VIA, Athlon XP, or Pentium II?

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andyy32
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Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:46 pm
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VIA, Athlon XP, or Pentium II?

Post by andyy32 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:29 pm

Sorry if this is long winded but some detail is needed. I currently have a Pentium II 333 with several hard drives in it and like 76mb of ram. It is running freenas and does an ok job as a NAS. I recently bought a laptop and am working on selling my desktop which I used to stream media to my xbox360. I would like to be able to have media on my NAS box viewed on the TV.

Option 1
If I could stream it to my 360 that would be acceptable but I do not know of a way to do that other than from a windows OS. Obviously my Pentium II isn't going to run Windows XP. If anyone knows of a way to do this with freenas or a particular variety of Linux please point me in the right direction.

Option 2
Another option is an HTPC. Currently I have a SDTV that has S-video but we plan on getting a 37ish inch LCD TV in 2-3 months. I have no idea if it will be 720p or 1080p. I understand that a fairly beefy CPU is needed to do 1080p and that most VIA systems won't cut it. Can these handle 720p? I mostly just torrent TV shows and watch them on my TV. Movies are almost always on DVD. We do not have cable so I won't be using a tuner.

I am trying to do the right thing environmentally here. That was the motivation for the switch to the laptop. Thus I would like lowest possible power consumption but preferably used parts. I was considering a VIA system for low power usage but am now thinking that I might be better off with leftover parts from a system my mom had. Its an Athlon xp and an Nforce 2 mobo. So I guess I am looking for recommendations on both software and hardware. I have a feeling that what I am running now is going to have to go. Oh yeah, according to my killawatt my current PII setup pulls about 75 watts

jhhoffma
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Post by jhhoffma » Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:23 pm

You can look at my HTPC specs below for details, but depending on the decoder (hardware or software) my setup will do at least 720p with no problems (even h.264 encoded). Beyond that will be pushing it with software. It hasn't changed much since I upgraded from a AthlonXP 2600+ and 512MB of PC2700 a couple weeks ago.

I have viewed 1080i WMVs and 1080p mpg files and some work well, others not so much.
HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS

andyy32
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:46 pm
Location: Nebraska

Post by andyy32 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:08 pm

That is very helpful, thank you. Two questions for you. Do you have any idea how much power your HTPC uses? What OS/software are you using?

yaler
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Post by yaler » Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:09 pm

I had an AMD Athlon 2400+ with a Geforce 4 ti 4200 and I couldn't pull off 720p. Also it idled a lot hotter and less efficiently than my current setup (no CnQ, older gaming card etc...). Best bet is to sink a couple bucks into a new pc. Or install XP media center on the P2 (that is what you need to stream to the 360 right?)....

tehcrazybob
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Post by tehcrazybob » Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:52 pm

Your current server will probably run XP well enough to stream videos if you upgrade to 512MB RAM. It'd be painfully slow for normal computing tasks, but serving movies on the network is pretty easy.

You could also upgrade the server if you're concerned it's not powerful enough - your Athlon XP will be comfortably fast enough for Windows XP server duties, even if you underclock it to bring its power consumption down to where your current server is.

The final option, of course, is to build a media center. As I understand it, you'll want a fairly modern dual-core processor if you're planning on running HD content.

z3r0
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Post by z3r0 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:35 pm

You could try a minimal Debian Linux install with GeeXboX uShare.
And you can practice installing and configuring Debian Linux useing virtualization before you install it on the Pentium 333 (I like VirtualBox, but Vmware is another good option.)

And my final thought is you could just softmod and install a new dashboard on a original Xbox, then just continue to use your Pentium 333 as a server.

jhhoffma
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Post by jhhoffma » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:12 am

yaler wrote:I had an AMD Athlon 2400+ with a Geforce 4 ti 4200 and I couldn't pull off 720p. Also it idled a lot hotter and less efficiently than my current setup (no CnQ, older gaming card etc...). Best bet is to sink a couple bucks into a new pc. Or install XP media center on the P2 (that is what you need to stream to the 360 right?)....
Decoders make all the difference. I can use mine in MCE/Zoomplayer/Theatertek/VLC/younameit, without problems at 720p with the older processor. CoreAVC works the best for software decoding h.264 media, VLC a close second (but can't be used inside of MCE, obviously)

The 2400+ was a Thoroughbred core however, and the 2500+ and 2600+ I have are Barton processors (there was also a Thoroughbred 2600+) with faster FSBs and larger L2-caches, so they're not directly comparable, but my HTPC never ran very warm. My other nForce2's Northbridge ran a little warm when OC'd, bigger HS took card of that, until the caps started to leak.

