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[Build Log] Cheap OpenELEC HTPC - Page 2

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, all parts came in as expected and I got the hardware together. I got plenty of pictures, but haven't had a chance to upload them yet.

Getting OpenELEC to install onto a USB Flash Drive was simple, and was very quick. However, I am having wireless problems and I'm not sure how to get it fixed. The internal wireless card on the motherboard is recognized by OE/XBMC, and it can see the SSID to my network. I can connect to it, however it drops and reconnects over and over. I have determined it has something to do with my WAP, by setting my phone up as a mobile hotspot and the box could connect to it just fine, and hold the connect.

I have a Ubiquiti UniFi AP, which works great otherwise. I have tried a combination of passwords (to rule out invalid characters) as well as different encryption and security settings. Even with the wireless network wide open, same issue. The issue is persistant on the following builds -- Fusion 3.2.2, Generic 3.2.2, Fusion 2.0.0, Generic 2.0.0.

Unfortunately, I have no other WAPs to test with, but I can say the wireless card in the PC works fine with XBMCbuntu (but I'm having trouble getting it to install to my USB Flash Drive). I may end up having to add a 60GB SSD to this build, and if I do I will be installing Windows 8.1 with XBMC. The main reason I was looking at Linux based builds was to specifically avoid buying a SSD to install an OS on. If I can't figure the OpenELEC/XBMCBuntu thing by the end of this weekend, I will be buying a SSD and installing Windows 8.1. If I wasn't too lazy, I would just run a cable from my office to the living room, but I really don't feel like crawling under the house anytime soon. smile.gif
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
New update.

October 3, 2013
First batch of photos have been uploaded.
Yesterday I removed the USB 3 header to 2 USB3 port adapter, along with the flash drive, and temporarily replaced that with a 250GB 2.5" SATA drive. This will eventually be replaced with a 60GB SSD. I installed Windows 8.1 Pro (RTM, not Preview -- thank you TechNet), along with XBMC. I configured the XBMC client to use the MySQL database running in a VM, and added most of media along with a few video add-ons. My first test was 480p video, with stereo audio which worked great. Loaded right away, no performance issues and looked good (as good as 480p gets -- luckily, only old content I have is 480p because 720p doesn't exist). However, I am having stuttering issues with 720p and 1080p playback. I am on wireless, but according to Windows, I have a great connection. I can browse to the same 720p video in Windows, and play it with VLC Player via UNC path, and it plays flawlessly. For whatever reason, it just doesn't work right in XBMC which is super disappointing. It was pretty late when I got around to testing, so I will look some more into it this weekend. Other than that issue, the wireless issue with OpenELEC, and the storage change (because of the wireless issues with OpenELEC), everything is going great with the build. I moved it into the living room and it looks great next to my DirecTV receiver. I will be disconnecting the HDD activity LED though, since it's a bright yellow. Ick.
post #13 of 22
The stuttering issue is probably the AMD drivers. You're using the APU yeah?

I bought 6x Arctic MC001's as XBMC client machines when they were on special for €99 at amazon early this year. AMD 5850M GPU in them. Worked perfectly under Openelec. However one of the boxes I subsequently installed Win 7 on as a web browsing/XBMC miniPC for my father. Installed the Windows version of XBMC on this box and experienced stuttering video and lagging low FPS GUI. Reverted to the 12.10 AMD drivers and all was good.
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post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calibos View Post

The stuttering issue is probably the AMD drivers. You're using the APU yeah?

I bought 6x Arctic MC001's as XBMC client machines when they were on special for €99 at amazon early this year. AMD 5850M GPU in them. Worked perfectly under Openelec. However one of the boxes I subsequently installed Win 7 on as a web browsing/XBMC miniPC for my father. Installed the Windows version of XBMC on this box and experienced stuttering video and lagging low FPS GUI. Reverted to the 12.10 AMD drivers and all was good.

