Suspected MB failure in Slimline HTPC - Page 2 - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 36 Old 09-18-2012, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, the source of the intial failure(s) is TWO bad video cards! I took the good-looking card to a local busines named BCOM. Since I was the one and only customer in the place, I walked right up to the computer technician and repeated all of what I've posted above -- albeit in a very abbreviated, right to the point fashion. At the end of the description, I said, "is it possible to test to see if the fan works?" He did not say one word. He just took the card out of my hand, quickly removed the short metal plate at the connector end of the card and walked over to a system that was just sitting there, case open, probably a testing unit for maybe just this kind of test. He quickly inserted the card and pushed the system's power butting. He and I heard some beeps, the fan did not start, and within 10 or 15 seconds he declared the the video card was bad. I asked him if it was likely that the card had damaged the PCI-e slot on the computer and he said "probably not".

That was enough for me. I walked over to the salesman who had been listening to this test and he was already looking for a replacement card. Believe it or not, he recommended one that lespurgeon had proposed above --A GeForce 210 Silent:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=avsforum_vs-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fdp%2FB006IWK4LY%2Fref%3Dasc_df_B006IWK4LY2186910%3Fsmid%3DATVPDKIKX0DER%26tag%3Dhyprod-20%26linkCode%3Dasn%26creative%3D395093%26creativeASIN%3DB006IWK4LY%26hvpos%3D1o1%26hvexid%3D%26hvnetw%3Dg%26hvrand%3D27706867593674218%26hvpone%3D%26hvptwo%3D%26hvqmt%3D

Bcom wanted $40 for it, so because I had been treated so well, I instantly bought it.

To make an already-too-long story short, the system is now running in our home theatre downstairs, sitting right where it always has.

I must say that I like the 8500 GT's nVidia control panel better than the 210's.

First, we drive two display devices with the HTPC -- the RS1 and an older Viewsonic 1368 x720 LCD monitor. The older control panel had a so-called "clone" mode, where the Viewsonic's and RS1's display resolution were matched and the Vista desktop icons apperard on both displays. As far as I can tell so far, this mode is not available on the new control panel, so the display that is set to "primary" is the display that displays the icons. But the desktop background is indeed displayed on the secondary monitor, so maybe I've missed something. The problem with this is that after watching a movie on the RS1 and changing it back to the seconday device, I then have to go into the other room, turn on the Viewsonic, go back to the RS1, change it to secondary and then rush back to the Viewsonic to "accept" the changes. This is not a huge deal, but it is a PIA.

Second, there apparently is not 24 Hz setting available with this card. 25 Hz is the lowest available, so that's what I selected. I was very concerned about this, but after I started watching a movie on the RS1, after a bit of time for ReClock to do its thing, the movie smoothed out to a point where neither my wife nor I could see any defect whatsoever in the smoothness of the video. The image quality is at least as good as the 8500 GT. When it gets this good, it's hard to discern which is the better card.

After downloading the latest drivers for the card, I did a brief search for the specifications of the 210 and I couldn't find any that listed the available frequencies of this card. Too bad.

Because the 210 cost so little, I'd consider buying the 430, or any other nVidia card, if I coiuld determine before buying whether it supported a frequency of 24 or 23.976 Hz. Maybe someone reading this knows a contemporary, not too expensive, nVidia card that can do that. If so, please let me know.

Anyway, gentlemen, and possibly ladies, I thank all of you for your help. The problem turned out to be a simple video card failure. But I never would have imagined that the main symptom of such a failure might be a system's failure to do absolutely anything except give a little flash of yellow light and the bump of a cpu fan when a power cord was plugged in.

An uneccessary impediment to troubleshooting was HP covering up that on-board VGA port with that ridiculous plastic cover.

So to anyone who has a Slimline of similar vintage that is behaving in a simlar manner, step 1 is remove the video card, plug in a monitor to that hidden vga port and plug it in again.

