Opinions Please on new Client for SageTV

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Opinions Please on new Client for SageTV

Hi,

I'm going to build a new SageTV 'Client' PC. It will replace our old Dell P4. All media is stored on a WHS machine. It will only be used for HTPC duties.

What we hope it will accomplish is:
1. Have lots more power. HD has greatly increased our power requirements, even with hardware acceleration on the GPU. Also we want to use Comskip (a commercial marking software) and it's very cpu intensive.
2. Be quieter. When we do HD on the old Dell it's fan winds up like it's about to take off!
3. Be reliable. Getting worried our old Dell may be getting tired.
4. Keep costs to a minimum but have good value.

Here's what I am thinking of using: (Please keep in mind that with our internal soundcard we don't need HDMI. DVI out from the video card is all we need.) All prices are from Direct Canada. Supposedly they include free shipping on over $300.

1. Nmedia HTPC-8000 Red Wooden Desktop Media Centre Case ATX 1X5.25 4X3.5INT Card Reader No PSU $108.86.
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=15270AC3058&vpn=HTPC-8000&manufacture=NMEDIA%20SYSTEM
2. ASUS M4N68T-M mATX AM3 GF7025 NF630A DDR3 PCI-E16 PCI-E 2XPCI SATA2 RAID Audio Motherboard $51.48
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10530BD6329&vpn=M4N68T-M&manufacture=ASUS
3. Kingston ValueRAM KVR1333D3N9K2/4G PC3-10666 4GB 2X2GB DDR3-1333 CL9 240PIN DIMM Memory Kit $68.79
sku=1241184014H&vpn=KVR1333D3N9K2/4G&manufacture=KINGSTON%20TECHNOLOGY%20-%20KVR
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=1241184014H&vpn=KVR1333D3N9K2/4G&manufacture=KINGSTON%20TECHNOLOGY%20-%20KVR
4. Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA2 3.5IN 8.5MS 7200RPM 16MB Hard Drive OEM *3YR MFR Warranty* $37.99
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=14120DR8025&vpn=ST3500418AS&manufacture=SEAGATE
5.AMD Athlon II x4 635 Quad Core Processor AM3 2.9GHZ 2MB L2 Cache 95W 45NM Retail Box C3 Stepping $100.82
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10360BD5309&vpn=ADX635WFGMBOX&manufacture=AMD#specifications

New parts we already have, or are ordered:
1. Win 7 Home, OEM
2. Antec PSU Basiq BP550
3. Liteon IHOS104 4X BLU-RAY Reader BD-ROM Drive SATA Black Retail Box.
4. Asus Essence ST 5.1 Sound Card.

We will use our old Video card - an EVGA GeForce 8400 GS 512MB 64 bit PCIx. Has DVI out to TV. Might upgrade that later if needed. Will also use our old small monitor (for pc work only), keyboard and mouse.

Note that our only audio use will be from the Analog Outs on Essence ST card.

No HDMI or SPDIF needed.

The HD is more than we need for this application - but the price is great!

While not fitting in with the budget build, I think the extra money for the Cherry wood HTPC case is worth it in our situation. We have large 1958 Klipschorn speakers and some other old furniture in our HT room. And I think it will be a conversation piece. Has anyone here used or seen this case?

Would appreciate any comments, especially on the mobo. Also I can't tell if this CPU comes with a cooler. Might I need a separate one?

Thanks very much,
Rod

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Joined: 3 Oct 2006

If I knew I was building an ATX case I would use an ATX board.

My reasons.

1. You can space out the cards you put in for better airflow
2. You never know what you might want to add later. If you already are using a discrete video card and a discrete sound card then 2 of the four slots are full. If you were to throw in a Ceton tuner your PCI-e slot would be goen and now you are already down to 1 and each cards is pretty much on top of the other.
3. I potentially see a USB 3 card in my future also.

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Meester.Rip

Thanks very much for your suggestion. It makes a lot of sense!

Is there an ATX board you would recommend for us?

