Solid State Drive in an aging HTPC - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Solid State Drive in an aging HTPC

I am considering an upgrade to my existing HTPC and I'm looking for advice / opinion on the addition of an SSD to hold my HTPC OS and applications.

One of the keys here is that the rest of the components are a few years old so I am particularly interested in the impact that may have on reducing SSD performance to the point where there is no longer any improvement over my current HDD.

Here are the system details...

ASUS P5Q
-chipset- Intel P45 / ICH10R
-storage controllers-
ICH10R (6 SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports)
Silicon Image SiI5723 (2 SATA 3.0Gb/s ports)
2 GB ram
intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz
OS Hard Drive: WD Raptor (WD740GD)
Storage Hard Drives:
-Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST3160812AS (160GB SATA)
-Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS (250GB SATA)
-WD Caviar Green WD15EARS (1.5TB SATA)

Any thoughts on how the system performance will change if I swap out the old raptor with a new SSD?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 04:21 PM
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For an HTPC? It really doesn't matter what hard drive you use. You can still record 4 HD streams simultaneously on a regular 5400 rpm drive, so an SSD is overkill.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 04:40 PM
 
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if i were to do anything add a Radeon 6450 or higher to pull the load off your cpu when playing video and get lossless audio codecs.

I have an ssd in my htpc the boot times and the 0 noise are the most amazing parts imo

all other operations when running the htpc its not a huge improvement
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 04:44 PM
 
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After nearly 8 years on MythTV, I find my database performance is starting to deteriorate and I'm contemplating switching to a hybrid SSD for the database drive. However, as stated by rsambuca, regular HDDs seem to do fine for recording up to 4 HD streams simultaneously.

I can't wipe my database and start fresh because MythTV keeps track of everything you've watched and recorded in the past to avoid re-recording something you've seen before.

@Polecatt: I'm running on a AMD X2 5000, maybe a little older CPU than yours?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 05:05 PM
 
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just an fyi a core 2 duo at 3 ghz will slaughter all athlon x2's. there an amazing chip and I cant see it limiting your performance.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the ideas so far.

To add to my system specs, the current video card is an ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT and the tuners are the Hauppauge 2250 dual, and an ATI TV Wonder HD 750. OS is Win7 pro 32bit

From what I understand, the SSD would not impact tv recording or playback as there are other limiting factors but could improve startup and other application functions within the OS.

I'm curious to know what impact the SSD willhave on general system useability. The improved boot times would have a positive impact as I find both media center and media player often have playback issues or crashes that only a restart seem to fix... I have just come to expect my windows systems to crash and require a few reboots a day to resolve issues.

Have I set my expectations too low? Should my windows HTPC be more stable than this??
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 07:20 PM
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Yeah, it sounds like something isn't quite working properly with your setup. Normally with an HTPC, you should really only have to reboot on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on how you do your updates.

Certainly if you are rebooting multiple times a day, then an SSD would help things, but you might want to find out why your system is crashing first.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-03, 10:37 PM
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In my experience an SSD can improve the performance of your system and speed up boot times (but I rarely boot my HTPCs). My main HTPC server has an i5 and runs SageTV. I have six SageTV extenders that connect to this PC on a regular basis. When I switched the system drive from a regular hard drive to a SSD I noticed an improvement in system performance. I still record to mechanical hard drives but the system, applications and all related Fanart are on the SSD.

p.s. I have an HTPC that is very similar to yours with the same mobo and CPU but I only use it sparingly. It still runs fine although I recently had to replace a failed video card.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-04, 02:03 PM
 
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having to reboot definitely seems like a problem

I've got 2 athlon X2 based systems (socket 939 ftw), even older than your stuff, and if I reboot more than 2 or 3 times a year I'd be shocked
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-04, 03:22 PM
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Most computers will see a significant improvement in being "snappy" if you add a SSD. You just don't want to use a SSD as a HTPC recording drive, that's all - it's not cost effective.

