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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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Old 08-11-2008, 07:35 AM
Clift Clift is offline
Sage Expert
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 555
My HTPC is underpowered, an HD-PVR Quest

I'll try to keep this short, but as complete as I can...

Here are my HTPC specs (a relic from 2006):
NVIDIA chipset
2 GB PC3200 RAM (192-pin DDR-1, not 2)
Athlon 64 3000+ (1.8 GHz, single core, Socket 939)
ATi HD 2400 Pro PCIe (I also have a GeForce 8600GS PCIe), fanless
Soundblaster Audigy w/SPDIF (Coax and Optical)
HD Homerun
Pinnacle PCTV HD (bleh, I hate this card and use it for SD only. It doesn;t work in Sage)
recently acquired HD-PVR
Cyberlink PowerDVD 8
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Rollup 2
Generic Firewire PCI card

Ok so now here are my woes... I wanted to upgrade to Sage in order to get all my HD channels going, instead of just ClearQAM. Anyway, I followed a LOT of things from here, AVS forums, Greenbutton, etc etc. I consider myself HTPC knowledgeable, but i don't know if I would go so far as to say expert. Anyway, I got PowerDVD to use DXVA on both with Purevideo and with AVIVO, using both cards either or. So I thought I was good to go: I ordered an HD-PVR and it came in the mail as expected. I installed it and everything installed fine. I was able to get Arcsoft Total Media extreme to shwo the channels, no stutter, no hiccups, using ~10-20% CPU. now I know DXVA is working or so I think because with PowerDVD, before my registry tweaks with the ATi card, the CPU usage was 100% running a test H.264 .TS 1080i file and the motion was very slow. Ok getting back to my woes.. I downloaded and installed SageTV trial and was able to get the liveTV and capture going... sort of. I followed a lot of recommendations, including Brent's setting from his blog and got LiveTV going, stutter free, with ~15-22% cpu usage so I thought I was golden. Well, when I try to rewind or fast forward from pause, everything got screwy, then my sound fropped out, then Sage crashed. And then I couldn't get it back. I uninstalled, reinstalled, updated CoDecs, registered codecs, removed, you name it. I got it back for a few seconds once and then it died again. I think the problem is with the Cyberlink H.264 codec. For the record, i could never get the Arcsoft decoder to use DXVA. So my quandry is this: I am getting ready to go to the well (wife) and ask permission to spend another $150 in hardware to get a fast processor, which requires an upgraded motherboard and new (240-pin) memory. I kind of just want to get an Sage HD extender. But I wonder why, if I can get DXVA to work in PowerDVD and in Arcsoft Total Media Extreme, I can't get it to work (reliably) in SageTV or in Arcsoft Total Media Theater, for that matter. Is there something I am missing? I need this to work reliably for the WAF since she watches recorded Disney shows with my daughter among other things.... Here are my options:

1) get this to work the way it should. I need the help of the community to figure out what I may be doing wrong, or is it even reasonable to expect DXVA to work well with such an underpowered (for H.264, anyway) machine

2) Upgrade the stupid thing. I need the help of the community to help me get a processor (AMD, due to cost) that can undertake the task of H.264 using VMR9 cause it's way prettier than Overlay

3) Get the HD extender and stop being cheap. I kind of want to stay away from that since the HTPC also doubles as our DVD player and (future) Blu-Ray player.

Any help is truly appreciated. And sorry for starting another HD-PVR thread. I just didn't want to get lost in the shuffle.
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:39 AM
Taddeusz Taddeusz is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Yukon, OK
Posts: 3,919
An HD Extender would certainly be the easy way to go but it's obviously not going to have the flexibility of a full PC.

The way I run my setup is I have a separate headless server for my SageTV. Then I watch on either my PC client or more often my HD Extender. What I would suggest is to get DSFMgr. Use it to lower the merits of the decoders you don't want SageTV to use. Reboot in between changes. When you make changes verify in GraphEdit that it's going to use the filters you want it to by default. Make sure SageTV is set to use DirectShow for MPEG4. Make sure the following lines in your SageTV properties file are set as follows:



That is how I got my client to play HDPVR files correctly. And I can only get Arcsoft to playback smoothly. SageTV forces the use of it's own demuxer and as a result playback of HDPVR files using the Cyberlink H.264 decoder is not smooth at all. I'm really not happy with the quality of the Arcsoft decoder though. IMHO, it looks terrible.

Give that a shot. If it still doesn't play smoothly I would recommend upgrading. Something that's at least dual core.
Server: i5 8400, ASUS Prime H370M-Plus/CSM, 16GB RAM, 15TB drive array + 500GB cache, 2 HDHR's, SageTV 9, unRAID 6.6.3
Client 1: HD300 (latest FW), HDMI to an Insignia 65" 1080p LCD and optical SPDIF to a Sony Receiver
Client 2: HD200 (latest FW), HDMI to an Insignia NS-LCD42HD-09 1080p LCD
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:12 PM
Clift Clift is offline
Sage Expert
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 555
Arcsoft? Well I can try tonight to see if I can get DXVA working on the 8600GS through TotalMedia Theater then i could just use the Arcsoft decoder. As far as I know (from Arcsoft's website) DXVA doesn't work in XP. And I'm not about to board onto Vista... yet. The way I see it, bythe time i pay for a Vista license I could upgrade or get an extender. The other thing that kills me with the extender is that then i have to have my HTPC running ALL_THE_TIME. We don't really watch enough TV like that. And we don't need a server cause we only really watch TV in the family room.
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