Windows - [Mini-ITX] AMD A8-3820 APU in an Antec ISK300-65 case (with PicoPSU 160W)

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Jarjar72 Offline
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Post: #1
Hello community,

Since I read a lot in the board here before I bought my system I want to give something back to the community. Maybe some noob will learn from my experiences with setting up the HTPC of my dreams or sometimes nightmares...

After some reading I decided to go with the follwing setup:

Case: Antec ISK 300-65 (with 120W external brick)
Mobo: ASRock A75 A75M-ITX, AMD A75, Socket FM1, Mini-ITX
APU (CPU incl. Grafikchip): AMD A8-3850 APU, 2.9GHz, Socket FM1, 4C/4T (with boxed Cooler for now) first but now A8-3620 APU (used).
RAM: Corsair Vengeance, 2x4GB, DDR3-1866, CL9@1.5V (unfortunately not low profile -> didn't read enough before ordering)
SSD: Corsair Force3 60GB, SATA-3, 2.5 Zoll

Well that was my initial setup... but not my finale as you will read below...

After a couple of weeks of waiting for my order in my favourite local retailer here in Switzerland I finally got the stuff. Be aware that many of the suggested components here in this board are not available in all countries. Or if available for a ridiculously higher price than in the states. Example... The external brick here in Switzerland cost me 120 Swiss Francs (with is around 120 US$). Such a brick in the US costs around 20 US$. Okay one could import it but you also don't have the right cables then and you pay additional shipping and other costs. Many of the suggested components here also were not on stock at my retailer...

Anyways after I plugged everything together and I wanted to start my computer with a smiling face just nothing happened...
No booting into BIOS or UEFI or whatever... Damn!!! What's wrong now. I already thought that I broke something. Maybe a short?

It turned out that the 120W brick wasn't powerful enough for the A8-3850 (100W) APU.
But I only realized that after a lot of testing with some members of the board here. Thanks to eskro and bluray at this point.

Actually I have to say that initially someone said that the 120W brick with the A8-3850 processor should work. Even though some other member here in the board has it working with a similar combination it didn't work in my case. After some testing with some PSU from an old desktop computer I knew that it really was the my brick that was to weak. Because the system worked with a 160W desktop PSU.

Maybe you can imagine how relieved I was that it was just the brick and nothing serious that I broke.

Well, after some reading I decided to go with one of those small PicoPSU (160W as well) and bought it from ebay. There are offers which include a fitting brick with the PSU. Of course I went for the big one with 192W peak in the first place because I am really sick of underpowering my system by now.

I don't get this anyway. Why is everybody trying to run their system with the lowest possible PSU? If it's true what I learned from this experience is that the systems (CPU, RAM and so on) are not consuming any more power than it really needs anyway. Meanwhile I would go for a 10'000W brick if there was one... It could have saved me a couple of my life years...

Anyway... after another week of waiting for the PicoPSU I finally got this thing in my mail.

So I unboxed it and I deattached the original Antec ISK300-65 internal PSU board. All of the sudden I realized that the plug of the PicoPSU brick was larger then the one of the stock PSU... GREAT!!!
I had to extend the hole in the case with a round file until the new plug fitted through the hole in the case. But I finally got it working. The other great thing about the PicoPSU is that it is way slicker than the stock PSU. There are way less cable in the case thanks to the PicoPSU.

I also had to buy some new screws to attach the PicoPSU plug on the case. The stock ones where to large and didn't fit. I bought 2.5mm by 12mm screws. They work.

[Image: 2012-05-12%2011.47.10.jpg]


Oh yes... one more thing!

In the hassle with the bricks and underpowering my system I also bought a used A8-3820 APU (65W) additionally. Was waiting for this one a week too to arrive here. First I decided to set my system up with my more powerful A8-3850 (100W). After some playing around and installing and stuff I felt that the system is incredibly noisy. Even though it has an external brick. I also made the settings in the BIOS Cool'n Quiet, 50 degrees, Level 5 and stuff. I also adjusted the case fan to the level 1 as bluray suggests all the time. But still the system was way to loud for me. During a Windows virus scan the system sounded like a vacuum cleaner. Totally unusable for an HTPC.

