I'm at the end of my tether with mce.. halp!

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by saqmaster, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. saqmaster

    saqmaster
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    Hi all..

    Okay, well i've had my HTPC now for I guess coming on for a year. This is the spec :-

    DFI Infinity RS482 uATX Motherboard
    AMD A64 3200+
    1GB PC3200 RAM
    Onboard ATI Xpress 200 video/chipset/blah
    2 x Blackgold DVB-T PCI Cards
    XP Media Center Edition SR2 + latest patches

    It's never been stable. Not ever. For another 6 months I suffered serious hardware hangs which appear to have been resolved since I flashed the bios (few months ago now). It's still not right though. Every now and again the graphics corrupt, or MCE loses it's button text, or something similar. Sometimes I hear the default windows "donk" sound effect as if a warning message has popped up (when the tv is off), but when I turn it on, there is no message. A few bits and bobs in the event log but nothing super obvious.

    The thing that's ****** me off the most is I set two programmes to record last night and it didn't record either. I got up this morning to a message of "couldn't download EPG" (even though it gets it via DVB) and it hadn't recorded either, even though I scheduled the recordings from the guide itself!!!!!! Infuriating.

    On another note, I tried (again) GB-PVR this afternoon only to quickly remind myself why I didn't bother with it in the first place (DVB support and EPG is crap).

    All I want is a reliable, stable PVR. Is that too much to ask for? Originally I had a Pace PVR and a KiSS divx/dvd player but that only supported about half the divx files that get released, so a complete waste of time really. I built the HTPC as the 'ultimate replacement' and all i've had is grief. And of course, I can't go to MS for support (even though it's a legit copy). Sulk.

    btw, this is UK spec.

    Thoughts? 8)

    -Stu

    nb: here's a piccy of it..

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Stiggy

    Stiggy
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    I'll halp ;)

    When is the last time you re-installed Windows? Recently, I did a re-install and left off all unnecessary software, including updates from Microsoft! I won't say it's perfect but it's a lot better than it was.

    Oh, and I'm sure someone will say you should try Linux/Myth... or buy a Mac... but let's be sensible eh? :D
     
  3. Mac Sami

    Mac Sami
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    MCE gets its EPG via the internet.

    My observations:

    1. Virus / spyware troubles
    I'll assume not in your case

    2. User operation
    Sorry, but you can't hammer a PC to do 10 things at once, in the same way a HTPC should be a designated unit - having lots of processes and programs running in the background, or even running them, will result in an eventual crash. I don't know if you do this, just a thought.

    3. Configuration issue
    MCE is a hybrid of XP Pro and XP Home. Clearly it's been thrown together quickly at Microsoft, so it has its problems. Aside from MCE, graphic related errors mean you should check your display drivers. I would suggest getting a dedicated graphics card - on board graphics are not usually up to the same mark. A format and restart approach may be used, but I think it is better to find the cause of the problem - that way, if similar problems occur in the future (even if you do eventually format and re-install MCE), then you know what the problem is.

    4. Hardware issue
    If you haven't already, I would consider decent branded memory (all I can see from your photo are RAM sticks with pink stickers, which doesn't look like branded memory to me). I have seen many high spec HTPC's with shoddy memory, and the users crying because their machine doesn't work.

    By the way, that blue fan looks pretty high - does the lid of the case actually fit?
     
  4. saqmaster

    saqmaster
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    Thanks for your reply stiggy.. That box did get reinstalled early on because of some video problem I couldn't get rid of (MCE would complain that the video mode wasn't supported and I spent too long trying to fix it, so re-installed).. I'm not sure I want to go down that route just yet.. I have turned off automatic updates though a week ago because I thought maybe the systray popups were breaking MCE in some way.. no change really..

    If I knew I could install linux/myth and it'd just work, i'd go for it. Fortunately i'm not in denial and I realise it'd take a month to get it working right and then might not support what I have :rotfl:

    I prefer commercial alternatives....
     
  5. saqmaster

    saqmaster
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    I never say never, but i'm 99.9% sure it's got nothing on it. I'm pretty good with that.

    It's a dedicated box. Only thing running in the background are the ATI and AMD utilities (cool'n'quiet).

