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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The motherboard is the most important component of a HTPC, especially when choosing a motherboard with built-in graphics chip and audio, therefore choosing the right one is crucial to avoid disappointment.


The following article was written to help anyone not so experienced with HTPCs and Linux to choose a well suited motherboard for their HTPC. It also includes a complete example HTPC build:

http://www.linuxtech.net/features/be...herboards.html


I hope it might be of some use to someone!


If you have a HTPC with any of the listed mobos it would be great if you could post your experience with it and Linux here in this thread.

Any comments are welcome!
 

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I have the Zotac GF9300-D-E ITX and it's working great in mythbuntu.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 /forum/post/16935702


The motherboard is the most important component of a HTPC, especially when choosing a motherboard with built-in graphics chip and audio, therefore choosing the right one is crucial to avoid disappointment.


The following article was written to help anyone not so experienced with HTPCs and Linux to choose a well suited motherboard for their HTPC. It also includes a complete example HTPC build:

http://www.linuxtech.net/features/be...herboards.html


I hope it might be of some use to someone!


If you have a HTPC with any of the listed mobos it would be great if you could post your experience with it and Linux here in this thread.

Any comments are welcome!

I realize I'm pretty low on the Linux HTPC experience scale, but after my experience with an 8200 mobo, and reading about the heat issues with 9300/9400's (moreso on the osx86 forums), at least in the uATX space, its not clear to me that an IGP mobo offers any thermal (ie. cooling, and thus case size) advantages. (for mini-ITX, it does appear one can use IGP to gain significant size advantage)


Generally speaking I think one can then (easily) buy a non-IGP (or ignore-it IGP) mobo + (more powerful) PCI GPU at less cost than the 9300/9400 mobos.


Dunno.. this could be one of those religious (ie. Intel vs. AMD) issues, in which case ignore me
 

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If you're using an ATX case, the ECS GF8200A at under $80 works great for me. And while the 8200 chipset gets very hot on all these boards, it has a chipset fan header and a 60mm fan can easily be added to it. Running at 1800rpm brought the temp down to 40C from about 70C. That was with 7 tuners in it. Personally, I think separate video cards for a media sever is a waste of a PCIe slot. I've got a dual tuner card in the 16x video slot and singles in the 2 1x slots.


For another frontend only box I'm using the Zotac 8200 board (under $60). I wanted an ECS GF8200SM-M3 but couldn't find any for sale here in the US.
 

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I'm running a 9400... WHAT heat issues?

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have the impression that those people that you see complaining about heat issues on forums, either have chosen very badly ventilated cases or are using some badly designed aftermarket cpu HSF (or maybe have overclocked the FSB).


When mobo manufacturers design mobos they test ventilation of the IGP or north-bridge with the AMD or Intel boxed fans. Some of the aftermarket cpu HSFs are better at cooling the cpu quietly, but they direct the airflow differently than the Intel/AMD boxed fan and therefore the IGP or north-bridge heatsink doesn't get enough ventilation anymore.


If the 9400 was too hot to be placed on a mATX mobo, how can it be placed in an tiny Acer Revo plastic case then? (the ION is basically a 9400).

Quote:
And while the 8200 chipset gets very hot on all these boards, it has a chipset fan header and a 60mm fan can easily be added to it. Running at 1800rpm brought the temp down to 40C from about 70C.

70C is actually not that much for a NVidia GPU, when I look a the Nvidia thermal monitor for my passively cooled NVS290 (8400GS equivalent) on my desktop PC here, it's always around 55-60C and the temperature graph is still in the green zone. The slowdown threshold is set by Nvidia at 115C!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb /forum/post/16942453


The best HTPC motherboard- easy.


It's always the one you *don't* have

Very true!



But the target group of the article is primarily people who are considering building their first HTPC, not experts like you all here.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 /forum/post/16942548


70C is actually not that much for a NVidia GPU, when I look a the Nvidia thermal monitor for my passively cooled NVS290 (8400GS equivalent) on my desktop PC here, it's always around 55-60C and the temperature graph is still in the green zone. The slowdown threshold is set by Nvidia at 115C!

It was running 70C+ without using any video assist. I don't know how hot it gets running video assist, but I know it would get a lot hotter. I had a 60X25mm fan anyway and running it at 1800rpm is virtually silent. I like things as cool as reasonably possible. And this is my server on 24/7. I haven't put a fan on my other 8200 system yet as it's only on about 6 hours a day. I haven't even checked its chipset temp yet but will when I start running video assist on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have now finally been able to replace the oldish 65nm "Athlon X2 5400+" with the new and much better 45nm "Athlon II X2 240" in the Example HTPC Build , as Asus has finally released a new BIOS for the M3N78-EM that supports the X2 240.


