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ozzuneoj
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What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:39 pm

I picked up a Foxconn Celeron J1800 based Mini-ITX board a while back for a measly $35 on a whim, because I had grand plans for a cheap and super power efficient 24x7 running file\media server that could also be used as an always-available media playback system. Turn on the TV, and there's the desktop... listen to music, watch Amazon Prime movies, Hulu, etc.

The problem I ran into immediately though was performance. Its just too slow for video playback that requires anything resembling decent single-threaded performance, and since the cores are so weak it has a tendency to just "stop" for a few seconds when doing basic things in Windows Explorer, especially with any kind of real-time antivirus protection running. I was running it with 4GB (one stick) of DDR3-1333, and my old Crucial C300 64GB SSD for a boot drive running Windows 8.1, so it wasn't the memory, the drive or the OS holding it back. Its just annoying to use, at least with Windows 8.1... which is a fairly smooth running OS as far as Windows goes.

Using it as a file server was also surprisingly slow for some reason, though that could have been related to any number of things. It was connected via gigabit ethernet, but throughput to wifi devices when copying data to\from networked drives was often topping out at 2MB\sec... significantly slower than my internet connection. Regardless of the cause, my family has moved to a new home and our "needs" have changed. Now, I simply use my desktop to play video and its much faster to just do manual backups periodically, and I feel better having my main backup drive be removable and easy to store in my fire safe (as opposed to running all day in a 24x7 system, while only being used for backups very rarely).

So... what would you guys do with a board like this? I'm too picky to use it as a daily driver when I have so many faster (if less efficient) alternatives laying around. I haven't had a PC this slow since my Athlon 64 3000+ in 2005. I thought of putting it in an old Commodore 64 shell that I've had laying around for years, but the work required to do it would be totally wasted on something that I can't find a use for.

Ideas?
Last edited by ozzuneoj on Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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whm1974
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:45 pm

Take it outside and shoot it? You could try running Linux on it with a lightweight GUI such as XFCE or Enlightenment.
 
Captain Ned
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:47 pm

If she'll take 2 NICs make a router/firewall box out of it.
What we have today is way too much pluribus and not enough unum.
 
EndlessWaves
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:44 pm

I wonder if there's something wrong with it. It shouldn't be that slow considering even slower versions of that chip are used for most windows tablets (which I haven't heard being slated as hopeless).

Given the stops and the slow file transfer performance I wonder if your SSD was on it's way out.

It doesn't surprise me if it can't brute force video playback but it's got the full quicksync enabled so with an appropriate video player it shouldn't be struggling with H.264 videos. Typical bad choices that don't use the hardware acceleration would be chrome for youtube and VLC for files.

Windows 10 apparently works better on low powered hardware.
 
ozzuneoj
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:47 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
If she'll take 2 NICs make a router/firewall box out of it.

It has a single Gigabit port onboard and one PCI-E x16 slot. Doesn't leave a lot of room for expansion.

What would be the benefits of using a PC like this vs. using my Netgear R6300 with ddwrt? Also, I assume that it'd just act as the router, connected to the modem, but I could still use my R6300 for wifi.
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ozzuneoj
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:55 pm

EndlessWaves wrote:
I wonder if there's something wrong with it. It shouldn't be that slow considering even slower versions of that chip are used for most windows tablets (which I haven't heard being slated as hopeless).

Given the stops and the slow file transfer performance I wonder if your SSD was on it's way out.

It doesn't surprise me if it can't brute force video playback but it's got the full quicksync enabled so with an appropriate video player it shouldn't be struggling with H.264 videos. Typical bad choices that don't use the hardware acceleration would be chrome for youtube and VLC for files.

Windows 10 apparently works better on low powered hardware.


I guess its hard to accurately describe exactly how slow something is... but these chips benchmark slower than an Athlon X2 and are WAY slower per-thread. The SSD works fine, as it was in use in my main desktop with no problems until the moment I put it in the other system. The hangups are clearly shown in Task Manager as being caused by normal processes maxing out cores during basic tasks.

