Searching for a MythTV backend+frontend HW setup - AVS Forum
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Old 06-20-2012, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been looking through this forum (and others, but AVS seems to be the best) in my search for a good enough HW for a MythTV (and a bit more) setup. Haven't found an up-to-date and suitable one yet.

What I want/need:
* watch video files up to 1080p
* watch live streams and record them
* SD content from 2 x IPTV STB's connected with S-video
* SD content from DVB-T card or USB dongle
* listen to music and radio, watch pictures etc. In short - the things that work anyway regardless of the setup.
* add other MythTV frontends (in near future)
* keep the budget reasonably low

What I don't need in MythTV setup:
* flash support. I'm planning to use my office PC (hooked to the TV) if I want to watch youtube or something similar
* 3D and BluRay is handled also by a separate BluRay player or the office PC
* I don't need a silent backend since it's in a separate "server room"
* I'm not too worried about the energy consumption if I can run most of my stuff from 1 server
* I don't need the frontends to be really-really small and they don't have to look fancy. They don't have to be fanless.

Setup I'm thinking of:
* 1 server that has enough power to act as a MythTV backend AND also be a "normal" server that serves web stuff for my own needs, does some home automation stuff, controls surveillance camera etc. It will run Ubuntu.
* 2-3 MythTV frontend machines

Open questions:
Q1: would it be practical and wise to integrate one of the MythTV frontends also into the server/backend machine?
Q2: what could be the optimal HW setup for the server?
Q3: what could be the optimal HW setup for the MythTV frontends?

Regards,
Rene
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:08 PM
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Q1- Given you don't have a power consumption/fan issue, I would say yes, use one of the frontends as the backend.

Q2: Recording and simple file serving takes little CPU, assuming digital tuners and a hardware MPEG2 recording card(s) for the Svideo recordings from a STB. I would use PVR150's for the Svideo recording jobs-

http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-1798060.html

http://www.overstock.com/Electronics/Hauppauge-5188-4202-WinTV-PVR-150-MCE-TV-Tuner-Refurbished/3504891/product.html

and take your pick for DVB-T cards/dongles

http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Capture_Cards

I wouldn't stray too far from Hauppauge.

Given the low CPU requirements for recording (Again assuming the PVR150 or similar hardware MPEG2 cards), any old leftover dual core CPU with 2GB-4G of RAm should be fine for a recording server.

Stock up on 1-2TB Samsung hard drives for recordings.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152245

Q3: My current picks for a HTPC frontend/media PC:

A6 X4 3670K Black Edition 2.7GHz Quad Core Socket FM1 Boxed Processor
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0382494

or

A8 X4 3870K Black Edition 3GHz Quad Core Socket FM1 Boxed Processor
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0382496

You basically get the HD6xxx GPU for "free". With the latest distros and Catalyst drivers, coupled with the quad core, 1080p video playback should be good. If you have issues with tearing, turn off the "free" GPU on the APU and add the Nvidia GT520 below.

You could get an AM3 Quad core for maybe $5 less at the same speed and power consumption (~95-100W)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103889

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113007

but the FM1 APU's are 32nm vs 45nm for the AM3's, and you get a GPU and fan/heatsink for free on the FM1's

GA-A55M-DS2 Socket FM1 A55 mATX AMD Motherboard $10 with CPU purchase and MIR
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0375353

Gskill 2x 2G
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231253


If the GPU included on the AMD APU's doesn't work well for you, add an Nvidia GT520 card-

http://www.amazon.com/Asus-GT520-1GD3-CSM-Graphics-Adapter/dp/B005J4XMFW/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340970803&sr=1-5&keywords=gt520+card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007709+600030348+600007321+600029795+600142560&QksAutoSuggestion=&ShowDeactivatedMark=False&Configurator=&IsNodeId=1&Subcategory=48&description=&hisInDesc=&Ntk=&CFG=&SpeTabStoreType=&AdvancedSearch=1&srchInDesc=


Case choices

Low Profile
http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Aluminum-Steel-Center-ML03B/dp/B004GGUAUE/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340301865&sr=1-1&keywords=silverstone+ml03

Regular height
http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Aluminum-Steel-Computer-GD05B/dp/B0036WTDGQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340301895&sr=1-1&keywords=silverstone+05

PSU
http://www.amazon.com/Logisys-Corp-Bearing-Supply-PS550E12BK/dp/B004MU8VCS/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340302008&sr=1-1&keywords=logisys+power+supply

