installed and the software setup I ran some wattage tests to see really how much power this little HTPC was drawing. Here are the results:

ACTIVITY POWER CONSUMPTION
Sleep mode: 7 - 8 watts
Idle (Just the desktop or MCE open but not tasked.) 30 - 34 watts
Loaded (2 TV shows being recorded in the background and watching a DTS Blu-ray disc.) 46 watts average, 53 watts peak

CONCLUSIONS:
As you can see a 150watt PicoPSU is overkill, however the choice was largely due to availability. The 90 watt only came with a 60 watt AC Adapter which is getting perhaps too close to the my peak wattage. The other configurations offered by PicoPSU simply were not easy to get (living in Canada I tried to get the items mostly on what was available from trusted merchants who did not have to ship across the Canadian boarder and charge me all the hidden fees). No regrets on the 150watt PicoPSU. Seems to work just fine.

Heat & Noise Results
Fan measurements are with a single Scythe Kama PWM 120mm 1200RPM Fan blowing down on the CPU heat sink, no case fans. Fan speed was set in the BIOS. Room Temperature was 22°C.
Code:
BIOS MCP Temperature Mode     Fan RPM
Quiet                         540 - 600
50%                           780
Medium                        900 - 1080
75%                           1200
Full on                       1200 - 1260


With the fan running in "Quiet mode", other than a few 2.5" HDDS noises (boy, those WD Scorpio Blues really ARE Quiet), I have to shush everyone in the room and bend my head down close to hear anything from this unit. "Is it really on?" I ask myself. So lacking a dB meter for any real numbers, I took the stats off the Scythe box, which says:
• The fan speed is 310(+-200) - 1200rpm (+-10%)
• Noise level is between (immeasurable) and 24.89dBA.
• Air movement between 12.38CFM - 52.71CFM

Here are my subjective measurements (I have no Db meter):):
• "Medium" BIOS Mode is barely audible, not really noticeable from the couch 8-10 feet away.
• "75%" and "Full on" BIOS Mode is slightly noticeable, but still very quiet.

Heat has become my #1 concern with this build. Playing Blu-ray in that ASUS optical drive seems to tax the system the most and therefore generates the most heat.
NOTE: I talked with Zotac technical support about my heat numbers as they were well above any other PC I have built around the AXT mobo configuration. They said that the Zotac IONITX-F-E should run "below 90C" and between "30-60C idle, 60-90C load". That was reassuring to hear, yet it still seems high to me. I have been using CPUIDs Hardware Monitor to monitor the peak temperatures.

Here are the temperature readings Trying 2 different fan speeds. One test is with the machine on idle, two with Blu-ray playing with DTS sound and recording 2 TV shows simultaneously in the background:
Code:
SENSOR   No load,fan @75%      Blu-ray load,fan@75%      Blu-ray load,fan@"Quiet"
         Peak °C               Peak °C                    Peak °C
CPU1     46                    63                         94   
CPU2     46                    62                         93   
GPU      45                    49                         76   
HDD1     34                    51                         59   
HDD2     34                    52                         62
As you can see, running this 120mm 1200RPM CPU fan at 540-600RPM "Quiet" mode would be disastrous, but at "75%" (1200RPM) the numbers are quite acceptable to me (based on the reassurances of Zotac's Technical support representative).

UPDATE - Mar 25, 2010
I have upgraded the BIOS with the Oct 12, 2009 firmware and it included and automatic setting for managing the fan. The setting works really well and it keeps the noise down and the temps down when the machine is loaded.

Here are some samplings over a few sessions of the new peak temperature numbers:

Code:
       Â°C  °C  °C  °C
CPU1   61  62  64  65
CPU2   63  62  64  64
GPU    51  51  51  52
HDD1   43  42  46  44
HDD2   44  45  47  45

So as you can see my HDD and CPU temps are within the acceptable limits. Kudos to Zotac for adding a BIOS temperature mode that seems to work well with little adjustment.

