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205 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 35690 14-Jun-2009 18:08
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Hi All,

  Here are my experiences with my HTPC build using the following components:  These will probably equally apply to other mATX 8300 boards, as they may all be based on the same reference design.

*  Phenom x3 8650 with stock HSF
*  4GB DDR-2 1066Mhz Corsair RAM
*  Asus M3N78-EM AM2+ Motherboards with the Nvidia 8300 Chipset
*  Antec Fusion V2 HTPC case.
*  Windows 7 RC7100
*  Hauppauge WinTV Nova T 500 HD PCI Dual Tuner TV Receiver now substituted with an HVR-3000

  Hopefully will be helpful to someone contemplating the same kind of system.


1)  W7 on this motherboard with the Nova-T 500 JUST DOESN'T WORK.
-    You can install and use Windows 7 just fine without the card in.  However, as soon as you insert the card, it tries to unsuccessfully install the USB interface between the PCI slot and the two tuner chips over and over again. Usually this results in a BSOD.  The PC starts again, the PCI USB interface tries installing again - BSOD - rinse repeat.
  If you try installing Windows 7 with the card in place, it never completes the installaton.  It gets up to the point where the device drivers get installed and stalls there.  I know it is this point because the display drivers go in first and the screen blanks out for a second or two before continuing on.
  If you replace the card with a HVR-3000 (also PCI based), it runs just fine.

  Yes, Windows 7 does indeed have a BSOD!

2)  Don't be fooled by the extended periods of time the Windows 7 installation process takes doing nothing.  This will catch a lot of people out as they will think their system has stalled.  Once it gets up to the point where it starts copying system files it actually starts to move pretty quickly.  On a reasonable system you should get through the two slowest sections, waiting for the drive selection menu and the menu for the installation options, in about 15 minutes.  Have patience.
  This is going to catch a lot of people out, especially if they have experience installing other beta's or the RC in a Virtual Environement, as these delays do not occur there.
  MS really need to do something to show that the processes are running in the background, otherwise they are going to get a lot of people resetting their systems thinking it has stalled.

3)  Drivers to use.
Use the Asus Vista chipset drivers, but install them using the nvidia setup.exe from within the setup folder.  The Asus installation app erreroneously tells you that the drivers are incompatible with Windows 7 and premeturely terminates.  Run Windows Update afterwards to complete the process.

-  Nvidia have some v185 Windows 7 drivers which are compatible with the 8300.  Download and install these as they are stable and pretty good.

4)  The Nvidia 8300 chipset with the v185 drivers for Windows 7 can decode Freeview DVB-T signals onboard @ below 7% CPU utilisation.  Most of the time it is well below that, averaging between 3-4% .  No extra graphics card is required for decoding if this motherboard is used.

5)  The TV needs to be turned on before the PC starts.
-  If the computer starts before the TV, it defaults to either the DVI-D or the VGA output and you get no display on the screen. There doesn't seem to be a setting in the BIOS to set the default.
-  Resuming from sleep is fine, as Windows 7 is smart enough to just send the signal to the last functional output.  Overall this is a non-issue, as because it is a HTPC it will be be in Sleep mode about 99% of the time, and anytime it needs to get restarted, I'll be initiating the process anyway.

6)  Weirdness with MP3 playback.
If you play MP3s through your media library in MCE, stop the playback then swtich to using live TV, the pc is unable to gain access of the DVB-T card.  It sits there telling you the adapter is in use.  The only way of regaining TV functionality is by rebooting the box.

7)  The Phenom x3 8650 on this board and in this case is a very good combination.
-  It is reasonably powerful and there are a lot of combo deals available at various retailers for around $359+ including CPU, Mobo and 2Gb of RAM.  Plus you save the $100-130 or so on the graphics card, as all the DVB-T decoding is done onboard.
- Under load the CPU sits at around 35C with all the fans turned down low and very quiet.
-  The stock AMD HSF is pretty quiet, although to make it even quieter I will be looking for another 80mm PWM fan with FDB bearings to replace this one as a direct replacement.

