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post #1 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 03:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Smile Help me get back into the game!

Hi guys,

I used to be well into my HTPC geekery back in the 90's/XP days and built a few great boxes. The years went by and having children etc took me away from my tinkering but now I want to get back into things.

All along the while I have had the following box running in the lounge without too much trouble. It has worked OK but is need in need of a reformat at least, preferably a complete rebuild.

The specs from memory are...

MSI Media Live Diva AM2+ motherboard (the one with the D2 Audio chip and PCI-E amplifier)
AMD Athlon X2 5050e 2.6Ghz CPU - passive cooled
4Gb Corsair XMS DDR2 800mz RAM
ATI HD4650 512Mb graphics - passively cooled
TBS 6981 DVB-S2 Satellite TV Tuner card for Freesat using an old sky dish
Corsair VX450W PSU
4 x 250-500Gb Segate Barracude IDE disk drives
Generic DVD/CD drive
Silverstone LC16M media centre case
Microsoft IR OEM media remote and media keyboard
Microsoft XBOX wireless controller and USB receiver/dongle.
Hardwired CAT5 broadband with Virgin


I love the one box set up and it still works quite well, hooked up to my old 32inch 720p Sony LCD TV and my Jamo A102 speaker system. It's running Windows 7 but is badly set up so it works, but only just. Many of the custom features are not working and a few glitches are starting to creep in with day to day uses. No games working and most apps like weather and youtube crash.

The box is rammed full of music, photos videos and recorded TV. There is some storage of movies but not huge amounts.

I now want to bring it up to date. On a shoestring! What would you do???

I want to keep a rich bombproof TV, music and movie experience so assume Windows Media centre is best. Along with some 'fun' gaming i.e. not the newest titles for my two very young children (Steam?) and preferably some stable apps for youtube, weather and catchup TV services etc. It would be good to make it a little quieter also.

I am thinking there are three avenues to go down..

1. Keep the existing hardware as is, give her a good clean out and reformat with Windows 8 Media Centre and focus on getting the software environment right and accept any performance limitations.

2. Keep the motherboard (as the only one available with built in amp) and try to maximise the hardware potential before continuing as point 1. For example adding the ATi HD4870 I have lying around, get a small SSD for the system drive and fit the highest spec (still old) CPU that board will take. I have an old Phenom 9950 lying around but think the TDP wattage is too high. Anyway you get the idea.

3. Get rid of the guts of the HTPC and see if I can find a relatively cheap mainboard/ram/cpu combination that would be more up to date. The problem will be finding a solution that can produce amplified sound for my speakers.

Please help - I am so out of touch when it comes to hardware and software these days.

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.

Last edited by dean_wales; 08-27-2014 at 01:22 PM. Reason: Added confirmed specs
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 03:18 AM - Thread Starter
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PS - It was accidentally stumbling on this video on YouTube which got my interest back...


I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #3 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 04:51 AM
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If it's starting to get buggy, then I think a reinstall from scratch will probably fix a lot of you problems. Unless you already have Windows 8, I'd recommend Windows 7, as you'll need to pay extra for WMC on 8, and it is effectively the same product (speaking only of WMC) But if you really like Win8 (I'm not a fan) you may find the extra cost worth it.

Since you're somewhat tied to you motherboard and it's integrated amplifier, I would be tough too justify a motherboard/CPU upgrade unless you had a very specific need. While I think your system is adequate for HTPC use, if you were inclined to breathe a little new life into it, An SSD, some more RAM could make it a little peppier, and a new video card might give you some headroom with the gaming end of things.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #4 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks ajhieb,

I have a copy of Windows 8 to hand as I am planning on upgrading my office PC so think I might go with that over Windows 7 so that I can at least play with the metro interface and see if I like it.

I think the hardware I have with a clean install will perform OK for general home theatre use but I am considering an upgrade to allow for some console style gaming.

I am having a job working out which processors that motherboard will accept as it is long since discontinued. It would seem that the 99550 I have drains too much power at 125w but MSI state they accept Phenom II and Athlon II processors. In that case I could swap the 5050e for the fastest 95w Athlon II or Phenom II that eBay can bring up.

It would also seem that PCI-E 3.0 cards fit PCI-E 2.0 slots fine? In that case I could install one of these passive/efficient Sapphire R7 250 graphics cards.


I suppose the question is will either of a better CPU or GFX be bottle necked by the motherboard or DDR800 RAM.

Any suggestions for getting this rig to a useful state for gaming?

