P4 2.6 GHz with HT good enough for HD HTPC?

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
silenceseeker
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:47 am

P4 2.6 GHz with HT good enough for HD HTPC?

Post by silenceseeker » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:34 am

Time to upgrade my workstation PC, built with the following components:
  1. ASUS P4P800 Deluxe / P4-2.6CGHz
  2. Zalman CNPS7000A-ALCU
  3. 1GB (2 x KINGMAX MPXC22D-38KT3R)
  4. Samsung SP1614N 160GB 7200RPM
  5. Evercase E4252-PCT
  6. Hercules - 3D Prophet II MX (32MB)
  7. Lite-On LDW-811S
But instead of throwing it away, I was thinking of reusing at least the motherboard and the CPU to build an HD (High Definition) HTPC (Home Theater PC).

This system has been pretty quiet for office use, but for an entertainment center I am thinking of replacing the HDD with 2.5" (laptop type) one, as well as replacing the CPU fan with a passive one (similar to Thermalright HR-01).

My questions are:
  1. Will the P4 2.6 GHz with HT (HyperThreading) suffice for HD video? (I will of course buy a dedicated video card with all the usual goodies like TV capture etc).
  2. What would be the best strategy to make the above configuration even quieter than it is now?
In my 2nd question I mean: I don't think that I can escape some form of active cooling (i.e. at least one fan in the system). Assuming that I want to put only one fan in the system, which one should it be (so that system reliability is not compromised)?
  1. CPU fan? (I doubt it but I am listing this option for completeness)
  2. PSU fan? (will that be enough to vent out the entire system's heat?)
  3. Case fan? (passive PSU, similar to Silverstone ST30NF)
Any comment, tip or pointer would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Sam
ASUS P4P800 Deluxe / P4-2.6CGHz
Zalman CNPS7000A-ALCU
1GB (2 x KINGMAX MPXC22D-38KT3R)
Samsung SP1614N 160GB 7200RPM
Evercase E4252-PCT
Hercules - 3D Prophet II MX (32MB)
Lite-On LDW-811S

bonestonne
Posts: 1839
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Location: Northern New Jersey
Contact:

Post by bonestonne » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:03 am

I can't vouch for how well it'll perform with HD being a single core CPU, but I'm not sure it'll manage?

Since its a socket 478 motherboard, you'll be able to use a Scythe Ninja/Mini Ninja to cool the CPU, but you'll be stuck to using an AGP card, where you'll be further reduced to a very limited amount of cards, and HD compatible will be very expensive.

I wouldn't suggest a fanless power supply, but there are plenty of silent ones with fans, just look around recommended lists, or other threads as well as the gallery where you can see what other people are using.

Only one fan is somewhat silly for a system like that, you will have components that will generate lots of heat, and one fan would not be the best when it comes to cooling that. Dells are no exception to the rule, they are somewhat poorly designed and allow lots of dust to enter the system. but that's how they get away with only a couple fans in their more expensive XPS models.

you may want more RAM as well, however there's limits with your board, the RAM may also be expensive. You'll have to look into compatibility lists.

You'll have to also look into fans as well as possibly a new case, however I'm sure you'll be able to pull it off. There are many resources available here and on the internet for you to find, so its definitely possible.

Just a word of advice is the look much more into fanless cooling if that's an approach you want to take, because if you go through the gallery, few people have truly passive systems, and the ones you find are either very large systems, or have their own problems with cooling.
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2680v2--Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8--HR-05 IFX|128gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|300gb DC SSD, 640gb, 1TB, 2TB HDDs|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.

jhhoffma
Posts: 2131
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:00 am
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Post by jhhoffma » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:09 am

CPU is fine. But you'll need to get a passive GPU capable of doing HD decoding in hardware. I'd recommend a passive AMD (ATI) card as it's UVD is a little bit easier to configure than PurevideoHD.

You'll definitely want at LEAST two fans in your system to cope with heat. You have a hot processor there upgrading the HS to a tower using MIGHT let you use a duct to exhaust its heat. You'd end up with a PSU fan and a case exhaust fan which would pull air through the CPU HS and exhaust it, so you don't put too much heat load on the PSU, causing its fan to ramp up in speed.

The Scythe Ninja might be a better fit (with a bolt-through kit) for semi-passive operation. Read the SPCR review and recent update for more details.
HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS

silenceseeker
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:47 am

Post by silenceseeker » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:45 am

Thank you for your replies so far.

In the meanwhile, I found the following Linux HTPC Howto (I haven't decided yet which OS to use for my HTPC but that is a different matter), which actually recommends 3.0+ GHz P4 with HT. Since I have that one too, I guess that the 3.0 GHz CPU is what I am going to use. :)

I am intrigued by the requirement/recommendation for at least 2 fans. My goal is to minimize noise and intuitively I would think that the fewer moving parts the better. Especially when there are nowadays so many solutions for "fanless everything": CPU heatsink as well as fanless PSU.

Would a 2-fan system actually give me a quieter system?