8)  The iMon software which runs the VFD Display on the front of most Antec cases is good.
Once you have the new 7.6 version from the Soundgraph website which supports Windows 7, it works like a dream with very little configuration required.  All the appropriate info about the MCE screens you are in comes up on the display without any configuration necessary.

9)  The standard Hauppauge remote is not an Media Centre remote.
-  Forget any thoughts you may have about trying to get your bundled remote working with Media Centre (unless you've actually got a Hauppauge MCE remote, which is different from the standard one).  The standard remote won't work. There are Media Centre remotes available for as little as $35. Get one.
-  If you are going to be shelling out $35 for a remote anyway, why not spend an extra $30 and you can get a universal one which can replace a number of other remotes at the same time.  Most people have one or more of the following as well:  a Home Theatre, TV, DVD player, Blue Ray, AMP, CD Player. $65-80 will allow you just to carry one around instead of 3-4.

10)  Big Screen EPG and xmlTVNZ are essential for getting your 8 dayTV guide up and running in MCE.
-  After a donation to Reven at http://www.reven.co.nz/ you will be granted access to the beta version of xmlTVNZ.  This very handy tool downloads all the Program Guide information for all your channels from a number of sources then drops them into a TVGuide.xml file.  The www.reven.co.nz even has an automated command builder to help you with this process.
-  Sign up with www.bigscreenglobal.com and you can get access to the the .04 beta version of Big Screen EPG.  This picks up the tvguide.xml file you created with the previous tool and drops it into the MCE database to populate your 8 day Electronic Program Guide.  Just remember to make sure that when you set up the channnels in the configuration tool, that the channel names must match what you see in MCE EXACTLY, otherwise the data will not be imported correctly.


If anyone can tell me how I can set up both DVB-S nd DVB-T channels simultanouely in MCE I would appreciate it.  Every time I do a rescan on both, the DVB-S versions of the Freeview channels get knocked out and I get left with DVB-T Freeview and a crap load of unusuable aussie satelite channels.  You should be able to do it because you can set the preference in MCE for multiple sources.  Unless you can't and the multple sources need to be separate cards. . . . .

INSPECTOR GADGET

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3 posts

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 227993 24-Jun-2009 15:27
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Thanks for the detailed post.  I have a very similar setup, which I'm still working on. I use Phenom X4 9550 with a Sycthe Suriken heat sink.  I'm using the Haupage HVR4000 which works well on DVB-S, my receiption isnt good enuf to pick up DVB-T.

I did update the M3N78-EM mother board BIOS from the ASUS site

I've found that live TV is using <7% CPU as you have noted. Watching one of my 1080p MKV i've had is using around 25% CPU running mostly on a single core.  I wonder if that can be improved?


I've found the mother board can run reasonable hot (hotter than my CPU by a few degrees), I think it got upto about 49C after a 2 hour movie. That would be my only concern. It running a very small case - Lian Li PC35. Also in hind sight I probably should have got a more energy effient CPU, the 9550 is rated 95W.


P.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 228613 26-Jun-2009 17:26
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jhad:
I've found that live TV is using <7% CPU as you have noted. Watching one of my 1080p MKV i've had is using around 25% CPU running mostly on a single core.  I wonder if that can be improved?


Does the 8300 support nvidia CUDA? If so Coreavc will be able to offload that to the board for h264 video (not that 25% is high or anything anyway):)

 
 
 
 




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Master Geek


  Reply # 228656 26-Jun-2009 19:27
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WaffleMakerMan:
jhad:
I've found that live TV is using <7% CPU as you have noted. Watching one of my 1080p MKV i've had is using around 25% CPU running mostly on a single core.  I wonder if that can be improved?


Does the 8300 support nvidia CUDA? If so Coreavc will be able to offload that to the board for h264 video (not that 25% is high or anything anyway):)


Essentially the 8300 is the same as the 8400 chip you will find in discrete graphics boards.  It is CUDA capable.  However it only has 16 stream processors, so it pales in comparison to some of the other chips which have close to 100.  The question then becomes is 25% CPU utilisation enough of a concern to spend US$14.95 for the Coreavc codec?



  I've fixed a few issues with this box.  The problem with the MP3s was sorted out by resetting all the internal media databases in the user profile.  Once this was done it readded everything correctly.

