How good is it.. Really....

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Daveb500 Offline
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Post: #1
i'm just looking at options for a "client" to reduce the load on my main PC and so that i can move it out of the lounge. I have an ATV3 and when/if Jailbreaking is available, it will probably be the best solution. In the meantime, i need something else.

So the question is, how good is the Raspberry Pi? Is it really good enough to play 1080p with 5.1 sound without stuttering?

My alternative is to use an old laptop (about 2 years old) which currently has no harddisk so will look at running XBMC on a USB drive.

I like the Raspberry Pi because it's a very tidy, small package but I don't want to start down that route if it isn't really man enough for the job.
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DrowningApe Offline
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Post: #2
A two year old laptop will work better. I'd recommend openELEC or XBMCbuntu installed to a flash drive. Right now the Pi does work, mostly. I enjoy messing around with it, and watching the progress being made with very limited hardware, but it doesn't match the stability and speed of even a 4 year old laptop.
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spjonez Offline
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Post: #3
It really depends on what you're looking for.

For me, I want an appliance. Small enough to tuck away or strap to the back of my TV and able to play all the common formats. As a media center only, OpenELEC does a very good job from what I've seen so far. It takes some tweaking to get the UI up to a decent speed/quality (turbo, custom thumbnail quality, minimal theme- Metropolis is quite nice on it). The Pi can decode h264 in hardware, I haven't had any issues streaming 20gb 1080p movies off an SMB share. You can also purchase MPG2 and VC1 (WMV) licenses to decode them in hardware for around $2 and $1 respectively.

If you want a custom set top box I couldn't recommend the Pi enough, I'll be buying more of them. But if you're looking for more then a set top box, ie a full blown desktop experience, I don't think the Pi is up to the job - yet. You have to keep in mind most of the current releases for the Pi haven't even reached version 1 yet, so I don't believe they show the true potential of the hardware.
(This post was last modified: 2013-01-01 19:49 by spjonez.)
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Daveb500 Offline
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Post: #4
Which version of XBMC does OpenELEC use? And does it support Live Tv?
(This post was last modified: 2013-01-01 21:11 by Daveb500.)
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spjonez Offline
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Post: #5
Frodo, this build is working very well: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid...pid1280198

As for Live TV, I've read that it does but I don't have a tuner so I can't comment on it's functionality.
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peol Offline
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Post: #6
It has somewhat stabilized the last few weeks/months in my opinion. I agree with spjonez that if you want a full desktop experience, the Pi is probably not for you (yet). The Pi is not that user friendly yet either, it requires some tinkering but when that's done it covers all my needs, media-wise (xvid, mkv, x264 hw-accelerated so 1080p is no problem), airplay and so forth. And it's quite fast GUI-wise as well once you've set it up properly (i.e. run your home-partition on a flash drive instead of SD card etc.). It does support Live TV as well (it's running XBMC Frodo), I have no problems with it against my Dreambox.

For that price, there's nothing else comparable at the moment but since you already have everything you need at home (laptop, flash drive, hdmi/dvi/vga?) I would recommend trying to set everything up with what you have, if you're not satisfied, try the Pi, I wholeheartedly recommend if if you're somewhat tech-savvy.
(This post was last modified: 2013-01-01 22:40 by peol.)
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Daveb500 Offline
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Post: #7
I think I'm going to give the Pi a go. It sounds fun if nothing else ;-)

Is there anything in the Wiki or Forum that gives tips on perofrmance and set-up? A few things have already been mentioned in this thread and i get the feeling that tuning and set-up is quite inportant.
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spjonez Offline
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Post: #8
A lot of it's based on personal preference, most of the tweaks I'm using I found here: http://youresuchageek.blogspot.ca/2012/0...ec-on.html

Here's my advancedsettings.xml:
Code:
<advancedsettings>
  <gui>
    <algorithmdirtyregions>3</algorithmdirtyregions>
    <nofliptimeout>0</nofliptimeout>
  </gui>
  <fanartres>720</fanartres>
  <thumbres>540</thumbres>
  <imageres>540</imageres>
</advancedsettings>

By default OpenELEC sets very low quality art resolutions, this will fix that and enable dirtyregions without introducing flickering. Any time you change the *res settings you need to delete /userdata/Database/Textures13.db and /userdata/Thumbnails (recursive). Currently the GUI in XBMC on OpenELEC is locked to 720p, if you set it to 1080p in settings it upscales from 720p to 1080p. I don't think you'll see any difference in quality (but you will notice a drop in performance) if you set them to anything higher then 720. Originally I had thumbres and imageres set to 720, but the quality difference at 540 is negligible (47" LG TV) and the UI is noticeably snappier. Anything lower and they start to look blurry IMO.

