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PC fried, net-top box suggestions welcome.
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sek929
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Jan 3, 2011, 09:19 PM
 
My buddy for whom I built the home theater has been trucking along with an old P4 homebuilt PC for some time now. It has worked well but unfortunately is unable to handle anything HD, including streaming Netflix and high-def MKV files. Apparently the computer gave up the ghost today with some smoke and the smell of burning electronics. We suspect it is the power supply, as we replaced the last one with the cheapest one available.

Anywho, he has been pining for an Acer Aspire Revo ever since the beginning of the home theater project, and now seems like a good time to jump. My concerns are the following.

This machine needs to be able to stream HD Netflix, his ISP is more than fast enough. I don't hold out much hope for HD Youtube, since my C2D already struggles, but I am very curious as to the speed of these machines. If it comes down to the 200 dollar Revo not having enough bang I am going to recommend that he save up for a machine with more snap. However, he is not a speed-freak, and I'd imagine anything that could smoothly stream HD Netflix will most likely be up to the task.

linky

The machine above is at the right price, does NOT come with a Starter OS (big plus) but only has 1GB of RAM and (what seems to me) a paltry 1.6ghz proc. IS the RAM upgradeable, and if so what is the max these machines can take?

When it comes to these low-end bargain PCs I plead complete ignorance as to their capabilities. If anyone has experience with similar machines or any advice at all it would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
Laminar
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Jan 3, 2011, 11:25 PM
 
Forgive the suggestion, but what about an Apple TV? HD YouTube, Netflix, $100?
     
turtle777
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Jan 3, 2011, 11:45 PM
 
I was thinking the same thing, except: on't play high-def MKV files

-t
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 12:25 AM
 
Since this is replacing a PC it would have to act as much like a full-fledged computer as possible. I will bring up the AppleTV idea though. It has HDMI out, correct?
     
olePigeon
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Jan 4, 2011, 12:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I was thinking the same thing, except: on't play high-def MKV files

-t
YouTube - Apple TV 2 + Plex = AVI + MKV video playback upto 720p
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turtle777
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Jan 4, 2011, 01:23 AM
 
Didn't know it was already available. It was only a matter of time though.

-t
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 01:31 AM
 
His only Mac is an iBook G4, so no Plex.

Really I don't want to do any fussing about to get things to work, which is the main reason I think a net-top device is perfect. Fully featured OS in a small package.
     
Laminar
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Jan 4, 2011, 09:23 AM
 
Wireless Blu-Ray Player.

YouTube, Netflix, Blu-Rays, and it can stream media files from a computer connected wirelessly. $125 + wireless adaptor.
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 03:30 PM
 
Another suggestion I haven't thought of, thanks Laminar.

Only one problem still remains. He has one working computer, and it is his Mac laptop with a tiny HDD. In order to do any type of serious media streaming he'd need a large network drive, which would make the total price a bit north of what the Acer costs.

I appreciate everyone thinking outside the box, but my original question remains unanswered. Will a 1.6ghz Revo show any significant speed gains over his current (dead) 2.8ghz P4?
     
Laminar
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Jan 4, 2011, 03:47 PM
 
That's an awfully specific question that's hard to answer without trying both machines out. Is there some sort of database for PC benchmarks like Xbench has for Mac?
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 03:51 PM
 
OlePigeon, does the setting up of Plex require a one-time only connection to an Intel Mac? The AppleTV is looking better and better, especially in price, and if I could use my Intel Mac to set up Plex and then never have to do that again then I'm very interested.
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 03:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
That's an awfully specific question that's hard to answer without trying both machines out. Is there some sort of database for PC benchmarks like Xbench has for Mac?
No clue at all, I was hoping someone here would own similar hardware and give me a real world experience but I guess I'll have to look around to compare speeds.
     
seanc
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Jan 4, 2011, 04:12 PM
 
You've picked the R1600, an early Revo.
I can safely tell you that the newer R3610 running Windows 7 Pro, 2GB RAM cannot keep up with a 3Ghz P4, 1GB RAM running XP Pro.
The things I'm taking into consideration are the hard drive (5400RPM) and the processor.

