A quiet, low power, small BEAST! (new system advice)

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phpguru
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A quiet, low power, small BEAST! (new system advice)

Post by phpguru » Mon Jul 16, 2007 11:31 pm

Hey everyone!

I am looking for some help in designing a new HTPC/server system (ubuntu). Here's what I want to use it for:

HTPC - using mythtv on linux to playback mp3s, movies to a HDTV (720p/1080i) (no TV tuner)
File Server - going to stock it with 1TB to 1.5TB
File Downloader - It will be running 24/7 to process downloads
Backup - daily backups of networked computers
Web Server - for small applications

Here are some requirements I have set for myself:
- Low Power - Since it will be running 24/7, the lower power and heat the better
- Quiet - the quieter the better
- Small Case - It will only have 1 5.25'' case and 2-3 HDDs so something along the lines of a Dell Dimension series (7x15x15)
- As much processing power as I can get under the above conditions
- High Airflow (I plan on designing and routing the cabling to allow for maximum efficiency)
- I don't really want to spend over $750ish

Given the above, what kinds of parts should I be looking into? Here's what I've drawn up:

- ORIGINAL -
Case: Absolutely No Idea. (Maybe a NSK4400 B stock?) I've been looking but nothing I've seen has met my specs of small, quiet, good airflow, mATX only
CPU: AMD Athlonâ„¢ X2 Dual-Core BE-2350 (will this be enough processing power?)
CPU Cooler: Scythe SCNJ-1100P Egglink Big but will allow for great cooling and low noise
RAM: CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) Egglink
GFX: Will the onboard graphics cut it for HDTV? If not, I'll get a fanless NVIDIA 7600GS Egglink
Board: BIOSTAR TForce TF7050-M2 Egglink Latest and greatest from NVIDIA. A lot of the stuff is onboard, saving me from adding power hungry PCI cards
HDD: 2 x Seagate 7200.10 500GB Egglink
PSU: SeaSonic S12 II SS-380GB Egglink Higher Efficiency than the smaller power supplies but not massively overkill
Optical drive: SAMSUNG Black 18X DVD Writer Egglink Cheap SATA drive which will give the ability to save airflow

- UPDATED -
Case: Absolutely No Idea. (Maybe a NSK4400 B stock?) I've been looking but nothing I've seen has met my specs of small, quiet, good airflow, mATX only
CPU: AMD Athlonâ„¢ X2 Dual-Core BE-2350 (will this be enough processing power?)
CPU Cooler: Scythe SCNJ-1100P Egglink Big but will allow for great cooling and low noise
RAM: CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) Egglink
GFX: Will the onboard graphics cut it for HDTV? If not, I'll get a fanless NVIDIA 7600GS Egglink
Board: BIOSTAR TForce TF7050-M2 Egglink Latest and greatest from NVIDIA. A lot of the stuff is onboard, saving me from adding power hungry PCI cards
HDD: 2 x SAMSUNG HD501LJ 500GB Egglink
PSU: SeaSonic S12 II SS-380GB Egglink Higher Efficiency than the smaller power supplies but not massively overkill
Optical drive: SAMSUNG Black 18X DVD Writer Egglink Cheap SATA drive which will give the ability to save airflow

P.S. - I haven't looked at it yet, but this thread over at ExtremeTech seems relevant ETech Forums

I welcome all comments and suggestions! If I'm overkilling a component, I would love to know as I haven't made an HTPC before. I'll try to include as much info as I can into this thread so it can be used for users who come by and browse it. Thanks for your help and I look forward to your responses!

phpguru
Last edited by phpguru on Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:21 am

Maybe a good case would be the NSK3480 (14"(H) x 7.8"(W) x 13.8"(D))? It has an 380 W Eartwatts PSU (80+ certified), which is probably just as good as the Seasonic you mention.

Everything else looks quite good in my opinion. I don't know about the board and the 7050-chipset but it should have a good performance per watt ratio. The drives though consume quite a bit of power, but that's probably due to the high capacity. I'm not sure but maybe you can find drives that consume less.

Michael Sandstrom
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Post by Michael Sandstrom » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:34 am

Definitely replace the Seagate HDs with Samsung HD501LJ 500GB drives. Based on a large number of posts on these forums and on my experience with four of these drives, they are quietest, most efficient and coolest running high capacity drives. For two consecutive months these drives have earned Newegg's customer choice awards based on strong purchaser reviews.

colinb4987
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Post by colinb4987 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:16 am

I've not tried it personally, and it is quite pricey, but the Silverstone SG03 certainly seems pretty small. Innovative airflow and CPU cooling, but unclear how effective it'll be. It's sort of a mini mini-tower. Take a look and see what you think.