Changes to config.txt:

Code:
# Make display smaller to stop text spilling off the screen
# see also http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=67&t=15700
overscan_scale=1
disable_overscan=1

# Adapt overscan values to your needs
overscan_left=20
overscan_right=20
overscan_top=20
overscan_bottom=20

This will make the screen fit your TV, the other option is to scale the GUI via settings in XBMC. I prefer this method since it makes the terminal fit your screen if you ever exit XBMC.

Code:
# Overclock mode settings.
#
# default recommended values are: arm_freq | core_freq | sdram_freq | over_volta
# no overclocking               :    700   |    250    |    400     |      0
# mode 'Modest'                 :    800   |    300    |    400     |      0
# mode 'Medium'                 :    900   |    333    |    450     |      2
# mode 'High'                   :    950   |    450    |    450     |      6
# mode 'Turbo'                  :   1000   |    500    |    500     |      6

arm_freq=900
core_freq=333
sdram_freq=450
over_voltage=2

Overclock to the 'Medium' settings. With a class 10 SD card I haven't had any issues with corruption.

I'm using the Metropolis theme from the Passion repo. With RSS feeds disabled the system info screen shows 70fps, browsing Movies/TV Series are very smooth as long as you don't mash the arrow keys.

Another setting I found that is supposed to speed the GUI up a bit more is this (advancedsettings.xml):
Code:
<bginfoloadermaxthreads>2</bginfoloadermaxthreads>

But I haven't tested enough variations yet to know what the best value is. The default is 5 I believe, lower values are supposed to be better for lower spec devices.

If you find any other settings that improve performance please post them!
(This post was last modified: 2013-01-01 23:21 by spjonez.)
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peol Offline
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Post: #9
(2013-01-01 23:04)spjonez Wrote:  A lot of it's based on personal preference, most of the tweaks I'm using I found here: http://youresuchageek.blogspot.ca/2012/0...ec-on.html

Here's my advancedsettings.xml:
Code:
<advancedsettings>
  <gui>
    <algorithmdirtyregions>3</algorithmdirtyregions>
    <nofliptimeout>0</nofliptimeout>
  </gui>
  <fanartres>720</fanartres>
  <thumbres>540</thumbres>
  <imageres>540</imageres>
</advancedsettings>

By default OpenELEC sets very low quality art resolutions, this will fix that and enable dirtyregions without introducing flickering. Any time you change the *res settings you need to delete /userdata/Database/Textures13.db and /userdata/Thumbnails (recursive). Currently the GUI in XBMC on OpenELEC is locked to 720p, if you set it to 1080p in settings it upscales from 720p to 1080p. I don't think you'll see any difference in quality (but you will notice a drop in performance) if you set them to anything higher then 720. Originally I had thumbres and imageres set to 720, but the quality difference at 540 is negligible (47" LG TV) and the UI is noticeably snappier. Anything lower and they start to look blurry IMO.

Changes to config.txt:

Code:
# Make display smaller to stop text spilling off the screen
# see also http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=67&t=15700
overscan_scale=1
disable_overscan=1

# Adapt overscan values to your needs
overscan_left=20
overscan_right=20
overscan_top=20
overscan_bottom=20

This will make the screen fit your TV, the other option is to scale the GUI via settings in XBMC. I prefer this method since it makes the terminal fit your screen if you ever exit XBMC.

Code:
# Overclock mode settings.
#
# default recommended values are: arm_freq | core_freq | sdram_freq | over_volta
# no overclocking               :    700   |    250    |    400     |      0
# mode 'Modest'                 :    800   |    300    |    400     |      0
# mode 'Medium'                 :    900   |    333    |    450     |      2
# mode 'High'                   :    950   |    450    |    450     |      6
# mode 'Turbo'                  :   1000   |    500    |    500     |      6

arm_freq=900
core_freq=333
sdram_freq=450
over_voltage=2

Overclock to the 'Medium' settings. With a class 10 SD card I haven't had any issues with corruption.

