Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

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Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:47 pm

So one of my drive (old 320gb) died on the htpc i have and it got me really considering to replace that computer with something that's small and low power instead of the bulky mid-tower. i actually have 2 computers that are fully functional, however, outdated and consume too much power (meant to be on 24x7). aside from cpu and motherboard i can salvage rest from the old computers (case, psu, drives). gaming not a concern as really just looking to build 2 pcs: htpc and nas.

ram i have and is somewhat messing with decision making:
240pin desktop ddr3: 2x2gb, 1x4gb
204pin laptop ddr3: 4x2gb, 2x4gb
for my purpose 4gb ought to be enough for the 2 pcs and so going with solution based on either type is fine.

from the looks of it, amd is a no go as either they are
1) low performance
2) higher power consumption
3) costlier - to my surprise actually - even when considering mobo too.

the low power solutions from amd are on par with Intel's J1900 or less but the J1900 cost less overall. after doing quite a bit of searching and looking at what's available in canada and the prices here, i am considering to go with Intel's g3240 and pair it with 1150 motherboard - totally $140 cdn + taxes. this would seriously whoop amd's solutions for htpc purpose and performance/power. Here is XBit review to back up my claims: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/di ... html#sect0

i have few options:

htpc:
1) leave the htpc as is (amd x2 4600+ with gigabyte ga-ma78gpm-ud2h board - format as windows is screwed up due to dead drive
- currently this also hosts virtualbox xubuntu for nas which i plan to move out
2) buy g3240/g3258 + mobo for $70+$80 + taxes - canadacomputers.com
3) buy 1037u + mobo for <$75+taxes - http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6813138393

nas:
1) j1900 - $95 + taxes - http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... -_-Product
- low power, has enough sata for nas
2) buy the 1037u mentioned above as is cheaper

what are your thoughts and know of any deals or combinations that i should also consider?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:12 am

anything folks?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Hammer_Time » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:06 am

Been busy lately with my Uncle from up north visiting, so only time to post a few jokes on here lately. Will respond later on tonight... :)
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:21 pm

i am somewhat decided on the following:

instead of building 2 new PCs now (1 HTPC and 1 NAS) just build one a tiny bit more powerful - i3-4150 with Asrock H87M-ITX that will serve as a dual purpose system. At a later point when there is a decent sale and i have more money get g3240 or something to play the HTPC.

the reasoning is that i rarely upgrade systems (i have x3 720 based system [bro uses]; x2 4400+ [htpc]; Sempron 3200+ [collecting dirt]; i7 640m laptop [main system] - pretty much at least 4+ years old. so i rather buy something that will last me just as long in the future. J1900 or Kabini just don't seem will provide the necessary performance in matter of a year or two.


Previously i have the system setup as HTPC [windows] hosting a guest virtual Linux [xubunut - nas] via virtualbox. this time around I feel i want to do it the other way around - linux [nas+htpc] hosting windows [windows related programs] to be used remotely. previous setup was a massive pain in the neck to backup to an offline drive [connect only for backups] as i had to fiddle way too much with windows, virtualbox and linux to properly have the drive recognized. followed by another set of headache to reverse out the offline drive configurations. With Linux being the prime OS and Windows serving basic operations - light browsing or office, i feel the backup process would be stupidly simplified in comparison. User experience might take a hit but if too much then i will just fork over the cash to pick up a second system or something.


what do you think?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Hammer_Time » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:32 pm

Makes sense to build just one system and host both OS' on it as you mentioned.

I do have a question about the cpu though, the i3 3240 cpu is older "Ivy Bridge" dual core tech, but it is hyperthreaded, so that is why it costs $125 :

http://ark.intel.com/products/65690/Int ... e-3_40-GHz

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6819116773

The new Pentium G3258 is basically the same thing, except newer Haswell tech but does NOT have Hyperthreading which makes it much cheaper at $70 :

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... -_-Product

Of course the G3258 is multiplier unlocked, which makes it a superb overclocker. I know that you are not interested in overclocking the cpu since it will just be used for htpc and light usage, but it is still nice to have the option of overclocking there.

