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Discussion Starter #1
For you fellow HTPC enthusiasts.....specifically to those in this hobby that prefer their rig to built on a full sized ATX chassis(assuming that most current mobo's still have 1 or 2 PCI slots), what you consider essential expansion cards to install?(PCI or PCIe-doesn't matter)......:cool:
 

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My HTPC isn't running any expansion cards, but it isn't doing any server duties other than with XBox360s as WMC extenders. I'm using the onboard Intel NIC and an Intel i5 Haswell CPU with an integrated GPU for 1080p over HDMI. Cable TV is provided by a pair of networked HDHomerun Primes. If you need a TV solution you could add a tuner card. If you need MadVR you could add a dedicated GPU. If you need to connect a lot of USB devices, you could add a USB card.

If the HTPC is doubling as a server, you might want to add a NIC (for teaming and higher bandwidth file transfers) or a host bus adapter/RAID card for more SATA ports and more hard drive connections.

Unless it's performing server duties, I don't see a need for any expansion cards for an HTPC with a modern motherboard.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'n not quite certain what the problem is, but i am using an Asrock FM2A85X Exteme 6 mobo with a A8-5600 APU. On its own, most Blu Ray videos are quite choppy. With a radeon HD 6670 in what was formerly called 'crossfire x' video is perfect with the display either connected to the mobo vid port of to the card. I have tried multiple time with card in-card out and still get the same result.
Since modern days Mobos are good enough for 1080 use, really only thing one would need is a TV capture card, unless you need more GPU power for heavy gaming.
 

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I'n not quite certain what the problem is, but i am using an Asrock FM2A85X Exteme 6 mobo with a A8-5600 APU. On its own, most Blu Ray videos are quite choppy. With a radeon HD 6670 in what was formerly called 'crossfire x' video is perfect with the display either connected to the mobo vid port of to the card. I have tried multiple time with card in-card out and still get the same result.
"CrossfireX" actually refers to all Crossfire. Hybrid CrossfireX was the former name for what is now called "Dual Graphics". However this mode is not necessary to play HD video like BD--the 6670 on its own will do that. UVD engines do not combine in CrossfireX of any sort (only one is used). The hybrid/dual part only helps for gaming, but due to FTV (Frame Time Variance) issues with Dual Graphics, this usually doesn't translate to any real-world performance benefit in games*. I.e. In reality it's better to just forget the Dual Graphics and run the 6670 solo.


*Though AMD has updated drivers to address FTV issues in standard CrossfireX (dual card) setups, I'm not sure they've done anything to fix the problems with Dual Graphics configurations.


That said, theoretically speaking you shouldn't even have needed to use a dGPU to "fix" HD playback issues. The A8 CPU you have does have UVD 3, and therefore should be able to do HD video playback all on its own. Only things I can think about that would cause issues are older drivers perhaps or maybe RAM that's not fast enough. Otherwise I don't really get it--you certainly have an odd situation on your hands there. What should be working either on the APU or the GPU alone, is clearly not.


As for the original question, for many users no add-in cards are needed at all with modern motherboards--hence the reason many HTPC users go with mATX and even mini ITX builds. If you can use/need tuner cards that'd be one exception. Also for gaming, a dGPU of course or even multiple for SLI/Crossfire. Other than that if you needed faster network and/or multi-network (teaming/aggregation) connection then I could see using a PCIe network card. Some people may also run RAID cards but I think that's more for server use than strict HTPC use.


Obviously it's totally situation/need dependent, but since so much has been built into mobos for the past decade or more, 7 slots a la full-ATX is just silly for a lot of people. Personally I haven't used a full size ATX board since the Pentium days--that many slots is totally pointless for my needs. I've been at mATX and smaller since the PIII days. Today I have five operable non-portable (aka "desktop") PCs in my house and not one is full-sized ATX. Over the years mATX and ITX boards have become more common and have a lot better features and functionality as they once did (particularly in the OCing dept) which is good for folks that just have no use for the extra slots. If you do need the slots then of course by all means, otherwise I don't see what's the point in having an ATX sized build/board with 5-6 of the slots just sitting there empty.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I hope it is not the ram, i'm running 8GB of these-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227496. One of the cards i have in the unit is a dual external port eSata port multiplier card. I have 2 Sans Digital 5 drive towerraid boxes that i am currently using on my main PC for videos and audio and can network the HTPC to that, but i may change the configuration at some point and have them connected to the htpc due to impending housing situation change. 2 slots are taken up by my sound card, Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe(main card plus daughter card). I am using this setup because i connect the audio directly to a power amp and the onboard sound chip does not sound as good using analog.
 

