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ctech
January 2nd, 2009, 02:09 PM
Hi all,

I've come to love Boxee on my AppleTV, MacBook Pro and as of lately my brother on Windows Vista. However one issue with my AppleTV is the lack of process power to handle 1080p stuff. So I am now about to order in some stuff to build a machine only to be used with Boxee.

Requirements:
- Quite machine
- Speedy enough to handle 1080p 25fps

Example of a file that it will need to be able to take on easily.

Transformers.2007.HD-DVDRip.1080p.DTS.2DVD.x264-CHD

SOURCE TYPE.....: HD-DVD, 1080p H264
ViDEO BiTRATE...: x264 @ 11398Kbps
FRAME RATE......: 23.976 fps
AUDiO BiTRATE...: DTS 5.1 768Kbps
ASPECT RATiO....: 2.40 : 1
RESOLUTiON......: 1920 x 800
FilE SiZE.......: 7.93 G + 4.36 G

x264 [info]: slice I:2731 Avg QP:19.95 size:151562
x264 [info]: slice P:125799 Avg QP:21.93 size: 75113
x264 [info]: slice B:77825 Avg QP:23.07 size: 30623

Hardware:
- Antec Fusion 430 (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/antec-fusion-430-htpc-case,1760.html)- Volume controll, remote and IR reciever
- Asus P5N7A-VM (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2333126,00.asp) - Reviewed as the New HTPC King
- Corsair TWIN2X DDR2 4096MB (2x2048MB)
- Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - XBMC recommends this CPU for 1080p 25fps
- Nexus 120mm Real Silent - Two silent fans for the HTPC Case
- Scythe Ninja Mini

- Hard drive of your choice
- DVD / Blue-Ray drive
- Remote (I'm going for Logitech Harmony 555)
- Multimedia keyboard/mouse

- Arctic Silver Arctic Silver 5



----------------------------------
I'd love to hear peoples opinions regarding my set-up and whether you have any suggestions on what to add / downgrade.

Keep up the good work with Boxee. (If I can invest in Boxee I would.. Can i buy a share of the company?)

iBeech
January 2nd, 2009, 02:41 PM
How about this?

\\server\movies1\Transformers (2007).mkv
General
Complete name : \\server\movies1\Transformers (2007).mkv
Format : Matroska
File size : 17.4 GiB
Duration : 2h 23mn
Overall bit rate : 17.4 Mbps

Video #1
Format : AVC
Format/Info : Advanced Video Codec
Format profile : High@L4.1
Format settings, CABAC : Yes
Format settings, ReFrames : 4 frames
Muxing mode : Container profile=Unknown@4.1
Codec ID : V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC
Duration : 2h 23mn
Bit rate : 15.2 Mbps
Nominal bit rate : 15.9 Mbps
Width : 1 920 pixels
Height : 800 pixels
Display aspect ratio : 2.400
Frame rate : 23.976 fps
Resolution : 24 bits
Colorimetry : 4:2:0
Scan type : Progressive
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.412
Title : x264 - 2 passes
Writing library : x264 core 58
Language : English

Audio #2
Format : DTS
Format/Info : Digital Theater Systems
Codec ID : A_DTS
Duration : 2h 23mn
Bit rate mode : Constant
Bit rate : 1 536 Kbps
Channel(s) : 6 channels
Channel positions : Front: L C R, Surround: L R, LFE
Sampling rate : 48.0 KHz
Resolution : 24 bits
Title : DTS - 1536 kbit/sec
Language : English

iBeech
January 2nd, 2009, 02:58 PM
And one last thing before I go off and buy (ALL) of that kit... Does the board and it's card support HDCP for Blu-Ray playback?

THANKS!!

ctech
January 2nd, 2009, 03:57 PM
@ iBeech:

I'm not sure.. Good question. I would hope so...

iBeech
January 2nd, 2009, 04:31 PM
From Asus:

HDMI Interface
Enjoy Full HD 1080p Multimedia Home-Theater Entertainment
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the industry-supported, uncompressed, all digital audio and video interface via a single cable and is HDCP compliant allowing playback of HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc and other protected content.

ctech
January 2nd, 2009, 04:34 PM
Well, so that settles it.

But are you talking about playing Blueray movies of original blue-ray disc. Or are you just talking about higher quality blueray / HD rips?

iBeech
January 2nd, 2009, 04:40 PM
A mixture.

