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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 25th July, 2007, 02:51 PM
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Low power computer?

I'm looking at revamping my old MythTV box with a view to moving to HDTV. I want to keep the power consumption and noise as low as possible because electricity costs money, and because noise distracts.

Currently the MythTV box I have is an Athlon 1900+ with 512MiB RAM and a 120GB HD. Network connectivity is via a ZD1211 wireless adapter, and the video output is S-video from a GF4 of some description. The system has two DVB-T tuners, one PCI (Nova-T) and one USB (Terratec Cinergy T²)

Requirements are low power, low noise and HDTV capable. Given that Linux will be the OS on the box, it probably means an nVidia card - ATI are not well known for good support under Linux. Don't worry about tuner cards unless you happen to have experence with DVB.

Any suggestions for motherboard, processor and graphics card?
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Old 25th July, 2007, 05:09 PM
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I presume it needs to be a mATX board. In which case this ECS 945 looks good:
http://www.ebuyer.com:80/UK/product/125831/rb/0

As for processor, Intel E2160:
http://www.ebuyer.com:80/UK/product/127248

Graphics Leadtek 7600GS:
http://www.ebuyer.com:80/UK/product/116162

The graphics card is silently cooled. Core 2 Duos are pretty chilly and low powered too.

As for TV Tuner cards, I have a Leadtek DTV1000T and its superb. The picture quality is nothing you could argue about, recording is a doddle and it's cheap, around £45 per tuner. Softwares good too and not so ugly as other companies software. It's actually quite pretty.
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Old 25th July, 2007, 05:11 PM
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But you haven't given an indication as to price, so those are merely suggestions...
You might wana check out the new pentiums which are basically re-branded Core 2 Duos being sold off on the cheap.
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Old 25th July, 2007, 05:14 PM
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I wouldn't be using supplied software for tuners for sure. With DVB, the picture quality is actually fairly little to do with the tuner, as the tuner just passes an MPEG2 (or MPEG4) stream to a decoder program.

I didn't mention cost deliberately, although I'd like to avoiding being too overspec'd.

HDMI/HDCP would be handy too.
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Old 25th July, 2007, 05:18 PM
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Just my opinion, stay away from ECS. I have had 4 ECS boards die over the past 14 months.

I have seen some nice Asus MATX boards and they are cheap.
A low end 7 series or 8 series card with HDTV capability.
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Old 25th July, 2007, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aghastpumpkin
As for processor, Intel E2160:
http://www.ebuyer.com:80/UK/product/127248
Actually, for the cpu, I think I'd be more inclined to drop a bit more on the CPU and go with something like the E4500, and then undervolt and underclock the chip. I believe the E4500 has the same power envelope as the E2160. The fact that it runs a higher clock speed in the same power envelope suggests that you should be able to clock it back to E2160 speeds and undervolt it to save significant power.

Last edited by Gizmo; 25th July, 2007 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 25th July, 2007, 07:09 PM
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An interesting project! I'm all ears!
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Old 25th July, 2007, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel ~
An interesting project! I'm all ears!

How in the world do you see what your typing....(yes I'm a wise guy today. Chris is gone and I need to take up his slack)
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Old 25th July, 2007, 07:28 PM
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You guys CAN SEE what your typing!? This explains so many things!!
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Old 25th July, 2007, 08:19 PM
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Being able to see and actually watching is two different things.

This does sound like a neat project. I would like a cheap low power (quiet) box for an HTPC. I'm all eyes....LOL
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Old 26th July, 2007, 11:00 AM
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I was going to try out LinuxMCE - It's based around Ubuntu Linux as the underlying OS, and then uses a bunch of applications such as MythTV, Asterisk (VoIP exchange) and more. It's capable of handling media on the network, so you don't have to have all your media stored on the LinuxMCE box - you can use a NAS instead (or a windows share). It can also handle network audio players (like the squeezebox), automatically detecting them.

It looks like a nice project, and ties together some of the stuff I've been trying to do, so I figured I'd let someone else do the hard work. However, I figure it's worth building a new system to handle the HD requirements.
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Old 26th July, 2007, 09:45 PM
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So LinuxMCE is a package OS pretty much designed with you and your project in mind? ":O}
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Old 26th July, 2007, 11:07 PM
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This tiny system looks very neat:
http://www.aoaforums.com/frontpage/content/view/2926/1/

Very low power consumption of 16w under-load.

It lacks a tuner, but I guess you could use an external one.
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Old 26th July, 2007, 11:28 PM
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what about AMD?
nvidias new all-in-one-chipset nforce 630/geforce 7050, abit AN-M2HD for example
the board itself needs 10-15W
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Old 30th July, 2007, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danrok
This tiny system looks very neat:
No HDMI, no SPDIF out (but has SPDIF in?!), and not enough power for HDTV - it seems to start falling over at 1024 x 768. Given that it needs to be able to push 1920x1080, which is nearly 3 times as much information, it's a bit of a non-starter. Would probably be fine for SDTV though.
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Old 30th July, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Everything is easy...until you know exactly what you want. Good Luck Aedan. ":O}
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Old 3rd August, 2007, 04:47 PM
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I've been looking around a bit to see what I can find. How do the AM2 systems look? I'm looking at the MSI Media Live, which is based around the nVidia C51PVG chipset paired with the MCP51. Now, I don't know how low power socket AM2 processors can go. I know that AMD had their energy efficient processors that were rated for 65W and 35W (ADO I think). I presume they fit in the same standard AM2 socket?
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Old 3rd August, 2007, 06:51 PM
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It appears that there are some 45 watt variations

Energy Efficient AMD Athlon™ X2 Dual-Core Processor Price
Athlon X2 BE-2350 (65nm, 2.1GHz, 45W, 1MB total dedicated L2 cache, 2000MHz HyperTransport bus, socket AM2) $91
Athlon X2 BE-2300 (65nm, 1.9GHz, 45W, 1MB total dedicated L2 cache, 2000MHz HyperTransport bus, socket AM2) $86

http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/...l?redir=CPT301
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Old 3rd August, 2007, 10:17 PM
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You get a shovel for your birthday Sam? Nice digging! ":O}
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Old 3rd August, 2007, 10:23 PM
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Na. Got lucky. Plus I really want to see this happen. Very curious haw a low power PC will still perform. I think very well.
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