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Many problems with my HTPC

Last response: in Systems
March 9, 2012 4:04:30 PM


I had built a system with the following config several months ago (thx to rwpritchett and need4speeds for their inputs):

Athlon Regor dual core processor
Samsung 2 TB HDD
Blu ray burner
2*2GB memory
Case (link: has more info.)

My computer stopped starting (meaning nothing shows up on TV). However, was busy over the past several months and never got back to it. Last weekend, I finally re-installed Windows 64-bit and now it starts. However, I have multiple problems:

1) Sometimes, it doesn't start - nothing on screen problem happens occasionally. What I do is turn it off, then press the power button again and it works.
2) I saw a thermal shutdown couple of times - I resolved this by taking off the top case (so there is more air flow). But, I was really surprised in finding this issue (my stand is an enclosed unit - but has a large opening in the back). I have bought a USB fan (not yet delivered) to help with this - is this expected? For this machine, I assumed heat wouldn't be a problem. THe issue it seems is that the blu ray player sits almost on top of the CPU, and the heat doesn't have any place to escape on the MB. I also installed a probe which tells me the temp. of the process and MB. I see the processor go up to 65 C and MB to 65C. At what point should I get worried (because I would really like to put the case back in). How can I solve this problem - don't know if the USB fan will help at all. I had thought the system would run rather cool. Do I also need to buy something like this ( My case doesn't really do heat dissipation well...
3) the WIFI just doesn't work. Resetting it doesn't help. Seems to be a driver problem, don't know how to resolve it. I put a WIFI USB adapter to help get over it now.
4) If I "sleep" my machine (put it on standby), I am not able to get it back up using my keyboard or by pressing the power button. The only way is to press the power button for 3 seconds for it to turn off and then turn it on. How can I make it go to sleep and get back up in a few seconds (is there some bios setting).
5) I installed XBMC as the media center with several addons/plugins and it works fine. Having the sleep on XBMC working as in #4 woudl be great.
6) The remote doesn't do anything beyond basic tasks like arrow keys. How can I configure the remote to accept other commands - today I use a wireless KB to get around it. It would be great if my harmony remote can be used as a one stop.

Thanks a lot for your patience....

More about : problems htpc

a b B Homebuilt system
March 9, 2012 4:42:49 PM

The heat is really a problem if you're showing 65C - that's getting into the range where systems will start to shut down due to overheating. I think the max is 72C or 74C for that particular line of AMD processors, but you could easily spike to that if you're in the 60s consistently.

Do you mean to say that you have NO case fans for your setup? You definitely ought to have them, especially in a case that small. But that particular Thermaltake fan is going to be LOUD for an HTPC, I can tell you that from experience. Noise level is particularly important for HTPCs if you want a good experience, so I'd definitely recommend getting something under 20dB if you can help it. I'm partial to SilenX - have tried several of their models and they really are extremely quiet for how much air they push. Something like this would do well:

I also have to say I'm generally not a big fan of cases marketed as dedicated "HTPC cases." Yeah, they look neat if you have them on your TV stand next to the PS3 and you can tell your friends, "guess what, that's actually a computer" ... but too many of them have heat problems, either due to space issues that lead to components being right on top of each other, or airflow issues due to poor design (e.g. a full-height video card will block half the case). That's why when I built one for the kids' room, I just said screw it and went with a colorful mid tower case, put some quiet case fans and a good CPU cooler on it, and haven't worried about it since.
March 9, 2012 4:56:31 PM

Thanks capt_taco. The only case fan right now is the PS fan.....
My case doesn't have a lot of space where I can put the fan in to help with the airflow either... Once I opened the case, it is now in the low 60s...the problem is that it is my living room, so I needed a case that would blend in...
a b B Homebuilt system
March 9, 2012 7:01:17 PM

heh, well, maybe that's just my own crudeness showing through. I would have just put the thing in whatever case provided adequate cooling and told people, "yes, that's a computer in my living room and it doesn't blend in - deal with it."

Anyway, I think you've found your main problem, namely cooling issues. If you can't get a fan in there (and I agree from the pictures it looks like a tight fit and probably a limited amount of good case fans could do anyway given the positioning of the components) ... I would seriously consider a different case. Not necessarily an ugly tower, but if you look carefully you can probably find an HTPC case with a little more room and better ventilation. I remember one from Silverstone being one of the only HTPC cases I really ever honestly liked - it's been a while, so not sure if this was it, but it's a start:

Also - if you are having sleep/wake problems, there is a BIOS setting for that. Usually it's under "Power Management" or something similar. There is usually a main setting that can enable or disable all wakeup triggers, as well as various controls for "Wake on ______" that define a particular event. At any rate, that may or may not be all of it, but it's where I'd start looking.