Also for some reason 'Preview' is not working when I want to check my new post. Odd!

Thanks again,
Rod

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Joined: 3 Oct 2006

I am a Gigabyte fan personally.
If I were to build today I'd go with this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128444

I try to find a balance of price and good reviews. And even if I plan on using a discrete video card I like having on board video for troubleshooting or eventually if the board goes into WHS server duty or one of the kids PCs I can get the power savings of the onboard video and better airflow.

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Joined: 1 Oct 2007

If you are running the SageTV server on your WHS, I would recommened installing your bluray drive in the server as you can add the drive as an import path and then the disc than becomes availalbe to any of your SageTV clients (assuming AnyDVDHD is running). 

If you are not using the client to run comskip or showanlayzer for commercial skipping, you could save some money by going with an Athlon X2 instead of the x4.  And to save costs even more, have you looked at the HD300 to see if it will meet your needs?  It handles bluray playback (unencrypted) and hd tv, is extremely easy to install/setup, and is silent.

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Meester.Rip wrote:

I am a Gigabyte fan personally.
If I were to build today I'd go with this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128444

I try to find a balance of price and good reviews. And even if I plan on using a discrete video card I like having on board video for troubleshooting or eventually if the board goes into WHS server duty or one of the kids PCs I can get the power savings of the onboard video and better airflow.

Thanks for the good suggestion. A fair bit more money, but definitely a board for the future. Again I can't fault your logic!

Also on our WHS machine, which is the only other computer I have built, I used a Gigabyte board and I'm very pleased with it.

I thought that if I use an Nvidea GPU that I should have a mobo with the same. Guess that's only an issue with Crossfire. Don't think I'll ever use that.

Thanks again.

Rod

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Joined: 5 Sep 2009

ruwackd wrote:

If you are running the SageTV server on your WHS, I would recommened installing your bluray drive in the server as you can add the drive as an import path and then the disc than becomes availalbe to any of your SageTV clients (assuming AnyDVDHD is running). 

If you are not using the client to run comskip or showanlayzer for commercial skipping, you could save some money by going with an Athlon X2 instead of the x4.  And to save costs even more, have you looked at the HD300 to see if it will meet your needs?   It handles bluray playback (unencrypted) and hd tv, is extremely easy to install/setup, and is silent.

I like the idea of the BD on the server. The problem is that I use My Movies. For some reason MM on WHS has a very low success ratio of finding data. Others have reported the same. So I've been doing all my rips on my desktop and have a much better result. I also thought that if a guest brought over a BD it would be handy to just plop it in the PC in our HT room.

I like Sage Extenders - in fact own an HD100 and an HD200. Our problem with that is that I'm also somewhat of an audiophile (audiophool?). The SPDIF out wont give the best audio out with HD audio. Since we are using a sound card in the HTPC there is no easy way to get the full HD audio to the soundcard from the Extender. Otherwise I sure would go with an HD300. For most people they make a lot more sense than a Client PC!

And I do plan on doing Comskip on the HTPC. I was told that I could share Comskip duties between the HTPC and our server - which is only an X2, but haven't really looked into the practicality of that.  I even thought of putting the new CPU in the Server, but it would increase our power consumption by quite a bit. Also our server has been running so well I hate to touch it!

Thanks for all your ideas.

Rod

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Joined: 15 Mar 2007

Quote:
I like Sage Extenders - in fact own an HD100 and an HD200. Our problem with that is that I'm also somewhat of an audiophile (audiophool?). The SPDIF out wont give the best audio out with HD audio. Since we are using a sound card in the HTPC there is no easy way to get the full HD audio to the soundcard from the Extender. Otherwise I sure would go with an HD300. For most people they make a lot more sense than a Client PC!

You mean that you are using the analog outputs from the HTPC to get HD audio output on your receiver that DOESN'T have HDMI bitstreaming available.  That's what I think you are saying, because the HD300 can bitstream full HD audio from a blu-ray over its HDMI port to a receiver with HDMI 1.3 inputs.