Other Observations & Conclusions
Another note, It seems to take Arcsoft's TotalMedia Theatre 3, combined with my ASUS Blu-ray combo optical drive, quite a long time to start playing the Blu-ray discs. I am not sure why this is, but I would say it takes away the feeling that this system has Blu-ray playback handled. If anyone has similar issues I would love to hear them and how you solved them. Is it TMT3? Is it the ASUS optical drive? Both?

After playing a Blu-ray movie for 2hours and 20mins that disc was extremely HOT when I took it out of the player! I don't like this, and this is not even the summer where the room temperature can go up another 10°C. I will have to examine the circulation of the case. Or perhaps the slim optical drive, although more expensive and less available, is worth it? Things to consider...

My dream of running this Mini-HTPC quietly with one 120mm fan was definitely achievable! The system is barely audible, it has all the power to perform the HTPC tasks, and it's about half the size of my old system. It sips 34watts when idle and peaks at 53watts making this a pretty green machine. I would recommend these components to anyone considering building a HTPC along these lines.

I would love to hear your thoughts and please, ask me any questions you have!

-Dave.


Last edited by Davideo2006 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:30 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:05 pm 
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Location: Sweden
To bad you can't have two fans with straight airflow throughout the case, that would definitely let you run fans at 500 RPM, small cases are problematic today.

Having that said, nice and clean build!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:49 pm 
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Posts: 103
Very good post, thanks for sharing.

Did you consider a mini tower case such as an Antec NSK 3480 or Silverstone SST-SG04B-F, too high/deep?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:14 pm 
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Posts: 24
Location: Canada
Thanks Bozar,
Your idea of 2 fans would work because this case has left and right side ventilation. For example, I could mount one intake on the left and one out-take fan on the right. My only concern is that the TV Tuner card does block a large portion of left side. As it is, the single fan blowing down on the CPU kinda draws from the gaping hole in the back where the stock PSU used to be, and then out the sides, favoring the right side where it has no obstructions. I will give your suggestion a try one of these days and compare the temperature readings.
Thanks for the great idea!

Davideo
Quote:
bozar wrote:
Too bad you can't have two fans with straight airflow throughout the case, that would definitely let you run fans at 500 RPM, small cases are problematic today.
Having that said, nice and clean build!



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:29 am 
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Location: Copenhagen
Wow, most informative post ever. Thanks for sharing.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:42 am 
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Posts: 419
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Nice build and great effort to make this post, so congratulations! :D

I do have a recommendation though: as you don't have any fan pulling hot air out of the case, it seems pretty normal to me you're having those extremely high temperatures. If I was you, I would fit two 8cm fans blowing out where the PSU was, and ditch the 12cm fan altogether, or run it at the lowest possible speed just for peace of mind. Tape the holes in the back (and eventually enlarge those in the front). This way, you won't have to worry any more about BluRay temps, and I reckon the hard drives will be much more comfortable too. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:02 pm 
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@PlanetOfTheApes
That Silverstone SG04B-F is a good looking case. I did some measurements and it has the same footprint as the APEX case I bought. The advantages of that case is, for more than double the height you get some really great airflow; that appeals to me. The disadvantage is it does not fit on my media shelf (see last picture). the 360mm height is just too high. Like I mentioned above, I am a big fan of antec, but the Antec is also too high.
Great suggestions. If I ever change furniture I will keep in mind, thanks!
Davideo
PlanetOfTheApes wrote:
Very good post, thanks for sharing.
Did you consider a mini tower case such as an Antec NSK 3480 or Silverstone SST-SG04B-F, too high/deep?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:57 pm 
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@Parappaman
I agree, I would like to draw air through the box as much as possible and I had not considered 2X80mm fans in back because I shy away from anything under 120mm, but it just might improve the cooling. I will have to do some tests on it and try some of these good suggestions to see what's optimal for this case configuration.

BTW, I talked to Asus about the Blu-ray drive heat issue and they seemed to think it is a problem with the optical drive, so I will return it and try another one.

