Best cheap video card for HTPC - Image quality! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Converting my old Core 2 Quad machine to a HTPC. Doesn't have integrated graphics.

It will NOT be used for any gaming - mainly just encoded movies and over the air TV. Will use Windows 7 media center. Will output video and sound via HDMI to my reciever. Will also replicate the video output to a computer monitor via DVI or D-SUB for setting things up and troubleshooting.

Passive cooled is a plus. Cheaper is better, and I hope to spend less than $50 unless there is a glaring need to spend more.

I've read about some image quality problems on the very low end video cards, but since reviews of low end cards are few and far inbetween - it is hard to keep track with the latest status.

What do you recommend and why?
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post #2 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 10:16 AM
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post #3 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 10:39 AM
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Notwithstanding those Anandtech recommendations, there are a LOT of people on here (including me) who have simply slapped a $20 Radeon 5450 card in an older computer with great success. So if cost is the big concern, I'd consider that, and there are a lot of passive choices. Although the GT430 or 6570 would be better. But it's up to you to decide whether it's worth $20 or $70.
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post #4 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 11:48 AM
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Yup that would be my second recommendation (the 5450), or I suppose the 6000 series equivilant if you want the latest/greatest.
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post #5 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 01:25 PM
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XFX HD5450, 512MB - $22.99 AR
XFX HD6450, 512MB - $22.99 AR
Gigabyte HD6450, 1GB - $26.99 AR

All are silent, passively cooled cards, however the XFX heatsinks extend from the other side of the PCB.
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post #6 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 01:51 PM
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2nd for the passive cooled 6450. I have the gigabyte shown above and it works flawlessly.

Also, you will need the 6XXX series for HD audio (DTSHD, True HD etc..) if your receiver supports it.
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post #7 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moshster View Post

2nd for the passive cooled 6450. I have the gigabyte shown above and it works flawlessly.

Also, you will need the 6XXX series for HD audio (DTSHD, True HD etc..) if your receiver supports it.

5xxx passes hd audio as well
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post #8 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 01:57 PM
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You are correct, I think it was the 1.4a support I wanted to go in hand in hand with my yamaha receiver.
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post #9 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

there are a LOT of people on here (including me) who have simply slapped a $20 Radeon 5450 card in an older computer with great success.

+1

No need to go higher for htpc use. Does HD audio, vector adaptive deinterlacing and has great picture quality.
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post #10 of 25 Old 05-07-2012, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments everyone. I went for the 1gb Gigabyte. Unsure if the extra ram will ever be useful for my use, but figured it was worth $4 just in case.
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post #11 of 25 Old 05-10-2012, 11:43 PM
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I looked at the manufacturer's websites & they all want a 400W PSU. I can't believe that's just for the graphics card. I can see if you had a gaming PC with a pair of $400 graphic cards, but the 5450 & 6450 seem pretty basic.

I thought about putting a 6450 in my HP which has a 250W PSU. But that 400W spec is a concern. What do these cards realistically need?
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post #12 of 25 Old 05-11-2012, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I looked at the manufacturer's websites & they all want a 400W PSU. I can't believe that's just for the graphics card. I can see if you had a gaming PC with a pair of $400 graphic cards, but the 5450 & 6450 seem pretty basic.

I thought about putting a 6450 in my HP which has a 250W PSU. But that 400W spec is a concern. What do these cards realistically need?

No 6450/5450 requires a 400W power supply. Not even close. I am running a 6450 with a 225W power supply with zero issues since November.

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
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post #13 of 25 Old 05-11-2012, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Favelle View Post

No 6450/5450 requires a 400W power supply. Not even close. I am running a 6450 with a 225W power supply with zero issues since November.

Agreed. I have an HIS 5450 in an old SFF Optiplex GX620 which only has its original 280w Dell PSU, and it's fine, and that's with a power hungry 95w Pentium D cpu.

I think these mfgs tell you you need way more than you need just to cut down on the tech support calls.
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post #14 of 25 Old 05-11-2012, 08:35 AM
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post #15 of 25 Old 05-11-2012, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I think this should really be a sticky. Or at least bookmarked for most of us...

+1
Bookmarked it when you first posted it.
It is a valuable resource.
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post #16 of 25 Old 05-11-2012, 10:23 AM
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I had a 5450 at first in my HTPC but had a few minor issues. Also, the 29/59 bug was more noticeable back then. I used the 5450 for about a month and then upgraded to a 5570. Still pretty low power and not too expensive. Seems to have worked really well for the last year or so.

