[mythtv-users] New system spec -- seeking comments.

Mark Greenwood fatgerman at ntlworld.com
Mon Jun 9 21:57:23 UTC 2008

On Monday 09 June 2008 22:33:12 Kevin Kuphal wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 9, 2008 at 4:29 PM, Allen Edwards
> <allen.edwards at oldpaloalto.com> wrote:
> > I posted a system spec some time ago.  I got lots of good feedback
> > that convinced me not to buy it..  There were also good ideas for how
> > to get what I needed.  I have since spent considerable time
> > researching a new spec that I think will meet my needs.  However,
> > there are several line items I can't nail down and some questions on
> > others.  As always, there is the fear I have missed an elephant, as
> > they say.
> >
> > Presently, I am using a P4-2.4GHz and it just doesn't have the power I
> > need.  For example, when mythcomflag is running, the video stutters
> > (even though max jobs is set to 1 and CPU set to low).  It has,
> > however, allowed me to run tests that help clarify what I need.
> >
> > I posted the results of my research below along with the options for
> > each line item where I am still undecided.  Comments, opinions, and in
> > general all feedback is appreciated both on individual line items and
> > on things I may have missed overall.
> >
> > To get S-Video, I decided I needed a video card so on-board video was
> > undesirable.  To get S/PDIF, the most economical solution was to get a
> > higher end MB with it built in.  That also gave me a better MB than a
> > cheap MB with an external sound card.  I have a VGA to S-Video
> > converter that I tried, but the quality isn't there.
> Just my 2 cents.  I'd avoid motherboard SPDIF out.  Personally I've
> never found one that did the optical header on the board or had the
> right header module to buy even though they all said "SPDIF onboard".
> I have had zero issues with a simple Turtle Beach Riviera PCI card
> running optical SPDIF to my receiver.  Cheap and easy.

I second that. Nowadays you can get decent PCI cards with SPDIF out, and you can also get USB cards with the same. These will all give superior sound quality to any onboard sound - yes, it may digital out but believe me it still makes a difference - onboard sound chips are susceptible to the noise in the case and are usually badly filtered. You probably can't get a motherboard now without onboard 5.1 audio but I still wouldn't recommend using it.

Regarding case and power supply. This, I assume, is a thing you are going to leave on all the time, or most of the time, and which will be in the living room. Noise is therefore going to be an issue. Cheap power supplies and bad cooling will (a) draw a lot of extra power, thus increasing your electricity bill and (b) make a lot of noise. Go for 120mm fans - both in the power supply and in the case, and get the largest CPU heatsink with the biggest fan you can get on it. Bigger fans spin more slowly and hence make less noise. If possible go for a motherboard with PWM fan connectors, which will allow the motherboard to control the fan speeds as it sees fit. As an aside, heat generation (and therefore noise) is the reason I personally prefer Intel over AMD processors. My myth box contains 3 fans and cannot be heard from the other side of the room because I chose the case, heatsink, and fans, very carefully. The biggest source of noise is often the fan on the graphics card - so I use fanless graphics cards. Provided your case cooling is good there's no reason a passively-cooled card will run any hotter than one with a fan.

On memory, yes, it really does make a difference. The difference between 800MHz and 1066MHz RAM is quite noticeable when you're doing a lot of intensive number-crunching tasks like, for instance, transcoding. Whether it's actually worth the extra expense in something like a myth box is doubtful. 

Motherboard, I personally like Gigabyte boards but I know Asus boards are also good. I don't think you'll have any trouble with either of your choices.

Hope some of that helps.

> Kevin
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