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #5 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 06:13 AM
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Unfortunately I'm not much of a gamer (outside of old 8/16bit emulators for games of my youth) so I can't help you much there.

Just guessing, but I don't think memory speed will be much of a bottleneck for games that might be a generation or two old. If you were using integrated graphics, I could see it being an issue as your GPU would be accessing that memory for pretty much everything. I'm not sure what modern games do in terms of graphics shenanigans. I know back in the old PCI/AGP days, the interface bandwidth and system memory speed mattered since a lot of games were swapping texture maps (or something along those lines, I forget the exact terminology) back and forth between the GPU's frame buffer and system memory. With the amount of onboard memory on today's GPUs I'm not sure if such techniques are even used.

I think you'll be fine with a PCIe 3.0 card in a 2.0 slot, it'll just run at 2.0 speeds.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #6 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, thats really useful.

What I might do is clean her out and reformat with Win 8.1 using existing hardware. Making any 'sound' improvements I can and hope that all is well. I can then get the rig running upgrade hardware if games won't play at all. It won't change the installation after all!

On the software front I have no idea whether to stick with stock WMC or to try MediaPortal or XBMC. They seem to be catching up with and or overtaking WMC from a quick Google? I like flashy interfaces when having the lads round, but the most important factor for TV and music is stability and ease of use for the family.

I will want to use Steam Big Picture.

I have found in the past that once configuration goes wrong that I have to format to fix a codec or config issue so want to get it right from the outset.

What do you recommend? Vanilla / Media Portal / XBMC?

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #7 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 06:47 AM
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I use WMC & MediaBrowser 2.6.2 (last release before the switch to MB3) but I'm tied to WMC because I have a cablecard tuner and my cable provider flags all of their content. I'm generally happy with my setup, it is stable and does most of what I want it to do, especially within the confines of a WMC ecosystem. However, I've found the extender model to be somewhat limited, and I'd prefer a model that allows me to connect multiple devices that can play full bitrate 1080p, DTS, softsubs, etc. Right now extenders are great for playback of recorded TV, but are pretty mediocre for ripped content.

If I wasn't tied to WMC, I would probably switch to XBMC with ServerWMC. With the looming TWC buyout, I might actually get my wish (Comcast doesn't flag their content) but in my area, we might end up getting shipped over to Charter, so I'm not sure where that leaves me.

As far as codecs go, I would go one of two routes... depending on what you need. If you can get away with just using LAV, then install that and be done with it. If you need more than that, I'd suggest th the Shark007 codec pack. (Just be sure to not install the crapware that will show up on the initial install screen)

If you're looking to possibly go in the direction of XBMC, I'd suggest getting @Dark_Slayer in on the conversation as he has a great deal of experience with it. I'm not sure who the resident MediaPortal guru is.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #8 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
Thanks, thats really useful.

What I might do is clean her out and reformat with Win 8.1 using existing hardware. Making any 'sound' improvements I can and hope that all is well. I can then get the rig running upgrade hardware if games won't play at all. It won't change the installation after all!

On the software front I have no idea whether to stick with stock WMC or to try MediaPortal or XBMC. They seem to be catching up with and or overtaking WMC from a quick Google? I like flashy interfaces when having the lads round, but the most important factor for TV and music is stability and ease of use for the family.

I will want to use Steam Big Picture.

I have found in the past that once configuration goes wrong that I have to format to fix a codec or config issue so want to get it right from the outset.

What do you recommend? Vanilla / Media Portal / XBMC?

Dean.
Usually I would recommend Media Browser 3 with the XBMC setup for the combination of flashiness and the power of MB3. But if you are not servicing anything other than that one machine, and you want to save substantial PC resources, XBMC alone is awfully hard to beat. As far as ease of use, XBMC is pretty intuitive. If you do encounter an issue, their forums are very active and responses to questions are usually pretty quick. Additionally, many AVS forum users make use of XBMC in one fashion or another and could probably also help out. In this section of the AVS forums, there is also a post for "Assassin's Guide to XBMC". His version of XBMC is a few versions old, but the vast majority of the information is still useful and relevant. Most of the upgrades since then have been "under the hood" type upgrades, so you can still follow those instructions and get to where you want to be.
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post #9 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 07:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
Hi guys,

I used to be well into my HTPC geekery back in the 90's/XP days and built a few great boxes. The years went by and having children etc took me away from my tinkering but now I want to get back into things.

All along the while I have had the following box running in the lounge without too much trouble. It has worked OK but is need in need of a reformat at least, preferably a complete rebuild.

The specs from memory are...

MSI Media Live Diva AM2+ motherboard (the one with the built in amplifier)
AMD Athlon X2 5050e 2.6Ghz CPU - passive cooled
2Gb or 4Gb Corsair XMS DDR2 800mz RAM
ATI HD4650 512Mb graphics - passively cooled
TBS 6981 DVB-S2 Satellite TV Tuner card for Freesat using an old sky dish
Decent Corsair PSU
4 x 250-500Gb Segate Barracude IDE disk drives
Generic DVD/CD drive
Silverstone LC16M media centre case
Microsoft IR OEM media remote and media keyboard
Microsoft XBOX wireless controller and USB receiver/dongle.
Hardwired CAT5 broadband with Virgin


I love the one box set up and it still works quite well, hooked up to my old 32inch 720p Sony LCD TV and my Jamo A102 speaker system. It's running Windows 7 but is badly set up so it works, but only just. Many of the custom features are not working and a few glitches are starting to creep in with day to day uses. No games working and most apps like weather and youtube crash.

The box is rammed full of music, photos videos and recorded TV. There is some storage of movies but not huge amounts.

I now want to bring it up to date. On a shoestring! What would you do???

I want to keep a rich bombproof TV, music and movie experience so assume Windows Media centre is best. Along with some 'fun' gaming i.e. not the newest titles for my two very young children (Steam?) and preferably some stable apps for youtube, weather and catchup TV services etc. It would be good to make it a little quieter also.

I am thinking there are three avenues to go down..

1. Keep the existing hardware as is, give her a good clean out and reformat with Windows 8 Media Centre and focus on getting the software environment right and accept any performance limitations.

2. Keep the motherboard (as the only one available with built in amp) and try to maximise the hardware potential before continuing as point 1. For example adding the ATi HD4870 I have lying around, get a small SSD for the system drive and fit the highest spec (still old) CPU that board will take. I have an old Phenom 9950 lying around but think the TDP wattage is too high. Anyway you get the idea.

3. Get rid of the guts of the HTPC and see if I can find a relatively cheap mainboard/ram/cpu combination that would be more up to date. The problem will be finding a solution that can produce amplified sound for my speakers.

Please help - I am so out of touch when it comes to hardware and software these days.

Dean.
I have exactly the same motherboard as you. I love my Diva! One box, one remote and great 5.1 audio. I fear the day she dies on me (though I have two replacement boards).

If I'm you, I just install a relatively small SSD (around 60Gb) and do a clean install of windows 7. I would not go to windows 8. MSI may not have drivers available for it and there's nothing new for us media center consumers in Windows 8 anyway. Your money is better used elsewhere. I would probably implement a traditional IR remote too, just to make the system a little more user friendly.
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 07:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.

Good point about the SSD that is one piece of hardware I couldnt swap out without re-installing.

What size SSD do I need to comfortably be able to install Win7 and associated HTPC applications.

Games and media can go on a different drive. Could I get away with 60Gb or less or do I need to go to 120Gb?

The Kingston ones are pretty cheap.

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #11 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
Thanks.

Good point about the SSD that is one piece of hardware I couldnt swap out without re-installing.

What size SSD do I need to comfortably be able to install Win7 and associated HTPC applications.

Games and media can go on a different drive. Could I get away with 60Gb or less or do I need to go to 120Gb?

The Kingston ones are pretty cheap.

Dean.
I've been using a 60GB Kingston for years with Win7.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #12 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 07:52 AM
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Thanks.

Good point about the SSD that is one piece of hardware I couldnt swap out without re-installing.

What size SSD do I need to comfortably be able to install Win7 and associated HTPC applications.

Games and media can go on a different drive. Could I get away with 60Gb or less or do I need to go to 120Gb?

The Kingston ones are pretty cheap.

Dean.
I have a pair of 40Gb SSD's on both my machines for OS only and each one shows half the drive capacity still available. I am using secondary (non-SSD) drives for content and recorded TV. That scenario has worked well for me.

There are folks on this forum who would recommend larger capacity SSD's "just in case" and while that's a valid strategy, I'm trying to be responsive to your budgetary concerns.
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Last edited by ajkrishock; 08-15-2014 at 07:53 AM. Reason: Correct a typo
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post #13 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 07:54 AM
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The 120gb ssd's are relatively cheap these days and will give you enough room to hold W7 and ALL related htpc programs. Everyone likes the Samsung Evo models as they have great reliability.

Toys
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post #14 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 08:05 AM
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Good point about the SSD that is one piece of hardware I couldnt swap out without re-installing.
That makes it a great place to start tinkering. Leave your existing Windows installation as is and install the SSD with a new copy of Windows alongside it. Use the BIOS boot menu to pick between the two when you start up.

It doesn't sound like you have pinned down the exact feature list you want, so I suspect you'll be doing a fair amount of tinkering and experimenting before you call it done. A dual boot setup leaves you with a working machine through the whole process. When you're done, you can leave the old drive in the machine for media storage.
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post #15 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 08:23 AM
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That makes it a great place to start tinkering. Leave your existing Windows installation as is and install the SSD with a new copy of Windows alongside it. Use the BIOS boot menu to pick between the two when you start up.
Agreed. Your existing drive has all the relevant drivers for your hardware. You'll need that in your new install on your SSD.
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post #16 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow this forum rocks!

The dual boot suggestion is a good one although I would prefer to go completely clean as I have suspicions of a virus too. I will unplug the system disk but leave it on site in case of disaster!

It will do the family good to have some time with no TV.

My aim is to get a seamless TV. Music. Photo experience and then a good bit understandably not perfect console gaming experience.

I'm on leave now for a week so will get started ASAP. What I really need walking through is the XBMC v MediaPortal bit. I have no experience of either and keeping reading contradictory reviews.

I don't want to mess with my new install too much so maybe I should half heartedly experiment with both now before I reformat?

Dean.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #17 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
Wow this forum rocks!

The dual boot suggestion is a good one although I would prefer to go completely clean as I have suspicions of a virus too. I will unplug the system disk but leave it on site in case of disaster!

It will do the family good to have some time with no TV.

My aim is to get a seamless TV. Music. Photo experience and then a good bit understandably not perfect console gaming experience.

I'm on leave now for a week so will get started ASAP. What I really need walking through is the XBMC v MediaPortal bit. I have no experience of either and keeping reading contradictory reviews.

I don't want to mess with my new install too much so maybe I should half heartedly experiment with both now before I reformat?

Dean.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

What is it you are wanting to know about to help you decide between XBMC and Media Portal?
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post #18 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Well in some vague order of importance:

- Which is a more stable, snappy and intuitive environment, particularly when viewing and recording TV (guide, series link, tuning etc).
- Proper MCE remote support.
- Which is the prettier/most skinable!
- Best integration of apps/plugins such as weather, Steam Big Screen and games, on demand TV, YouTube.
- Best music library features.
- Audio controls such as good native volume and adjusting subwoofer and effects etc.
- Movie library management.

Starter for ten anyway!

Dean.

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I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #19 of 35 Old 08-15-2014, 02:56 PM
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Well in some vague order of importance:

- Which is a more stable, snappy and intuitive environment, particularly when viewing and recording TV (guide, series link, tuning etc).
Both have very stable platforms and both have touchy beta platforms. In terms of development, XBMC has a more active development community and also updates/intigrates changes more frequently. But both have more than enough support for the average user.

As far as snappy goes, both can be fluid and quick. Both can get bogged down. Mostly this is a matter of your personal settings and the beefiness of your PC.

Media Portal is hands-down better as a PVR and working with live television, including various PVR menus ant the like and, while it is not "supported" MDAPI works without a hitch in MP.

In terms of viewing, that depends on your viewing preferences. It sounds to me like you aren't going out of your way to tweak and fine-tune every nuance of your viewing experience. If that's the case, both are similar in quality. Both support viewing of plenty of formats with traditional embedded/integrated players. If you are wanting to use something like MadVR down the road, it's XBMC all the way. MP and MadVR don't play nicely together.

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- Proper MCE remote support.
Both have full MCE remote support. Both handle MCE remotes and functions rather easily. However, as easy as it is in either, MP is still easier to use. This is laregly due to MP being Windows-purposed fromt he beginning and XBMC being much friendlier on Linux.

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- Which is the prettier/most skinable!
Totally subjective. Everyone has their own tastes. Personally, I like the available skin options on XBMC more. It's also my personal opinion you will find a better selection of moods and feels through XBMC.

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- Best integration of apps/plugins such as weather, Steam Big Screen and games, on demand TV, YouTube.
Weather is simple in both. I've honestly never been huge on Steam Big Screen, so I couldn't give you an honest answer there. The rest are all pretty basic ad simple and supported through both. MP probably is a bit simpler, but not by much.

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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
- Best music library features.
Depends on what sort of library features you are looking for. I like how XBMC handles its library better, but then again, it's not like MP stinks. If you are looking for My SQL type stuff, XBMC is a bit easier to set everything up with. MP takes a few extra steps and a plug-in to get the libraries all on the same page.

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- Audio controls such as good native volume and adjusting subwoofer and effects etc.
I send my sound untampered with to my AVR and use the AVR and other equipment to adjust my sound. From that standpoint, neither one is better than the other.

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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
- Movie library management.
Once again, it depends on what you are doing and what your requirements are. But overall, XBMC is probably the better library manager.
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post #20 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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OK so I have just ordered the following upgrades:

AMD Phenom II X4 960T processor, which was the fastest compatible cpu I could find on eBay at £40
Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate graphics card, which is passive and low power consumption at £75
Crucial MX100 128GB SSD drive, to improve system performance generally at £50

Once they arrive and are fitted I will start the rebuild and keep you guys updated!

Dean.
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post #21 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 12:08 PM
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I suppose the question is will either of a better CPU or GFX be bottle necked by the motherboard or DDR800 RAM.

Any suggestions for getting this rig to a useful state for gaming?

Dean.
R7 250 is about the modern-day equivalent to the 4650 you have in there now. However, though it is several generations newer and is faster than your old 4650, it's not really useful for much gaming at 1080p (which is what I assume you will be gaming at given that's what 90% of TVs are today).

Depends on what you'd want to spend but realistically the minimum card you should be getting for gaming is an R7 250X, otherwise known as an HD 7770. Those come in around $100. It's pretty much the bare minimum for 1080p gaming, though a R7 260X would be better and cost about $20-30 more. Given you say you have a "decent Corsair PSU" I'm going to assume that PSU requirements for these cards (which are relatively light) aren't a concern.

Above that you're looking at a R7 265 but really at that point you may as well go for an R9 270 which is faster still and costs nearly the same as a 265 given rebates and whatnot. 270s go for around $180ish though, which is likely more than you want to spend on a videocard on an older machine; also many of them are over the length restrictions of your case I believe (assuming you have an optical drive installed). Therefore I think the sweet spot here is probably an R7 260X.

Now on to the bottlenecking issue.
You will probably have PCI-e 1.x on that board but that won't bottleneck any single-GPU setup in this range so no need to worry there. RAM is ok though you could always OC it a bit if you wanted. If you could get to DDR2-1066 or somewhere around there, that would be good.

You're correct that your current CPU will start to bottleneck the GPU at a certain point though. I'm not sure exactly where you'd start to bottleneck but keep in mind a 7770/R7 250X is about as fast as the fastest single-GPU HD 4xxx card back when you made your system.


I think an R9 270 would be well bottlenecked. R7 250X is probably pushing it and 260X would be affected by the CPU appreciably, I'd imagine. If you can put a Phenom II or Athlon II X4 in there that would help things out quite a bit. In fact even an X3 would be better than a dual-core CPU. Because modern games take advantage of multi-threads/cores, a quad-core CPU is desirable for gaming. I'm guessing the Phenoms will be more pricey given they were never really that popular and the AII is pretty much fine. I'd look for something around the 3.0Ghz mark and you should be okay.

However this brings about one last problem--heat. I'm assuming the board can take up to 95W CPUs which the above recommendations would fall under, but keep in mind whatever is passively cooling your 45W dual-core CPU will not be able to keep up with the cooling requirements of a CPU with twice the cores and over 2x the TDP. This means you'll either have to look into water AIO solutions or a cooler with fan(s) on it.
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post #22 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 12:24 PM
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I use WMC & MediaBrowser 2.6.2 (last release before the switch to MB3) but I'm tied to WMC because I have a cablecard tuner and my cable provider flags all of their content. I'm generally happy with my setup, it is stable and does most of what I want it to do, especially within the confines of a WMC ecosystem. However, I've found the extender model to be somewhat limited, and I'd prefer a model that allows me to connect multiple devices that can play full bitrate 1080p, DTS, softsubs, etc. Right now extenders are great for playback of recorded TV, but are pretty mediocre for ripped content.

If I wasn't tied to WMC, I would probably switch to XBMC with ServerWMC. With the looming TWC buyout, I might actually get my wish (Comcast doesn't flag their content) but in my area, we might end up getting shipped over to Charter, so I'm not sure where that leaves me.