Stupify wrote:htpc:
1) leave the htpc as is (amd x2 4600+ with gigabyte ga-ma78gpm-ud2h board - format as windows is screwed up due to dead drive
- currently this also hosts virtualbox xubuntu for nas which i plan to move out
2) buy g3240/g3258 + mobo for $70+$80 + taxes - canadacomputers.com
3) buy 1037u + mobo for <$75+taxes - http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6813138393


Forget the more expensive $125 i3 3240 cpu, you will never miss "hyperthreading" in a system like this, considering its intended purpose. Pentium G3258 plus appropriate mobo all the way here! :scout: :D

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pen ... ,3888.html

Even if you don't overclock the cpu ( a little bit would not hurt of course ), I quote that article as it shows you can still o/c this cpu on a relatively inexpensive mobo...

The ASRock ITX mobo you quoted is currently out of stock on newegg right now and CC does not even sell it...

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... 6813157386

This is a better, cheaper alternative for you methinks:

Wait, Did You Say H81?

That’s right. The real star of this show isn’t Intel’s Pentium, but rather the PCB it’s sitting on. Back when you had to choose between Z87 and Z97 for overclocking the G3258, spending more on a motherboard than the processor seemed silly. AMD’s tuned Athlon X4 750K might have trailed in our benchmarks, but at least you could still save a few bucks by buying the low-cost platform.

Then word started spreading that old CPU microcode allowed non-Z core logic to manipulate clock multipliers. Officially, this was a no-no for motherboard vendors to expose publically. But in the words of Ian Malcom, “Life, uh, finds a way.” And so now there are many, many other boards capable of pushing the little dual-core CPU beyond 4 GHz.

The board vendor's team actually offered two suggestions: a B85-based ATX motherboard and that H81-based board we ended up picking. The former simply came too close to higher-end alternatives. Meanwhile a $45 price tag on the diminutive H81-based board undercut even AMD’s mid-range platform. After a quick flash to a beta firmware we found, the H81 platform picked up Intel’s Pentium G3258, opened up ratios as high as 80x, and sent us on our way.

The big question is whether $115 worth of unlocked Pentium and entry-level motherboard can come together and impress us.


This is the cheapest Mini-ITX H81 chipset mobo on newegg.com right now:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... -_-Product

MSI H81I LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

$69.99


CC also sells its for same price but stock is very very low:

http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_ ... _id=065666

MSi is not the top brand in motherboards though so you might want to spend an extra $10 to get the same thing made by Gigabyte instead:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... -_-Product

Gigabyte Ultra Durable 4 Plus GA-H81N Desktop Motherboard - Intel H81 Chipset - Socket H3 LGA-1150

$79.99


CC sells it for $5 more but again, stock is very very low on it:

http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_ ... _id=071328

So just order cpu and ITX mobo ( preferably the Gigabyte brand ) from Newegg as even though you have to pay for shipping, at least they have it ( the ITX mobo ) in stock! :D

That combo will make for one rocking little HTPC methinks...

Regarding the integrated graphics in the G3258:

What's interesting to know is that the Pentium G3258 20th Anniversary Edition processor actually is based upon Haswell architecture. The Processor offers two physical CPU cores that will run on a base-clock of 3.2 GHz. There's no hyper-threading and there is no Turbo mode available. Another difference is of course the internal cache memory, 3 MB L3 cache is available. Being Haswell based, the processor does come with an integrated GPU as well, Intel HD Graphics. It comes with 10 execution units, where the common Intel HD 4600 IGPs on the Core i7 series have 20 execution units.


Useless for gaming of course, but more than sufficient to playback HD video with as you intend to do...

