Get your HTPCs out for the (insert gender pronoun)!

Coulson

Distinguished Member
I'll be swapping my 1080ti FE for my now relegated 2070 Super at the weekend so I plan on adding some pics of my pair of machines then.

Downstairs I have a Silverstone LC17 (Snap!) but in silver. That runs JRiver and reads all its content from the server upstairs. It feeds my AVR and 60" plasma. We use downstairs for regular TV, iplayer, etc.

Upstairs the "server" (really just a desktop in a big case with a lot of disks in it) acts as my main desktop machine and has a 49" super-ultrawide monitor which is awesome. I bought that when we went full lockdown and I wanted to upgrade from a pair of 21"s. With my wife working from home too we needed at least one more, so figured why not get something lovely.

The bedroom we use as an office is next to the bedroom we use as a cinema. I used to have a PC in both rooms but I had some issues in the cinema with both heat, and noise coming though the processor where I'd crammed a whole PC into a relatively small case - a phantek evolv shift x. It looked lovely but it was a nightmare to work with, got hot, and I'm sure the tight space was what was causing noise over the HDMI and USB connections.

So I rebuilt the office PC in a much larger case (Fractal design Define 7 XL), added the GPU, and ran long cables through into the next room so the PJ in the cinema acts as a second monitor on the main PC. I have a keyboard and mouse in the cinema using USB over ethernet which works really, really well. I have a harmony elite and I've used gyro remotes, although not the one listed above so I'll investigate that, but for me you just can't beat a keyboard and mouse.

I'm running JRiver with MadVR and I use MadVR for all the tone mapping, although I'm getting my PJ calibrated in a couple of weeks so I'll be able to properly compare the MadVR tone mapping and the JVC solution. Now my problem is heat again. 12 disks and a big GPU are keeping things a bit warmer than I'd like. I've already got a watercooler on the CPU and I don't want to take the heatsinks of the GPU. I'm thinking of replacing the disks with larger disks so that there are fewer of them, which will help with heat generation and airflow, but that'll happen over time.

Or I could split the machines again, stick the storage in the garage and have a smaller machine in the office with just the GPU and an SSD. That would allow me to upgrade the processor at the same time.

There's always something, isn't there :)
I had major heat issues with because of my small AV cabinet with a receiver, multiple smaller heat generating devices and a NAS. I took the cabinet back off and use up to two 120cm fans which creates enough air flow to dissipate the heat very effectively. The mini PC has OK(ish) airflow, GPU 70+ degrees, CPU 80+ degrees under load. I replaced the stock cooler so now both my CPU & GPU rarely exceed 65 degrees.

I started my mini cinema because I was sick a few years ago and I wanted to be able to watch media from any device anywhere in the house. I think by then I had started backing up my media and Kodi was the first thing I set up. Then I got my first receiver and speakers and the rest is history lol.

I had it in the back of my mind for a while that VR might be the way to go for 3D viewing so last year I finally set it up. I used my laptop to watch a 3D film using MPC-BE with Virtual Desktop wirelessly streaming it to my Quest. This year I got a mini PC which allows me to fully use MadVR as my renderer and scaler and greatly increase SVP quality for watching 3D films at 1440p running at 60Hz.
 
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Donnacha

Distinguished Member
As above, it will only solve the problem if the previous cable was having issues once the selection has been made.

How long is it and what cable did you go for?
Hi - I have a 10m fibre HDMI cable that supports 4k 60hz no probs. I needed to add a shorter HDMI2.0 cable from the HTPC to the AVR, which I added last night and the signal goes through fine so I can get the desktop to 4k 60hz.

Tried MPC-BE with MadVR last night, doing a simple HDR passthrough and Tenet played fine from my NAS. Managed to get it playing back in 4k HDR BT2020 24hz, which triggered HDR mode on my projector. So pleased with that....however......

Flash Gordon wouldn't appear on screen. I got sound, I got the projector to recognise a HDR 4k signal, but there was just a black screen. Any ideas? I'm thinking it might be because Flash Gordon is a higher bitrate than Tenet? Could the card struggle with higher bitrate MKV rips? ...or is there a simple trick I'm missing? It's there if I playback at 1080p.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
Hi - I have a 10m fibre HDMI cable that supports 4k 60hz no probs. I needed to add a shorter HDMI2.0 cable from the HTPC to the AVR, which I added last night and the signal goes through fine so I can get the desktop to 4k 60hz.

Tried MPC-BE with MadVR last night, doing a simple HDR passthrough and Tenet played fine from my NAS. Managed to get it playing back in 4k HDR BT2020 24hz, which triggered HDR mode on my projector. So pleased with that....however......

