Author Topic: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated  (Read 1373 times)

Asgaroth

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« on: June 20, 2008, 01:46:47 pm »
Hi All,

I have been lurking around this forum for a couple weeks now and have finally decided to take the plunge into the wonderfull world of LinuxMCE!

I currently have a digital cable tv subscription and, from what I understand, the best approach to using this with LMCE is to have the set top box/digibox plug into a TV tuner card of some sort LMCE to distribute around the house.

I also have 2 VoIP phones (Cisco 7960/ Siemens C450) which I hope to integrate into the LMCE experience. I further intend to obtain a couple more phones for the other two rooms I have here.

My goal is to get rid of my current panasonic home theater, xbox (which I use to watch encoded movies et al) and replace this with LMCE.

I have been reading through the forums and have noticed some compatibility issues but I've also noticed that alot of users seem to be having success with the nVidia 7100 range of cards and as such I have tried to select a motherboard with this type of card integrated onto it.

I would like to build this system initially as a hybrid which will live in the lounge (so needs to look relatively pretty) and once I have that all up and running I will tackle the media distributors in the rooms :) I would also like, if possible, for the system to last me for a couple years, so suggestions on the TV tuner type would be greatly appreciated.

The hardware that I have in mind at the moment is as follows (with links for you to look at if need be):

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Motherboard
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ABIT I-N73HD
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=343412

OR

EVGA nForce-630i+GF7150, DDR2, m-ATX, Socket-775, HDMI/HDCP, GbLAN, PCI-Ex16
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=341858

OR

MSI P6NGM-FD
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=342186


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CPU
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=330169

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Memory
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OCZ Platinum DDR2 PC6400 4096MB KIT, w/two 2048MB PC6400 XTC, CL5-5-5-4
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=339129

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TV Tuner Card
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hauppauge WinTV HVR 4000
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(16553)Hauppauge-WinTV-HVR-4000-DVB-S2-DVB-S-DVB.aspx

Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(14168)Hauppauge-WinTV-PVR-500-MCE-Kit-Dual-TV-Recorder.aspx
http://www.expansys.ie/d.aspx?i=161146

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hard Disks
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 x Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB SATA2 16MB 7200RPM
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=338942

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DVD Drive
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LG DVD±RW-burner, GGC-H20L, Blu-Ray & HD-DVD Reader
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=347330

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CASE
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Silverstone Grandia GD01-MXR
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=331861

OR

Thermaltake Mozart SX w/medialab & VFD
http://www.komplett.ie/k/ki.aspx?sku=325043

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What I would appreciate is if you guru's could take a look at the motherboard, case and tv card sections and offer some opinions as to which of the options I have is the better option for LMCE. I do understand that my milage may vary with regards the hardware, but I've tried to stick with chipsets that have been mentioned to work in the forums.

Any additional constructive comments appreciated, also, if you have a better solution to the kit listed above, please feel free to point me in the correct direction.

Thanks
Asgaroth
« Last Edit: June 20, 2008, 05:47:56 pm by Asgaroth »

Asgaroth

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2008, 04:32:56 pm »
One more thing cropped up in my mind too..

I have a couple VHS tapes that I would like to archive digitally. Is it possible to copy these tapes onto a hard drive if I have a VHS capable video-machine?

jondecker76

  • Alumni
  • wants to work for LinuxMCE
  • *
  • Posts: 763
    • View Profile
Re: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2008, 04:44:12 pm »
I would hold off on an HD capture card at this point. Their support is just now trickling its way through linux - so it would be a good idea to stick to what works well (Hauppauge PVR-150's and PVR-500s for example)

You can record your VCR's output with an analogue  capture card (one listed above if you want) so that isn't a problem.

Also, I would suggest spending as much as your budget as you can on hard drive space. I bought 1 500GB drive and 3 1TB drives when I first started - I can't believe how fast I filled them up! Plus, the fewer hard drives, the better - so in that case if you only want 1TB of space, I would suggest doing it with a single 1TB drive rather than 2 500GB drives (trust me, when you want to upgrade later you will be glad you spent a few extra dollars on a single bigger drive). Bottom line is, the fewer disks you have, the less noise, power, heat... etc you have to deal with, along with saving space and ports in your core.

As far as motherboards, I use an Asus M2NPV-VM with an AMD BE-2400 processor and 2 GB ram and I am very satisfied with it. I have 4 MD's total, and have never had a problem with system lag while ripping 3 discs at a time and streaming video to all 4 MD's.

On the MD end, one of my machines is an old Pentium 1.5 GHZ with no hard drive and only 256 MB of ram with an NVidia 5200 -handles 720p like a dream (never tried 1080)

Asgaroth

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2008, 06:07:27 pm »
I would hold off on an HD capture card at this point. Their support is just now trickling its way through linux - so it would be a good idea to stick to what works well (Hauppauge PVR-150's and PVR-500s for example)

Thanks for the info. I've updated my initial post and included a PVR-500 as the TV tuner card.

You can record your VCR's output with an analogue  capture card (one listed above if you want) so that isn't a problem.

Excellent!! I have some classics on VHS that I was worried would gather dust and die a lonely death over the years.

Also, I would suggest spending as much as your budget as you can on hard drive space. I bought 1 500GB drive and 3 1TB drives when I first started - I can't believe how fast I filled them up! Plus, the fewer hard drives, the better - so in that case if you only want 1TB of space, I would suggest doing it with a single 1TB drive rather than 2 500GB drives (trust me, when you want to upgrade later you will be glad you spent a few extra dollars on a single bigger drive). Bottom line is, the fewer disks you have, the less noise, power, heat... etc you have to deal with, along with saving space and ports in your core.

Thanks I'll bear that in mind.

