HTPC Upgrade question - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 15 Old 08-23-2012, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Background:
I have an four year old HTPC (Athlon X4, 4GB RAM {ordered 8GB more yesterday}, ATI 54xx card, 4.5 TB Storage {2 TB + 1TB + 1TB + 500GB}) with Media Portal and XBMC as the frontend. Overall, I've been really happy with it but lately, I've been feeling the urge to either upgrade the current HTPC or build a media server. The reason for this is that I have some new additions in the home... namely, two tablets and a Roku player and I would like to stream my media to those devices as well.

I have tried using Plex to stream HD movies to Roku, TF700T and Nexus 7 and results weren't very good. Not sure if the bottleneck is my network (everything is connected wirelessly via Asus RT-n56U) or my HTPC just doesn't have enough power to transcode 1080p files on the fly to serve to other devices.

Budget:
As cheap as possible. Ideally, I would like to keep it below $500, unless there is an advantage of spending more. If I were to upgrade the HTPC, I was thinknig about going with i5 3750K + 16GB ram (just so that if I want to play games, I can also do that...but that's very low on the priority list)

Questions:

- Should I keep the setup as is (HTPC and Media Server in one box) and just upgrade to a beefer specs (to help with transcoding)?

- Keep the HTPC as is and build a heavy duty media server and just stream everything to HTPC?

- How efficient are powerline adapters for media streaming (trying to avoid running LAN cables through out the house. Also, I don't know how much it will help to have wired connection because my tablets will still be accessing media wirelessly)?

- Is there any tuner card like Centon that supports recording/playback from Dish Network?

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 15 Old 08-23-2012, 10:41 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Zon2020's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 2,716
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajamils View Post

Background:
- How efficient are powerline adapters for media streaming (trying to avoid running LAN cables through out the house. Also, I don't know how much it will help to have wired connection because my tablets will still be accessing media wirelessly)?
- Is there any tuner card like Centon that supports recording/playback from Dish Network?

You won't know how well powerline works in your house until you try it. When it works, it works very well, But it's dependant on idiosyncrasies in the wiring specific to each house, and indeed can vary from outlet to outlet. You can buy a pair and try it. If it doesn't work well in one outlet, move it to a different outlet and try again. You'll know right away. If it works, it will keep working. If it doesn't, there's probably nothing you can do about it.

As for satellite services (Dish or DirecTV) you can use a CAPTURE device like a Hauppauge Colossus to record HD content from your satellite box, but you can not get rid of the satellite tuner box or use your pc as a tuner. Search for the threads here on the Colossus or HDPVR for lots of information.
ajamils likes this.
Zon2020 is offline  
post #3 of 15 Old 08-23-2012, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thanks for the reply. I will try out the powerline adapter but more importantly, I would like to know the answers to my other questions smile.gif

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #4 of 15 Old 08-24-2012, 06:26 AM
Advanced Member
 
DanPackMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 504
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 26
I'd make sure it is my PC before upgrading. Try a hardwired connection to the ROKU if it has an Ethernet port (some do, some don't). Wireless can be a problem, though it should be less of one after transcoding to less that 1080p.

Might want to find a lower definition source file to see how that plays (720p or even less) with and without transcoding.

have you tried this;


CPU and Memory Requirements

Plex Media Server needs little RAM to perform its tasks. Streaming media files also doesn't take much RAM or many CPU cycles. However, transcoding media is a highly CPU intensive process. Here are some guidelines when deciding whether you need more RAM or a faster/stronger CPU.
Streaming

Start playing a media file on a Client that doesn't use transcoding - like the Mac OS X desktop client
Open your OS Activity Monitor and check the RAM usage while the Plex Media Server is streaming
If you notice your system is low on RAM, you may benefit from adding more

Transcoding

Start playing a media file on a Plex Client that requires transcoded media (like iPhone, Android etc.)
Open your OS Activity Monitor and check the RAM usage while the Plex Media Server is streaming
If you notice your system is low on RAM, you may benefit from adding more
Repeat for SD, 720p and 1080p source media to check all transcoding cases

As a general rule, as long as the Operating System has enough RAM to run well, you should not have to add additional RAM. Transcoding is not a RAM intensive process, but is CPU intensive. If you notice 'buffering' pauses on a Plex Client that is playing a transcoded stream, you should consider a beefier CPU. The Monitoring a Transcode Session section of the Advanced Info page can help you investigate whether you might need more CPU power.
DanPackMan is offline  
post #5 of 15 Old 08-24-2012, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post

I'd make sure it is my PC before upgrading. Try a hardwired connection to the ROKU if it has an Ethernet port (some do, some don't). Wireless can be a problem, though it should be less of one after transcoding to less that 1080p.
Might want to find a lower definition source file to see how that plays (720p or even less) with and without transcoding.
have you tried this;
CPU and Memory Requirements
Plex Media Server needs little RAM to perform its tasks. Streaming media files also doesn't take much RAM or many CPU cycles. However, transcoding media is a highly CPU intensive process. Here are some guidelines when deciding whether you need more RAM or a faster/stronger CPU.
Streaming
Start playing a media file on a Client that doesn't use transcoding - like the Mac OS X desktop client
Open your OS Activity Monitor and check the RAM usage while the Plex Media Server is streaming
If you notice your system is low on RAM, you may benefit from adding more
Transcoding
Start playing a media file on a Plex Client that requires transcoded media (like iPhone, Android etc.)
Open your OS Activity Monitor and check the RAM usage while the Plex Media Server is streaming
If you notice your system is low on RAM, you may benefit from adding more
Repeat for SD, 720p and 1080p source media to check all transcoding cases
As a general rule, as long as the Operating System has enough RAM to run well, you should not have to add additional RAM. Transcoding is not a RAM intensive process, but is CPU intensive. If you notice 'buffering' pauses on a Plex Client that is playing a transcoded stream, you should consider a beefier CPU. The Monitoring a Transcode Session section of the Advanced Info page can help you investigate whether you might need more CPU power.

