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 Post subject: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:41 am 
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Hi,

I am planning on building a mini-ITX HTPC, it has been some time since I assembled a computer so I would like your advice.

First, the restrictions:
- the cheaper the better (max. budget = 400 €)
- quiet
- not too power hungry
- possibility to add a blu-ray player later
- works on linux

So after reading a lot of websites, I came up with this configuration:
- motherboard:
Still unknown, but I would like a cheap fusion fanless board. For the moment it seems there is only one: ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe
The problem is that the motherboard is a bit expensive and I won't need bluetooth, nor wifi.
- hard drive: Samsung F4 green 2to 3.5
I am wondering about having a raid 1 system, so I may consider buying 2x1to or 2x2to hard drives.
- ram:
I don't know what brand of ram I should take, the prices are really similar. If one brand is better than another tell me. Also the price are quite low so I am thinking of taking 2x2go. But will it be useful? Does the dual channel will really make the computer faster? If not I will probably stick with 2go.
- case/psu: Apex MI-008
- tv card (double tuner): WinTV-NOVA-T 500
It seems this card is well tested on Linux. But if you know cheaper cards, tell me.

Some questions:
- What do you think or Raid 1?
- Will the infrared remote of the tv card work well with this case?
- Any problem with heat that I should consider?
- Did I miss something?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:55 pm 
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That case won't hold a RAID array, not with 3.5s anyway.

This case would be better suited to the task, it can hold four 3.5 drives (6 if you don't use a long expansion card) : http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product/pr ... s_index=64 Other advantages are the intake fan and compatibility with full-size ATX power supplies.


As for RAM, G-Skill's been dependable in my machines. And if you're interested Samsung makes half-height modules now.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:16 pm 
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It looks like your motherboard has a PCIe slot and your tuner card is a PCI. Very few mini-ITX boards have PCI slots.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:30 pm 
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Location: Seattle
micah161 wrote:
It looks like your motherboard has a PCIe slot and your tuner card is a PCI. Very few mini-ITX boards have PCI slots.

Not anymore anyway, they were the norm on older ITX boards.

I'm not seeing the Nova on Hauppage's product list, but they do make dual tuner PCI-e cards. If you already have the card there are PCI-e to PCI adapters on the market.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:32 am 
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ronx wrote:
Still unknown, but I would like a cheap fusion fanless board. For the moment it seems there is only one: ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe
The problem is that the motherboard is a bit expensive and I won't need bluetooth, nor wifi.

Asus has cheaper models than the Deluxe listed.

Depending on what you want to do with this box, consider waiting for Ontario boards (the less powerful verison of the new Fusion gear). They will use less power and would be better suited to fanless operation.

ronx wrote:
I don't know what brand of ram I should take, the prices are really similar. If one brand is better than another tell me. Also the price are quite low so I am thinking of taking 2x2go. But will it be useful?

I usually buy Kingston ValueRAM.
You don't say what you're going to do with the box and what software you want to run so it's impossible to say if more RAM would help. Each RAM stick consumes power, that's for sure.

ronx wrote:
What do you think or Raid 1?

Again, it depends on what you're going to do with the box. In general, RAID is an availability solution and an HTPC doesn't really require high availability. For the safety of your data, the first thing you need is offline backups. Then online mirrors. And only then RAID. Assuming you already have backups and you want to use two hard drives, I recommend you mirror the data nightly from one drive to the other or something like that. RAID will only protect you against a drive failure. A mirror which is not updated in real-time will protect you against other potential problems such as user error.

If you want a lot of storage and silence, the best solution would be to separate the HTPC from the drives. This would also allow you to use a smaller case. The case you chose doesn't look suited to fanless operation. If you're going to have several hard drives in the case, you might as well use a fan but if there was no hard drive in the case, fanless operation might be more attractive. But maybe not: I don't know how quiet you want this to be.

Is the PSU in the case you're considering any good? Does anyone know?


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:51 am 
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Thanks a lot for all your informations.

