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 Post subject: Quiet HTPC / media center / torrent client (low watt/quiet)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:14 am 
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I'm completely out of the loop, not having built a system for 2 years.

Now I would like to build a system for:

+ 1080p h.264 / avi / mkv / qt playback
+ playback of my music files (flac, mp3, mpc, etc)
+ torrent client
+ occasional file serving to other machines, but not a dedicated NAS
+ DVB-T recording & playback
+ web browsing, chat, etc.

Now, the OS part is still pretty much open, I'm thinking XP, Vista, Win7 RC and various Linux distros, maybe even OS X.

For HW I've been considering the following, based on what I've read here and anand/avsforum/etc.

Motherboard :Asus P5N7A-VM 9300IGP
- are there still issues with undervolting stability?
- has anybody tried 8GB (4x2GB) on this? I'm thinking ahead...

CPU: Intel E5200
- should be enough for all I need. Are there lower power parts that would be enough for hd playback while leaving some spare headroom?

RAM: 2 or 4GB DDR2 800Mhz CL5 @ 1.8V(amount depending on OS / app usage)
- is there a huge difference in cooling requirements / power consumption between DIMMs at 1.8V vs. say 2.2V?

CPU Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-D1284
- Downdraft orientation, which helps the cooling of the IGP which can get hot. Looks like a decent performer in the tests I've read, not too expensive and hopefully fits the case (!)
- should have extram 80mm Nexus fans somewhere, thinking 5V might be enough for this


GFX: 9300 IGP, no discrete gfx - at least not yet

Sound: Onboard audio for optical out - enough for DD/DTS/PCM bitstream out now. Maybe a PAP supporting PCI-E 1x HDMI discrete card later, if need be.

Case: Silverstone SG01S-F Evolution
- This is a bit tricky for me. I'd have loved to use the Antec Fusion Remote mATX, but my rack is running out of space, hence the SFF size enclosure. No idea yet, if I'm going to need case fans (hope not).
- Anobody know of shorter (less tall) SFF enclosures that are decent?
- Anybody have experience with this and silent HD mounting?


PSU: Nexus Value 430W
- Again, another compromise. Looks like this is really quiet at my loads (<100W), but the efficiency is "only" 72% at c. 60W draw. I don't want to spend a lot on the PSU, but I want something very quiet.
- PicoPSU option is more of a hassle for me: have to order parts from various spots, ends up twice the price and I'm not sure how the backplate installation can be done cleanly
- I wish there were easily available mATX PSUs at max 200W that were cheap, quiet, efficient and reliable. Can't seem to be able to find one...


HD: 1TB WD GP
- Have 3 of these so far, happy and they are fast enough for what I need

Optical: one of my old Pioneer DVD-burners RPC1 and fairly quiet at dvd playback

I'd also like to find a wireless small keyboard with a trackpad or mouse replacement. Something that works fairly reliably, doesn't suck batteries like black hole and is very quiet to type :)

All comments, changes and tips are appreciated.

PS I must say that for an out of the loop guy like myself, the recent proliferation of chips, chipsets, mobos, etc has made building a quiet pc very nice and excruciating at the same time: the selection is huge and finding the right stuff among all the options takes a long time :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:29 am
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Location: Switzerland
I've built an HTPC based on the same MB/CPU combo, with the same basic requirements. I can't answer all your questions, but I have some observations which may help

Quote:
Anobody know of shorter (less tall) SFF enclosures that are decent?

The NSK3480 is small, but fitting 3 HDs in there may be complicated.

Quote:
and various Linux distros

My systems run linux nicely

Quote:
Onboard audio for optical out

I believe that the MB can only output one digital audio stream at once, chosen via a BIOS setting. I wanted to use SPDIF -> DAC -> Amp for music, but HDMI -> TV for movie sound; which isn't really practical if a restart is required every time I switch activity.

I haven't really had the time to figure out if there is a workaround to this issue, but it's worth mentioning in case you had a similar setup planned.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:05 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:41 pm
Posts: 25
I had similar desires and wanted to fiddle with a SFF build.

I started with an InWin BM648 because it looks great (which it does) but ultimately found the cooling/noise to be unsatisfactory.

Because of the InWin, I picked up the Intel DG45FC mini-itx board and an e5200 (actually this was salvaged from another system.) This board is very satisfactory - IGP solution plays 1080i/x264/BluRay well.
2gb RAM (one stick)
Vista

Because of the unsatisfying InWin case, I picked up a Silverstone LC10B-E for pretty cheap and put in a 350W Enermax PSU I had as a spare (quiet enough.) The Silverstone has plenty of room, allows reasonable quiet 92mm fan and I used a Mini-Ninja. Temps were not good with passive cooling, but with an 80mm fan at 700rpm's temps are good enough and quiet as background.

