CPUs powerful enough to transcode high bitrate 1080p, but sip power when idle? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-08-2015, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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CPUs powerful enough to transcode high bitrate 1080p, but sip power when idle?

I'm trying to decide between employing a QNAP TS-x53 Pro or rolling my own always on media server. Unfortunately it looks like the QNAP can't quite handle high bitrate 1080p realtime transcoding, which may prove to be necessary in my setup.


Are there any recommended lines of CPU's that are capable of the above, but will sip power when idle since I'd expect to have the server up and running 24/7? Historically that was the main issue in media servers I messed around with (still sucking power when idle), but I haven't quite kept up with newer processor lines.
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-08-2015, 11:46 AM
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It seems all the Haswell cpus have become very efficient. When I asked a similar question a few weeks ago that is basically the answer I received.

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post #3 of 22 Old 05-08-2015, 01:39 PM
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My i7 3770s in a DQ77KB motherboard with a power brick and 16GB of memory (SSD) pulled around 23Watts idle. The "S" just has a lower TDP, but idle's in the same ballpark on all Ivy Bridge or Haswell chips (Haswell is probably even less power idle).
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-08-2015, 05:27 PM
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Agreed, a Haswell is a great choice. Pick a high end Core i3 at a minimum, and if you want horsepower to spare then go Core i5, i7 or Xeon. They all idle at nice low wattage.
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post #5 of 22 Old 05-09-2015, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
The "S" just has a lower TDP
Don't buy the "S" or the "M" those just cap your top end which is really for boxes that have limited cooling, as mentioned idle the same as the non "S/M."

But you needn't worry so much for idle if you just leave the box to sleep, my 2 haswell boxes sleep on 2-5 watts respectively.
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post #6 of 22 Old 05-09-2015, 05:37 AM
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Haswell from Intel has what you are looking for.
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post #7 of 22 Old 05-09-2015, 08:28 AM
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If you want transcoding you will definitely need to roll your own. How much processor you need depends on how many simultaneous transcodes you'll need to be able to support. A general rule of thumb I picked up on the Plex forum is to aim for 2000 passmark per transcode. So a Celeron processor like the one in the QNAP -- I assume a J1900 (passmark 1884) -- is borderline to get you 1, while a higher end Pentium or i3 could get you 2-3 and an i5 or i7 could get you 4 or 5. Which you may not think you need right now but if you get into Plex or MB3 and want to share your server with any friends or family members, you might find you want that after all.

As others have said, stick to Haswell and you'll be fine. Don't be thrown by max TDPs listed or get sidetracked thinking you need a T or S variant either. What you should care about is the idle power draw, since that's what a 24/7 server is doing 90% of the time. And all the Haswells are excellent in that regard vs previous generations and all about the same as each other whether the base version of a particular processor, -T, -S, or whatever.
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post #8 of 22 Old 05-09-2015, 08:48 AM
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I don't see the point of transcoding high bitrate 1080p.

Just keep the quality and send it to a HQ playback device that can handle it.

If you crave watching videos on a phone or something ... just feed it SD material..shouldn't that work?...

I admit, I don't know much about such things. I'm not trying to be a wise cracker or something but what's wrong with getting a 1080p device to watch the high bitrate 1080p on?...

When you dumb it down (transcode it) do you pretend it's still high bitrate 1080p? ??

Because... you know it's not right?

I keep a plex server running in the house with DVD content and other highly compressed web content... that stuff is either SD or highly compressed HD and it has no problem going to gizmos like phones, iPads, roku's over the wifi... no trouble and no need to transcode it.

My high quality 1080p stuff would be my Blu Ray and I naturally watch that in the HT where I have 1080p and 7.1 ... why would anyone want to gimp a high quality signal?

-Brian
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-09-2015, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Hampton View Post
I don't see the point of transcoding high bitrate 1080p.

Just keep the quality and send it to a HQ playback device that can handle it.

If you crave watching videos on a phone or something ... just feed it SD material..shouldn't that work?...

I admit, I don't know much about such things. I'm not trying to be a wise cracker or something but what's wrong with getting a 1080p device to watch the high bitrate 1080p on?...