I'm using the Metropolis theme from the Passion repo. With RSS feeds disabled the system info screen shows 70fps, browsing Movies/TV Series are very smooth as long as you don't mash the arrow keys.

Another setting I found that is supposed to speed the GUI up a bit more is this (advancedsettings.xml):
Code:
<bginfoloadermaxthreads>2</bginfoloadermaxthreads>

But I haven't tested enough variations yet to know what the best value is. The default is 5 I believe, lower values are supposed to be better for lower spec devices.

If you find any other settings that improve performance please post them!

All good advice Smile Just FYI, much of the advancedsettings.xml stuff you have there is default in XBMC12 + OpenElec now, so you can skip these:
Code:
<gui>
    <algorithmdirtyregions>3</algorithmdirtyregions>
    <nofliptimeout>0</nofliptimeout>
  </gui>
  <bginfoloadermaxthreads>2</bginfoloadermaxthreads>

Please note that using the over_voltage=2 option on config.txt can possibly void your warranty, but you do gain quite a bit with it. I'd try without it first though.
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frumpsnake Offline
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Post: #10
(2013-01-02 00:27)peol Wrote:  Please note that using the over_voltage=2 option on config.txt can possibly void your warranty, but you do gain quite a bit with it. I'd try without it first though.

over_voltage specifically does not void your warranty. That's why it's one of the default/"official" overclocking presets in Raspbian etc.

What *does* void your warranty, however, is combining over_voltage with something that will force the Raspberry Pi not to clock itself back down once it hits 85'C, such as force_turbo=1, current_limit_override=1, or temp_limit > 85.
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peol Offline
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Posts: 22
Joined: Oct 2007
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Post: #11
(2013-01-02 01:55)frumpsnake Wrote:  
(2013-01-02 00:27)peol Wrote:  Please note that using the over_voltage=2 option on config.txt can possibly void your warranty, but you do gain quite a bit with it. I'd try without it first though.

over_voltage specifically does not void your warranty. That's why it's one of the default/"official" overclocking presets in Raspbian etc.

What *does* void your warranty, however, is combining over_voltage with something that will force the Raspberry Pi not to clock itself back down once it hits 85'C, such as force_turbo=1, current_limit_override=1, or temp_limit > 85.

Yeah, thanks for clearing that out. I said "possibly" because he'd need a combo of things to void the warranty, still, that's the last deciding factor in voiding the warranty so he can safely play around with the other values. Smile
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Daveb500 Offline
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Joined: Nov 2012
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Post: #12
Thanks everyone. I've just ordered the Pi. Can't wait to start playing now. It'll drive my wife nuts ;-)
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Zatarra77 Offline
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Post: #13
(2013-01-02 12:57)Daveb500 Wrote:  Thanks everyone. I've just ordered the Pi. Can't wait to start playing now. It'll drive my wife nuts ;-)

Same problem here ;-)

I can't wait my shipping!
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s7mx1 Offline
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Post: #14
Install pi onto usb or nfs (you still need a tiny 128MB sd card), get MPEG2, VC1 license, overclock to "Super" mode (arm_freq=950, core_freq=450, isp_freq=450,sdram_freq=450, over_voltage=6). Then you will get a surprising excellent xbmc box that can play almost any files you throw at it.

Current the only import feature still missing: fast forward/backward.
(This post was last modified: 2013-01-02 13:42 by s7mx1.)
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coolasice Offline
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Post: #15
I run a pi in the bedroom and have not found a file it would not play yet, I don't use isos or dvds so no need for the mpeg2 license, but if you stream online you may need it due to some of the websites using mpeg2 instead of mpeg4... it does what I bought it for, best $50 I ever spent... I haven't messed with overclocks, just using the basic openelec defaults (using an HP MCE remote/receiver combo, 24" 720p TV, PI, and Openelec beta 6 with sql library setup)

AMD A8-3850 in a silverstone ml03 case(wall mounted) 500gb and 1.5TB HDs win 8.1
PS3 remote control
42" Phillips 120Hz LCD TV
_______________________________________________________________________
Cheap Chinese Inctel C1037U celeron miniPC - Openelec/Windows 8.1
24" Cheap LCD TV.
MCE remote
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