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Small Form Factor media centre blues and flex-ATX

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by squeck, 24 Apr 2005.

  1. squeck

    squeck Lurker

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    I'm looking to build a small media centre pc to sit in my lounge. I've decided that it'll be running Windows MCE and it'll be used for playing music, dvd's, and recording TV.

    The trouble i'm having is onboard video isn't supported by MCE so i need to put in a video card (i'm thinking a geforce 5200), and i need to put in one (or preferably two) tv tuners. because of this i need a minimum of one PCI slot and an AGP.

    so...

    1. Does anyone know where I could get a flex-ATX size motherboard? from what i've found flex atx boards are available with one PCI and an AGP slot, but i can't seem to find any online to buy. :grr:

    2. I've also been looking at the EPIA mini-ITX boards, the trouble with them as far as i can tell is that they only have one PCI slot, but would a 1GHz EPIA board be powerful enough to run MCE and decode video?

    3. If the EPIA boards are powerful enough then how well do PCI riser cards work? i've seen PCI splitters such as this one but would one PCI slot provide enough bandwidth for a PCI graphics card and one or two tv tuners? especially seeing as i'll be recording tv

    thanks in advance guys :D


    [edit] alternatively, is it possible to buy shuttle motherboards separately from the cases? the shuttle FN85 motherboard or similar would suit me perfectly (one PCI and AGP)
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2005
  2. Kipman725

    Kipman725 When did I get a custom title!?!

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    see the faq
     
  3. JonDixon

    JonDixon Decking is the new modding

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    Im running an EPIA SP13000 which is 1.3GHz and it runs MCE2005 fine.

    I have dual risers for 2 Nova-t pci cards and is really good (using the dual active riser). The SP13000 is the only mini-ITX mobo that I know of which can use the onboard graphics (S3 Unichrome Pro) and it works.

    Ive got mine setup (replaced the 40mm fan with a 8dba 60mm fan) and its whisper quiet. If I could suspend the fan in mid air you wouldnt know its on. Only the fan vibration noise gives it away.

    As for performance, both dvd and divx play fine. MameEx (mame front end for mce) is good too although games from the 90's and newer start causing slow down.

    Music playback is brilliant.

    I'm still playing around though as Ive only just finished building it and already another weekend is over and now Im off to my day job.

    Ive only one problem and thats playback on a tv is coming out black and white but perfect quality on one cable and naff quality but colour on another cable so I think this is due to my cabling.

    Anyway a 42" plasma with vga input will remove this problem.
     
  4. squeck

    squeck Lurker

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    great! i didn't realise the nova-t cards worked with MCE. does it download the program listings for all of the freeview channels?

    games aren't a problem - i have the pc in my sig for that! :D
     
  5. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    MCE does support onboard graphics, but only if the onboard graphics are DirectX 8/9 compatible.
     
  6. JonDixon

    JonDixon Decking is the new modding

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    With MCE the program guide is from the internet rather than the broadcast EPG that you can pick up using the nova-t not using mce.

    I guess this is microsoft enabling EPG whether you are using a digital or analogue card.
     
  7. koola

    koola Minimodder

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    If you get hardware that doesn't run with MCE, then use Media Portal . It is almost identical to MCE, but alot faster and better supported with regular updates for hardware/software apps.

    Really worth looking into!
     
  8. herbs

    herbs Nobody but us chickens

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    Make sure you get the newer version of the nova-t named 90002 as the old philips tuner version 909 does not work with 2 of the same cards in one pc. The newer 90002 version works fine with 2 cards of the same with the latest drivers. Or buy the proper MCE version of the nova. http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=189914
    If you haven't got enough space instead the pc try the new hauppauge usb2 nova, pc world are selling these for £59.99 and these are suppose to work with MCE.
     
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