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HTPC Upgrade Suggestions

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
The Current Setup:
Windows 7 64-bit
AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz
ASRock A55M-HVS FM1
GeIL Black Dragon 8GB (2 x 4GB)
LITE-ON Black 12X BD-ROM
2 x WD Blue WDBAAX5000ENC-NRSN 500GB 7200 RPM (no RAID)
Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad-tuner Card
2 x HP x280n Media Extenders
Small Gamer Case I had around.
Bright House Digital Cable w/ Road Runner internet

The HTPC is only used as an HTPC in WMC and is connected to a 1080p projector via HDMI. One HP x280n is in the master bedroom connected to a 50inch 1080p plasma via HDMI. The second HP x280n is connected to a 37inch 720p LCD via HMDI in the kids room. All networked on a 100mb switch.

The current system is able to record 4 HD shows (live TV), and provide 3 HD (recorded TV or Movies) at once. I occasionally have recording conflict when tuners are used, and want to add the following.

2nd Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad-tuner Card
3rd HP x280n Media Extenders for the office TV

What I am looking for is a possible bottleneck in the system. Will the network handle that much traffic or will I need a gignet? Will the HDD's handle a possible 5 or 6 HDTV recordings, plus a couple (or 3) of HD streams simultaneously. All TV shows are deleted when watched so HDD capacity is not an issue.

I have to give a plug to HP for the x280n. I tried the Media Extenders from D-Link, and Linksys and found them horribly slow, and buggy. The x280n have been amazing. I would love to try an Echo, but at $170+ each I cant justify it.
post #2 of 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by robcy View Post

The Current Setup:
Windows 7 64-bit
AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz
ASRock A55M-HVS FM1
GeIL Black Dragon 8GB (2 x 4GB)
LITE-ON Black 12X BD-ROM
2 x WD Blue WDBAAX5000ENC-NRSN 500GB 7200 RPM (no RAID)
Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad-tuner Card
2 x HP x280n Media Extenders
Small Gamer Case I had around.
Bright House Digital Cable w/ Road Runner internet

The HTPC is only used as an HTPC in WMC and is connected to a 1080p projector via HDMI. One HP x280n is in the master bedroom connected to a 50inch 1080p plasma via HDMI. The second HP x280n is connected to a 37inch 720p LCD via HMDI in the kids room. All networked on a 100mb switch.

The current system is able to record 4 HD shows (live TV), and provide 3 HD (recorded TV or Movies) at once. I occasionally have recording conflict when tuners are used, and want to add the following.

2nd Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad-tuner Card
3rd HP x280n Media Extenders for the office TV

What I am looking for is a possible bottleneck in the system. Will the network handle that much traffic or will I need a gignet? Will the HDD's handle a possible 5 or 6 HDTV recordings, plus a couple (or 3) of HD streams simultaneously. All TV shows are deleted when watched so HDD capacity is not an issue.

I have to give a plug to HP for the x280n. I tried the Media Extenders from D-Link, and Linksys and found them horribly slow, and buggy. The x280n have been amazing. I would love to try an Echo, but at $170+ each I cant justify it.

A good rule of thumb would be 1x HDD per tuner as you will very quickly fragment the hard drive potentially writing 8x streams to 2x hard drives and this will degrade performance quickly. What software are you using to record the TV streams, can it load share between the drives? Clearly 8x HDD's in your system may not be feasible so you may want to set it to regularly defrag the drives as a compromise.

Uncompressed MPEG-2 HD content can require a bandwidth of 50MBit/s so your 100MBit/s network could become saturated but I'd leave any upgrades until it is a problem.

If you can be bothered with some leg work and want a project I can suggest an alternative (and much cheaper) method of achieving the same results. MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org/) is an opensource PVR software that runs under linux (hence the leg work!) but will load share between as many drives as you give it, can interact with multiple computers with tuners and can be set to automatically transcode your recorded TV streams into H264, MP4 or anything you want really which will require much less network bandwidth. Having done that, you can set up multiple Raspberry Pi's (~£30) with XBMC to play back the content on your TVs throughout your house. Having converted to a compressed video format, you may even be able to stream over wifi and saves routing network cables around the house but I certainly agree it's best to use wired if you can.
 
