Menu
Logo

HP t5730: Media Center 


 


 

 



More Modifications

A modification that make use of the expansion chassis.


Turning a t5730 into a Media Centre

In October 2013 received an email from Rob Dark describing his modifications to a t5730. Here it is:

Introduction

I thought I would drop you an email after reading the mods on your site about the hp t5730. I have since picked one up to make into a media centre and I thought you could list what I had done to my unit. It may help others out there wanting to do the same thing. (My camera is not the best, but I think you will get the idea).

CPU upgrade

First I did the CPU upgrade, swapping the Sempron out for a Turion x64 x2 TL-58. The CPU upgrade is fantastic! The power management does alter the clock rate - when idle it will run at 800MHz, under load, when watching a video or visualisation, it will ramp up to 1900MHz. All in all the CPU upgrade is well worth doing and is well suited for the job of a media centre.

Flash upgrade

Next I decided to upgrade the flash memory from the measly 1GB to a Kingston 32GB. This gives plenty of space for the operating system to be installed to. I did debate on adding a hard disc but I wanted to go for silent operation. The flash suits this and also the read write speeds are a little quicker. Over all it is a tidy addition without the IDE cable flopping about the place

Operating System

I then went on to choose which operating system. Being a Linux boffin I wanted to go that route, so I decided to choose OpenELEC. OpenELEC is a slim linux distribution with XBMC as its front end. This was perfect as i wanted to run XBMC as I love some of the plugins that are available for it such as navi x and sports devil. The foot print of the OS is really small and it does not have unnecessary services or applications hogging the resources of the client.

Setting up OpenELEC was dead easy. I went to www.openelec.tv, downloaded the tar and extracted it. Inside the folder that has been extracted there is a exe for creating a bootable usb install. Within 20 seconds the USB drive was complete and ready to install OpenELEC on the thin client. I tried both the oss build and x64 builds, but in the end i chose the 64bit one.

Installing was a piece of cake - I booted the usb stick on the thin client and followed the on screen instructions. Once done the system rebooted. I had to remove the usb so it would boot from the internal flash.

Booting is extremely quick (less than 20 seconds) - just what I wanted!

Graphics hardware

Now the big problem - the onboard ATI graphics chip had support for its Linux drivers dropped quite a while ago (good old ATI screwing up again lol). The poor drivers meant the display was all pixelated and flickery and was unusable. I had to rack my brains how I would overcome this problem.

After many hours of research I found that HP had made a Expansion module for the t5730 which could allow either PCIe 1x or legacy PCI to be used on the client. I managed to source the module off ebay from the States. It took around 5 days to get to me in the UK.

The next plan was, how was I going to use the module for adding graphics to the unit. There were two options: Either buying a 1x PCIe graphics card, or an adapter that converted the one to the other. The price of 1x times cards on Amazon and eBay were outside my budget so I decided to do some more research.

After many hours of Googling I came up with the idea of modifying the 1x slot to allow a full size PCIe card to fit. This involved using a soldering iron and melting the end of the slot. I then used a knife and cleared the plastic away.

t5730 modified PCIe connector

The next step was to try a full size PCIe graphics card into the slot - BOOM she fitted nice and snugly. I then decided to test it out so I hooked up the thin client to a TV with HDMI (the graphics card had DVI, VGA and HDMI connectors). To my amazement I was greeted with the HP post Logo - yes, yes, yes, it worked! A full size PCIe card working in a 1x times slot with HDMI working as well. This just seemed to get better.

The graphics card I chose was an ATI Radeon HD 5450 and cost me £10. This was much better than the £40 one on Amazon.

t5730 with Radeon HD5450

With the new card in place I then booted OpenELEC and behold, I was greeted with XBMC without the pixelated and flickery screen! Yes, we were in business now. I had to change a few settings on XBMC to route the sound through HDMI and change the resolution. The max res i could choose was 1920x1080 which i was happy with. I have found all video formats to run great with no issues what so ever. I was so happy this worked and I saved myself some pennys along the way.

I now have the unit connected to my television and use a wmc remote and sensor to navigate around XBMC.

Photos

I have attached a few picture this might be help full for some one else who was looking at modifying this nice machine into a power house media centre on a budget.
t5730 modified PCIe connector t5730 modified PCIe connector t5730 modified PCIe connector t5730 modified PCIe connector

Cheers Rob

Acknowledgement

Words and photos contributed by Rob Dark

 


Any comments? email me.    Last update October 2013