I then gave it a try with the other APU the A8-3850 and it is much, much better. I also think that it is not a good idea to turn the case fan to level 1. I think this is to low. With the case fan on level one the hot air inside the case is not transported outside of the case good enough. So the hot air get stuck in the case and the CPU fan turns on even louder. If I have the case fan on level 2 the all in all noise is remarkably more quiet. The case fan is very silent anyways. Therefore it also seems that the 100W APU produces way more heat than the 65W APU. So I will go with the less powerful but more quiet APU here....

Of course I could by one of those Skythe CPU fans. But unfortunately I made the mistake and did not buy low profile RAM. That's why a Skythe fan in my case doesn't work for now. Maybe I'll buy some new RAM someday and also another CUP fan. But for now I try it with the boxed fan.

Meanwhile I just finished setting up windows 7 (ultimate) with XBMC. I didn't attach it to the TV yet. It's still in my office on my monitor where I set it up. But tonight will be the night!!!

But one problem I already ran into...

It seems it has some difficulties to play mkv's with DTS-HD MA tracks. I installed the HD-Audio XBMC and I think I set it all up correctly. But when the DTS-HD MA track is chosen the movie plays in slowmotion. When I switch to normal DTS in the same movie then it works flawlessly. Any idea anyone?

I hope my experience review here will help the one or the other and I would appreciate any comments.
Below I attached some pictures of my setup.


Jarjar

[Image: 2012-05-12%2011.56.55.jpg]


[Image: 2012-05-12%2011.46.35-2.jpg]
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-15 09:59 by Jarjar72.)
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Beer40oz Offline
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Post: #2
Nice..... too bad you bought tall RAM....

To me an aftermartket cooler is best. But its up to you and your wallet. If you would of got the Big SHuriken 2100 you would not need the fan cage.
Maybe down the road if you feel is not right then you can swap parts.....

Smile


Thanx for sharing....
Oh also good job on the hole for the PICO 160W

After all testing.... now you know the stock PSU that comes with the case sooks.... Smile I will be receiving my PICO today..... Smile Will update my post soon....
All in all you love the setup? the case?
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-14 21:21 by Beer40oz.)
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bluray Offline
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Post: #3
(2012-05-14 19:45)Jarjar72 Wrote:  But one problem I already ran into...

It seems it has some difficulties to play mkv's with DTS-HD MA tracks. I installed the HD-Audio XBMC and I think I set it all up correctly. But when the DTS-HD MA track is chosen the movie plays in slowmotion. When I switch to normal DTS in the same movie then it works flawlessly. Any idea anyone?

I hope my experience review here will help the one or the other and I would appreciate any comments.
Below I attached some pictures of my setup.


Jarjar
I remember you from this thread- [Mini-ITX] A6-3600 (4x2.1Ghz/2.4Ghz) + HD6530D.

It looks very nice, and I'm glad that you put Antec 300-65 PSU fiasco to rest. I'm glad that the picoPSU-160-XT I suggested to you work fine. With proper PSU, it make life a lot easier. You did a great job widen the rear panel for Pico DC connector, and it looks neat and clean.

I'm sorry to read that you are having problem bitstreaming DTS-HD. You can try these-

1. Update the latest AMD CCC from here- AMD Driver Autodetect
2. Enable DXVA2 with DXVA as Render Method, and disable everything else in XBMC settings/video/playback
3. Disable "Use a fullscreen window rather than a true fullscreen" in XBMC settings/system/video output
4. Make sure to select WASAPI: "AVR model" (AMD HDMI High Definition......) in XBMC settings/system/audio output

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
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Jarjar72 Offline
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Post: #4
(2012-05-14 21:54)bluray Wrote:  It looks very nice, and I'm glad that you put Antec 300-65 PSU fiasco to rest. I'm glad that the picoPSU-160-XT I suggested to you work fine. With proper PSU, it make life a lot easier. You did a great job widen the rear panel for Pico DC connector, and it looks neat and clean.

I'm sorry to read that you are having problem bitstreaming DTS-HD. You can try these-

1. Update the latest AMD CCC from here- AMD Driver Autodetect
2. Enable DXVA2 with DXVA as Render Method, and disable everything else in XBMC settings/video/playback
3. Disable "Use a fullscreen window rather than a true fullscreen" in XBMC settings/system/video output
4. Make sure to select WASAPI: "AVR model" (AMD HDMI High Definition......) in XBMC settings/system/audio output

I am glad too, believe me...

I solved the issue with bitstreaming DTS-HD. I made a wrong setting in the audio section.
Your point No. 4 was wrong in my settings. Changed it to AMD HDMI...

