[mythtv-users] What's the best HD frontend only hardware?

Chris Ribe chrisribe at gmail.com
Fri Feb 29 05:13:12 UTC 2008

On Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 7:33 PM, Richard Bronosky <BrunosJunk at bronosky.com>

> I'm looking to convert my FE+BE system to a BE only since it cannot
> handle HD playback in a satisfactory manner.  In doing so I will be
> building a dedicated FE from scratch.  If you had this opportunity
> with today's hardware, what would you choose?
> Here is how I'm leaning:
> 1. Must be able to handle (USA) OTA HD, aka: MPEG2 TS
> 2. Must have DVI or HDMI video output.  (optionally via a ADD2 card)
> 3. I would prefer it to be able to handle H.264 is in
> http://images.apple.com/movies/us/hd_gallery/gl1800/1080p/bbc-blue_m1080p.mov
> 4. I would prefer onboard Intel video in gratitude for there
> contributions to Xorg and OSS.
> 5. I would prefer a low power consumption system.
> 6. I would prefer a Micro-ITX or other SBC
> 7. I would prefer to use a CF instead of an HDD.

Alright, I'll play, but only because this is hand down my favorite game!

For the record, I didn't chime in on the "to newegg/not to newegg"
subthread  in the other thread,  but as far as I'm concerned, if newegg
doesn't sell it, it doesn't exist.

MB: Asus P5E-VM<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131237>
HDMI, VGA, Intel g35 graphics, firewire, S/PDIF, eSATA for when you come to
you senses and realize you can't hear a quiet hard drive over your TV but
down have room in the case.
Price: $130

Memory: 2GB DDR2 800, I don't care what brand. When one stick goes bad
you'll still have more than enough, and probably won't have to pay much for
the replacement.
Price: $45

CPU: I'm saving this for the end.  I want this computer to be price
competitive with the overpriced, overcute,  overexalted small mac, and some
hard decisions may have to be made in this category.

Hard drive:  Western Digital Caviar GP
I know, I know, you want compact flash.  I don't care.  That would be a bad
decision.  750GB, fancy variable speed operation to reduce noise and heat,
you will appreciate having this hard drive.  Nobody ever built a mythtv
system with enough storage, and you won't be the first.  You are going to
spend about $40 on OS storage space one way or the other, you might as well
spend 4 times as much and get 75 times as much storage.
Price: $150

Case: SILVERSTONE Silver Aluminum / Steel GD02S Micro
OK, I give up.  This thing isn't going to be as cheap as a mac mini. Oh
well.  It will still be faster, stronger, and prettier.
Price: $150

Power Supply: Antec earthwatts EA380 ATX12V v2.0 380W Power
I don't know, they say its quiet, but they're trying to sell it.   I think
the important thing to remember here is that the difference between a loud
system and a quiet system is much greater than the difference between a
quiet system and a silent system.  If you need *no* ambient noise, build a
soundproof room and put the computer in an adjacent room.   And don't ask me
what to use for a display device, because I am not aware of any silent ones.

Price: $35

DVD burner: $35
I don't burn DVDs, but I often think about it.  DVDs are sooooo 1997.

Processor: Core 2 Duo E6750 Conroe
Well, now that we've given up the dream of being cheap, we might as well go
all in.  For the record, my HD capable frontend has a P4 630, (3.0 Ghz,
EM64T) which I paid $210 for 27 months ago.  I don't do a lot of transcoding
on it, but I probably would if it was faster.  (you haven't really ripped
DVDs until you've done it to h.264 at 80fps on a Mac Pro,  as far as I'm
concerned).   Anyhow,  maybe it is personal bias, because I spend a lot of
time transcoding video at work, but I hate slow processors.  This is not one
of them.
Cost: $180

Intel stock fans suck.
Cost: $45

IR receiver:  I don't know much about these things, but  Iguess you'll want
Cost: $25

Total:  $795
Damn!  Is that it?  I thought it was going to come out to a lot more.
Anyhow, that's a *lot* of computer for $795.   For comparison, the $799 Mac
mini has 50% less RAM, 50% less FSB, (approx) 25% less processor, 86% less
storage, and won't have anywhere for you to put another SATA harddrive when
you run out of space.

As for your original requirements, I believe I've met numbers 1-4 and 6.  On
number 5 (low power) I'm definitely borderline, but as Ars noted in their
green PC piece, idle is what matters, and this thing should pull less than
40 watts from the wall at idle.  As previously noted, number 7 was  silly.


TV/IT Engineer
WCJB-TV Gainesville, FL
(352) 416 0648
cribe at wcjb.com
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