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58 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 84347 29-May-2011 06:05
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Hi All,

After using the Patriot Box Office with some success, but ongoing problems with distortion and codec issues, I've decided to resort to a good HTPC build.  Here's what I'm proposing.

Desired Functionality:
- 1080p Playback
- Network/LAN
- Media Playback from Internal HDD
- Record Terrestrial HD TV
- Record Sky Satellite via RCA Input

Proposed Setup:
HVR-1110 PCI Tuner (HD Free to Air via Antenna, Sky Satellite via RCA Input)
Zotac IONITX F Motherboard
A1-8989 Mini ITX case with full sized card expansion slot (for the HVR-1100)

Grey Areas requiring clarification:
- I'm assuming the PCI HVR-1110 will operate correctly in the PCIe x16 slot?
- Is the HVR-1110 going to do the job of decoding the HD signal?
  - If not, will the ION cut the mustard without excessive CPU Load?
    - If not, any suggestions on a replacement card, or any success with USB tuners that do their own decoding?
      - If so, there's no need for me to use the F-E series of motherboard, as I have only chosen this one because of the PCI-E slot for the PCI tuner.
- Will the bundled PSU of the A1-8989 case (Real Power 150W, 200W max) be sufficient?

Thanks in advance for your assistance :)

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 475319 29-May-2011 08:07
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The CPU in ION motherboards is pretty weak, so you'll find your machine is unable to keep up with recording analog from your HVR-1110. This device has no hardware encoder, so uses the CPU for this task. Hauppauge (and others) typically recommend a P4 2.8GHz or higher CPU to record analog. The Atom processor is way too slow for this task.

You could go with a HVR-2200, which is dual tuner, each capable of either analog or DVB-T, and with analog hardware MPEG-2 encoders.

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  Reply # 475332 29-May-2011 09:12
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The HD signal is not decoded by the tuner card. It is just a stream which passes though it onto the HDD. You need very little computer power for that part of the job. On the other hand you do need a video card which can handle decoding the stream keeping the load off the CPU.
On the other hand dealing with analogue does take a lot of work. I would strongly recommend getting tuner that will do hardware encoding of the analogue. The 2200 as already suggested is a good option. The other reason I would suggest a hardware encoding is that my experience has been that software decoding results in a very average picture. Even with hardware encoding do not expect the quality to be as good as the original feed.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

 
 
 
 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 475424 29-May-2011 14:14
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ION is fine to decode HD, as long as that is the only purpose of the system then Atom will be fine e.g. not going to use it to play games or encode media.

What OS are you planning to use? If Windows then I would grab a E350 from AMD, the whole package is better. Atom is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, and even when coupled with ION the Fusion combo from AMD is still better, probably cheaper also.

Consider one of these:

http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=396095

And No the PCI tuner will not work in a PCIe slot, it wont physically fit and if you did get it in there some how it would cause all kinds of bad things.

The power supply if probably pretty crap, but you don't need much power for this sort of setup, alternatively consider a PicoPSU.



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Master Geek


  Reply # 475468 29-May-2011 17:01
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Thanks for the feedback guys.  Unfortunately, you've contradicted everything I researched last night, lol.

I decided on the ION based on the Acer Aspire Revo which have had many reports of success as well as the Zotac Zbox's which also use these chipsets.  I guess what I didn't take in account was transcoding the HD stream, whereas these units are primarily built for playback only.

So, first step is to upgrade to a HVR-2200 as suggested.  I'm happy with that, as it's got a nice little $140 price tag.

The graphics capability of the ION for playback I thought was sufficient as demo'd here under "Watch the ION in Action", as well as minor gaming.  If AMD has a bigger bang for buck with their E350 chipset, then my new set up would look like this:

- HVR-2200 PCI-e Tuner @ $140
- GA-E350N-USB3 Motherboard w/ HD6310 graphics core @ $238.05
- A1-8989 or similar ITX case now that I'm not limited to a full-profile tuner. @ $84.53
- 2x 2GB DDR3 1066 modules @ $65.28

I'd be running this on Win7 x64 Home Premium, as I really can't find anything that compares to Windows Media Center - it just works.  I may have a play with Media Portal at some stage too.