Proof:

http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/pe ... ew,15.html

Accelerating & Enhancing Video

CPU with integrated GPU based platforms are a lot about additional features and performance on top of regular processing. So another key feature is of course the embedded GPU with video processor. The combo of the video processor and some additional shader processors inside that chipset allows for high-definition 1080p content playback, acceleration, and though limited enhancement of overall picture quality. For those that use other content like the immensely popular MKV / x.264 container formats, please download Media Player Classic Home Cinema. This free open source software will DXVA accelerate and enhance your MKV content at 1080p or even higher. We have written an article on Media Player Classic Home Cinema and how to set up that software to make this happen, please read that here.

Above an example of 1080p, a concert from Muse in MKV x.264 format - there is no dedicated graphics card installed, so this is the Intel HD series iGPU (cut down HD 4600) at work here and quite frankly it does the job extremely smooth. You'll notice a CPU load of up-to 2% here, power consumption at this stage was roughly 65 Watts for the entire PC. We have some extra shaders enabled like complex Image Sharpening. Perfect playback. But let's disable DXVA and try Ultra HD playback.

In the above example we tested Ultra HD content playback. Above the 4K resolution Elysium trailer, here we have an MP4 H.264 file and you can see that the CPU load peaks to 68% with one to two cores showing more utilization. Unlike many APUs we recently tested, Ultra HD video-playback did not result into stuttering, and that is a good thing.

Here as well we have additional shaders enabled like image sharpening and darkened black levels. These shaders run over the iGPU. Normally the reason why we notice stuttering is that the trailer is not DXVA encoded, or DXVA at 4K does not yet work. So then the processor cores will kick in and only IF they can handle the content fast enough this will be a successful mission. The Pentium is plenty fast for this job.


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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:13 am

i am sold on the g3258 as i know i am just not gaming at all and this computer isn't meant for that. the savings will be worth for future upgrade as 1150 will be broadwell socket too.

as for the mobo - cc does indeed have them in stock at some locations - check stock levels. however, if i am going g3258 then i want to have support for future upgrades on the motherboard - bios and software. this means i should stick with the 9-series chipset rather than 8-series as historically mobo makers don't proactively provide such support. agree?

i want to stick with itx board simply because i do not need the bulky board and provides me no extra benefit aside from $ cheaper. the cheapest i see is http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_ ... _id=071699 Asrock H97M-ITX/ac. i don't need the wifi but that's common across all 9-series itx boards apparently. the annoying thing that Asrock did here is that they made it very hard to determine the ac make/model (realtek, still can't find the model # anywhere). The other boards have Intel and is probably why Asrock went through such great lengths - a lot of serious effort - to hide the fact.

regardless of Asrock or some other board, none of them seem to have eSata which is something would be great for my easy connect/disconnect backup drive. maybe they want me to get inventive - http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Serial-SATA ... 486c7c3d49 - sata to esata. dirty solution but may have to do if i want to stick with a 9-series itx board.

any suggestions?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:30 am

The H model do not have overclocking? really? overvolt/undervolt/change multipliers/bios settings/...?

i am not so inclined to overclocking as i feel that if i ever have to it is time for me to upgrade. but care about underclocking/undervolting.
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:48 am

interesting i found the below which says OC is possible on H models:

http://www.eteknix.com/asrock-fatal1ty- ... -review/6/
Don’t believe any of the drivel people are spreading about you not being able to overclock on any Haswell chipset other than Z97, it simply isn’t true.
they seem to have 4770k OC to 4.8ghz easily.
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:49 am

on a side note, without a case [case's power switch], how can i power up my computer? is there anything i can do to have a standalone power/reset switch?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Hammer_Time » Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:11 am

Was just trying to save you some money with a cheaper ITX mobo. The ASRock board you quoted is quite nice for $120 if willing to spend that much.

If you are not using a case and will have the mobo out in the open, then just harvest a power switch from any old case, I did this with an old IBM case... removed its small power switch, had to cut the wires from its proprietary connector, then soldered them to the wires of a regular jumper that connects to the 2 power pins on the mobo... works great on old mobo I have laying around here for emergency use.

