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Hardware Support Discussions related to using various hardware setups with SageTV products. Anything relating to capture cards, remotes, infrared receivers/transmitters, system compatibility or other hardware related problems or suggestions should be posted here.

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  #1  
Old 04-14-2010, 09:03 AM
alisonnic alisonnic is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 33
Dedicated PC for HD-PVR & SageTV: XP or Win7?

After months of frustration with my Hauppauge HD-PVR (frequent lockups during recording) and USB-UIRT (unreliable channel switching of satellite receiver; useless reception from remotes) I have decided to build a PC dedicated to just recording from the PVR and playback to my TV.

This machine will also function as a server for a SageTV client running on another PC in the bedroom. (See below for specs for the new machine and background on the lockup issues.)

I'm debating whether to install Windows 7 on this semi-new machine or install one of my two remaining unused copies of XP Pro. I've only used Windows 7 in trials of the beta and RC, but I've done many XP installations over the years and am very comfortable with it. I'm not sure if Windows 7 will be an improvement for this application, or if the learning curve will make it more of a hassle.

Any thoughts?

------- system information -------

I scrounged in the closet for some parts and bought a few more components from Newegg. Here are the semi-new machine's specs:

Antec Super LAN boy, 2 x 40CFM 120mm fans
Leadman LP6100C 300W PSU
Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Wireless Edition (socket AM2)
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Dual-Core with on-board SoundMax
GIGABYTE GV-R435OC-512I Radeon HD 4350 512MB
G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)
Pioneer DVD-A06S IDE DVD-ROM
Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EARS 1TB 5400 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
XP Pro or Windows 7
Dynex DX-L32-10A 32" HDTV 720p (1366x768)
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speaker system
Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR
DishTV VIP211k satellite receiver
Home Theater Master MX-500 learning remote

The new machine will be in the living room by the TV so I want it to look good and be quiet. I was incredibly lucky to find a brand new Antec Super LAN Boy case. These are beautiful, quiet, and a joy to work on, and they have plenty of airflow, especially considering they are mid towers. It's a real shame Antec stopped making them.

I suspect that the lockup problems I have been having with my existing setup are related to the fact that I've been running SageTV and the HD-PVR on my main desktop (see "Server" specs, below), which has a number of USB devices attached to it (printer, scanner, Palm Treo, iPod).

I also suspected heat, or maybe a bad HD-PVR. However, I have RMA'd the HD-PVR and got a new replacement, installed a separate Syba/NEC PCI USB adapter, and set the HD-PVR away from everything else on a laptop cool pad. None of this stopped the lockups.

I'm hoping that a standalone PC with no USB devices attached other than the HD-PVR and USB-UIRT will eliminate the lockups. It will also eliminate the need to keep switching my main computer's monitor between its normal dual-monitor configuration to driving the TV through the composite video ports whenever I want to watch a recording.

And maybe the USB-UIRT, without the interference of other devices on the USB bus, will become more reliable, who knows?

I also welcome any thoughts on the new machine's configuration. Will the Athlon 64 X2 4200+ and Radeon HD 4350 be fast enough to play HD videos recorded from the HD-PVR at 1366x768 on the TV? Or should I look for a faster CPU to plug into the M2N32-SLI Deluxe? Or does this mobo just lack the steam to drive an HD HTPC?

Any other suggestions?
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Server: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R, Intel E7400, 2GB, MSI 8800GT 512 OC, XP Pro SP3
Client 1: BioStar TP45HP, Intel Q9650, 6GB, MSI N250GTS, Win7 HP 64; Client 2: GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3, Phenom II X3 720 2.80 GHz, 8 GB, EVGA GTX650Ti, Win7 HP 64; Client 3: Acer Aspire 7552, Phenom II N950 Quad 2.10 GHz, 8 GB, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650, Win7 HP 64
Tuner: Hauppauge HD PVR Rev E3
Receiver: Explorer 4250HDC
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2010, 09:41 AM
Clift Clift is offline
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For playback alone I always go for Win7 or Vista because of the ability to use the EVR renderer with DirectX Video Acceleration. XP has to use VMR9 or Overlay. I have never been able to get VMR9 or Overlay to work well for HD PVR recordings no matter what video decoder I used, but YMMV.

All else being equal, my vote is for Win7. Now, there are other issues with using Windows 7 that others can chime in on.
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Server:W7 Ultimate, SageTV 7.1.9
Capture Devices: HVR-2250, 2x HD PVR 1212
Clients:
1x STX-HD100
3x STP-HD200
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2010, 10:36 AM
Mitch G Mitch G is offline
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Posts: 323
If it does happen that the new Cablecard HDHR is able to work with Sage, I suspect it will require Windows 7. So, if I was building a new machine today, I would go with 7.


Mitch
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  #4  
Old 04-14-2010, 11:26 AM
ericscottf's Avatar
ericscottf ericscottf is offline
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I have had fabulous luck with two HD-PVRs (see my sig) on XP. Since i'm only viewing shows on actual teles with HD-200s attached, i don't have a need for a new fancy OS.

I probably won't touch win7 for another 3 or 4 years. I only switched to XP a year and a half ago, and that was only because win2k wasn't going to work with a new ipod. :P
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Sage Server(7): Win7SP1 32bit Quad core 2.6ghz 4gb ram (~3.2ish)
1TB RAID 10 Promise TX4310, 1TB external USB
2x HD PVR (1.05.301 whql working flawlessly) <-Verizon FIOS HD QIP7100 2 cable box controlled by USB-UIRT 2 zones
1x HDHR (dual tuner) <- Verizon wire
3x HD200 wired latest beta fw
Gig-E wired network
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2010, 01:59 PM
SWKerr SWKerr is offline
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Windows7!

