Question about purchasing a video card for my new HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-12-2012, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone. I just recently built a HTPC and while I am not to computers I am new to the graphics side of computers. I have never really used computers for anymore than surfing the internet and running various programs. My question is whether or not it would be worth my money to purchase a low profile PCI video card for my system. It has to be low profile because of the size of the case I bought.

I am going to be primarily using it to watch streaming movies, DVD's, Blue Rays, and play some old school emulators. The reason that I ask if I actually need a memory card is because the CPU I purchased was a combination CPU/GPU. Here is my part list for the build:


CPU AMD A8-3850 2.9GHz Quad-Core Processor with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6550D
Motherboard ASRock A75M Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard
Memory Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Storage Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Storage Corsair Neutron Series GTX 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk
Case Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case
Power Supply FSP Group 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
Optical Drive Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)
TV Hitachi P50H401 50" Plasma 1080i
Audio Receiver/Amp Sony HTCT550

I am running the HDMI cable from the stock port on the mobo trough the Sony receiver up to my TV. So far I have watched a couple of movies and they look good but I am just wondering if I will see a big increase in performance if I put in a better PCI video card and if so what does the forum recommend. Like I said I am new to the graphics side of computing so I am pretty ignorant as to what I need.

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-12-2012, 07:25 AM
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As long as CPU usage is under 50% why worry about 'performance'? A quad core and 6550 should handle anything you throw at it. Adding a video card will only increase power consumption and noise.


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post #3 of 6 Old 09-12-2012, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post

As long as CPU usage is under 50% why worry about 'performance'? A quad core and 6550 should handle anything you throw at it. Adding a video card will only increase power consumption and noise.

I was just wondering if adding a video card would make the picture look any better but I guess what you are saying is that it will not make a noticeable difference and the only time I need to think about adding a video card is if when watching a movie or anything like that the CPU usage goes above 50%? I have speed fan installed on the box that can monitor CPU usage so I could always check it while I run a movie. So far the only time (that I am aware of) when I have very high CPU usage is when I am encoding and ripping a DVD to my hard drive using Handbrake...then it goes all the way up to 100% usage.

So the short of it is you are saying that a quad core CPU with an integrated 6550 should be more than sufficient for any movie streaming, DVD/Blue Ray watching...along as the CPU isn't getting hammered with high utilization while you are doing those things?
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-12-2012, 02:57 PM
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I just built an HTPC with an Intel G620 CPU to use as an HD OTA DVR. I’m using WMC7 & the HD OTA programs look good to me. But I was experiencing some stuttering with SD content which appears to be caused by the 29/59 bug which I recently read about. The fix seems to be to use a video card.

I installed an HD 6450 & the latest driver & now the programs are smooth as silk. I also noticed when using MPC-HC that my frame rate stays steady & constant. So for me a cheap card helped a lot. As far as sharpness or color goes I don’t think the card made any difference.

As other people have mentioned, if it looks good without a video card then why use one. Again, I’m using OTA HD and not Blu-ray, and of course YMMV and your integrated graphics may be just fine.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-12-2012, 03:38 PM
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You really don't need a quad core although since you bought it, then guess not important.

I have a couple of older machines, 2.2ghz dual core AMD Socker 939, and with ATI 4350 still hardly use the CPU during HD playback as the ATI does hardware acceleration. I know 1080p H264 are more demanding, but even so bet play them without any dropped frames.

Not to up on that IGP, but it should have HD acceleration built in. If you don't want to use system RAM (had problem with mine with Nvidia 6150 seemed to cause vsync like tearing) just get a cheap card, ideally passive, low heat and power £50 or less. For £25 or so, it's worth it as you're freeing up system RAM (how much have you allocated in BIOS?) Although I guess your IGP is probably superior to 4350.

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post #6 of 6 Old 09-12-2012, 04:00 PM
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