Best deal with 500W psu with 120mm fan
http://www.amazon.com/Apevia-X-Master-Desktop-HTPC-Case/dp/B001CCMYV8/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340301917&sr=1-4&keywords=htpc+case

Keyboard choices-
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1108400/media-htpc-ir-and-rf-keyboards

DVD-RW drive: Samsung, Toshiba, Lite-On, Pioneer (Avoid LG, Sony, others)

OS drive- Class 10 or higher SDHC card, Crucial SSD 32G-64G, or Toshiba/Fujitsu/Samsung 2.5" notebook hard drive


EDIT: Changed Nvidia video card back to my original recommendation GT520
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:00 AM
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It appears there should be no issue in disabling the GPU on the A6/A8 APU if needed:

http://boardreader.com/thread/Nvidia_graphics_card_with_a8_APU_7kkaX3fdc.html

http://hothardware.com/Reviews/AMD-A83870K-Unlocked-Llano-QuadCore-APU-/?page=6

Idle power consumption appears lower than the i3/i5. APU load power consumption might be lower than shown if the A6/A8 GPU were disabled when using an Nvidia PCIe card.
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Old 06-22-2012, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Big thanks for the really informative and precise answer. Just amazing and cool that people do care and invest their valuable time to help strangers smile.gif

The suggestions are really good and guide me almost to the end. Biggest problem is that I live in Europe and thus can't get my hands on all the exact suggested parts or the prices are not so good. That's a well known fact that in terms of technical parts availability and prices we are somewhat "disabled" here in Europe... So I have to make some adjustments and find replacements for some parts.


Q1:
I generally don't like the idea of running X and a GUI on server machines, but it seems a reasonable compromise if I don't want to invest into a lot of different machines + host them all at home.

Q2: "The Server"
Recording cards:
Will go with 2 Hauppauge PVR-150 cards. Here in EU we have mostly PAL instead of NTSC, but appropriate cards are available on eBay.

With DVB-T the "Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T 500 DVB-T PCI Dual" seems to be a popular and affordable choice.

CPU:
If I use the server also as one of the frontends, then the choice here also comes down to A6 X4 vs A8 X4. The price difference is not that big, but in the same time nor is the extra cost for nVidia card. The main difference between these CPU's is the graphics part. So maybe it's smarter to get hte A6 X4 + nVidia card instead (this combo would cost me around ~30$ more then A8 X4)?

Since the price difference is not that big, I'm leaning towards the A8 X4.

Case & PSU:
Since it's located in another room there are no limitations to the noise level and visual design. Probably just a random cheaper case with a 500W PSU will do? Something like this or this for instance.

Motherboard:
I guess the only limitations are the CPU socket and need for 3 PCI slots for recording cards. This means though that your suggested "GA-A55M-DS2 Socket FM1 A55 mATX AMD" doesn't fit as it only has 1 PCI slot.
Any suggestions which manufacturer/model to favor and which ones to stay away from?

Had a quick look what's available locally:
* the cheapest one (~80$) - Asus Socket FM1 F1A55
* something similar to what you suggested (~95$) - Gigabyte Socket FM1 GA-A75-D3H
* and another option (~95$) - ASRock Socket FM1 A75 PRO4

Memory:
I can get the G.skill 2x2GB for the same price here so will probably take them. Only difference is that you suggested F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT, but I can get F3-10600CL9D-4GBNS. The difference in description is that the first one is "Dual Channel Kit", but as far as I could read up, there is no real difference in those 2 options.

OS drive:
What could be the benefit of using a SDHC card over SSD?
Since noise is not an issue in current case then I could easily go with a 2.5" or even a 3.5" drive. Since the server is anyway always running and there is no quick bootup needed it could be OK? Or should I still go with a SSD?

Hard drives:
I can get the "SAMSUNG HD204UI 2TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"" almost the same price here. So I just have to calculate a bit how many do I need them.

GPU:
Let's first try without a separate GPU card as you suggested.

Keyboard:
I've had Logitech K400 on my mind for some time.

Optical drive:
Guess I won't even include it to this machine (this "server" will be located in a hard to access place anyway).

Q3: "The Frontend"
As I said above my main frontend will be located in the server. So now only remain the "companion" screens with their frontends. Actually I'm not in a real hurry with those until my main TV shows the real thing smile.gif Still there are 1-2 screens that I'd eventually like to hook up to the same MythTV ecosystem. Actually my first question at this point would be: is it completely hopeless to use a complete prefabricated HTPC box as MythTV frontend? There are tens of ready made HTPC boxes on the market with nice looks and different capabilities.

