HTPC Motherboard, Processor, Raid Questions

Lord Biggington

Standard Member
Well I have finally succumbed and am about to start my first htpc project to drive my new DLP hdtv. I've never built an entire pc before but have done many upgrades so am comfortable with the whole concept, but after many many hours of research on this forum and generally around I still have a few burning questions.

As I have plenty of room on my AV stand I have decided to go for a big case, easier to cool, keep quiet and expand if need be. Something like the Silverstone LC16.

I am going to use it to mainly play:
- dvd's, both off the drive and off the hard disc
- divx,xvid
- hd; wmv,ts etc
- music
- also might use it to archive stuff off my sky+ box onto dvd.
- small amount of web browsing, and office type applications.

I am fairly settled/unconcerned on half of the components but it is the important ones that I still am undecided on:

1. Motherboard - Socket 939

Would initially prefer on board spdif, and onboard dvi (although I have a sapphire Radeon 9550 AGP 256MB lying around that might do the trick, not sure how quiet/cool it is though). I would also prefer to have raid available (see below for another question on this). I have seen the coming soon gigabyte GA-K8N51PVMT-9 which seems to be exactly what I am after. Any ideas when this is due? I would like to start putting it all together at the end of this month. Any other options?

2. Processor

Have decided on an Athlon, but need to decide on dual core or not. Is there any point in going dual in a htpc? I am unlikely to use it for any serious gaming.

3. Raid etc
I am concerned about data loss so want to implement some sort of redundancy. As the case I am looking at has space for 6 hdd (with additional fans on the cages) I thought I could squeeze 4 in a raid array.

Provided I can keep everything cool and quiet are there any performance issues I should be looking at with Raid (level 5 is what I have been considering)?

I would also prefer this to be hardware rather than software (on the motherboard if possible). Other solutions like a dedicated file server are not really possible due to lack of space (ie it would still have to be in the same room, so would need to be quiet etc anyway).

Any advice would be appreciated -
Daniel
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Hi...I think I've got something along the lines of what you are after...

I've got the LC16M Silverstone in Black (the new Silver)...It actually has space for 7! 3.5 HD drives....I have opted for an Intel D 820 as it is much better value than the X2 3800. Like yourself I don't play any games on it, and dual core does help very much so when you consider that most (all) media applications like WMP are multi-threaded....

I got the Abit AW8-MAX motherboard...Which has got 4 SATA ports that do support RAID-5...On those I run 4x250 Samsung Spinpoints...Then it has got a further controller for two discs on which I have 2x160 Samsung Spinpoints...No raid, one for the OS and whatever and the other for recordings....All are running completely silent in AAM mode...

I've now got the box completely silent and got the latest little hum out of it by using accoustic material on the side....My old Sky+ box is much more noisy than this thing is....

Graphics card wise you are limited really to the silent Nvidia 6600GT from Gigabyte but that is not a bad thing of-course.....

Oh and I can really recommend the Elan Vital Greenerger powersupply, I got mine from http://www.u-sm.com very quick delivery, good comms and little cheaper than quietpc...It is silent and very stable and has enough juice to power all that stuff inside....

Just waiting for my dual-dvb-t on PCI-E....Hopefully comes next week and then my project is complete and ready to ship into the living room and ship Sky out ;-)
 

Pootle

Standard Member
Lord Biggington said:
Something like the Silverstone LC16.
Quite a monster, Daniel, and keeping it quiet could be tricky, especially with 6 discs. You will need good airflow!

Lord Biggington said:
1. Motherboard - Socket 939
2. Processor
Good choice, and go for a Scythe Ninja CPU cooler (will it fit in that case?) I have an Athlon 3500 with Ninja and big slow fan set at lowest voltage - inaudible and CPU runs at 31C even with Seti running permanently - it will cope with much hotter CPUs than this no problem. Wouldn't bother with on board graphics - go for add-on fanless card with DVI. Of course AMD are well ahead in the power per watt stakes at the moment, so are good choice where you want to run quiet and cool.