It looks promising now...

Had some trouble with studdering video playback from 1080p movies. I didn't have this with my Popcorn Hour A-210.
Even though I attached the XBMC at exactly the same network cable.

First I firmware updated my router and restartet the whole network with all devices attached.

For now the probs seem to be solved. The movie that studdered before (with DTS-HD MA Audio) play fluent now.
Hope it stays this way. I can also jump back and forth in the movie now. Very quickly... Blush

@Beer

If it stays like this (without studdering) then I totally love the device. Even though it was an Odyssey until I had it run.
I will test a little more tonight.

Are you from the US? I wonder if you will have to extend the hole in your case too with the PicoPSU. Or if it's just because it has a different plug in Europe.

Have a good one.
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-14 22:36 by Jarjar72.)
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Beer40oz Offline
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Post: #5
Hey .... hope your audio files work like magic! I get no stutter at all.... if not I would trow it away!

Yes here in the US...... no I don't have to drill a hole because the one you bought has that big adapter.....

I bought the 90w PICO wich is the 2.5 (for the stock hole)

Even the 120w .. and some 150w picos have the 2.5....

your 160W has that big plug.....
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Dougie Fresh Offline
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Post: #6
Good idea on widening the existing hole. I tried this weekend to drill the mini-fit JR holes into a half-height slot cover and it would work ok but the slot cover bends very easily once it has that big hole in it. Pushing the plug in would easily bend it. Maybe the widen the existing hole idea is the right solution. I'll look for a stronger half-height slot cover meanwhile.

FWIW, the hole for the mini-fit JR 4-pin jack is 10.8mm so a 7/16 titanium drill bit on high speed should go right through the steel and then use a file to clean it up. M2.5 screws will attach it to the case, preferably ones with a pointed end.
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waver123 Offline
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Post: #7
Nice.... keep us up to date on your progress, also how about some pics of your new pico board?

I also got a bigger 120 brick just in case I upgrade down the road....
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bluray Offline
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(2012-05-14 22:34)Jarjar72 Wrote:  I solved the issue with bitstreaming DTS-HD. I made a wrong setting in the audio section.
Your point No. 4 was wrong in my settings. Changed it to AMD HDMI...

It looks promising now...

Had some trouble with studdering video playback from 1080p movies. I didn't have this with my Popcorn Hour A-210.
Even though I attached the XBMC at exactly the same network cable.

First I firmware updated my router and restartet the whole network with all devices attached.

For now the probs seem to be solved. The movie that studdered before (with DTS-HD MA Audio) play fluent now.
Hope it stays this way. I can also jump back and forth in the movie now. Very quickly... Blush
I'm glad that you can bitstreaming DTS-HD now. If you have problem with video/audio stuttering again, you might want to try my suggestions in step 1 to 3. As most of us have found out, bitstreaming HD audio is harder to achieve than video in HTPC.......you'll enjoy your A8 for a long time.

After a long and hard battle, it is time to enjoy blu-ray movie.......Nod

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-14 23:54 by bluray.)
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eskro Offline
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Post: #9
very nice thread Jarjar72, congratz!
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Jarjar72 Offline
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Post: #10
Hi again,

A short feedback after the first couple of days...

Yesterday we watched our first full length movie ("Thor" 1080p with AC3 5.1 640Kbps). Even though it was not HD-Audio I was astonished from the soundtrack. It felt totally powerful the subwoofers had quite some work to do with this movie. I don't know now if it was just this movie but to me it seemed that the sound was even better then with my Popcorn Hour A-210 I had before. Maybe I have to do a 1:1 comparison and reattach the PCH once again.

The picture quality was very good as well. Nothing to complain about. It even seen that the HTPC handles slow camera moves better than the PCH did. Even though I don't have a 1080/24p capable TV. In my opinion the studdering you have on slow horizontal camera turns was less as before. Could this be?

Then still a little draw back. After 39 minutes of the movie the picture froze. After 5 seconds the movie stopped and it went back to the movies menu. Hmmmm, well... what was that now? I simply restarted the movie and it asked me if I want to restart from the beginning or on minute 39... Of course I chose the second one and watched the movie until the end with no further problems. I don't know what the problem was and why it stopped all of the sudden...

I also have some repositories that don't work. But these are local ones (Swiss-stuff). I think I have to check in a German speaking board. Maybe they fixed some links there or so.

