LinuxMCE Forums

General => Users => Topic started by: purps on August 12, 2008, 06:04:31 pm

Title: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: purps on August 12, 2008, 06:04:31 pm
Hello All,

I am currently looking at building my own slim client using off-the-self components enclosed in a homemade metal case. Having produced a CAD model of the proposed design, I believe I can get it below 1.75" in thickness (allowing it to be fixed to the wall behind a flat screen TV, completely out of view).

My questions relate to the graphics options of my short-listed motherboards (all from www.icp-epia.co.uk). Could anybody please tell me what is the difference between "VIA UniChromeTM Pro II 3D/2D AGP" graphics, and "VIA UniChrome Pro AGP" graphics? Obviously(?) the latter precedes the former, but what is the difference regarding their support in LinuxMCE, and the quality of playback? I've been looking at these onboard VIA graphics as I read that they were relatively well supported, in much the same way as nVidia graphics; however, I also read that there may be problems due to drivers not being licensed, or something like this? Could anybody please clarify the situation?

Ideally I would want my media directors to work with UI2 alpha blending, but it's not the end of the world if alpha blending has to be turned off to improve playback quality (I have to do this with my nVidia card in my hybrid anyway, due to the dreaded horizontal tearing), although I would not be happy if I had to use the most basic graphics option (UI1).

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated, cheers.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: tschak909 on August 12, 2008, 06:35:16 pm
In short, the UniChrome II is updated silicon that adds more powerful OpenGL capabilities to the original UniChrome, as well as improved video playback in higher resolutions....

....however, the driver to run these chips, is not available to mere mortals (read: they are only available to first tier systems builders who sign non-disclosure agreements with VIA), and the drivers themselves are binary-only, and do not provide any source code, so they are tied to specific versions of the Linux kernel.

The best you can expect out of any current VIA solution is literally UI1. Go another route.

-Thom
 
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: skeptic on August 12, 2008, 06:52:38 pm
In short, the UniChrome II is updated silicon that adds more powerful OpenGL capabilities to the original UniChrome, as well as improved video playback in higher resolutions....

....however, the driver to run these chips, is not available to mere mortals (read: they are only available to first tier systems builders who sign non-disclosure agreements with VIA), and the drivers themselves are binary-only, and do not provide any source code, so they are tied to specific versions of the Linux kernel.

The best you can expect out of any current VIA solution is literally UI1. Go another route.

-Thom
 
I gotta say, that sounds like a really dumb idea for VIA to not release an existing driver to people that would otherwise want to buy their product.  The source I can understand, but how many potential customers, myself included, are they cutting out by selling a product to the public but not including the drivers to use it?  They must have some reason right?

BTW, wasn't there some talk about them moving away from the partnership thing and releasing the drivers and possibly source for Linux?  I seem to remember seeing something about this when I first started looking into VIA and decided to just wait it out and use a crappy old laptop until it was settled one way or another.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: niz23 on August 12, 2008, 07:58:11 pm
skeptic.

BTW, wasn't there some talk about them moving away from the partnership thing and releasing the drivers and possibly source for Linux?  I seem to remember seeing something about this when I first started looking into VIA and decided to just wait it out and use a crappy old laptop until it was settled one way or another.

True. But so far it´s only words. They have not released anything yet.

I suggest you look at the new Intel ATOM solutions for a low power solution.
By looking at the specs they should work and today Andrew posted that they do work with a slight modification to avwizard setup.
Probably modeline to make X work good. I haven´t recieved my Gigabyte motherboard yet so I cannot say for sure.
The difference between Intel atom mb and the gigabyte one is that the latter have surround sound onboard otherwise they are oretty much identical.

/niz23
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: skeptic on August 12, 2008, 08:26:37 pm
Interesting.  How well supported are the on-board graphics on the ATOM boards?  I'm guessing UI2 and mpeg2/4 hardware decoding is too much to ask for...
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: niz23 on August 12, 2008, 10:40:53 pm
skeptic.
Interesting.  How well supported are the on-board graphics on the ATOM boards?  I'm guessing UI2 and mpeg2/4 hardware decoding is too much to ask for...