For video playback, I ran into problems with streaming services. In my opinion, it doesn't matter how many different hardware accelerated features a chip has if it cannot handle smooth playback on its own, since there are a plethora of different services and implementations and it only takes one update to something to break hardware acceleration. For me, hardware accelerated video is there to make the system more responsive and efficient, but if it is 100% required for smooth playback, the CPU is under-powered for the task.
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Captain Ned
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:00 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
What would be the benefits of using a PC like this vs. using my Netgear R6300 with ddwrt? Also, I assume that it'd just act as the router, connected to the modem, but I could still use my R6300 for wifi.

There a whole pile of firewall/router distros out there that will have better protection and better performance compared to even something running DD-WRT or Tomato. Even the weasly J1800 has access to more resources than any consumer-grade router.
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:50 pm

If you toss a cheap GPU into it the video playback would be mostly offloaded depending on what you are playing, and you should get smooth playback. That'd kill most of the power efficiency and the CPU will still suck though.
 
ozzuneoj
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:34 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
ozzuneoj wrote:
What would be the benefits of using a PC like this vs. using my Netgear R6300 with ddwrt? Also, I assume that it'd just act as the router, connected to the modem, but I could still use my R6300 for wifi.

There a whole pile of firewall/router distros out there that will have better protection and better performance compared to even something running DD-WRT or Tomato. Even the weasly J1800 has access to more resources than any consumer-grade router.

Better performance in what way though? I have a 75mbit cable connection and rarely seem to have any problems utilizing it fully, and I don't really do any peer-to-peer sharing any more... which is something I remember being particularly stressful on routers back in the day.

Our main limitation is wireless connectivity, but that tends to be down to our devices having limited range and speed. Our newer\better devices have no problems.

I've read about doing something like what you're talking about, and I do find it interesting, I just don't know if I do anything that would cause my current router to be a bottleneck.
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DrDominodog51
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:56 pm

F@h?
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:57 am

ozzuneoj wrote:
What would be the benefits of using a PC like this vs. using my Netgear R6300 with ddwrt?


A PC will generally out-perform small SoC based routers by way of larger memory and much much greater CPU power (even with a crappy Celeron). Apart from that, they will generally have more features and be more rapidly updated.

My go-to router replacement is pfSense. They target everything from lightweight home use to enterprise multi link routers and firewalls.

In my case, I use a small slimline machine with multiple PCI-e NICs to tie dual DSL connections together for extra bandwidth.
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Chrispy_
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:05 am

Curious that it's not playing back media properly.

There are plenty of BayTrail/CherryTrail netbooks and subnotebooks that manage 720p content just fine, given the right player with decode support.
What player are you using, and on what OS?
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ozzuneoj
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:28 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Curious that it's not playing back media properly.

There are plenty of BayTrail/CherryTrail netbooks and subnotebooks that manage 720p content just fine, given the right player with decode support.
What player are you using, and on what OS?

Mostly just streaming video. Had problems on amazon instant video, youtube and others. I don't really download videos so I don't use media players. I'm sure those are working fine, but as I said, streaming services seem to have really inefficient and picky players built into their sites. I know that with hardware acceleration its more than capable of basic media playback, but it is totally incapable of handling playback if there is any issue with the hardware acceleration. Also, 1080p content is to much for it regardless... Which is disappointing.

I had the same issues in Firefox, and Chrome, though performance was better in IE it was still very unpredictable.
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jokinin
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:57 am

It surprises me that a Celeron at 2GHz+ can't play media files properly, and my 4 year old laptop, based upon the E-350 APU (1.6 GHz dual core) can play Full HD media without problems.
Can't it be some kind of software problem? Maybe drivers, maybe codecs?
 
The Egg
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:19 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
I picked up a Foxconn Celeron J1800 based Mini-ITX board a while back for a measly $35 on a whim, because I had grand plans for a cheap and super power efficient 24x7 running file\media server that could also be used as an always-available media playback system. Turn on the TV, and there's the desktop... listen to music, watch Amazon Prime movies, Hulu, etc.