How does the updated spec sound?

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  Reply # 475481 29-May-2011 17:39
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ION is fine, more than fine and very popular with ALOT of HTPC builders, its just that in the last 6 months AMD has release the E350 which is simply a better product. Many of the sites that rave about the Revo or Zbox are probably simply out of date, the other factor to take into consideration is that the number of AMD nettops on the market still doesnt compare with Atom simply because of time, Atom has been around a lot longer.

Theres an interesting article on Engadget today claiming that demand for the Fusion chips is greater than supply, which I would tend to believe.

The only instance where ION is superior is Linux support, under Linux the E350 is hit and miss while ION is rock solid. If you are choosing Windows then don't even hesitate making the switch.

Both ION and Fusion are more than capable of playing back HD due to work done by the GPU, however the analogue capture of your Sky signal can't be done by the GPU and while not as intensive as HD its probably enough to make an Atom or Fusion chip sweat.



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Master Geek


  Reply # 475547 29-May-2011 19:38
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Thanks PANiCnz, your comments were very unbiased towards the age old Intel vs AMD debate.

Sounds like the E350 is a superior product, and $70 cheaper than the F Series ION... and with running windows, it makes the decision a no brainer.

How's my RAM choice?

Were you saying the playback of the Analogue input from the satellite sky decoder, or the recording would be CPU intensive? Would it do the job, or impact performance severely? Any change in system configuration to counter it?

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 475553 29-May-2011 19:48
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Acropoli:

How's my RAM choice?

Were you saying the playback of the Analogue input from the satellite sky decoder, or the recording would be CPU intensive? Would it do the job, or impact performance severely? Any change in system configuration to counter it?


RAM should be fine, Kingston is a good brand. I've got an Atom motherboard that is very picky about memory and it works with Kingston.

Its been a while since I've done much capturing of analogue video, however I doubt there is little difference between the resources needed to capture vs those needed to record.

I'd think a E350 should suffice but I'm not expert on the matter.

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  Reply # 475597 29-May-2011 22:08
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Acropoli:
Were you saying the playback of the Analogue input from the satellite sky decoder, or the recording would be CPU intensive? Would it do the job, or impact performance severely? Any change in system configuration to counter it?


That is why you use the 2200.. means it will do all the work and leave the CPU to do other things.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

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  Reply # 475599 29-May-2011 22:19
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have you seen the threads on this site about getting a cardreader and recording/decoding the S-K-Y directly inside of media center? that is always an option and way better quality than the crappy RCA feed.




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58 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 475614 29-May-2011 23:45
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Regs: have you seen the threads on this site about getting a cardreader and recording/decoding the S-K-Y directly inside of media center? that is always an option and way better quality than the crappy RCA feed.

Hmm, actually I did see one thread about that when browsing.  I might have to take a look at that option.

So basically you'd insert your Sky Card into a Reader connected via USB, connect the satellite via DVB-S to the tuner, and away you go?  I'd much prefer that.  So I would then need a tuner card with both DVB-T and DVB-S?  Any recommendations on proven solutions?

I'll read up on the card reader threads and find out where to source one.



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Master Geek


  Reply # 475618 30-May-2011 01:08
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Well after a bit of research into the Sky Card Reader - I'm keen on attempting it, but will put that one on the one-day list for a while. I'll focus on getting the HTPC operational, then invest some time in the Card Reader later - it looks a bit daunting to try straight away.



58 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 475681 30-May-2011 10:06
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Oh for an edit button, lol. I'm assuming this comes after a number of posts.

Looks like the Sky Card Reader is not an option for me, I got excited when I found a USB version from Omnikey. We just had sky installed about 3 months ago, and unfortunately we've been given a gold card :( No direct sky input for me.

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