Advice for silent frontend

Ask for hardware advice here

Moderator: Pablo

Post Reply
pimy
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:50 am

Advice for silent frontend

Post by pimy » Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:59 am

Hi,

I am looking to set up a silent low-cost mythtv frontend that runs minimyth, similar to what is described here:

http://www.mythpvr.com/mythtv/frontend/ ... howto.html

Unfortunately I'm a few years behind the curve, and the ME6000 seems impossible to find (new -- used is difficult as well). Reading through some posts on this board, I can see that the SP8000E is a nice fanless option as well. That mobo is also proving difficult to find. I plan on using the frontend to schedule + view recordings, play video, and perhaps a DVD from time to time. No HDTV. No image viewing. Nothing fancy. Any recommendations on newer low-cost fanless mini-itx motherboards that are compatible with minimyth? Or, any leads on where I can find the aforementioned VIA boards from a reputable vendor?

Thanks,
pimy

JoeHenley
Contributor
Posts: 185
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:12 pm

Post by JoeHenley » Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:31 pm

Pimy,

I've used all of the following at one time or another; they've all been OK to me.

www.logicsupply.com
www.mini-box.com
www.directron.com

and, of course, www.newegg.com.

Just one passing comment. I have a Via MII-6000E fanless mobo running a MiniMythTV front end. It does work fairly well.

But I have spent weeks at a time trying to fix problems and solve puzzles. Via continues to talk about supporting Linux, but the reality is always somewhat less than required. They are a ROYAL PIA!! I have come to the conclusion that despite marketing hype, the technical side of the business is just not capable of supporting Linux users. They talk alot, but never quite deliver.

So I'd strongly suggest looking at Intel (or AMD) mini-itx mobo's.

Good luck!

Joe Henley

thekorn
Contributor
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:45 am

Post by thekorn » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:25 am

Do you really need fanless for a frontend?

The reason why I ask is because I just threw together a front end from spare parts I had lying around... A core2duo 2160, two gigs of whatever ram, a fanless nvidia 7300 that was previously sitting at the bottom of a drawer, and a low noise power supply. It net boots minimyth, and literally the loudest thing on it is the CPU fan. No local storage whatsoever!

(I guess I could spend some money and try and find a lower noise CPU heatsink/fan than the stock c2d one, but the whole thing cost me $60 out of pocket so... meh!)

Anyway, the point is that while it's not entirely fanless, it's dang quiet. If you're sitting in the bedroom and the furnace is off, you'll hear the CPU fan. If you're sitting in the bedroom and the furnace is on, you'll hear the forced air from the furnace. And if you're actually watching something, then there's no contest; at any volume setting above zero you'll be hearing what you're watching.

So I don't know that I'd spend the extra money to go entirely fanless, especially given the track record Via has with linux. I'm OK with swapping barely audible noise for not having the wife complain if it doesn't work. (That's her highest form of compliment -- she seriously complains when mythTV breaks! :) )


Edit: Also keep in mind that this frontend was intended to mainly (80%+) play back ATSC OTA and x264 HD content, so the VIA boards were never really an option. (Besides, with all those parts hanging around, they'd actually cost me more!)

richb01803
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:40 am
Location: Cambridge MA USA

Post by richb01803 » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:13 am

thekorn wote:
Also keep in mind that this frontend was intended to mainly (80%+) play back ATSC OTA and x264 HD content
That comment reminded me that there is a big consideration come next month: the demise of analog TV.

That basically means that all content from now on will be digital. Very little of it is SD at this point.

There is an architectural deficiency with MythTV that probably isn't going to be fixed anytime soon: there is no way to automatically have your backend transcode content on the fly to a lower resolution. If you have a sluggish frontend, you have to set up (and wait for) transcoding to complete on the high-def material to squeeze it down to whatever your f.e. can handle, and I've never bothered to learn how to accomplish this. (MythTV's screens are straightforward for the basic stuff but a real pain to learn if you want to do anything outside the top level menus.)

Your next TV will be high-def, and most of the material will be high-def whether you want it or are willing to pay for it or not. That's the direction the world's headed.

I therefore opted not to spend a nickel on anything that can't do high-def. Alas, my recycled parts couldn't even do low-def well so that's why I too am on the hunt for modern mo-bos that run MiniMyth correctly. No success yet but I've tested it on about 5 boards so far, learning a lot along the way. My main lesson: NVIDIA for the graphics, AMD for low-power/low-cost CPU. At some point I'll find the right mo-bo with these two components.

pimy
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:50 am

Post by pimy » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:35 am

Thank you both for the replies.

I was under the impression that the only motherboards officially supported by minimyth were the ones listed on this page:

http://minimyth.org/document-hardware.html

Well, I should say the only known compatible boards. Perhaps the minimyth folks support other boards, but don't endorse them?

The Asus A8N-VM CSM seems interesting, but appears to be pretty old as well.

thekorn: Those are some decent spare parts. I do agree with your opinion about something that works being more important than something that is quiet.

thekorn
Contributor
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:45 am

Post by thekorn » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:25 am

pimy wrote:I was under the impression that the only motherboards officially supported by minimyth were the ones listed on this page:

http://minimyth.org/document-hardware.html
Well, I wouldn't take that as an 'officially supported' list, but more of an 'hey, we know these work' list. (How can anyone have official support for something they didn't pay for!?? Last I looked Pablo and company didn't get a dime from me! :D)

Besides, I don't think that list is up to date. My frontend has (IIRC; I'll have to double-check) a Marvell gigE port. Not on the list, but it works just fine! (Dangit Pablo, I want my $FREE back! :twisted: )

I should probably put up a "success, with caveat" on the motherboard I'm running in the hardware section. (Works great, outside of S3.) Eh, next time I wander by the forum.
thekorn: Those are some decent spare parts.
If you like that, you should see my pile of crap parts! :D
I do agree with your opinion about something that works being more important than something that is quiet.
Well, don't let me give you the wrong idea; it's quiet. But it's not silent. Those are two fairly different goals! (I actually have an SPL meter, but haven't bothered to take a measurement, though I could easily if you really want it.)

thekorn
Contributor
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:45 am

Post by thekorn » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:27 pm

So I broke out my SPL meter today...

Ambient room noise, with the furnace running... 19.1 dBA (slow) (Measured about four feet from the air vent.)

Noise of diskless minimyth system based on core2duo, with a noisekiller PSU and no local storage whatsoever... 20.0 dBA (slow). (Measured roughly two feet from the PC.)

Yup, a whole 1dB of noise over ambient! I'll take it! :)


(Not including the initial beep on bootup; that was obviously quite a bit louder than 20dB!)

Post Reply