Thanks for the suggestion. I tested it out and it looks like my CPU is the bottleneck because as soon as I start streaming movie (720p or 1080p) on my Nexus 7 the CPU usage goes over 90% and hovers around 95 - 98%. On the tablet side, I also unchecked "Direct Play" and now 1080p movies are playing very smooth without any buffering.

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #6 of 15 Old 08-24-2012, 10:40 AM
Advanced Member
 
DanPackMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 504
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajamils View Post

Thanks for the suggestion. I tested it out and it looks like my CPU is the bottleneck because as soon as I start streaming movie (720p or 1080p) on my Nexus 7 the CPU usage goes over 90% and hovers around 95 - 98%. On the tablet side, I also unchecked "Direct Play" and now 1080p movies are playing very smooth without any buffering.

Great, now you have a perfect excuse to build a new machine! Actually, this helps me too as I am presently planning to build a media transcoding server, and was not sure of the minimum CPU requirements.
DanPackMan is offline  
post #7 of 15 Old 08-24-2012, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post

Great, now you have a perfect excuse to build a new machine! Actually, this helps me too as I am presently planning to build a media transcoding server, and was not sure of the minimum CPU requirements.

Yes, it is a perfect excuse but the question remains the same.......... upgrade the HTPC or build a media server smile.gif

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #8 of 15 Old 08-24-2012, 10:55 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Sammy2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Right next to Wineville, CA
Posts: 9,631
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked: 165
My i5-650 seems to do pretty well but my Samsung Galaxy S EPIC 4g (the original epic) is hypersensitive to changes in 4G/3G signal strength were variations will cause it to hang... Not are reboot hang but a restart PLEX or at least restart the movie type of hang. This doesn't work well on a commuter train. In an hour commute I probably can get through about 20minutes of a TV show/episode or movie.

Sammy2 is offline  
post #9 of 15 Old 08-26-2012, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

My i5-650 seems to do pretty well but my Samsung Galaxy S EPIC 4g (the original epic) is hypersensitive to changes in 4G/3G signal strength were variations will cause it to hang... Not are reboot hang but a restart PLEX or at least restart the movie type of hang. This doesn't work well on a commuter train. In an hour commute I probably can get through about 20minutes of a TV show/episode or movie.

My comments were regarding running PLEX within the home network and not about accessing it via mobile network.

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #10 of 15 Old 09-02-2012, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
So what's the conclusion? Build a high end media server/transcoder or upgrade current HTPC.

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #11 of 15 Old 09-06-2012, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Here is another thought......

Lets say that I use parts from my current HTPC and build a media server and store all my music, movies, videos etc. and then install XBMC and Plex on a new i5 HTPC (using SMB share from media server as source), when i run Plex on my tablets, will the HTPC do the transcoding or the media server?

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #12 of 15 Old 09-07-2012, 01:36 PM
Advanced Member
 
DanPackMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 504
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 26
You can do the DLNA server and transcoding on the HTPC if you want, then the media server essentially becomes a NAS. Nothing wrong with having more than one dlna server. I have Serviio on my NAS "media server" but it doesn't transcode because it doesn't have the horsepower. I plan to add a transcoding capable HTPC soon, now I just use my desktop when needed, which is not often.
DanPackMan is offline  
post #13 of 15 Old 09-07-2012, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post

You can do the DLNA server and transcoding on the HTPC if you want, then the media server essentially becomes a NAS. Nothing wrong with having more than one dlna server. I have Serviio on my NAS "media server" but it doesn't transcode because it doesn't have the horsepower. I plan to add a transcoding capable HTPC soon, now I just use my desktop when needed, which is not often.

How do I do a DLNA server? Also, what advantages of that over just sharing folders from media server for HTPC to consume (via XMBX/Plex) ?

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
post #14 of 15 Old 09-07-2012, 06:11 PM
Advanced Member
 
DanPackMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 504
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 26
When I say DLNA server, I just mean PLEX or Serviio. For an HTPC with XBMC all you need is shared folders. For streaming to "smart" TVs/BluRay players or to tablets you usually need a DLNA server. I use Serviio to access content directly from my TV.
DanPackMan is offline  
post #15 of 15 Old 09-07-2012, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
ajamils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Richmond, Tx
Posts: 1,674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanPackMan View Post

When I say DLNA server, I just mean PLEX or Serviio. For an HTPC with XBMC all you need is shared folders. For streaming to "smart" TVs/BluRay players or to tablets you usually need a DLNA server. I use Serviio to access content directly from my TV.

I already have Plex server installed on my current HTPC and that's part of the reason why I want to upgrade because whenever I use Plex on my other devices (to stream content from my HTPC) the CPU on the HTPC maxes out (to transcode the video) and makes it almost unusable.

[color=Blue]
psn id: hunter4life
Live Gamertag: huntre4life (notice "re" not "er" in hunter)
ajamils is offline  
Reply Home Theater Computers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off