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1st Shuttle Build - Advice requested!

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Matt Horne, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Well.... due to some luck I have picked up a Hp E-pc to act as my music server.

    As I have just sold my tosh SD-900e DVD player I want to dabble into the world of the HTPC..

    Heres what I want to do with the machine :

    Ripping/conversion of audio/video (to divx/mp3 etc etc)
    Watch Dvd's on my 17" LCD monitor (and later on on my TV or projector if I get round to buying one)
    Add a Nebula card for Freeview TV and hard disc recording.
    Play the odd game.

    I have chosen to go for a shuttle type pc due to its size and portability.. this is not meant to be replacing my main HT but to be used throughout the house (and as a bit of a project for me -- plus they look cool).

    I am not looking to overclock the machine (at least not yet).

    Apologies now.. as this post may be long.. I used to tinker and build PC's but have not touched them (been using laptops) nor kept up with the latest and greatest in the last 5 years, so all advice here is very welcome!

    Lets start with RAM and processors, I have no affinity between AMD and Intel.. but I am leaning towards a P4 due to the Shuttle systems I have shortlisted (more later on that).

    Is it still a case of buying the fastest Processor I can afford.. or would a celeron chip perform well enough for what I wish to do with the machine ? Also is there a need to get a chip with 800 fsb would 400/533 be enough?

    The same applies to the RAM and I will follow the advice given to me in a earlier thread :

    "DDR speeds:

    To run a PC with a CPU FSB of 400Mhz, you'll ideally want PC2100 or higher.
    To run a PC with a CPU FSB of 533Mhz, you'll ideally want PC2700 or higher.
    To run a PC with a CPU FSB of 800Mhz, you'll ideally want PC3200 or higher."

    The 2 shuttle systems I have shortlisted are :

    SB61G2 Reflexion -- ++ points wifi/DVD-ROM/Cardreader built in
    -- points Could be noisy with wire mesh sides, not great onboard video?

    ST61G4 (Blk) -- ++ Points 250w silent X PSU . card reader, ATI 9100 graphics
    -- Points no wifi, DVD-ROM.. not as fast a performer due to the video chips ? (saw this point on another forum)

    I would be interested to hear from anyone who has either of these shuttles !.

    I presume that until I wish to play the latest games/output DVD to a projector etc that the onboard video would suffice.. or is this pointless and therefore agp video card is a required purchase ?

    If so... which ones should I be looking at? I have seen the Radeon 9700 (fanless) mentioned, but there seems to be untold manufacturers/models of this to choose from !

    I will be putting in either a 120-160GB drive, probably a 7200 unless theres reason to go for a 5400. Probably either a WD/Seagate or Maxtor again advice would be good here as to what ppl have used.

    So heres a quick prelim check list of my planned build :

    P4 (type speed unknown as yet)
    2 x 512 MB Ram (unknown speed/make yet)
    Shuttle SB61G2/ST61G4
    120/160 GB HD (IDE/SATA -- Make Unknown)
    Nebula PCI Freeview card
    Possibly Radeon 9700 (Make/model unknown)

    Software wise I am looking at :

    Xp Pro
    Theatertek DVD software
    DvdIdle for multi-regioning the DVD drive.

    so advice please, I plan to get the basic pc up and running before adding extra video/tv cards..

    Many Thanks

    Matt
     
  2. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    No experience of either of those two systems so can only answer some of your questions generically .. in the past I had an SG51 (IIRC) nForce2-based mini-ATX running AMD2100+.

    1) On board graphics 'suck' to use the vernacular :), you're right to look for a fanless Radeon 9600 or better.

    I've never seen a fanless 9700 and for HCPC use that'd be overkill, a 9600 non-Pro can be had for £40 or so, the only fanless 9700 you'll get IMX will be a Zalman-equipped monster which works well, I have a 9800 Pro to which I fitted one of these, but you're not going to get that in a Shuttle case .. and a normal fanless 9700 will not be up to any serious 3D gaming.

    2) For HCPC use an AMD 2000+ is more than enough IMX, I have one of those in an ASUS A7N8X mobo and using TheaterTek it never exceeds about 30% processor use .. however if you plan on playing HiDef WM9 material then you'll need the most powerful processor you can get, a P4 2GHz is the minimum recommended I believe but on the one time I played an HD file (5Th Element) my CPU was barely able to handle the load.

    3) Not sure DVDIdle is recommended, I have seen comments indicating problems though since I'm an AnyDVD user I don't take a great interest in DVD Region Free so could easily have got the wrong idea, but maybe something you could check on if you haven't done so .. DVD Region Free is fine AFAIK, it's the DVD speed-limiter that I have a vague idea I've seen criticised for something.

    4) I use Seagate Barracuda 5400 120Gbs for their silence, however I think they're now obsolete. Someone recently posted a recommendation for a Western Digital disk using liquid bearings IIRC and indicated these are very quiet. Disk speed is hardly an issue, either transfer or rotatation so IMHO those attributes don't factor into the decision.

    5) XP Home will be fine, don't see any reason to pay Bill and M$ a penny more than I need. ;)

    Think that's enough waffle for the moment. :D

    HTH.
     