The problem I ran into immediately though was performance. Its just too slow for video playback that requires anything resembling decent single-threaded performance, and since the cores are so weak it has a tendency to just "stop" for a few seconds when doing basic things in Windows Explorer, especially with any kind of real-time antivirus protection running.

It sounds like you need to enable hardware decoding. The Raspberry Pi 2 does not come with hardware decoding enabled for VC1 and MPEG2 because the keys cost money (about $2.00ea), and it of course choked when I attempted to play 1080p VC1 via software. After getting hardware decode keys, it handles them like a champ**.

Your Celeron should be a good bit more powerful than a Pi 2 (or any of these wimpy Roku/Chrome sticks for that matter), so you just need to figure out why hardware decoding is disabled.





** when using local USB storage. Network playback taxes the CPU just enough to cause occasional dropped frames/stuttering.
 
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:33 pm

And if none of these things interest you, trade me for a Raspberry Pi. :P
Please don't edit my signature for me. Thanks.
 
Topinio
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:56 pm

Heh. Curiosity had me checking out the board, wondering if it was this one and whether there were updates since the sell off last November ... and I found that that latest BIOS, DB1F1P05, has its release notes missing and only the Word autosave in the .zip ~$yTrail- D-BIOS-BTDS02_DB1F1P01-Release note_20140215.doc ... which is

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 C o u r i e r   N e w
 C o u r i e r   N e w
 C o u r i e r   N e w          q$

and there's a ~WRL1329.tmp file which contains the genius

N o r m a l . d o t m , A n o t h e r   W 9 7 M / C a r t m a n . P o p p y   I n f e c t e d   D o c u m e n t - M a c r o   V i r u s   I n f e c t i o n   b y   T h e   N a r k o t i c   N e t w o r k .   |   V i c o d i n E S   |   K l o n o p i n . J o n e s   |   F a s t i n . B l e e   |   E H e l l o   f r o m   V i c o d i n E S   a n d   T h e   N a r k o t i c   N e t w o r k   . . .   w e   m e a n   y o u   n o   h a r m  J o n a t h a n   X i o n g     w a n g y a f e i                     ¸      +                           
 
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Ah, Foxconn.

We're all doomed. :cry:
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ozzuneoj
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:53 pm

You guys are right, it is a problem with hardware decoding... But that's the point. If decoding breaks in multiple browsers on multiple websites seemingly randomly and the CPU can't handle decoding on its own without maxing out at least one core, it doesn't seem like it's worth using as a dedicated media playback system.
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Glorious
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 5:19 am

ozzuneoj wrote:
But that's the point


I totally follow what you are saying, even if others don't.

Guy: he's not talking about about running VLC or WMP with his own media files, he's talking about using various streaming services, and, yes, that's often hit or miss when it comes to hardware acceleration.

What works today can suddenly and mysteriously stop working tomorrow, and vice versa. And that's assuming it has ever or will ever work at all. This problem is unfortunately ubiquitous. :x

As someone said, yes, it is a software problem, it's just that it is software he doesn't really have any control over or any insight into. When the playback subsystems of various streaming services can't figure out his hardware or never supported it at all, they all default back to CPU and the celeron simply doesn't have the ooomph necessary.

Like I said, it is a very common problem and there usually isn't much of anything you can do about it. There are ways to get youtube to serve up a different encoding and so forth, but that's usually about it. :cry:
 
Topinio
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 6:22 am

It is the point, sure, but the corollary is that when you have no acceleration even having a strong CPU cannot get you out of having problems.

Case in point, I'm having issues on my HTPC, which has suddenly and mysteriously stop working properly, and is stuttering and CPU-bound ... on a Core i5-2500K.