It sounds like a perfectly good build.  The motherboard is kinda strange since you are using an old Nvidia chipset with bad graphics built in.  I'd go for a modern AMD based motherboard and you can have your pick of either the Nvidia 8400 graphics card you already have, or the AMD graphics built in.  You don't need to pair the graphics card with a motherboard unless you want SLI or Crossfire for gaming.

I have the Nvidia 7025 chipset in my wife's computer and it is a perfectly acceptable system for basic stuff, but the graphics lacks most HD acceleration and is really only fit for an office machine.  It's also a bit long in the tooth when it comes to SATA connections.  But in a HTPC it doesn't really matter much.

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autoboy wrote:

Quote:
I like Sage Extenders - in fact own an HD100 and an HD200. Our problem with that is that I'm also somewhat of an audiophile (audiophool?). The SPDIF out wont give the best audio out with HD audio. Since we are using a sound card in the HTPC there is no easy way to get the full HD audio to the soundcard from the Extender. Otherwise I sure would go with an HD300. For most people they make a lot more sense than a Client PC!

You mean that you are using the analog outputs from the HTPC to get HD audio output on your receiver that DOESN'T have HDMI bitstreaming available.  That's what I think you are saying, because the HD300 can bitstream full HD audio from a blu-ray over its HDMI port to a receiver with HDMI 1.3 inputs.

It sounds like a perfectly good build.  The motherboard is kinda strange since you are using an old Nvidia chipset with bad graphics built in.  I'd go for a modern AMD based motherboard and you can have your pick of either the Nvidia 8400 graphics card you already have, or the AMD graphics built in.  You don't need to pair the graphics card with a motherboard unless you want SLI or Crossfire for gaming.

I have the Nvidia 7025 chipset in my wife's computer and it is a perfectly acceptable system for basic stuff, but the graphics lacks most HD acceleration and is really only fit for an office machine.   It's also a bit long in the tooth when it comes to SATA connections.  But in a HTPC it doesn't really matter much.

Guess I should have explained what I'm doing with the audio. I'm taking each of the Analog outs from the Sound card (6 total) to inputs on our power amps. No receiver! Only problem with this is that I'm limited to play what's on the computer. But since we have all our cd's, movies, recorded TV and photos on the server it works fine for us. We actually use SageTV for all but critical 2 channel music listening. For that we use JRiver Media Center MC15. It has better audio.

Thanks for confirming that the video card can be a different make than the onboard video unless gaming. We don't do that so a non-issue.

I'm inclined now to spend the extra money and use the Gigabyte mobo that Meester.Rip recommended. It would allow for a lot more future options.

Cheers,
Rod

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Joined: 12 Aug 2007

I agree.  If you are going with that motherboard, then why not just use the onboard video instead of adding the little bit of extra heat and power consumption you'll have by using the 8400GS?

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htpc_user wrote:

I agree.  If you are going with that motherboard, then why not just use the onboard video instead of adding the little bit of extra heat and power consumption you'll have by using the 8400GS?

Good point. I'll try it first with the onboard video. If that works fine I'll put the 8400GS in the surplus bin!

Not sure what you agree with, but I think it's using the Gigabyte mobo.

Thanks,
Rod

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Joined: 12 Aug 2007

I was agreeing with autoboy's comment on using the "AMD graphics built in".  I just got lazy and didn't quote his comment, LOL.

But, yes, using the Gigabyte board is a good way to go.

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Joined: 5 Sep 2009

Just placed my order with Direct Canada. A couple of changes over my original build:

1. Gigabyte GA-880GA-UD3H AMD880G ATX AM3 DDR3 3PCIE 2-WAY CrossFireX GBLAN SATA3 USB3.0 Motherbo
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=11830BD4567&vpn=GA-880GA-UD3H&manufacture=GIGABYTE

2. Silverstone Precision PS04B ATX Black Mid Tower Case 4X5.25 1X3.5 5X3.5INT No PS
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=22170AC7935

The mobo change was a result of recommendations on this Forum. The case change was to save some money as the build was getting a bit pricey.