Davideo

Parappaman wrote:
Nice build and great effort to make this post, so congratulations! :D
I do have a recommendation though: as you don't have any fan pulling hot air out of the case, it seems pretty normal to me you're having those extremely high temperatures. If I was you, I would fit two 8cm fans blowing out where the PSU was, and ditch the 12cm fan altogether, or run it at the lowest possible speed just for peace of mind. Tape the holes in the back (and eventually enlarge those in the front). This way, you won't have to worry any more about BluRay temps, and I reckon the hard drives will be much more comfortable too. :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:45 am 
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looking good :) , do you think you could fit 2 desktop hard drives in there?

i already have a pico psu in my server/htpc, so i could probably make a mount for the hard drives at the top where the old psu used to be.

im planing to move my fileserver/htpc to an atom+ion build soon. just need to save up cash, this case is on my short list :)

thanks for posting

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Server/htpc: Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX-I-E - E5200 - 4gb ddr2 800 - 2* 1.5tb f2 drives- Pico PSU - minja


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:25 am 
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Nice rig!
Now all you need to do is remove the silly zotac badge from the top of the HS. ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:54 am 
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Hi, great build and detailed outline - I just recently put together my rig and it's painful to keep things tidy and take photos while working on it, so kudos to you. ;)

One thing I would have probably done differently: I know the Scorpios are pretty quiet, but you could have easily suspended it in that 3.5" bay by using some elastic wiring. Most likely would not make a huge difference, but it would eliminate that remaining potential source of vibration noise.

In any case, nice build!

silencio


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:37 am 
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@mark19891989
I think you could fit one 3.6" HDD in this enclosure, 2 would be pushing it and not a lot of room for airflow. It's too bad you could not switch to 2.5" HDDs since they are so rugged, quiet, use less wattage, and don't throw a lot of heat. I understand you want to just transfer those HDDs over to the new system so you don't have to migrate all the data.

I would consider a larger case. I think you should check out that Silverstone SG04B-F case PlanetoftheApes suggested. It is about twice as tall and there would be room for those 3.5" HDDs no problem!


mark19891989 wrote:
looking good :) , do you think you could fit 2 desktop hard drives in there?

i already have a pico psu in my server/htpc, so i could probably make a mount for the hard drives at the top where the old psu used to be.

im planing to move my fileserver/htpc to an atom+ion build soon. just need to save up cash, this case is on my short list :)

thanks for posting


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:48 am 
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Davideo2006 wrote:
@mark19891989
I think you could fit one 3.6" HDD in this enclosure, 2 would be pushing it and not a lot of room for airflow. It's too bad you could not switch to 2.5" HDDs since they are so rugged, quiet, use less wattage, and don't throw a lot of heat. I understand you want to just transfer those HDDs over to the new system so you don't have to migrate all the data.

I would consider a larger case. I think you should check out that Silverstone SG04B-F case PlanetoftheApes suggested. It is about twice as tall and there would be room for those 3.5" HDDs no problem!


mark19891989 wrote:
looking good :) , do you think you could fit 2 desktop hard drives in there?

i already have a pico psu in my server/htpc, so i could probably make a mount for the hard drives at the top where the old psu used to be.

im planing to move my fileserver/htpc to an atom+ion build soon. just need to save up cash, this case is on my short list :)

thanks for posting

i brought this case http://www.ebuyer.com/product/174463 , it arived yesterday its similar style to yours , just a bit taller. i think i might be able to fit a mini ninja in it :) depending on where the socket lines up with cd drive, i wont be using the psu that came with it because its probably noisy

i havnt got a motherboard yet, get paid on wed and il get it then :)

looking in the case there are 3 places im thinking i will be able to fit the hdds, il post pics of the result :)

i wana stick with 3.5" drives because i dont think they make 2.5" drives in 1.5tb sizes.

thanks for the reply :)

mark

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Cooling:XSPC Acrylic top, MCP355, D-TEK FuZion v2,XSPC RS360 Black,swiftech MCW60,D-TEK FuZion GFX+uni sink,EK-NB S-MAX
Server/htpc: Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX-I-E - E5200 - 4gb ddr2 800 - 2* 1.5tb f2 drives- Pico PSU - minja


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:34 am 
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Location: Canada
@silencio
I thought of a suspension system. I did that on my previous HTPC build. I may consider that as I continue to tweak it for heat and noise.
Interestingly, when that Asus Blu-ray combo drive spins down sometimes it hits a critical RPM that makes everything on the shelf vibrate. If I was to isolate anything it would be that optical drive. Perhaps some rubber grommets will do the trick...
Thanks so much for your input and the compliments. It was a fun journey, but I have to admit it would have went waay faster if I did not document everything. Conversely, I thought it was important to give back to the community that shared and helped me so much!

