I am done tweaking! This is the ultimate DVD HTPC! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I am done and should finally be able to enjoy my 400+ DVD library "the way it was meant to be played". Thought I'd share this with the other members.

The Hardware:

CPU and video card are worth elaborating on, while other components are not that important for the image quality. CPU should be able to handle software MPEG2 decoding in VMR9 and do rezise to your output resolution. In case of 1280x720 the lowest CPU for smooth playback is P4 2.53 Ghz 533 FSB (this is CPU I have in my second HTPC). After going through a massive number of video cards (just to mention last 18 mos: Nvidia MX-420, Leadtek GF4 Ti 4200 with VPU, FX 5200, FX 5600, FX 5950, ATI 8500, ATI 9600 Pro, ATI 9800 Pro, ATI 9800 XT, Fire GL X2), the favorite by a nice margin is FX Quadro 1100. This is workstation series card based on FX 5700 GPU. Not sure if FX 5700 would provide the same performance. I have this theory that workstation cards just have better drivers, so I finally decided to splash $600 on this card. This card was the last missing link in my setup. I am not sure if FX Quadro 500 could do the job. That is FX 5200 based card that costs about $250.

FireGL X2 (the best of the bunch before Quadro) was good, but for some reason was not able to produce so rich and lifelike colors as Quadro. Colors realy became alive with this card. After some initial VMR9 tearing, 56.72 drivers proved to be perfect. Fresh XP install was necessary to get rid of tearing. FireGL was never able to provide right output for HDCP DVI display, so black level and shadow detail was less than perfect, and whites were a too bright. Whatever I did (clipping signal levels to 16-235, changing colorspaces in FFDShow), someting was missing and now when I have Quadro I know what was missing. Furthermore, FireGL did not have perfect VMR9 chroma/luma synch that Quadro has. This shows as slightly blurry image because chroma portion of the image is a tiny bit shifted compared to luma information. This is finaly gone and I have never seen a more beautiful and clear VMR9 image. Things are poping out right from the screen in 3D. All in all everything this card does is for the lack of the better word, perfect. Output is via DVI 10ft Belkin dual link cable at 1280x720 to my Samsung HLN617W RP DLP display, viewing distance about 1.5 times diagonal screen size (7.5 feet). All gear power stabilized/conditioned with AVS 2000 / HTS 5000 combo.

Despite the high price of the video card, I believe you could put this system together for little over 1K if you save up on the other parts, so at the end of the day this can be afordable HTPC setup. Even with Samsung 61' display, this setup is below 5K and it will blow you away.

The Software:

XP Pro or home (SP1 no updates), with DX 9.0b, Forceware Multimedia Beta DVD playback software, FFDShow (last built in March 04), Avisynth 2.5.5., Nvidia 56.72 drivers. After trying out all the usual suspects (PowerDVD, WinDVD 4.0, 5.0, NVDVD 2.27, 2.55, Sonic), Forceware is clearly a winner. It supports FFDShow postprocessing as well as reclock (that is not necessary as Forceware provides superb sync). FFDShow settings are quite simple. Lanczos (parameter really does not matter that much, I usually have 10) resize to my output resolution of 1280x720. On my main HTPC with AMD FX-51 processor overclocked to 2.42 Mhz, before FFDShow resize I run Avisynth resize with either bicubic (blur and sharp neutral at 0.5) or lanczos resize (depending on the source material) at 1408x792 (max my CPU can handle). Double resize softens the image a bit and gives it more of a filmlike image without loss of detail and even de-rings a bit, again with no loss of detail. All Nvidia driver settings are default. Forceware Multimedia settings are enable Nvidia postprocessing and FFDShow postprocessing and VMR9 support. For the benefit of others, I hope Nvidia will release this software soon.

The Image:

After calibrating my Samsung HLN617W RP DLP display for default settings in Nvidia drivers, the result is what I always dreamed of. Image is very bright, colors are extremely rich and perfectly saturated, level of detail is superb, dynamic levels are excellent with no crushed whites or blacks, blacks are really blacks (probably because greyscale holds almost perfectly) plunge test passes, resolution patterns look great especially the last one in Digital video essentials with green stripes (no other card could produce such solid green edges). I can say without any doubt that this setup produces as good of an image as an average movie theater (of course subject to limitations of a particular DVD transfer), only brighter and smaller. Even good transfers of old movies look wonderful. All in all this is DVD heaven.