I could also test how noisy the machine is. With the settings and equipment from my first thread I didn't notice the HTPC at all. Not even in silent movie scenes. Of course this movie also wasn't that silent after all and I can go all the way with my THX-AV-Receiver and THX-Speakersystem (5.2 Channels) here where I live... ;-) My HTPC is placed behind the TV where you can't see it. And I usually sit about 3 meters from it. So I think I can save the money and don't have to buy some other RAM and fan. Happy me!

If it continues working like this I will totally love this device.
Even my girlfriend (and she's totally un-Tekkie) thinks it's veeeery cool. All the movie infos and possibilities. And easy to handle once it's running. I even installed XBMC remote on her Android... ;-)

So, that's it for the moment.

Cheers,

JJ
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-16 18:36 by Jarjar72.)
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Beer40oz Offline
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Post: #11
Great!

Hey you can also boost the volume on the menu

it works! great for me!

[Image: wVzI38zt-xbc5-s-.png]

Also what type of file where you playing that stopped?

I had that issue once way back... not with my new setup.....

and it was a corrupeted mkv file right on that spot.... I could recreate it!

oh and some OLD mkv files that where not corrected decoded stutter when FF or RW..... they are all in the trash now with the right ones....

How you streaming your movies to it?
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bluray Offline
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Next time you watch Thor, try to watch it with DTS-HD 7.1 version.....you'll be wow by it.....Nod

Yes, the stock cooler should be fine. My tests show that it have zero noise from HTPC at seating area. I placed my HTPC under HDTV, and I never have any issue with temperature either.

You can check out my tests in this post #353.....the only sounds I hear are all the goodies from 7.2 speakers.......Big Grin
(2012-05-16 18:48)Beer40oz Wrote:  Great!

Hey you can also boost the volume on the menu

it works! great for me!

[Image: wVzI38zt-xbc5-s-.png]
If he pass-thru sound to AVR through HDMI, he don't need it........he can simply increase the volume on AVR.......

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-16 19:10 by bluray.)
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Jarjar72 Offline
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Post: #13
(2012-05-16 18:48)Beer40oz Wrote:  Great!

Hey you can also boost the volume on the menu

it works! great for me!

I activated this setting in the first place. Even though I don't really need it since I have a powerful AVR on the run.

I am streaming all my movies over my network. The whole setup is with cables in a 1Gb/s LAN. No WiFi. WiFi doesnt work with high bitrates according to my experiences. Not even 300Mb/s Wifi works flawlessly. Cable is the only real thing when it comes to streaming.

The files I play are all mkv's. I didn't check yet if I could reproduce the freezer. Maybe I'll try someday. If it happens on a regular basis I will need to do further investigations.


(2012-05-16 19:02)bluray Wrote:  Next time you watch Thor, try to watch it with DTS-HD 7.1 version.....you'll be wow by it.....Nod

Yes, the stock cooler should be fine. My tests show that it have zero noise from HTPC at seating area. I placed my HTPC under HDTV, and I never have any issue with temperature either.

You can check out my tests in this post #353.....the only sounds I hear are all the goodies from 7.2 speakers.......Big Grin

Even though in the thread you have 0 DB noisy from you noisemeter it don't think it's 0 DB. You must have a quite loud surrounding where you live with 35 DB everything turned off.
As for me I can clearly hear when the HTPC is on. I don't know what the noisemeter would say but if it would state that there the same amount of noise with HTPC turned on as with HTPC turned off I would say it is broken.

But since the noise of the HTPC doesn't bother me everything is fine. And I don't need a noisemeter to proof that. Important is if it's bothering me or not.

I'll try the DTS-HD audio track of "Thor" some time.

Greets
(This post was last modified: 2012-05-17 12:12 by Jarjar72.)
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bluray Offline
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(2012-05-17 12:09)Jarjar72 Wrote:  Even though in the thread you have 0 DB noisy from you noisemeter it don't think it's 0 DB. You must have a quite loud surrounding where you live with 35 DB everything turned off.

Greets
35 dBA is normal in the summer with two big 14 seer AC units running non-stop. The meter work fine, because it go up/down as it should. I took the meter to one of the quietest room at work, and it was nearly zero dBA there......

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
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Beer40oz Offline
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And I don't need a noisemeter to proof that. Important is if it's bothering me or not.

Right ..... when I watch a video and it comes to the scenes where it gets quiet my HTPC better be quiet too...
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