Mega Media PC
(21 items)
 
Media Server
(16 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel Core i7 3820 P9X79 PRO Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveOptical Drive
Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Samsung  Corsair Force 3 Samsung BD-ROM drive 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Raystorm Full Copper block Phobia 150mm silver nickel reservior EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator 12x Noctua NF-A14 PWM fans on rads 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
EK D5 Vario X-top EK D5 Vario X-top Win 7 Pro x64 Dell U2713H 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Razer Lycosa ECGA SUperNova G2 1300W Caselabs TH10 Razer Lachesis 
Mouse PadAudioAudio
Razer eXactMat NI Komplete Audio NAD C320 Stereo Amplifier 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i7 920 d0 Asus rampage ii gene Asus GTX 480 Corsair xms3 ddr3 2000 c9 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
OCZ Vertex 3 Samsung 2.5" notebook drive Samsung DVD-R drive Noctua 120 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Noctua 120 Noctua 140 Noctua 140 Win7 x64 pro 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Mythbuntu 12.04.1 Panasonic 46" Plasma HDTV Apple Aluminium Keyboard  corsair hx650 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
Fractal R1 Apple Mighty Mouse Sony STR-DH800 Amp via HDMI in 5.0 speaker conf... Mordaunt Short 905 Centre, 902 front and 904 re... 
Other
Xbox wireless controller dongle 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
core 2 quad q6600 Asus P5K-E XFX 9800 GT Geil DDR2 4x1GB @ 1066 MHz  
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Seagate Baraccuda Samsung HDD Seagate Baraccuda WD Caviar Black 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Seagate Baraccuda Samsung DVD-RW Thermalright CPU cooler Mythbuntu 12.04.1 
PowerCaseOtherOther
Corsair 450W PSU Antec 300 WinTV Nova HD-S2 WinTV Nova-T PCI 
  hide details  
Reply
 
Mega Media PC
(21 items)
 
Media Server
(16 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel Core i7 3820 P9X79 PRO Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveOptical Drive
Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Samsung  Corsair Force 3 Samsung BD-ROM drive 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Raystorm Full Copper block Phobia 150mm silver nickel reservior EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator 12x Noctua NF-A14 PWM fans on rads 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
EK D5 Vario X-top EK D5 Vario X-top Win 7 Pro x64 Dell U2713H 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Razer Lycosa ECGA SUperNova G2 1300W Caselabs TH10 Razer Lachesis 
Mouse PadAudioAudio
Razer eXactMat NI Komplete Audio NAD C320 Stereo Amplifier 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i7 920 d0 Asus rampage ii gene Asus GTX 480 Corsair xms3 ddr3 2000 c9 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
OCZ Vertex 3 Samsung 2.5" notebook drive Samsung DVD-R drive Noctua 120 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Noctua 120 Noctua 140 Noctua 140 Win7 x64 pro 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Mythbuntu 12.04.1 Panasonic 46" Plasma HDTV Apple Aluminium Keyboard  corsair hx650 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
Fractal R1 Apple Mighty Mouse Sony STR-DH800 Amp via HDMI in 5.0 speaker conf... Mordaunt Short 905 Centre, 902 front and 904 re... 
Other
Xbox wireless controller dongle 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
core 2 quad q6600 Asus P5K-E XFX 9800 GT Geil DDR2 4x1GB @ 1066 MHz  
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Seagate Baraccuda Samsung HDD Seagate Baraccuda WD Caviar Black 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Seagate Baraccuda Samsung DVD-RW Thermalright CPU cooler Mythbuntu 12.04.1 
PowerCaseOtherOther
Corsair 450W PSU Antec 300 WinTV Nova HD-S2 WinTV Nova-T PCI 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pharcycle View Post

A good rule of thumb would be 1x HDD per tuner as you will very quickly fragment the hard drive potentially writing 8x streams to 2x hard drives and this will degrade performance quickly. What software are you using to record the TV streams, can it load share between the drives? Clearly 8x HDD's in your system may not be feasible so you may want to set it to regularly defrag the drives as a compromise.

Uncompressed MPEG-2 HD content can require a bandwidth of 50MBit/s so your 100MBit/s network could become saturated but I'd leave any upgrades until it is a problem.

If you can be bothered with some leg work and want a project I can suggest an alternative (and much cheaper) method of achieving the same results. MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org/) is an opensource PVR software that runs under linux (hence the leg work!) but will load share between as many drives as you give it, can interact with multiple computers with tuners and can be set to automatically transcode your recorded TV streams into H264, MP4 or anything you want really which will require much less network bandwidth. Having done that, you can set up multiple Raspberry Pi's (~£30) with XBMC to play back the content on your TVs throughout your house. Having converted to a compressed video format, you may even be able to stream over wifi and saves routing network cables around the house but I certainly agree it's best to use wired if you can.



Thanks for the information. I have 2 additional 500 GB HDD's that I can install in the box (4 total). I use Windows Media Center with a Ceton PCIe card for Live TV. It was all setup up out the box, and nothing has been modified. 1 hour of HDTV is around 7-10 GB's in size. I have looked at adding MCEBuddy to lower the network traffic by making the files smaller in size.

I think that I am too far along on the Media Center Platform to change now. I find Media Center to be very stable, and easy to navigate, and the uniform interface on the extenders are a huge plus. If I am not mistaken I can setup media center to use multiple locations for TV recording. What I do not know is if it splits it, or places the recordings in-line. I like the idea of setting up regular defrag's, and will do that.
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