I download high quality blu-ray rips, watch them- if I like them then I buy them on Blu-Ray.

I tend to buy all my favourite TV shows on blu-ray :D

askelton
January 5th, 2009, 11:53 AM
Just pick yourself up a MacMini 2.0Ghz. It will play what you want it too, will probably be cheaper than building your own HTPC, and with the new one being announced tomorrow you'll either be able to get that, or pick up the current 2Ghz machine cheap!

iBeech
January 5th, 2009, 12:55 PM
MacMini's will not do blu-ray. thats an instant no for me... at least not without having an external blu-ray drive (which will look crap) :(

Perhaps the new MacMini will be 'the' replacement for AppleTV which lacks in the HD department.

iBeech
January 5th, 2009, 01:54 PM
ctech... Could you let us know how you got on?

merft
January 5th, 2009, 03:21 PM
I just recently built a HTPC that I'm happy with. As for the MacMini, bluray was a must for me. The following was $660.

Silverstone LC13B-E ATC HTPC Case (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16811163117) - Not fancy but good case, lots of room if you use a micro ATX card, really tight if you don't. No built-in remote.

ASUS P5KPL-CM LGA 775 Mobo (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16813131288) - This doesn't have great built in video which wasn't an issue as I bought a separate card. Great onboard 8 channel audio.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16819115052) - The E8500 is a nicer processor but for HTPC I think the E7200 is more than sufficient. I do play WoW every once in a while and this processor has no problems. Fully loaded for 12 hrs, the processor runs 40-45C with the stock fan (ripping Wanted bluray). Do watch the seating of the stock fan.


Lite-On 6X Blu-Ray ROM/DVD Burner (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16827106270) - Would have preferred a bluray burner but budget/wife didn't allow it. Will add one eventually. No problems with drive, other than it is so new, Lite-On doesn't list drivers for it. Only press release. Drivers on installation CD seem to work fine.

Sapphire Radeon 3650 GDDR Video Card (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16814102726) - This is the only questionable purchase I made. Card handles H.264 natively which offloads bluray to the card. It runs Wow at 1920x1080 at 75fps no problem. But it does not have built in HDMI. It requires a special DVI to HDMI adapter that Sapphire did not include. Having trouble finding it as ATI provides video and audio through the DVI socket. Right now just using DVI cable and audio separate.

WD Caviar SE16 500GB HD (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16822136073)


Thermaltake TR2 430W Power Supply (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16817153023)

Athena Power 12" Extension Cable (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16812198005) - Someone on NewEgg suggested this and glad I got it a lot more flexibility in cable routing to the mobo.

OCZ 4GB DDR2 800 RAM (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16820227199)

Logitech EX110 Keyboard/Mouse (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16823126174)

Not included is the OS. I am currently running Vista Home Premium with MCE. No problems, but may try out Windows 7 beta. My music/videos sit on a FreeNAS server in the basement. Though I do keep the Blu-Ray movies local.

No compliants with the current setup. It has handled everything I've tossed at it so far. No overclocking...yet.

-Tom

ctech
January 6th, 2009, 10:49 AM
I will let you all know how it goes... but as of now it is 15 minutes to the apple Macworld presentation. And as some of you mentioned, the new MacMini might be a good challenger for a new HTPC set-up. So will await my purchase until later this week.

ctech
January 6th, 2009, 12:51 PM
Well no new mini... sorry apple you lost a customer

groovyrock
January 6th, 2009, 02:26 PM
ctech, the main issue with that board is two fold.

1. the 9300 GPU is anything but fast. Yes, they add HDCP and HD-Purevideo, but I'm pretty sure that will ONLY help you on physical media playing.
2. Your example is a RIP, which unlike physical media will probably need to use the raw power of the video card rather than Nvidia's special protocol. Therefore, it will play, but I might recommend getting a card with that too.

I have tested HD 1080p H.264 on an 8400 GS with a Micro ATX atom box I have and it does playback, but you can still see a tad bit of choppy in it. So in an action movie it may be worse.

I have also tested Blu-ray playback on the Shuttle H7 Glamor, with an 8200 (that GPU's older model) and even though it "says" it will play Blu-ray, i couldn't get a clean picture out of it with either Power DVD or Total Media. In the end I inserted a 9600 GT to play everything back perfectly.