- Davideo

il_grande_silencio wrote:
One thing I would have probably done differently: I know the Scorpios are pretty quiet, but you could have easily suspended it in that 3.5" bay by using some elastic wiring. Most likely would not make a huge difference, but it would eliminate that remaining potential source of vibration noise.

In any case, nice build!

silencio


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 Post subject: HDMI audio?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:46 am 
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Awesome post, and i was thinking of using this motherboard for my htpc. I have a question though, will i be able to get audio and video from the hdmi on the motherboard? What i need to do is take the hdmi to my surround sound in, then another hdmi from the surround sound to my projector. I need to make sure of this first because of the limited in ports on the projector. Any help would be appreciated, thank you


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:35 pm 
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Hi, very nice build and photos, very professional looking, put my own to shame :oops:
I have a suggestion for the cooling: Turn the 120mm fan over so it's sucking the hot air away from the CPU, motherboard, drives etc and duct it through 90° and out through the hole where the PSU used to be. Might work better, might not but shouldn't be much effort to try, I use paper or card and tape to make ducts, at least trial ones anyway.

80mm fans can work, I consider my PC quiet and it has 80mm case exhaust fans, all be it 3 of them. Then again my Q9400 and GTX260 probably put out a little bit more heat too :lol:

Hope you enjoy using and tinkering with your system, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: HDMI audio?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:46 am 
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Posts: 24
Location: Canada
@Lorenzo4571,
I hope my answer does not come too late for you. I can confirm that the HDMI audio does indeed work with this board. I run SPDIF audio to my amp, but when I first booted my new build I noticed I was hearing sound very faintly and it was coming through my TV and not my amp. I have an HDMI cable hooked to my LCD TV. So yes it works. I hope it will work for your configuration.

Dave.

Lorenzo4571 wrote:
Awesome post, and i was thinking of using this motherboard for my htpc. I have a question though, will i be able to get audio and video from the hdmi on the motherboard? What i need to do is take the hdmi to my surround sound in, then another hdmi from the surround sound to my projector. I need to make sure of this first because of the limited in ports on the projector. Any help would be appreciated, thank you


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 Post subject: Thanks much David
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:52 am 
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Awesome, i appreciate the reply. I contacted customer support for the board and they said it does support audio as well but i appreciate your confirmation. Now the only problem is i contacted my surround sound customer support and made sure it would be compatible, but they're saying it doesn't support video hdmi.... Which is pretty stupid if true because there are 4 hdmi in, with 1 hdmi out. What would be the purpose of this on a surround sound home theater receiver if not to route audio and video through the receiver?? Anyways, that's just a rant.. but again, thanks a lot and either way this board does look like the way to go for a htpc.


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 Post subject: Re: Thanks much David
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:02 am 
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@Lorenzo4571
I feel your Customer Service pain... Hopefully you have access to another device (PS3? Blu-ray player?) that outputs HDMI audio/video you can test your system with. If not it might be time to get a different Surround sound unit. What unit is it, if I may ask?

Dave

Lorenzo4571 wrote:
Awesome, i appreciate the reply. I contacted customer support for the board and they said it does support audio as well but i appreciate your confirmation. Now the only problem is i contacted my surround sound customer support and made sure it would be compatible, but they're saying it doesn't support video hdmi.... Which is pretty stupid if true because there are 4 hdmi in, with 1 hdmi out. What would be the purpose of this on a surround sound home theater receiver if not to route audio and video through the receiver?? Anyways, that's just a rant.. but again, thanks a lot and either way this board does look like the way to go for a htpc.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:09 am 
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Sure, it's a Sony Home Theatre System - HT-SS360. Only about a year old, got it at the same time as my projector. Currently i have no HDMI going through it. I have an xbox thats component to projector/audio to surround sound. And current pc is VGA to projector with audio to surround sound. I'm looking to build a htpc that goes through hdmi to surround sound then projector, and the same with Cable that i'll be ordering soon. In the operation instructions for the system it says sends hdmi audio/video, but when i contacted customer service with sony the guy didn't sound like he knew what he was talking about because he kept making me hold while he looked for answers and he says the hdmi doesn't support video. Honestly i don't trust his answer, but the only one i've had so far. I appreciate your concern and trying to help me out with this