The only downside I could see is if you are looking for a very low powered system, then this approach will not be the best. P2 and newer machines draw much less power. That being said, my HTPC is on S3 standby when not in use, where it uses maybe 3W total, compared to 1.5W when shutdown completely.
HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS

andyy32
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Post by andyy32 » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:25 am

I don't think I want to try loading my current machine with XP. I would want to be able to use it to torrent files which would be painfully slow. I think that linux is probably the way to go in this situation regardless of the hardware. GeeXbox looks like it has great potential in this situation. I will do a temporary setup of the Athlon XP tonight and see what kind of power usage it draws. I'm not sure how much actual HD content I would be watching but the amount would probably go up once I got a shiny new HD TV.

andyy32
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Location: Nebraska

Post by andyy32 » Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:01 am

Just an update for anyone interested. It turns out that version 0.686 (not compatible in newer versions) of Freenas has a built in UPNP server that will stream video content to the xbox360. For now I will be sticking with my current setup. I did acquire some more ram for it and will most likely be adding a SATA controller card.

Also Freenas can be installed on a CF card. This will save the power consumed by the hard drive containing the Freenas OS. Currently this setup with two older IDE hard drives, a PII 333 and 768MB of RAM (3x 256mb) it pulls about 50 watts, around 40 when both drives go into standby.

After some extensive searching I did find a way to load a bittorrent client onto Freenas. It is all command line and initially seems a bit slow but I need to do some more "testing." I followed the guide Here on freenas version 0.686. I am unsure if it works with earlier or later versions[/url]

xan_user
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Post by xan_user » Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:26 am

:arrow: :!:

Great tip!

FreeNAS here I come!

..............
Side note,
I installed xp on a k6 350 OC'd to 550 w 256MB ram and it ran surpringly well with all xp flashy-ness turned off. (looks like win2000, IMO the only good OS Billy has made)

andyy32
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Location: Nebraska

Post by andyy32 » Wed Feb 27, 2008 9:46 am

Thanks. Let me know how it goes.

Trekmeister
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Post by Trekmeister » Wed Feb 27, 2008 1:00 pm

andyy32 wrote:Just an update for anyone interested. It turns out that version 0.686 (not compatible in newer versions) of Freenas has a built in UPNP server that will stream video content to the xbox360. For now I will be sticking with my current setup. I did acquire some more ram for it and will most likely be adding a SATA controller card.
Just a hint if you decide to get a SATA controller card, try to stay away from the cheap cards with a Silicon Image chipset. They can be a bit unreliable under Linux and even more so with FreeBSD.

andyy32
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:46 pm
Location: Nebraska

Post by andyy32 » Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:15 pm

Thanks for the tip. Do you have a recommendation for a sata controller card? I think I'm actually going to be running SUSE as ctorrent doesn't have all the features I would like. Anyway, something with at least 4 ports and on the cheaper side would be good.

Trekmeister
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Post by Trekmeister » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:28 pm

Well the Silicon Image chipset in my previous computer worked decently when it was my main machine running linux, only some timeouts and stuff in the logs from time to time. However when I upgraded and that machine was moved down the ladder to become a FreeBSD server I started having problems. I ended up buying a cheap two-port Promise card which has worked fine without a single hickup. From what I have gathered the support for Promise cards are usually quite good for both Linux and *BSD.

If you want to get away as cheap as possible you can take a chance on a Silicon Image chip if you decide to go with Linux. It will probably work, but I myself would not risk it and go for anything with those chipsets again. On the other hand perhaps the newer 3124 chips are better documented and supported than the old 311x which I have experience from.

Unfortunatly I can't provide you with any specific recommendations since my experience with other cards are quite limited.

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