PS, Now I'm going to have to tell my friend what his system's problem likely was/is and ask him if he'd like to bring his dead system back to life. (To say that his system is "disassembled" is putting it mildly.)

.
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post #32 of 36 Old 09-18-2012, 04:37 PM
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Glad to know that it worked for you. The on-board VGA is covered is most likely to avoid customer complains as the system must have been ordered with a video card which disables the on-board video.

BTW, the 8500GT that comes with your slimline is very rare as most 8500GT at the time are either double-wide or full height.
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post #33 of 36 Old 09-18-2012, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herve View Post


Because the 210 cost so little, I'd consider buying the 430, or any other nVidia card, if I coiuld determine before buying whether it supported a frequency of 24 or 23.976 Hz. Maybe someone reading this knows a contemporary, not too expensive, nVidia card that can do that. If so, please let me know.

.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeForce#Generations

GeForce 210 and the identical 310 (just rebrands) are decent budget HTPC cards that supports DD/DTS 5.1 over HDMI, w/o using additional cables like the 8500/8600GT. The next level up is GT240, same generation with 210/310 but better post processing capability. Unfortunately Low profile GT240s are mostly discontinued. The Fermi-based 430 card offers no real HTPC improvement over GT240 and generally performs worse in 3d games with higher peak temperatures. I wouldn't spend $ on a 430 card as an upgrade over Geforce 310.
http://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/3973?cPage=10&all=False&sort=0&page=17&slug=nvidias-geforce-gt-430
Currently, the GT520 and the rebranded GT620 are historically the first cards to feature VP5 and support HD audio bitstream over HDMI, is THE popular HTPC card.

as for 24hz and 23.976 hz support, I have no expertise, but will refer you to Ganesh T (who is a regular here in AVSforum) article here:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4380/discrete-htpc-gpus-shootout/5

Eventually, I think the keplar based GT640 / GT650 card will take over but no LP versions exist currently.
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post #34 of 36 Old 09-18-2012, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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pixelation and jyzz, thanks for your comments.


jyzz, your anandtech links provided the exact information I wanted. The GT 430 performance review indicates that it is possible for the nVidia control panel to create custom resolutions that result in, if I comprehend correctly, 23.976 hz output. The screen captures taken durning movie playback indicate that this is in fact the frame rate produced. Fantastic!

Now, although you say -- "The Fermi-based 430 card offers no real HTPC improvement over GT240 and generally performs worse in 3d games with higher peak temperatures. I wouldn't spend $ on a 430 card as an upgrade over Geforce 310." -- for our purpose -- movie playback-- I think the GT 430 may very well be the way to go, but I'd have to somehow confirm that the present-day nVidia control panel provides the same options that it did when Ganesh T S did his testing.

Are all GT 430s created equally, I wonder?

The only real reservation I have about the 430 is power consumption. Again, our power supply is only 250 watts, but there's only the video card, cpu fan, optical drive and motherboard consumption, so maybe 250w will be adequate. What do you think?

Here's a fanless version, but that heatsink is huge. I'm not sure if it would fit under the removable case lid.
http://www.acousticpc.com/asus_gt430_low_profile_fanless_silent_video_card.html

It's not that expensive, either. But on that link there is no mention of any custom-resolution capability in the control panel. I'm not knowlegeable enough to know if a particular model's control panel remains the same over months or years. Perhaps a GT 430 owner could chime in here to say whether that custom resolution capability is still present.

