Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 7th Aug 2011 22:46 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems And yes, another item, right away. I'm on the hunt for a mini-ITX motherboard for use in a living room HTPC, and considering there's so much choice out there, I'm a little confused. Then I realised I have you people to help me out, and, well, one thing led to another.
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ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Post-processing is usually done in GPU shaders, and the lowest end graphics often lack the punch to offer you all post-processing options. So if that is important to you, you might rather want to aim for more mainstream graphics.

ASUS F1A75-I (Socket FM1) would be an option here. However, it lacks a VGA port so you need a DisplayPort->VGA adapter which costs around 30€/$.

Two problems with this suggestion.. First, the cost of the mainboard and llano is likely to be nowhere near the "cheap" cost the OP had requested. Then you also factor in a video card.

Second, although the pci-e slot accepts 16x cards, does it actually have a _full_ 16 lanes? These days you have to pay close attention to details like this because not every 16x slot is a true 16x, the same as not every sata connector is full bandwidth -- many use port multipliers which trash the bandwidth and slow your sata devices to a crawl.

I look forward to giving the F1A75-I/Llano combo a spin once the price is reasonable.. But if I were to buy another htpc system today that needed to be solid, stable, cheap, low power, and be able to double as a file server, there's no question I would go Intel Atom/Nvidia ION/ION2. I haven't paid more then the $120-$140 range out the door for any of my systems in this configuration, and I don't plan to.

Reply Parent Score: 1

chithanh Member since:
2006-06-18

With "mainstream" I was actually referring to the Llano integrated graphics, which offer about Radeon 5570 equivalent performance. A discrete card does not fit into his case anyway.

And he specifically asked for the "Best" HTPC board. The Atom+Ion, Clarkdale and AM3+ IGP boards are all lacking in one or more departments. The cheapest solution that remains and will fit into the R10-D3 case is Llano.

Reply Parent Score: 1

ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

With "mainstream" I was actually referring to the Llano integrated graphics, which offer about Radeon 5570 equivalent performance. A discrete card does not fit into his case anyway.

And he specifically asked for the "Best" HTPC board. The Atom+Ion, Clarkdale and AM3+ IGP boards are all lacking in one or more departments. The cheapest solution that remains and will fit into the R10-D3 case is Llano.

ALL mini-itx configurations are lacking in something. What's "best" for him is what best suits _his_ needs. It's okay to look at specs initially but you want to pay attention to real life experience from people with the same or similar needs.

For example, the ASUS E35M1-I advertises that it has a 16x 2.0 PCI-E slot... However, what the specs don't tell you is that it only has the bandwidth of a 4x. If you want the best deinterlacers and support, vdpau easily surpasses xvba. If you want to add an Nvidia card to that mainboard to get it, you'll unfortunately discover the downfall of having a bandwidth crippled slot.

Mini-ITX htpc solutions are not so cut and dry.. And you will certainly have to compromise somewhere -- ideally in an area of little value to you. And going on 'specs' alone is a big mistake.

Reply Parent Score: 1

garyd Member since:
2008-10-22

First, the cost of the mainboard and llano is likely to be nowhere near the "cheap" cost the OP had requested.

That really depends on how/where you buy it. Barebones systems are almost invariably cheaper than buying piece by piece.

Then you also factor in a video card.

Llano are APUs, id est CPU/GPU combinations. Please do your homework.

Second, although the pci-e slot accepts 16x cards, does it actually have a _full_ 16 lanes?

That would depend on the specific motherboard byt APU most definitely supports it.

many use port multipliers which trash the bandwidth and slow your sata devices to a crawl.

Again, that's board specific.

I would go Intel Atom/Nvidia ION/ION2. I haven't paid more then the $120-$140 range out the door for any of my systems in this configuration, and I don't plan to.

Is that for a full system build?

Reply Parent Score: 1

ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

"First, the cost of the mainboard and llano is likely to be nowhere near the "cheap" cost the OP had requested.

That really depends on how/where you buy it. Barebones systems are almost invariably cheaper than buying piece by piece.
"
The Llano alone will cost over $100USD. When you add up everything else for a complete Llano system, you are easily out of the realm of "cheap". New hardware has never come out at an unbloated price point.

"Then you also factor in a video card.

Llano are APUs, id est CPU/GPU combinations. Please do your homework.
"
The Llano is underpowered for 1080i using advanced deinterlacers and other video post-processing. Not to mention Nvidia still holds the title for the best deinterlacers. So, when you factor in a video card that is capable of what you want.................


"Second, although the pci-e slot accepts 16x cards, does it actually have a _full_ 16 lanes?

That would depend on the specific motherboard byt APU most definitely supports it.
"
I'm not aware of one that does actually support the full 16 lanes. The problem is supplying the power needed to do so.

"many use port multipliers which trash the bandwidth and slow your sata devices to a crawl.

Again, that's board specific.
"
See previous comment regarding 16x PCIe.

"I would go Intel Atom/Nvidia ION/ION2. I haven't paid more then the $120-$140 range out the door for any of my systems in this configuration, and I don't plan to.

Is that for a full system build?
"
Yes, for complete systems. It's worth mentioning that I haven't paid full price however. All of my htpc hardware has been purchased while on sale and/or with MIR.

Also note that none of these systems have a storage drive since I use a lan fileserver, and just 2GB ram (which is plenty for an htpc with hardware decoding). The OSes are installed on cheap USB flash drives or SDHC.

Reply Parent Score: 1

grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Apex MI-008 case
Asus E351M motherboard/CPU
Seagate 1.5TB "green" sata 6.0 drive
4GB DDR3/1066 memory (1x4gb)
SATA 24x dvd burner

Total cost: $263 USD

Reply Parent Score: 2