It is currently Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:50 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 25 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Am I overthinking my HTPC needs with this mini-ITX solution?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
All I want is an HD DVR to replace my current SD solution for recording live TV clips.

The current setup is:
TWCable -->Cable box-->Lite-On 160GB HDD/DVD recorder(coaxial)-->tube tv(component) and 2-channel reciever (SPDIF).

What I like about the stand-alone Lite-On is that it's fairly quiet, takes about 10 seconds from power-on to video, allows me to edit or split recorded clips, and records at different qualities.

I figured the best HD equivalent was a custom HTPC, At least then I can add in networking the recordings with other PCs and their shared files--all to unlimited storage hidden away. So the new setup would go:

TWCable-->HTPC w/tuner-->Vizio LCD(HDMI); gigabit network(RJ-45); stereo reciever(SPDIF).

What I need it to do:
1. Powers on quickly
2. Organizes media fairly intuitively, with thumbnails.
3. Is quiet, like a standalone unit, not a PC.
4. Records by time of day, not by selecting a show.
5. Responds quickly to pressing the record button
6. Seamless recording and playing over network.
7. Records in a format that can be edited; can be played by other systems.

--I don't watch a lot of movies or episodic TV at all. I mostly just record short clips or pieces of shows. Occasionally I do use the timer function but I want to record manually, not entire show blocks.
--I don't mind keeping the cable box if it's easier.
--It doesn't have to be super-small


So I finally semi-finalized what my components and I'm wondering if this type of solution is even the best type for my needs:

Case: Thermaltake Element Q mini-ITX/200W PSU..........$50.
Mobo: ASUS AT3N7A-I Intel Atom 330/ION w/CPU.........$160.
SSD: Patriot Warp 32GB 2.5: SATAII............................$120.
Optical: Lite-On DL burner............................................ $40.
PCI Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR1600 w/remote...........$90 (there must be a cheaper one that'll work)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium....................................$110.
2GB RAM............?........................................................$60
Total:....~$650.

My real questions are:
--Is there a simpler solution for my needs? -maybe using an Asus EeeBox, or Hauppage, or SiliconDust, or another stand-alone unit?
--Would using micro-Atx be simpler, cheaper, or quieter?
--Will using an SSD instead of a HDD and recording onto a network drive really make much of a difference in boot time, temperature, or noise level?
--Will it be easier to control basic functions with the tuner remote, Gyration remote, another MCE remote, or a universal IR remote?
--How much RAM and PSU wattage is enough?
--How do I know that Win7 will find all of the channels in my cable package?
--If I install WinXP first, can I use an upgrade version of Win7?


Thanks.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I overthinking my HTPC needs with this mini-ITX solut
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:55 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11874
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
BBalls wrote:
My real questions are:
--Is there a simpler solution for my needs? -maybe using an Asus EeeBox, or Hauppage, or SiliconDust, or another stand-alone unit?
--Would using micro-Atx be simpler, cheaper, or quieter?
--Will using an SSD instead of a HDD and recording onto a network drive really make much of a difference in boot time, temperature, or noise level?
--Will it be easier to control basic functions with the tuner remote, Gyration remote, another MCE remote, or a universal IR remote?
--How much RAM and PSU wattage is enough?
--How do I know that Win7 will find all of the channels in my cable package?
--If I install WinXP first, can I use an upgrade version of Win7?


Thanks.

1. if you mean simpler than assembling your own HTPC, for sure. A ready-built PC is simpler, and a stand-alone box is probably simpler still, but can't advise exactly what. You listed the Eeebox -- a PC -- and two brands of TV tuners for PCs... so not sure what you're suggesting as a n alternative. A HTPC is more complex than a stand-alone box... and you won't find any PC to turn on in 10s (except from sleep).
2. probably. mATX is cheaper, can use bigger heatsink & quieter fan
3. yes, SSD will boot faster but not 10s and it depends on how much software you have loaded -- and it will definitely be quieter, if the rest of your components don't make more noise than the drive
4. can't answer
5. RAM is cheap, but 2gb shoul be plenty. Power -- you don't need much, real consumption would be no more than 50-60W most of the time.
6. no answer
7. don't think so. I'd start with win7 if that's what you're going to end up with. save the hassles of loading the OS twice.

other points --

That case & psu looks a bit like the http://www.silentpcreview.com/apex-mi008 -- but it's not been reviewed and no one here has used it, afaik. hope that the PSU is quiet.

Personally, I don't trust Atom with any chipset to be an effective media PC. The CPU is just too anemic for me. Even if the HD video is OK, you still have to navigate through menus, databases of files, etc... A low end 45W AMD dualcore & 780/785 mATX mobo would give you much better performance & be cheaper.