Regards,
Rene
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:18 AM
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Q1: Given the low resource footprint of XFCE/LXDE, having a GUI on a server is a non issue, assuming most desktop CPUs of the past 10 years, though I would use at least a dual core CPU.

Q2: Tuner cards look good. If you are not cost sensitive, just go with the A8 APU. Case choices look good, just be sure it supports adequate ventilation/120mm inlet fans and the drive bays you want. I have had good luck with Gigabyte, Asrock and Biostar in recent years. Toss up between the GA-A75-D3H and A75 Pro4, IMO. Asus has done good hardware in recent years but hasn't been so friendly to FOSS/Linux recently. No issue with the RAM. SSD's use more power, have larger capacity, are faster and cost more. Class-10 or higher SDHC/XC cards are lower capacity/$, slower, perhaps fewer write cycles, but lower power consumption, smaller and can be re-used in more devices. All you need is 8-16G for an OS drive, so up front cost is lower as you can't get SSD's with that low capacity. Pick your poison.

Q3: Given this forum and your apparent capabilities, you want to build your frontends. Frontend media players are more important to optimize for media playback vs servers/backends, i.e. CPU and GPU selection, thermal management, storage device optimization, etc. For Linux 1080p frontends, you want the coolest running quad core with recent fanless ATI (>HD6xxx) or Nvidia GPU (>GT2xx) with current proprietary driver. Assuming the A8 GPU works well for you, the total cost+(CPU+GPU thermal power)+ GPU performance equation for the A6/A8's beats the i5's currently. If you went i5 (i3's are only dual core at the moment), you'd probably have to add a fanless HD6xxx or Nvidia card anyways, so the total cost/GPU+CPU TDP equation would still favor the A6/A8.

Be sure the frontend cases you pick handle full size ATX boards- too many HTPC cases support only mATX baords, but you want the extra PCI slots on the full size ATX boards. This is why I've used these-

http://www.amazon.com/Coolermaster-ELITE-Desktop-Tower-Supply/dp/B00502C7CC

http://www.amazon.com/Apevia-X-Master-Desktop-HTPC-Case/dp/B001CCMYV8/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340301917&sr=1-4&keywords=htpc+case
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:34 AM
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Based on this recent discussion,

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1417224/encouraging-experience-with-xmbcbuntu-on-ati

I think the HD6xxx GPU of the A6/A8's will most likely do the job for you, given the positive results with an older 4xxx ATi GPU.

Plus, got to throw AMD/ATI a bone for their runner-up status vs the Intel monopoly and AMD's opening up of the ATI GPU specs for the FOSS driver guys.
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Q2: The server (including one frontend)
I get the SSD vs SDHC point now. But still, in this "server" (that is running 24/7 and located in another room) the OS can run on a regular 3.5" HDD or not?

Q3: The standalone frontend
It's valid point you made regarding SDHC and I'll probably go that way in those machines.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Be sure the frontend cases you pick handle full size ATX boards- too many HTPC cases support only mATX boards, but you want the extra PCI slots on the full size ATX boards.
In my planned setup I have one backend+frontend combo and 2 separate extra frontend machines. The PCI slots are only needed in the backend machine, so the separate frontend ones can have a mATX board and a smaller case. But then again those extra frontends don't have to look very sexy&small. So I'm a bit stuck here to choose which way to go. It seems that some regular low profile case would be best. This on that you suggested looks good, but it would cost me 95$ shipped. Will see if I find some cheaper alternatives...

Choices for a mATX board would be:
* ASRock Socket FM1 A75M-HVS ~68$
* Gigabyte Socket FM1 GA-A75M-S2V ~60$

APU A6 or A8 X4.

RAM 2x2GB G.skill DDR3

Not sure about the optical drive yet, but it's likely that I will include a DVD-RW drive just in case.

What about the PSU? How powerful should it be?
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:21 PM
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Q2: OF course you can run any drive you want on the server for the OS. A 3.5" drive will use more power, perhaps noisy, and some drives can run hot. Plus, all mechanical hard drives fail eventually, and in recent years, too many too soon (seagate, WD, Maxtors all to blame). Putting the OS on an SSD or SD car using a non journaling filesystem like ext2 (to minimize writes) will probably be more reiable in the long run, with no heat, far less power usage and perhaps better performance at least on reads, depending on the specific solid state device and reader ou use.