I have few problems with Athlon 3500 - but it does glitch the picture at times when I do other things - so if you're expecting to do other things while watching / listening, a dual core might help - at a price!

I always use ASUS Mobos, the only make I haven't come unstuck with over the years, but that s just my preference.

Lord Biggington said:
3. Raid etc
Even a Raid array won't guarantee your data - windows might decide to scribble all over the disc, or 2 may fail together. I back up all the data I can't reproduce in at least 2 other places.
Windows XP won't run raid 5 for you (officially), and an add-on card is good idea - I've been thinking of using one as you can get benefits like adding another disc on the fly, currently just use software raid 5, and it works very well. you MUST keep the discs cool, although they don't need much airflow - big fans running slow on the cages again, but you must monitor the fans, if they stop, the discs will fry themselves. Raid 5 is great at read access, not so fast at write (but still pretty quick), which will match what you are doing anyway. be wary of on mobo raid controllers, they are not nearly as good as add-on cards, and I had a lot of problems (in the early days admittedly) with on mobo raid (using mirroring), in the end I gave up and used software raid 0 and all worked well.

Don't get hung up on PCI-E - still costs more and PCI-E mobos are still in early days, plus you will find card choices limited. The best digital terrestrial card / software by a long way is still reckoned to be the nebula digitv.
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
Scythe Ninja won't fit in a LC16.
Thermalright XP120 is the best bet in there.
The dual core pentium may be better value than the XP3800 X2, but the XP3800X2 runs cooler meaing it's easier to keep teh whole thing cooler quieter.
I use Gigbyte K8N-Ultra 9 motherboards - it has 6 USB headers - essential for a LC16m, RAID 0,1 and 5, 8 SATA connectors (if ever you need them) plus SPDIF in and out and is passivly cooler.
The equivalent abit board is also a decent bet
 

Lord Biggington

Standard Member
Thanks for the tips. The thermalright XP-120 looks a good match for the LC16 and Athlon dual core. Is it sensible/possible to slow down a good 120mm fan for this heatsink?
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Skunkpipe said:
The dual core pentium may be better value than the XP3800 X2, but the XP3800X2 runs cooler meaing it's easier to keep teh whole thing cooler quieter.
Maybe but I don't think 42 degree is actually hot during passmark, do you?
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
Lord Biggington said:
Thanks for the tips. The thermalright XP-120 looks a good match for the LC16 and Athlon dual core. Is it sensible/possible to slow down a good 120mm fan for this heatsink?
Yes. I've set it up to run fanless below 40c - which it does most of the time, above 40 it comes on slow (inaudible), 50 medium (jiust about hear it) and 60 fast (Noisy as hell) - thing is it never gets to 50
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
dejongj said:
Maybe but I don't think 42 degree is actually hot during passmark, do you?
What fan speed? If the fan is constanly on the AMD will stay below 35. Have you got it to run fanless? I've tried witha single P4 3.0 and it just won't do it reliably
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Fanspeed is at 1450rpm...was just audible for the CPU fan, but no longer now I've insulated the case....But 43 degrees is unusual, normal MCE operations it runs at 28 degrees....

Don't get me wrong, I believe the x2 3800 is a very capable processor, though I'm not too certain compared to the Pentium on video encoding/decoding stuff...This thing breezes through everything....Last night I was downloading stuff, watching the 1080p demos and unzipping the new demos comming in without loosing as much of a frame and a temp of only 33 degrees....

I wouldn't just discount the pentiums for the heat generation it's not as the myth, there is so much flow available in a LC16M...if you go for a smaller case, yes perhaps...But you have the space in here and save yourself a bundle....
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
PS...I'd love to try it fanless, but I don't know how to do that without just taking the plug out.....Or is that how you do it?
 

Trending threads

Top Bottom