Ofc the Celery will hit its limit on less demanding content, but if you have no acceleration and have to use software you can be dead in the water at 1080p on pretty much any PC.
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Glorious
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:00 am

Topinio wrote:
Ofc the Celery will hit its limit on less demanding content, but if you have no acceleration and have to use software you can be dead in the water at 1080p on pretty much any PC.


Something else is going on in your example. Plenty of PCs can decode 1080p just fine without hardware acceleration. I would imagine any quad-core core 2 would be fine, for instance.
 
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:08 am

Glorious wrote:
Topinio wrote:
Ofc the Celery will hit its limit on less demanding content, but if you have no acceleration and have to use software you can be dead in the water at 1080p on pretty much any PC.


Something else is going on in your example. Plenty of PCs can decode 1080p just fine without hardware acceleration. I would imagine any quad-core core 2 would be fine, for instance.


The j1800 is a 2C2T part with a 10W TDP. I'd argue that it's even less capable than most C2Q parts, despite being much newer.

I think the real issue here is that Bay Trail graphics just plain suck, and he may be using MS-supplied drivers, which generally lack anything but basic acceleration. I know that under Linux, Bay Trail acceleration is far from trouble free, and while it's likely better under Windows, it's likely to be an issue, if not THE issue.
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The Egg
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:59 am

Glorious wrote:
I totally follow what you are saying, even if others don't.
Guy: he's not talking about about running VLC or WMP with his own media files, he's talking about using various streaming services, and, yes, that's often hit or miss when it comes to hardware acceleration.


To the OP: If you're running 8.1, have you tried using the various metro apps (Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, etc) instead of going through a browser? Also, make sure that you've installed the Intel graphics drivers, not just whatever was included with Windows. If that doesn't work, you might try Kodi or something Linux based. The hardware power is there, it's just a matter of getting it utilized.
 
ozzuneoj
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:53 am

Glorious wrote:
Topinio wrote:
Ofc the Celery will hit its limit on less demanding content, but if you have no acceleration and have to use software you can be dead in the water at 1080p on pretty much any PC.


Something else is going on in your example. Plenty of PCs can decode 1080p just fine without hardware acceleration. I would imagine any quad-core core 2 would be fine, for instance.


Yeah, there's definitely something else going on there. I have a 2500k in my desktop with a gtx 970 and some times Hulu will stutter like mad until I minimize Chrome and maximize it again. It's probably something like that rather than a real CPU limitation. There are just too many things involved with streaming services to rely on a single feature like hardware acceleration though. You have browser problems, driver problems, codec problems, plugin problems... And probably more that I don't know about.

I did some tests with 1080p youtube playback a while ago and was surprised at what could be done with some pretty old hardware. Things have changed a lot since then though. I had a 3Ghz P4 with HT running HD youtube videos with minimal frame drops on GMA 900 graphics. Now the requirements for hardware acceleration are much higher. You need at least a Radeon hd 4xxxx or Geforce 8400gs, AND it seems like it's easy for browsers to break compatibility.

For what it's worth, almost any Core 2 duo will be better at playing back video with raw CPU power than a j1800. The j1800's IGP is much newer than the ancient GMA graphics the core 2s generally ran with though, so it's decoding features bail it out in cases where they work.
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Topinio
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:48 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
Yeah, there's definitely something else going on there. I have a 2500k in my desktop with a gtx 970 and some times Hulu will stutter like mad until I minimize Chrome and maximize it again. It's probably something like that rather than a real CPU limitation. There are just too many things involved with streaming services to rely on a single feature like hardware acceleration though. You have browser problems, driver problems, codec problems, plugin problems... And probably more that I don't know about.

I did some tests with 1080p youtube playback a while ago and was surprised at what could be done with some pretty old hardware. Things have changed a lot since then though. I had a 3Ghz P4 with HT running HD youtube videos with minimal frame drops on GMA 900 graphics. Now the requirements for hardware acceleration are much higher. You need at least a Radeon hd 4xxxx or Geforce 8400gs, AND it seems like it's easy for browsers to break compatibility.