Special Thanks:

Goes to Nvidia. Despite my earlier basihing on your drivers etc. you did a hell of a job. Congratulations.

Vlad
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post #2 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 04:18 PM
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Just a quick note on the Quadro FX500.

I have a FX5200 and a Quadro FX500 I recently swapped out my 5200 for the Quadro FX500. I am seeing a stutter every few minutes with the Quadro that was not present with the 5200. I have not had a chance to test any further yet. I just wanted to put this out there for people.

I will test further and report back I just wanted to let everyone know the Quadro FX500 might not have the juice so I wouldn't grab one yet.


Don
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post #3 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 04:22 PM
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Glad you found your nirvana....I just don't have the $600 for a Quadro FX card right now. :( Might be willing to spend on the 6800 tho later on.
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post #4 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 04:29 PM
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great post - always fun to hear about someone reaching their htpc mountain top!

"I have this theory that workstation cards just have better drivers..."

i wonder if there are other "workstation" cards out there that might offer similar results... are most of the cards mentioned in this forum "gaming" cards? if so, is there a big difference between the two? do you happen to know if the fx 1100 offers any dvi --> component adapters such as the ati dongle (purple)? or might the ati dongle also work with the fx 1100????
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post #5 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 10:51 PM
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Cooch,
Thanks and please post your findings. I wouldn't mind paying ~200 for an increase in quality. :)
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post #6 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 11:06 PM
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nice writeup, i like the forceware beta dvd playback software as well, better than all others I tried, and thats just on a sdtv.
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post #7 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 11:39 PM
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How'd you get the Forceware MultiMedia beta? I want perfect results too, but I don't see it on nvidia.com

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I'm onĀ Google Plus a lot moreĀ than online forums now, contact me there if you want something.

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post #8 of 133 Old 04-20-2004, 11:55 PM
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you got PM
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post #9 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 04:41 AM
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Are you outputting RGB24?
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post #10 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 04:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by vpopovic
the favorite by a nice margin is FX Quadro 1100.
Too bad the 6800 is out in two weeks and blows the 57/5900 series image quality away.
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post #11 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 05:48 AM
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I don't know... I don't dispute your findings, but I just fail to comprehend how this level of subtelty can be detected in a DVI setup.... after all, you're bypassing anything analog.... that would point to the drivers alone.... yet you've earlier said that the "forced" workstation drivers don't achieve the same performance.... interesting....

BTW, I think my DVD nirvana is the MyHD card.... :D

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post #12 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 06:42 AM
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I'm also interesting in tracking down FWMM beta software...
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post #13 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 06:46 AM
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Yeah, me too, But I can't find out when nvidia is releasing it!!

Any news?

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post #14 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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WT-46809,

To the best of my knowledge Nvidia's Quadros (workstation cards) do not support "dongle". Nvidia has some other cards that do. Workstation cards generally have dual DVI output (with two DVI to RGB adapters, so you can go 2xRGB). Not sure about the other workstation cards. Other cards I mentioned, with exception of FireGL X2 are "gaming cards". Difference between workstation cards and gaming cards is primarily in drivers. Workstation cards have drivers optimized for OpenGL applications, and to me they do a better job rendering video with VMR9.

IVB,

As I said in my post I hope Nvidia will release Forceware Multimedia soon, but not sure when.

Gary Rees,

All FFDShow setings are default, so the driver is controling colorspace conversion and is obviously doing it right. I believe DVI interface uses RGB24 colorspace, although most displays have their own proprietary colorspaces. For example, my Samsung (according to Powerstrip and EDID information) has "Samsung0074" colorspace capable of producing 14+ million collors, instead of 16.7 that RBG24 has, and its gamma is 2.4 as opposed to Windows default of 2.2.

NightRain,

I hope you are right, however from press release and review on the web I was not able to figure out significant new features that could improve the image. PS 3.0 looks like all pure 3D without impact on 2D textures in 3D engine.