According to Andrew UI2+masking work fine. See http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=5735.0
The card use Intel GMA950 which is a part of the 945 chipset and support upto 1366x768 resolution in this configuration from what I have read. It have hardware mpeg2 decoding. Don´t know about mpeg4. Probably part of the mpeg4 processing can be done in hardware.

See, http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/D945GCLF/D945GCLF-overview.htm
and
http://www.intellinuxgraphics.org/documentation.html
and
http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS6489450984.html


/niz23
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: nite_man on August 13, 2008, 11:40:03 am
I played with ASUS P2-M2A690G (http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/ASUS_P2-M2A690G) a bit. Its integrated ATI RadeonTM 1250 is really cool. It supports UI2 with overlay and 1080p playback with the latest open source drivers. Moreover, the box has sound card to pass audio over HDMI! But as I know it's difficult to do that in Linux. Recently I found information that the latest proprietary drivers for Linux from ATI allow to pass audio over HDMI - http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/catalyst_86_linux.html#182029 (http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/catalyst_86_linux.html#182029). But I didn't test it yet.

So, as I see ATI cards with HDMI output for A/V are the best choice for MD. They are better even then nVidia IMHO.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: totallymaxed on August 13, 2008, 12:33:49 pm

BTW, wasn't there some talk about them moving away from the partnership thing and releasing the drivers and possibly source for Linux?  I seem to remember seeing something about this when I first started looking into VIA and decided to just wait it out and use a crappy old laptop until it was settled one way or another.

True. But so far it´s only words. They have not released anything yet.

Hmmm... well thats not completely correct. Via have release some code since the 'Via goe Open Source' announcement back in April. See here; http://linux.via.com.tw (http://linux.via.com.tw)

However the source code that is available is for Ubuntu 8.04 and not 7.10... so there are issues about back porting it. Work is underway to see what it delivers under 8.04 though... so this might deliver some demonstrable benefits in terms of be able to use Via hardware at some point in the future when we have LinuxMCE-804... but that is not going to be soon I would estimate.

Until that time the any Via based machine will need a lot of love & care to get working and so I would suggest unless you are prepared to 'roll your sleaves' up and get dirty... its not for you!

Quote
I suggest you look at the new Intel ATOM solutions for a low power solution.
By looking at the specs they should work and today Andrew posted that they do work with a slight modification to avwizard setup.
Probably modeline to make X work good. I haven´t recieved my Gigabyte motherboard yet so I cannot say for sure.
The difference between Intel atom mb and the gigabyte one is that the latter have surround sound onboard otherwise they are oretty much identical.

/niz23

Yes we do have the current Intel i945 based ATOM board under testing here and yes it does work very nicely. Yes it needs some changes to the AVwizard to detect its GPU and configure it correctly.

Andrew
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: totallymaxed on August 13, 2008, 12:39:04 pm
I played with ASUS P2-M2A690G (http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/ASUS_P2-M2A690G) a bit. Its integrated ATI RadeonTM 1250 is really cool. It supports UI2 with overlay and 1080p playback with the latest open source drivers. Moreover, the box has sound card to pass audio over HDMI! But as I know it's difficult to do that in Linux. Recently I found information that the latest proprietary drivers for Linux from ATI allow to pass audio over HDMI - http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/catalyst_86_linux.html#182029 (http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/catalyst_86_linux.html#182029). But I didn't test it yet.

So, as I see ATI cards with HDMI output for A/V are the best choice for MD. They are better even then nVidia IMHO.

I agree about the ATI drivers. We're shipping MD's built around ATI GPU's and they are performing very nicely. However they are not in anyway able to get down to the low level of energy usage and totally fanless silent operation that the ATOM based boards can deliver. So its a matter of trade-offs that depend on what your specific requirements are.

All the best

Andrew
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: purps on August 13, 2008, 01:35:45 pm
Thanks for your various replies, even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear!

So whilst the VIA UniChrome graphics aren't supported now at this moment in time, does that mean that they DEFINITELY will be when the new LinuxMCE comes out? If it's just a matter of time, then that's fine, but if there's any chance that these plans won't go ahead to allow mere mortals to use VIA UniChrome graphics without too much fuss, then I don't want to invest in the hardware.