In fact, I have a old Intel X25-M (160GB) that I'm going to use in my HTPC when I get around to upgrading it, which I plan on doing in the near future.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-04, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
-chipset- Intel P45 / ICH10R
I use an 60GB SSD with a similar board and it makes a significant difference. Using a separate SSD for the O/S and a large drive for storage does provide performance and stability improvements. I have a 60GB SSD and 1.5 GB WD15EARS in one HTPC and it works better than when it just had the WD15EARS for both O/S and storage.

Quote:
OS Hard Drive: WD Raptor (WD740GD)
Storage Hard Drives:
-Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST3160812AS (160GB SATA)
-Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS (250GB SATA)
-WD Caviar Green WD15EARS (1.5TB SATA)
I would get rid of the two smaller drives. They waste too much energy for the capacity they provide plus they add heat and noise to the system. The Raptor could be used for data storage.

Quote:
2 GB ram
This should be increased to at least 3GB for 32 bit Windows or 4GB for 64 bit Windows. 2GB should be fine for Linux.

At 20 I had a good mind. At 40 I had money. At 60 I've lost my mind and my money. Oh, to be 20 again. --Scary
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-08, 09:26 AM
 
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i use 1 Gb of ram in my HTPC and it doesn't seem to cause any issues so i cant see 2Gb being a big deal. its just an htpc its not like hes using it to transcode video, ususaly only 1 program open at a time.

In fact i leave media portal and softsqueeze and a small script to correct for mediaportals resizing issues and dont see any slow downs from not enough ram.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-08, 05:56 PM
 
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I've got my frontend setup almost exactly like yours, but I have an nvidia card and use mythtv and xbmc as my frontends.

I don't have any tuner cards or anything in my frontend, that's all in my recording backend.

The difference between spinning disc and ssd was amazing. After POST, I've got my frontend boot time down to 11 seconds. This means booted into mythtv, ready to accept remote input. I don't bother with sleep mode any more.

Even if you don't have hw acceleration in the radeon, the core2 is plenty enough to play back streams provided you use a multithreaded decoder.

I actually have the xbmc database locally on the ssd. It doesn't seem to have any adverse effects.

My frontend:

Core2 E7200?
2 GB RAM
64GB Kingston SSDNOW!
Asus P5Q board
nvidia 9500GT?? I can't remember now...

I have had no issues with this setup, even with playing back stuff encoded with 10 bit h264 profiles.

My server is a little more beefy:
Q6600 (3 threads for commercial flagging )
4GB RAM
8 1TB Seagates in RAID5 using rocketraid 2320
1 300G hard drive for OS & scratch & databases
1 HVR2250
1 HDHomerun DUAL

I've discovered that my raid hiccups when recording 3 or more shows (I should've spent the extra $150 on the raid card that had a dedicated processor! damn), so I'll be eventually getting a dedicated 2 TB for mythtv recordings.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-10, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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Question

Thanks for all the feedback. For now I have left the raptor in as the os drive.

Unfortunately, it is also the loudest of the drives and really the only one that is audible. It's not really a concern though because it is not too loud and it certainly can't be heard when there is anything playing...

I think most if not all of my crashes were related to the onboard atheros gb nic. Almost anything I downloaded would be corrupt (large compressed zip or installer packages, including ms patches and virus signature updates as an example). Over time as these installers put corrupt files in place I think stability went downhill.

I found a reference that recommended disabling task offloading which is a feature that allows the nic to perform tcp checksums instead of the CPU. Not sure if this is a driver issue or a hardware issue but for now I continue to use this nic with task offloading disabled and the dl corruption seems to have gone away.

The only performance issue I have now is some slight lagging every minute or so when viewing live tv. Need to do sOme work to see if it affects all playback or only live...
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 2012-02-12, 01:30 AM
 
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I have that lagging problem too - in my case my raid card (which doesn't have a dedicated CPU) doesn't seem to like reading and writing to the same file (which happens when watching live tv.)

I've discovered it's way worse when recording something and watching live tv. To get around the problem I got a dedicated hard drive for myth recordings but haven't gotten around to installing it yet...
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