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HTPC Help

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February 25, 2010 1:32:27 PM

I recently built my first HTPC with components based on recommendations from members within this forum (thanks MadAdmiral!). I have just run into my first issue, while trying to play HD .mkv videos I keep encountering stuttering/choppiness and cannot get rid of it. I have the latest drivers from Intel and video memory is maxed in the bios, any advice would be appreciated.

My Build:

Processor - Intel i3 540
Motherboard - Asus P7H55-M Pro
RAM - OCZ3RPR1333C94GK (2 x 2GB)
Hard Drive - WD1001FALS 1TB
Optical Drive - Asus DRW-24B1ST
PSU - Coolmax CU-600B 600W
Case - Silverstone LC17B

* The OS is Windows 7 Pro

More about : htpc

a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 1:44:45 PM

Where are these HD files stored? Are they stored locally on the HD, or are you streaming them from another machine?

According to the model number, this is your RAM.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The problem with running that RAM on an Intel build is that the maximum RAM voltage those chips support is 1.65v. The above kit runs at 1.7v. Have you manually set any RAM values in the BIOS? Have you run Memtest86+ overnight to test for RAM errors?

P.S. - That POS PSU isn't going to do you any favors.
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February 25, 2010 2:05:10 PM

The files are stored locally, the RAM is what I had laying around or I would have chosen something better, I did set the RAM values in the BIOS though I have not yet run a memtest.

The PSU I also had laying around, probably going to upgrade to a thermaltake in the near future.

It sounds as though you think the RAM could be the cause, I will run a memtest tonight. If I were to switch out the RAM do you have any recommendations?
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 2:10:39 PM
February 25, 2010 2:25:19 PM



If I should determine that the memory is not at fault here is there any other component that could be causing this issue? Should I have the aero theme on windows 7 turned down or something?
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 2:29:18 PM

The specs of your system are more than enough for HD content. If the RAM isn't the issue, then the CPU could possibly be overheating and throttling. What are your idle/load CPU temps?

Your POS CoolMax PSU could also be getting ready to go out in a blaze of glory. Whether it's causing the problem or not, I would replace that PSU ASAP before it fries other components. A quality 400W PSU would be plenty for your system.

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Power Supply $54.99 - $15 MIR
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February 25, 2010 2:59:07 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
The specs of your system are more than enough for HD content. If the RAM isn't the issue, then the CPU could possibly be overheating and throttling. What are your idle/load CPU temps?

Your POS CoolMax PSU could also be getting ready to go out in a blaze of glory. Whether it's causing the problem or not, I would replace that PSU ASAP before it fries other components. A quality 400W PSU would be plenty for your system.

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Power Supply $54.99 - $15 MIR



I am at the office so will check the temps and memtest tonight and report back, you have been most helpful, thank you.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 3:01:16 PM

No problem, let us know how it goes.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 3:07:23 PM

Also try VLC, I have had issues with media player myself. A few other things for you to look for are: Lazy Man's MKV codec, FFD Show, and OGG Vorbis (I think that's how it's spelled). I have to use them for some of the stuff I watch, and if all else fails download media player classic.
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February 25, 2010 4:01:30 PM

IH8U said:
Also try VLC, I have had issues with media player myself. A few other things for you to look for are: Lazy Man's MKV codec, FFD Show, and OGG Vorbis (I think that's how it's spelled). I have to use them for some of the stuff I watch, and if all else fails download media player classic.


I have been doing my initial testing via VLC and XBMC, I avoid media player for the most part. I have not tried any of the other items you listed, I will get them and see what happens though.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 7:08:20 PM

I thought I heard about some problems with XBMC and 64-bit Windows 7 not taking full advantage of GPU acceleration. It's been a little while since I researched it, though. I just use Windows 7 Media Center and don't get any stuttering or choppiness.

If all your hardware checks out, I would hit up the XBMC forums for a solution. Here's an example of people talking about issues with XBMC in full-screen mode on 64-bit Windows 7:

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?p=287180
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February 25, 2010 7:37:28 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
I thought I heard about some problems with XBMC and 64-bit Windows 7 not taking full advantage of GPU acceleration. It's been a little while since I researched it, though. I just use Windows 7 Media Center and don't get any stuttering or choppiness.

If all your hardware checks out, I would hit up the XBMC forums for a solution. Here's an example of people talking about issues with XBMC in full-screen mode on 64-bit Windows 7:

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?p=287180


That XBMC info is good to know, XBMC with the hulu plugin is the setup I was planning, its hard to make my self use WMC. I dont think this particular issue is related to XBMC, I tested the HD Movie with just VLC at first and the stuttering happened exactly the same and in exactly the same places in the movie in both programs. I also just for fun started up City of Heroes to test and got tons of stuttering in there ( I know the graphics aren't for gaming but I figured if any game would work it would be CoH with its crappy old graphics).