This is the motherboard that I am currently most intested in - http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=186

I haven't found anything else that has the features I am after. They are:

-Fanless CPU (my girlfriend won't sleep with any fan whirring away, no matter how quiet)
-Gigabit LAN
-S-video port (for use with my old CRT TVs)
-DVI port (so that I am "future-proofed" for when I eventually upgrade to flat screen TVs)
-Optical S/PDIF or 5.1 surround sound
-RS232 port (this motherboard doesn't actually have one, but would it be possible to use a USB to RS232 converter for controlling a TV?)

If anybody knows of a mini-ITX board with all of these features, and with onboard graphics that allow UI2 to be used without too much hassle, I would really appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction please.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: niz23 on August 13, 2008, 02:01:40 pm
Purps.

VIA is a very uncertain choice. the driver issues are not solved in newer ubuntu version or any other distribution unlesss they use a kernel and a via licensed binary driver. IF via sitck with their promise they will release opencrhome drivers. But will most likely not happen in the near future (6month).

If you are lokking for a completely fanless solution. The atom is one way or you can buy a HFX case which use heatpipes attached to it´s chassi.

Look at this site for some hint about what is available, http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.15/.f
Their AMD board (nvidia based) have most of what you want, but you have to put some money on good chassi unless you can live with a fan.

/niz23
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: purps on August 13, 2008, 03:01:44 pm
Think I may have found a possibility - http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=361

Your thoughts on this one would be very welcome! Doesn't have optical S/PDIF or 5.1 channel audio, but you can't have it all. It DOES have an RS232 port though.

Does anybody know how Intel® 915GM graphics would cope with UI2?
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: niz23 on August 13, 2008, 04:23:00 pm
The 915 graphics will most likely handle UI2 pretty well. I have an IBM desktop at home for testing with a 915 chip and UI2 with masking work fine. Forget about alpha blending. Does not work. It can play divx, mpeg-2 etc but compared to the card you suggest my ibm machine have a P4 2.4GHz.

Since the 915 chip only have MC (MotionCompensation) most video decoding need to be done in software and that might be a problem since the CPU lack cache according to the spec. On the the other hand the card have a PCIe x16 slot. Buy a cheap nvidida 6/7x based fanless the problem is solved.

If you use a pcie graphics card you won´t have any other choice than to use a USB sounccard if you need surround sound.


/niz23
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: totallymaxed on August 13, 2008, 04:48:13 pm
Thanks for your various replies, even if it wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear!

So whilst the VIA UniChrome graphics aren't supported now at this moment in time, does that mean that they DEFINITELY will be when the new LinuxMCE comes out? If it's just a matter of time, then that's fine, but if there's any chance that these plans won't go ahead to allow mere mortals to use VIA UniChrome graphics without too much fuss, then I don't want to invest in the hardware.

This is the motherboard that I am currently most intested in - http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=186

I haven't found anything else that has the features I am after. They are:

-Fanless CPU (my girlfriend won't sleep with any fan whirring away, no matter how quiet)
-Gigabit LAN
-S-video port (for use with my old CRT TVs)
-DVI port (so that I am "future-proofed" for when I eventually upgrade to flat screen TVs)
-Optical S/PDIF or 5.1 surround sound
-RS232 port (this motherboard doesn't actually have one, but would it be possible to use a USB to RS232 converter for controlling a TV?)

If anybody knows of a mini-ITX board with all of these features, and with onboard graphics that allow UI2 to be used without too much hassle, I would really appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction please.

The latest Open Via drivers look to be moving in the right direction but I would not suggest that you invest in Via hardware currently at all. There is no defined timeframe for either the Via drivers being ready or for those drivers being integrated into LinuxMCE... or for that matter when the next major release of LinuxMCE will be.

