The very best media center from LibreELEC running on a Raspberry Pi4

  • First, two videos to give an idea of the overall process:

    Argon One M.2 Raspberry Pi 4 case

    and

    Raspberry Pi 4 USB Boot is official! How-to


    1) During the building of the RPI 4 (8 GB version) case process, I did not screw in the bottom section to complete the case. Rather on the bottom half of the case, I combined the small 'A' plug to 'A' plug USB adapter (which comes with the Argon One case kit) with an 'A' plug to 'A' socket extension cable to bring out the USB connection.


    2) I downloaded the latest stable versions of LibreELEC (9.2.6) and RaspberryOS.


    3) I flashed the RaspberryOS onto a fresh SD card. I flashed LibreELEC onto the SATA M.2 SSD using the extension cable plugged into my desktop.


    4) Using only the top half of the Argon One case (with the RPI4 & daughter board secured), I installed the SD card, connected power, HDMI to monitor, USB keyboard & mouse, network cable and booted the RPI 4. The M.2 SSD was not connected to the RPI 4.


    5) Following the instructions in the video, I upgraded the RPI 4 firmware (version 000138a1 or greater). Once finished, I powered down the RPI 4 and un-cabled it. I removed the SD card, finished assembling the Argon One case and added the small 'A' plug to 'A' plug adapter as per the videos. The new assembly was cabled with power (turned off), HDMI, Mouse and KB. No network or external storage connected!


    6) Turning on the RPI, I watched on the monitor that the system attempted to boot from the missing SD card multiple times. Then suddenly (like magic) the RPI booted up LibreELEC OS from the SSD M.2 drive. I added the network cable, external USB storage and finished configuring LibreELEC.


    Performance?

    The older RPI4 running LibreELEC on SD card: videos from the external SSD would halt several times before playing properly. Streaming videos were exhibiting the same halting issue.


    The new RPI4 running LibreELEC on the M.2 SSD: videos (from the same external SSD) now play as if they were on a BluRay/DVD player. No halting, virtually no lag. :thumbup: I still have to try out streaming services like Amazon or Netflix, however, I do not anticipate any streaming issues from Kodi / LibreELEC / RPI4 hardware.

  • why is that the best case? And isn't an SSD drive pretty much the same soeed as SD cards?


    I don't know much about this but when SSD drives were new I remember hearing they were better than data drives because they were as fast as SD cards?


    Also the ice tower from pigeek has incredible cooling. Ask wouldn't that plus over clocking deliver better performance?

    • Official Post

    And isn't an SSD drive pretty much the same soeed as SD cards?

    SD cards are typical a lot slower (especial at multiple random read/write operations) compared to SSD.

    This is quite noticeable at big libraries.

  • why is that the best case? And isn't an SSD drive pretty much the same soeed as SD cards?


    ....

    According to the testing done in the referenced videos, the SSD is around 10X faster than the fastest SD card. I concur with the results published in the videos. And the Pi 4 did not have to be overclocked!

    The Ice Tower which you reference will not fit into the average Pi case. Furthermore, it does nothing to help cleanup the cabling. The Argon One case brings out the cabling connections to the back end, there by helping the cabling look nicer.


    One other piece of information: if you are using this setup as a media center for your TV and you wish for the audio to play from the TV, connect the TV HDMI cable to the HDMI connection farthest from the power button. If you plug in the TV HDMI cable to the other connection, the video will display fine, but you probably won't hear any audio.

    Edited once, last by tkocou: Adding tip about audio ().

  • what's the cooling and therefore over clocking potential of the argon case.


    I ask this because the ice tower can bring the temperature to 25 degrees idle.

    Which is pretty fantastic as it's barely a few degrees above ambient.


    The cooling potential is huge. I have had pc levels of speed.


    Do you really think the argons faster drive (ssd supposedly being ten times faster) is a good trad.

    e-off to the CPU speed being over lockable to 2.1 GHz?


    I'm sceptical that a faster drive is better than a faster CPU.

    Especially in cpu intensive tasks like certain video formats like 4K and upscaling which the majority of the burden is on the CPU NOT the drive.


    Of course aesthetics are another thing entirely and I'll concede the ice tower isn't the most smart or compact case.


    But can we really say the argon case is "the best"

    Everyone thinks they can Google the best TV/bike/mobile these days but always it's a matter of personal choice.


    If you're going to be writing a lot of data to the pi yeah you'll need a faster drive. (Although can we not connect an SSD drive to a ice tower fitted pi?

    But pretty much any other task will benefit from a faster CPU which the tower delivers and the cooler temperatures will make it more stable too.

  • Nothing wrong with using an Ice Tower cooler. As you say, it helps a lot when you choose to overclock. I agree that the Ice Tower would be an excellent choice for the overclocking aficionado.


    The biggest I/O bottleneck for the Pi 4 is the SD card. Overclocking the CPU simply masks the issue. A normal CPU clock speed means lower CPU temperatures compared to an overclocked CPU. And with the Argon One case, CPU overclocking is still available as an option. I simply choose to not use it.