  I'm using the latest BIOS for this mobo, but that never seemed to make a difference with the problem with the HVR-500.

  I've ended up reverting to the DVB-S at the moment, as the landlord is in the process of sorting out a new aerial. It also save me having to do the nightly imports of the xmltvnz data.

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  Reply # 228677 26-Jun-2009 21:20
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InspectorGadget:
WaffleMakerMan:
jhad:
I've found that live TV is using <7% CPU as you have noted. Watching one of my 1080p MKV i've had is using around 25% CPU running mostly on a single core.  I wonder if that can be improved?


Does the 8300 support nvidia CUDA? If so Coreavc will be able to offload that to the board for h264 video (not that 25% is high or anything anyway):)


Essentially the 8300 is the same as the 8400 chip you will find in discrete graphics boards.  It is CUDA capable.  However it only has 16 stream processors, so it pales in comparison to some of the other chips which have close to 100.  The question then becomes is 25% CPU utilisation enough of a concern to spend US$14.95 for the Coreavc codec?



you're probably getting offload with the 1080p mkv's too - you might find that coreavc makes no difference.  All my mkv's, m2ts files etc are getting offloaded to the GPU - i have an athlon 3500+ and only ever goes over 15% when playing mpegs.. i only have an 8400GS card in it




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Twitter: @nzregs


3 posts

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 228777 27-Jun-2009 14:26
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jhad:
I've found that live TV is using <7% CPU as you have noted. Watching one of my 1080p MKV i've had is using around 25% CPU running mostly on a single core.  I wonder if that can be improved?


I wrote that a few days after my HDD had died and was quoting from memory, not sure thats it correct now that I've done a rebuild. It was probably more like 17% which I'm getting now. And 25% for decoding a 11gb MKV file I'm pretty happy with.

For the life of me I can't seem to find a good setup for decoding DVB-S live TV.  I should I witten down my original setup.  I'm experiencing stutter/tearing with sound and video depending on what codecs I'm using.

e.g.
If I use Cyberlink codecs from PowerDVD8 the picture is great but the screen with tear and sound will stutter

If I use ffdshow codecs with deinterlacing I'll get artifacts? and sound is almost ok.

If I use fddshow codec with no deinterlacing I get stutter on video and sound.

(I'm using GB-PVR btw)


InspectorGadget - what PVR software and codecs are you using? or is this question irrlevant for Windows 7?

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 228787 27-Jun-2009 15:35
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Have you tried splitting the codecs like using PDVD for video and somthing else for audio

The Nvidia 8300 chipset with the v185 drivers for Windows 7 can decode Freeview DVB-T signals onboard @ below 7% CPU utilisation. Most of the time it is well below that, averaging between 3-4% . No extra graphics card is required for decoding if this motherboard is used.


I have a AMD X2 5000+ and cannot do freeview HD (sample files) onboard, is that because of the CPU not being Phenom? This is using XP though maybe thats it?

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Master Geek


  Reply # 228805 27-Jun-2009 17:07
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InspectorGadget:
1)  W7 on this motherboard with the Nova-T 500 JUST DOESN'T WORK.
-    You can install and use Windows 7 just fine without the card in.  However, as soon as you insert the card, it tries to unsuccessfully install the USB interface between the PCI slot and the two tuner chips over and over again. Usually this results in a BSOD.  The PC starts again, the PCI USB interface tries installing again - BSOD - rinse repeat.
  If you try installing Windows 7 with the card in place, it never completes the installaton.  It gets up to the point where the device drivers get installed and stalls there.  I know it is this point because the display drivers go in first and the screen blanks out for a second or two before continuing on.
  If you replace the card with a HVR-3000 (also PCI based), it runs just fine.

  Yes, Windows 7 does indeed have a BSOD!


Out of interest, the problem here is the VIA host controller (VT6212L) on the Nova-T 500. Replacing the W7 driver for this pretty much fix's the issue entirely.

My work around was to first install W7 without the Nov-T 500. Then replace the VIA controller driver (usbehci.sys) located in system32 directory, with one from a Vista install. Once thats done, its now safe to install the Nova-T 500 and all should work the way its meant too.