Thanks,
Sam
ASUS P4P800 Deluxe / P4-2.6CGHz
Zalman CNPS7000A-ALCU
1GB (2 x KINGMAX MPXC22D-38KT3R)
Samsung SP1614N 160GB 7200RPM
Evercase E4252-PCT
Hercules - 3D Prophet II MX (32MB)
Lite-On LDW-811S

toki_c
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:27 pm
Location: Earth

Post by toki_c » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:48 am

Honestly, it's NO without a second thought.
I'm gonna be brief:
- firsly, your thing will be at 80% full load when playing a mere 720p h264 video... can you imagine how much power a P4 draws especially @100%?
- secondly, the former give the second point, in others words you won''t be able to play a 1080p h264 (even a 5000kbs) with a P4 2.8GHz.

Note: tested playing 1080p/720p 4000-5000kbs+DD/DTS5.1 with an old SFF computer with:
- hardware: P4E 2.8GHz - Radeon 9600Pro -->80% with a 720p, unplayable with a 1080p; with E4300+G965 -->60% wuth a 720p, 80% with a 1080p
- softs: coreAVC 1.5-1.6, latest MPC available at the moment.
[size=75]Sonta 3 - 425W Pro82+, 3x120mm Noctua S12 fans @6-6.5V, NH-U12F, Abit IP35Pro, Zotac 8800GT512 AMP! Edition 700/1700/2000-Accelero-S1-Rev.2, E4300 @2.43GHz, 4x1GB G.Skill 6400CL4PK @810MHz-1.8V-tRD6, Vista x64 + XP 32bit on 2x750GB WD GP, Club3D Theadron 7.1DTS - CMI8788, Logitech Z5400, Plextor PX-760A, Dell 2007WFP-IPS, MX518, SpeedLink Al-Flat Keyboard[/size]

The Gangrel
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:20 am

Post by The Gangrel » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:47 am

silenceseeker wrote: I am intrigued by the requirement/recommendation for at least 2 fans. My goal is to minimize noise and intuitively I would think that the fewer moving parts the better. Especially when there are nowadays so many solutions for "fanless everything": CPU heatsink as well as fanless PSU.

Would a 2-fan system actually give me a quieter system?

Thanks,
Sam
Sam,

The problem you're fighting "noise wise" is heat. For a start, the components you have produce a lot of heat, far too much for there to be no fan anywhere. Too much heat=short-lived components.

Even using a Ninja heatsink, with your particular CPU you need something to pull the heat out of the case.

With the right 2 fans, you needn't hear your system from where you're sitting. The reason you should use 2 fans over 1, is that 2 fans moving the same amount of air as 1 fan(assuming all are equal), do it much quieter.

Given your components, I'd agree with everyone else that you need at least 2 fans going.

bonestonne
Posts: 1839
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Location: Northern New Jersey
Contact:

Post by bonestonne » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:46 am

Especially when there are nowadays so many solutions for "fanless everything": CPU heatsink as well as fanless PSU.

Would a 2-fan system actually give me a quieter system?
The scythe ninja is a fanless heatsink, however, as indicated on the box of even the Rev A, which was sold without a fan:
This product can be used as a fanless solution. However applying a fan motor will improve the performance level to a top notch CPU cooler.
Under the fanless environment, this product is designed for the usage such as e-mailing, internet browsing, word processing & spreadsheet or an equivalent at an ambient temperature at up to 25C. Please note that this product is NOT designed for conditions such as data encoding/decoding, using benchmark software, and/or other extraordinary conditions under the fanless environment. The manufacturer assumes no liability for the usage of this product not complying with the warning listed above.
slower, and in english, it basically says that while you can run it in fanless mode, the room would have to be 77 degrees fahrenheit or cooler, and the processor would have to be under minimum load.

fanless is nice, but you have to be careful with it.
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2680v2--Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8--HR-05 IFX|128gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|300gb DC SSD, 640gb, 1TB, 2TB HDDs|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.

jcuesico
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:38 pm
Location: San Diego, CA, USA

Post by jcuesico » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:31 pm

I have a similar setup for one of my older HTPC's. The P4 2.6Ghz should work fine for SD. However with HD, You will need a Video card that can do HW decoding.

Also I suggest using Windows XP MCE 2005 instead of Vista. I had 1GB RAM on mine(dual channel) and Vista is not quite happy.

I like Vista Media Center, but you really need updated HW to have a pleasant user experience.

Plekto
Posts: 398
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:08 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Post by Plekto » Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:21 pm

Also, the thing really needs a dual core processor. Every time the thing is playing video and something, anything - goes on in the background... it stutters if it only has one core. Doubly so if you're using this same box to stream somewhere at the same time.

I'd just get a cheap E2220 or similar. $92 at Newegg. 2.4Ghz dual core processor. Drop a HD video card on it and enjoy. This model is the fastest of the 2100/2200 line and as such works as well as the more expensive models. You won't have to overclock it at all.

