Assassin's Simple/Beginner HTPC Buying Guide - Page 56 - AVS Forum
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post #1651 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwpritchett View Post

assassin-

Does the hard drive have to be in IDE mode or is AHCI good?

I know my Intel SSD requires IDE mode to be flashed.

Ahci mode is fine.
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post #1652 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I have posted a summary of the zacate build in post #2.

I have also posted a step-by-step tutorial on updating the Samsung firmware in the FAQ found in post #3.
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post #1653 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

dpmb's zacate build

As you know dpmb graciously agreed to let me use him as a guinea pig so I could test out the zacate platform.

For those of you who don't know zacate is an AMD fusion motherboard which includes the motherboard, processor and graphics all in one piece in one box. It also has a very low energy use and as such has the makings of a fantastic HTPC.

Our parts list. dpmb really went all out on this zacate build which as his builder I really appreciated:

Motherboard/CPU combo: AMD Zacate ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe Mini ITX - $175
He wanted a mini-ITX form factor and this is the most feature rich board available right now. It has onboard wifi internet which is great to leave the lone slot open for future upgrades. It also has built in bluetooth should you want to link it to your smartphone or bluetooth keyboard/mouse. This board is completely fanless with a pretty awesome mammoth heatsink which should be cool to see. Great build quality as usual with ASUS.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131698



Case: Rosewill RC-CIX-01 BK ITX - $50
This was the component that gave us the most trouble picking out. We initially were discussing the Lian-Li and Silverstone from page 1 of my recommendation page but the Lian-Li didn't offer future expandability as it cannot mount a 3.5" storage drive and the Silverstone was $145 by the time you added a PSU. In the end the Rosewill is a very good case and PSU which allows for a SSD, 3.5" drive for storage and also a normal sized optical drive.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811147133


SSD OS Drive: OCZ Vertex 2 60GB SATAII - $92 after rebate
I chose this drive over the 64GB version solely due to the price. Should be a fantastic OS drive for this little HTPC.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820227550


RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2GB DDR3 1333 - $47
I love G.Skill and this is great RAM. Should really work and look great in this system.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231275


Storage Hard Drive: Samsung Green F4 2TB - $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822152245


Optical Drive: Lite-On Bluray - $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827106326


Operating System: Windows 7 Home 64 bit - $100
This is going to be a WMC/Mediabrowser HTPC.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16832116754

Total price after rebate:
$594 with the Bluray drive and including the 2TB storage drive

=========================================================
Build Pics
=========================================================
Unboxing
Here you can see the size and pictures of all the individual components prior to install.








Preparing the Install
This was really a phenomenal case to work with. Its well designed, small and whisper quiet for an ITX case. The only audible fan in this case was the rear chassis fan which I could hear only if I was up close. The case itself is very well thought out and well built for the money.

Standoffs are built in and ready to go.

Backplate/shield snapped in easily and lined up nicely.

The only issue I had initially is that I had 3 SATA devices (SSD, HD and Bluray) and only 2 SATA power connections --- 1 on each cable as you can see here.

This was quickly remedied with a trip down to the local PC store to buy an adapter to convert a molex plug to 2 SATA plugs. I now had enough plugs to power all my SATA connections.



Installing Hardware
The motherboard slid in relatively easily from the side and did not require and moving the PSU which is often required in these really small ITX cases.

RAM installed easily and looks great. Plenty of clearance for the Ripjaws heat spreaders.

The case USB and Audio was installed to the appropriate headers.

Chassis fan was connected to the motherboard header (seen here but blurry).

Power including 4 pin power (seen here) was attached to motherboard.

Headers were connected to the motherboard. This case does not come with a speaker and does not have a reset button.


SSD Installation Considerations
There are actually plenty of places to install a SSD in this case. There are approximately 1 inch "overhangs" on both sides of the case that could easily fit a SSD in a vertical fashion (there are also a few holes in the case at these positions that could be used). Finally you could velcro the SSD to the top of the PSU very easily as well.
As seen in the below pictures when I tried to use one of these holes the SSD touched the top of the PSU which was okay but not ideal in one of my builds. It also would have blocked the slot in the board which would have been a PITA for him later. I wanted to give dpmb a case that I would be proud to call my own. And thus began my modification of this case which is by no means necessary for other builders.