    I have considered this recently because HD playback stutters slightly. I have been browsing some Nvidia 7300GS cards (low-profile) but have not yet made a choice (or decided to commit based on the unreliability of the whole package).

    Yeah the RAM was pretty cheap. It has sat for 24 hours doing a thorough memory check though, if that's a good enough test.

    Yes, it fits, just. It sits about 0.5mm higher than the case naturally would but there's no uneven loading on it. I guess, technically, some of the weight from the 23" LCD TV that's sitting ontop of the HTPC is being taken by the cooler (and thus CPU/mobo), but I really don't think it's that great (I could test that actually with a strain gauge but I honestly don't think it's worth it).. That's a real cool cooler (no pun), actually spins right down to nothingness sometimes (the amd cool'n'quiet helps that).. CPU temp sits at 29C.. only starts to spin up if I watch a film.. very quiet!!
     
  6. saqmaster

    saqmaster
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    also.. how do I get this forum to display newest posts at the bottom? I can't find it!!
     
  7. mushii

    mushii
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    What temp does your cpu / motherboard run at? Those symptoms sound like an overheating cpu or northbidge. With only 0.5mm clearance on your cpu fan and looking at how tight that case is and two red hot dvb-t tuners I think that you may have some serious heat issues. Overheating may also cause your graphics to corrupt.

    How does it all run with the case lid off ?
     
  8. saqmaster

    saqmaster
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    CPU idles around 29C.. peaks about 32C.. (closed-loop fan control).. chipset maybe 35C at the most.. case temp about the same.. it runs really, really cool.. i even confirmed it with my infrared thermometer.. I haven't tried with the case off, never saw the need really.. the way i've implemented the case and cpu cooler means all the air it draws in has to come from the outside, which is a good thing..
     
  9. MacBurp

    MacBurp
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    Have you tried defragging the HD? MCE hates fragmented TV files....

    regards,
    Paul
     
  10. saqmaster

    saqmaster
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    Can't say I have. I can't really see how a fragmented filesystem could stop MCE displaying text labels on it's interface and other hanging problems?
     
  11. Martin Chatfiel

    Martin Chatfiel
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    You don't seem to have much luck, there's no reason why MCE should be that unreliable. My suggestions are (and these probably contradict all the other suggestions you will get):
    • Remove all virus scanners, 3rd-party firewalls (shocking I know)
    • Don't use wireless networking (don't know if you are but it's not reliable enough for EPG downloads IMHO)
    • Disable cool'n'quiet (should work without problems but you never know)
    • Reinstall MCE from scratch, apply all the MS updates. IME the reliability has improved over the last year with all the 'roll-up' updates.
    • Try another motherboard. For about £50 (e.g. K9NGM2-FID) you will get new graphics, bios etc. and you can use your existing case, CPU, memory, disk etc. I use the older K8NGM2 with no problems, but there are others.
     
  12. Mac Sami

    Mac Sami
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    In simple terms, if you're having graphic related issues with text / rendering in MCE, the best place to look is your graphics card, graphics card drivers and graphics configuration.
     
  13. csmager

    csmager
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    Sorry that I'm not going to offer any help, but I have a question for the OP:

    What case is that? It looks great (even though the cover's off and I can't see the front!).

    Thanks!
     
  14. JonLeach

    JonLeach
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    I'll but in here, its a ahanix 302
    http://www.ahanix.com/products/mce/mce_302.php

    i have the same case. and have had a couple of prblems with mce very similar to yours.

    1 epg downloads fail and recording the guide fail. Fixed by using LAN rather than WirelessLAN
    2 tv stuttering almost sorted by regular defrag of the hdd.
    2a tv stuttering again disabled cool n quiet
    3. monitor been autodetected from standby then display resolution changes usually gives corruption on text. fixed by using a Harmony remote that switches the monitor on before MCE. check that bong sound as this is the same issue i think!


    i would also recommend the mce optimisation reset to be enabled and make sure that you defrag your drives every week. also i too dont use the mce pc for anything other than tv/dvd. i choose not to have and AV or fire wall in place as my router does that for me.

    hope this helps
    Jon
     

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