Edit: Lo and behold, if I had known 12 hours ago what I know now from that informative anandtech link, I would probably have bought the following Asus fanless GT 520 at the same BCOM location, rather than the 210:
http://www.b-com.ca/ASUS-ENGT520-SL-DI-2GD3-LP-GT520-2GB-DDR3-PCI-Express-DVI-HDMI-VGA-Low-Profile-Retail.html
Apparently the 520 has the same custom-resolution capability that the 430 does. And it's only $20 more than the 210. Live and learn, as long as the 250 w power supply will be adequate.
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post #35 of 36 Old 09-19-2012, 08:36 AM
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here are some power and thermal numbers for the geforce 430 compared to other current entry-level cards
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/GTX_650_Power_Edition/25.html

the concern is not only the increased power (which is probably ok for a 250W PSU), but also the excess heat generated inside your slimline which can result in similar failures that you experienced with the GT8500. The heat issue will be worse in fanless cards as they do run higher temps than the standard versions. I don't remember if the Silmline case fits dual slot LP cards, you can dig in the big hardforum thread I posted earlier to verify.
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post #36 of 36 Old 09-19-2012, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyzz View Post

here are some power and thermal numbers for the geforce 430 compared to other current entry-level cards
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/GTX_650_Power_Edition/25.html
the concern is not only the increased power (which is probably ok for a 250W PSU), but also the excess heat generated inside your slimline which can result in similar failures that you experienced with the GT8500. The heat issue will be worse in fanless cards as they do run higher temps than the standard versions. I don't remember if the Silmline case fits dual slot LP cards, you can dig in the big hardforum thread I posted earlier to verify.

jyzz, I think you are correct about power consumption because I have just finished some power-consumption testing on our HTPC. I connected the computer's power plug to a Blue Planet watt-meter, which was in turn plugged into the wall outlet. I booted the computer and then performed a variety of tasks from ripping BDs to playing them and transferring large files via USB from an external to internal drive. (I didn't run any games, though, because we never play games on any computer, period. I don't even know if any games came loaded on this machine.) The steady state power consumption of the computer during any of these tasks never rose above 110 watts and that was during playback of a BD disk in the optical drive. So our 250 watt power supply is more than adequate for the system, even with the new 210 fanless video card.

I also had more opportunity to explore the features of the 210's nVidia control panel and what I said previously about its limitations is dead wrong. Not onlly is there a clone mode available which allows both screens to display all of the normal desktop stuff, it is also possible to create and output custom resolutions, just like the 430 or 520 described on the anandtech link above. The pop-up pages are slightly different, but they are otherwise identical to those of the 430 and, presumably, the 520.

Prior to creating any custom resolutions, I first used MPC-HC to play some BD iso files while the card's settings were 1080p @ 25 Hz. MPC reported a dropped frame only occasionally, while reporting a frame rate right around 25 Hz. Makes sense.

But then I changed resolution to 1080p 60 Hz and, lo and behold, MPC reported 23.98 or 23.97 back and forth (because MPC has "only" two digits on framerate). I watched for 10 minutes and those numbers never wavered beyond that point and, significantly, not one dropped frame was reported. Now, the version of MPC-HC that I have does not report repeated frames, but, considering the reported frame rate, I wouldn't be surprised if there were none. But how this is possible while supposedly outputting a signal of 1080p @ 60 Hz I do not know. Maybe the 210 "knows" when it starts outputting a video signal to a known display and somehow adjusts parameters for an optimal signal. All I know is what MPC reported and that I could discern no deficiency whatsoever as I my eyes observed the 120" screen from a distance of about 96". Believe me when I say that when veiwing a screen of that size from that distance, one is able to see almost every flaw in video playback.

I then went on to try to create a custom resolution that would output 23.976 to the screen and here I failed miserably. None of my attempts were accepted by the RS1. Unless someone replies to this thread with some ideal resolution and timing settings for an RS1, I think I'm going to be starting a thread with that as the title.

So, as a result of my further exploration of this fantastic new card's capabilities, I have no need to buy another card! I was able to fix the Slimline and get a card at least as good as the 8500 GT in picture quality, and also now have the (dangerous) new opportunity to create custom resolutions, just like powerstrip used to be able to do in the good old days. So far I've spent $40, plus tax and a fair amount of time to diagnose the original problem, get the new card, write posts on the AVS forum, etc. All well worth it, IMO.

Thanks to AVS for the opportunity.

Again, if anyone knows some good numbers to plug into those custom resolution settings, please let me know what's been successful for you.
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