The right side of the case was more crowded with the PSU connector and cable so the left side of the case was where I targeted a custom install which was very easy to do. I also wanted to keep it high enough from the bottom and towards the front of the case so that if he ever wants to add a card he can do so (hopefully) relatively easily --- and if not the SSD can be moved to on top of the PSU and secured with two-sided velcro.

Thus began my modification...
First I used the 3.5" bay adapter as a template to mark for perfect screw hole alignment. The 3.5" bay could not be used as this was being used for the 2TB hard drive.

I used a mechanical pencil and extended the lead enough to reach the metal and mark my drill holes. Here you can see where the Bluray drive bracket is actually "bumped out" which meant the screwheads for this SSD would not interfere with the Bluray drive install.

Next I removed all components which was annoying but necessary to prevent any damage. Then I drilled holes at the markings. Now the SSD was very secure and out of the way. Here is the view from inside the Bluray drive bay.

And from outside the case

Next the 2TB hard drive was installed into the 3.5" drive bay.

The Bluray drive was installed on top of the 3.5" drive with relative ease. This case does NOT suffer from problems with the drive door not opening correctly.


Cable Management
Cable management is pretty difficult in ITX cases but this one was much better than some others that I have worked with. I was able to get all the cables off the massive heatsink and there is pretty good airflow within the case.
Right side

Left side


BIOS and initial install
This ASUS board uses the new EFI Bios which is *mouse* controlled. The standard bios controls are horrible compared to this new modern wonder. I am a fan and will definitely be looking for this option on all future builds.

SSD settings

RAM settings proving yet again that this PC does take 1333 RAM

My Computer screen showing installation of 60GB SSD, 2TB Green hard drive, and Bluray drive


A really really fun build. Now I will start working on the software aspects.

These 2 round discs are the antenna for the wireless card.

A couple of pictures of this little HTPC in action.


Man...that is ONE SWEET BUILD! I guess I'm gonna have to start saving pennies now. I love this thread!

Regards,
Paul
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post #1654 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul E. Fox, II View Post

Man...that is ONE SWEET BUILD! I guess I'm gonna have to start saving pennies now. I love this thread!

Thanks. I thought so too. We'll see what dpmb thinks - I shipped it out today.

I want to emphasize that the zacate is NOT a replacement for the i3 builds. I think they serve 2 different purposes or users.

But as I have stated if all you want to do is play media and surf the internet this little guy is tough to beat for the price.
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post #1655 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by velillen View Post

hmmm is there a way to check the manufacturing date without opening up the case? Im pretty sure my most recent sammy 2tb is fine but i know i bought my other way back in November. havent had any issues but figure better to be safe i suppose.


heres another question. i have my htpc (windows 7 64bit) hooked up to my normal pc (windows xp sp3) via a 25 ft crossover cable. Works decently, speeds are fine for me (1gb ports, get about ~40-50mbps average, fine for me). Thing is i have all three "media" drive set to share. Problem is i can only access one (which is my full samsung 2tb). it lets me browse around into all the movies, change everything, add/delete, ect. My "F" drive (WD 1tb, tv and sport drive) lets me get into drive. (ie Vel-PC\\F) but i cant get into the actual video folder. it gives an error (ill write it out in a second). Now my new samsung 2tb drive, with nothing on it really wont even let me access the drive at all.

I went through and all the options for sharing seem to be the same. So why can i only access the 1 drive fully? Any ideas? Like i said all the settings for sharing via the windows 7 machine seem to be set up. And i can view those drives folders on my xp machine i just cant go into them.

The error is

Vel-PC\\F\\Video is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the network admin to find out if you have permission. Access is denied.

1. I don't think so. I would just install the update as it won't hurt anything.

2. Not sure on that one. I have all of mine setup as a homegroup. No issues with mine but what you are doing sounds completely different.
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post #1656 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 05:52 PM
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There were two issues with my build that needed addressing.
1. The stock 80mm case fan on my In-Win BP-655 case was a bit too loud.
2. The Power and Drive lights are just too bright and very distracting.

