Planning possible SFF build

Discussion in 'PC Purchasing Help' started by mrcorbo, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    I got the balance of my parts yesterday (minus the power supply) so I put the system together last night. Using the stock HSF and with having no SATA devices, the process was shockingly simple. The front panel power/reset/activity LED connections still suck though. :-D

    I scavenged a power supply from an old machine and installed Windows 10 from a USB stick. From this I learned that it is a bad idea to not have the PC hooked up to an ethernet connection while installing as this process didn't go as smoothly as it could have. There was some real weirdness around getting the graphics drivers installed as they refused to recognize that I had an Intel IGP. Fortunately, the Intel Driver and Support Assistant was able to recognize the IGP and install the proper drivers and then, from there, I was able to update to the newest (HDR supporting) version.

    I did some testing and Youtube HDR works in Edge but local HDR playback in MPC-HC is hindered by having to use madVR to properly support it and that, even on lowest settings, is proving to be a challenge for the IGP @ 4K60. I'll keep tweaking and see whether I can reel that capability in or if I can find an alternate solution. I don't know how much local 4K60 HDR content I will be having to play back, but if the system can do that it can pretty much handle anything else I might throw at it.
     
  2. Silent_Buddha

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    Does the build in Windows 10 media player not support HDR? Microsoft did such a fantastic job optimizing video playback in Edge (one of the few things they got right with Edge) that I'm surprised if the Win10 media player doesn't support it.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  3. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    Yeah. Movies & TV app works.
     
  4. ToTTenTranz

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  5. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    We should start seeing Gemini Lake-based designs in the next few months as well.
     
  6. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    So, based on my original requirements list...
    • Needs to be very responsive.
    • Needs to be quiet.
    • Needs to be able to output 4K60 & HDR
    • Needs to fit on a shelf that isn't particularly deep, but is fairly wide, and height isn't really an issue.
    • Primarily used for streaming web-based and local media and will also be used as a destination for steam in-home streaming.
    ...the only thing I am not really getting is the quiet, because the chassis fan seems to be running much faster than it needs to. Apparently, I need to download Gigabyte's "System Information Viewer" utility to adjust the fan curve in Windows, because THAT's intuitive. Gigabyte have a list of 28(!) utilities for this motherboard on their support page and don't have any description of what any of them do. Some you can glean from the name, but seriously, just a sentence would be better than nothing.
     
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  7. Malo

    Malo YakTribe.games
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    Can't you adjust the fan curve in UEFI?
     
  8. Zaphod

    Zaphod Remember
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    Is that even after tweaking your settings in the UEFI?

    There seems to be rather extensive fan tweaking options for that board, but if they don't work right without having some application running, this board is off my potential purchase list.
     
  9. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    You can adjust in the UEFI, but I'd like to be able to interactively tweak while the system is under typical and maximum load.
     
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  10. Silent_Buddha

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    The problem with Apollo Lake (recently got a small palm sized one for my father) is that they aren't that good with 4k video in general. As long as you don't need good compatibility with 4k video they are fantastic for the size and weight, however. He's quite happy with it as the one I got for him is 100% passively cooled.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  11. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    What problems does it have?
     
  12. Silent_Buddha

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    It doesn't do well with higher bitrate HEVC or 4k/60 or 4k with HDR, IIRC. It was back in June that I was looking over a bunch of reviews for a variety of Apollo Lake devices and one of them had extensive video playback benchmarks with a variety of content from 1080p to 4k and even some 8k thrown in. Unfortunately, I don't know which Apollo Lake device I was looking at when I found the review (could have been for Beelink, Vorke, ECS, VOYO, or any of another 4 or 5 brands that I looked into).

    For most stuff it's OK. It was enough to convince me to not use one myself as a simple HTPC.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  13. Cyan

    Cyan orange
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    wow, that memory is cheap. They say CPUs and GPUs are going to be more expensive pretty soon, and memory maybe will follow suit, as if the current price wasn't enough..

    What SFF and NUC stand for?
     
  14. BRiT

    BRiT (╯°□°)╯
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    SFF = Small Form Factor
    NUC = Intel marketing term of "Next Unit of Computing" they brand on their SFF systems.
     
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  15. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    To follow up on this, the chassis fan I want to lower the speed on is not a PWM fan, so I now have to decide if the noise is bothersome enough for me to spend $30 on a Noctua 200mm PWM fan. TBH, based on current usage, I may just disconnect it instead since I suspect the case has enough ventilation to get by with just the CPU HSF moving air. I'll have to test.
     
  16. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Noctua fans are friggin awesome though. They like, never wear out. I've had noctuas spinning for over 4 years and still performing as new, still utterly whisper quiet. If you spend those $30, it'll probably last you until PCs aren't a thing anymore.

    On the other hand, there are of course speed regulators for 3-pin fans. I have for example an old Zalman thing with a potentiometer built into it which I intended to use years ago but never got around to... Something like that would work as well of course, but these aren't as good as 4-pin fans because they limit the top speed of the fan when you need extra cooling, and they can cause the fan to stop and not start again if they are set too low... Stuff like that. :p
     
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  17. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    Well, I *did* end up spending $30 less on the Windows 10 license than I was expecting....
     
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  18. Silent_Buddha

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    Yeah, I'm using a Noctua ULN (Ultra low noise) fan in my portable SFF with an included cable to run it at minimum RPM. And the sound floor on it is very low. Basically unnoticeable unless you're in a very very quiet room with no other sounds audible.

    The Noctua fans on the CPU cooler I got a launch for the 2500k are still going strong and quiet as well.

    Regards,
    SB
     
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  19. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    I unplugged the chassis fan with no ill effects, so I'm just going to go with that for now. Will definitely keep the Noctua love in mind should I ever beef this system up, though.
     
  20. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
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    The postscript to this story is that I eventually determined that for my specific use case the integrated graphics just weren't good enough. It may have been a memory bandwidth issue more than an processing issue, because most of the the issues I had were a result of web browsers/applications having to scale content up to 4K resolution. There was also some Intel driver weirdness that I found really annoying. So, I saw a deal on a Zotac 1050 ti mini ($129) and jumped on it and now all is golden.

    Of course, having this as part of the plan from the beginning would have allowed me to go cheaper on the MB and maybe even swap to a Ryzen 5 1400-based build, but really I had no way to know how this would work for my purposes without trying it.

    Lastly, I will say that the 1050 ti brings a lot to the table for a 4K media PC, especially at that price. It has hardware decoding for all of the current formats (all the way up to 8K!) and has enough ALU grunt, VRAM bandwidth, and capacity to do some higher quality scaling via madVR and the like and even at full tilt and overclocked, it's quiet.
     

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