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I have an ATX full size Mobo but not for expansion reason, I just happened to want to use a full sized 17" desktop case to match my stereo and want my 1/2 height TV Tuner to be close to the enclosure's wall so I can heat-pipe it! :)
 

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Several slots in my server :D One GPU, an m1015, and maybe an intel NIC down the line (haven't needed it yet with only 3 LAN clients)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So far i have HD6670 card for the dual graphics(earlier i talked about some Blu Ray video being choppy when not in dual grapics mode)...., the two piece Xonar sound card, the port multiplier eSata card and 2 Hauppauge tuner cars making 6 slots populated. I have one PCI slot vacant, so i will look for a deal on another tv tuner, eg; HVR-1600.....it's not really necessary and i can just leave it vacant, but if a bargain is to be had, why not.....
 

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I used to have three Hauppauge 2250 tuners, an Intel NIC, Radeon HD 7770 graphics card, and a Ceton InfiniTV6..Now I just have the Ceton Intel NIC, and HD 7770. I replaced the Hauppauge tuners with three HDHomeRun Duals/Connects or whatever the latest model is called.

How are you playing back your Blu-Rays? You might want to try converting them to mkv files and use XBMC/Kodi, VLC Media Player, or MPC-HC for playback.
 

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I hope it is not the ram, i'm running 8GB of these-http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227496.
Well that looks fine*, but are you actually running it at DDR3-1600? Make sure your board is running it at the right speed, if you haven't checked already (CPU-Z can help you here).


*Fine for your use. For gaming on an APU, DDR3 over 2000 is preferable. For BD playback 1600 should be fine.

Have you tried with just the APU or graphics card in solo mode, with current drivers? There may have been problems with earlier drivers--that's really all I can think of. Are things running at x16 for the discrete card (check with GPU-Z)? Though this last part shouldn't even matter I don't think--even at 1.1 x1 I think BD would still play fine.


And what were you using to playback BD anyway? Was HA enabled and working?


One of the cards i have in the unit is a dual external port eSata port multiplier card. I have 2 Sans Digital 5 drive towerraid boxes that i am currently using on my main PC for videos and audio and can network the HTPC to that, but i may change the configuration at some point and have them connected to the htpc due to impending housing situation change. 2 slots are taken up by my sound card, Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe(main card plus daughter card). I am using this setup because i connect the audio directly to a power amp and the onboard sound chip does not sound as good using analog.
Yep in your case with just one slot vacant of 7, you certainly need a full-sized board!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
For BD playback, i am using PowerDVD Ultra. Tried Arcsoft TMT 5 and six...they do not work well with my sound card. When a movie is played that is in Dolby True HD or DTS-HD Master Audio, the analog outputs go silent. I have used WinDVD Pro 11 also, but choppyness seemed to occur with some DVD tiles also..."Was HA enabled and working?" Not sure what 'HA' is....I am going to try it again with just using the APU because the unit is currently on my workbench undergoing transfer into another case. BTW, no gaming use at all on either of my PCs, just not into that stuff...and my main computer is a powerful dog that could handle gaming if i had that interest......
 

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For BD playback, i am using PowerDVD Ultra. Tried Arcsoft TMT 5 and six...they do not work well with my sound card. When a movie is played that is in Dolby True HD or DTS-HD Master Audio, the analog outputs go silent. I have used WinDVD Pro 11 also, but choppyness seemed to occur with some DVD tiles also..."Was HA enabled and working?" Not sure what 'HA' is....I am going to try it again with just using the APU because the unit is currently on my workbench undergoing transfer into another case. BTW, no gaming use at all on either of my PCs, just not into that stuff...and my main computer is a powerful dog that could handle gaming if i had that interest......
I have tried the same playback software and always had intermittent issues with stuttering and choppy playback, whether trying to play a full BD disc or a mounted iso. I decided to give MakeMKV and XBMC a try and it worked flawlessly. I liked it enough to convert over 900 Blu-Ray and DVD rips to mkv format and I haven't regretted it for an instant. I dumped both PDVD and TMT and never looked back.
 

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I was running with zero expansion cards until my NIC started giving me problems. Just installed Intel NIC.

Everything else is either on board or on the network:

Network: 12 tuners, 30TB storage, extenders
On-board: Sound with optical out (AVR does not have HDMI), HDMI out for the TV, but we are using VGA anyways.

There is no real reason for MicoATX, either, MiniITX should suffice.
 
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Discussion Starter #18
My HTPC is a vanity build that is intended to take the place of most functions of an AV receiver;playing videos, music, listening to web radio or FM...I have a full blown AVR setup in another room with a blu ray player, network media player, dedicated CD player, HDDVD player and cable box feeding it so an HTPC to that setup is not necessary....
 
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