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Interlude: My HTPC is dead, long live my HTPC!

June 14, 2014

7 years ago I started this blog. It started with a couple of posts on my experiences with making a Home Theatre Personal Computer, running Linux, because I’m crazy.

Once I gave up on trying to use it to watch TV, and bought a TV, things were better. (Disclaimer, XBMC has better TV support now, so maybe it doesn’t suck anymore). Once I gave up on having it play DVD’s and bought a Blue-Ray player, it was even better. I now use XBMC to play music and videos, I use a web-browser to watch football live from streaming websites. And I use it for Skype with my family, which are spread out over several countries.

And after this it worked pretty well. The remote control was a pain in several ways, but that’s the fault of my chassis.

But the last two years it has been struggling. Compiz slows the video down so that HD video wouldn’t work, which meant I could not upgrade above Ubuntu 12.04 (because it has Unity 2D which doesn’t use Compiz). Also it seems Flash just get’s slower and slower and lately HD video has been jerky when watching Flash video. And 1.5 years ago I bought a new bigger TV, and there was no 1:1 pixel ratio resolution that both the TV and the PC would support, which again is annoying when watching Flash video in the browser.

And two weeks ago, the power went, and after that Ubuntu couldn’t find the on-board video any more. I tried some old video boards I had lying around, but none of them would work fine, and the computer started crashing randomly.

So, after pretty much exactly 7 years, this computer, who was not designed to be high-powered, but silent, finally gave up.

So I bought an ASUS P8H77-M LE board, because I have another P8H77 card in my main computer, and it’s pretty awesomely good. Unfortunately it does NOT have the right slots in the right position to work with the riser cards my chassis is using, an issue I had forgot about during these 7 years. That’s annoying and means only graphics cards can be used, and I don’t plan on doing that. It also means I have to replace by PCI WiFi card with a USB one. But I can live with that, and I knew this motherboard would work well both with Ubuntu and with my TV.

And I got the cheapest processor I could find that would fit, which was an Intel Core i3 3250 3,50 GHz, and new memory. 2GB would have been enough, but apparently you can’t buy that little memory any more, so I got 4GB.

And after throwing everything out (including the DVD player, which use ATA, which the new motherboard doesn’t even have, we are back in business! Now with Ubuntu 14.04, a square pixel resolution, and full HD flash! Oh, and the fans are actually speed controlled by the motherboard now, for extra silent running! It all cost 280 dollars, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this lasts for another 7 years!


From → htpc

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