So for the case fan replacement I found this for $8 on NewEgg: ARCTIC COOLING ACF8 Pro PWM 80mm Case Fan:
This fan piggybacks off of the processor fan's connector and it has it's own speed connector as well. You will notice the frame is very minimal to allow for the largest fan blades possible in the 80mm space.

By digitalbrain at 2011-03-19

Here are the before and after pics and I must say the fan is virtually silent unless you get your ears right up next to it. Way quieter than the stock fan was.

By digitalbrain at 2011-03-19


By digitalbrain at 2011-03-19

Next, I needed to deal with the Power and Drive activity lights, they were just too bright and distracting to be sitting just below my TV screen.

By digitalbrain at 2011-03-19

I searched the internet and found discussions of swapping out the LEDs, adding resistors or just using a sharpie to mark out the leds. I opted for a less destructive, but very effective method. I took a plain white 3x5 index card and cut 2 tiny squares about the size of my pinkie fingernail and used scotch tape to tape them over the led bulbs. I then put the case front back on and voila! This dimmed them just enough to make them much less distracting.

By digitalbrain at 2011-03-19

Who would have thought this HTPC thing would be so much fun?
Oh, and we will officially cut the cord from our AT&T U-verse on April 4th when the service will be stopped and we send back the DVR. *I needed a couple of weeks to watch all of my HGTV and DIY shows off of the dvr.

Assassin,
The amount of pleasure that will be had from watching TV out of the very same hardware that I assembled myself (with your help) is immeasurable.
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post #1657 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Brain View Post

Assassin,
The amount of pleasure that will be had from watching TV out of the very same hardware that I assembled myself (with your help) is immeasurable.

Thanks. That really means a lot.

Really does.

And thanks for the great pics. Your build looks great!
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post #1658 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Brain View Post

...

Who would have thought this HTPC thing would be so much fun?
Oh, and we will officially cut the cord from our AT&T U-verse on April 4th when the service will be stopped and we send back the DVR. *I needed a couple of weeks to watch all of my HGTV and DIY shows off of the dvr.

Assassin,
The amount of pleasure that will be had from watching TV out of the very same hardware that I assembled myself (with your help) is immeasurable.


NICE!!!

That's my goal too. I am tired of shelling out nearly $100 a month for all that and the premium content too. I actually cancelled all the premium movie channels last week on-line and their system automatically signed me back up for Sports for a month, HBO/Max for three months and Sho/Mov/Enc for a year so right now I am getting all that for free until I get this HTPC configured. Then they're gone along with the internet which is going back to Charter because uverse cannot even come close to the speed that Charter offers.

If they would stop the bundle madness, not bother to give me (some but not all) the locals, and just let me buy the series on the premium channels that I want to watch for a buck a month I wouldn't be doing this. It is time. Sooner or later they will adapt but it will be too late.

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post #1659 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Brain View Post

I must say the fan is virtually silent unless you get your ears right up next to it. Way quieter than the stock fan was.

Would you happen to know what your temps are?
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post #1660 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I understand. I've been building computers for a long time and typically drives are the least worry-some components to chose. Sometimes they have a bad run or bad model but usually they are pretty solid across brands.

The thing that has kicked my but more than any other component is ram. I am very careful to buy great ram these day.
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post #1661 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Thanks. I thought so too. We'll see what dpmb thinks - I shipped it out today.

I want to emphasize that the zacate is NOT a replacement for the i3 builds. I think they serve 2 different purposes or users.

But as I have stated if all you want to do is play media and surf the internet this little guy is tough to beat for the price.

Its suppose to handle DVR duties with no problems either.
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post #1662 of 15956 Old 03-19-2011, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

The thing that has kicked my but more than any other component is ram. I am very careful to buy great ram these day.

Yeah that can be an issue if they have incompatible timings.

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post #1663 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
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The thing that has kicked my but more than any other component is ram. I am very careful to buy great ram these day.
Agree. That's why I continue to buy G.Skill. I think their products are phenomenal. Are there other great RAM choices? Sure.

