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motherboard/processor recommendation for media centre

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May 17, 2008 1:29:26 PM

Hi,

I am planning to build a media centre PC/server. Haven't looked at hardware for a while and finding it a bit daunting. I was wondering if anyone more up to speed could help out.

I would like a recommendation for a budget motherboard/processor combination. Not too worried about cpu speed - I'm sure anything current will be fine (not going to be for HD media)

I would like a dual core processor, low power ideally.
The motherboard should have:
- passively cooled northbridge (important)
- integrated graphics with s-video out (just for connection to analog tv - no games/3d or anything required but good quality s-video would be nice)
- on board audio (anything is fine - I have a sound card I could put in anyway)
- ideally quite a lot of sata ports, but that's not so important (could always get a cheap card)

Ideally the recommended cpu should have a reasonably quiet cooler as standard so I don't have to replace it (but I could if it's cheap).

Linux support is required (I don't think that is such an issue nowdays), but I'm not fussed about using proprietary drivers. I'd heard ATI S-video out might be slightly better than nvidea but I'm not sure if thats true.

Thanks!

I have had a good look myself but on most sites it's hard to check about the integrated s-video and passive northbridge cooler so I'm finding it quite a slog.

I'm in the UK if that makes any difference (if anyone knows any special offers or anything on at the moment).
May 17, 2008 2:22:54 PM

I strongly suggest you look at AMD's offerings if power consumption is your concern. They have a couple of new low-power 45w chips out.

AMD Athlon X2 4x50e series

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

If you need a bit more power, look no further than the X3 which beats out most every chip in the same price range.

AMD Phenom 8450

As for mobos, I'd stay away from the cheap 780 boards that can burn out a high-power quad Phenom. Look at 690G, 780G (mainstream/premium) or 790 chipsets. The ASUS M3A78-EMH HDMI is a good candidate.

You can pick up a Gigabyte Geminii cpu heatsink for the cpu cooling. No need for cpu fans. Make sure you case has good air flow: 120mm intake & exhaust.

Then you can throw them in any fancy eyecandy MATX case.
May 17, 2008 2:33:37 PM

I have an HTPC running Vista Ultimate on the following spec:-

Amd 3500+ (939) 2.2Ghz (Artic cooling Freezer 64 through a zalman fanmate)
Asrock 939sli-esata2 Motherboard
2Gb ddr400 (4x512Mb) (no fan required)
X300Se PCIE graphics card
Pinnicle 3010IX PCIE Dual Tunner Freeview tunner (does normal TV too)
Thermalrock Eclipse case
Jeantec 450W PSU
MS MCE remote and reciever (usb)
Avast AV

Works like a dream and almost silent. Although under Vista MC the TV card is digital only, (the normal tv signal is pretty rubbish where I am so no loss to me)
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May 17, 2008 4:15:40 PM

Thanks for advice folks...

Guess I'll go with AMD

I'm having trouble finding the 35W AMD Athlon at any of the large online UK retailers (dabs, microdirect, aria). There are 45W ones available though so I guess that's OK (unless anyone know where I can get the 35W).

Still getting stuck with the s-video though. Can't find a suitable motherboard with s-video onboard, and also having trouble finding a low-end fanless graphics card with s-video out - so I'd appreciate some help on either of those fronts! I just want to have s-video out without an additional fan...

Also - I should have said I'm not worried about micro-ATX since it's going in a normal tower. Thinking of one of these:
http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=4R2L
with one of these:
http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=49R7
but if there are cheaper better options I'm all ears.
May 17, 2008 5:00:54 PM

Wow, that's terrific - thanks a lot.

Actually any of the video cards would be fine, but getting the biostar definitely seems the cheaper option!

Is there a reason I should mind Biostar (not familiar with the brand). Do they have a reputation for being unreliable?

Also am I right in thinking I can put a micro-atx board in a normal atx case?

My only worry would be lack of expansion slots but it should be enough for a sound card and another sata card when needed which is all I imagine using.

Thanks again!
May 17, 2008 5:08:41 PM

Yes you can put an Microatx in a normal atx case,

AFIAK Biostar is a lower end company just means you won't get all the fancy overclocking options, soldi caps etc, fine for the project you have planed.
May 17, 2008 5:10:46 PM

If you were looking for a TV card the a Pinnicle 3010ix like i have are cheap and even better PCIE! aiding your slot issue
a b V Motherboard
May 17, 2008 5:11:32 PM

Hmmm...It seems that I can't find a new onboard VGA mobo with s-video output. S-Video is out of date perhaps?
Perhaps you should look for a non onboard VGA Card.
My HIS HD3850 512MB Turbo has a S-Video output, but just like you've said, that you don't wanna an expensive VGA Card.
Or get a HDMI Mobo and a new HDTelevision. :p 
About extra fan on a VGA-Card, that is not a problem, you can find many models that has a passive cooling.

May 17, 2008 5:46:26 PM

NewEgg don't ship to the UK :( 
May 17, 2008 5:55:07 PM

Well They got the same stuff dont they?

Damn newegg. Damn it to hell !!!!

Ok ok sorry sorry newegg comeback to me noooo nooooo comeback .... i love you baby.


ok try www.newegg.com.uk
it may work?
May 17, 2008 6:02:13 PM

it doesn.t

that why i recommended Aria not quite newegg, but not a bad company.

The OP was looking for a board with Svhs out the biostar seems to be one of the few, if not the only one!
May 17, 2008 6:08:16 PM

Well he could buy a ticket and go to the us. O.o
If he really wanted a media pc.

LoL. Just joking.
May 17, 2008 6:10:29 PM

lol,

it's not a joke, it is possible to fly to NY, buy bits and fly back cheaper than getting the bits in rip off britain!
May 17, 2008 9:06:09 PM

Thanks again for the help...

Actually I'd found some reviews for the biostar and it looks good. I think that's what I will go for... I was just worried about the pci slots, and also the memory being possibly too close to the cpu for passive coolers, but I think it will be OK to start with. Enough for sound card and tv tuner (I was going to go for a nova-t since I heard they work reliably with myth-tv).

I guess 4 sata should be enough...

Actually I have friends and family in the US who could post stuff to me and visit relatively often, but for stuff like this I don't think the savings are enough to offset not being able to return it if it breaks or something goes wrong. For cheap stuff I find the savings aren't enough and for expensive stuff I don't want to be without the warrenty...

Oh well...

Thanks again...


May 18, 2008 12:51:54 PM

I've owned a Biostar T-Force board which is a great budget overclocker. There's a guy who makes custom bioses for Biostar. I used his & it worked great. He unlocked some more options & threw in newer memtest. Yup, the T-Force has memtest built in the bios. How about that? Made for overclockers. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up any Biostar board. So far, I have owned 2 and neither gave me problems.

You're in the right direction.
!