When you dumb it down (transcode it) do you pretend it's still high bitrate 1080p? ??

Because... you know it's not right?

I keep a plex server running in the house with DVD content and other highly compressed web content... that stuff is either SD or highly compressed HD and it has no problem going to gizmos like phones, iPads, roku's over the wifi... no trouble and no need to transcode it.

My high quality 1080p stuff would be my Blu Ray and I naturally watch that in the HT where I have 1080p and 7.1 ... why would anyone want to gimp a high quality signal?

-Brian
It depends on your usage. Personally I wouldn't consider watching any movie on a phone (whether a full rip bluray or compressed) and the only time I'd watch on a tablet would be on a plane. So the transcoding isn't for me as much as it's for the friends and family I share my Plex server with who watch on their Rokus. And yes, I could Handbrake lower quality versions of my blurays so they could direct play them instead. But then what's the point of even having Plex if you're going to do that? The beauty of Plex to me is that I only have to keep 1 best quality version of everything I own and I don't have to worry if any Plex client can play it. For my own viewing that means direct playing to get the full bit rate and 5.1 HD audio. Meanwhile my parents in Nebraska watching a 3 Mbps, 720p, AAC 2.0 transcode of exactly the same MKV are happy too.
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post #10 of 22 Old 05-09-2015, 10:43 AM
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Well,...

Ok... It seems finding the right balance between enough power and low energy use would be a dangerous game though.

For example... I had a Chromebox which had a Haswel Celeron ... it was enough power for most things and low energy use. The only problems came when it just needed a little more capability that it didn't have.

So,... for my part... I just picked up a regular PC with 4 core i5 3.4 Ghz... maybe it has a lot of capability I'm not using but it never chokes so I don't mind paying a bit more to feed it.

Just seems to me that balancing act of trying to get just enough power gets frustrating quick.

-Brian
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post #11 of 22 Old 05-10-2015, 09:29 AM
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Low power isn't really a balancing act at all anymore. Anything with a modern Intel CPU will be quite low power at idle. The compromise/balancing act comes with cost.

My original OpenELEC machine was an i7 3770s (Thin Mini ITX form factor, hence the S). 23W idle. I replaced it with a Chromebox (I haven't actually measured the power with that). The reason I switched wasn't to lower the power usage, but because an i7 is an absolute waste for that application. I almost got an NUC, but the Chromebox was half the cost.

What it really comes down to is understanding how much power you need, and paying for it. I bet that i5 was substantially more expensive than the Chromebox, but probably not significantly different in idle power usage.
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post #12 of 22 Old 05-10-2015, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raistlin_HT View Post
I'm trying to decide between employing a QNAP TS-x53 Pro or rolling my own always on media server. Unfortunately it looks like the QNAP can't quite handle high bitrate 1080p realtime transcoding, which may prove to be necessary in my setup.
Doesn't the TS-453 Pro have a Celeron J1900...which has QuickSync? Shouldn't it be able to transcode with that?


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post #13 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 03:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Hampton View Post
I don't see the point of transcoding high bitrate 1080p.

Just keep the quality and send it to a HQ playback device that can handle it.

If you crave watching videos on a phone or something ... just feed it SD material..shouldn't that work?...

I admit, I don't know much about such things. I'm not trying to be a wise cracker or something but what's wrong with getting a 1080p device to watch the high bitrate 1080p on?...

When you dumb it down (transcode it) do you pretend it's still high bitrate 1080p? ??

Because... you know it's not right?