But if its not broke why fix it?
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post #1664 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 06:31 AM
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Agree. That's why I continue to buy G.Skill. I think their products are phenomenal. Are there other great RAM choices? Sure.

But if its not broke why fix it?
Yup. And I've always had good look with Corsair so I stick with it.

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post #1665 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 06:34 AM
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Then they're gone along with the internet which is going back to Charter because uverse cannot even come close to the speed that Charter offers.
Wow. I thought I'd never hear that sentence (speed and Charter) together at the same time. You must have the only golden Charter system that isn't total crap. Around here Uverse is twice the speed at half the price of Charter. Let's put it this way...when I switched to Uverse I was paying Charter $65 a month for 6 mb, I got 6 mb from Uverse for $35.

And more important...with Charter you are lucky to get half the speed you pay for. Some evenings you're lucky to get 3 mb when you pay for 6. With Uverse you get *all* the speed you pay for.

Anyway, you may not have that problem with Charter in your area but be careful because Charter is terrible in most places.

Scott
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post #1666 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 06:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post
Agree. That's why I continue to buy G.Skill. I think their products are phenomenal. Are there other great RAM choices? Sure.

But if its not broke why fix it?
G.Skill is the gamers choice. So if it's the gamers top choice, it'll be mine as well.

Scott
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post #1667 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 06:38 AM
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Okay fellas (ladies?),

I've finished making a photo documentary of my HTPC project using the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe and an Antec ISK 310-150.

Instead of posting the pictures, I invite anybody interested to visit the online photo album:

HTPC Nirvana

Each photo has a narrative of my project.

My ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe + Antec ISK 310-150 HTPC Project: HTPC Nirvana
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post #1668 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post
1. I don't think so. I would just install the update as it won't hurt anything.

2. Not sure on that one. I have all of mine setup as a homegroup. No issues with mine but what you are doing sounds completely different.
Hmmm good to know. ill give it a try tomorrow.

i found a good enough work around for me. i just made the folder on the xp machine in network places. Still cant access some folders made on the htpc, but all i needed was a folder to transfer media off the xp machine onto the htpc anyways.

PSN- Velillen
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post #1669 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velillen View Post
Hmmm good to know. ill give it a try tomorrow.

i found a good enough work around for me. i just made the folder on the xp machine in network places. Still cant access some folders made on the htpc, but all i needed was a folder to transfer media off the xp machine onto the htpc anyways.
Your 2nd problem sounds like a permissions problem to me but I'm not sure. With the WinXP box in the mix...that may make it a bit tougher.

Like Assassin, I have all my shares set through Win7 Homegroup, with the exception of my youngest son's WinXP system, and they work fine. For his WinXP stuff, we just drop files we want him to access in the default XP Share folder. It's not perfect but we're able to get to his machine when we need to do so.

I would just make sure your Shares and Permissions match for each drive and that might work.

Regards,
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post #1670 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwpritchett View Post

Okay fellas (ladies?),

I've finished making a photo documentary of my HTPC project using the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe and an Antec ISK 310-150.

Instead of posting the pictures, I invite anybody interested to visit the online photo album:

HTPC Nirvana

Each photo has a narrative of my project.

Very nice! The pictures and the narrative is excellent! I take it the performance and temps are all acceptable?
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post #1671 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwpritchett View Post

Okay fellas (ladies?),

I've finished making a photo documentary of my HTPC project using the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe and an Antec ISK 310-150.

Instead of posting the pictures, I invite anybody interested to visit the online photo album:

HTPC Nirvana

Each photo has a narrative of my project.

Really really great project, pictures and narrative.

Do you mind if I include a link in my build section for others to see it?
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post #1672 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Didn't trust me, eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbraden32 View Post

Thought I would ask the Thread Starter and also so others could see his response....I don't trust anyone including myself...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I understand. I've been building computers for a long time and typically drives are the least worry-some components to chose. Sometimes they have a bad run or bad model but usually they are pretty solid across brands.

Well they're $90 on amazon now but on newegg they're $80 AR.

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post #1673 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris19992 View Post

Would you happen to know what your temps are?

I will check the temps and get back with that info later today.

