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VDR may use CPUs with clock frequencies starting from 200MHz. But how much is really needed? A short overview.

  • 200 MHz Pentium => absolute minimum
  • 600 MHz Coppermine Celeron or Via C3 up to 1GHz => DivX possible, low power and heat (only 10..12 Watts), possibility for cooling with low noise
  • ~ 800MHz => DivX with MPlayer via tv out of graphics card is possible (not with DVB card, too slow for this; see below re. MPEG2 only )
  • ~ 1 GHz => output of DivX files via DVB card possible (medium power consumption, about 30 Watts)
  • >= 2 GHz => power users, compiling software, high power consumption (>=60 Watts), difficult for noiseless cooling

Absolute Minimum Requirements

VDR should run starting from 200MHz if a DVB tuner with embedded hardware MPEG-2 decoder is used, a so called Full-Featured DVB card. The processor is only used to give the data from DVB card to hard disc and/or from disc to DVB card. The data transfer rate from and to the hard disc is relatively low (~500Kbyte/s) and slow computer does not have problems with that.

On the other hand, if you don't want to use only MPEG-2 (DVB, DVD), but also MPEG-4 (DivX), the hardware decoder is not able to do that. The CPU has to do this job. In case you bought a DVB tuner without hardware MPEG-2 decoder, a so called Budget DVB card, the main CPU has to decode MPEG bit data stream, even MPEG-2.

  • 600 MHz => too slow for MPEG4/DivX or MPEG-2 software decoding
  • 1 GHz => might be sufficient in some cases
  • 2 GHz => ok

Encoding or transcoding of video needs CPU power. This is valid also when producing VCDs, SVCDs out of DVB records or audio MP3 encoding. Either the PC used for VDR is fast enough or it should be connected to a faster server computer which does this job.

Choosing the right CPU for you

In general:

  • slow clock frequency => noiseless, because of no cooling problems
  • high clock frequency => noisy, because of cooling problems

Passive cooling is possible up to approx. 1GHz (depending on CPU type) or in dissipated power up to 10 Watts, with very big and heavy CPU coolers and case coolers up to 25 Watt is possible. More needs very sophisticated cooling solutions like heatpipes or water cooling.

Helpful in this question might be the dissipated power, which you can find here (German only)

Beside clock frequency the core voltage and cpu stepping is interesting for you. The Celeron 600 Coppermine has only half of the dissipated power compared to Celeron 400 Mendocino.