I ran to Microcenter at lunch and grabbed a new PSU (Thermaltake 430w) and some new OCZ RAM that is 1.65 volts and is on ASUS' approved RAM list in the manual.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 7:56:07 PM

The only 430W Thermaltake PSU I'm aware of is a POS too.

Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC 430W

I'll give you an easy way to tell right off the bat if a PSU is even worth buying. See the little red voltage switch on the back, that's a BAD thing. That means it doesn't have active PFC. A quality PSU have active PFC, be at least 80+ certified, and have the majority of its output on the 12v rail. The PSU above only has 65% efficiency and higher output on the 5v and 3.3v rails than on the 12v rails. That PSU isn't worth the cost of the box it's packaged in.
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February 25, 2010 8:04:00 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
The only 430W Thermaltake PSU I'm aware of is a POS too.

Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC 430W

I'll give you an easy way to tell right off the bat if a PSU is even worth buying. See the little red voltage switch on the back, that's a BAD thing. That means it doesn't have active PFC. A quality PSU have active PFC, be at least 80+ certified, and have the majority of its output on the 12v rail. The PSU above only has 65% efficiency and higher output on the 5v and 3.3v rails than on the 12v rails. That PSU isn't worth the cost of the box it's packaged in.


Damn, I got it based on the high recommendation of one the employees, I'm about to head back for a minute so I can exchange it, are there one or two on this list you can recommend?

http://microcenter.com/search/search_results.phtml?web_...
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 8:11:31 PM

What's your budget for the PSU?

This is the cheapest one on that list that I would recommend.

Corsair CMPSU-400CX $63.99

In fact, that's the PSU I recommended from Newegg above. It's cheaper from Newegg.

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX $54.99 - $15 MIR

Microcenter does have a good price on this OCZ 80+ Silver rated 550W PSU, though.

OCZ Z Series 550W $71.99
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February 25, 2010 8:15:31 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
What's your budget for the PSU?


At this point I'd say whatever I have to pay is fine, even the priciest PSU on that list that are around the wattage I'd need are affordable
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 8:17:09 PM

I was going to suggest the Corsair 400CX but it looks over priced at $64 @ MC. It's available online at $40 a/r.
OCZ StealthXStream 500W @ $50 seems to be the best choice on the MicroCenter website.
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February 25, 2010 8:21:34 PM

WR2 said:
I was going to suggest the Corsair 400CX but it looks over priced at $64 @ MC. It's available online at $40 a/r.
OCZ StealthXStream 500W @ $50 seems to be the best choice on the MicroCenter website.


Yea, they have hit and miss pricing at that place, I'll grab the OCZ, I was leaning towards it earlier but was talked into the thermaltake. Thanks again for the suggestions, ill update later
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 25, 2010 8:27:09 PM

The Z series of PSU is considerably higher quality than the StealthXStream series. I would spend the extra $20 on the Z 550 if it was me. The StealthXStream series is getting pretty old now. It's not 80+ certified and has pretty low 12v output. The 80+ silver rating will make the PSU use less power from the wall and will make the PSU run considerably cooler since it isn't wasting energy in the form of heat output.

Check my post above. I edited it with the link to the Z 550 PSU earlier, but I'm not sure if you saw it or not.
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February 25, 2010 9:10:13 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
The Z series of PSU is considerably higher quality than the StealthXStream series. I would spend the extra $20 on the Z 550 if it was me. The StealthXStream series is getting pretty old now. It's not 80+ certified and has pretty low 12v output. The 80+ silver rating will make the PSU use less power from the wall and will make the PSU run considerably cooler since it isn't wasting energy in the form of heat output.

Check my post above. I edited it with the link to the Z 550 PSU earlier, but I'm not sure if you saw it or not.


I did miss that edit and got the stealth lol, the people at microcenter are going to think I'm casing the place or smuggling PSUs after going back a third time.
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February 27, 2010 5:34:22 AM

shortstuff_mt said:
Where are these HD files stored? Are they stored locally on the HD, or are you streaming them from another machine?

According to the model number, this is your RAM.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The problem with running that RAM on an Intel build is that the maximum RAM voltage those chips support is 1.65v. The above kit runs at 1.7v. Have you manually set any RAM values in the BIOS? Have you run Memtest86+ overnight to test for RAM errors?

P.S. - That POS PSU isn't going to do you any favors.


Ok, ran memtest with the new memory (OCZ30B1600LV4GK) and got no errors, the ASUS monitoring tool indicates that the CPU is under 50 degrees most of the time as far as I can see.

I tried playing a non HD video and got the exact same stuttering (is there a better word to use?), it happens every 7 seconds or so no matter what I play, the sound is fine. I also tried reinstalling Win 7 Pro with the same result. I am out of ideas and endless google searching is getting me nowhere as well. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 27, 2010 3:39:05 PM

Sounds like a software problem. Try checking to see what's running in the background.
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