This Gigabyte ATOM board looks to almost fit your spec; http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=2850&ProductName=GA-GC230D(Atom) (http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=2850&ProductName=GA-GC230D(Atom))

But you'd have to remove the small processor fan and replace it with a heat-pipe cooler

All the best

Andrew



Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: totallymaxed on August 13, 2008, 04:56:36 pm
Think I may have found a possibility - http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=361

Your thoughts on this one would be very welcome! Doesn't have optical S/PDIF or 5.1 channel audio, but you can't have it all. It DOES have an RS232 port though.

Does anybody know how Intel® 915GM graphics would cope with UI2?

Hmmm.... well I would not recommend a Celeron @ 1 Ghz at all. Also it seems very bad value for money at 159 UKP!!! You can buy the Intel i945 ATOM board or the Gigabyte GA-GC230D(Atom) for 45-50 UKP in one off volumes and that has a much faster processor and a better GPU too... the Gigabyte.

all the best

Andrew
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: purps on August 14, 2008, 01:12:29 pm
Ok, I'm beginning to get the picture with the VIA graphics - don't bother with it for now.

Quote
Hmmm.... well I would not recommend a Celeron @ 1 Ghz at all. Also it seems very bad value for money at 159 UKP!!!

I'm almost glad you have said this - I have never had a high opinion of these Celeron processors either, and as you say, it's quite a lot of money for what it is.

Quote
This Gigabyte ATOM board looks to almost fit your spec; http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=2850&ProductName=GA-GC230D(Atom)

But you'd have to remove the small processor fan and replace it with a heat-pipe cooler

Whilst I appreciate the suggestion, this doesn't really fulfil my requirements - namely the lack of gigabit ethernet and required video outputs (ideally I would like something that will work with both my ancient PAL TVs, either S-video or composite, and also be ready to use with a flat screen for when I eventually invest in one, either DVI or component).

However, I am really quite interested in what you have said about replacing the fan with a heat-pipe cooler, as this suddenly makes a huge number of other motherboards available to me. Could you do this with ANY mini-ITX motherboard, or do you just happen to know that it is possible with this particular one? Could anybody possibly recommend a site that I could start looking at for these heat-pipe coolers please? The only ones that I can find either have a fan attached to them, or are intended for the northbridge. Do they use a standard fitting?
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: niz23 on August 14, 2008, 02:48:43 pm
purps.

For the atom cpu you can get away with a pretty small heatsink (with heatpipes).
As soon as you use a better CPU, like an AMD BE (low power, 45W) you will need a good heatsink (with fan or without fan)

Even with a heatpipe solution you need to transport the heat to somewhere outside your box. That´s what the heatpipe do. Transfer heat from one place to another, and they are really good at it. But, you still need a heatsink somewhere. If it is integrated into the chassi (like HFX) or  mounted somewhere else does not matter. What matter is the airflow around the heatsink. That´s why heatsink with fan is common. To keep airflow high, which result in better cooling.

As you said earlier, you want a solution without fans. Then you have to solve a pretty challenging equation. Namely Price/performance.
As an example:
mb + cpu with fan + chassi + psu with fan = price
mb + cpu without fan + chassi + fanless psu = lot more expensive. And even more expensive if you want to build a small compact machine.
For example a chassi with integrated heatsinks is in a price range like 3x compared to a normal htpc case.

Look at HFX chassis if you want a completely silent machine.
http://www.mcubed-tech.com/english/index.htm

Go for a atom based board as Andrew suggested. It will be the cheapest solution, and when you replace you tv with a newer one you can probably replace the atom board with a better one too. Considering that atom boards resell for less than $99. Compared to the price of more specialized intel/amd based mini-itx boards it will probably be cheaper in the end.



/niz23
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: darrenmason on August 15, 2008, 01:42:17 am
Thsi website may be of use

http://www.silentpcreview.com/
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: Monkgs on August 15, 2008, 04:23:00 am
Has anyone considered the eeePCs as alternative? These machines run linux out of the box, and have no problem running compiz. So I imagine full UI2 support would be possible. Lots of users disable the fans on these and have no overheating issues inside of a plastic case. Heat would be even less of an issue if you were to fabricate a metal case.