I've just un-boxed the R3700 and replaced the hard drive with a 7200RPM version, I'll let you know how it runs.

As for the death of the old PC, buy a better PSU and replace it again.
     
Shaddim
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Jan 4, 2011, 05:13 PM
 
The new LG BD players seem ok. I played with one and it does just about everything that a HTPC can do for <$150.
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sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 05:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by seanc View Post
You've picked the R1600, an early Revo.
I can safely tell you that the newer R3610 running Windows 7 Pro, 2GB RAM cannot keep up with a 3Ghz P4, 1GB RAM running XP Pro.
The things I'm taking into consideration are the hard drive (5400RPM) and the processor.

I've just un-boxed the R3700 and replaced the hard drive with a 7200RPM version, I'll let you know how it runs.

As for the death of the old PC, buy a better PSU and replace it again.
Good info, and I didn't pick that machine, he did because price is a large factor in this purchase. If he had the money I'd tell him to buy a loaded Mac Mini and be done with it.

I was very wary of the non Dual Core Revos, and you have solidified my position. I'm not going to have him buy a 400 dollar Revo and then open it up to replace components. Out of the box and working well is what we need here, but I'm still interested in your take on the speed of the machine.

The Blu-Ray player is honestly the best suggestion so far, that is, if he can deal with only having one computer in the house.

For now I am going to suggest that we buy and install a new PSU, one that isn't 20 bucks this time, and flog that old P4 for as long as possible. Good ideas all around though, thanks guys!
     
seanc
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Jan 4, 2011, 06:04 PM
 
Something cheap and reasonable is the Antec EA-380 green PSU.
The only thing I can say for reliability is, none have blown up, yet. I've not been using these ones for very long. Antec just switched mfr to Delta. I reckon you'd get 3 years out of it, by which time the PC will be seriously ancient.

So far, the Revo is holding up OK, did have a brief audio lag earlier while doing Windows updates, Spotify, file transfer over the LAN and downloading Firefox. That's not a massive indicator of anything though, I can reproduce that on other regular machines.

I'll take it to work tomorrow and throw some business related files at it. The previous Revo choked on large PST files, will be interesting to see what this one does.
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 06:11 PM
 
We found that Blu-ray player on Amazon and he has a 75 buck gift card.

Right now I think he is gonna get the Samsung Blu-Ray and a new PSU for the PC.

Thanks a bunch guys, especially Laminar for his excellent suggestion.

The only thing I am nervous about is the overall ease of streaming media from network drives, I hope it isn't a pain in the ass.
     
sek929  (op)
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Jan 4, 2011, 08:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by seanc View Post
Something cheap and reasonable is the Antec EA-380 green PSU.
The only thing I can say for reliability is, none have blown up, yet. I've not been using these ones for very long. Antec just switched mfr to Delta. I reckon you'd get 3 years out of it, by which time the PC will be seriously ancient.
Thanks for the suggestion, he is going to buy that very model, from the reviews it looks like it is going to be a hell of a lot quieter than that other POS we bought last time.
     
The Godfather
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Jan 5, 2011, 12:12 AM
 
Coincidentally, I am also getting a nettop of similar specs to attach to my projector. Lenovo Q110: Atom 1.6GHz, 2GB, Windows 7 and ION.
With ION, which is equivalent to the 9400 that second gen Macbooks have, it will be able to hardware-decode H264, Youtube (with the Click-To-Flash Safari extension) and Netflix at 720p. Luckily, my display is not 1080p.
Check NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (G) - Notebookcheck.net Tech to compare it to others.
     
The Godfather
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Jan 13, 2011, 11:39 PM
 
Got the setup working. That ION really delivers
Now I need to replace the WIFI USB dongle with a wired network connection. I heard that USB networking eats CPU like there's no tomorrow.
     
   
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