Go Back   Hardware Canucks > HARDWARE > HTPC Systems & Software

    
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 25, 2010, 01:56 AM
Realityshift's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
F@H
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fort McMurray, AB
Posts: 2,486
Default Zotac MAG XBMC box

Well after getting tired of my WDHD live box I started reading about the new atom/ion boxes that were perfectly matched for HD playback via XBMC. If you havent already heard XBMC is X-Box Media Centre, one hell of a HTPC front end in my eyes.

After doing some research and reading up on systems and prices, I fell on the Zotac mag, cheaper then the Acer, no OS which I was not going to need, black and shiny and sleeker looking in my eyes. I think I paid around $230 for mine, that and a 1tb 2.5" external and a $25 IR remote and I was good to go.

I haven't read much on the net about using the MAGs for this application, theres lots on the Acers but nothing on the mag. So far Ive gotten this setup to work about 90%. Im still struggling with wireless networking, which I dont really plan to use much but wouldnt mind conquering, I havent touched emulators yet either.

I can attest to the fact that setup is fairly pain free for the most part, I used a minimal Ubuntu install along with the XBMC XCI installer.

SourceForge.net: Project xci

Very easy to use, went pretty much without a hitch, once you run it and do the install you have to exit xbmc and do some hardware setup through the installer. I am able to get a wireless signal, but it constantly disconnects when doing even small transfers, and the range is horrible. After doing the IR remote setup from the XCI menu, the remote works perfectly, all the buttons. I managed to get suspend and wake to work through the power button on the remote with a little tom foolery...

Ubuntu Suspend / Wake - XBMC

Helped alot with that.

After testing multiple skins (aeon stark, showmix, auriga and alaska) I settled on alaska, out of all the listed it felt the fastest in menus with the atoms specs. It also looks awesome, and its a touch more customizable then aeon.

Hitchers Alaska development thread...

Alaska development thread - XBMC Community Forum

YouTube - Alaska (XBMC) Panel View type

A little youtube clip

Specs of the system im running are..

Atom 330 CPU (dual core)
Nvidia ION GPU (The part that allows for offloading of HD video decoding from the CPU)
2 gb ram
160gb HD

This system seems to handle HD plays well so far, although most of what I will be playing on this system is 720p and under untill I decide to buy a blu-ray drive and start doing my own encodes. A 1080p copy of transformers show now slowdowns, no out of sync audio, no jitters throughout the movie, as is the same with a copy of Ironman.

Now one issue brought up with this system is heat and noise, it does get a touch loud, although mines mounted to the back of my tv, and unless nothing is playing on my tv while the unit is running (very rare for me) then it is inaudible. When the system is not in use, a simple press of the power button puts it into suspend mode, using very little power, dispersing no heat or noise, and a quick press of the power button has the system up and running in a matter of under 10 seconds.

Next task when I get time will be to set up wireless controllers and some emulators and games, untill now the family is really enjoying the ability to watch through my movie and TV series collection without me having to burn 1000 dvds.

Another side note, if you don't know much about xbmc, one HUGE benefit is the scrapers it uses. Basically if you have your movie library setup correctly (proper file names and folder setup) then XBMC will scrape your movies and automatically download the movie information (plots, actors, dates, ect), box art, HD fan art, and if you use a skin like alaska it will also download the media flags, showing what quality the picture and sound are, movie ratings ect. All of these are displayed in your movie library while your browsing it...

YouTube - Alaska (XBMC) Trailer test

Shown here, various view modes for viewing your movie collection as well as trailer support and info.

Ive started this thread to share what ive learned in the process of getting my own mini HTPC setup going, if anyone has any questions ill try my best to answer them or direct you to somewhere that might have them.
__________________
The Builders Hammer
Asrock P67 Fatal1ty, Intel i5 2500K @ 5.1ghz, 16gb HyperX 1600 CL8, Evga GTX 580 SC SLIed and water-cooled, HX850, Crucial M4 64gb, 640 black, 1tb + 3x 2tb greens, Haf X.


BF BC2: Bishop_SHIFT, Steam: Realityshift84, Xbox Live - SHIFTEDone84 ... Come play.
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old June 25, 2010, 08:29 AM
kingnubian's Avatar
MVP
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 302
Default

Nice HTPC setup. I also use XBMC (& Boxee) on a custom E5200 based build and love it.
If you decided to buld it yourself the noise may have not been an issue since you would hand pick your own components but it probably would have cost a little bit more.