_________________
Mike Chin,
Editor/Publisher, SPCR
Support SPCR with your donations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Thanks, MikeC.

Sure, I can't imagine it would ever boot up in 10 secs, but waiting 75 secs or so every time you turn on the TV seems anti-American-instant-gratification.

The Apex MI-008 was my first choice of mb's but while I was writing that post I noticed I could get the Thermaltake wih a fan that was matched to it for a little more. But I should probably stick to products I can find more feedback on as you said.

So you think that Atom chipset will be slow or even buggy with Windows? The mini-ITX mobo is of course the costliest component. Maybe I'll look go back and put together a sample mini or micro ATX package if it'll be cheaper and easier to keep quiet....


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:43 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11874
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
BBalls wrote:
So you think that Atom chipset will be slow or even buggy with Windows? The mini-ITX mobo is of course the costliest component. Maybe I'll look go back and put together a sample mini or micro ATX package if it'll be cheaper and easier to keep quiet....

Well, you mentioned video editing, for example -- no way I'd be happy doing that w/ an Atom system. Not buggy, per se, but slow. Slower than any other current CPU. My feeling is that a lot of netbook/top buyers don't care because they've never had a PC before -- or they accept the slow speed as the price of small & cheap.

_________________
Mike Chin,
Editor/Publisher, SPCR
Support SPCR with your donations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:10 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11874
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
A possible mATX system from Newegg, not including optical drive, case, cpu cooler or PSU -- just choose whatever mATX case you like with good open vents front & back, and some room for HDD suspension.

The mobo is highly energy efficient & allows for undervolting -- to below 1V -- for very low power consumption. (see our review) 785 chipset has one of the best onboard graphics. The SSD will help with fast boot, the quiet 500gb 5900rpm single-platter drive suspended will give you plenty of storage. Use one of our recommended PSUs. Ditto HSF, a big one. A quiet 120mm fan on the back panel at ~600rpm.

This thing will run multiple rings around any Atom system and end up being cheaper than the system you itemized above.

Quote:
Seagate Barracuda LP ST3500412AS 500GB 5900 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5 $49.99

MSI 785GM-E65 AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard -
$15.00 Mail-in Rebate13-130-233 $89.99

Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT25664BA1339 $79.99

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCK23GQ - OEM $59.99

Corsair Extreme Series CMFSSD-32D1 2.5" 32GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail $149.99

Subtotal: $429.95

_________________
Mike Chin,
Editor/Publisher, SPCR
Support SPCR with your donations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
I edit video on the Mac--i meant it would be nice to be ablet o go back and split clips; for example when I hit record on a 60-second commercial and realize an hour later that I never stopped recording.

Anyway, I'm thinking using a hard drive won't be very loud, and I'll use the sleep function instead of shutting down all the time. I'll get a big HDD for the same price as the SSD and ditch the NAS idea. So new mATX options could be:

Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H Motherboard w/ AMD Athlon II 245 CPU w/Fan Bundle........$139.
WD Caviar Green 1.5TB 32MB/SATA-3G....$110.
Windows 7 32-bit....$110.
Lite-On optical drive....$40.
AverTVHD Bravo PCTV Tuner....$60.
Gyration GYR4101US Air Music Remote....$100.
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR1250 Tuner.........$60.
2GB RAM

I figured I'd get a case/fan combo from New Egg that is reviewed to be quiet. Such as the Rosewill R379-SM with ATX12V Flex 300W Power Supply($60).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:33 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11874
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
BBalls wrote:
I figured I'd get a case/fan combo from New Egg that is reviewed to be quiet. Such as the Rosewill R379-SM with ATX12V Flex 300W Power Supply($60).

It all sounded OK till the above. Don't do it! It looks like a bad case -- too tight, no room for a big CPU cooler, too small a PSU -- that PSU will NOT be quiet. Virtually guaranteed.

Get a case that can take an ATX12V PSU, allow you to elastically suspend the drive, and put in a PSU selected from our Recommended PSU list.

Don't trust any other site for noise. Not if you want really quiet.

_________________
Mike Chin,
Editor/Publisher, SPCR
Support SPCR with your donations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:07 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 1:53 pm
Posts: 1201
Location: Plymouth, MI
MikeC wrote:
Don't trust any other site for noise. Not if you want really quiet.


This is true.

I think a small, fairly low-powered mATX system should give you the best bang for buck and future options. The last list of options is pretty good, though I'm still on the fence about x86/x64 myself. It seems like this is the time to make the switch if any, things have had a few years to start being compatible with x64.