Getting good playback on my Win7-64\32 clients was so much easier than with XP that I could never recommend XP again. Vista is just a stable and almost as easy to setup at this point but the Windows7 GUI is a vast improvement.

I am sure it will change over time but Win7 installs is fast. Installing XP with all the patches and Service Packs takes forever. I have learned to hate it.

I have got good HD playback with lesser hardware. The weak link would be the Video card but at that resolution you should be fine.

For me the HD-PVR has been very stable since I went to the separate USB card and a daily 4a.m reboot. I have a script that shuts down the Sage Service backups the wiz.bin and reboots the box. Probably don't need the reboot but at 4am I am not recording anything or watching TV.

Last edited by SWKerr; 04-14-2010 at 02:02 PM.
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  #6  
Old 04-17-2010, 12:26 PM
alisonnic alisonnic is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 33
Thanks so much for all this excellent advice!

I am typing this on my new (with old parts) HTPC. The vote was three for Windows 7 to one for XP, and I decided to go with the majority.

So far I'm glad I did! This is a pretty old mobo and CPU, but running Win7 it seems like a brand new machine. It feels snappier than any of my newer, faster XP boxes.

I'm loving the process of learning Windows 7, too. It's slick and good-looking, and obviously a lot of effort has gone into organizing and streamlining the UI. It feels like a blend of the best of OS X, Ubuntu, and XP, but it's close enough to XP that I'm having no trouble finding my way around.

One of the things I like best about Win7 is the way it just goes and snags all the latest drivers. I always carefully save all the driver discs that come with my mobos and video cards, and they are sitting right here on the table, but so far I haven't put a single one into the new machine's DVD drive. Win7 found the drivers for the chipset, onboard ethernet, WiFi, and sound, and even the video card. Other than that there were just a few security updates. I barely had to do anything to get this thing up and running.

Clift, you were right about playback in Win7. I haven't installed the HD-PVR or SageTV yet, but I'm able to play H.264 videos (recorded by the PVR and SageTV on my old machine). These videos play just fine here on the new Win7 box in Windows Media Player. No messing around with codecs and players, trying to find something that can handle the H.264 format. It just works.

And yes, SWKerr, at this resolution (1366x768) the video card is happy to play HD videos smooth as silk. Best $35 I've spent in a long time!

Okay. Now I just have to work up the courage to install the HD-PVR, the Hauppauge drivers, the USB-UIRT, and SageTV. I'm dreading the process, but maybe it will go more smoothly than I expect. I hope so!

SWKerr, would you be willing to share the script you're using? The nightly process you're doing makes a lot of sense, and hopefully that (plus a little timer that will cut power to the HD-PVR for a half hour every night to make it reboot too) will make my system as reliable as yours.

Thanks again, guys! I'm trying not to skip around the room with delight here. (I'm such a geek.)

Alison
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Server: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R, Intel E7400, 2GB, MSI 8800GT 512 OC, XP Pro SP3
Client 1: BioStar TP45HP, Intel Q9650, 6GB, MSI N250GTS, Win7 HP 64; Client 2: GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3, Phenom II X3 720 2.80 GHz, 8 GB, EVGA GTX650Ti, Win7 HP 64; Client 3: Acer Aspire 7552, Phenom II N950 Quad 2.10 GHz, 8 GB, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650, Win7 HP 64
Tuner: Hauppauge HD PVR Rev E3
Receiver: Explorer 4250HDC

Last edited by alisonnic; 04-17-2010 at 12:35 PM.
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  #7  
Old 04-17-2010, 01:16 PM
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davephan davephan is offline
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Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,911
XP would be easier with fewer surprises. I don't think Windows 7 is officially supported yet, but people get it to work. I rebuilt my SageTV computer a few months ago with XP. I could have used Windows 7, but it would have been more work to get it functioning properly. I choice not to use WHS, since there isn't a way to recover the system drive back to a working state with an image.

The USB-UIRT is very reliable. I'm not sure why you are having problems. The 'repeatcount' parameter might need to be tweaked.

If you are building a new system, you could take the opportunity to build it 'headlless' and use a HD-200 at each TV. The 'headless' SageTV computer plus HD-200 extenders is probably the most trouble free setup.

There are a lot of things to try with the HD-PVR to increase the stability. Use the 1.0.5.301 driver. Don't use the built in IR blaster. Cover up the HD-PVR IR window. Unscrew the screws hidden under the feet, remove the silver colored plastic top to any heat generated can escape. Disconnect the wires for the overly bright blue LEDs to improve the appearance and eliminate heat being generated by the LEDs. Add a separate USB PCI card just for the HD-PVR. Add a fan to the top of the HD-PVR. I've done all of those, except for the fan. I have the fan, but haven't hooked it up yet. My HD-PVR now seems stable for about a month so far after all those changes.

Add disk imaging like Acronis. Take regular images. When the system fails, then you can quickly recover your SageTV computer to a working state.

Dave
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SageTV: LIAN LI PC-K58, Gigabyte GA-EX580UD5, i-7 950 3.06 gig quad LGA 1366 CPU, Zalman CNPS9700 CPU cooler 1366 bracket, Memory 24 gigs GB, PNY NVIDIA GeoForce 9800 GT 1024 MB, Corsair 750w PSU, Samsung 500GB SSD boot, 3 SSD recording drives
Capture cards: 2 - HDHR Primes - Comcast Xfinity CableTV
Extenders: 1-HD-300, 2-HD-200
Software: Windows 7 Pro X64, Ghost 15, VideoReDo TVSuite 4 h.264, Playon (Netflix), OpenDCT
UnRAID File Server 4.7 Pro: Lian-Li PC-G70B, MBD-X8SIL-F-O, i3-540, 16 TB

Last edited by davephan; 04-17-2010 at 01:19 PM.
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