Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Media Center PC

Last response: in Motherboards
Share
July 15, 2004 1:34:06 PM

Im not really sure where this post should go as it applies to many different things but ah well.
Ok so Im thinking of creating a media center but it is a lot harder than it sounds.
I was origionaly thinking of getting a via epia motherboard with an integrated via Eden CPU. Its the smallest board on the market and the CPU is passivly cooled. The problem is I want to be able to record off TV as well and I dont know if the CPU will be powerfull enough.

The second problem in the case, I want something very small that will fit in nicly with the VCR, DVD player etc... The only cases I can find look a bit crap. Anyone got any ideas?

The last big problem is the operating system, I need something that can boot fast, can run DVD decoding software, play MP3's, play music CD's and is very easy to use. I was wondering if there are any unix versions that have been taylored towards this kind of operation?

More about : media center

July 15, 2004 1:37:13 PM

Jammy, take a look at the front page of Toms. :) 

Reading the review, was pleasantly surprised with the whole setup, esp. with the fact that you can run linux for the basic quick functions and still have Windows for other stuff.
July 15, 2004 2:05:48 PM

I was referring to the Aopen XC Cube review, case I wasn't clear. :) 
Related resources
July 15, 2004 3:06:04 PM

Yeh I was reading through that and it looks really good, there were a couple of problems I noted though. You cant record video from linux, you have to run windows XP. I also didnt like the look of the case, I want something that looks more like a DVD player than a stereo. Thirdly its a P4 system so it would be expensive + it is debatable whether I would need that kind of processing power.
July 15, 2004 3:22:58 PM

So put a Celeron in it then. 66.50 for a 2.4 northwood celeron
July 15, 2004 4:05:52 PM

You might be interested in the <A HREF="http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc02.htm" target="_new">Silverstone SST-LC02 ATX case</A>

Pluses

- Accepts ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX motherboards.

- Ultra slim

- looks like a DVD player

- Silver or Black color

Minuses

- Only two adapter slots available for use, two PCI or one AGP + <b>one</b> PCI. (At least the right angle adapters are included).

- Only one external drive bay and you must use a slim drive.

- a bit pricey (about $155 USD street price)

- unknown availability in the UK

<b>56K, slow and steady does not win the race on internet!</b>
July 15, 2004 4:15:29 PM

Oops!

1 PCI <b>or</b> 1 AGP in the standard package. Other adapter options are special order.

<b>56K, slow and steady does not win the race on internet!</b><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by phsstpok on 07/15/04 12:17 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
July 15, 2004 11:50:34 PM

Thanks for that, looks like just the kinda case I want. Now all I need is a distributer that sells it in the UK, I wil have a look round.
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 15, 2004 11:50:52 PM

Silverstone also has one that's only about an inch taller and supports 7 full height cards!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
July 16, 2004 12:36:10 PM

Its finding that case in the UK which could prove to be a problem.

Does anyone here have any experience with the VIA eden CPU? Do you reckon the 600Mhz version would be powerfull enough to record mpeg2 in real time from a TV card?

Anyone got any ideas on a media center operating system?
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 16, 2004 10:38:47 PM

The C3 1000 is a little weaker than the elderly AMD K6-III 450. And the 600 is weaker still of course. I'm going to have to guess here based on that information that the Eden 600 is around Mobile Pentium MMX 266 (that is PENTIUM 1) power. Or perhaps it's a bit better, to the tune of Celeron 333 performance. I'd probably just use a real board with a low voltage CPU and a huge passive cooler.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
July 17, 2004 12:24:16 AM

True, but then you could just use a classic desktop case and save some money. Such a case would be my preference.

The Silverstone case I mentioned doesn't actually appeal to me. I only suggested it because it DOES look like a DVD player. I don't like the slim drive requirement.

The One PCI + One AGP (full height but turned 90 degrees, by the way) limitation wouldn't bother me for a HT PC. PVR and DVD playback would be all I need.

Paying double or triple for a slim drive would bother me.


<b>56K, slow and steady does not win the race on internet!</b>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 17, 2004 6:26:53 AM

I have an AT desktop that is nearly identicle in size to my friend's home theater receiver, but a bit narrower. A Micro ATX case of similar design would be a bit wider. In fact, there are Micro ATX desktops within 1/4" of height and width to his typical receiver, that have full sized power supplies.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
July 17, 2004 1:15:48 PM

I hear you and I guess there's not much point in arguing with you. I already know how you feel about SFF and slim cases.

If I were building a HT PC right at this moment (but I'm not) I would use something slim only because my shelves are occupied in my entertainment center.

My real plan is to build a HT/gaming PC and for that I do plan to use a full size case. This PC would be my main PC.

