Best Option for PCI Video Card - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-26-2009, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I am converting a Dell E310 into a basic HTPC and am looking for a video card that will work best with the setup and achieve the goals listed below. My motherboard only has PCI slots available (not PCIe) so I am limited in that respect.

Current Specs
==============
P4 2.8Ghz CPU
2GB RAM
Hauppauge PVR-150 tuner card
80GB HD (will upgrade this later)
DVD-RW
Windows XP MCE 2005
Integrated Audio

Current Needs
===============
-Record standard def TV shows via Motorola cable receiver with s-video, component and composite TV-Out options
-Watch recorded shows and DVDs on standard def CRT TV with component and s-video input options

Future Plans
==============
Add Blue Ray player
Add 50" LCD or Plasma HD TV
Watch and possibly record HD content

Video Card reccomendations would be greatly appreciated. I am also looking for suggestions for a MCE compatible remote with IR blaster if anyone has any.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 03:50 AM
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9400 GT
8400 GS
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice.

The only differences between these two cards appears to be that the 9400 GT has 512MB RAM and 128-bit interface vs 256MB and 64-bit for the 8400 GS. But there is a $27 price difference.

Would there be a noticeable difference between either of these cards in my proposed setup?

I'm assuming the 9400 would be faster but I've noticed a lot of video cards are geared towards gaming so HTPC's don't really use the full functionality of many cards.
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post #4 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 08:03 AM
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For SD TV and DVDs any pci video card >NV6200 will work fine. Just be aware that playback of BR which you mention as a future possibility will probably be difficult on any PCI card as there will be no hardware acceleration of the BR.

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post #5 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbird999 View Post

Just be aware that playback of BR which you mention as a future possibility will probably be difficult on any PCI card as there will be no hardware acceleration of the BR.

The nVidia cards, including the 8400GS, accelerate Blu-ray. And on old Dells. I've seen it done myself.

It's ATI that doesn't support DXVA over PCI.

Blu-ray: 50+
HD-DVD: 23
DVD: 600+ and lost count
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 08:29 AM
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Surely both cards support hardware decode acceleration for HD video codecs (without which BD playback would suffer from heavy stuttering with P4). 9400 GT has more stream processors (16 vs. 8 in 8400 GS) and wider memory bandwidth (128bit vs. 64bit in 8400 GS) and hence should be better in video post-processing (at least this is true for normal PCI Express x16 cards). BTW PCI has enough bandwidth (133MB/s) for BD playback (< 7MB/s)
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
The nVidia cards, including the 8400GS, accelerate Blu-ray. And on old Dells. I've seen it done myself.

Didn't know that, but I see a lot of posts from folks who can't get decent BR playback on AGP, let alone PCI with 1/8 the bandwidth of AGP. But maybe that is related to the CPU. Just sayin' at BR playback can be difficult/impossible on older hardware.

B B

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post #8 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 09:31 AM
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I forgot an issue of 9400 GT: it lacks hardware decode acceleration for VC-1!

So 8400 GS is the only recommended card.
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post #9 of 14 Old 10-27-2009, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbird999 View Post

Didn't know that, but I see a lot of posts from folks who can't get decent BR playback on AGP, let alone PCI with 1/8 the bandwidth of AGP. But maybe that is related to the CPU. Just sayin' at BR playback can be difficult/impossible on older hardware.

B B

They can't get decent playback over AGP because only ATI offers AGP cards with modern GPUs and ATI refuses to put the necessary support in the drivers. I had to RMA an ATI-based card (HIS 4350 PCI) because the ATI driver did not enable DXVA. I bought a Sparkle 8400GS instead.

Blu-ray: 50+
HD-DVD: 23
DVD: 600+ and lost count
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

I forgot an issue of 9400 GT: it lacks hardware decode acceleration for VC-1!

So 8400 GS is the only recommended card.

I came accross these two articles and it appears neither of these two card (8400 or 9400) really offload VC-1 decoding.

GeForce 9400
==============
http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles...&id=2712&pg=10

GeForce 8800 (I'm assuming this is comparable to the 8400)
===========
http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles...3&id=2478&pg=3

Do these articles describe the VC-1 issue you were talking about? And is it true that the 8400 also suffers the same VC-1 issues as the 9400?

Also I noticed that the ATI cards tested outperformed the NVidia cards. Are ATI cards better and if so, do they offer a PCI solution?

Thanks again for all of your expertise.
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post #11 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doItMyself View Post

I came accross these two articles and it appears neither of these two card (8400 or 9400) really offload VC-1 decoding.

GeForce 9400
==============
http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles...&id=2712&pg=10

GeForce 8800 (I'm assuming this is comparable to the 8400)
===========
http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles...3&id=2478&pg=3

Do these articles describe the VC-1 issue you were talking about? And is it true that the 8400 also suffers the same VC-1 issues as the 9400?

No. VC-1 decoding was added to the G98 core, used by the Sparkle 8400GS.

Quote:


Also I noticed that the ATI cards tested outperformed the NVidia cards. Are ATI cards better and if so, do they offer a PCI solution?

The ATI driver DOES NOT support DXVA over the PCI bus. This has been confirmed by HIS, the sole company to offer an ATI 4XXX PCI card.

Blu-ray: 50+
HD-DVD: 23
DVD: 600+ and lost count
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post #12 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry for all of the questions, but I'm new at this (but learning fast).

So I'm going to get the Sparkle 8400 GS card but I just noticed newegg has a 256MB and 512MB (only $5 more) version.

Since it's only $5 more, I'm tempted to get the 512MB version, but since I'm "learning to fish" I'd like to know if there is even really much of a difference?

Also I can't find any specs to verify that the Sparkle 8400 GS card listed on newegg does indeed use the G98 chip.

256MB
=========
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814187041

512MB
=========
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814187042

Thanks again for your help.
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post #13 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doItMyself View Post

Sorry for all of the questions, but I'm new at this (but learning fast).

So I'm going to get the Sparkle 8400 GS card but I just noticed newegg has a 256MB and 512MB (only $5 more) version.

Since it's only $5 more, I'm tempted to get the 512MB version, but since I'm "learning to fish" I'd like to know if there is even really much of a difference?

Also I can't find any specs to verify that the Sparkle 8400 GS card listed on newegg does indeed use the G98 chip.

256MB
=========
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814187041

512MB
=========
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814187042

Thanks again for your help.

I bought the 512mb version, but others have been satisfied with the 256mb one.

According to Wikipedia, the G86 version is PCIe-only, while the G98 version supports both PCI and PCIe. Thus, it's reasonable to assume that the Sparkle is based on the G98.

Blu-ray: 50+
HD-DVD: 23
DVD: 600+ and lost count
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post #14 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 10:30 PM
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Core Clock = 567MHz means G98, which supports hardware decode acceleration for all three HD video codecs...
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