Vlad
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post #15 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 08:49 AM
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says who, nightrain?

the 6800 should undoubtedly relieve cpu stress with it's hardware functions but i'd like to see it better current ffdshow results.

the 6800 should allow for results inline with what we currently experience but with lower cpu utilization according to what i've read.

besides mr.popovic isn't shy to swapping video cards on a whim so if the 6800 can truly provide that great of a benefit, i'm sure he will be the first to let us know!

in the mean time quit raining on other peoples parades, especially those that have provided valuable information by not being afraid to venture away from the norm and test alternate cards/software etc.
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post #16 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 08:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by gbrnole
says who, nightrain?

the 6800 should undoubtedly relieve cpu stress with it's hardware functions but i'd like to see it better current ffdshow results.

the 6800 should allow for results inline with what we currently experience but with lower cpu utilization according to what i've read.

besides mr.popovic isn't shy to swapping video cards on a whim so if the 6800 can truly provide that great of a benefit, i'm sure he will be the first to let us know!

in the mean time quit raining on other peoples parades, especially those that have provided valuable information by not being afraid to venture away from the norm and test alternate cards/software etc.
The problem with him is a lack of knowledge and a propensity to jump up and down and think the newest thing he has is the best much like a 5 year old. As an example he seems to think that OGL optimized drivers would help with VMR9 PQ. Anybody buying a high end card before x800 and 6800 are also fools.
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post #17 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by NightRain
The problem with him is a lack of knowledge and a propensity to jump up and down and think the newest thing he has is the best much like a 5 year old. As an example he seems to think that OGL optimized drivers would help with VMR9 PQ. Anybody buying a high end card before x800 and 6800 are also fools.
I hope you will enjoy your 6800. Otherwise no comments.

Vlad
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post #18 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 09:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by vpopovic
I hope you will enjoy your 6800. Otherwise no comments.
Actually the x800 has better PQ. But the 6800 is a step up as well.
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post #19 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 01:54 PM
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May I just confirm your ffdshow settings while using NVDVD?
It sounds to me that when using ffdshow with NVDVD you only do a lanczos resize to 1280x720 with parmeter =10. Is that it. No denoise, lumu or chroma sharpen etc?
You do enable VMR9 in NVDV also.
Using the 56.72 drivers.

Is that it?

I want to try that myself and want to make sure I got it all right. Of course I don't have a Quadro, or a P4 but I am going to give it a go.

Andrew
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post #20 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 03:28 PM
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"The problem with him is a lack of knowledge and a propensity to jump up and down and think the newest thing he has is the best much like a 5 year old. As an example he seems to think that OGL optimized drivers would help with VMR9 PQ. Anybody buying a high end card before x800 and 6800 are also fools." (nightrain)

so what's the story? daddy flick cigarette butts atchya in the crib? couldn't get a date for the prom? honestly, does there exist a forum that is immune to such boorish personalities? unbelieveable...

vpopovic: please keep your observations, experiences and constructive additions to this forum coming.
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post #21 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 03:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by WT-46809
"The problem with him is a lack of knowledge and a propensity to jump up and down and think the newest thing he has is the best much like a 5 year old. As an example he seems to think that OGL optimized drivers would help with VMR9 PQ. Anybody buying a high end card before x800 and 6800 are also fools." (nightrain)

so what's the story? daddy flick cigarette butts atchya in the crib? couldn't get a date for the prom? honestly, does there exist a forum that is immune to such boorish personalities? unbelieveable...

vpopovic: please keep your observations, experiences and constructive additions to this forum coming.
Try Hooked On Phonics.
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post #22 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 04:33 PM
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NightRain ,

--- If I were a bettin' man I would say you are real close to being banned from AVS [ especially after seeing your total disregard for AVS rules in the past ] .

--- While you do have a right to your opinion you do not express it in a constructive manner [ and most of what you type is just plain RUDE ] .

--- Good Luck ,
----- Jason
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaGamePimp
NightRain ,

--- If I were a bettin' man I would say you are real close to being banned from AVS [ especially after seeing your total disregard for AVS rules in the past ] .

--- While you do have a right to your opinion you do not express it in a constructive manner [ and most of what you type is just plain RUDE ] .