Flash Gordon wouldn't appear on screen. I got sound, I got the projector to recognise a HDR 4k signal, but there was just a black screen. Any ideas? I'm thinking it might be because Flash Gordon is a higher bitrate than Tenet? Could the card struggle with higher bitrate MKV rips? ...or is there a simple trick I'm missing? It's there if I playback at 1080p.
I know there have been issues with MPC-BE and HDR so I'm glad pass through works. There is no way in which Flash Gordon has a higher bit rate than any Nolan movie, especially Tenet. Is Flash Gordon your own rip or something else?
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Hi - I have a 10m fibre HDMI cable that supports 4k 60hz no probs. I needed to add a shorter HDMI2.0 cable from the HTPC to the AVR, which I added last night and the signal goes through fine so I can get the desktop to 4k 60hz.

Tried MPC-BE with MadVR last night, doing a simple HDR passthrough and Tenet played fine from my NAS. Managed to get it playing back in 4k HDR BT2020 24hz, which triggered HDR mode on my projector. So pleased with that....however......

Flash Gordon wouldn't appear on screen. I got sound, I got the projector to recognise a HDR 4k signal, but there was just a black screen. Any ideas? I'm thinking it might be because Flash Gordon is a higher bitrate than Tenet? Could the card struggle with higher bitrate MKV rips? ...or is there a simple trick I'm missing? It's there if I playback at 1080p.

What fibre cable do you have?

HDMI cables don't have version numbers, it's banned by HDMI.org but some sellers still confuse the issue by doing so. Need a Premium certified cable to support HDMI 2.0 devices.

Having said that the issue you are describing does sound to be a bandwidth issue rather than a playback issue.

If it was a playback issue and the card was struggling to keep up then I would expect a picture but it would dropping frames\stuttering as it couldn't keep up.

The bitrate of it so long as the PC can play the file should be irrelevant as it will usually be an uncompressed signal sent over HDMI of up to 18Gbps. So if both films were 4K HDR then one could be 10Mbps and the other 80Mbps and they would both end up the same bitrate when played. One might look shockingly bad compared to the other but each individual pixel is sent over HDMI.

When you add 4K + 60 + HDR you end up with more bandwidth than just 4K + 60 and when you go for higher colour depths this increases the bandwidth further. Here you might be running against the bandwidth limit.

To test this you could try (if you haven't already)

1) set Windows to be in HDR mode and see if that displays or not
2) Connect PC directly to fibre HDMI to see it removing the AVR solves the issue
3) Connect PC directly to PJ using a different cable (appreciate that might be not very practical but some fibre cables struggle with higher bandwidth and might not do the full 18Gbps needed)
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
What fibre cable do you have?

HDMI cables don't have version numbers, it's banned by HDMI.org but some sellers still confuse the issue by doing so. Need a Premium certified cable to support HDMI 2.0 devices.

Having said that the issue you are describing does sound to be a bandwidth issue rather than a playback issue.

If it was a playback issue and the card was struggling to keep up then I would expect a picture but it would dropping frames\stuttering as it couldn't keep up.

The bitrate of it so long as the PC can play the file should be irrelevant as it will usually be an uncompressed signal sent over HDMI of up to 18Gbps. So if both films were 4K HDR then one could be 10Mbps and the other 80Mbps and they would both end up the same bitrate when played. One might look shockingly bad compared to the other but each individual pixel is sent over HDMI.

When you add 4K + 60 + HDR you end up with more bandwidth than just 4K + 60 and when you go for higher colour depths this increases the bandwidth further. Here you might be running against the bandwidth limit.

To test this you could try (if you haven't already)

1) set Windows to be in HDR mode and see if that displays or not
2) Connect PC directly to fibre HDMI to see it removing the AVR solves the issue
3) Connect PC directly to PJ using a different cable (appreciate that might be not very practical but some fibre cables struggle with higher bandwidth and might not do the full 18Gbps needed)
I don't think this should be a problem. I can run 4K + 60 + HDR over a 1080p DP cable (not recommended) using MadVR. It drops frames which which is why I usually run at 1440p but it works.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
How long is your cable?
Fair point, this particular cable is 2M. But I recently ran 4k with a 10m full-hd rated HDMI cable. Not 100% stable lol but it worked. I don't regularly run 4k+HDR from my PC, I have other equipment for that, so maybe that's why. Anyway, my point is that I would be surprised if his issue was cable related.
 

Donnacha

Distinguished Member
So, I have 2 long cables connected to the projector. One is my "legacy" cable, built into the wall but is capable of playing my 4K UHD discs from my panasonic player, through the AVR outputting 4K, HDR 24hz. If I go to 4K HDR 60hz it can't do it. So I bought a fibre optic HDMI Atzebe cable than can do 4K HDR 60hz for games, streaming services from my Xbox One X.