I have a lot of experience modding these units (seen here: http://www.mrkowasaki.com/cpgallery/thumbnails.php?album=9 (http://www.mrkowasaki.com/cpgallery/thumbnails.php?album=9)). The motherboard can be easily removed from the base units and placed into a custom case with great ease. Their is a massive community for modding and upgrading these units (http://www.eeeuser.com (http://www.eeeuser.com)) as well as tons of existing documentation on the hardware and howtos on getting compiz and aiglx working.


The big advantages:
 - Small form factor, will fit in cases less than 1" tall.
 - Full support for all hardware in Linux (ships with Linux as an OS)
 - MASSIVE community with tons of howto's on upgrades both for software and hardware
 - Fanless operation possible
 - Built-in SSD hard drive
 - Video output support up beyond 1080p (not sure on widescreen support?)
 - Fanless power supply, runs off of normal DC rectifier
 - Built-in bluetooth
 - Built-in 802.11n
 - Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor (on 1000H models)
 - Widely available and cheap at $350-$550 depending on store and model

The downside:
 - Processor is slow on all models except 1000H
 - Only VGA output
 - No SPDIF output


The lack of a DVI out, and SPDIF out are quite problematic in the media setting. Lots of TVs don't have VGA inputs so obviously this isn't the magic bullet everyone is looking for. But it might do the trick for some other people.

Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: Monkgs on August 19, 2008, 08:43:06 am
Thought I might also add... The MythTV guys have been using MacMini's for slim clients. They're 2" tall, are available with a 2.0GHz Core2 Duo, 2GB of RAM and Intel GMA 950 (supports UI2 /w masking). They're fairly cheap and can be found in the $700 range.

Outputs 1080p video, has DVI output, and optical audio output.

Sounds like a win to me.

Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: Domodude on August 19, 2008, 09:20:33 am
Thought I might also add... The MythTV guys have been using MacMini's for slim clients. They're 2" tall, are available with a 2.0GHz Core2 Duo, 2GB of RAM and Intel GMA 950 (supports UI2 /w masking). They're fairly cheap and can be found in the $700 range.
Outputs 1080p video, has DVI output, and optical audio output.
Sounds like a win to me.
They are really cool, but last time I checked, there is no way to make (Intel-based) MacMini's boot PXE. Which makes them suitable as mythtv clients only.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: nite_man on August 19, 2008, 10:05:55 am
Quote
They are really cool, but last time I checked, there is no way to make (Intel-based) MacMini's boot PXE. Which makes them suitable as mythtv clients only.

Right. The same for AppleTV. It's easy to install Kubuntu there but I couldn't manage to boot it from tftp server. It was possible to use Mac Mini and AppleTV as MD when LinuxMCE supported MD with HDD. But in the version 0710  that feature was disabled.

As I already wrote here ASUS P2-M2A690G is really cool. It has only one disadvantage - no VESA mount option. It's cheap and has enough power to play-back 1080p and (theoretically) bring audio via HDMI!
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: Monkgs on August 19, 2008, 10:32:14 am
The ASUS P2-M2A690G is a nice unit, but it's very large. My current media director is the same size, offers audio over HDMI, and additionally supports UI2 /w alpha blending.

The issue isn't so much finding equipment to do everything, it's finding the right equipment in a small package. The MiniMac doesn't support UI2 /w alpha blending either, but on the same note, it's an inch and a half thinner, and its other dimensions are considerably smaller as well.

You can netboot a Mac Mini with etherboot or grub /w netboot support compiled in. Although the Mac Mini is not ideal either, it doesn't have a HDMI port and isn't capable of UI2 /w alpha blending.

Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: totallymaxed on August 19, 2008, 11:00:41 am
The ASUS P2-M2A690G is a nice unit, but it's very large. My current media director is the same size, offers audio over HDMI, and additionally supports UI2 /w alpha blending.

The issue isn't so much finding equipment to do everything, it's finding the right equipment in a small package. The MiniMac doesn't support UI2 /w alpha blending either, but on the same note, it's an inch and a half thinner, and its other dimensions are considerably smaller as well.

You can netboot a Mac Mini with etherboot or grub /w netboot support compiled in. Although the Mac Mini is not ideal either, it doesn't have a HDMI port and isn't capable of UI2 /w alpha blending.