--- Good Luck ,
----- Jason
Should be really close not real close. Glad you enjoy my posts.
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post #24 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 04:41 PM
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-------- BACK On Topic ------------
_____________________________


vpopovic ,

--- So you prefer NvDVD 3 with ffdshow over DXVA NvDVD 3 ?


-------- Thanks ,
--------- Jason
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post #25 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 04:57 PM
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NightRain, please cease and desist. Insults and rude behavior will not be tolerated here. Please read my PM to you.

Bob
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post #26 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Andrew,

Yes, you got my FFDShow settings right. I forgot to mention that I use noise reduction filter on my display, so there is no need for using FFDShow noise reduction. Samsung's filter is very good and comes without CPU charge. There is also no need for additional sharpening when I am doing 2xLanczos resize. If I want to soften the image I do 1xBicubic and 1xLanczos or Spline. So, if you don't use noise reduction on your display and if you are doing only one resize I can see a need for using other FFDShow filters.

Jason,

I like the image with FFDShow better than with DXVA. FFDShow scaling is what makes the difference. And with multiple scaling you can get subtle filtering without loss of detail. Forceware Multimedia is very good in software mode, with no apparent chroma bug when used with FFDShow (at least of film based material). Forceware in software mode outputs either YUY2 (without Nvidia post processing ) or UYVY (with Nvidia post processing option, both colorspaces being 4:2:2 with up-sampled chroma), and FFDShow (with default settings) then converts this to 4:2:0 YU12 format for faster processing and outputs in the same format. Video card then up-samples signal into one of the 4:2:2 formats (not sure which one) and ultimately outputs RGB24 for DVI output or RGB32 for RGB output. It is kind of a long way around, but at the end of the day looks great. One could force FFDShow to work with YUY2 or UYVY colorspaces and avoid this additional colorspace conversion, but CPU hit is huge which makes this option impractical.

Vlad
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post #27 of 133 Old 04-21-2004, 07:44 PM
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vpopovic ,

--- Interesting [ thanks ;) ] , I will have to try your method . I have tried with ffdshow and without (DXVA) but have not yet adjusted ffdshow for NvDVD other than resize .

-------- Jason
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post #28 of 133 Old 04-22-2004, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by vpopovic
All FFDShow setings are default, so the driver is controling colorspace conversion and is obviously doing it right. I believe DVI interface uses RGB24 colorspace, although most displays have their own proprietary colorspaces. For example, my Samsung (according to Powerstrip and EDID information) has "Samsung0074" colorspace capable of producing 14+ million collors, instead of 16.7 that RBG24 has, and its gamma is 2.4 as opposed to Windows default of 2.2.
Sorry, can't let you pass this time! :)

If you check all the Output color formats in the ffdshow, I believe it outputs in YUY2. That is in my case. Just check the top of the Info page and all the Input and Output format is listed.

regards,

Li On

PS: will post my own current setup around weekend...
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post #29 of 133 Old 04-22-2004, 02:50 AM
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I confirm that also on plain Catalyst 4.4 on a 9700 Pro the advantages are huge compared to plain overlay YUY2 colorspace. I experimented a bit with FireGl Drivers, but with my hardware and the lack of multimonitor control do not bring enough advantages. I'm keeping Catalyst for the moment.
Does the fireGl driver work also on a 9800 chipset ?

bye
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post #30 of 133 Old 04-22-2004, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by Li On
Sorry, can't let you pass this time! :)

If you check all the Output color formats in the ffdshow, I believe it outputs in YUY2. That is in my case. Just check the top of the Info page and all the Input and Output format is listed.

regards,

Li On

PS: will post my own current setup around weekend...
Li On,

I checked this morning and in my setup with default settings FFDShow input is "YU12 (uncompressed)" and output is "YU12, adj." Although this causes an extra colorspace conversion, it significantly lowers the CPU load for resize. If I "forece" resize in YUY2 mode, I can not do double rezise where first resize has resolution in excess of 1280x720. UYVY is similar colorspace as YUY2, and while image quality is the same, UYVY option reduces CPU utilization by some 5-10%.
Dubmaster,

FireGL 7.93 driver is the most current one that should work with 2.14.3 Rivatuner for 9800 Pro chipset. As noted in my previous posts, I used the most recent driver, moded only to load and function in "limited" mode, not to unlock OpenGL features of FireGL.

Vlad
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