Last night I used the legacy cable which worked for Tenet at 4k HDR 24hz (as it does with the Panasonic 4K disc player). But Flash Gordon (its a MKV rip of the disc) also output at 4k HDR 24hz but no picture ! I didn't try the newer cable, ...didn't think I'd need to as the other cable is capable of 4k HDR 24hz, but I'll give it a go tonight and also try the direct from PC to Projector as well.

Cheers for the help
 

Donnacha

Distinguished Member
Just some other factors...not sure if these would make any difference:
  • I'm running Windows 7 32 Bit
  • The GT1030 is a PCI x 16 card, and I have a mobo with x16 PCI slot, PCI 3.0, but the card is showing up in the system info as PCI x4 Gen 2

I'm going to rip some other discs to see how they fair, i.e. playback fine like Tenet or not like Flash Gordon.

Did I say this tweaking malarkey is fun...I take it back !! :)
 

Conrad

Moderator
What other PCI cards do you have in the system? Depending on the number of CPU rails available (I think) it'll split them to each PCI slot. If you have multiple PCI cards in then that could be what's happening.

Also check that the slot it's in is the x16 slot (you've probably already done this).

Are you using MadVR? If you are then you hit ctrl+j to display the stats. If the buffers aren't filling then it's a throughput issue (although might only highlight network/disk issues), if the rendering times are over 42ms then it's a GPU issue (42 ms is the maximum time you can take to render 24fps content)
 

Donnacha

Distinguished Member
BTW as promised here’s the messy insides of my HTPC
 

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ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Fair point, this particular cable is 2M. But I have run similar with a 10m full-hd
Fair point, this particular cable is 2M. But I recently ran 4k with a 10m full-hd rated HDMI cable. Not 100% stable lol but it worked. I don't regularly run 4k+HDR from my PC, I have other equipment for that, so maybe that's why. Anyway, my point is that I would be surprised if his issue was cable related.

Yep I have a 2m old DP cable running 5120x1440 @ 120Hz with HDR, technically should not work but the thing is with cables they haven't changed the wiring spec and they are passive so if they work, they work.

The most common problems on the cable forums are typically black screen or picture break up and 90% it is cable related. Particularly were active cables are involved, some of the cheaper ones don't cut the mustard. :(

I'm running Windows 7 32 Bit

Does that work properly with HDR?
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
Yep I have a 2m old DP cable running 5120x1440 @ 120Hz with HDR, technically should not work but the thing is with cables they haven't changed the wiring spec and they are passive so if they work, they work.

The most common problems on the cable forums are typically black screen or picture break up and 90% it is cable related. Particularly were active cables are involved, some of the cheaper ones don't cut the mustard. :(



Does that work properly with HDR?
Yep as soon as you asked me about cable length I thought that was a good point. My DP to HDMI cable I think is a semi active cable because it has electronics at the HDMI end.

HDR can work with Windows 7 using MadVR HDR pass through. I've not tried it myself but others reported it working. You might need to use LAV filters as well.
 

Conrad

Moderator
Out with the old

65E87241-39D8-46CD-B44C-BC0E7202925B.jpeg

In with the new

D99E17D0-F332-4751-BBD5-0D79A246735C.jpeg

Today I learned that iPhones can’t take pictures of plasma TVs.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
What case is that please?
Fractal Design Node 304. I bought this PC recently and it's a great case, but you might be better off with the Node 500 as it has better airflow design and a slot for a 5.4" device

Out with the old



In with the new

View attachment 1463697

Today I learned that iPhones can’t take pictures of plasma TVs.
Are you sure you've got enough power ;)
 

MI55ION

Distinguished Member
This is literally my entire Home Cinema (minus rear speakers obviously) :) In case it is't obvious, PC is the little black box on the floor with the blue light lol. I should really include my Oculus Quest as that is an essential part of my viewing along with the PC.

View attachment 1462829

Am I the only to to feel bad for that neglected centre speaker?
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
Am I the only to to feel bad for that neglected centre speaker?
I can't just leave it on the floor in front of the receiver. I bring it out when I need to and return it when I don't. My rears are also on stands behind the living room chairs so everything is out of the way. It's weird having such a small cinema set up sound better than the majority of actual cinemas.
 
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Conrad

Moderator
Fractal Design Node 304. I bought this PC recently and it's a great case, but you might be better off with the Node 500 as it has better airflow design and a slot for a 5.4" device


Are you sure you've got enough power ;)

That’s the baby PSU. The rig upstairs has a Corsair AX1500 in it!
 

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