About the future uses of the computer:
- mythtv
- torrents
- streaming music/dvb-t over the network
- sharing data (dropbox like)

I plan to keep this configuration for 5-10 years, so I would prefer buying something which exceeds a bit my needs in terms of power now, but which probably won't in 10 years. So that's why I was considering zacate instead of ontario. But if you think that the zacate is really too much for my current needs, I will consider ontario.

About the TV card, till now I just checked the french hauppage website which still lists the T-500. So I will continue my investigation. But as the linux driver for this card seems really good, I may stick to this one.

Right now I didn't plan any offline/online backups. By offline backup, do you mean mirroring from time to time for example to a external hdd that stays all the time on my desk? Because I really may consider that, it would also give more cases possibilities as I would be satisfied with one 3.5 hdd.

So now about the case, maybe I didn't search enough but it is the only one that is cheap, good looking (in my opinion) with a quiet psu. That's why I would like to stick with this one. Are there other similar cases which would meet these criteria?

Thanks again for your advices.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:11 am 
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About RAID: I do not recommend it in your case. Yes, an external drive would be a good idea. If the data is not easily replacable and important to you, I would recommend two external drives actually (to be used in rotation). Depending on how important the stuff is to you, I would recommend entrusting a copy to an acquaintance to be protected against fires, burglars and such.
If you want to be able to recover quickly from a problem, you could clone fully your internal drive to your external drive(s). This way recovery might be as simple as replacing a dead internal drive with an external drive. Do not fully clone when you're updating the backups of course: you only need to copy over new files and modified files. There are applications which can do that for you.
If you have many files you care about which are never going to be modified such as movies, I recommend you put them all in torrents even if you're not going to share them (just keep the torrent files on your disk, not necessarily in your file sharing application). This way you'll be able to verify their integrity. Sometimes files can get corrupted. If you can identify the corruption, you can then restore the files from the good copies you should have in your backups.

About Zacate vs. Ontario, you can't really expect to use the hardware 5-10 years. You can hope to but the warranties don't last anywhere that long for one thing. So there'll be no guarantee.
I don't know how quiet you want your box to be and what your requirements are so I can't advise you. For torrents, music and sharing files, an Ontario would be more than enough unless you're planning to get very fast drives or an outrageously fast Internet connection down the road. For streaming video and MythTV it depends on the details. Do you know what resolution and formats you're going to want to support 5-10 years down the road? Best ask the people at MythTV I think but provide more information if you want good advice.
In doubt, a Zacate would of course be a safer choice. You're planning to use a 3.5'' drive in a small cases anyway so your box will not be silent even if you get an Ontario.

I don't think you need even 2G of RAM for what you want to do. I'd probably use 1G but 2G DIMMs are cheap enough and more RAM is always nice.

Affordable case options depend on your location, which you did not specify. And I still have no idea what you mean by "quiet" exactly. Perhaps you could tell how you know this case's PSU is quiet enough for you. I've never had one of these cases. If a review had some numbers about the noise it makes, it would help us understand what you're aiming for and perhaps to give you alternatives.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:46 am 
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Location: US
ronx wrote:
I plan to keep this configuration for 5-10 years, so I would prefer buying something which exceeds a bit my needs in terms of power now, but which probably won't in 10 years.
I don't know if it was a fluke or not, but I had a small Asus built computer that lasted about 10 years. It finally started having reliability issues with the IDE hard drive.

Not certain if this contributed to its long life, but I just always kept it on all the time. I probably didn't reboot it more than 5 or 6 times a year. It was in the basement so it always ran fairly cool. I have to admit the next few boards I got had some fairly abbreviated life spans, in the order of 1-3 years. On one the internet jack went bad and on the other one it seems like the memory has become unreliable. They both sort of still work... I keep them around, just in case, backup purposes. But I will never upgrade them from XP to Windows.

One option you might consider is a 13-2400 Sandy Bridge chip. See the discussion on pros and cons here:
viewtopic.php?f=28&t=61485&start=30

Put a big Noctua top down cooler (maybe cut the top out of the Apex MI-008 to let in cool air). Use a good Asus or Gigabyte motherboard with the Japanese capacitors. Maybe if you keep it really really cool, it will last a long long time. Though I guess you just never know.