Q3: Another way to find low cost HTPC cases is to look for "desktop" style cases, or just use a mini/mid tower on its side. Optical drives are designed to be used on their side.

Another low cost case option

http://3btech.net/chfcsmfoalmi.html

Already mentioned

http://www.amazon.com/Logisys-Corp-Bearing-Supply-PS550E12BK/dp/B004MU8VCS/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340302008&sr=1-1&keywords=logisys+power+supply

You want 500W or greater- no reason for less if using a full size ATX PSU. mATX PSU's run lower wattage. I like a 120mm fan in my PSU's vs 2x 80mm, plus I like the cables sleeved for a clean look and a tidy case layout
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Putting the OS on an SSD or SD car using a non journaling filesystem like ext2 (to minimize writes) will probably be more reiable in the long run, with no heat, far less power usage and perhaps better performance at least on reads, depending on the specific solid state device and reader ou use.
I recently started having problems when booting from the SSD in my Eee PC. Every boot it would do a full disk check. I did a scan for bad blocks (non-destructive), and it didn't find any. As a last resort I converted the filesystem from ext2 to ext4, and the constant disk checking stopped. I was using this SSD for several years before I started having problems.

I have booted from a SDHC card many times, and still do in my laptop, without any similar problems.
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the answers. It seems that HW wise I have what I need at this point and can start ordering pieces for the server.

Something to still figure out is how to build up storage and file system. I think doing a RAID1 (or rsync) for all the movies, recordings and stuff would be bit of a waste. It seems that best would be to split the data into 2 priority classes and handle backups differently:
1. stuff that can't be lost no matter what (pictures, home videos, some special TV recordings, some music). I think it's 10-20% of all the data.
2. stuff that I don't want to loose, but can live without or restore from internet (movies, most of TV recordings, most of music). I think it's 80-90% of all the data.

The nr 2 stuff is something that I still want to preserver to some extent so maybe a RAID5 with 3-4 SATA drive's would be good?

As for the nr 1 stuff I think that it shouldn't be RAID at all since RAID really is redundancy solution rather than backup. Maybe the easiest way would be to do one big RAID5 for all the data and then have a separate drive where some important directories are just backed up with rsync or a custom script?
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rene18 View Post

1. stuff that can't be lost no matter what (pictures, home videos, some special TV recordings, some music). I think it's 10-20% of all the data.
2. stuff that I don't want to loose, but can live without or restore from internet (movies, most of TV recordings, most of music). I think it's 80-90% of all the data.
The nr 2 stuff is something that I still want to preserver to some extent so maybe a RAID5 with 3-4 SATA drive's would be good?
As for the nr 1 stuff I think that it shouldn't be RAID at all since RAID really is redundancy solution rather than backup. Maybe the easiest way would be to do one big RAID5 for all the data and then have a separate drive where some important directories are just backed up with rsync or a custom script?

I use Raid1 for nr. 1 stuff and Raid5 for nr. 2 stuff. Of course as you say raid is not a backup, so I do backups of both nr.1 and nr.2 too (while I could recover all stuff from nr. 2 from other sources it would be very time consuming so I prefer to have a backup of it too).

For small front-ends I still recommend Nvidia ION based systems, Nvidia 's hardware video decoding on Linux is still better than AMD/ATI and Intel. Have a look at this overview of ION systems (yeah I know it's a bit out of date but it still has useful info):
http://www.linuxtech.net/features/nvidia_ion_products_overview.html

My Linux news / reviews / tips+tricks / downloads web site: http://www.linuxtech.net/
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

I use Raid1 for nr. 1 stuff and Raid5 for nr. 2 stuff. Of course as you say raid is not a backup, so I do backups of both nr.1 and nr.2 too (while I could recover all stuff from nr. 2 from other sources it would be very time consuming so I prefer to have a backup of it too).
How do you do the backup? Why the extra RAID1 if you have independent full backup?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

For small front-ends I still recommend Nvidia ION based systems, Nvidia 's hardware video decoding on Linux is still better than AMD/ATI and Intel. Have a look at this overview of ION systems (yeah I know it's a bit out of date but it still has useful info):
http://www.linuxtech.net/features/nvidia_ion_products_overview.html
It seems that the ION systems were very good and promising a couple of years ago. But seems like it stopped there.So your overview is very much valid. As far as I could quickly dig the best MB for this system still is the Asus AT5IONT-I, but it costs a lot (190$). Here's a good blog post of someone building a HTPC on top of that MB.



