Hey guys, hoping for some suggestions from the gurus for how I should spend my money.
My max for hardware is around $600. File storage is already taken care of with 9TB of USB3 drives. Past experience has shown me that I personally don't need more than 50GB of SSD as main storage for a Win7 system, so skimpy suggestions on that will be good.
I don't play PC games. Zero.
I'd like a small case since I just have a little room in a modest apartment, however I have my eye on a PCIe capture card that is full-length. My understanding is that this limits my options to a subset of Mini-ITX cases aimed at HTPC users who also want to install a long graphics board. The one I saw that is aesthetically pleasing to me is called Bitfenix Prodigy.
When I asked on Doom9 for the best x264 encoding FPS/$ ratio, someone suggested i7-4770. That seems unrealistic for my budget (at $320 it's over 50% of my total), but hopefully I'm wrong. I also want high single-threaded performance, since I've never been brave enough to tackle Avisynth-MT for more than a few weeks.
Does RAM size affect x264 performance much? If not, as little as 4GB will do me fine for my other tasks.
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If money is tight, think about an MATX build instead. Mini ITX boards generally cost more than similar MATX boards, and the smallest mini-ITX cases don't have an opening that allows the single expansion slot to be used. The Bitfenix Prodigy does have an opening for the expansion slot, but its dimensions come close to that of a small MATX tower.
[Edit] This is what I'm talking about:
The BitFenix Prodigy's handles look cool, but waste space. Its dimensions are listed at 9.84" x 15.91" x 14.13"
Admittedly these MATX cases are plain little black boxes, without the distinctive styling of the Bit Fenix case, but the dimensions listed for the SilverStone Temjin Series TJ08B-E and the SilverStone SST-PS07B are 8.27" x 14.73" x 15.75"
Last edited by usually_quiet; 30th Jun 2013 at 19:15.
Unfortunately the length of the card I'm talking about is beyond ridiculous. At 13.875", it exceeds what their cases touted as supporting "graphics cards of any length" can hold, according to the actual specs. The case that does fit it (SilverStone SG02-F) is described as supporting "extended-length" cards, but the manual for the card definitely claims it's standard "full length". Well, at least this one has the option of white.
And digging deeper I see that the Prodigy in fact can only do 12.598"... I think you saved me some frustration.
Last edited by jagabo; 30th Jun 2013 at 21:08.
Oops, I missed the part where you said you were afraid of multithreaded AviSynth. Running AviSynth single threaded will be a bottleneck if you use slow filters like QTGMC() and McTemporalDenoise().
Running Multithreaded AviSynth isn't hard. It's just a matter of copying the multithreaded avisynth.dll over the one already in your System32 or SysWow64 folder, then adding a SetMtMode() or two to your script. Of course, there are some filters that don't run multithreaded properly. But the filters mentioned above aren't a problem.
Personally, for general performance and power consumption I prefer Intel CPUs now. But if x264 and AviSynth are you primary concerns the 6 and 8 core AMD CPUs are a better value.
One of the problems with most of those smallish HTPC cases is inferior cooling. Most will take only a single 80mm cooling fan, and some take only a tiny 60mm. A fan in that size range which would be capable of cooling a big CPU + cramped case for hours of video work would sound like a Boeing 747 in your living room. Drives, CPU's, power supplies -- these generate heat, even with an mATX or MiniATX board. Bigger CPU's have bigger and louder fans, and the OEM coolers that come with Intel or AMD are barely adequate to keep the chips from melting. When you're running a multi-threaded app with those big chips you can hear it out in the street.
Most HTPC's can be built as highly capable units, but they still have power and size limitations compared to bigger machines. I built an HTPC for my Hauppauge PVR with an APEX DM-387 case (throw away the horrible OEM power supply and get a Seasonic), a cheap ASRock mATX board and Intel i5-3570K CPU that works like gangbusters given its limitations, and has an excellent ATI low-profile HD card. Any way you look at it, a $1500 pro capture card won't fit a smallish case, and even a 1TB drive is going to fill up faster than you think.
The alternative would be to find space for a good mATX case that can house larger components. If you want a smallish HTPC case you can throw some pretty nice gear into it, but a one-quart bucket can't hold a gallon of water.
Last edited by sanlyn; 21st Mar 2014 at 15:24.
This is the best selection of parts I could find near your budget using the Silverstone SUGOS02W-F case you want. Does not include shipping, tax, SATA cables or the 2 extra fans your case can accept as an option.
CASE http://www.amazon.com/Silverstone-Tek-MicroATX-Computer-SG02W-F-USB3-0/dp/B00B3QYA2E $75
Based on user reviews for your case, you will probably find a modular PSU very helpful and the short modular cable set for the PSU may come in handy too
PSU http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Strider-ST50F-P-Certified-Modular/dp/B0047CQ1B4 $75
CPU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116898 $220
MOB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157384 $78
RAM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186 $70
You don't save much money by buying a 60GB SSD and selection is not great. Most cost between $70-$80. A good 120GB model can be had for between $100 and $110.
SSD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211582 $70
On second thought, this motherboard is probably better on account of the orientation of the SATA ports. The edge of the motherboard will be close to the HDD cage, so SATA ports that face the front of the case are likely to be a problem.
[Edit]If you want to overclock:
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116504 $220
MOB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=13-157-325&Tpk=N82E16813157325 $90
Last edited by usually_quiet; 1st Jul 2013 at 11:45.
I wouldn't recommend a 60GB SSD. I find them much too small for a boot drive. When I used one for that, I had to constantly remove files from it to keep up it's efficiency. I like to keep a SSD a maximum of 50% filled for best performance. That would limit a 60GB drive to 30GB, a bit too small for a newer OS, IMO. Now I use 120GB SSDs for boot and no problems with over filling them.