<b>56K, slow and steady does not win the race on internet!</b>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 17, 2004 10:34:42 PM

Funny thing, you can get those Gateway dictionary sized PC's with NLX boards. Some have AGP slots, as well as 2 or 3 PCI slots laid sideways. Many were Slot-1 or Socket 370, supporting CPU's that are powerfull enough for just about anything, even game playing at TV resolutions.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 17, 2004 10:49:03 PM

<A HREF="http://www.coolermaster.com/index.php?LT=&Language_s=&u..." target="_new">Here's a Micro ATX from Coolermaster</A>
<A HREF="http://www.coolermaster.com/index.php?LT=&Language_s=&u..." target="_new">Another from Coolermaster</A>
I believe the second one is full ATX. But really Micro ATX gives you what I consider the minimum needs for an HTPC: 2 PCI slots (of the 3 available) and an AGP slot.

Say you wanted to do TiVO type stuff on your HTPC, you'd want a hardware-compression TV card. Of course if you had a super powerfull CPU, you could do high quality recording on a hardware-assisted card such as the built in tuner of AIW cards.

With ITX you get no AGP and 1 PCI, you'd fill that PCI with a HARDWARE TV card and live with the crap onboard video, hopping it doesn't stutter. Hardware assisted cards such as a PCI AIW wouldn't do, because the CPU isn't powerfull enough to do the compression.

As for other cases:
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">Here's a cheap one</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">Something a little fancier (lay it on it's side)</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">Another option (lay it on it's side)</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?descripti..." target="_new">And something nearly perfect</A>

That last one uses a FULL SIZED power supply with a Micro ATX board, giving you a lot of flexibility in system configuration!

Think about this, a powerfull CPU gives you the power to record TV even with a software TV card. A decent video card not only plays videos well, but also would allow your HTPC to serve as a gaming console. This can all be done with minimum heat and noise by selecting the right components.

Imagine a Mobile XP2500+, undervolted to 1.3v core, underclocked to 1000MHz, using a Zalman flower cooler. And a 9600 Pro, already with low heat output, using an oversized passive cooler. You'd have a system that can act as a TiVO, DVD player, game console, even WebTV, a total low noise, low profile, couch potato system with all the power it REALLY needs to do just about everything you'd want to do from your couch.


<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 17, 2004 10:51:29 PM

BTW, SFF is fake Flex ATX. It uses the same sized board, but the ackward cube shape is taller than a desktop and wider than a tower.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 17, 2004 10:56:10 PM

BTW, <A HREF="http://www.compgeeks.com/details.asp?invtid=818321u-r" target="_new">You want small?</A>

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
July 18, 2004 4:06:32 AM

That's the right size but I would need an AGP slot and one PCI slot.

It doesn't matter. Shelf space won't be a problem in the future. Eventually I'll retire both my DVD player and VCR (both of which are 6+ years old). That will gain me a full shelf, room enough for a desktop case.

<b>56K, slow and steady does not win the race on internet!</b>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 18, 2004 5:35:36 AM

Don't forget the Micro ATX options, that Coolermaster case is just about perfect and uses a full sized power supply.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
July 18, 2004 3:37:55 PM

Cheers for the ideas on cases, I really like the Cavalier 2 and the Athenatech MicroATX Mid-Tower cases. Will see if I can find them in the UK.

I like the idea of the mobile XP, I think I will need at least 2 PCI slots because I want to use I proper sound card. Are there any TV cards that can record in mpeg4 format in real time? Most of them seem to use mpeg2.
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 18, 2004 4:37:34 PM

I know of the MPG4 hardware encoding chips, but I don't know if anyone uses them in a TV card yet. I'd go with MPG2 for easy conversion to DVD. You wouldn't even need a DVD burner in the system, you could transfer the files to your main system over the network.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
July 18, 2004 5:12:34 PM

True, but I dont have a DVD burner and dont really want one. I would prefer to store video files as mpeg4.
July 18, 2004 9:08:55 PM

What cooler would you recommend for an undervolted althon XP? Bearing in mind it has to be small enough to fit in the cases you suggested and it has to be very quiet.
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 18, 2004 9:59:25 PM

Ah, well, look long and hard, you'll probably find something!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
a b à CPUs
July 18, 2004 10:08:59 PM

Well, an undervolted Mobile XP could run on passive cooling, but that's a bit impractical unless you're an engineer. However most of these big honking 80mm fan coolers will fit, and an 1800RPM Panaflow 80mm fan would be so quiet that you wouldn't hear it once the case was closed (it would be barely audible, but drowned out by the hard drive and power supply fan, the least noisy of 3 low noise sources). In fact, I could put you together a nice low speed 60mm cooler at cost (I have low speed 60mm case fans) that would be pleanty for such a low heat configuration. Or a typical moderately quiet 60-70mm cooler would be very quiet if you cut the fan voltage to 7v (by wiring the fan's negative wire to a 5v source instead of ground).

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
!