Naa, it wasn't the GPU drivers. It was because I had DTS-HD selected, when my AVR doesn't support that. As long as I only check DTS and AAC, streaming works perfectly. I haven't had much of a chance to update the post, but I'm sure I will sometime tomorrow.
post #15 of 22
I've read that Windows + AMD gpu doesn't support HD bitsreaming, is that correct?

Very interested in this build, since it works out cheaper than Haswell. What is the idle/load power draw?
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
October 16, 2013
I pulled the HTPC back into my office yesterday afternoon, and made several changes. These changes were prompted due to updating the firmware on my Unifi AP which made the WiFi more stable on my phone, so I wanted to see if it fixed my disconnect/reconnect issues with OpenELEC (spoiler alert, it did). So I added back in the USB3 header cable with the internal Mushkin USB3 FDD, reinstalled the latest version of OpenELEC (Fusion build), and all is working great. CPU/RAM utilization seems to be a little lower, which is nice, and my WiFi signal is now stable and a little stronger. Since I have no internal drives now (other than the FDD), I did not have to disconnect the HDD Activity LED, either. The only problem now is that the front USB3 ports on the case no longer work, due to the internal USB cable. I'm fine with that, except that the USB dongle for my controller is now on the other port on that Y cable, which seriously killed the remote controls signal (has to be within a foot from the box). Huge problem that I have to figure out. I'd rather not have a USB device plugged into the front of the box, so I'm going to see if the signal is any better with the dongle connected to the back of the PC.
I've started to do a little customization to my XBMC install, playing around with third party addons and skins. I've not got everything set up perfectly yet, but getting there. One of the coolest features (in my opinion) is having SickBeard and CouchPotato notify XBMC of new content, and force a scan. A slight automation piece that is valuable to me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ExtraCrispy View Post

I've read that Windows + AMD gpu doesn't support HD bitsreaming, is that correct?

Very interested in this build, since it works out cheaper than Haswell. What is the idle/load power draw?

I have not tested the power draw, but seeing how I removed the HDD it should be a little lower now. I will do some testing this evening and get some numbers. I'm honestly not sure about HD bit streaming, though. Something I no longer am concerned with.


I can say that I am very happy with this build, as performance is great. 1080p MKVs with DTS audio is the biggest thing I have thrown at it, and it plays those without a problem (maybe 3-5 seconds of buffering at the beginning, but remember I am on WiFi).
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
July 11, 2014
Well, I decided to pull this PC back into my office yesterday for a few reasons. It's been running great, but I decided to reload the OS with the latest version of OpenELEC (major upgrade, went from XBMC 12.2 to 13.1). Also cleaned out the inside (thanks to my two German Shepherds) and replaced the USB drive with an 8GB USB2 drive. I wasn't getting any performance boosts by using a USB3 drive, so figured I could use the USB3 drive for other stuff.
Anyway, reloaded the newest OpenELEC, and redid my theme and addons. Also, I am no longer using that Esky remote. Honestly, I never used it much to begin with thanks to Yatse (Android app to control XBMC).

Decided to also measure my power draw, which is around 35-45W depending on idle or watching a video. I saw a few spikes up to 55W, but mostly stays around 40W or so. Fine by me!
post #18 of 22
Great stuff! Sorry to hear about that remote not working out for you! Tell me how the smart phone remote works out. I feel as though it would get annoying to use a remote with no actual actuation but who knows.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDub View Post

Great stuff! Sorry to hear about that remote not working out for you! Tell me how the smart phone remote works out. I feel as though it would get annoying to use a remote with no actual actuation but who knows.

Personally that's the exact reason I dislike using a smartphone as one. Otherwise you get so many more features.
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post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cones View Post

Personally that's the exact reason I dislike using a smartphone as one. Otherwise you get so many more features.

I've been using Yatse for pretty much the life of this box, and I quite enjoy the app. There is definitely something gratifying about a physical remote with physical buttons, but I'm not willing to spend extra money on it right now since I want to put money elsewhere (adding drives to my storage server, rebuilding my PC, and some other toys).
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