There are plenty of desktop HTPC MicroATX cases on the market. Most have poor cooling for a high performance CPU and a large heat producing video card, IMO.
I don't know if your capture card produces that much heat, but video cards tend to run warm.
I use a Lian Li desktop case for my HTPC. Nice case, but poor cooling, even with two 120mm fans. Of course part of the problem is that it has to run quiet as it's in my front room. And I either had fan noise or overheating with the 145W CPU I started with. I finally went with a low power AMD A6-3500 APU, a three core 65W version running at 2.1GHZ. And a motherboard with built in video, along with a HDMI output. It handles HD MKVs and Blu-rays with no problems using HDMI and S/PDIF audio out.
I rarely use my HTPC for encoding. I use the PC in my computer details for that. That's a six core AMD, overclocked and water cooled. Very nice for H.264 encodes. But the HTPC is capable of H.264 encoding, just a bit slower. It does run a little warmer during an encode, but it's still quiet enough for a HTPC. (21C idle and 39C encoding H.264 @100% on all cores with the stock CPU cooler, no overclocking.)
I would recommend a modular power supply as you have fewer unused cables you have to stuff somewhere.
I definitely wouldn't recommend a ITX MB or case as they are very limited for space and generally have slower CPUs and small power supplies.
Does RAM size affect x264 performance much? If not, as little as 4GB will do me fine for my other tasks.
When encoding, very little RAM space is used, seems to me about 200 - 300MB or so. On board graphics uses some also.
For a CPU you might look at this low power (And low cost) APU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113332 I suspect it would run very cool.
This is an older post about my HTPC. It has evolved quite a bit since then: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/305973-Post-pics-of-your-HTPC?p=1898449&viewfull=1#post1898449
I doubt you will find many HTPC cases that can handle a 13.875" video card.
Basically, you have conflicting requirements. An HTPC is generally a small, low power, quiet device used just to play media. An encoding machine is a big, high powered, noisy behemoth.
My goal isn't HTPC though; just a case with the smallest dimensions that will fit the stupid capture card. Noise while encoding is acceptable so long as it ramps down during other usage.
x264 encoding benchmark with staxrip:
lower is better
Because space is tight, aftermarket coolers are often limited to low profile designs. Low-profile models are designed to be quiet and cool a little better than the stock cooler, but don't have the cooling power of the big, bulky aftermarket air coolers you see more often. Plus, most SFF cases don't have enough room on the back plane to install the radiator and fan for a liquid cooler.
Okay guys, what do you suggest for a "smallish" case that would fit the long card and be good cooling-wise?
:\ What would you recommend in terms of your overclock suggestion vs your other suggestion? Will the overclocked one be faster but hotter despite the lower model number?
Are there any mobos for these CPUs that have a Firewire header or port?
Last edited by usually_quiet; 13th Jul 2013 at 15:06. Reason: price is $289 not $290.
I hesitate to follow up since I didn't end up going for the hardware you suggested (except CPU+mobo!) but I figured maybe an annoying conclusion is better than none. I grabbed a couple eBay deals for the SSD and RAM. If those two components die I don't really care (I don't typically keep valuable stuff on my Windows drive).
No long capture card yet, but here's how it looks right now with both side panels off:
Intel Core i5-4670 Haswell 3.4GHz LGA 1150 84W Quad-Core CPU = $219.99
ECS Elitegroup Micro ATX H87H3-M mobo = $79.00 (Amazon Marketplace)
OCZ Agility 3 60GB SSD = $47.53
Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP 8GB (2 X 4GB) DDR3 1600 = $49.99
Corsair Obsidian 350D Micro ATX Case = $82.74 + $9.93 CAD (price-beat + tax) = ~$89.11 USD
Corsair HX650W PSU = nil*
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus heatsink/fan = $24.20 + $2.90 CAD (price-match + tax) = ~$26.06 USD
US parcel receiving fees = 4 x $3.50
Total = ~$525.68
*I cheated: I already had a sealed Corsair HX650W PSU sitting on a shelf, so I didn't need to factor that in. (The PSU only cost me shipping; my 4.5 year old HX620W died last year and they honoured the warranty. Mind you, while waiting for the warranty process I bought myself an HX650W that is still in the other PC.)
For the case, my other option was the Cooler Master N200 at half the price of Corsair's 350D. I was lured in by the two USB 3.0 ports at the top rather than the single one in the middle, but now I'm regretting letting that sway me since I'm looking at adding a cheap 5.25" fan controller and there are many that offer two USB 3.0 ports via the mobo header. Ah well; the other thing that I liked from reading about this case was the opportunity for cable management behind the motherboard, and I did enjoy doing everything up neatly!
Somehow this thing is slightly larger along every dimension than the 5 y/o mid-tower that I have been using as a stopgap...
Last edited by vaporeon800; 8th Sep 2013 at 05:01.
I am envious. My planned system upgrade keeps getting pushed back.
I really like that case. It is handsome, well-made, and roomy with great cable management features. The Cooler Master is nice too, but does not seem as well built. I hope the CPU and motherboard live up to their reviews. Good job!
I finally went ahead with my long-delayed upgrade in April. The parts I used are listed in my computer details. I picked a different i5 model which has Intel HD Graphics 4600 too. The ECS H87 motherboard you picked was sold out, so I picked something else I liked with a B85 chipset intead. I haven't experienced any odd graphical symptoms with notepad or anything else so far. I hardly ever play H.264 video, so I can't say if anything strange happens with that.