Thanks to everyone here for their great support. After it's built I'll make a post here as to how it's working. But it sure should be a screamer compared to my old Dell P4!

Rod

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Joined: 15 Mar 2007

The 8400 was no great video card.  I think you will find that the onboard graphics are just as capable.  That's too bad about the case.  I thought it was cool.  Not my style, but I can see it being a great piece in an appropriate room.

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autoboy wrote:

The 8400 was no great video card.  I think you will find that the onboard graphics are just as capable.  That's too bad about the case.  I thought it was cool.  Not my style, but I can see it being a great piece in an appropriate room.

Yeah I was looking forward to the unique case. The build just got too pricey, and I finally had to decide that power was more important than looks. The other thing is we have a good spot to tuck away a conventional case, but the furniture style one takes up quite a bit of room. But maybe someday if I get a few extra coins I'll get it and move things over.

If the onboard video handles things okay that will be great. Should be interesting.

Thanks for your interest.

Rod

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Joined: 27 Dec 2006

I may be a little late...but what's the quad core for?

You mention Comskip...but that's done on the server. Your client just has to read the resulting edl file with timestamps.

If you aren't gaming, and just sticking to client HTPC duties I'd go with a lower powered dual core. It'll be a lot easier to run cool and quiet.

My Home Theater, XLobbyMC
To Do: Finish Re-ripping my music collection - While Playing FF XIV

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I originally was going to use a dual core. Someone on the Sage Forum suggested the Quad core because he said Comskip duties could be shared with the server. I have no experience yet with Comskip so just took his word for it. I hope it can partially be shared. Guess I should have looked further into it. I ordered it all yesterday! Do you have any idea if that can be done?

This PC is only for HTPC duties.

Thanks for your interest.

Rod

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Comskip is single-threaded, which means that a Comskip will only run for a single recording, using a single core, at any time.  If you have 2 cores, you can run two instances of Comskip, which would then run on two separate recordings at the same time.

You could have Comskip running on multiple computers, as well, which is what they were probably referring to.

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Skirge01 wrote:

Comskip is single-threaded, which means that a Comskip will only run for a single recording, using a single core, at any time.  If you have 2 cores, you can run two instances of Comskip, which would then run on two separate recordings at the same time.

You could have Comskip running on multiple computers, as well, which is what they were probably referring to.

This makes sense to me if you are recording on multiple pcs and then each pc does it's own comskipping with available resources of the shows it recorded, but I wonder how this would impact network bandwidth if you run comskip over the network. Especially if you already have clients and/or network tuners using some of it. I guess you could schedule it for only late night hours and then the network bandwidth wouldn'tt be an issue.

My Home Theater, XLobbyMC
To Do: Finish Re-ripping my music collection - While Playing FF XIV

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Naylia wrote:

This makes sense to me if you are recording on multiple pcs and then each pc does it's own comskipping with available resources of the shows it recorded, but I wonder how this would impact network bandwidth if you run comskip over the network. Especially if you already have clients and/or network tuners using some of it. I guess you could schedule it for only late night hours and then the network bandwidth wouldn'tt be an issue.

I've run 1 comskip instance on my client PC (E6600), while 3 were running on the server (all recordings are on the server) and watching a recording was not impacted at all over the Gb network.  Perhaps my CPU wasn't processing the recording quickly enough to impact the network?

If they were all hitting the same drive, then I could see a potential issue.  I never checked if that scenario ever happened.  But, network bandwidth never seemed to be an issue.  Also, for playback, I always made sure that I had one free core on both the server and the client.

BTW, I did all this via Sage Job Queue.

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Thanks for the info on Comskip. Does sound like I'll be able to share between the server and client. It may take a bit of learning and set up for me. I'm going to wait for a couple of things before I get involved with it though. 1. The new Client built and running smoothly with me learning Windows 7.  2. SageTV 7 to be out of Beta. Two may very well happen before One does!

