Author Topic: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics  (Read 4430 times)

purps

  • NEEDS to work for LinuxMCE
  • ***
  • Posts: 1396
  • If it ain't broke, tweak it
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #15 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?
1004 RC :: looking good :: upgraded 01/04/2013
my setup :: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Purps

niz23

  • Guru
  • ****
  • Posts: 361
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #16 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

darrenmason

  • Addicted
  • *
  • Posts: 529
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2008, 01:42:17 am »
Thsi website may be of use

http://www.silentpcreview.com/

Monkgs

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #18 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). 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) 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.


Monkgs

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #19 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.


Domodude

  • Guest
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #20 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.

nite_man

  • NEEDS to work for LinuxMCE
  • ***
  • Posts: 1019
  • Want to work with LinuxMCE
    • View Profile
    • Smart Home Blog
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #21 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!
Michael Stepanov,
My setup: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Nite_man#New_setup
Russian LinuxMCE community: http://linuxmce.ru

Monkgs

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #22 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.


totallymaxed

  • LinuxMCE God
  • ****
  • Posts: 4463
  • Smart Home Consulting
    • View Profile
    • Dianemo - at home with technology
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #23 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
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd

My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Get RaspSqueeze-CEC Wifi enabled for Dianemo/LinuxMCE: http://wp.me/P4KgIc-7C

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, inquiries@ellipticalcurve.com via email or PM me here.

Get a Dianemo License: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.msg100221#msg100221
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dianemo-Home-Automation/226019387454465

Sales & Info:
http://www.dianemo.co.uk

nite_man

  • NEEDS to work for LinuxMCE
  • ***
  • Posts: 1019
  • Want to work with LinuxMCE
    • View Profile
    • Smart Home Blog
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #24 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?
Michael Stepanov,
My setup: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Nite_man#New_setup
Russian LinuxMCE community: http://linuxmce.ru

nite_man

  • NEEDS to work for LinuxMCE
  • ***
  • Posts: 1019
  • Want to work with LinuxMCE
    • View Profile
    • Smart Home Blog
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2008, 02:22:32 pm »
According to THG tests (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.
Michael Stepanov,
My setup: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Nite_man#New_setup
Russian LinuxMCE community: http://linuxmce.ru

totallymaxed

  • LinuxMCE God
  • ****
  • Posts: 4463
  • Smart Home Consulting
    • View Profile
    • Dianemo - at home with technology
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2008, 02:47:43 pm »
According to THG tests (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
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd

My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Get RaspSqueeze-CEC Wifi enabled for Dianemo/LinuxMCE: http://wp.me/P4KgIc-7C

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, inquiries@ellipticalcurve.com via email or PM me here.

Get a Dianemo License: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.msg100221#msg100221
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dianemo-Home-Automation/226019387454465

Sales & Info:
http://www.dianemo.co.uk

marrandy

  • Guru
  • ****
  • Posts: 162
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #27 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.

nite_man

  • NEEDS to work for LinuxMCE
  • ***
  • Posts: 1019
  • Want to work with LinuxMCE
    • View Profile
    • Smart Home Blog
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #28 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.
Michael Stepanov,
My setup: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Nite_man#New_setup
Russian LinuxMCE community: http://linuxmce.ru

purps

  • NEEDS to work for LinuxMCE
  • ***
  • Posts: 1396
  • If it ain't broke, tweak it
    • View Profile
Re: DIY slim client for use as media director (1.75") - Graphics
« Reply #29 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?
1004 RC :: looking good :: upgraded 01/04/2013
my setup :: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Purps