In the meantime you can simply touch a screwdriver to the 2 power pins to start your system, and then use the psu's power switch to turn it off ( assuming psu has a power switch on it ), but that gets tedious after a while... better to have a proper power switch hooked up to it. :)
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Fuzz » Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:16 am

I missed the part about you not mentioning a case, what are you going to do? Anyway, you could get something like this

http://www.dx.com/p/jm-202-desktop-powe ... _dBG2M3qsk

If your backups aren't to time sensitive, why not just USB? Otherwise ya, I've rigged up several eSATA connections using sata to ESATA cables. Sometimes it helps to go into the BIOS and make sure that port has hotswap enabled.
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby DIREWOLF75 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:49 am

Stupify wrote:interesting i found the below which says OC is possible on H models:

http://www.eteknix.com/asrock-fatal1ty- ... -review/6/
Don’t believe any of the drivel people are spreading about you not being able to overclock on any Haswell chipset other than Z97, it simply isn’t true.
they seem to have 4770k OC to 4.8ghz easily.


OC on boards other than Z87 and Z97 isn´t a supported feature, on some boards it may work, but you´re effectively playing the lottery.
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:23 am

So here is the final decision:

G3258 - $69.97 - http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/ ... sho1251098

Asrock H97M-ITX/ac - $119.99 - $30MIR = $89.99 http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_ ... _id=071699

It will cost me roughly $200 in total with taxes and rebate. what do you think?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Hammer_Time » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:48 am

Hammer_Time approved! ( for what that's worth :wink: ) 8)

ASRock sure packed a lot of connectors on that tiny board! :D
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:21 am

$214.65 with taxes but before $30 MIR. It sure will be a powerful system compared to what i have. let's hope the idle power severely drops compared to what the x2 4400+ is doing - idling around 70Watts with dvd drive, 1 ssd and 2x3.5" hdd.
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Hammer_Time » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:07 am

The G3258 idles at less than half the power of your Athlon X2 4400+! :

http://www.legitreviews.com/intel-penti ... _145874/15

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Only 31 watts idling and 50 watts under load! 8)

Also, you can see from the chart that even if you overclock the snot out of this cpu, idle power barely goes up... of course under load the power consumption more than doubles, but you could easily oc this cpu a wee bit and not really incur any "idle power consumption" penalty for doing so. :D
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:38 pm

The system is setup and i have booted into Lubuntu 14.04 Live version and posting from it. The system definitely feels snappy.

The mobo and case now create a new problem for me - i could fit 8 such boards in my case (mid-atx) and the psu has too many danggling wires. It just feels i am doing the itx board grave injustice by having it in the mid-atx case. i am seriously considering building a "plastic box" case now - any suggestions?
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Fuzz » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:49 pm

Well, tying cables up is easy. You could stash super secret stuff inside? :) Its good for airflow anyway. I don't think its worth the money and effort to build something unless you have limited space.
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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Hammer_Time » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:05 pm

Congrats on your purchase! Glad you like it so far... snappy! :D

Building your own case is always fun, but if you are lazy this is a pretty nice mini ITX case for $40 bux:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... -_-Product

Of course that would need a mini-ITX power supply to fit in it, since I don't think you could fit a full size ATX psu in it, but you never know...

Here are some mini-ITX case mods to give you some ideas:

http://www.via.com.tw/en/initiatives/sp ... e-mods.jsp

I kind of like this Humidor box case mod ( Cuban cigar wooden box ) as wood is easy to work with and it looks so elegant as well:

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/humidor2/

More of that here ( click on the alphabetical project name links on the right-hand side of this page ) :

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/

A cheap old guitar would also work as a case:

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Re: Low Power HTPC and NAS CPU+mobo

Postby Stupify » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:23 pm

dang... hit a snag... apparently the computer doesn't recognize my ssd or dvd drive from a cold boot - almost as if it, bios booting, is too damn fast - and so it takes me into bios/error message no boot device found. i have to reset and then it will detect the drives. WTF?! what gives?
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