WMC HTPC with 3 Echos- laggy menus etc on the Echos- what should I upgrade? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a Sandy Bridge 2100 based WMC HTPC. I recently purchased three Ceton Echoes. The WAF isn't great for the Echos because the menus and channel surfing times are pretty slow.

The HTPC currently has 4 GB of RAM- often there's ~3-3.5 GB of RAM being used. The HD for the HTPC is a 2 TB WD Green hard drive- which I know is slow...

I'm thinking about putting the system files on a 120 GB Samsung 840 SSD. I'm also thinking about upping the RAM to 8 or even 16 GB of memory.

I'd rather not replace the CPU since that would mean I cannot watch all my current recordings.

I know upgrading the system files to a SSD should help me out quite a bit. I am wondering if anyone has an opinion if I should upgrade the CPU, and if adding more RAM would be a waste of $$$.

I appreciate any feedback- thanks!
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 02:32 PM
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To determine if RAM is your bottleneck, try only use one Echo at a time. Also, the network connection can have big effect on extender menu speed as well. Wireless connections typically slower than wired connections.I don't think the CPU is your bottleneck but upgrade system drive may cause DRM to break as well if you don't carefully clone it from what I can read.
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 06:03 PM
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Your CPU is fine. 4GB of RAM should also be enough but you could upgrade to 8GB if you really feel the need. Probably unnecessary but not all that expensive with current memory prices. 16GB is overkill, even with three extenders.

You didn't mention what kind of network you have. If it's not gigabyte then you should consider upgrading, especially if you're streaming HD content. Since you're using Echoes as extenders I assume it's all hardwired. Also, if you're using an onboard Realtek LAN NIC in your HTPC you should get an Intel PCI-e gigabit NIC (i.e., the EXPI9301CT). You can find them new on ebay for about $27 including shipping. The Realtek LAN chips are basically crap, but they're cheap so most motherboard manufacturers use them to keep costs down. They're fine for getting e-mails and surfing the net, but perform poorly when streaming content over a network.
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 06:53 PM
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I'm using a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo laptop with 4 GB ram and a 5200 rpm HDD, and menu navigation on my Xbox 360s is pretty much instantaneous. I have a tough time believing your PC is the bottleneck unless there are a bunch of other processes running besides WMC.

I don't think channel changes will ever be instantaneous in WMC, although if they're really slow it might be due to your tuners. What are your tuners? Make sure you're running the latest firmware.

Slow menus could be a problem with the Echos. The Echo firmware still seems a bit unfinished at this point. Any chance you have an Xbox 360 around to test?
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the great advice. I do have a wired gigabit network- but just using the built-in Realtek jack on my motherboard. I'll check out the intel card.

I don't have a 360 to test with. The echo menus are laggy- even pressing channel buttons on their remotes or Logitech harmony remotes for them doesn't work consistently- which is why me wife isn't too thrilled with them... I have to say, this HTPC has always seemed slow to boot too- I'm expecting the SSD to help that the most. Other than wmc, I sometimes have iTunes and Spotify running on it too- but that's it.

I think I'll do the SSD, add 4 more GB of RAM for short money, and do the Intel NIC. Hopefully then the user experience will be consistently fluid. Thanks again!
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnkflyd51 View Post

The echo menus are laggy

You can turn off menu animations on most extenders, this makes the menus snappy again. I have an old Logitech extender, and this is absolutely necessary for it.
Quote:
even pressing channel buttons on their remotes or Logitech harmony remotes for them doesn't work consistently- which is why me wife isn't too thrilled with them...

Yes, this is defintely network or main HTPC horsepower related. Microsoft has always recommended 1GB of memory per extender... this is on top of the normal HTPC requirements. Do you use all 3 extenders at the same time?

Quote:
I have to say, this HTPC has always seemed slow to boot too- I'm expecting the SSD to help that the most.

Yes, an SSD will greatly increase boot times, make WMC snappy, and improve performance with extenders. But more memory (make sure you have a 64bit install of Windows 7) will help a lot too.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-02-2013, 09:09 PM
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What others said - doubtful you have any actual bottleneck issues at the extender end, IMO. The Echo FW is still a WIP so I'm sure in time the animations (and responsiveness) should improve. I have both 360s and Echos on my network and the 360 menus are very, very smooth while the Echo menus are (currently) laggy in comparison. I also am using my Realtek nic w/out issue - though I had to obtain drivers from realtek's own site to work through a few unrelated issues.

SSD will help general snappyness, however - and I'd second the 8GB recommendation with that many extenders. On the Harmony - have you tried adjusting any of the advanced tuning settings on the remote? I noticed that when using the same Harmony w/my 360 and Echo that the Echo seemed to like "longer" presses better than the shorter ones that the 360 responds to.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-14-2013, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Just wanted to relay what I ended up upgrading, and my experience.

I put in a Samsung 840 Pro 64 GB SSD, the Intel networking card that a poster above mentioned, and found a good deal for 16 GB of RAM for $55.

The HTPC new boots into WMC very quickly- about 15 seconds total. It used to take 2-3 minutes and was painfully slow.

The WMC interface on the HTPC itself now has no lag and the remote is very responsive.

The WMC interface on the Echo is much improved. I believe it still lags at random times- I've mostly been using an Echo where I still only have the Ceton remote with the little buttons, and perhaps sometimes I'm not properly pressing the buttons. I need to get a Logitech Harmony remote configured and see if there's any difference with that. Button pressing of channel # buttons while watching live TV don't always seem to "register." Also, when hitting the Live TV button while watching recorded TV or the Recorded TV button while watching Live TV doesn't always seem to register the first button press, or it takes 2-3 seconds.

Anyway, things are much improved. I've got to get the rest of my $17 refurbed Harmony remotes programmed and then see if this whole system passes the WAF.
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