For what it's worth, almost any Core 2 duo will be better at playing back video with raw CPU power than a j1800. The j1800's IGP is much newer than the ancient GMA graphics the core 2s generally ran with though, so it's decoding features bail it out in cases where they work.

For me it's kinda that the single thing one can't rely on is raw CPU power, and while it is necessary to have a non-hopeless processor it's more important to have the fragile mess of dedicated hardware, drivers, codecs, and player software working just right. It's a colossal PITA, and one that as well as being super fragile is stupidly hard to debug.

Makes me nostalgic for the days of RealPlayer :evil:
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The Egg
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:02 pm

Topinio wrote:
For me it's kinda that the single thing one can't rely on is raw CPU power, and while it is necessary to have a non-hopeless processor it's more important to have the fragile mess of dedicated hardware, drivers, codecs, and player software working just right. It's a colossal PITA, and one that as well as being super fragile is stupidly hard to debug.

Makes me nostalgic for the days of RealPlayer :evil:


*SLAPS TOPINIO*
You will not talk like that in this house!!

Like I said earlier, if the weak little ARM cpus in Chrome Sticks, Rokus, and Raspberry Pis can play 1080p smoothly and without issue, you know it's not hardware. Give the dedicated metro apps a shot, and then try Kodi or another HTPC suite. It doesn't sound like the OP is doing anything that specifically limits him to the Windows ecosystem.
 
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:08 pm

Thanks for the advice. I'll put the motherboard back in the system and try using the metro apps. It bugs me because I prefer the interface of just using a browser, but it seems they've made things so convoluted that you have to use specific apps to get a reliable experience.

I'll be honest, I hadn't thought of using the apps myself.

And yeah, if a Roku or a phone can do it, there must be something terribly wrong with the combination of browser, player, drivers etc. if any PC has problems consistently using hardware acceleration.
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Topinio
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:08 pm

The Egg wrote:
Topinio wrote:
Makes me nostalgic for the days of RealPlayer :evil:

*SLAPS TOPINIO*
You will not talk like that in this house!!

I actually laughed, thank you ;)

The Egg wrote:
Like I said earlier, if the weak little ARM cpus in Chrome Sticks, Rokus, and Raspberry Pis can play 1080p smoothly and without issue, you know it's not hardware. Give the dedicated metro apps a shot, and then try Kodi or another HTPC suite. It doesn't sound like the OP is doing anything that specifically limits him to the Windows ecosystem.

++
The hardware is there, and it's not the x86 cores.
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Forge
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:05 pm

So I mentioned it, and got no reply. You have installed the graphics drivers from Intel, correct? You are not using the Microsoft-auto-provided ones?

What driver version is loaded? Check in Device Manager please.
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hansmuff
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Re: What to do with an ITX Celeron J1800 board?

Wed Oct 21, 2015 5:40 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
I picked up a Foxconn Celeron J1800 based Mini-ITX board a while back for a measly $35 on a whim, because I had grand plans for a cheap and super power efficient 24x7 running file\media server that could also be used as an always-available media playback system. Turn on the TV, and there's the desktop... listen to music, watch Amazon Prime movies, Hulu, etc.[...]

So... what would you guys do with a board like this? I'm too picky to use it as a daily driver when I have so many faster (if less efficient) alternatives laying around. I haven't had a PC this slow since my Athlon 64 3000+ in 2005. I thought of putting it in an old Commodore 64 shell that I've had laying around for years, but the work required to do it would be totally wasted on something that I can't find a use for.

Ideas?

I'd throw pfsense on it and play around with that. The beautiful thing about pfsense is that you need pretty minimal configuration to get it "up and running" and working in a home network. I'm no networking 'expert' by any means but having installed package after package of additional pfsense functionality and configuring/playing/reading for 2 years (just a few hours here and there) I have a pretty sophisticated and capable firewall on my hands that does everything from DHCP to filtering. It's a lot of fun. So, that's my suggestion.

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