Evaluating HTPC workload - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-29-2013, 02:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,
I'm in the process of procuring an HTPC system for my home. Like many others I'm not going to ask for advice of what components to buy but rather I'd like to understand how powerful a system needs to handle the potential peak workload it may see...

- Ripping a blu-ray
- Running Plex Media Server and XBMC simultaneously
- Disk storage will be local (12+ TB)
- Watching a ripped blu-ray locally while recording two freesat channels and watching streamed TV on multiple devices in other rooms (EDIT: and my son is playing a game on the TFT).
- Downloading content for later viewing.

The system I have in mind will be built on a Core i5 4570s using the on-chip GPU and 8GB of RAM. My question is, how much horsepower does the kind of simultaneous workload outlined above impose? Will the cpu/gpu/memory spec I have in mind handle that type of simultaneous workload?

Regards,
David
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-29-2013, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Have I posted this in the wrong forum?


Regards,
David
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 03:44 AM
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Might want to ask the moderator to move the thread to the HTPC forum.
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 04:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. I've reported myself to the moderators:)
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 05:41 AM
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I run Plex along with WMC/Media Browser on an AMD Trinity A10-5800k with no problems. When Plex is transcoding for a phone or Google TV I see 30-55% CPU usage, which shocked me. Plex transcoding was 100% unsusable on my Core 2 Duo pc, and I just assumed it would use 100% of whatever CPU was available.

I've read reports of users using the new Pentium processors to successfully transcode in Plex.

Ripping bluray can mean two things - remuxing a disc to another container, which takes up almost 0 CPU. Compressing it with Ripbot or Handbrake takes significantly more.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Ripping bluray can mean two things - remuxing a disc to another container, which takes up almost 0 CPU. Compressing it with Ripbot or Handbrake takes significantly more.

I'm talking about handbrake here.

I've also editted the use case list to account for the fact that the case I'm likely to get will have a TFT screen. As it will be possible for my son to play a game on that screen (with headphones/ear-plugs) while others are watching a movie I've added that into the mix too. The scenario I've outlined is extreme but a multitasking workload is going to be quite likely with this system which is making me think I'll need more horsepower than is usual for an HTPC.

I realise I'm not giving enough information to be exact. I'm more interested in people views on the level of processor I'll likely need and RAM spec.

Regards,
David
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 08:08 AM
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I have a low-end E5800 that is CPU bound when running Plex or Handbrake. I consider this machine a dedicated video batch processor with not enough balls for doing anythine else other then a pinch spare HTPC.
I can pick up these cheep used desktops all day long for a few bucks. Toss in an SSD, HD and a clean install of W7 and wam-bam you got video batch processor.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by media-mogul View Post

As it will be possible for my son to play a game on that screen (with headphones/ear-plugs)

Off the top of my head I don't know how you'd accomplish this. For starters separating the video will be difficult, and audio even more so. And how would you tap buttons on a keyboard or on a controller mapped to a keyboard without it affecting video playback?

I'd love to hear someone with solutions to that because I think it would be awesome to be able to do.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Off the top of my head I don't know how you'd accomplish this. For starters separating the video will be difficult, and audio even more so. And how would you tap buttons on a keyboard or on a controller mapped to a keyboard without it affecting video playback?

I'd love to hear someone with solutions to that because I think it would be awesome to be able to do.

Yeah, I'm not entirely convinced either but it's in the mix. At the very least it means that cpu and memory need to be beefier. I'm starting to think in terms of 16GB RAM and a low power i7 processor. But I'm also wondering whether windows itself may be a blocking factor cos it doesn't handle multi-monitor well or high availability disk configs. In an ideal would I'd like to set up a ZFS style storage solution but Windows is useless for anything like that - I have some technical impingements that are pushing me towards windows, not including my son's desire to play big time PC and/or console games.

That said I have come across some software that might help such as dexpot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKuWfFAxVqk

...and that's quite old.

I'm personally looking for ways to get around my ""technical impingements" so that I can get away from Windoze entirely and move to Linux (for control purposes). Thank god MSFT have found a way to dispose of Ballmer. Hopefully they'll start trying to produce stuff that's truely useful and plays nice for once - they definitely have the people to do it.


Regards,
Dave
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-30-2013, 09:17 PM
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I've never heard of anyone being able to game and watch TV from the same rig simulatenously.

I think an i5 should easily be able to handle your original list and I wouldn't be surprised if an i3 could as well. I have an older Sandy Bridge i3 in my HTPC and it's capable of doing a whole lot, although I haven't tried ripping a blu ray while watching XBMC so someone else might be able to answer that. These CPU's are incredibly powerful.

8 gigs of RAM should be fine.

You'll definitely want a SSD, makes life so much easier.

I ran into limited RGB problems with my iGPU so I had to add a graphics card to bypass that, a cheap GT 430 did the trick although I'll be upgrading my rig soon to handle madVR at the highest settings.
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post #11 of 12 Old 08-31-2013, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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At the risk of sounding like a complete noob...what is madVR? And what makes it attractive? And does it play nice with XBMC and Plex Media Server?


Regards,
Dave
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post #12 of 12 Old 08-31-2013, 12:48 PM
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its rendering software that acts in conjunction with several different video players to scale and enhance the image. it seems to be the most popular method of advanced upscaling.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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