XBMC is a great choice though & I agree, it has the best scapers around.
__________________
GOD Is Good
________________________________________

Intel i7-2600K @ 4.8Ghz
Asus Sabertooth Z77
16GB G.Skill Ripjaws Z (1866MhZ CAS9)
NZXT Kraken X60 CPU Cooler
2x Sandisk Extreme 240GB SSD (RAID 0)
Seagate 7200.12 500gig HD
Galaxy GTX660Ti 3GB
LG DVDR
NZXT Phantom 630 Case
Antec TruPower New 750W Power Supply
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old June 25, 2010, 08:42 AM
Arinoth's Avatar
Moderator
F@H
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Richmond Hill
Posts: 8,539

My System Specs

Default

Let me know if you have any luck with emulators and controllers (i'm looking to use console to usb adapters) with xbmc but i haven't had the time to look into it as i want to use xbmc as a htpc, emulator box and my file server (for movies, music, tv shows). So does xbmc have remote connect?
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old June 25, 2010, 01:34 PM
Realityshift's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
F@H
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fort McMurray, AB
Posts: 2,486
Default

Remote connect?

If you mean web remote access then yes, it also supports an iphone ap for controlling your box. heres a good page for that.

Enhance Your XBMC Experience with Remote Controls for Any Device

I choose non custom build for size and simplicity, its basically going to be left at my parents when im 100% done, ill be building a dedicated HTPC for myself in the future.
__________________
The Builders Hammer
Asrock P67 Fatal1ty, Intel i5 2500K @ 5.1ghz, 16gb HyperX 1600 CL8, Evga GTX 580 SC SLIed and water-cooled, HX850, Crucial M4 64gb, 640 black, 1tb + 3x 2tb greens, Haf X.


BF BC2: Bishop_SHIFT, Steam: Realityshift84, Xbox Live - SHIFTEDone84 ... Come play.
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old June 25, 2010, 02:26 PM
Arinoth's Avatar
Moderator
F@H
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Richmond Hill
Posts: 8,539

My System Specs

Default

Yeah, i want to know if i can use XBMC to run torrents applications (we have an odd set up in one of our labs at school and the files are shared that way) and control that via my main pc. You know how windows has remote connection, aka i can control htpc through main pc.

How did you have your files stored? I store my TV in one folder then each show is in its own folder and each season is in its own folder. Does XBMC have any problems with that?
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old June 25, 2010, 02:26 PM
MVP
F@H
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Quebec
Posts: 366

My System Specs

Default

How are you dealing with the audio? Can this send audio trough hdmi to an ampplifier ?
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old June 26, 2010, 12:01 PM
Realityshift's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
F@H
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fort McMurray, AB
Posts: 2,486
Default

If your amp supports HDMI sound then yes, the MAG supports HDMI audio passthrough and works quite well. SOME models also include optical outs.

Im not 100% sure on the torrents, I know XBMC supports programs and custom scripting, and I know it supports a large amount of remote control options, it would be easy to set it up to control it via another pc.

Googling finds some talk of torrent controllers for XBMC, one thing to consider is if that is what your looking at youd want wire lan, or to set up a half decent wireless adapter, the stock wireless on the nettops arent very good.
__________________
The Builders Hammer
Asrock P67 Fatal1ty, Intel i5 2500K @ 5.1ghz, 16gb HyperX 1600 CL8, Evga GTX 580 SC SLIed and water-cooled, HX850, Crucial M4 64gb, 640 black, 1tb + 3x 2tb greens, Haf X.


BF BC2: Bishop_SHIFT, Steam: Realityshift84, Xbox Live - SHIFTEDone84 ... Come play.
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old June 26, 2010, 02:47 PM
r0bc's Avatar
Allstar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: AB
Posts: 688

My System Specs

Default

It don't bit-stream lossless pass-through. DTS HD MA and Dolby True HD MA
__________________


Last edited by r0bc; June 26, 2010 at 02:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old June 26, 2010, 02:56 PM
Arinoth's Avatar
Moderator
F@H
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Richmond Hill
Posts: 8,539

My System Specs

Default

Have you tried XBMC for Windows (xp, vista or 7)?
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old June 26, 2010, 03:21 PM
r0bc's Avatar
Allstar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: AB
Posts: 688

My System Specs

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arinoth View Post
Have you tried XBMC for Windows (xp, vista or 7)?
Me? I don't use XBMC. I'm using PowerDVD 10 or Total Media for my Blu Rays rips.
I'm just saying its not supported like say the i3 i5 or newer video cards support it.
__________________

Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
This case got a 10 in Maximum PC Mag. cdn_Madrach Reviews & Articles from the Web 14 December 16, 2011 10:15 AM
XBMC wifi p3t3rson O/S's, Drivers & General Software 1 March 9, 2010 10:37 AM
MAG (I'm having mic issues with my BT set) Cadence Gaming 0 January 28, 2010 06:14 PM
XBMC start with Windows? Cypher^64 HTPC Systems & Software 6 September 21, 2009 06:56 PM
XBMC in all its beauty. lowfat HTPC Systems & Software 27 September 18, 2009 05:22 PM