You can also try under-clocking it down to 2Ghz or so, which should drop the heat down to nearly nothing. Since it only costs a couple dollars more than the 2.0Ghz model, this is an easy method to lower heat.
Last edited by Plekto on Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

silenceseeker
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:47 am

Post by silenceseeker » Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:11 am

jcuesico wrote:The P4 2.6Ghz should work fine for SD. However with HD, You will need a Video card that can do HW decoding.
Can you provide an example of such card? This sounds a good idea but the card is much more expensive than a "normal card" then perhaps it is better to go for the suggestion of buying a cheap E2220 or similar ($92 at Newegg. 2.4Ghz dual core processor).

By now I understand that if I want to keep the cost of my HTPC reasonable, I will have to use at least 2 fans (one for the CPU, one for the PSU). Perhaps a third one?

However, I would like to have a configuration in which the fans kick in (or increase speed) only when needed (i.e. when CPU or case temperature goes above a certain limit). This way, the HTPC would hopefully stay quiet most of the time and make noise only when necessary (like my refrigerator :lol: ). Is there software that takes care of such feature?

Thanks,
Sam
ASUS P4P800 Deluxe / P4-2.6CGHz
Zalman CNPS7000A-ALCU
1GB (2 x KINGMAX MPXC22D-38KT3R)
Samsung SP1614N 160GB 7200RPM
Evercase E4252-PCT
Hercules - 3D Prophet II MX (32MB)
Lite-On LDW-811S

surfntom
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:34 pm

Post by surfntom » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:17 am

i disagree with a lot of info already posted here.

first of all if you are only looking to play 720p content your pc will be largely sufficient.

i will assure you that 1080p will not play on that cpu. I currently use a 3.0 HT P4 oc'ed to 3.6 GHz and i can not play most 1080p movies.

Someone should correct me if im wrong but depending on what container your HD files are in, the HD decoding vid cards will only decode x.264 and vc1. (ie if you are downloading hd movies they will usually be in the .mkv container and it will not get the acceleration boost expected.)

Your best bet is to get an AMD X25000+ and it has been stated on AVSforums that it can play 1080p content with brute strength. this means you dont need to buy a vid card as long as your mobo has an integrated solution and you can use the everso cheap DDR2 ram. total would under 200 bucks for something you know can play HD content.

jhhoffma
Posts: 2131
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:00 am
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Post by jhhoffma » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:52 am

I have an AthlonXP 3200+ that does 720p just fine in MPEG, with x.264 it needs the right player/codecs to do it without stuttering...same with 1080i. 1080p is not really an option. However, with any of the ATI UVD videocards, 3000 and 2000-series (minus the 2900) should do HD decode just fine. You'll need to pick the appropriate codecs and player, but you should look into that first. Every file I see on the newsgroups/torrents is an Xvid or h.264-encoded AVI, not MKV.

Get the videocard first, see if that is enough, you can always sell it on ebay if you end up building a new system later. If you're only doing HD from downloads and OTA, then you should have enough, if you're planning on a Blu-Ray system, then you'd be best suiting by building a new machine or buying a PS3.
HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS

Plekto
Posts: 398
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:08 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Post by Plekto » Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:58 pm

I'd like to add that AMD or Intel isn't a big deal so much as multiple cores to handle background tasks without stalling or freezing.

The comment about the PS3, though, is a good one. I have my PC streaming video to the PS3 which then sends it to the TV. Works fantastic and isn't a CPU killer since the PS3 is doing most of the actual work.

http://tversity.com/home
Download this. It works.

jolynsbass
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:33 am

Post by jolynsbass » Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:01 am

silenceseeker wrote: However, I would like to have a configuration in which the fans kick in (or increase speed) only when needed (i.e. when CPU or case temperature goes above a certain limit). This way, the HTPC would hopefully stay quiet most of the time and make noise only when necessary (like my refrigerator :lol: ). Is there software that takes care of such feature?
You should take a look at the app "Speedfan", which does exactly what you just described. however, it does require a compatible motherboard. (Lots of them are, so it's certainly worth trying out.)

silenceseeker
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:47 am

Post by silenceseeker » Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:22 am

Hmmm... The more I learn about the world of HTPC, the more I come to the conclusion that I took the wrong approach. :(

That is, instead of trying to find out what I need to build a decent HD-capable HTPC, I was trying to re-use an old PC. Here is an example for an excellent source that outlines what's needed for an HTPC system:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthre ... 972#RecSys

It now seems that if I want to re-use my (relatively silent) 2.6GHz P4/HT PC I can do one of two things:
  1. Use it as a file server
  2. Sell it on ebaY
Any other ideas?

Thanks,
Sam
ASUS P4P800 Deluxe / P4-2.6CGHz
Zalman CNPS7000A-ALCU
1GB (2 x KINGMAX MPXC22D-38KT3R)
Samsung SP1614N 160GB 7200RPM
Evercase E4252-PCT
Hercules - 3D Prophet II MX (32MB)
Lite-On LDW-811S

Post Reply