HTPC Specification - should be ample, your views?

mrrodge

Active Member
OK so my HTPC is pretty good, in general. I've been planning to use MePo for a long time, as I still have issues such as TV being unavailable after sleep with 7MC/TVSource.

Just lately though, I have one that's really doing my box in so to speak. When watching a Blu-ray with PDVD11 I have been experiencing pixellation and sometimes it becomes unwatchable. A bit like a poor signal with DVB TV channels.

After much experimentation it seems that every time it's happened it's been when recording Match of the Day from BBC One HD on a Saturday night. Last night for example, we were watching a Blu-ray and it was fine until ten-past ten, when it started going funny. It didn't just happen off its own back though, we had to pause the movie to get a drink. On resuming playback, unwatchable. Very annoying!

Thing is, I'm using a dedicated GPU so the CPU shouldn't be heavily loaded when watching BDs. Surely the HD recording would be CPU driven, so should be OK. The GPU plays 3D movies without issue. I upgraded to PDVD12, still no difference!

My specs are as follows:

7MC
Core i3 2100T
4GB Ram
Nvidia GT430 1GB, also using HDMI sound to 3D TV
LG BD-Rom
Two HDDs, an old 500gb Samsung 7200rpm drive full of ripped DVDs and one of those 5700rpm 'eco' drives, 2TB (Greenstar, is it?)
TBS 6981

The 2TB has the OS and recorded TV, music etc on it.

The unit is connected to the web, though only for MSE updates and Guide updates. It is very rarely used as anything other than a HTPC. I also have AnyDVD HD, I thought this could have been causing the issue so I disabled it, and I still have no improvement.

A couple of months ago though, I fired it up and the GPU was dead. I took it out and put it back in several times, still nothing. I left it out, went to a computer shop to buy a new one and couldn't get one, so tried it again when I got back and strangely, it's been fine since. Could this have something to do with it?

I am not a fan of TVSource and am inclined to blame this as well! It slowed my channel changes dramatically and I had no issues with waking from sleep before I started using it. It's this that makes me want to move to MePo, but it doesn't seem as aesthetically pleasing when listening to music. Also since installing TVSource, TV channels skip if I minimise 7MC and run a web browser. This never happened before having TVSource. I think it's putting unneccessary load on the machine.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated! The machine's based in my static caravan and the end of the season's coming up, so I'll be able to give it a bit of a winter overhaul.

Cheers.
 

mdbarber

Active Member
treat yourself to a ssd for the OS, disable anything putting weight on the drive, hibernate,swapfile, indexing all will be good.
 

mrrodge

Active Member
maddogb said:
treat yourself to a ssd for the OS, disable anything putting weight on the drive, hibernate,swapfile, indexing all will be good.

I'm a little sceptical when it comes to SSDs. I can see the performance benefits, however I know that my Eco drive can record two hd channels simultaneously whilst playing a dvd without major issues. The BD issue I'm having is whilst they're being played off a disc and only one channel is being recorded. Surely it isn't too much hassle for the HDD?

Why does doing away with the swap file improve things? I assume its because it forces use of the flash memory instead of the HDD for open applications, but if I run lots of things at once aren't I creating a bottle neck?

Something still very fishy here! Thanks for quick reply!
 

mdbarber

Active Member
I'm a little sceptical when it comes to SSDs. I can see the performance benefits, however I know that my Eco drive can record two hd channels simultaneously whilst playing a dvd without major issues. The BD issue I'm having is whilst they're being played off a disc and only one channel is being recorded. Surely it isn't too much hassle for the HDD?

Why does doing away with the swap file improve things? I assume its because it forces use of the flash memory instead of the HDD for open applications, but if I run lots of things at once aren't I creating a bottle neck?

Something still very fishy here! Thanks for quick reply!

the ssd is just really to give the system a nice nippy response and make it feel like a dedicated machine rather than a generic pc adapted, it really works trust me, my wife still doesn't know after 4 years we have a pc in the lounge :D

we have all seen pictures of the internals of expensive watches so many cogs turning in perfect unison, now imagine your pc being like that only all of a sudden someone puts extra weight on just one cog.
Thats what i'm getting at with the minimising disk tasks, its not just throughput to the drive, its asking it to do so many things at once.
recording tv, updating the swapfile, updating the hibernate file, adding updates to the
disk index file, paging a program out to swapfile because it hasnt been used in the last minute etc etc many of which will happen just when you don't want them to...
 

mrrodge

Active Member
the ssd is just really to give the system a nice nippy response and make it feel like a dedicated machine rather than a generic pc adapted, it really works trust me, my wife still doesn't know after 4 years we have a pc in the lounge :D

we have all seen pictures of the internals of expensive watches so many cogs turning in perfect unison, now imagine your pc being like that only all of a sudden someone puts extra weight on just one cog.
Thats what i'm getting at with the minimising disk tasks, its not just throughput to the drive, its asking it to do so many things at once.
recording tv, updating the swapfile, updating the hibernate file, adding updates to the
disk index file, paging a program out to swapfile because it hasnt been used in the last minute etc etc many of which will happen just when you don't want them to...

Thanks for the explanation, I may just give this a go. What sort of speeds would you recommend for an SSD? PCI-E or SATA? Are they reliable, and how are they compared with normal HDDs on power consumption/thermally?

Back on to the HTPC front, do you use a conventional drive for DVDs/recorded TV? How about the live TV pause/rewind buffer?

Cheers.
 

mdbarber

Active Member
as i said my ssd kits quite old so no comparison to the new kit, thermals etc never been a problem, defo sata especially if you are on a board with sata 3, pci-e v1 is limited to 250MBs and theres other issues using faster drives via pci-e v1 interfaces.
my set up is mirrored nas for perm storage ie rips and music/photos etc, inside the htpc is ssd for os programs and another drive partitioned x2 for timeshift and recordings
 

mrrodge

Active Member
maddogb said:
as i said my ssd kits quite old so no comparison to the new kit, thermals etc never been a problem, defo sata especially if you are on a board with sata 3, pci-e v1 is limited to 250MBs and theres other issues using faster drives via pci-e v1 interfaces.
my set up is mirrored nas for perm storage ie rips and music/photos etc, inside the htpc is ssd for os programs and another drive partitioned x2 for timeshift and recordings

Thanks for the advice, I'm now looking more seriously into it.

Would there still be a need to disable the swap file? All I'm thinking is that the ssd is in effect almost as quick as the ram, so what would be the benefit?

I've seen some pci e x16 ssds quoting speeds that double sata3. If I had an SLI board with 2 slots, ran the gpu in one and the ssd in the other, would I get x16 from both or would the ssd default to x1?

Cheers again.
 

mdbarber

Active Member
an ssd is still far slower than ram and you have plenty, my machines run on 1GB and 2GB neither has ever complained about lack of swap file, its pretty useless these days don't know why the hell MS still insist on including it
 

mdbarber

Active Member
my own personal preference is to simply use the ssd for os and programs, as little writing as possible to ensure longevity, the pci-e ones seem a little overkill when you can get a £50 500GBs+ 120GB drive that will do the job nicely.
don't forget much of what goes on is still controlled by timing loops within software and its all tied to that tiny little dsl line for far too much so even the £300 pci-e or my £50 solution will still wait for windows to do its shizzle occasionally.
 

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