I have already purchased an Apex MI-008 and that is the route I expect to be taking with it. Unfortunately it will bump you budget up by about $100... though if you wait a month or two for the 2 core Sandy Bridge chips, the difference will be closer to $30,

CES

PS: I have switched over to backing up into the clouds using iDrive. It seems to be working well for me. Reading about all the sunspot activity projected over the next 10 years made me paranoid about how safe my data would be all in one location. I an hoping that maybe they are securing my data from sunspot activity a little better than I can. Losing my files to a burglar would be a traumatic non-recoverable event for me. Idrive cloud backup makes me feel better protected from acts of god and acts of man,

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:56 am 
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ronx wrote:
I don't know what brand of ram I should take, the prices are really similar. If one brand is better than another tell me. Also the price are quite low so I am thinking of taking 2x2go. But will it be useful? Does the dual channel will really make the computer faster? If not I will probably stick with 2go.
Memory is probably not important to you unless you are interested in overclocking... And with Sandy Bridge, it might even be less important.

See alecmg's comments here:
viewtopic.php?f=28&t=61485&start=0

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:59 pm 
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I live in Paris and it is really likely that I will get FTTH (100 mb) in like 1-2 years. So would an Ontario processor handle it as good as Zacate? About the resolution, I don't think it will be more than 720p, h264 format. Also I have no immediate need it, I can delay the purchase of 1-2 months. And I will have to, because right now I don't see any boards that would be good for my configuration. Till now I haven't considered sandy bridge at all, because from what I understood it would be too expensive and I wouldn't need so much power. I will investigate that and see the price.

So about the noise, after all it is why I am here! I don't really know if it is possible, but the ultimate goal would be to have something inaudible at 2 meters. However I would be satisfied a low constant noise as long as the hdd isn't too loud. About the Apex MI-008, I listened to the mp3 and it seemed good. But if you have something even more quiet, I am in! Considering that now I don't intend to do any raid, a picopsu could be nice.

Is there something wrong with 3.5" drives? Are they louder than 2.5"?


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:24 pm 
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ronx wrote:
Is there something wrong with 3.5" drives? Are they louder than 2.5"?


They vibrate more, because they have greater mass and larger platters. Depending on the case, that could be a problem. The quiet ones, 5.x00 rpm models from Western Digital or Samsung have just about the same air noise (a "whoosh" sound) as 2.5" drives.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:30 am 
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I have a few Samsung EGs and their whoosh is louder than quiet 2.5'' drives. I'm not saying SPCR's measurements are wrong but it must be only one or two Samsung models which are that quiet. That or sample variance.

I didn't realize SPCR had reviewed this Apex case.
My guess is that this case will only be inaudible at 2 meters if you have a fairly noisy environment or if your hearing is damaged. But going by SPCR's measurements, it should be very quiet. Pretty good for the price! I think it will be difficult to do better in Paris, especially if you want a 3.5'' drive. Maybe someone who's more knowledgable about parts availability in France could comment...
But if you plan to buy a pico and dump the Apex's power supply then I think you would probably have better options than this case such as a case which does not include a power supply or perhaps a more expensive case which includes a better power supply you could use instead of a pico.
In that Apex case, you will only have room for one easily suspended 3.5'' drive and that's if you give up the ability to use an internal optical drive. If you want inaudible, you'd better suspend. It depends on the background noise and your hearing but you may have put in some work to suspend a 3.5'' under the ODD, to mount it on foam or something if you want an internal blu-ray drive as well as noise as low as you want.
The Apex's power supply is inefficient but I guess you can live with that.