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:25 pm 
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Posts: 24
Location: Canada
I would try calling again during regular business hours and ask someone else. I have had many experiences with customer service that are similar to what you describe. Sometimes you just get the wrong person.

http://www.sonystyle.ca/commerce/servlet/ProductDetailDisplay?storeId=10001&langId=-1&catalogId=10001&productId=1006157
I looked under "specifications" tab. Looks like there is standard HDMI which is video and audio. It has 3 in and 1 out, so 3 sources in and 1 out to your TV. It even lists under "HDMI Quality" video stats and audio stats, like "A/V SYNC (Variable/Fixed) = Yes(Variable)" . That tells me it supports both.
I think you just got a CS Noobie :oops: ...

Dave


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:34 pm 
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You've been a great help, I really appreciate it. Those issues are the only ones that have been holding me back from finally going through with building a proper HTPC. After that i'm definetly going to go for it. Once again, i appreciate all the help and i am looking forward to finish getting my system set up. Thanks much,

Lorenzo


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:07 am 
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Joined: Tue May 26, 2009 10:37 am
Posts: 187
Location: UK
mark19891989 wrote:
Davideo2006 wrote:
@mark19891989
I think you could fit one 3.6" HDD in this enclosure, 2 would be pushing it and not a lot of room for airflow. It's too bad you could not switch to 2.5" HDDs since they are so rugged, quiet, use less wattage, and don't throw a lot of heat. I understand you want to just transfer those HDDs over to the new system so you don't have to migrate all the data.

I would consider a larger case. I think you should check out that Silverstone SG04B-F case PlanetoftheApes suggested. It is about twice as tall and there would be room for those 3.5" HDDs no problem!


mark19891989 wrote:
looking good :) , do you think you could fit 2 desktop hard drives in there?

i already have a pico psu in my server/htpc, so i could probably make a mount for the hard drives at the top where the old psu used to be.

im planing to move my fileserver/htpc to an atom+ion build soon. just need to save up cash, this case is on my short list :)

thanks for posting

i brought this case http://www.ebuyer.com/product/174463 , it arived yesterday its similar style to yours , just a bit taller. i think i might be able to fit a mini ninja in it :) depending on where the socket lines up with cd drive, i wont be using the psu that came with it because its probably noisy

i havnt got a motherboard yet, get paid on wed and il get it then :)

looking in the case there are 3 places im thinking i will be able to fit the hdds, il post pics of the result :)

i wana stick with 3.5" drives because i dont think they make 2.5" drives in 1.5tb sizes.

thanks for the reply :)

mark



I got the Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX-I-E motherboard today , i went with a 775 socket over an atom so i have abit more grunt for when i want to encode videos etc.

I got both hard drives, and a mini ninja in the case, and 2 80mm fans at the back as exaust controlled by the pwm header on the mb, i need to get a sata dvd drive because all my optical drives are ide.

i will take photos later today and put a post in the gallery section .

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specs:E8400@4ghz,4gb ddr2 1066, DFI LP jr p45-t2rs,Super talent 64gb ssd,8800gts @ 513/792/1674, 8800gt @ 555/800/1782 corsair tx650
Cooling:XSPC Acrylic top, MCP355, D-TEK FuZion v2,XSPC RS360 Black,swiftech MCW60,D-TEK FuZion GFX+uni sink,EK-NB S-MAX
Server/htpc: Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX-I-E - E5200 - 4gb ddr2 800 - 2* 1.5tb f2 drives- Pico PSU - minja


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:11 pm 
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THis is an epic HTPC thread. Nice job, and thanks for taking the time to share it with us in such detail.