So, in short I now have:
LC13 case with 92mm postive pressure fan blowing across HDD and chipset (looks great in my stack - matches my receiver color and size.)
DG45FC + e5200 (mini ninja w/ slow fan)
2gb RAM
LG BluRay/combo drive (although I have not used this system for burning.)
2.5" HDD (but there is plenty of room to add HDD for storage - I have
network solution so mostly I only need OS/etc.)
350W Enermax PSU (single 120mm fan)
HDMI to Samsung 52" LCD (HD stuff looks great!)
Optical audio to receiver for surround sound

The mini-itx board looks sort of lonely in the case, but it works! I would not have gone itx if I did this over, but it was fun to try this form. The Silverstone SG05 looks like a promising itx enclosure, though - maybe I'll try it next time.


Last edited by Linnaeus Tripe on Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:39 am 
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Thanks for the good comments.

Clarification, I won't put 3*3.5 disks there, just one disk and perhaps even 2.5". I sepearately run 3 WD GPs on my other system and they perform nicely.

How is the DG45FC for HD playback? I read in the renethx HTPC build guide@ AVS that it's not beefy enough for post-processing and can't output 24p in 'excellent' form. I'm not sure if that guide is up-to-date/correct on that.

Thanks for the tip on the audio output issue on the board. Not a problem for me (yet), but good to know.

I'll keep researching for a while, before I make a purchase.

Based on the measurements by Trustedreviews, I think the 9400 based GA-e7AUM-DS2h might be even more worthwhile, although more expensive:

Image

As for power consumption of DDR2 at various voltages, all I could find quickly was this:

Image

Doesn't seem like there's a huge difference, but perhaps possible to shave off 8-10W if one chooses 1.6V chips, like the recent Geil Green Series. (compared to the highest voltage 2.3V OC chips).

Additional comments are more than welcome.


Last edited by halcyon on Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:09 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:45 pm
Posts: 310
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
veyd wrote:
I believe that the MB can only output one digital audio stream at once, chosen via a BIOS setting. I wanted to use SPDIF -> DAC -> Amp for music, but HDMI -> TV for movie sound; which isn't really practical if a restart is required every time I switch activity.

I haven't really had the time to figure out if there is a workaround to this issue, but it's worth mentioning in case you had a similar setup planned.


According to the thread at AVS and also the chipset/mfg docs, the HDMI and S/PDIF are 2 completely independent audio devices. The HDMI is part of the on-board video, while the S/PDIF is a part of the Realtek chip. In theory, you should be able to keep both enabled in the BIOS, as long as the applications you use let you pick which device you want to use (ie: have Winamp use the SPDIF for 2 ch music, but set MediaPlayerClassic+FFDShowAudio to the HDMI for 7.1, with the default audio device in windows set to whichever you use more often).

You might have problems if your windows/apps are just using the default settings. A good application would have a dropdown list in the config section that let you choose which audio device you want to use with this application. Alternatively, if you search the thread at AVS forum on this motherboard, one user tells you how to use a simple script to switch between audio output between the HDMI and Realtek Audio devices with one keypress.

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Gaming rig: Tt Tsunami,P5Q Pro,Q9450 w Ninja,8GB RAM,4870 1GB w S1,WD 640GB,SB X-Fi Plat,ZM-MFC2.Kama PWM in PSU,others S-FlexEs.
HTPC: NSK2480,GB GF9400,E5200 w/ Minja,4GB RAM,WD GP 1.5TB,Nova DVB-S. Minja PSU fan,S-FlexEs case fans.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:41 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:41 pm
Posts: 25
halcyon wrote:
How is the DG45FC for HD playback? I read in the renethx HTPC build guide@ AVS that it's not beefy enough for post-processing and can't output 24p in 'excellent' form. I'm not sure if that guide is up-to-date/correct on that.


I had some problems initially playing 1080p .mkv's, but since I started using MPC + CoreAVC ($15 well spent) I've had no problems and I don't appreciate any artifact. BluRay disc playback was always smooth. You may have a higher degree of sensitivity than I - but I am not suggesting you go with the DG45FC unless you need a mini-ITX form factor - I am using that because I started with an ITX case which I ultimately found unsatisfactory for cooling/noise. If I were doing this now I'd go for a micro-ATX board w/ 9300 or 9400. Since I am very happy with my current set-up I am not going to upgrade MB. IGP seems fine for everything but gaming.

I think my take-home message is look at your case choice carefully - the SFF/ITX cases look cool, but the small fans/poor air flow make for annoying noise.

Oh, and I am able to switch from HDMI audio to optical out by selecting playback device in the right lower area without rebooting.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:58 am 
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Thanks for the additional comments.

My limitation is the case width, which is absolute maximum 39cm (c. 15.3"). Ideally the case height would be below 14.5cm (5.7").

This calls for Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 or Antec Minuet 350, which then limit me later on add-on cards (sound, tuner, etc) to low-profile/half-height cards

If I give up on the height limitation, I can go to SFF cases, like the Silverstone SST-SG01S Evolution, and gain support for full height cards, but then I run into issues in my rack space.

Ah well, can't have it all :)


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 Post subject: Re: Quiet HTPC / media center / torrent client (low watt/qui
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:25 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:20 am
Posts: 1
I haven't really had the time to figure out if there is a workaround to this issue, but it's worth mentioning in case you had a similar setup planned.


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