I think an Ontario should be able to handle 720p decoding (you're not going to encode in real-time, right?) and torrents over a domestic connection (you wouldn't get 100M upload, right?) with the right software. Zacate would give you more leeway but it's not very powerful either. But I'd get a Zacate anyway with the Apex case now that I've seen the review: if you're going to have an inefficient 250W fanned PSU in a mostly closed case, it doesn't make a lot of sense to obsess over the board. Cooling would be dicey without a fan or two (unless you put the case on the side so that hot air can escape from the top perhaps) and a quiet fan wouldn't make much more noise than you're already committed to. A very low-power board would also be wasted on the Apex's PSU. So I'd take a second look at fanned boards...
For fanless operation, you need a large case or a case which allows air to flow relatively easily. And hot air want to rise so you want very little obstruction over your heatsink. Look at cases designed for fanless operation of non-mobile gear: the top looks more like a mesh.

Only in ces' dreamworld is Sandy Bridge that cheap. Forget it.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:04 am 
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More we dig, less I am sure about my choices. It is crazy the amount of informations you need to build a quiet htpc. With FTTH on Paris some people are reporting an upload of speed of more than 100M. But I don't really care, the computer is not for a professional use I will be satisfied with less :-)

As it seems that the Nova T 500 card is one of the few cards to have a good support on linux, I am wondering about micro-atx now. As I have an opportunity of buying the card second-hand. Having a PCI slot would save me some money.

So I am thinking of a micro-atx fanless board, like the ASUS E35M1-M (not the pro version). So to recap:
- ASUS E35M1-M fanless
- TV card Nova T 500
- 1x2 to hdd (WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EARS that SPCR reviewed)
- 1x2go ram (Corsair or Kingstone value DDR3-1333 CL9 2Go seem to be the cheapest here)
- a picopsu (how many watts for such configuration?)
- a micro-atx case:
I have no idea which case at the moment. The requirements would be: be able to suspend a 3.5", a place for a future bluray player. Also considering the configuration, will have to use a fan inside the case?

Would this configuration be quieter than what I previously considered? Is it worth it?


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:04 am 
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It has the potential to be quieter as you've got more room for cooling and isolation. Only you can tell if it's worth it. How much do you value a small form factor?

Any pico should do. The 80W version might be more appropriate. I don't know if anyone (SPCR possibly?) compared their efficiencies and I don't know how much power a blu-ray drive would draw. See if you can find an AC/DC brick locally. Maybe you even have a good one which came with an old device. Some picos accept a wider range of voltages.
I think there's a company in Germany which makes similar power supplies as well. You might also be able to source a Morex power supply for less than a pico once you include shipping costs as Morex has a distributor in Europe.

With a bigger case, you could try fully fanless operation but there's no guarantee you'll get acceptable temperatures. I've never tried it with a Zacate board (I intend to do so in a few weeks if I can get my grubby hand on one of these boards). So you might want to wait for an Ontario if you absolutely don't want a fan. Else you could buy a quiet fan after seeing if temps are OK without one. A lot depends on how good the heatsink is and I don't know that anyone has tested the mITX Asus heatsink.
I doubt the uATX Asus board could be safely cooled without any fans if you use the stock heatsink (see the temperatures in SPCR's review). You'd be able to make a better guess if we knew how hot it's designed to be run. But since you want to keep it 5-10 years, better be safe I think...

If you don't want any fans, there's a few things you should think about when buying a case (you should have no trouble getting a used uATX case):
Many fanless heatsinks do not perform the same when they're oriented vertically. For some it's good, for some it's bad and for others it depends on whether you look at idle or load temperatures.
If you want to try to use the whole case as a radiator, you want an inside surface which absorbs heat easily from the air. My guess is that it wouldn't work well but I've never tried it because you'd need a large case to make it work. The more obvious way to make fanless operation work is to allow hot air to escape the case. But there are not many (if any!) uATX cases designed to allow that. So you may need to modify a case.

Once you see how much trouble fully fanless operation is, perhaps you wouldn't mind a quiet fan or two. Especially inside a closed case, they can get inaudible at low speeds.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:05 am 
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I am very curious how your build will go since I am considering something similar.