Win7 should have no trouble picking up your channels. The HDHomerun costs more, but also won't be picking up regular cable channels, nor encrypted digital cable signals. It does pick up digital antenna (ATSC) and digital cable non-encrypted (clear-QAM). I currently get some extra channels through the cable but soon it will just be the re-broadcast locals, which is fine.

If the tuner you get comes with a remote, try it out before getting another one, you might be perfectly happy with it. Check avsforums and thegreenbutton for more media center oriented info also.

_________________
R.I.P. Felger Carbon & cpemma


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:22 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Well, even if I choose the Sparkle Power SPI250EP as a PSU, that drives my budget up at least $80.

As far looking for a case--if that Rosewill won't work then what general dimensions would be better? And what do you mean when you say to leave room for "HDD suspension?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:45 am 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11874
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
BBalls wrote:
Well, even if I choose the Sparkle Power SPI250EP as a PSU, that drives my budget up at least $80.

You picked a hard-to-find OEM model.

BBalls wrote:
As far looking for a case--if that Rosewill won't work then what general dimensions would be better? And what do you mean when you say to leave room for "HDD suspension?

Make it simple: Antec New Solution NSK3480 -- very good case with decent damping grommets for the HDD. Includes a quiet PSU for $99.

If you don't really need all that capacity, I'd recommend the 500gb Seagate Pipeline HD.2 (ST3500414CS) if you can find it, btw. It is just as quiet in idle, and seek noise is the lowest.

_________________
Mike Chin,
Editor/Publisher, SPCR
Support SPCR with your donations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Thanks.

It looks like the Sparkle Power SPI250EP is in stock at a number of trustworthy places like Buy.com and Provantage.

s an HTPC the Antec NSK3480 is a bit ugly and is a mid-tower but I guess you could turn it onto it's side.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:44 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11874
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
if you want a htpc style, try this:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/Antec_NSK2400_Fusion

_________________
Mike Chin,
Editor/Publisher, SPCR
Support SPCR with your donations!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
I guess that Antec NSK2400 plus could work. Maybe also:

Antec NSK2480 plus 380W 80+ supply for $115 (2400 is discontinued)
Antec Fusion $140 (only because all-black would be better)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I overthinking my HTPC needs with this mini-ITX solut
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:49 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:11 am
Posts: 540
Location: Massachusetts, USA
BBalls wrote:
--If I install WinXP first, can I use an upgrade version of Win7?[/b]

Thanks.


not only is that not possible..even if it were, win7 is much much easier to install than XP. So it wouldn't make sense anyways. :D

_________________
The Rig: Asus P5Q, e8400 O.C.'d to 3.6 Ghz w/ Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, MSI GTX460 768MB, 4x1gb G.Skill@1066Mhz, 320gb WD & 500gb Samsung suspended, Corsair 520W PSU, Windows 7 Professional x64


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:02 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Apparently the Apevia X-Master case with 500W PSU is $50 after mail-in-rebate at Newegg......The deal ends in 58 minutes....


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:01 am 
Offline
Moderator

Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 4638
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
I've started pondering this same thing...a replacement for my VCR/DVD appliances.

Wouldn't a Mac Mini + a USB connected Hauppage tuner be an elegant solution for what you want to do?
- low power in sleep mode
- fairly fast recovery from sleep
- small, quiet.
- 9400M Nvidia chipset + Core 2 duo has enough horsepower for what you want to do
- maybe $100 more than the DIY PC.

_________________
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Add in a tuner and more storage etc and the Mac Mini ends up being much more, and with no expansion or swap-out capabilities.
Right now my potential build is at $533 including tax and shipping and a 1.5TB HDD.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Am I overthinking my HTPC needs with this mini-ITX solut
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:06 am
Posts: 109
Location: Austin, TX
RoGuE wrote:
BBalls wrote:
--If I install WinXP first, can I use an upgrade version of Win7?

Thanks.


not only is that not possible..even if it were, win7 is much much easier to install than XP. So it wouldn't make sense anyways. :D

I assume that the question was whether installing XP would mean he could get an upgrade version instead of full retail version of Win7. I don't know about Win7, but at least on Vista it was possible to do a clean install from the upgrade media (two-round install, first to install Vista, then to install the "upgrade" so you could activate properly). Probably a technical exploit of the installer code, but there seems little harm in it as long as you're legally entitled to an upgrade (in this case, he's got the XP, and it seems silly to have to install it in order to get Win7 up and running).