I keep a plex server running in the house with DVD content and other highly compressed web content... that stuff is either SD or highly compressed HD and it has no problem going to gizmos like phones, iPads, roku's over the wifi... no trouble and no need to transcode it
I transcode for pretty basic reasons
  • Frist, I only keep a single copy of each movie/show on my server, at the highest quality
  • If at a hotel, my parents, etc . . . I want to just play what's back at my house, but it won't fit across the net unless it's rate is shrunk down to what their DSL can handle (8Mbps)
  • I share my server with my two brother in laws and my sister. Only my sister's internet connection could support full bitrate (down) but my connection can't support that (up)
  • I don't have interest in running handbrake on my entire library (some get watched some don't, occasional transcoding -- temp file -- is better IMO)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ES_Revenge View Post
Doesn't the TS-453 Pro have a Celeron J1900...which has QuickSync? Shouldn't it be able to transcode with that?
Neither of the popular transcoding servers support QuickSync (MB3 nor Plex)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElJimador View Post
If you want transcoding you will definitely need to roll your own. How much processor you need depends on how many simultaneous transcodes you'll need to be able to support. A general rule of thumb I picked up on the Plex forum is to aim for 2000 passmark per transcode. So a Celeron processor like the one in the QNAP -- I assume a J1900 (passmark 1884) -- is borderline to get you 1, while a higher end Pentium or i3 could get you 2-3 and an i5 or i7 could get you 4 or 5. Which you may not think you need right now but if you get into Plex or MB3 and want to share your server with any friends or family members, you might find you want that after all
The numbers from full mkv 1080p rips transcoded down to 8-10 Mbps video files with transcoded audio would be:

Pentium/i3 will get 2 not 3
i5 will get 3 and maybe 4, but not 5
i7 could do 5

This changes when you start with videos that are already handbraked to supported codecs/rates for your upstream/downstream connections and endpoint devices. If you monkey with the videos enough it turns into streaming more than transcoding, but when going across the interwebs the bottleneck is almost always downstream/upstream speeds
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post #14 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
Neither of the popular transcoding servers support QuickSync (MB3 nor Plex)
While that may be true, if you're using something as slow as a Celeron J : cough : ATOM : cough : you'd definitely want to be transcoding with QS which would be quite speedy relative to trying to use such a CPU for the task (or anything else quite frankly as I was under the assumption that QS was essentially faster than anything with compatible formats).


All I'm saying is if one were to go the NAS route as indicated by the OP, you'd want to use the fastest transcoding you have available which means using apps on the NAS side that support QS. According to what I'm reading it is certainly possible to use QS in these devices; how well it works out in practice I'm not sure but it should be doable at least and not at the mercy of painfully slow Atom processing.

Trying to do software transcoding on the NAS is more a fool's mission though, and in that case building a PC is a much better idea.
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post #15 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 06:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ES_Revenge View Post
While that may be true, if you're using something as slow as a Celeron J : cough : ATOM : cough : you'd definitely want to be transcoding with QS which would be quite speedy relative to trying to use such a CPU for the task (or anything else quite frankly as I was under the assumption that QS was essentially faster than anything with compatible formats).


All I'm saying is if one were to go the NAS route as indicated by the OP, you'd want to use the fastest transcoding you have available which means using apps on the NAS side that support QS. According to what I'm reading it is certainly possible to use QS in these devices; how well it works out in practice I'm not sure but it should be doable at least and not at the mercy of painfully slow Atom processing.

Trying to do software transcoding on the NAS is more a fool's mission though, and in that case building a PC is a much better idea.
You can want to transcode with QS all you want, but without any software solution to support it there's not much point

A low powered NAS may run plex, but it won't transcode very well or at all . . . it's never been a recommendation for someone wanting to do multiple transcodes
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post #16 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 09:52 AM
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You can save power by going with power efficient power supplies, probably you can save more there than worrying about the CPU anymore, as long as you go with one of the Haswells.
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post #17 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Hampton View Post
I don't see the point of transcoding high bitrate 1080p.

Just keep the quality and send it to a HQ playback device that can handle it.

If you crave watching videos on a phone or something ... just feed it SD material..shouldn't that work?...

I admit, I don't know much about such things. I'm not trying to be a wise cracker or something but what's wrong with getting a 1080p device to watch the high bitrate 1080p on?...

When you dumb it down (transcode it) do you pretend it's still high bitrate 1080p? ??

Because... you know it's not right?

I keep a plex server running in the house with DVD content and other highly compressed web content... that stuff is either SD or highly compressed HD and it has no problem going to gizmos like phones, iPads, roku's over the wifi... no trouble and no need to transcode it.

My high quality 1080p stuff would be my Blu Ray and I naturally watch that in the HT where I have 1080p and 7.1 ... why would anyone want to gimp a high quality signal?