Just a few notes:
- Zacate does not have a dual channel memory controller. Just buy a single stick of RAM. It will use less power and you can easily upgrade in the future.
- The Apex MI-008 is a ITX case and your selected mobo is micro-ATX (although it looks like you have removed that case from your list).
- Hardware acceleration for AMD GPUs in Linux is questionable (although getting better). Some people have HW acceleration in XMBC working but it requires mplayer-vaapi, the latest Catalyst drivers and a few other libraries. Intel would have the same problems (although they should have enough CPU power to decode via software). The majority of this issues should be fixed by end of year (hopefully sooner).


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:23 am 
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Blappo wrote:
- The Apex MI-008 is a ITX case and your selected mobo is micro-ATX (although it looks like you have removed that case from your list).

The OP had selected the mITX board originally. Look at the model number carefully.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:10 pm 
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HFat wrote:
Blappo wrote:
...

The OP had selected the mITX board originally. Look at the model number carefully.

:oops: That's what I get for skimming the thread. Move along.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:19 pm 
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Thanks for the informations. I am a bit aware of the current state of the hardware acceleration. As I still have an old television which doesn't support HD, I am pretty sure that even with just the cpu I will be fine. So I guess that when I will have an HD TV, the ati drivers should work fine. But I am ready (and I will try) to patch and compile to add the support.

I think that I already have an AC/DC, but I am not sure. If there is some expert, check this photo: http://img687.imageshack.us/f/dsc00023ih.jpg/
It seems that on ebay, the picopsu are quite cheap, so if the device of the photo is compatible I will go for it. I have checked a bit the micro-atx cases, but I only found one case not too ugly and available to purchase in Paris: Silverstone Milo ML03. It provides more hdd slots than what I need, but for the moment I couldn't find better. I don't know if it will be possible to do it full fanless. But like on the review of the ASUS E35M1-M pro, SPRC managed to do tweak the fan so it was practically inaudible at 1 meter which is fine to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:21 pm 
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I'm no expert by any means but that's a 38W brick. It might work but I wouldn't even try. It needs to spin up the hard drive at boot on top of powering the Zacate board...
Then there's the issue of the brick's quality.

I'd start by looking for a decent laptop brick. One that came with a fairly powerful and expensive laptop. Laptops die but their bricks remain. So people get rid of them. IBM laptops used to take 12V for instance.
You could also buy a new brick from an electronic catalogue or some such I guess.

That case is probably not ideal from a noise perspective but I guess it could be made to work if you're handy. Do you know how you would suspend a drive in there for instance?
Ugliness is subjective but you should be able to find many cases in Paris. If you're comfortable using eBay and the like that should give you more choices.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:07 pm 
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In the end, I may choose a classic chassis like the Gigabyte GZ-M1. It is cheap and it won't be a nightmare to suspend the disk. I can live with it, as long as it is quiet! What do you think of it?

Also about the picopsu, I believe 80w should be enough, as the system power consumption was of 35 w while reading a bluray in the ASUS E35M1-M Pro review of SPCR.I will see if I can get a cheap ACDC.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:43 pm 
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HFat wrote:
Only in ces' dreamworld is Sandy Bridge that cheap.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:13 pm 
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AMD FUSION (Asus E35M1-M Pro: AMD Fusion Motherboard)

No Aftermarket Heatsinks
allwinner wrote:
It's unfortunate there is no heatsink layout standard for the fusion? Examination of the Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte boards evidences that the heatsink is defined by the layout of the APU & FCH which is different for each board. Consequently, we'll be SOL when it comes to aftermarket heatsink replacements.... This is unfortunate since the low power draw begs for semi/passive cooling that could be achieved with larger after market heatsinks.
Inability to decode 3D
allwinner wrote:
I think it's worth noting that the chip cannot decode blu-ray 3d.
Limited to 720P and then don't encode in real time
HFat wrote:
I think an Ontario should be able to handle 720p decoding (you're not going to encode in real-time, right?)
There is better
allwinner wrote:
However, after considering costs, the low power AMD chips would be a compelling alternative
SPCR wrote:
"The E-350 CPU's performance was inconsistent, trailing Intel's CULV dual core Celeron SU2300 by small margins in some tests and larger margins in others. It was also incredibly slow when encoding video, even more so than Atom."