I specified 2 x 500GB drives to use in a mirrored configuration for the boot drive, and possibly to store photo albums and, judging by the MAME sticky, some MAME roms later down the line.

Will LMCE be able to mirror the disks on initial installation?

I have already bought a DNS-323 NAS device with 2 x 1TB disks in a mirrored configuration for storing the movies on. I'm not sure what the opinion of others are, but I think it's a little easier to store the movies on NAS type devices rather than locally on the box as it makes for easier upgrades. If you want to add more space, just hook another NAS device in to the network :)

How does LMCE handle network attached storage though? If I'm not mistaken the D-Link DNS-323 shares out the volumes using samba :/ although, its also able to share it out using a uPnP AV server which is built in, I guess this option does not help recording to disk though :/

As far as motherboards, I use an Asus M2NPV-VM with an AMD BE-2400 processor and 2 GB ram and I am very satisfied with it. I have 4 MD's total, and have never had a problem with system lag while ripping 3 discs at a time and streaming video to all 4 MD's.

This is the problem I had when looking for a motherboard. The ones that are reported to work well I cannot seem to find here in Ireland. I assume this is because the product is discontinued. So I tried to stick with motherboards that have the same or similar chipsets. I also tried to get motherboards that had a decent video card integrated and from what I've read so far they nVidia 71xx range seem to work pretty well from what I've seen. I really would like to keep the display adapter onboard rather than take up another PCI-E slot as the m-ATX motherboards in my list only have 1 x PCI-E x16 slot, 1 x PCI-E x1 and 2 PCI slots.

On the MD end, one of my machines is an old Pentium 1.5 GHZ with no hard drive and only 256 MB of ram with an NVidia 5200 -handles 720p like a dream (never tried 1080)

This is good to know, at least, when I get around to building the MD's I dont have to worry about forking out too much money.

I'd like to get this hybrid as future proofed as I can, leaving a slot or two open for later expansion if need be.

Thanks for the info though, much appreciated.

If we could come to a general consensus on the motherboards/cases above I could go ahead and order the stuff. I do understand that there is no guarentee that the motherboard will work 100% with LMCE, but an informed opinion based on the above list would be appreciated. Dont worry, I wont come and hunt you down if it doesnt work 100% At least its a start :) Personally, I have been using MSI motherboards for all my PC's and I swear by them so I am leaning towards the MSI more so than the others. But I am open to suggestions.

jondecker76

  • Alumni
  • wants to work for LinuxMCE
  • *
  • Posts: 763
    • View Profile
Re: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2008, 06:34:11 pm »
LMCE should handle your NAS just fine. To give it a perfectly integrated feeling, when it is detected have it "Use LinuxMCE's file structure".

Wish I could help with the other hardware.
Have you checked the wiki?

RhunDraco

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
Re: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2008, 07:10:22 pm »
Here's my current hardware setup (but please keep in mind I do not have LMCE running on it, just MythTV on Ubuntu 8.04 64-bit):

Mobo:  EVGA e-7150/630i (112-CK-NF77-A1)
CPU:  Pentium 4 631 3.0 gHz w/stock fan (loud as heck when screen saver is running or encoding/decoding)
Case:  Antec nsk2480
Ram:  2GB OCZ Gold Enhanced Latency
DVD:  Plextor DVD Burner (can't recall model ATM)
HDD:  2x500GB Western Digital Green drives (low power consumption, low noise but no NCQ, which I think has negatively affected perf)
Tuner: Dvico FusionHDTV 7 RT Gold - yes, it works, but after a recent update of software on my Ubuntu 8.04 box, is no longer recognized;  will have to troubleshoot.
Audio: onboard; for some reason only optical digital out would work from the MOBO, coaxial would not.
Video: onboard, using HDMI out
TV:  Panasonic 42" Plasma HDTV (TH-42PZ80U); not ideal for connectivity with LMCE, but a beautiful picture.

Notes:

When I first attempted to use LMCE (installed while waiting for tuner to arrive), I was able to get GUI2 w/Transparency working from the onboard video @ 1080p and it was quite nice but VERY slow.  GUI2 with Overlay was very fast and seems perfectly usable.

With the Dvico tuner, I was testing capturing HDTV content and it looked great, but I experienced frequent glitches (not sure of exact terminology) which made the recorded shows impossible to watch.  I'm not sure about the exact cause of the problems ATM, but I'm thinking it's caused by the lack of NCQ on the hard drives.  Just a hunch.

I use a PS3 for my Blu-Ray viewing and have audio routed out from optical (from both the PS3 and the HTPC) to an Onkyo-based home theater setup.  Sounds awesome!

I will likely reinstall LMCE this weekend, seeing as I have more experience with getting the various components working under regular Ubuntu.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2008, 07:26:24 pm by RhunDraco »

Asgaroth

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: New LMC User - Hardware Opinions Appreciated
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2008, 03:42:17 am »
Hi All,

I've gone ahead and ordered the following kit to get started.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Motherboard = XFX nForce-630i+GF7150, DDR2, m-ATX, Socket-775, DVI/HDMI/HDCP, PCI-Ex16
CPU            = Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz Socket LGA775, 8MB
Memory       = Crucial DDR2 PC6400 4096MB CL6
Case           = Antec Fusion 430 Silver, 430w PSU, HTPC,
Hard Disks    = 2 x Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB SATA2 16MB 7200RPM
TV Tuner     = Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T 500 Dual digital DVB-T PCI TV card
DVD Drive    = LG Electronics Blu-Ray/HD DVD-ROM COMBO 16x DVD+/-RW Retail BLK
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll let you know how I get on with the installation once the parts arrive. Wish me luck :)

Any recommendations on a remote that I can use with LMCE?

Thanks
Asgaroth