HTPC Upgrade GT1030/PCIex2.0 x1

  • Hello,

    Some years ago I built my HTPC using a Zotac IONITX Mainboard with an integrated Atom 330 and it served me fine until now.

    However as more and more of my Movies are H265 and/or 4K and I finally have an 4K TV I'd like to upgrade it to support those standards.

    The integrated gpu is only capable of decoding h264 in hardware and can only output 1080p on HDMI and the integrated CPU is way to slow for software decoding of basicly any format with a resolution of more than 720p.

    But it is more than fast enough to power kodi and never has more than 50% load during normal use.

    I have a USB drive as OS storage and a passive CPU cooler / passive power adapter so it is 100% silent (media is on a nas).

    I found the Nvidia GT 1030 to be capable of H265 hardware decoding and HDMI 2.0b output (4K), it is passive cooled, requires only 30Watts and is low profile (so it fits in my case).

    However it has a PCIe 3.0 x16 adapter and my HTPC only features a PCIe 2.0 x1 Slot. I once read that physical slot and electrical bus width of PCIex do not need to match and PCIex 3.0 is backwards compatible with 2.0, so if I modify my Mainboard slot to allow the card to fit physically it should (at least in theory) work just fine, except for it being a bit slower.

    But since there will be no 3D rendering and all data thats constantly transfered is the (encoded) movie stream I doubt that a 500Mbytes/s PCI lane would be a bottleneck.

    So I'm pretty sure it will work and the card is only 70€ so not a big deal if it does not, but do I miss something important ?

    Thanks in advance.

  • I once destroyed the x1 slot when trying to modify it for x16 card (I used a soldering iron to melt the side of the slot) :-)

    IMO modifying the video card would be a better idea.

    GT1030 is x4 by the way, with a bunch of unused pins to make i look like x16.

    Edited once, last by smp ().

  • The biggest let-down for Nvidia cards in Linux (I also have the gt1030), is the non-support of 10bit video. Only 8bit will be hw-accelerated, upto 8K video.

    Under Windows, 8bit and 10bit support are fine.

  • I have no HDR TV at the moment and I'am pretty sure it will get HW accelerated once the drivers get improved. Anyway I will modify the slot because it is actually cheaper to get a new motherboard with a PCIex16 slot than a new GT 1030 :)

    And it is quite old so will need to upgrade it latet anyway.