[mythtv-users] Hardware Suggestion for under $1,000

Matt Goebel matt at goebelnet.com
Fri Dec 17 20:06:16 UTC 2010


My suggestions for hardware:

1. Any recent Intel/AMD processor will do.  I'd avoid the low powered ION and other stuff, too many playback issues.
2. 4GB+ of memory
3. Lower power/noise "green" drives.  They are cheap and almost silent and you'll have no problems recording and watching multiple HD streams off of them at the same time.  
4. NVidia 220 or better (stick with the supported 200 series though), with 5.1 or 7.1 HDMI sound.. You *REALLY* want to do VDPAU High quality and only the 220 or better will do that.  On an older HDTV you probably won't notice a difference, newer ones absolutely.  I saw a major improvement just going from a 210 (VDPAU standard) to 220.  Sound is a pain in the butt to get working on some of these cards but worth the effort.  Do your homework before you pick a specific card, a fan is fine as long as it's low noise.   Disable your onboard audio when you're done and just run HDMI to the TV/receiver.
5. A nice case!  I love my nMediaPC 5000B and 6000B cases.  Fantastic looking, easy to work with, lots of room, quiet, and cheap!  If you go that route get the addon LCD...  It's easy to setup and get working with Myth and besides looking really slick is actually very useful.
6. A nice remote.  I bought a cheap MCEUSB remote and USB receiver/(dual) transmitter combo, ditched the remote and bought a better Logitec Harmony 650.  The USB receiver/transmitter works extremely well, I use it to control my cable box as well as for the remote.  Setting up the Harmony and configuring Myth shotcuts etc took a little while but the end result is nice.
7. Tuners... I have a dual tuner HDHomerun (really more like 8 tuners because of sub channel support) that I use as the primary recording device for standard broadcast channels (ABC/NBC/FOX/etc... about 16 in total).  These come in via clear QAM from my cable provider as the do with all cable providers as far as I can tell (required by law?).  The "cable" channels sometimes work but usually no for long so there is no point even setting them up.  Mapping all the channels was a hassle but once done HDHomeruns work 100% without any issues at all.  For Cable channels, HD and SD, I have an HD-PVR.  It works really well for recording, liveTV sometimes I had to exit out and comeback after a channel change but it's 95% working with 0.24.  I originally thought I might need a 2nd HD-PVR but with the HDHomerun too it turns out one is never an issue for me.  You might want to start out with one and see how it goes too.  Firewire recording is an absolute mess.. don't even go there.  I wouldn't worry about SD channels at all, they are on the way out.  Turns out for my cable company (Brighthouse) there are only around a dozen SD only channels, all of which I don't really watch.  As they continue to add more HD versions I've been removing all the SD duplicates from my schedules direct cable lineup, no need to ever watch them when HD is available.
8. Bluray/DVD playback...  Do you honestly need disks anymore?  I can't remember the last time I used one.  I drop (full quality) bluray/DVD rips on my video share all the time and Myth 0.24 plays them back with no issues.  Disks are just noisy copy protection annoyances.  

You should be able to do all that for around $1k.  You'll also have another system you can use for other things too.  My two frontends are also firewall/vpn/dns/dhcp/ldap/KVM VM hosts/apache/torrent/jabber/fileserver/and asterisk servers...  no performance issues at all.

----- Original Message -----
> I have stopped building front ends for different rooms. I now have
> only one frontend modulated onto a channel received in multiple rooms
> and media players in three rooms (the backend is rack mounted in the
> basement).
> 
> 
> 
> I found that the Western Digital networked media player and the
> Patriot Box Office media player can both access my mythbox recordings
> via streaming. (WD did not like transcoded files). The media players
> can access video, music, and pictures via shared directories. The
> Patriot even allows for a SATA hard drive to be put in the unit and
> accessed via the network as a samba share. For HDMI, the Patriot can
> also support wifi and 1080p HDMI. (Note: Patriot did have problems
> with my network so I backed down to 720p
> 
> 
> 
> The cost of a media player without a hard drive is ~$55.00 after
> rebate (Newegg), compared to a few hundred for full front ends. I will
> most likely not even have a dedicated mythfrontend on the next
> iteration and use the web interface for programming recordings and
> media players to access the backend.
> 
> 
> 
> Please also note that this is not the top performing mythtv approach
> by any means, just an economical option.
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