Rod

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nwboater wrote:

Thanks for the info on Comskip. Does sound like I'll be able to share between the server and client. It may take a bit of learning and set up for me. I'm going to wait for a couple of things before I get involved with it though. 1. The new Client built and running smoothly with me learning Windows 7.  2. SageTV 7 to be out of Beta. Two may very well happen before One does!

FWIW, it took me all of about a week to figure out Windows 7 and that was coming directly from XP, with only about 5 minutes of experience in Vista.  One tip I learned through many OS installs:  Once you have Windows 7 installed and before you install any other programs, get it configured how you want and then create a backup image of the OS.  Then, install SageTV, get that configured how you want and create a 2nd backup image of the OS.  This will give you 2 pristine images to fall back to at any point in your future "fixing".

SageTV will be out of beta very soon.  Even if it's not out of beta when you're ready, start with whatever the latest beta is.  I've gone from 18 to 23 without a single issue.

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Thanks for the encouragement and tips. I have only XP experience but am really looking forward to 7. Just think it will take a little time cause I run on autopilot with XP.

I have done lots of backups, but never made an 'Image'. I do have a 2 or 3 year old copy of Acronis True Image, but doubt that will run on 7. If I have to get something new what do you suggest? BTW I do all our backups with our WHS.

Rod

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nwboater wrote:

Thanks for the encouragement and tips. I have only XP experience but am really looking forward to 7. Just think it will take a little time cause I run on autopilot with XP.

I have done lots of backups, but never made an 'Image'. I do have a 2 or 3 year old copy of Acronis True Image, but doubt that will run on 7. If I have to get something new what do you suggest? BTW I do all our backups with our WHS.

Rod

If you've got WHS, just use that then.  Manually create those two backups and lock them, so that WHS won't delete them on you.  I go a little overboard with how long I keep my backups because I have the storage space, but you'll probably be fine with more moderate settings.  WHS is a wonderful thing to be able to fall back on.

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Skirge01 wrote:

nwboater wrote:

Thanks for the encouragement and tips. I have only XP experience but am really looking forward to 7. Just think it will take a little time cause I run on autopilot with XP.

I have done lots of backups, but never made an 'Image'. I do have a 2 or 3 year old copy of Acronis True Image, but doubt that will run on 7. If I have to get something new what do you suggest? BTW I do all our backups with our WHS.

Rod

If you've got WHS, just use that then.  Manually create those two backups and lock them, so that WHS won't delete them on you.  I go a little overboard with how long I keep my backups because I have the storage space, but you'll probably be fine with more moderate settings.  WHS is a wonderful thing to be able to fall back on.

Good idea on the Manual Backups - I'll do that.

Yes WHS is wonderful. I have no regrets at all on building it. And so far it 'Just Works'.

Thanks again.

Rod

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UPDATE

 

Thought I'd let you all know how it's going. The new build went very smoothly. This was my second build and I was much less nervous than the first time. Actually I had a panic moment at first power on and it wouldn't post. Found that one of my memory cards wasn't fully seated. After that it has worked flawlessly.

 

Had no difficulty learning the little bit I needed to of Win 7. It's much more intuitive in many ways than XP (I avoided Vista).

 

SageTV install went well. I did have to chose a different renderer than the default. Sage is running beautifully. Could be my imagination but the picture quality seems a bit better.

 

I'm running it with onboard video and it's great. CPU on HD runs 10-20%. So I have an extra 8400 card which I didn't install. And a spare Dell GT280.

 

I have also installed JRiver MC15 which we use for audio and sometimes movies. It also got up and running fairly easy.

 

Yet to come is Comskip, MyMovies for SageTV and Blue Ray. I think the latter may be the biggest challenge.

 

So thanks to you folks here for the great guidance!

 

Rod

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Glad to hear that it wall went so smoothly.  Having reliable backups definitely helps with your own confidence in doing builds, too.  I just did a new mobo install and didn't give it a second thought.  If something went south, I'd just swap the old mobo back in and restore from the previous night's WHS backup.  Now, if WHS v2 would just get here sooner!  Smile

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