Glancing over it very briefly, i noticed ur HDD temps are really high when playing bluray. I read somewhere that over 50C is harmful to the life of your hard drive. I could be wrong..

Also, I wouldn't even bother keeping your fan in Quiet mode during a blu-ray stream...no sense in make temps jump that high for a very slight sound savings, but im sure you know best since you have it there in person

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 Post subject: High Temperature fixes - BIOS upgrade
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:22 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Canada
@RoGuE
I agree these inital test numbers were way too high, I should have posted a follow up sooner, however here it is now.
I have upgraded the BIOS with the Oct 12, 2009 firmware and it included and automatic setting for managing the fan. The setting works really well and it keeps the noise down and the temps down when the machine is loaded.

Here are some samplings over a few sessions of the new peak temperature numbers:
Code:
       Â°C  °C  °C  °C
CPU1   61  62  64  65
CPU2   63  62  64  64
GPU    51  51  51  52
HDD1   43  42  46  44
HDD2   44  45  47  45
So as you can see my HDD temps are within the acceptable limits. Kudos to Zotac for adding a BIOS temp mode that seems to work well with little adjustment.
Thank you RoGuE for the compliments and for bringing this issue up, as it does help clarify the final results and conclusions that it was also a "healthy" build.
-Dave

RoGuE wrote:
THis is an epic HTPC thread. Nice job, and thanks for taking the time to share it with us in such detail.

Glancing over it very briefly, i noticed ur HDD temps are really high when playing bluray. I read somewhere that over 50C is harmful to the life of your hard drive. I could be wrong..

Also, I wouldn't even bother keeping your fan in Quiet mode during a blu-ray stream...no sense in make temps jump that high for a very slight sound savings, but im sure you know best since you have it there in person
Code:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:06 pm 
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Posts: 1
Location: Singapore
Dave,
Thanks for this wonderful post. I am planning to build something similar but with Zotac D510 instead of ION to bring the power consumption even lower. Will probably use a Broadcom Crystal BCM970015 addon when it becomes available. The solution will also be fanless

Question:
What did you do with the big hole left by the removal of the PSU? I am looking for a faceplate that will cover up the hole nicely.

Cheers


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:46 am 
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Posts: 24
Location: Canada
Porky,
So that D510 has the integrated graphics processor built directly into the CPU, yes? I am curious to know how it handles Blu-ray content.

What did I do with the big hole left by the PSU? I am glad you asked that. At first I thought: "Just leave it not one can see it anyways..." Then I thought I should finish the job.

I was trying to think of a good source of metal mesh or grill material that would cover the hole. I thought of using the metal mesh from an old portable stereo speaker, but when I was in Staples (office supply store) I noticed they carry a line of desk accessories made of metal mesh wich works perfectly:
http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=3%2C190%2C194%2C195,3055&webid=506166&affixedcode=WW You can get the metal mesh products in black or silver.
I bought the Metal mesh document holder in black for $12 and cut out a panel for the back of my case with wire cutters (tin snips) and just screwed it in.

Porky, I noticed you are in Singapore, so if the metal mesh is not available in office supply stores, just go to Ikea. Here is an inexpensive example in the Singapore Ikea:
http://www.ikea.com.sg/en/catalog/detail.asp?art=20161006&q=b3b18r65&cat=workspace
Also the wastepaper baskets are inexpensive source too.

Thanks for asking this, Porky. I will post a picture so you can see my result.

Dave.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:18 pm 
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Image
Here is the installed metal mesh. It finishes off the back quite nicely. (For details on where I got the material, see the above post^).

-Davideo


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:15 pm 
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Davideo2006 wrote:
Here is the installed metal mesh. It finishes off the back quite nicely. (For details on where I got the material, see the above post^).
How much headroom do you have in there if you want to put in a bigger top down cooler or a mini-tower cooler?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:39 am 
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ces wrote:
Davideo2006 wrote:
Here is the installed metal mesh. It finishes off the back quite nicely. (For details on where I got the material, see the above post^).
How much headroom do you have in there if you want to put in a bigger top down cooler or a mini-tower cooler?


I wanted to ask the same question!

Would if fit something like an Scythe Ninja if you didn't have the DVD-ROM drive?

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