I had intended to recommend the Athlon II X2 240 from the beginning, but as Asus didn't support it yet with its BIOS, I wasn't able to until now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Due to several feedback emails I received, asking for a recommendation of a IR remote for a Linux HTPC I have now also added one to the example build in the "Best Linux HTPC Motherboards" article.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 /forum/post/16942548


I have the impression that those people that you see complaining about heat issues on forums, either have chosen very badly ventilated cases or are using some badly designed aftermarket cpu HSF (or maybe have overclocked the FSB).


When mobo manufacturers design mobos they test ventilation of the IGP or north-bridge with the AMD or Intel boxed fans. Some of the aftermarket cpu HSFs are better at cooling the cpu quietly, but they direct the airflow differently than the Intel/AMD boxed fan and therefore the IGP or north-bridge heatsink doesn't get enough ventilation anymore.

Not true. My Asus P5N7A-VM's 9300 burned like fire, even when not decoding video, until I put on it a Thermalright HR05-IFX with thermally-controlled fan. But no one listens, so I've given up trying to tell ppl. Their IGP will just burn up.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by quantumstate /forum/post/17175451


Not true. My Asus P5N7A-VM's 9300 burned like fire, even when not decoding video, until I put on it a Thermalright HR05-IFX with thermally-controlled fan. But no one listens, so I've given up trying to tell ppl. Their IGP will just burn up.

I listen to you, qs, I just don't buy Intel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by quantumstate /forum/post/17175451


Not true. My Asus P5N7A-VM's 9300 burned like fire, even when not decoding video, until I put on it a Thermalright HR05-IFX with thermally-controlled fan. But no one listens, so I've given up trying to tell ppl. Their IGP will just burn up.

Just because the northbridge feels burning hot to the touch that doesn't mean it's running out of spec. Chips have quite different average and maximum temperature specifications and most Nvidia GPUs are designed to run at high temperatures, their cut-off is around 115C!

Even some cpus are like that, remember the Pentium-M, it had a normal operating temperature of 70-75C and a cut-off around 100C.


I'm not saying that a better heatsink is useless, but it's certainly not required.


Also by replacing the factory-fitted northbridge heatsink you risk invalidating the motherboard warranty.
 

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Poking around newegg this morning and I happened to see this motherboard

DFI LP JR GF9400-T2RS


Here is a l ink comparing it to the ASUS P5N7A-VM


very similar board but several things that I like better


Geforce 9400 vs 9300

2 ps2 ports (for keyboard and mouse)

3 PCIE slots vs 2

Looks like a better chipset cooling with a heatpipe to additional fins close to where the exaust on most cases would be.

**edit** one more item I just noticed in the manual is that you can set the temperature the CPU fan turns on and the temp it hits max speed. This would be useful for minimizing CPU fan noise.


As far as negatives, I do not have experience with this brand (not as well know to me as ASUS) and it cost $20 more.


Any thoughts or experience with this board?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yes it appears to be a very nice board, but I didn't include it in the article as it was even more expensive than the excellent and very popular Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H (which now sadly has been discontinued).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 /forum/post/17411036


Yes it appears to be a very nice board, but I didn't include it in the article as it was even more expensive than the excellent and very popular Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H (which now sadly has been discontinued).

Reading the reviews on newegg and Tweaktown (not seen this site until today) it seem fairly average. Tweaktown reviews the Nvidia GeForce 9300 chipset using the ASUS P5N7A-VM and rates it much better.


I'll probably just keep with my plan on buying the ASUS unless there is some crazy sale on the DFI board.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear /forum/post/17412640


Reading the reviews on newegg and Tweaktown (not seen this site until today) it seem fairly average.

I'm not very convinced by the level of expertise of that reviewer, some comments he makes seems to indicate to me, that all he can do is install windows and run some off the shelf windows benchmarks on it, so I don't think that review means much.

OTOH I have no experience with that board so I can't really judge it either, but if it was 30 dollars cheaper I would take it into serious consideration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by northbear /forum/post/17412640


I'll probably just keep with my plan on buying the ASUS unless there is some crazy sale on the DFI board.

Exactly my thoughts.
 
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