Again, I haven't tried in Win7, so things may have changed, but assuming I was reading the question as intended, you can get an upgrade version but no you don't have to install XP first (though you could if you wanted, I suppose, it's just that the newer install process is much quicker).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:11 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Looking into it--I don't think there is a difference in the actual disc, and so an "upgrade" instead of a clean installation doesn't save any money with Windows in this case.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: New Idea
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
I've spent way too much time researching (waffling) over this. ITX... no mATX... no HDHomerun... no Hauppauge PVR....I've changed my mind every week since starting this thread--and twice already this holiday.

Anyway a few hours ago I found this Moxi HD DVR and I think this might be it. The thing is--this is really for digital cable, and I really need to have a CableCard because I'm afraid of what channels won't be available without it. Who knows when, realistically, the new CableCard tuners will be available and how much they'll cost. I think there's only one or two places to get that ATI DCTuner and the $200+ price tag puts my total way up:

Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H Motherboard w/ AMD Athlon II 245 CPU w/Fan Bundle........$139.
WD Caviar Green 750GB 32MB/SATA-3G....$69.
Windows 7 32-bit....$110.
Lite-On optical drive....$30.
ATI Digital Cable Tuner....$200+.
Gyration GYR4101US Air Music Remote....$82.
Kingston 2GB RAM ......$54
APEVIA X-MASTER-BK/500 Case w/250W PSU.......$40.

That's $724 if the tuner costs me exactly $200.

It's not as versatile as the PC, but at $500 the Moxi takes care of most of what I wanted. I just discovered it today, so I probably won't pull the trigger until I let the reviews sway me back and forth a couple more times, but I feel good about this one.

I just sent the company 12 questions I had about it so let's hope their answers are swift and complete. I will post them here if it's appropriate. My biggest worry is what to do with my recordings if they go belly up and stop updating the hardware and channel guide (the retail Moxi hasn't been out long, and the brand was just recently sold to a new company).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Sheeesh
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:58 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
Arris didn't answer so I asked on another forum.

Everything's great with that Moxi HD-DVR. It would cover me with one purchase, but you can't split/trim/combine recorded clips and only the Moxi unit has access to the clips, even the ones on external drives/NAS.

Frustrating, but I think I'm back to the PC build.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Sheeesh
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:05 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:14 pm
Posts: 676
Location: in the depths of hell
BBalls wrote:
Everything's great with that Moxi HD-DVR. It would cover me with one purchase, but you can't split/trim/combine recorded clips and only the Moxi unit has access to the clips, even the ones on external drives/NAS.

You mentioned CableCard. If you're using CableCard, the only tuner you can use right now is ATI. Ceton is supposed to be releasing one (4-tuner) on Jan 2010 but I've heard MSRP on that is $300.

If you're recording encrypted digital cable channels on your HTPC, everything you've complained about the Moxi holds true. You can't split/trim/combine DRM'ed recordings and only the computer where you recorded the clips will be able to play them back. Well, extenders will also be able to play them but right now, the only extender still available for purchase is the Xbox 360. Hello jet engine...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:04 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Los Angeles
I plugged my TWCable directly into my TV and yes, there is very little available through ClearQam here in L.A. Just local channels repeated over and over. Although I don't know if the installer that was here in November added an SDV adapter.

So whether I have the Moxi, TivoHD, or a Win7 HTPC I'll need a CableCard and I will only be able to edit/archive/copy/reorganize my recordings is if I record or re-encode an analog version.

In my SD setup the highest quality Lite-On HDD recordings are indistinguishable from the original--if I could achieve the same quality I wouldn't mind recording from component signals, but this would complicate the 'workflow' even more.

Unless there's a way to get around the DRM to edit in Windows 7.

If nothing announced at CES changes the game (like cheaper CableCard tuners from Hauppage or Ceton or Avermedia) then I'll probably try the Moxi HD-DVR for a month. Maybe....


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:45 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 1:53 pm
Posts: 1201
Location: Plymouth, MI
They really are making this hard to do with the different restrictions and incomplete implementations. Hope you end up finding something that will work for you.

_________________
R.I.P. Felger Carbon & cpemma


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New Idea
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:09 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:01 am
Posts: 37
Location: Raleigh, NC, USA
BBalls wrote:
I've spent way too much time researching (waffling) over this. ITX... no mATX... no HDHomerun... no Hauppauge PVR....I've changed my mind every week since starting this thread--and twice already this holiday.
I'm with you brother! I have bought two small form pre-made units and sent them both back. I tried the HP Slimline and it was wat to hot and loud. The I tried the Asus Eeebox 1501 ION/Atom330 and it had trouble with Hulu.

So, I am back to square one, thinking about building my own. The problem I have is that I am scared to use too small of a box, causing a loud fan. But I do not want a big box in my living room. I am not sure what to do =(

I have a wad of cash burning a hole in my pocket and cant find a place to spend it.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 25 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group