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Small Form Factor Media mini-PC ideas & help needed

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by scotty6435, 21 Oct 2004.

  1. scotty6435

    scotty6435 What's a Dremel?

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    Yey, my first thread.... :p

    I'm interested in making a SFF PC for TV/Hifi/MP3/DVD/video archive playing and have some questions regarding Mini-itx and nano-atx boards. I really would like to be able to do all of these functions as well as play and record digital terrestrial telly but I'm not sure which boards are capable. I want the system to be as small as possible but looking at a few low-emission boards, the specs seem low.

    (HDD space isn't really a problem as it will be linked to a file server though noise IS, I want quiet or silent! :rolleyes: )

    The BIG questions:
    What would you recommend as a minimum spec for these requirements?

    How do I go about using two tuner cards and is this possible with digital cards?

    Is any/all of this possible with the teeny nano-itx board from VIA and are there any other nanos out there? (Can't find any)

    I know it's a long post but I'd really appreciate your opinions/help on the matter :thumb:
     
  2. geek1017

    geek1017 What's a Dremel?

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    I have also been looking into an HTPC based on mITX.
    I don't know any thing about the nano.
    From what I've read the 1GHz M10000 is the best way to go.
    Unfortunately it only has one PCI slot so no dual tuners.
    Unless there is a dual tuner card that I don't know about.
    RAM is also important so don't skimp.

    It would probably be larger because of the heat sink necessary but there are P4 based mITX boards available if you need the power.

    I know that the Hauppauge cards like the PVR-250 are very popular.
    I've also looked at HDTV cards.
    This one is specificly for linux.
    For a lower spec system it is best to have onboard decoding rather than software like the linux card has.

    I hope I made sense.
    Might have a look into software like MythTV, KnoppMyth, Freevo, and VDR
    Try the PVR guide as well.

    I hope I've helped.
     
  3. IanW

    IanW Grumpy Old Git

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    AFAIK the M10000 can take a dual PCI riser card, which would allow 2 tuners, laid
    in parallel with the mobo.
     
  4. scotty6435

    scotty6435 What's a Dremel?

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    Awesomeness! :D Will be quite a while before I can actually start it though as I've got a few grand to save for PC/holiday :waah:
     
  5. ben_jt

    ben_jt What's a Dremel?

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    Although if you want the Mini-ITX board with the most bells and whistles, the MII has Compact Flash and PCMCIA (handy for wireless?) slots on the back.

    The dual-PCI riser is also compatible.

    Also, the MII is available in the 12000 model (running at 1.2GHz) :D

    The only down side to the Mini-ITX solution is that whilst cool, and quiet, the processors themselves are worse (in terms of performance / GHz) than pentiums or AMD chips. So unless the tuner does a lot of work on the card itself, you might well find that it won't handle the load of watching and recording at the same time, for instance. (Moral, I guess, buy decent tuner cards ;) )

    (Afterthought : Nano-ITX boards only have a mini-pci slot due to the small size. I've only ever found wireless network cards in mini-pci. However, you could attach USB devices to the internal USB(2.0) headers to keep it all in the box, and much smaller than mini-itx too...)
     
  6. scotty6435

    scotty6435 What's a Dremel?

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    Yeah, nono-ITX looks cool but from what I've heard will be underpowered and VERY expensive, at least to start off with. Won't have the connectivity that I need for this project but I'd really like an orange sized PC (Seen on a website somewhere, has to be seen to be believed!). I really want dual digital terrestrial TV cards but I haven't seen any that have hardware MPEG encoding :waah:

    Budget is always a problem but keeping most HDD space in a separate server will keep cost down. What is the max performing CPU that can be passively cooled or cooled with, say a very low dB fan?
     
  7. herbs

    herbs Nobody but us chickens

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    You don't need hardware based cards on DVB-T (C or S) as the stream is already a mpeg2 stream so you don't have to convert them like a normal analog tv card. All you are doing is saving them to hard disk and displaying the picture. Also a M1000 will not be powerful enough to cope with 2 tuners even if they are both hardware encoders as it is just powerful enough for 1 tuner. Via are suppose to be coming out with more powerful cpus for the mini-itx format so maybe they may have enough power to run 2 tuners.
     
  8. BlackDiamond

    BlackDiamond What's a Dremel?

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    The Via motherboards are underpowered and cannot handle any gaming. I have built a HTPC case and I am considering putting a PIII 1.2GHz because they have more power and do not get really hot so you can cool them with a modest heatsink, and still play some games on it. My $0.02

    Or

    You can find a mobile AMD - some of them are only 25W
     
    Last edited: 30 Oct 2004
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