So you may just want to get this setup (with a 400w power supply that could handle a video card), and then if it doesn't play how you like it add-in a video card that can really power through of all of your media center demands.

In my opinion it's always better to overdue in media centers, then get barely what is capable.

Hope this helps.

ctech
January 6th, 2009, 04:03 PM
Well if my knowledge about this is correct. You will have to consider that Boxee to not support hardware accelrated graphics, which I believe means that the graphics card will not take on all the decoding of a h264 x264 files.

Therefore the most important feature of a HTPC for Boxee is the CPU and memory.

If you use Mediacenter or VLC or PowerDVD then your graphics card is more important than under Boxee.

Correct me if I am wrong...

MaFL
January 6th, 2009, 04:04 PM
1st... I´m only (!) talking about XBMC/Boxee.

In the xbmc forums they are using a file called "killasample" to max the 1080p capabilities of a system. It seems to be coded with maximum bitrate.
The genereal rule is: if you have no lost frames with this file (press i or o during playback), the system will play all 1080p content fine.

Because you have no video decoding support from the graphic cards side in xbmc and its ports, you need around 3ghz Intel Dual Core for this job (AMD seems to be very bad on this) . More cores doesn´t make sense because ffmpeg can only handle 2.
Graphic card doesn´t change anything for xbmc/boxee.

From my own killasample experiences:
Q6600@2.4ghz: stutters
Q6600@3ghz: fine
E8400@3ghz: fine


24p HDMI & HDMI audio..... avsforums says:
perfect only with Geforce 8200/8300 & 9300/9400
all other solutions have problems in some way (crippled hdmi audio / 24p stutters, etc...)
AMD only works fine if the gpu helps, so the remaining solution is 9300/9400

Nice combo @the moment would be:
Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H
Intel E8400

If XBMC will ever get graphic card support you can exchange the cpu with a slower one and be happy until that point you need horsepower.


references:
killa.sampla.x264.mkv (http://rapidshare.com/files/82525583/killa.sampla.x264.mkv.html)

http://xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?t=34235
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1055454

ctech
January 6th, 2009, 05:00 PM
@ MaFL:

Great post:

Well if I got this correct. My understanding is correct, and so it my hardware setup for a HTPC for XBMC/Boxee.

Thanks MaFL, for this great information, and ref. file to test 1080p.

iBeech
January 6th, 2009, 05:24 PM
You are all quite right. XBMC / Boxee has cannot make use of the GPU. Everything is loaded onto the CPU. This is the reason why AppleTV does not support 720p...

Onboard graphics is fine (and if it says it does blu-ray, it will without a problem)... You just need a meaty CPU :)

oneskinnydave
January 6th, 2009, 09:15 PM
Hey Guys,

Very helpful insights here - I'm in the middle of getting everything ready to purchase my first linux HTPC (but possibly keeping it windows if boxee takes off!). I really was hoping a new mac mini would be my answer, but I think I can really build a nice system on my own that will be much better then a new mini could offer.

My one question I have is about processors - I'm thinking about the ASUS P5N7A-VM (onboard GeForce 9300 GPU w/hdmi) as my mobo, with a 3.0GHz e8400 proc. My buddy offered an e7200 2.55GHz he had laying around, but I wasn't quite sure if it would cut if for 1080p playback (more than likely mkv blu ray rips). Any thoughts?

I'd probably be running 4gigs of ram since it's so cheap these days if that helps much.

Thanks!

MaFL
January 10th, 2009, 06:31 PM
It depends a bit on the mkvs. It´s all about the bitrate/profile.
x264 recodes shouldn´t make problems (probably).
Mkvs with unmodified bd content will have dropped frames at least during high bitrate sections (eg explosions).
@2.4ghz I have dropped frames during normal movies (unmodified)

I would probably try it. Overclocking to 3ghz shouldn´t be such a big deal :cool:

wcktklwn
January 13th, 2009, 11:38 AM
I am not sure if I am a little late on the responses yet, but has anyone considered using a Dell Studio Hybrid for their home theater solution? They have a machine about the same size and specs as a Mac Mini and also have HDMI out of the box on the back. Plus they offer a Blu-Ray player as a customize option.

Just my $0.02