Otherwise, all looks pretty good to me, especially if you replace the Seagates with Samsungs. Let us know how the build goes when you get round to it!

mexell
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Post by mexell » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:35 am

I would recommend the NSK2400/Fusion as a case. Quiet, good airflow, reviewed here. Of course, you will have a bit of trouble fitting a ninja in it. But you can use the mini ninja instead. I don't know if it's available at your place yet, but it may be worth thinking about it, mainly because you've got a quite low power-consuming CPU.
When you want to deliver media to a HDTV, think about using one of the newer GPUs which deliver accerleration for that, something like a Nvidia 8600 GT or an ATI 2600 Pro may be worth thinking about. But I don't know about the linux driver support for video acceleration.

Hope this helped...
[size=75][url=http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=49530]My system[/url][/size]

Aris
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Post by Aris » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:55 am

if you want an HTPC styled case, go with the Antec NSK2400/Fusion.

if you dont care, id go with the NSK3300.

Considering your power requirements will be low enough you could even go with an NSK1300 and use an external power adapter.

Redzo
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Post by Redzo » Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:15 am

Michael Sandstrom wrote:Definitely replace the Seagate HDs with Samsung HD501LJ 500GB drives. Based on a large number of posts on these forums and on my experience with four of these drives, they are quietest, most efficient and coolest running high capacity drives. For two consecutive months these drives have earned Newegg's customer choice awards based on strong purchaser reviews.
I second that :-)

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:58 am

I also wanted to advise those Samsung drives but couldn't find anything about power consumption (only had a quick look). The 400GB version has the following power consumption figures:

30% Duty Random Seek 9.4
Read/Write On Track*8 8.7
Idle 7.2

Whereas the Barracudas have a seek average of 12.6 and an idle average of 9.3.

But I think the HD501LJ 500GB drives also have slightly higher power consumption figures than the 400GB versions.

ACook
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Post by ACook » Tue Jul 17, 2007 5:03 am

Memory is overkill for htpc use. get 2 budget sticks instead, slower can also work easily. 533 instead of 800 should work fine.

found a nice link: http://www.techreport.com/reviews/2007q ... dex.x?pg=1
[size=75]Antec P182 | Seasonic S12II-380W | Asus EAH3450/HTP/512M
Asus M3A-H/HDMI | AMD Athlon 64 X2 4850E @ +5% | Ninja Rev B
Sony-NEC AD-7200S & Lite On LH-20A1H | Samsung HD501LJ & 4x F1 1TB.
Toshiba Satellite 1900-102.[/size]

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:20 am

Wow, its pretty nice to wake up to a flurry of replies. Thanks! I made the hard drive change above and I'll look into the other suggested changes.

Palindroman, thanks for the NSK3480 suggestion. Since its brand new, I gotta find a place that sells it for a reasonable cost and I haven't found one yet. I'll keep looking.

Michael Sandstrom, thanks for the catch. changed.

colinb4987, that case does look good to me. I read one review here and it seems like a great case. Will keep in mind.

mexell, I was leaning to that NSK2400 case but I don't want to have an HTPC styled case. Can this be mounted vertically?

Aris, yeah with those choices I'd prefer the 3300. The 3480 seems similar to the 3300 with the addition of a good power supply so that seems like the right choice.

Redzo, changed. Thanks!

ACook, I'll look into a cheaper (but still reliable) memory. Thanks for the link, it was a good read.

phpguru

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:36 am

I've been looking into video cards and it seems as though I will need to add a card instead of relying on onboard solutions. What card would work well for me since I plan on using linux?

phpguru

kittle
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Post by kittle » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:21 pm

mabye this will help on stats for your HD:
http://www.storagereview.com/HD501LJ.sr?page=0%2C5

older video cards can be had for quite cheap, but it depends on how much video power you are after.

I cant speak for ATI, but have a look at the nvidia 5x and 6x series.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 814139176R - $39 USD

jackylman
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Post by jackylman » Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:27 pm

I'll second Palindroman's suggestion for the 3480.

I have a 4400 and I'm not that impressed with it. The front panel vibrates very easily, so you need to keep modern HD's far away from the chassis. Also, the side panels are somewhat flimsy, and I doubt the case holds in noise real well.

Aris
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Post by Aris » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:48 pm

phpguru wrote:I've been looking into video cards and it seems as though I will need to add a card instead of relying on onboard solutions. What card would work well for me since I plan on using linux?

phpguru
nvidia is the only way to go if your using linux.

7600gs is a good performance for a low price, and you can get it with stock passive single slot cooling.