There's a recent thread here about HTPC + ION. A quote from there:
Quote:
In Linux right now the only 2 chips that handle HD audio, proper de-interlacing and 23.x fps support is the ION2 and GT430 I have read.

As for the GT520, read this.

Some manufactured HTPCs with Atom D525 + ION2:
* Xtreamer Ultra. It's a bit outdated and the included remote + keyboard bring the price up. The newer Ultra 2 has the GT520M GPU that is not recommended. Price: 360$
* ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID40. Price: 275$
* ASUS S1-AT5NM10E. Located here in EU. Price: ~275$ (barebone)
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:20 PM
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Welp- you guys convinced me- I'm returning the GT520 2G card I bought last week and getting the fanless Asus GT430

http://www.amazon.com/ENGT430-DC-SL-DI-1GD3/dp/B0051UWKUW/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340667397&sr=1-2&keywords=ASUS+ENGT430

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14-121-448&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Page=2#scrollFullInfo
Quote:
5 out of 5 eggsCool and Quick: Linux/MythTV w/VDPAU

mlord
2/7/2012 6:55:10 AM

Pros: Takes up only a single PCIe slot width.
Fanless, totally silent.
Fits inside Antec Fusion case with headroom to spare.
96 Stream processors == full VDPAU support in Linux / MythTV.
Very low power consumption when idle.

Cons: Not low-profile.
Long heatsink.

Other Thoughts: Difficult to know from the photos, but this really does take up only a single PCIe slot width. So another card can go into the slot right next to it, which is not normally the case with fanless cards.

The card is tall, but still fits inside the Antec Fusion HTPC case, with height to spare.

The clock speeds drop really, really low (from 1400MHz down to 100MHz) when idle, saving power and helping keep the planet green. Even when running at full clock speed, the card doesn't get very hot (55C here).

"96 Stream Processors" means it can handle all of the fancy VDPAU video playback options without issue -- MythTV "Advanced/2X" deinterlacing, 1080p, high-quality scaling, IVTC, etc.

The best card available for Linux/MythTV today.

It can't be used in a low profile case, but I plan to use it in the Coolermaster Elite 360 or the Apevia X-Master full height HTPC cases.

I picked the GT520 for the fanless and low profile issues, and hadn't done all the research re: full VDPAU support, deinterlacing capability and HD audio output (don't care about DTS-MA or DD-THD audio myself. DTS 1.5Mpbs and DD 640Kbps over SPDIF are good enough for me).
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:39 AM
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For the GT430 cards, if you don't mind the fan there are these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133356

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121471

Both can be converted to low-profile by removing the VGA port and using the supplied low-profile bracket. I have one of each, both in computers in the same room. I don't notice any fan noise from them, but that may be because all I can hear is the 24" fan that I have in the window! tongue.gif
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waterhead View Post

For the GT430 cards, if you don't mind the fan there are these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133356
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121471
Both can be converted to low-profile by removing the VGA port and using the supplied low-profile bracket. I have one of each, both in computers in the same room. I don't notice any fan noise from them, but that may be because all I can hear is the 24" fan that I have in the window! tongue.gif

Nice cards. The end view shows the heatsink protuding slightly, which may interfere with adjacent cards in the slot next to these cards.

The Asus fanless heatpipe card I linked to appears to have a heatsink no wider than the end bracket, and user review comments indicate no issues with interference with adjacent cards.

Not saying the cards you linked to wouldn't work for many people- just a heads up for those packing internal tuner cards or other cards in their HTPC builds.

A fan speed controller should address fan noise if its an issue. The other problem with fans is dust buildup on the blades requiring periodic cleaning (unless you use fan filters on the case inlet fan(s) ) and fan failure. Without a fan alarm to let you know the fan stopped working, a failed fan could cause the GPU to overheat and damage the GPU before you know about it, unless these GPU's/drivers have underclock protection.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:20 AM
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How do you do the backup? Why the extra RAID1 if you have independent full backup?

Because my back-ups are not in real time, in fact I don't do them regularly or that often... frown.gif
I use 'rsync' to do my backups to a separate PC that normally is switched off.
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It seems that the ION systems were very good and promising a couple of years ago.

They might be a few years old now but in practice they are still a very good solution that do everything most people need from a HTPC front end.

The reason why ION based systems are great is because they have a Nvidia GPU which under Linux means VDPAU which is still the best Linux video playback decoding solution by far.

