Shuttle XS35GS V3 as HTPC mediacenter

*Update 2015-01-06*
Computer stopped working after running 24/7 for little over one year. The PSU shows green light, but when plugged to the computer then it blinks green. This seems to indicate a short circuit somewhere in the computer. I have tried to detach SSD, RAM, DVD and all other connections but the problem remains. I have contacted Shuttle support and they say problem requires that I sent the unit for repair, but I bought the unit at Ballicom.co.uk and they only provide 1 year warranty. I have now bought a Zotac ZBOX BI230 and happy again.

I bought this unit after having read some positive feedback about it:
Asrock ION 330 HD was failing
I had an Asrock ION 330 HD, but it gave an evil noise from the small GPU fan, and had a small stutter when doing 1080p playback, along with a soft plastic remote control that was about to break. I had tried to fix the small GPU fan with a fan-mate, and it lowered the noise, but didn't remove it, and a new smell of burned electronics arrived. I had tried to fix the 1080p stutter on XBMC by synchronizing the refresh rate with the movie, but then the sound was out of sync. The easy solution was to change the refresh rate to 50 Hz (Instead of 60 Hz), and it solved most of the stutter, but it was still there.
Sensitive when it comes to RAM
I bought the barebone version of Shuttle XS35GS V3, and had purchased the RAM else where (Corsair Value RAM). But quickly discovered that it was very sensitive, and failed to perform BIOS POST without the correct RAM. I then bought the recommended Crucial RAM, and it started up nicely.
Windows 8 is not recommended for XBMC
I installed Windows 8 on the computer and the VGA card was recognized as an AMD Radeon HD 6430M. I then installed the VGA drivers from Shuttle homepage, and the card was recognized properly as HD 7410M and everything seemed faster. But XBMC had a small stutter, even after fixing the normal issues:
  • Ensure to force DXVA (Instead of AutoDetect). Ensure to activate DXVA2
  • Ensure to set output audio device to DirectSound, and disable all unnecessary audio output formats
  • Ensure to set true fullscreen, instead of running it as a fullscreen window
I then tried Windows 7, and after installing the drivers from Shuttle's homepage (AMD Catalyst 12.6 WHQL), then all issues was removed. The XBMC menus was much more responsive and the playback of 1080p movies did not have any stutter. Later tried the updated drivers (AMD Catalyst 13.11 WHQL) from Shuttle's homepage, but then performance was slow again.
Netflix cannot play in HD
Silverlight 5 fails to make use of the GPU for DRM content, and the CPU is not strong enough to handle a HD stream. When forcing it to only use SD-quality, then everything plays without lag. Could be nice with a better XBMC plugin than NetfliXBMC
TrueHD and DTS-HD support
If you have a fancy surround sound amplifier, then this little device will produce a high quality audio experience.
No heat and no noise issues
I used a Samsung SSD 840 as main drive, and then had a 5400 RPM harddrive attached as an external USB 2.0 drive. And it works quite nicely. The USB drive will power off when not in use, so even though it fails to give hearable noise when active, then the dogs will not be affected either in idle state.
Hauppauge MC Remote Control Kit
Since there is no IR receiver on the Shuttle XS35GS V3, then I bought one from Hauppauge. It was just to plug the device in, and then the remote control was working nicely in XBMC. No additional drivers or extra tweaking was needed.

Updated: 22 March 2015

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