I agree with allwinner & SPCR, But instead of upgrading to an Atom for adequate encoding or to a low power AMD chip or a CULV dual core Celeron SU2300 for 1080P... I would favor a third cost effective alternative with even better performance and almost the same energy utilization at idle:
the 2400 costs about $179.99 at Microcenter.com
http://www.microcenter.com/single_produ ... id=0354590
and in a month they will be selling 2 core Sandy Bridges for under $75.
http://www.semiaccurate.com/2010/11/26/ ... g-appears/

According to Google Shopping you can get an Intel H67 motherboard for under $100.00

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:30 am 
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I doubt that in a near future sandy bridge will be as cheap as zacate. I don't need more power than what a E350 (or even ontario) can deliver and I don't intend to use 3D (I don't even have a HD TV for the moment!).


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:48 am 
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ces wrote:
the 2400 costs about $179.99 at Microcenter.com
http://www.microcenter.com/single_produ ... id=0354590

I don't think there's any Microcenter (or Fry's) in France (providing the OP is french).

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:49 am 
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ronx wrote:
I don't need more power than what a E350 (or even ontario) can deliver and I don't intend to use 3D (I don't even have a HD TV for the moment!).

Who knows in the next 5-10 years...

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:15 am 
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ronx wrote:
In the end, I may choose a classic chassis like the Gigabyte GZ-M1. It is cheap and it won't be a nightmare to suspend the disk. I can live with it, as long as it is quiet! What do you think of it?

It's cheap (so likely prone to vibrate, likely don't able to dump/muffle) and maybe too much deep (to be considered enough compact): besides I think it sports 92mm fans, not 120mm ones, and if in case it might be a problem (as I often found cheap 92mm fans noisier than 120mm ones, at the same CFMs). It may not be a nightmare to suspend drives, but it's designed to accomodate long video cards, not holding disks, I guess you may have some problem trying to suspend two disks.

Nonetheless I don't think there's anything really better around for about 30 euros: perhaps you could consider to raise a bit your budget.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:24 am 
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For a chassis, I am ready to spend 50-60 euros max. But I can't find something good (maybe because of the profusion of microatx cases). If you know some good cases, I am all hear!

About 3D, I will come back on this forum in 5 years to tell you if I changed my mind ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:37 am 
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If you liked the HTPC case you spotted earlier, keep in mind that suspending is not the only way to avoid hard mounting. You could let the drive sit on a relatively thick piece of foam for instance. You should have some room where the PSU would have been if you didn't use a pico.

I don't think that Gigabyte case would be such a bad choice if you don't mind the size. I've never seen one, much less used one but your requirements are very modest. You're not planning to use an ATX power supply and you only need minimal airflow so there's no need to use the designed fan arrangement (it might be best not to actually). You could load the case it it's too light. And so on. You could also tweak any number of old cases that people are selling for cheap or even giving away for free.
If you're OK with pricey and large cases, I've seen on a price list that NZXT makes cases with top vents. They're gamer cases, overkill for what you want. But affordable. I'm not knowledgable about uATX cases so I have no better idea for now if you want to suspend a 3.5'' drive and avoid fans without too much work. With some work or by giving up the 3.5'' drive, you should be able to build something more appropriate for less money.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:23 pm 
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ronx wrote:
But I can't find something good (maybe because of the profusion of microatx cases). If you know some good cases, I am all hear!

Well, if you aim to suspend the disks, you should need a case with more than two 5.25 bays: the only mini tower which I know with more than two is the Enermax Vostok ECA2020. The Vostok ECA3120 is a mid-tower, a tad larger but maybe it could also work.
Otherwise I think you should go for a gaming (mid-?)tower like, which unfortunately are way bigger.

Eventually an acceptable trade off could be the one coming from HFat.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX HTPC/Server: Hardware
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:12 am 
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I thought ronx only wanted to suspend one drive. Many cases can accomodate that and an ODD without too much work.

The reason I noticed NZXT is that they have a case small enough to show up on a mini-tower price list. It looks only a bit taller than the Gigabyte.


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