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:53 pm

Aris wrote:
phpguru wrote:I've been looking into video cards and it seems as though I will need to add a card instead of relying on onboard solutions. What card would work well for me since I plan on using linux?

phpguru
nvidia is the only way to go if your using linux.

7600gs is a good performance for a low price, and you can get it with stock passive single slot cooling.
That's what I was looking at. That should handle all the HD stuff I could throw at it, right?

Max Slowik
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Post by Max Slowik » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:58 pm

That's what I was looking at. That should handle all the HD stuff I could throw at it, right?
The 7600 doesn't have any HD acceleration, it will be completely CPU-dependent, and not conditioned. If you want hardware HD acceleration, you'll have to get an 8-series card.
Hardware Editor @ www.thetechlounge.com

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:57 pm

Max Slowik wrote:
That's what I was looking at. That should handle all the HD stuff I could throw at it, right?
The 7600 doesn't have any HD acceleration, it will be completely CPU-dependent, and not conditioned. If you want hardware HD acceleration, you'll have to get an 8-series card.
So getting a video card wouldn't help in video playback (cpu dependent) unless i get a hardware accelerated card. Thing is, the purevideo HD stuff NVIDIA uses is Windows only. So I guess I'm limited by CPU then...

Max Slowik
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Post by Max Slowik » Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:04 pm

There are proprietary Linux drivers that enable HD Avivo, but I don't know what stage of development they're in. I would definitely ask the forum goons at http://www.phoronix.com/ about it.
Hardware Editor @ www.thetechlounge.com

Aris
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Post by Aris » Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:04 pm

phpguru wrote:
Aris wrote:
phpguru wrote:I've been looking into video cards and it seems as though I will need to add a card instead of relying on onboard solutions. What card would work well for me since I plan on using linux?

phpguru
nvidia is the only way to go if your using linux.

7600gs is a good performance for a low price, and you can get it with stock passive single slot cooling.
That's what I was looking at. That should handle all the HD stuff I could throw at it, right?
If you want hardware HD on a video card, you'd have to get something like an 8600gt or an 8800gts.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:58 am

Actually, the NSK3480 (380W 80+ PSU) is an improved version of the NSK3300 (300W SFX PSU), with the NSK3400 (380W PSU) as a step in between.

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:19 am

the NSK3480 looks good. With the power supply upgrade, does this case go from a quiet pc to a silent pc? The SPCR review says its quiet, but not silent.

Anyone know where to buy one of these in the US? I'm having a hard time tracking them down.

phpguru

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:56 am

They will be available in Europe in august but I don't know about the US. Maybe you could contact Antec?

Some people purchased a 3480 but received a 3400 instead: viewtopic.php?t=41847&highlight=nsk3480

So be careful. :)

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:22 pm

http://www.ajump.com/ajump/product.asp? ... %5Fid=2005

Seems like a good place to buy it. I emailed and they said it is the high efficiency PSU.

"Yes, the Antec NSK3480 comes with the high efficiency 380W power supply."

phpguru

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:34 pm

Instead of going after a discrete NVIDIA gpu, what if i just sacrifice some power and bump myself up to the 65W barrier?

I could get the ADO5200CZBOX from Egglink

This would nullify the need for a gpu (for 1080p x264), no?

phpguru

phpguru
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Post by phpguru » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:55 pm

decisions decisions!

I just read up that you can make a PS3 run YDL and therefore mythtv. Now I could even just use a ps3 to be my htpc and recycle some old system for the linux requirements I outlined above.

What to do? heh. Options are great!

phpguru

Redzo
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Post by Redzo » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:43 pm

phpguru wrote:Instead of going after a discrete NVIDIA gpu, what if i just sacrifice some power and bump myself up to the 65W barrier?

I could get the ADO5200CZBOX from Egglink

This would nullify the need for a gpu (for 1080p x264), no?

phpguru
Not really :( Well to be precise it will run 1080p x264 but IF your system would start a process in the background you will get skipped frames.

Here is a cut 'n paste action from anantech.com where they tested H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile at 1080p (Bluray)

We've been hearing for quite some time now that Blu-ray and HDDVD movies could prove to be too much for today's desktop microprocessors; today we finally have the proof. X-Men: The Last Stand encoded using the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High Profile at 1080p requires more processing power to decode than affordable dual core CPUs can handle. We are at a point where GPU decode acceleration is essentially required with all but the highest end processors in order to achieve an acceptable level of quality while watching HD content on the PC.
CPU's they used ranged from E6400 to X6800 and they are all more powerfull then CPU you wanted to use. GPU is a necesity here ;-)

Here is LINK to that article.

If I was you I would go for 8500GT. Cheap, cool and will decode everything you need in hardware.

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