  3. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Whoops I think I typod with reagards to the Radeon I think I ment the 9600!

    I presume with the fanless card I Would be able to play games just not at the extreme speeds ??

    Cheers

    Matt
     
  4. ukfatboy

    ukfatboy
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    i built my first HTPC last weekend based on a ST61G4.

    I went the P4 ( 2.8 ) root and stuck a Gig of RAM in with a sony dvd rewriter. The board supports hyperthreading so its fast.

    I put a Radeon 9600 non pro ( fanless) in straight away so I cannot comment on the onboard graphics. I use the optical digital out into my AMP. I have a DEC 2000 digital USB card for Free to air and Theatertek for DVD. I also have showshifter installed.

    I have also installed the sweetspot card with Dscaler for my VHS and Xbox .

    I've just got an old hard drive in at moment but will add two 300GB drives soon, the shuttle supports RAID as well !

    The whole pumps into my plasma via vga.

    Still tinkering but its FANTASTIC.

    The shuttle is very quiet ( not silent ) and is noisier if you fill AGP slot and PCI slot

    Using powerstrip the resolution is stunning.

    I'm very impressed and can recommend. I've put my arcam dvd player and tivo on ebay as i no longer need them.

    Its the first PC I've built from the chip up but the instruction book is brilliant and with the photos its dead easy. The shuttle includes all cables that you need and even CPU paste.

    The only problem i had was that when i opened the box it had USA plug on power lead so had to replace.

    I should point out that i've bought another one so i can add a few more functions .

    Good Luck!!
     
  5. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Thanks :) Did u buy the HT P4 chip then ?

    Where did you source your shuttle from.. I am looking at using microdirect I think.

    Matt
     
  6. ukfatboy

    ukfatboy
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    Yes i bought a HT P4 2.8 for £145 at a computer show/fair. Its is much quicker than my exisiting P4 3.0 which is not hyperthreading.

    I got the shuttles through a mate in the trade at trade price of £179.00 + VAT . I have not checked but assume thats a fair price
     
  7. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Very good.. MD do them for £199 + VAT

    Cheers

    Matt
     
  8. JSW

    JSW
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  9. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I've never really looked at the 9600 for gaming so don't know how the numbers differ between the Pro and non-Pro versions, however by definition it must mean the fanless one is less powerful in terms of 3DMark numbers for example by a good percentage, considering the heat that's dissipated by the fan.
     
  10. Wasabi

    Wasabi
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    Matt,

    MD is now doing them at £187 + VAT, checked right now.

    Wasabi
     
  11. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Thanks... though it looks like the price of the Reflexion has risen!

    I have also been reading up on the SB65G2/SB75G2 both sound good boxes with stable overclocking if required, though neither have video built in so I would have to budget for a card on top.. too many decisions :(

    Though so far I have decided to go for a 2.8 P4 with HT 800FSB, now I need to decide on the RAM though this will also depend on which shuttle I will go for?

    What RAM do ppl use ? I want to get 2 x 512MB..

    Thanks

    Matt
     
  12. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Clockers go for Corsair it would seem to me, I'm happy with my cheap and cheerful Crucial. :)
     
  13. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Well the first 2 bits of my build are ordered (from komplett)

    160GB Samsung Spinpoint SATA drive
    P4 2.8 800FSB HT processor (Northwood)

    Ram wise I think I am going for Corsair TwinX 3200 DDR (2x512 MB)

    Still unsure about the case but due to the lack of overclocking features the ST61G4 is out.. Reflexion is currently fav along with the SB65G2/SB75G2.

    If I buy the Reflexion I'll use the onboard video to start whilst setting up the system and will look at the Nebula/Radeon cards the following month!

    Thanks

    Matt
     
  14. leeb

    leeb
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    Matt,

    If you're going to invest in a Radeon video card anyway I'd be very tempted to wait and get one together with the SB75G2 as this is widely regarded as the fastest P4 Shuttle currently available. It's also good value at £196.29 inc VAT @ ebuyer. I've read that the new SB75G2s will come from Shuttle with the SilentX 250w PSU (as found in the ST61G4) but I've not found anyone in the UK stating that yet.

    There's a very good Shuttle forum here that's worth checking out.

    HTH.

    Lee
     
  15. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Thanks.. I have been browsing the forum.. gleening bits here and there....but I still may go for the refelxion as the latest bios has the same features as the SB75G2 as they are basically the same (and as it has onboard video I can accrue more money for the following month :) )

    Cheers

    Matt
     
  16. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Right everything is now ordered , I went for the Reflexion shuttle in the end..

    Complete system is :

    P4 2.8 HyperThreaded processor (800FSB)
    Shuttle Reflexion 20th Anniversary system
    Corsair TwinX 3200 (2 x 512MB)
    Samsung Spinpoint 160GB SATA Drive

    I have also ordered a Coolermaster northbridge heatsink/fan with blue LEDS, a sunbeam 80mm blue LED fan to replace the stock fan in the ICE.. plus some nice silver braided, round SATA/IDE cables to finish!

    Pictures to come when I am done!

    Cheers

    Matt
     

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