[mythtv-users] Re: Mini-ITX or standard PC?

Piers Kittel mythtv at biased.org
Wed Sep 29 14:00:56 EDT 2004


Jason, Phil, Micah, Adam and anyone else,

So it all boils down to:

EPIA and PVR 250/350 or forget it and go for an ATX mobo with an mobile 
XP processor?

Would a EPIA M 6000 with a PVR 350 be the best solution?  As far as I 
see through reading the "features" list, the only things that the XP 
processor will clearly be better for is transcoding, some games that 
uses up CPU power and adding more than 1 cards but nothing much else and 
uses up more electricity and generate more noise in general? 
Transcoding, fair enough, but I could leave the mythtv box to transcode 
overnight or something, I wouldn't play much games like 3D games - but 
probably old games, which would do OK on a 600Mhz C3?  Also the card I 
would put in would be the PVR350 so no room for owt else, but nowt else 
would be needed apart from a better graphics card, and it'd be a moot 
point due to the weak CPU power, and if I wanted 3D games I'd go for the 
XP board.

Thinking about the PVR350 - it has a TV-out and I assume I would plug 
the TV into the PVR350, but apart from the TV image, how would the VGA 
be displayed on the TV?  Would the PVR350 be able to do that?  Apart 
from the PVR350 being able to decode the MPEG2 stream, what is the diff 
between the 350 and the 250?  Are the remote controls supplied with 
those 2 any decent?

Once I've chosen the setup, choosing a case would be next - been 
drooling over the Silverstone LC04 case - has everything I need, but 
very disappointed that it can only hold 1 hard drive - is there any way 
to add in other hard drives?  Or I should just duct tape future 2nd and 
3rd hard drives onto the case? ;)  Expensive case though.  LC02 looks 
nice but needs a slimline drive which is .  So it looks like the 
Coolermaster ATC-620 is a good case - at least I can choose a nice quiet 
PSU to go with that one and be able to put in 4 hard drives.

Micah: Yeah the mini-itx route is excellent - i've already got 2 
mini-itx boards, a EPIA 5000 (the original one) as server (email, WWW, 
DNS, many others) and a PD6000 as an IPCop (firewall/VPN) box.  There's 
already an P4 mini-ITX board out for a while yet, 
http://www.itx-warehouse.co.uk/Product.aspx?ProductID=160

Thanks very much to everyone for all your help so far! :)  Much appreciated.

Cheers - Piers

Micah Wedemeyer wrote:
> I am currently building an Epia MII-10k based MythTV box, and I must warn you:
> it is pretty difficult.
> 
> Take all my advice with a grain of salt because I still have not *actually*
> used it with MythTV yet.  The closest I have done is to use mplayer to play
> back DVDs and mpeg clips.
> 
> Here are some things that I have found:
> * Getting on-board hardware MPEG decoding to work will be difficult.  There is
> a lot of information out there, but you will still have to stumble around...A
> LOT!  (I still don't really have it working...I don't think).  I only just
> recently was able to get mplayer to run using the "-vo xv" option.  I don't
> think it uses hardware decoding, but it plays mpeg-2 clips without frame-
> dropping at about 70% CPU utilization.
> 
> On this note, unless you are getting a PVR-350, I would strongly advise
> against anything under 1Ghz.  That way, if you cannot figure out the Epia on-
> board decoder, you can fall back on software decoding without too much
> trouble.  I have heard that the lower-speed Epia boards simply cannot play
> mpeg files at acceptable speeds.
> 
> Similarly, if you are not going to use hardware encoding (PVR-250 or 350) do
> not buy an Epia, period.  They are all simply too slow to do both encoding and
> decoding in software.
> 
> * The PCMCIA slot on the MII is really quirky (read: irritating as hell).
> Many do not get assigned memory addresses correctly, and many others (like
> mine) refuse to give power to the card in the slot, rendering it useless.
> This is a known problem, and people are working on it, but if you want
> wireless, you might need to get a USB adapter (I'm going to Best Buy tonight
> to get one).
> 
> * Some people complain about fan noise of the Epia 10k.  I attached a Zalman
> fanmate and dialed it down to 1/2.  I have found that mine is inaudible (to
> me) at 1m.  Then again, I'm not super sensitive and there is a lot of ambient
> noise (my apt building borders on a busy street).
> 
> * The Epia is just plain cool!  I really like mini-ITX form factor and it is
> perfect for PVR/set-top-box type applications.  Supposedly, there are mobile
> Pentium4 mini-ITX boards on the way, so hopefully, in the near future, there
> will be higher CPU horsepower options available.  However, the support under
> Linux is still a little shaky.  So, proceed at your own risk and be prepared
> for plenty of hiccups if you go with an Epia.
> 
> 
> I hope this helps.
> 
> Micah
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