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New PVR Machine

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October 19, 2004 5:21:40 PM

I'm hoping to build a PVR/Media Server Machine in the next month or two. I'm figuring to go with an AMD proc but I'm not sure which one. I am going to use Windows Media Center 2005 but I've read that it requires a lot of CPU horsepower. Originally I was going to get an Athlon XP Barton 2500+ but now I'm starting to think that won't be enough power. Should I go with a Sempron on socket 754 or a Athlon64 on socket 939?
Overclocking is not a consideration but possible future upgrading is. Also I'm trying to make as quiet a machine as possible so I was considering underclocking.
Let me know what you think.

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October 19, 2004 6:01:51 PM

If you are thinking a Barton XP chip is going to be enough power a Sempron isn't going to do the job either (Socket 754, I assume you mean the 3100 Sempron? This is just slightly better than the 2500+, but if you switched to a faster XP chip, the XP chip would be on top again). Maybe look at either a faster XP chip, or an Athlon 64, either 939 or socket 754 would be a better choice. Any reason why you are sticking with socket 939? It is rather exspensive to go that route at the moment.

And underclocking? You either need horsepower or you don't, spending a few hundred dollars on a higher end CPU, and then slowing it down, doesn't make much sense, to me at least. However, at least with an Athlon 64 you will have the option of using Cool'N'Quiet, which will underclock the CPU when the extra power isn't needed, automatically. My 64-bit laptop (cool'n'quiet enabled) rarely goes over 800 mhz. Many times it is down around 350 mhz.

With an Socket 754 you will be limited to a 3700+ chip. However, even if you go 939 now, with PCI express and such coming out, by the time you need to upgrade again you may be looking at new motherboards again just to get the new features. Obvisuly as time goes by, 939 stuff will come down in price. In my expierence I have always bought a new motherboard when changing CPUs.

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October 19, 2004 7:09:02 PM

Well, I'm not exactly sure if an Athlon XP is going to be under powered. I was hopeing someone would be able to tell me. If an XP isn't under powered for Media Center then I'll go with that and a Nforce2 Mobo with the MCP-T. The rational for going with Socket 939 is that if Media Center is as CPU powerhungry, as I've heard, then that has the best chance of being upgraded down the line. Does anybody know how CPU intensive MCE 2005 is? (I did read Toms and Anand's reviews but it's not exactly clear to me.)

The rational behind underclocking is that maybe I can go passive cooling or at least very quiet air cooling if I lower the voltage enough. The PVR/Server is going to be in my living room and I hate the sound of computer fans. I'm going with a fanless power supply and all fanless components. Along with FDB HD drives and the quietest DVD drive I can get. I know about Cool'N'Quiet. It's part of the reason that I went AMD over Intel.

Since I don't figure to use this machine for anything but media serving and PVR duties, I'm not really interested in PCI express video upgrades and don't see any need for PCI express anything else down the road. I just want to be able to do CPU upgrades if needed.

The other reason to go Athlon64 is that maybe 2007 or so we'll get a 64bit media center.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Archer01 on 10/19/04 03:12 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
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October 20, 2004 2:09:21 AM

Nah, you don't need that much CPU power so long as you do your video processing with hardware devices. A TV tuner card with hardware compression would be a great start, a video card with hardware decompression would be great.

You could actually build the system with an underclocked/undervolted Tualatin Celeron, but I'd probably go with an Mobile XP2600+ and underclock/undervolt that.

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