As far as codecs go, I would go one of two routes... depending on what you need. If you can get away with just using LAV, then install that and be done with it. If you need more than that, I'd suggest th the Shark007 codec pack. (Just be sure to not install the crapware that will show up on the initial install screen)

If you're looking to possibly go in the direction of XBMC, I'd suggest getting @Dark_Slayer in on the conversation as he has a great deal of experience with it. I'm not sure who the resident MediaPortal guru is.
As part of this three-way between Charter, TWC and Comcast it looks as if I will be bundled in with the adjacent TWC service area and handed over to Comcast. I like Charter because they have always had good CS for me and their billing structure (since 2012) is very easy to understand as it is split out into charges for content and then charges for equipment so using a CableCARD is just that, $2/mo as opposed to the outrageous $20/mo DVR fee with an additional $5/mo per box. Anyhow, less I digress, I like that Comcast has not so much copy protected and if this change happens, I hope that they free up the channels..
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Hi ES-Revenge,

Thanks for the reply - some really useful info in there. Not all what I wanted to hear but still good to hear!

First off I think it is fair to say that this isn't a normal upgrade. If it were I would be binning everything and building a new machine, probably based around some of the new Intel processors. The difference here is that I am trying to make the very best of the motherboard which I am tied to (to keep a one box solution). The board also has zero overclocking options which is a shame as I like to tinker!

- So the Phenom X4 CPU I ordered is 3Ghz (with 3.4Ghz as a turbo) I think we agree that is a good move, the extra cores and speed will help with general use and the extra headroom will help prevent any bottleneck in gaming. Current CPU is cooled with the stock fan heatsink but I would like to use the passive, and rather huge, Scythe Ninja cooler I have knocking about. Let's hope it fits!

- With the SSD I would have preferred to save money and go for the 60Gb but it seemed a bit tight and I do want most applications to be installed on there. Only data/media and programs on the HDD's.

- With the GFX card I did struggle to decide what would be best and I am aware that there are much better cards for not a lot more. One of the goals of this update is to get noise levels down so the gfx had to remain passively cooled. The R7 250 was the fastest one I could find. Please let me know if there are alternatives other than water cooling. Note that my LCD is only 720p so the system and games won't need to run above that. Looking for higher detail at a lower resolution. Also space is tight around the gfx PCI-E slot so there is a good chance it will have to go back to the retailer if I can't fit it in :-(

- With the RAM, the board only supports 800mhz so I am maxed out there and the ram I already have is reasonably quick and running in dual channel. I don't think I would benefit from going above the 5Gb installed. I could remove the 1gb pair though in favour of a second 4gb pair to reach the boards 8gb limit though if it would be particularly beneficial? I have 4Gb of Kingston HyperX that could be used actually thinking about it. If they are compatible and mixing two brands/timings is OK I will add them in to bring it up to 8Gb.

- With the PSU I just opened the box up to check what the PSU actually was and it is a Corsair VX450W. I remember getting it now, really good reviews and dead silent. However thinking about it now that is going to be borderline in terms of wattage isn't it? I presume I will be OK as even though the are a lot of components going in the rig they are all pretty low wattage??

Hopefully I will get a few quid back for my GFX, CPU and other bits on eBay to help fund this upgrade.

Thoughts?

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #24 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 01:51 PM
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Why is this MoBo the only "one box solution" available?
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post #25 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Why is this MoBo the only "one box solution" available?
Because I am not aware of any other solution/motherboard which includes an amplifier to run my regular speaker system. All other motherboards would output to a separate receiver/amplifier box which I don't have and don't really want to have.

That is to the best of my knowledge. If there was a newer solution I would be getting it!

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #26 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 03:14 PM
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Oh..

The amps in my AVR 2312ci are huge and produce a lot of heat themselves. Heat I don't want in my case. I also have a couple other sources and use it to control Zone 2 on the back patio independently of my HT or HTPC.

Does this MoBo have 5.1 or 7.1 speaker jacks on it? Does it process lossless audio and decode dts HD/MA and/or Dolby TruHD?

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post #27 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 03:16 PM
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Hi ES-Revenge,

Thanks for the reply - some really useful info in there. Not all what I wanted to hear but still good to hear!
No prob, actually what you've planned seems alright...

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The difference here is that I am trying to make the very best of the motherboard which I am tied to (to keep a one box solution). The board also has zero overclocking options which is a shame as I like to tinker!
Ah I see, so note even core unlocking? Cause most of those Phenom II X4s can be unlocked to 5 cores, 6 if you are lucky. But then again that's just more heat to worry about.

