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Thread: Cheap, low power media PC

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    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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    Cheap, low power media PC

    Hi all,

    I am looking at buying or making a cheap, lower power media PC. It only needs to be capable of light web surfing, playing mp3's, all video types and CD's/DVD's.

    I would like the ability of using a remote control with it (like the MCE remotes). I don't mind if it hasn't got wireless but it does need network access to access a NAS I will also be setting up so I don't have to have my gaming PC on when relaxing and watching/listening to my media. Also, quietness would be nice, but not too worried if it makes it cost too much.

    I have seen a few nice MiniITX cases, so that sort of size would be great.

    Anyone have any ideas of possible setups? Or any pre-made options if they fit my requirements?

    Have hard drives and all peripherals except the remote (have an old ATi Remote Wonder but can't be bothered manually setting it all up so just use the mouse options), so only need what's inside the box. DVD drive is a necessity as I really can't be bothered to convert my couple of hundred DVD's and box sets just to watch them.

    Cheers in advance!

  2. #2
    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Hmm, maybe this should've been in the SFF sub forum?

  3. #3
    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Acer Aspire Revo + external DVD drive? Not ideal but probably the cheapest / simplest solution...

    n.b. cheaper Aspire options are available

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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Any sort of atom + ion sff pc sounds like a good start, just have to find one with a optical drive.

  5. #5
    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    That Acer Aspire looks like one weird PC...

    It's probably a bit much than what I would like to pay, but since I didn't stipulate an amount, you are forgiven.

    I guess £200 max would be a good start.

    Oh, and I like this case: http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=MjA5OQ==

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    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Quote Originally Posted by jimbouk View Post
    Any sort of atom + ion sff pc sounds like a good start, just have to find one with a optical drive.
    Yeah, a nice and small mobo with onboard Atom would be very nice, as they are cheap and low power. Just don't know which ones are any good.

    I will pull my finger out and do more researching on this when I get homa and post up some more ideas myself. Just wondered (hoped) if anyone knew of anything out there already which would suit my needs.

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    Senior Member usxhe190's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Acer Aspire will be the cheapest you can get. If you want cheaper, you need to build it yourself (although not sure how much cheaper you can get).

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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    asrock ion + xbmc, def the way I'd do it if starting from scratch

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    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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  10. #10
    HEXUS.social member Allen's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    It looks like the major difference between the two would be the CPU and GPU.

    The ASRock ION has an Atom 330 and the Nvidia ION GPU, the PoV mobo has the new Atom D510 with on die GPU. I wonder if there would be much of a performance issue with the later when playing back HD content?

    According to this, the D510 doesn't have hardware acceleration for VC-1 and AVC codecs, but not sure how relevant they are in HD. The Nvidia ION however, does support HD playback.

    Anyone know if this will cause problems? I don't, in all honestly, have much HD content... let alone a screen big enough to utilise it (yet!), but it would be nice to make sure that what I'm getting can play what I want it to if I decide to upgrade my monitor.

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    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    I was just going to sugest the ASRock nettop
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ASRoc...20GB-HDD-Black
    Dual core Atom 330, nvidia ION, 2GB DDR2, 320GB HDD, dvdrw and remote control £271

    THe atom 330 + ION is a much better option than the atom D510, the onchip graphics is rather weak as intel don't belive that people want to use an atom based system for anything that requires much gpu power

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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    yup the key thing about the asrock's is that they push all the decoding onto the gpu.

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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Nvidia ION is better than Atom D510.

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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen View Post
    ...the D510 doesn't have hardware acceleration for VC-1 and AVC codecs, but not sure how relevant they are in HD.
    Very relevant, bluray, mkv etc... use either vc1 or avc.

    You could always go down the route of an underclocked pentium e2xx0 or low power athlon dual core.
    I remember on toms ages ago they compared watt at idle and load and the underclocked amd actually beat the atom, just requires faffing in bios. Don't know how much amd itx boards are, but I think they always come with a decent on board gpu and the athlons and pentiums can be had for £30 new or less than £20 second hand.
    Could always opt for a matx board, they are very cheap and I think the cases can be cheaper too. Also means you can grab a dvdrw for £10 instead of the £30+ external drives usually cost.

    Just throwing a few more options out there for you.
    MediaPC - ASRock H61M-DGS - 8gb ddr3 - i3 2120 - R9 270 - antec fusion black - lg ggc-h20l - windows 10 - denon avr-1911 - JVC 58" 1080p RPTV
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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    AMD mITX boards can be had with 780G or 785G chipset if you hunt around - they'll be about £100 though. The obvious chip to pair one with would be this Athlon II X2 250u - 1.6GHz dual core @ 25W. It may take some additional undervolting as well, if you're lucky


    Hmmm, if you're looking for a bargain, just found this: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/191713 - it's a socket 775 mini-itx motherboard with PCIe x1 for the bargainous price of £37.58! Couple it with a low spec Core 2 Duo or Celeron, and a PCIe x1 graphics card, and you're cooking
    p.s. it also looks (from this Zotac information sheet) like it will accept Zotac's ION upgrade card, which is basically the same as the one from Scan, only a little more expensive - although at least it's actually in stock!
    Last edited by scaryjim; 11-08-2010 at 12:11 PM.

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    Re: Cheap, low power media PC

    As others have said, the video chipset is really important as the Atom CPU isn't capable of software decoding much HD content so hardware offloading is key. That said, I ran into quite a lot of compatibility issues with hardware decoding so ended up re-thinking my entire HTPC setup and going for a CPU with more grunt and doing software decoding

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