The only flaw of a ION based solution is that full screen HD flash video playback is bad. So if you need full screen HD flash video playback then ION is not for you, but otherwise ION is still a great solution.

Of course you could also build yourself front-ends with discrete Nvidia video cards but those will be usually larger/bulkier than most of the ION mini-PCs.

I actually still use a Asus AT3IONT-I (first gen. ION) in a silver ProCase Noah 3988, this is a great combo as the silent 8cm case fan blow directly on the heatsink of the mobo from the side, so it keeps the passive heatsink of the mobo perfectly cool without generating any audible noise.
http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_CPU_on_Board/AT3IONTI
http://www.procase.co.nz/pc/noah.html
Unfortunately the ProCase Noah 3988 is hard to find these days.

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Old 06-26-2012, 08:42 AM
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I picked the GT520 for the fanless and low profile issues, and hadn't done all the research re: full VDPAU support, deinterlacing capability and HD audio output (don't care about DTS-MA or DD-THD audio myself. DTS 1.5Mpbs and DD 640Kbps over SPDIF are good enough for me).

The GT520 actually has better VDPAU support than the GT430 as it supports VDPAU feature set D while the GT430 only supports VDPAU feature set C.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_PureVideo
In other words the GT520 is capable of decoding 1080p/60 and beyond (rather than just 1080p/30) which I personally find more useful than the slight lead the GT430 has with regards to interlaced video.
I have a passively cooled Zotac GT520 in my main PC and I'm very happy with it, I can confirm that it handles 1080p/60 content (generated by a high-end camcorder) smoothly.

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Old 06-26-2012, 11:51 AM
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The GT520 actually has better VDPAU support than the GT430 as it supports VDPAU feature set D while the GT430 only supports VDPAU feature set C.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_PureVideo
In other words the GT520 is capable of decoding 1080p/60 and beyond (rather than just 1080p/30) which I personally find more useful than the slight lead the GT430 has with regards to interlaced video.
I have a passively cooled Zotac GT520 in my main PC and I'm very happy with it, I can confirm that it handles 1080p/60 content (generated by a high-end camcorder) smoothly.

Any practical benefit having 2G over 1G on the card for a media PC, i.e. video playback/processing?

I have to build several media PC's, and some may play more 1080i content than others. So perhaps I'll build one with the GT430 and one with the Gt520...
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:44 PM
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Any practical benefit having 2G over 1G on the card for a media PC, i.e. video playback/processing?

AFAIK there is no benefit from having 2GB for video playback/processing. 1 GB is more than enough.

BTW didn't you say you currently have a GT520? Rather than just sending it back based on some random forum posts, try it out with some 1080i material and advanced deinterlacers, you will see it will work just fine.

In the xbmc forum thread you linked to (now you appear to have removed the link) there where a few people saying they had no issues with a GT520 and advanced deinterlacers.

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Old 06-26-2012, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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In the xbmc forum thread you linked to (now you appear to have removed the link) there where a few people saying they had no issues with a GT520 and advanced deinterlacers.
I think you meant this link that I posted earlier: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=108097 (it's was a bit "hidden" inside one of my quotes).
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:22 AM
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AFAIK there is no benefit from having 2GB for video playback/processing. 1 GB is more than enough.
BTW didn't you say you currently have a GT520? Rather than just sending it back based on some random forum posts, try it out with some 1080i material and advanced deinterlacers, you will see it will work just fine.
In the xbmc forum thread you linked to (now you appear to have removed the link) there where a few people saying they had no issues with a GT520 and advanced deinterlacers.

Yeah- I reacted too fast on the GT520 vs GT430 issue.

The heatsink on the GT520 I had was monstrous and interfered with the adjacent slot anyways. I found another GT520 that's $20 cheaper with a smaller heatsink, from Gigabyte vs Asus.

EDIT- the slimmest fanless GT520 I found is the Zotac
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:54 AM
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Yeah- I reacted too fast on the GT520 vs GT430 issue.
The heatsink on the GT520 I had was monstrous and interfered with the adjacent slot anyways. I found another GT520 that's $20 cheaper with a smaller heatsink, from MSI vs Asus.

Larger heatsink means better cooling, I would have kept the one with the larger heatsink unless you absolutely need the adjacent slot.