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- So the Phenom X4 CPU I ordered is 3Ghz (with 3.4Ghz as a turbo) I think we agree that is a good move, the extra cores and speed will help with general use and the extra headroom will help prevent any bottleneck in gaming. Current CPU is cooled with the stock fan heatsink but I would like to use the passive, and rather huge, Scythe Ninja cooler I have knocking about. Let's hope it fits!
960T I'm guessing? That was actually a pretty popular CPU in its day--lots of people unlocking it to X5 and X6, along with OCing. But if you're running it X4 and stock speed I think it'll still be fine for your purposes. As for passive, what Ninja do you have? The all-copper one or one of the newer ones or? I'd probably put at least a low-speed fan on there but you can always try passive and see what the temps are like first.


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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
- With the SSD I would have preferred to save money and go for the 60Gb but it seemed a bit tight and I do want most applications to be installed on there. Only data/media and programs on the HDD's.
Yeah the 120GB is better. 60B doesn't save you much these days and the 120GB drives are usually faster even in the same family/lineup.

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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
- With the GFX card I did struggle to decide what would be best and I am aware that there are much better cards for not a lot more. One of the goals of this update is to get noise levels down so the gfx had to remain passively cooled. The R7 250 was the fastest one I could find. Please let me know if there are alternatives other than water cooling. Note that my LCD is only 720p so the system and games won't need to run above that. Looking for higher detail at a lower resolution. Also space is tight around the gfx PCI-E slot so there is a good chance it will have to go back to the retailer if I can't fit it in :-(
Well, looks like the "R7 250" Ultimate is not actually an R7 250 at all! Sapphire calls it that but they did something different... R7 250 is supposed to be Oland XT (384:25:8) @ 1Ghz. R7 250X is Cape Verde XT(640:40:16) @ 1Ghz. What Sapphire did is use Cape Verde Pro (512:32:16) and clocked at 800Mhz and called it "R7 250". Essentially it's a 7750 GDDR5 at slightly lower core clock. This is actually good news because apparently it performs a good bit faster than an actual R7 250:
http://www.hardwareluxx.com/index.ph...ultimate-.html


Actually I think it's exactly the same card as their old 7750 Ultimate, just in a new box, lol.

Also since you're only gaming at 720p, then you shouldn't have any problems at all--I'm pretty sure that card can handle most modern games at 720p fine


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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
- With the RAM, the board only supports 800mhz so I am maxed out there and the ram I already have is reasonably quick and running in dual channel. I don't think I would benefit from going above the 5Gb installed. I could remove the 1gb pair though in favour of a second 4gb pair to reach the boards 8gb limit though if it would be particularly beneficial? I have 4Gb of Kingston HyperX that could be used actually thinking about it. If they are compatible and mixing two brands/timings is OK I will add them in to bring it up to 8Gb.
5GB/1GB? I thought you had 4GB total? I would probably not mix brands or speeds, I would try to stay in dual channel, so the same size in each slot and use the same type/brand/speed as well. Whatever you have that matches that and gives you the most total ram should be good. 4GB is fine; unless you have a specific reason to need more, no need to go any higher than that.

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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
- With the PSU I just opened the box up to check what the PSU actually was and it is a Corsair VX450W. I remember getting it now, really good reviews and dead silent. However thinking about it now that is going to be borderline in terms of wattage isn't it? I presume I will be OK as even though the are a lot of components going in the rig they are all pretty low wattage??
I think that PSU will be fine. Max power on the Cape Verde Pro is probably around 70W and the 4650 you had before was ~50W so only 20W increase there. The SSD will be less power unless you're adding to and not replacing a drive... I see you do have 4 drives in there but I don't think they will add up to that much especially since they are probably not all going at once anyway. CPU will be over double what it was before when loaded, but still only about 50W additional. Overall you're looking at around 75W increase I'd say and you're only going to see that much increase when gaming or running benchmarks like FurMark.

Overall, I say you're looking good!

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Why is this MoBo the only "one box solution" available?
I'm guessing because it has a built in amp of sorts; and he's already got it going for the most part already. Might as well just upgrade a couple things and keep it going.

Last edited by ES_Revenge; 08-27-2014 at 03:23 PM.
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post #28 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again.

Nope I don't think I can unlock cores or change multipliers. In all honesty might have left it at stock even if I could chnage them - the battle of the heat is more important here I think. Maybe I should have tried harder to get a lower wattage AM2/3 quadcore CPU?