Not sure if anything newer would be better/cheaper.
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post #17 of 25 Old 05-13-2012, 01:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hirent View Post

XFX HD5450, 512MB - $22.99 AR
XFX HD6450, 512MB - $22.99 AR
Gigabyte HD6450, 1GB - $26.99 AR

All are silent, passively cooled cards, however the XFX heatsinks extend from the other side of the PCB.

Looks like Newegg dropped the prices a few dollars & the 6450 has free shipping.

Fry's has an MSI R5450 on sale. The newspaper says $35.99 -$20 rebate = $15.99.
But their website says $30 rebate & $5.99AR. It does list two rebates, but they each want the original UPC.
http://www.frys.com/product/6522603?...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

They also have a Zotac GeForce GT 430 for $59.99 -30 rebate for $29.99AR.
But again their website says $14.99AR. And again each rebate wants an original UPC.
http://www.frys.com/product/6995057?...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

Maybe Fry's has a special way of doing this such as sending both rebates together.

If I wanted to add a card to my HP quad core AMD desktop just for the heck of it since these cards are so cheap, which is the best one to get for HTPC use?
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post #18 of 25 Old 05-13-2012, 10:25 AM
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I have an asus 5550 1gb (fan) in my dell 745 desktop, stock power supply, no issues....... works great.

Picked up a sapphire 5450 1gb (fanless) at newegg for $14.99 after rebate for my parents HP Dc5750 amdX2 desktop, stock power supply. Had tested an asus card in there, same specs, and for some reason the sapphire card seemed to look a little better. Nothng to back this up, just a personal observation.
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post #19 of 25 Old 05-13-2012, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I looked at the manufacturer's websites & they all want a 400W PSU. I can't believe that's just for the graphics card. I can see if you had a gaming PC with a pair of $400 graphic cards, but the 5450 & 6450 seem pretty basic.

I thought about putting a 6450 in my HP which has a 250W PSU. But that 400W spec is a concern. What do these cards realistically need?

Look for a lower power card that does not need additional power other than the PCI socket.

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #20 of 25 Old 05-13-2012, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Look for a lower power card that does not need additional power other than the PCI socket.

7950 is very low power / high performance relative to power consumption.

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post #21 of 25 Old 05-13-2012, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

7950 is very low power / high performance relative to power consumption.

What? That's a $400 video card.

That's 8x his budget at not at all needed.
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post #22 of 25 Old 05-14-2012, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

What? That's a $400 video card.

That's 8x his budget at not at all needed.

I think Mfusick was just pointing out that "Look for a lower power card..." isn't all that he needs to look at. In fact, lower power card probably would be the 3rd thing I'd look at, after "Does it do what I need" and "what does it cost?"
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post #23 of 25 Old 05-14-2012, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdru View Post


I think Mfusick was just pointing out that "Look for a lower power card..." isn't all that he needs to look at. In fact, lower power card probably would be the 3rd thing I'd look at, after "Does it do what I need" and "what does it cost?"

Right.

Basic 30$ card can stream 1080p video and digital surround audio no problem.

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post #24 of 25 Old 05-14-2012, 08:40 AM
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FWIW, my PowerColor HD5450 runs on a system with a 84W AC brick and doesn't top out over 70W total for the whole system under Prime95. The 400W thing is a blanket statement probably in collusion with the PSU makers.

 

 

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post #25 of 25 Old 05-14-2012, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

FWIW, my PowerColor HD5450 runs on a system with a 84W AC brick and doesn't top out over 70W total for the whole system under Prime95. The 400W thing is a blanket statement probably in collusion with the PSU makers.

No.
It's more just to account for a "peak" relative to gaming or some demanding application.

For normal use in HTPC the "peak" and the "normal" are worlds apart in total power consumption.

The "peak" is more a calculation of the maximum possible- not the real world probable.

But the reccomendations for PSU is usually a worst case scenario with conservative room for error margin.

It's better to get a 400watt PSU IMO... and only need 250 total.

Better than needing 400watts with only a 250watt PSU.

It's near impossible to damage hardware with a too large PSU but it's probable that you would get issues with a too small PSU.

Better to error on the side of caution and larger if unsure...

But wasting- overkill and overspending might not only waste $ but also energy efficiency.

balance the two... you get a proper choice.

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