Before the fan upgrade the CPU was 16 C to 18 C and the system was 32 C to 35 C.
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post #1674 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 10:04 AM
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anyone having trouble with their zacate dropping frames when watching high bitrate mkv's? I'm talking like a 6gb movie. Also it seems to have trouble playing flash content from youtube. I installed all the drivers on the asus disk, just wondering if maybe there are some new releases?

this is my build.



and threw one of these in it



then added G.SKILL NQ Series DDR3 1600MHz (PC3-12800) 4GB



and 2 Western Digital Caviar Green (WD20EARS)



and recycled 2 Western Digital Caviar Black (WD1002FAEX) 1000GB from my old box



and recycled 1 Western Digital Caviar Black (WD5001AALS) 500GB for a boot drive.



and threw on



All said and done she scores a 3.8 on the windows experience index which is not high but sufficient enough for what is essentially a NAS box. The purpose of this build was to be silent and of a small foot print since I have moved into a condo and space is limited. I succeeded with silent, let me tell you with the 140mm case fan it keeps it all cool and it can not be heard.
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post #1675 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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post #1676 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwpritchett View Post

Okay fellas (ladies?),

I've finished making a photo documentary of my HTPC project using the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe and an Antec ISK 310-150.

Instead of posting the pictures, I invite anybody interested to visit the online photo album:

HTPC Nirvana

Each photo has a narrative of my project.

Very nice! Loved the narrative as well.

Is that Media Center Remote one of the ones that Assassin has in his first post or something else entirely?

Regards,
Paul
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post #1677 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Improved efficiency, less wear and tear on your system, improved speed, etc.

Here's a good summary.

http://expertester.wordpress.com/200...ark-advantage/

Thanks for the answer and the link...

Is that something I can enable AFTER the fact (on a drive with media all ready on it) or does that need to be done on a bare drive PRIOR to moving the media?

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Paul
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post #1678 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul E. Fox, II View Post

Your 2nd problem sounds like a permissions problem to me but I'm not sure. With the WinXP box in the mix...that may make it a bit tougher.

Like Assassin, I have all my shares set through Win7 Homegroup, with the exception of my youngest son's WinXP system, and they work fine. For his WinXP stuff, we just drop files we want him to access in the default XP Share folder. It's not perfect but we're able to get to his machine when we need to do so.

I would just make sure your Shares and Permissions match for each drive and that might work.

its definitely some sort of permissions problem. i just cant figure out where I go to the sharing on each drive and each one is set for everyone and full control is given in the security tab. but o well all i really needed was the one folder which is more or less my "inbox" to the htpc. Just got it setup by making the folder while viewing the drive on the xp machine.

PSN- Velillen
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post #1679 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 02:42 PM
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its definitely some sort of permissions problem. i just cant figure out where I go to the sharing on each drive and each one is set for everyone and full control is given in the security tab. but o well all i really needed was the one folder which is more or less my "inbox" to the htpc. Just got it setup by making the folder while viewing the drive on the xp machine.

It's not just you brother...I had the same problems with the various WinXP PCs in the house. I've got all but ONE moved to Win7 now and (keeping fingers FIRMLY crossed) it's all working currently.

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Paul
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post #1680 of 15956 Old 03-20-2011, 02:50 PM
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Wow. I thought I'd never hear that sentence (speed and Charter) together at the same time. You must have the only golden Charter system that isn't total crap. Around here Uverse is twice the speed at half the price of Charter. Let's put it this way...when I switched to Uverse I was paying Charter $65 a month for 6 mb, I got 6 mb from Uverse for $35.

And more important...with Charter you are lucky to get half the speed you pay for. Some evenings you're lucky to get 3 mb when you pay for 6. With Uverse you get *all* the speed you pay for.

Anyway, you may not have that problem with Charter in your area but be careful because Charter is terrible in most places.

They've got 60Mbps here and are in the process of rolling out 100Mbps and with a DOCIS 3 modem you can get all of what you pay for (and more sometimes). The top speed of uverse is 24Mbps which is what I have right now and speedtesting it using broadband reports indicates that I am getting 19 or 20 local and 12 to 15 cross-country.

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