The heat sink I think from memory (no box) was a mini ninja and it is not all copper. Copper heat pipes and aluminium (?) fins. There will be a case fan right next to it so I am sure it will be OK in passive mode.

Great news about the R7 250 being suitably powerful but I am becoming increasingly concerned about it fitting. Almost certain it won't ft now. The card hasnt shipped yet so I could still cancel. The thing is there is space 'above' the card and not 'below' where the cooler traditionally sits. I have just noticed that my HD4650 was a freak card with the cooling on the opposite side to usual. There is literally one slot available for the GPU and the amplifier is in the next (dedicated) slot.

What should I do? Should I cancel the order and look for a card and aftermarket cooler that sits in the same place as the one I have?

Some of the

Slightly gutted that I didn't notice this space issue earlier as it has thrown a real spanner in the works...

I have just dug out a photo from way back when I built the box and enclosed it (noticing I had the ninja cooler fitted then!) and it shows you how tight space is. The blue heatsink is the GFX and the satellite tuner and bundles amp sit in the two slots below it.

Any ideas? Is there a card that slim on the market these days and/or can I get a suitable cooler and/or am I going to need to consider something more radical like a PCI-E riser or water cooling etc.

Really need to decide before that R7 250 ships.

Dean.
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I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #29 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Actually just looked at the R7 250 - it is a dual slot. How did I miss that, let's hope I can cancel first thing tomorrow and choose another card.

Maybe one of these instead... It is the only slim card in current generations that I can see.

http://www.ebuyer.com/630503-sapphir...e-11215-06-20g
http://www.ebuyer.com/390955-asus-hd...6450-sl-2gd3-l

Both of which might not be that great. I dont know. Maybe something more radical is required?

Dean.

I wonder if I can get a few more sticks of RAM in my children.
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post #30 of 35 Old 08-27-2014, 04:28 PM
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Thanks again.

Nope I don't think I can unlock cores or change multipliers. In all honesty might have left it at stock even if I could chnage them - the battle of the heat is more important here I think. Maybe I should have tried harder to get a lower wattage AM2/3 quadcore CPU?
Essentially the lower wattage ones are just lower clocked for the most part. To get down to similar TDP as the CPU you have now, you're looking at a 2.3Ghz-ish AII/Phenom II quad core.

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The heat sink I think from memory (no box) was a mini ninja and it is not all copper. Copper heat pipes and aluminium (?) fins. There will be a case fan right next to it so I am sure it will be OK in passive mode.
Hmm well if the case fan is near it, that could help out significantly yes.

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Great news about the R7 250 being suitably powerful but I am becoming increasingly concerned about it fitting. Almost certain it won't ft now. The card hasnt shipped yet so I could still cancel. The thing is there is space 'above' the card and not 'below' where the cooler traditionally sits. I have just noticed that my HD4650 was a freak card with the cooling on the opposite side to usual. There is literally one slot available for the GPU and the amplifier is in the next (dedicated) slot.
Ugh yeah I'm looking at pics of the board on Newegg right now--unfortunate placement of the slot that needs to be used for the amp card. You're correct the 250 Ultimate will NOT fit in the x16 slot in that case--it's a dual slot cooler.


You're going to have to go to a single slot graphics card. Unfortunately there aren't too many out there for this speed and above but XFX has made one with a similar idea to Sapphire. They call it an "R7 250E" which again is not an Oland XT but rather a Cape Verde Pro. Again it's the same as their 7750 single-slot, lol. Anyway here is what you'd be looking for:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product...82E16814150711


I believe you are in UK though (?), so you'll have to find a retailer there (possibly on Amazon too?). You can also look for the identical 7750 version.


There has been a single-slot version of Nvidia's 750 Ti announced by Galaxy but it seems to be nowhere to be found though, so unless you can find that in the UK I'd say go with the 7750/R 250"E" which will fit your case.

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Originally Posted by dean_wales View Post
What should I do? Should I cancel the order and look for a card and aftermarket cooler that sits in the same place as the one I have?

Any ideas? Is there a card that slim on the market these days and/or can I get a suitable cooler and/or am I going to need to consider something more radical like a PCI-E riser or water cooling etc.

Really need to decide before that R7 250 ships.

Dean.
Yeah definitely cancel it, 'cause it's not going to fit unless you remove the amp card. Take a look at the suggestion I gave above for the single-slot XFX card.
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