I have this one in my main (desktop) PC: ZOTAC GeForce GT 520 ZONE Edition
http://www.zotac.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_images-SRW.tpl-VGA&product_id=364&category_id=139&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=100257&lang=en
It has a large 2 slot heatsink but the benefit is it runs very cool, during normal desktop use with 2 monitors attached (with 2 monitors attached Nvidia GPUs always run at top speed, they don't scale down the MHz) it stays at 45C which is very low for a passively cooled GPU (my previous passive GF 8300 idled at 57C with 2 monitors).

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Old 06-27-2012, 08:52 AM
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Larger heatsink means better cooling, I would have kept the one with the larger heatsink unless you absolutely need the adjacent slot.
I have this one in my main (desktop) PC: ZOTAC GeForce GT 520 ZONE Edition
http://www.zotac.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage_images-SRW.tpl-VGA&product_id=364&category_id=139&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=100257&lang=en
It has a large 2 slot heatsink but the benefit is it runs very cool, during normal desktop use with 2 monitors attached (with 2 monitors attached Nvidia GPUs always run at top speed, they don't scale down the MHz) it stays at 45C which is very low for a passively cooled GPU (my previous passive GF 8300 idled at 57C with 2 monitors).

Great minds...

I was leaning towards this Zotac GT520 board due to its slim heatsink. I've had good luck with Zotac in the past, having been impressed with their build/materials quality.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500228&Tpk=ZT-50610

but its only 512MB

However, it is pricey vs several $25-$35 after MIR GT520's at newegg...
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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About the harddrives... Since the prices and availability differs here I made a little research to find the options. Basically there are 3 models to compare. They all are very good and reliable and there is no sure "winner" overall.

Here they are:
Samsung EcoGreen F4 HD204UI 2TB
That was also suggested in this thread. In performance tests it indeed outperforms all others by far in write speeds and most of others in reads also. Low power consumption is also a plus. Here's a good review with a lot of tests. What makes me really cautious is the realworld test in HTPC environment:
700
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The problem is that while the F4EG was fun to talk to backstage, when we finally pulled up the curtain and asked her to dance she tripped over her own two feet. Synthetic testing showed a strong drive, but people don't run IOMeter for kicks, and when real-world workloads were applied the F4EG slowed compared to its predecessor.

Another problem for me is that oddly this drive is not widely available locally and thus has a huge price. So for me it looks like the only possible edge would be low power... But if I really want I sure can get the Samsungs.

Reviews @newegg are best from these three (huge number of reviews).
Reviews @amazon are best from these three (4.3/5), but there are only 60 of them.


Western Digital WD20EARS / WD20EARX Caviar Green 2TB
It has 64MB cache (compared to the Samsungs 32MB).
Uses even less power than Samsung.
This drive is known for having problems in RAID setups.
Reviews @newegg are worst from these 3.
Reviews @amazon are best from these three (3.7/5). There 230 of them.


Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB
It has 64MB cache (compared to the Samsungs 32MB).
It has SATAIII, but there is no way a HDD would ever use even close to the capacity of SATAII.
Has a bit faster RPM - 5900 compared to the 5400 of others. In my case noise is not a problem so this could be a small plus.
Reviews @amazon are best from these three (3.6/5). There 178 of them.



So any thoughts about HDD selection? Is there an actual (technical) difference which one to choose?
Getting a faulty drive is more of a unlucky case rather than one manufacturer being worse then other. Isn't it?
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:26 PM
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About the harddrives...
So any thoughts about HDD selection? Is there an actual (technical) difference which one to choose?
Getting a faulty drive is more of a unlucky case rather than one manufacturer being worse then other. Isn't it?

I recommended the F4 Sammy's due to good personal experience, and I bought several when they were $79 or so for 2TB right before the tsunami- no, I'm not sellin' wink.gif
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1315570/micro-center-samsung-2tb-f4-69

No practical real world read/write performance issue among recent model drives for file/media server use.

More important is the heat differences between drives and reliability and noise.

The Samsungs are silent, cool, and reliable.

I've had most of the WD's, Maxtors and Seagates fail, run too hot, or make to much noise.

That said, it is known that HD quality and performance issues vary wildy year-year even with the same model from the same maker if they change manufacturing process or plants. It could be that specific WD/Maxtor/Seagates are now relatively good.

Without doing research, I would only buy Samsung, Fujitsu, Hitachi or Toshiba myself. Some are only in 2.5" size.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:49 PM
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So any thoughts about HDD selection? Is there an actual (technical) difference which one to choose?
Getting a faulty drive is more of a unlucky case rather than one manufacturer being worse then other. Isn't it?