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Master Geek


  Reply # 228842 27-Jun-2009 20:51
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FreddyK:
InspectorGadget:
1)  W7 on this motherboard with the Nova-T 500 JUST DOESN'T WORK.
-    You can install and use Windows 7 just fine without the card in.  However, as soon as you insert the card, it tries to unsuccessfully install the USB interface between the PCI slot and the two tuner chips over and over again. Usually this results in a BSOD.  The PC starts again, the PCI USB interface tries installing again - BSOD - rinse repeat.
  If you try installing Windows 7 with the card in place, it never completes the installaton.  It gets up to the point where the device drivers get installed and stalls there.  I know it is this point because the display drivers go in first and the screen blanks out for a second or two before continuing on.
  If you replace the card with a HVR-3000 (also PCI based), it runs just fine.

  Yes, Windows 7 does indeed have a BSOD!


Out of interest, the problem here is the VIA host controller (VT6212L) on the Nova-T 500. Replacing the W7 driver for this pretty much fix's the issue entirely.

My work around was to first install W7 without the Nov-T 500. Then replace the VIA controller driver (usbehci.sys) located in system32 directory, with one from a Vista install. Once thats done, its now safe to install the Nova-T 500 and all should work the way its meant too.


  Cheers FreddyK!

  That's very interesting indeed.  I'll have to give this a go when the landlord installs the new aerial.

jhad:

InspectorGadget - what PVR software and codecs are you using? or is this question irrlevant for Windows 7?


  I'm using MCE built into W7.  W7 natively supports 264, unlike any previous MS OS.  I have installed a codec pack for maximum campatibility with my collection of media files, but this went on after I was sure everything was working on DVB-T and DVB-S 

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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 235450 15-Jul-2009 07:39
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jhad:
Watching one of my 1080p MKV i've had is using around 25% CPU running mostly on a single core.  I wonder if that can be improved?


Hi, I have noticed the same thing too on my HTPC with windows MCE 2005: I have tried with different codecs (MPCVideo, purecodec2008, AVCCore) and different players (MPC-HC and The K mplayer) but I always get the 25-30% of CPU consumed by kernel time in fact the core temperatures are not encreasing so it seems the cpu is not really computing. In addition this CPU usage continues even if I pause the player and it stops only when I close it.
I do not know if this is the cause of some stuttering video every now and then or even video completely out of sync.
I even tried vista 64 and Seven 64 but I am unable to get a real good x264/mkv playback: I am suspecting of some issues with the video driver and the HDMI audio driver.
Anybody has any comments?
Thanks

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  Reply # 235636 15-Jul-2009 13:29
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  I'm using MCE built into W7.  W7 natively supports 264, unlike any previous MS OS.  I have installed a codec pack for maximum campatibility with my collection of media files, but this went on after I was sure everything was working on DVB-T and DVB-S 


biggest problem here?  "codec pack".  these typically install and register themselves to play everything on your machine. If you want absolute control over what plays which file then you should install each codec manually and only choose the options you require.

I have windows 7 running everything natively except that I installed a single extra item- haali splitter so that mkv files work (i also had to load registry entries for the mkv files to work in MCE)

NOTE: when I installed haali splitter I manually unchecked the MPEG-TS/PS option as it was screwing up the playback of .mts HD video files off my panasonic HD video camera.

Q: AVCHD playback/editing is broken in some software after install the splitter
A: Disable MPEG-TS/PS support when installing the splitter.



Regs




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Twitter: @nzregs




205 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 235864 15-Jul-2009 22:12
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Regs:

biggest problem here?  "codec pack".  these typically install and register themselves to play everything on your machine. If you want absolute control over what plays which file then you should install each codec manually and only choose the options you require.




  Cheers for the reply Regs.

  I should have stated what I actually did with the codec pack.  I am quite careful about what I actually install with these things as I have seen them go horribly wrong on other machines before.  Generally I only install xvid, divx, matroska, directshow and ffdshow with their default settings.  This is more than adequate to correctly play about 99% of whats out there.  Anything else I go and source separately.

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