-Brian
Just to make my situation clear, I'm actually not dumbing things down.

I use WMC to record cablecard and OTA. To support simultaneous recordings of multiple shows and concurrent playback, my actual WMC machine uses an SSD. Obviously that limits the size given current pricing. In order to offset size limitations, I have MCEBuddy backing up all copy-freely content to an unRAID server. Since there's really no point in wasting unneeded space even there, I have MCEBuddy transcode the content to h.264. To be clear, I'm using a profile that maintains essentially perfect image/sound quality versus the source. I'm simply getting the savings of MPEG 4 vs MPEG 2. More notable beyond saving some space though, that also gives me the option of using PLEX with source direct on my Roku, FireTV, etc. Such devices choke on MPEG 2 (particularly 1080i dienterlacing) but have no issue with h.264 playback.

While yes I could always utilize HTPC's in order to playback the original MPEG2 content, that's really not a great solution in my situation. Besides the costs of deploying them to 3 locations, it also unnecessarily complicates each of the setups. I still require a WMC extender at each display in order to watch live or recorded copy-once content at this point. I also still require a Roku, FireTV, or similar device in order to take advantage of all of the streaming services I use. The problem with an HTPC is that it can't actually replace either of those (can't play copy-once content since WMC can't act as an extender to another WMC device, and a number of streaming services are either inferior or non-existent on a PC ... at least with anything approaching a 10', remote-friendly UI). Basically I'd be adding an unneeded device to each PC.



At this juncture, I'm looking for a long-term NAS solution that will work in my current setup.
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post #18 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Another interesting possibility, though obviously pricier is the new QNAP TVS-x71 series



It's available in an i3 variant (and beyond for the larger models).




I'm gonna have to weigh the pain/complexity of setting similar services to a QNAP versus the cost of just buying a real one.
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post #19 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 03:05 PM
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I see what you mean about transcoding without losing quality.

That never occurred to me. I've never had paid TV service like cable so there's a lot I just don't know.
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post #20 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Hampton View Post
I see what you mean about transcoding without losing quality.

That never occurred to me. I've never had paid TV service like cable so there's a lot I just don't know.
I mean I suspect it's not literally pixel-for-pixel (since the different encodes have different sorts of compression artifacts like different macroblocking patterns, etc) ... but for all intents and purposes, they are the same video.

I'm simply taking advantage of MPEG4's superior compression ratio to save some space and bandwidth. My goal is to leave the video as pristine as possible, but give myself more playback options since basically any settop box handles MPEG4.



Note that the above is really an 'offline' task, so CPU performance isn't actually that critical. Every once in a while I do use Plex to do some real-time transcoding so I can watch something on my phone or in a browser when I'm away. In a situation like that I would be lowering the quality, and that is where the more beefy CPU would be necessary. Admittedly it's not a regular usage though, so I'm fine with my setup only having the capability to handle maybe 2 streams.

But I like to keep my options open in case things change in the future. If paying a couple hundred bucks more now means I can handle more streams in case that's a requirement later ... I'm willing to do that. I certainly don't want to box myself in with a setup that can't be adequately upgraded, since the replacement cost would be a heck of a lot more later than that higher price now.

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post #21 of 22 Old 05-11-2015, 04:53 PM
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Haswell vs Ivy Bridge vs Sandy Bridge doesn't change idle power draw much at all for the server-style ATX boards. Embedded solutions saw some power efficiency increases, but there are still a number of 3rd party functions on a standard mobo that use the excess power. Sandy bridge could already idle down below 10W for those with keen interest in modding (as well as some know how). Here is an i5-3570k setup idling at 5.9W http://ssj3gohan.tweakblogs.net/blog...-computer.html

I'd suggest ignoring haswell for a cheaper second hand ivy bridge i7, because you won't see power savings for going haswell but you'll certainly see cost savings going ivy bridge

Of course if you want the newest or top of the line you'd go haswell, but even the old i7 2600k is still higher passmark than an i5-4690k with not much difference in single core performance
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post #22 of 22 Old 05-14-2015, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
idling at 5.9W
Thanks for the link, book marked it.

5.9w is pretty insane. Just my chipset alone has a TDP of 5w.
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