I’ve just upgraded my HTPC — or rather “side-graded” it from a Pentium DualCore to an Asus E35M1-M Pro. Below I’ll document my thoughts as I give the system a full workout
23-May: Initial thoughts
- UEFI is nice — altho it doesn’t really offer anything immediate that the old BIOS didn’t (except >2TB boot drives of course)
- The UEFI screen didn’t display properly on my 720p Samsung CRT TV — it was rather dysfunctional. It worked fine on my 24″ 1920×1200 HP zr24w
- The combo PS2 port wont work with my old PS2 keyboard
- The system seems to run completely fanless without any problem. I don’t yet know if playing some HD films will need active cooling
- I like having USB3 ports on such a cheap system
- I don’t like the lack of analogue audio outputs — there are only 3 sockets on the back-panel
- The system was considerably faster than I was expecting — not noticeably different from the 2.8GHz Pentium DualCore E6300 (impressive for an 18W 1.6GHz dual-core chip). I suspect this is partly down to being a fresh install, partly down to having 4Gb rather than 2Gb of memory, and finally having a faster HDD (Seagate Momentus XT rather than 5,400rpm 3.5″ eco desktop drive)
- The included Asus software isn’t flexible enough for fan control. Instead I recommend SpeedFan which offers full speed control.
- The overclocking feature overclocked my CPU from 1600MHz to 1640MHz. The 2.5% seems pretty pointless to me.
26-May: Update 1
- I have had a problem with standby — but I think it is caused by either hybrid-standby mode, or by problems with my Pinnacle 3010ix freeview tuner. Hopefully I’ll be able to update soon to confirm my suspicions. When I eventually upgrade to a Blackgold BGT3620
- I’ve had a recurrence of a problem playing back a BluRay rip of Inglorious Basterds. This has always been a very challenging movie to play, and I think the problem is a codec issue. Again, I’ll hopefully be able to update soon confirming the fix.
- Otherwise the system is working really well. I’m still very pleased with the performance. Running the system fanless most of the time, with a couple of low-speed case fans activated by speedfan when needed
30-May: Update 2
- As expected, disabling hybrid sleep has resolved the problem with not waking from sleep. The PC isn’t staying asleep at the moment, but I’ve had this issue before, its being woken by the network I think — possible due to my enabling HomeGroup. I have no need for WOL so I’ll be turning it off in device manager. I haven’t yet looked at resolving the playback of Inglorious Basterds, but again, its a problem I’ve had before. This time when I solve it I’ll document it!
11-Aug: Update 3
- The sleep issues are fully resolved. Partly this was related to issues with the Seagate Momentus XT which I’ve documented in a different article. The short version — if you have a Momentus XT then disable HDD sleep and update the drive firmware. The playback issues with some h.264 have also been resolved — the newer versions of ffdshow DXVA aren’t working very well, going back to an older version has cleared this issue. Finally, I have, after some initial issues, tested the use of a TV Card in the PCI–E x16 slot successfully! I am now using a system with 3 TV cards with great success!
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