Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Building an Entertainment PC

My entertainment PC list has helped Rita. I'm not entirely sure how she found my site, but she had a few questions. Here is what she wrote, followed by my answers, best I could do. Please keep in mind that I'm not rich nor are any of these companies giving me parts to test with. I do my best to research the hardware, but I cannot promise anything.

I liked the list you put together for possible entertainment PCs. I was thinking of building something similar and wondered if you have any input:
What do you think of the AMD version of the Shuttle system (sk41g) with the All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500 and AMD XP2100? Do you think this would get too hot? The 7500 doesn't have a fan, and AMDs run hotter. If it doesn't get too hot it would cost about $200.- less (http://www.directron.com/sk41g.html)
Let me know if you have any thoughts on this. (I have the 7500 + AMD Tbird 900Mhz now and it seems fast enough for TV/DivX media. I don't know if the 8500 is worth the extra money for a non-gamer-any thoughts on this is also appreciated.)

The Shuttle mobo/case (SK41G) is a good case and has both positives and negatives regarding cooling.  One the plus side, it's aluminum which is much better at dissipating heat than the standard steel case.  The primary negative is the number of heat generating devices that you'll pack into they system. However as popular as these cases have become I would be very surprised if the heat levels reached unsatisfactory levels.  Especially since these cases are being snapped up by enthusiast builders, who tend to overclock.

Unfortunately, I have no proof of this and is purely conjecture.

You'll be fine with the ATI 7500 All-in-Wonder.  I believe the Remote-Wonder device will work with the older All-In-Wonder software as well, however that will be an additional purchase, if it's an issue for you.

I picked the 8500 because I was going to be doing both gaming and TV on it. I have actually since switched to an nVidia card for my gaming system, but
I'm still quite happy with the 8500.  But I doubt there is enough of a reason for you to upgrade, especially if you are not planning on gaming with it.

My TV system is running an original Athlon 900 (Slot-A) and it has no trouble with DVR functions.  The temperature, stays at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pretty basic heat sink.  You have more cooling options with yours than I do and you'll be able to cool yours equally well and likely better.

Believe it or not, your real temperature "bad boy" will more likely be your hard drive.  The 7200 rpm drives tend to run a bit hot.  If you are looking to get a larger hard drive, for recording, look at 100GB or larger.  Most of the reviews I have read show that the slower, 5400 rpm drives actually run as fast as smaller 7200 rpm drives because they have a very large cache, often 8MB.

With my 40GB (7200rpm) drive I had to purchase a hard drive cooling fan kit that sits under it.  I have a full tower, so I have room.  In the Shuttle case you are looking at you will not have that kind of space.

Another thing to consider is that you can tell Windows, in the Power Settings control panel, to turn off the hard drive after a period of time. If you are simply watching TV, not recording, let it turn off.  It'll reduce the temperature.

A lot of temperature will depend on how you use the system and where you place it in your room.  If it's buried it'll be hotter, than if it's exposed.

I hope this is helpful. If anyone notices any problems with any of this, please let me know. That's why I have a "comments" link.

No comments: