[vdr] hardware recommendations?

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Sat Feb 26 00:57:30 CET 2005

thanks to some off-list help from Darren Salt, i got vdr working on my desktop
system and am starting to get a handle on how it all works.

now i'm ready to start planning my dedicated VDR box.  i've got a DVICO fusion
lite card and am planning to get another DVB-T card (probably a Nova T).  i've
also got a few 80GB PATA drives (seagate barracuda V, 8MB cache) left over
from when i upgraded my desktop to 200GB drives.

so, what hardware would make an ideal vdr machine, given that i want:

1. smooth playback of recordings and of live TV
2. possibly simultaneous recording of two programs (or recording one
   while watching live TV or a recording).
3. occasionally i will want to burn stuff i want to keep to CD or DVD,
   without interfering with either recording or smooth playback.  and
   without producing coasters because the system is overworked.
   of course, i could do this on my desktop, but would prefer to do
   everything on the vdr box.
4. working infrared remote control
5. decent sound quality
6. minimal hassle with kernel compiles - i.e. preferably GPL drivers
   included IN the standard kernel sources

a nice (but not essential) extra would be the ability to occasionally run X on
my TV (a panasonic TX-47P800H rear-projection, 1080i HD capable) to run
firefox or some other browser...and useful applications like mozilla calendar,
maybe even mutt in an xterm.

i guess that 256 or 512MB would be more than adequate (the more ram, the
better the disk buffering) - and since the price difference between 256 and
512 is minimal i may as well get 512M.

the main things i'm not sure about are:

 - what CPU to get?  

   i'm tempted by an athlon 64, but then i'd have to start mirroring
   the a64 distribution of debian as well as the i386, and i'm
   generally not keen to pay a price premium to be a guinea-pig for new
   hardware....a64 and a64 motherboard designs probably won't be mature
   for another year or so.

   other alternatives P4 or and Athlon, with the athlon being slightly

 - what video card to get?

   i have a matrox G450 in my desktop - is that adequate?  i'm thinking
   of upgrading my desktop video card anyway, which will leave the matrox
   spare.  actually, i'm sure it's adequate - the real question is, "is
   it a *good* card for a dedicated VDR box?"

any recommendations?


ps: like my desktop, the vdr box will be running debian.

craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>           (part time cyborg)

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