Your right. The challenge increasingly is not so much the motherboard/processor/gpu combo... but the challenge of designing/building/integrating the physical enclosure that combines good aesthetics, thermal characteristics, form factor and cost. We also are increasingly looking at the operating costs in terms of energy usage that a unit will consume too... which also adds another factor into the equation for the physical design. The physical engineering is probably 70+ % of the total effort when we look at the work we do to bring a new MD market and represents more than 80% of the costs too (ie pre production & production engineering costs as opposed to manufacturing costs).

Andrew
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: nite_man on August 19, 2008, 11:31:49 am
Quote
The ASUS P2-M2A690G is a nice unit, but it's very large. My current media director is the same size, offers audio over HDMI, and additionally supports UI2 /w alpha blending.

Sounds interesting. Could you share your hardware info and experience to configure audio over HDMI?
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: nite_man on August 19, 2008, 02:22:32 pm
According to THG tests (http://tinyurl.com/69aczv (http://tinyurl.com/69aczv)) the newest AMD Athlon  64 2000+ is much better then Intel Atom 230:
Quote
In our Munich lab’s duel of the energy-savers, the AMD Athlon  64 2000+ beats the Intel Atom 230 in energy consumption and processing power.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: totallymaxed on August 19, 2008, 02:47:43 pm
According to THG tests (http://tinyurl.com/69aczv (http://tinyurl.com/69aczv)) the newest AMD Athlon  64 2000+ is much better then Intel Atom 230:
Quote
In our Munich lab’s duel of the energy-savers, the AMD Athlon  64 2000+ beats the Intel Atom 230 in energy consumption and processing power.


Well the of course the AMD Athlon 64 2000+ on its own will cost about $90... whereas the Intel i945 motherboard (including the processor) is about the same price!

Also I have not seen any 1Ghz processor drive UI2 + Overlay and play video at watchable frame rates with adequate performance... and we have tried a hell of a lot of hardware I can tell you ;-)

So I am not convinced the 2000+ clocked at 1Ghz is a viable processor... love to beproven wrong though! ;-)

Andrew
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: marrandy on August 19, 2008, 03:07:11 pm
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/Atom-Athlon-Efficient,1997.html

It's a pity AMD doesn't run at 1.6GHz...60% more power than the 1.0GHz would be great.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: nite_man on August 19, 2008, 03:28:24 pm
Sure Andrew, you know better :) I just found that review and thought that AMD Athlon 64 2000+ is good.
Title: Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
Post by: purps on August 19, 2008, 04:05:09 pm
Sorry for the lack of replies guys, have been moving house all this week.

Look at HFX chassis if you want a completely silent machine.
http://www.mcubed-tech.com/english/index.htm

I had a little look at these, but my main concern is the cost, not to mention the dimensions.

Quote
Has anyone considered the eeePCs as alternative?

My main issue with this is the lack of DVI and TV out, as you mentioned. The lack of processing power is also a slight concern.

Quote
The MythTV guys have been using MacMini's for slim clients.

I don't think that I'd get on very well with these due to the problems with PXE booting. I also don't believe $700 to be THAT cheap! Furthermore, I'm assuming that with that much power, it won't be fanless either.

Quote
According to THG tests (http://tinyurl.com/69aczv) the newest AMD Athlon  64 2000+ is much better then Intel Atom 230:

Now THAT is what I'm talking about! Will definitely look into this further. Gives you the freedom to choose your own motherboard, and therefore graphics, video ports, sound, etc. The only downside that I can see is the larger foot print, but I don't think that will effect the thickness of the design TOO much, which is the main thing. I would definitely be up for giving this a go. What about the PSU though? With the idea of keeping the whole thing fanless, could you use something like this? - http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=15 - Could you get away with a 60 W one perhaps?

The only other option that I can see at the moment, is to use the mini-ITX board that I mentioned previously (http://www.icp-epia.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=186), but in conjunction with a 90 degree riser card and a cheep and cheerful nVidia card. It would keep the thickness and the cost down, and when (or if) the VIA drivers catch up, simply do away with the riser and graphics card. Would this work?