I have read various times that "Made in China" drives have higher failure rates, don't know if it's true or not. Seagate drives are usually made in China, don't know about Samsung (I think too).
All WD Greens are made in Thailand (at least all the ones I ever bought) so that's already one reason why I favour WD Green drives.

Personally I have been using for 4 years now WD-AV GP drives (the AV variant of the WD Green drives) as they are specified for 24/7 use and my raid runs 24/7 and are cheaper than the WD enterprise drives (which are also for 24/7 use).
In 4 years I have had 6x 1TB drives, 4x 2TB drives and 1x 3TB drive, so far zero failures and zero data loss (I know that because all my movie files are md5sum'ed).
So I'm perfectly happy with WD-AV Green drives and would buy nothing else.

The WD Green drives are all very quiet (I literally cannot hear them) and run cool too (Rgb must have been using other older types of WD drives).

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Old 06-27-2012, 12:59 PM
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but its only 512MB
However, it is pricey vs several $25-$35 after MIR GT520's at newegg...

I think 512MB is still enough for VDPAU (I don't know if VDPAU benefits from more than 512MB at all), but I suggest you ask on the Linux Nvidia forum and hopefully one of the Nvidia people will tell you. http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=14

With regards to cost, that's your decision to make. I don't look at cost (within reasonable limits), I rather spend a bit more for the perfect item than buy a compromise just for the sake of saving some dollars. As the saying goes: "Buy cheap, buy twice"...

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Old 06-27-2012, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Personally I have been using for 4 years now WD-AV GP drives (the AV variant of the WD Green drives) as they are specified for 24/7 use and my raid runs 24/7 and are cheaper than the WD enterprise drives (which are also for 24/7 use).
The AV variant of WD Green differs for the "regular" by 2 things:
1. it doesn't do that much error correction. That keeps the drive always writeable and accepts some minor data loss. For video recording that's a good approach since a few bytes lost in video stream is OK.
2. the disc does constant "sweeping" over its surfaces to ensure that they wear evenly.

If you haven't had any errors at all then there hasn't been any difference for you. In terms of hardware the discs are identical. If you are not constantly recording live streams and mainly storing movies then you should be better off with the regular WD Green.

In my case I do intend to do constant recording almost 24/7 for multiple streams. So the WD AV-GP (WD20EURS) is something to consider. Maybe even use the WD AV-GP for recordings and WD Green (or Samsung F4EG) for movies and other data? I've anyway planned to use 2TB for recordings and 2TB (with full backup) for movies and other stuff.
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:09 PM
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The AV variant of WD Green differs for the "regular" by 2 things:
1. it doesn't do that much error correction. That keeps the drive always writeable and accepts some minor data loss. For video recording that's a good approach since a few bytes lost in video stream is OK.

That is a common misconception/myth that has been spread by one specific tech review web site that is absolutely false. The reduced error correction only happens when the OS uses the ATA AV command set which is an extension to the standard ATA command set. No normal OS use those ATA AV commands, only the OS of specialised AV recorders!
When addressed with the standard ATA command set, the drive behaves just like every other desktop drive with regards to error correction.
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2. the disc does constant "sweeping" over its surfaces to ensure that they wear evenly.
It doesn't do constant sweeping but only occasionally when it considers it necessary (you won't notice it at all, it's not audible and it doesn't interfere with data writes/reads). In any case this is a positive feature as makes sure the drive wears evenly.
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If you are not constantly recording live streams and mainly storing movies then you should be better off with the regular WD Green.
Not true. The normal WD green unloads the heads after 8 seconds of idleness which wears it out much sooner (and this can't be disabled any more on newer drives like it was possible on the early WD greens). The AV drives don't do this head unloading nonsense.
Also the normal WD green now only has 12 months warranty while the AV has 3 years. And finally if you use a normal WD green in 24/7 use it voids the warranty as those are explicitly meant for normal desktop use (8 hours a day average). Since my drives are on 24/7 I prefer having 3 year warranty cover that the AV drives provide.

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Old 06-28-2012, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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These are valid points you make - that's why it's good to both search and ask for information. I didn't mean the "sweeping" to be a bad thing - just brought it out as a difference. The warranty case is especially interesting....

The WD AV-GP drives (WD20EURS) have a good availability and reasonable prices here (130$ for 2TB), so I'm really considering those (especially since Samsungs availability is close to 0).

Here WD20EURS is sold with 3 year warranty and WD20EARX with 2.
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