    Generally speaking, using an SD card to boot from means that the LibreELEC will run from the SD card. Since the SD card is the I/O bottleneck, by extension, the overall Pi 4 I/O is bottlenecked regardless whether the CPU is overclocked or not. Granted, there is an older method where one could boot from SD card and switch over to an external USB device. However, one still has a sprawl to deal with. The Argon One case packages all the essential items into the one case making a neat presentation, especially in front of one's TV as a media center.


    With the latest firmware update to the Pi 4, the advantage allowed by the Argon One case is to boot LibreELEC from a SSD without needing a SD card. As far as I have been able to determine, everything runs faster from the SSD. I can't say for certain, however I'll bet that 4K and upscaling will work faster as well.

    Edited once, last by tkocou ().

  • One other item to consider. I found through extensive testing that the spare USB 3 port should be left unused. Any device plugged into the spare USB 3 port can have a negative impact on the RPi 4 performance.

  • One other item to consider. I found through extensive testing that the spare USB 3 port should be left unused. Any device plugged into the spare USB 3 port can have a negative impact on the RPi 4 performance.

    Could you be more specific? Do you mean that using only one USB3 port does not hinder the performance but using both USB3 ports might affect overall performance?


    what kind of performance issues are seen? I mean does it affect Kodi UI rendering performance or file transfer etc.?


    I'm curious as I use USB SSD with full UAS support and I have both USB3 ports in use and I have not yet really observed any performance loss, I might just have missed it :)

  • I'm coming back to this because my fan is finally wearing down on my ice tower.

    It's producing a high pitched whine.


    If I get this argon case. Which ssd drive do I need to get. Presumably the capacity or even brand has to be compatible.


    Second.

    I notice some are modifying their argon case.

    Is this necessary/difficult?

  • what's this? For having the USB connectors on an extension cable of sorts?


    Rather on the bottom half of the case, I combined the small 'A' plug to 'A' plug USB adapter (which comes with the Argon One case kit) with an 'A' plug to 'A' socket extension cable to bring out the USB connection



    This next part seems dubious.

    It didn't work then 'magically'

    Worked.

    This makes me second guess considering an SSD drive with kodi.


    No offence just the tutorial makes the process seem not easy and not reliable.

  • Pi hut sell an WD Green M2 240GB SSD for this set up, I didn't need that much capacity so goa a 120GB, don't know if the Pi4 has a maximum capacity it can see. Haven't got around to the build jet. You will need to contact Argon they will send you a link to driver software for using the Argon with LibreElec. I think I'll be coming back to this thread soon!

  • Could you be more specific? Do you mean that using only one USB3 port does not hinder the performance but using both USB3 ports might affect overall performance?


    what kind of performance issues are seen? I mean does it affect Kodi UI rendering performance or file transfer etc.?


    I'm curious as I use USB SSD with full UAS support and I have both USB3 ports in use and I have not yet really observed any performance loss, I might just have missed it :)

    This limitation is ONLY for the Argon One case using an external HD with the internal SSD. I suspect that the SSD requires the full bandwidth afforded by the USB3 port. Thus my advise is to exclude the second USB3 port.


    If you plug in the external HD into the second USB3 port, anytime you play a video file from the external HD, the video player software exhibits a "stop and go" behavior. The same behavior happens with streaming video from Netflix or Amazon Prime or HBO plus, etc.


    If you are using a different hardware arrangement, then the USB3 port probably won't be an issue.


    The tutorial makes more sense if you watch the referenced videos first.


    At the time that I wrote this article, I used an extension USB cable. I did not have a 'A' plug to 'A' plug cable. An 'A' to 'A' cable can be purchased from Amazon.com. The reason for using an 'A' to 'A' cable is to treat the SSD like a thumb drive on your desktop / laptop computer. Due to the physical port of the Argon One case, You cannot just plug in a standard USB cable.


    If you viewed the videos, you would know that the first time the Raspberry Pi 4 is configured for booting from USB, the Raspberry Pi 4 will attempt multiple times to boot from an SD card. Once it determines that the SD card is missing, then it goes to the USB drive (SSD drive in the Argon One case). Thus the appearance of not booting and then magically booting.


    The default speed of the fan in the Argon One case is fairly quiet. Do you need to modify the case? I'm using the case "as is" and it acts a a very good heat-sink for the Raspberry Pi 4. My opinion only, no need to modify the case. Up to you whether to modify or not.


    Pi hut sell an WD Green M2 240GB SSD for this set up, I didn't need that much capacity so goa a 120GB, don't know if the Pi4 has a maximum capacity it can see. Haven't got around to the build jet. You will need to contact Argon they will send you a link to driver software for using the Argon with LibreElec. I think I'll be coming back to this thread soon!

    The SSD must be a SATA style. I'm using the Kingston model referenced in the videos and 128GB never gets filled up for my use. LibreElec runs FAST from the SSD.

    Edited 4 times, last by tkocou: Merged a post created by tkocou into this post. ().