Cheap but more powerful PC to run XBMC for Linux?

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soonerlater Offline
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Post: #1
What cheap and small pcs can be bought or built for the solitary purpose of running XBMC under linux? I'm frustrated with the inability of the original xbox hardware to handle MP4s at dvd native resolution. The price point needs to be around $200.00, else just buying a PopCorn Hour or a the like becomes a better alternative. What's out there?
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6Str1ngKng Offline
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Post: #2
http://www.newegg.com/

put one together on there, I'm sure you will be able to come up with something.

[Image: xJPM100x.jpeg]
:nod:^^click^^:nerd:
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mpw222 Offline
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Post: #3
This is the cheapest possible thing I could figure out that would probably run xbmc. These parts are awful, I'm in no way recommending them. I didn't include any input devices, you'll only have vga out, no IR, and a big ugly case, and still couldn't get it under $200, and that's before shipping. This is also probably not fast enough for most HD stuff, but it should handle sd h.264 clips without issue.

Junky MSI AM2 barebones, Geforce 6100 onboard, $115: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6856167009
AMD Sempron 2.0GHz, single core, $33: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6819103196
512MB DDR2-667, $10: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6820141188
80GB SATA HDD, $38: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6822136195
DVDRW SATA, $23: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6827136142
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BLKMGK Offline
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Post: #4
I do not think that a remote is going to set you back very much Smile

$200 is really bumping bottom. In the end I do not think a PopCorn will compete with XBMC with the exception that it's cheaper. <shrug>

Edit:
Alright I'll play.
Shuttle XPC (open box) $199: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...856101045R
E8400 C2D CPU $209: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6819115037
Alternately you could save a whopping $70 E4600 C2d $139: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6819115045
Video 8500GT fanless $69.00: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6814127301
DDR2 800 memory - 2X1Gig $45: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6820231098
80Gig SATA laptop HDD (just to be different) $55: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6822145175 (using a laptop drive in my system now)

Or if the XPC is too much:
Cheap M/B with NVIDIA 7100 and HDMI onboard $50: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6813135066
Use the 65nm CPU, good memory, and oh yeah find a case w/powersupply but you will get what you pay for IMO. This one looks okay and might work in a media center.

The new Shuttle Linux appliances are interesting but Intel 950 GMA VGA out only that does not even meet spec for XBMC Sad You could do a 6x series PCI card but now you're $50 away from a WAY better XPC above...

Openelec Gotham, MCE remote(s), Intel i3 NUC, DVDs fed from unRAID cataloged by DVD Profiler. HD-DVD encoded with Handbrake to x.264. Yamaha receiver(s)
(This post was last modified: 2008-04-20 09:17 by BLKMGK.)
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davilla Offline
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Post: #5
If you just want SD h.264, the AppleTV under Linux and XBMC can handle it at about $200. Most reasonable 720p too.

The bird scene, well, don't even go there.
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BLKMGK Offline
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Post: #6
My aTV is lost somewhere between West and East coasts but when it shows up, hopefully in one piece, I may give it a shot running Linux. Will be happy to report on how it does with the stuff I'm encoding which is likely more representative than the birds Wink There's no easy Linux image yet is there? I think I saw you guys had an EFI shim that required no Apple files at least.

Openelec Gotham, MCE remote(s), Intel i3 NUC, DVDs fed from unRAID cataloged by DVD Profiler. HD-DVD encoded with Handbrake to x.264. Yamaha receiver(s)
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mpw222 Offline
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Post: #7
davilla Wrote:If you just want SD h.264, the AppleTV under Linux and XBMC can handle it at about $200. Most reasonable 720p too.

The bird scene, well, don't even go there.

This is actually a reasonable idea. If I recall correctly, the Apple TV has Pentium M in the mid 1GHz range and a Geforce 8400 Go inside, which should fit the bill for an SD H.264 player well. That GPU can offload some h.264 decoding, (not in xbmc or linux) which is how Apple coaxes 720p h.264 playback out of it. It is certainly a lot more elegant than trying to slap together something that cheap from parts, just don't expect it to play almost any HD (might handle SOME xvid or divx 720p).
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Kuhl Offline
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Post: #8
I know this sounds kind of dumb, but look on craigslist. There are always PCs on there in my city that are being pushed off for $100 or $200 dollar that would actually fit the bill of what you are looking for. They are going to be questionable on HD quality but the $100 dollar ones are often pentium 4s in the low to mid 2ghz range.

Add a good HD card with proper outputs and you'll probably have yourself a nice frontend that'd at least support 720p with no problems. I'm not exactly sure how the exact specifications for the 1080i.
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waldo22 Offline
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Post: #9
mpw222 Wrote:...just don't expect it to play almost any HD (might handle SOME xvid or divx 720p).

at which point you may as well just run XBMC on an Xbox, right? Rolleyes
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davilla Offline
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Post: #10
mpw222 Wrote:This is actually a reasonable idea. If I recall correctly, the Apple TV has Pentium M in the mid 1GHz range and a Geforce 8400 Go inside, which should fit the bill for an SD H.264 player well. That GPU can offload some h.264 decoding, (not in xbmc or linux) which is how Apple coaxes 720p h.264 playback out of it. It is certainly a lot more elegant than trying to slap together something that cheap from parts, just don't expect it to play almost any HD (might handle SOME xvid or divx 720p).

1 GHz pentium-m, 256MB RAM, nvidia 7300 w/ 64MB vram. Don't let the 1GHz clock fool you, it's faster than you think. This is no poky P4.

There is no ability under any Linux distro to offload h.264 decoding to the GPU. Does not exist at the moment. Based on my Linux testing, I don't think Apple is using gpu decode either on the AppleTV.

The AppleTV can do most all 720p h.264 if you use the skiploop filter in ffmpeg. This is all software decode with Xv or GL for hardware scaling.

It can also do 720p mpeg2 in software. 1080i mpeg2 requires XvMC.

1080p h.264 -- forget it, not possible at the present time.
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davilla Offline
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Post: #11
BLKMGK Wrote:There's no easy Linux image yet is there? I think I saw you guys had an EFI shim that required no Apple files at least.

No disk image as the plan is to be able to install from a current distro LiveCD, then do some easy fixes for full device support.

It's not too hard to install MythBuntu 7.10, then use apt-get to convert it to full Ubuntu, then apt-get xbmc.

A cdrom boot/install guide is coming, I've recently done this under KnoppMyth KM5F27, the current release. I've also learned a few tricks along the way to eliminate doing a kernel rebuild.
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mpw222 Offline
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Post: #12
waldo22 Wrote:at which point you may as well just run XBMC on an Xbox, right? Rolleyes

It's probably almost twice as fast as an xbox, which usually can't handle h.264 dvd rips. The pentium M in the Apple TV is 1GHz apparently, but it's faster MHz for MHz than the Celeron 733Mhz (p3 derived) in the xbox1.
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davilla Offline
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Post: #13
2MB of L2 never hurts either Wink
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bmfrosty Offline
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Post: #14
I like the idea of building a machine with this:

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.as...6856101064

A lot of people seem to think that the GMA950 will not handle the output in 1080i/p. Interestingly enough yuvalt put together a thread suggesting a build with a GMA950.

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=31539

This summer I plan to build a GMA950 box to run XBMC, but I have to keep open the possibility that the GMA950 won't be enough, in which case I'll probably add one of these:

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.as...6814130289

Of course it could be that the PCI bus in incapable of handling the output, but I really won't know until I try.

Cheers!
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Kuhl Offline
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Post: #15
@frosty,

You'd have to use a video card because that shuttle has no DVI output. Unless ofcourse you've got the vga on your tv.
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