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post #1 of 22 Old 12-14-2006, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I've got an old AMD 1900+ box with 512MB of ram and an ATI 9600xt I've been trying to use to capture sd tv via a Hauppage PVR 150 and HD with a vbox cat eye 150. I'm running beyondtv on it. This is all going to an InFocus/RCA 61" 720p dlp.

I've been having issues where SD tv can't capture if HD is being captured. I made sure IRQ's aren't being shared and I've got the latest drivers. I've got sound issues with the built-in optical (CM8738) where it drops out. HD plays pretty well with little or no dropped frames in overlay mode.

I don't know if the box is beefy enough to handle what I'm throwing at it. I'd also like to use it as an upconverted dvd player. I don't know if I'm going to do hddvd or bluray anytime soon. I'd also like to do showsqueeze to compress tv (divx, whatever..)

After reading the forums for a few days, I still have the following questions:
1) Is my system powerful enough to do what I've described
2) If not, is an AMD X2 3800+, 1gb ddr2, nvidia 6150-based mb adequate or even overkill (maybe a sempron is sufficient)?

I'm trying to not spend too much on this but I'd like to build something solid with a high WAF.
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post #2 of 22 Old 12-14-2006, 08:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightusr
I've got an old AMD 1900+ box with 512MB of ram and an ATI 9600xt I've been trying to use to capture sd tv via a Hauppage PVR 150 and HD with a vbox cat eye 150. I'm running beyondtv on it. This is all going to an InFocus/RCA 61" 720p dlp.

I've been having issues where SD tv can't capture if HD is being captured. I made sure IRQ's aren't being shared and I've got the latest drivers. I've got sound issues with the built-in optical (CM8738) where it drops out. HD plays pretty well with little or no dropped frames in overlay mode.

I don't know if the box is beefy enough to handle what I'm throwing at it. I'd also like to use it as an upconverted dvd player. I don't know if I'm going to do hddvd or bluray anytime soon. I'd also like to do showsqueeze to compress tv (divx, whatever..)

After reading the forums for a few days, I still have the following questions:
1) Is my system powerful enough to do what I've described
2) If not, is an AMD X2 3800+, 1gb ddr2, nvidia 6150-based mb adequate or even overkill (maybe a sempron is sufficient)?

I'm trying to not spend too much on this but I'd like to build something solid with a high WAF.
I'd say barely, if at all. I'd not plan on being very productive should you decide to record live TV :p I think the second option would be the better bet. If it were my pc, i'd even upgrade the ram to 2gb :)

If you're going to showsqueeze using your current system, again, plan to do a lot of waiting :)
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post #3 of 22 Old 12-15-2006, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Is the 6150 a good enough CPU or should I get a 7600GT. Also ATI isn't being discussed very often, is there offering not that good?
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post #4 of 22 Old 12-15-2006, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightusr
Is the 6150 a good enough CPU or should I get a 7600GT. Also ATI isn't being discussed very often, is there offering not that good?
In terms of video performance via the GPU, Nvidia spanks ATI in every department. If you're at all serious about your video's encoding and decoding, stick with Nvidia.

I'd suggest any Geforce 7 series card, and the 7600GT is a great choice. I'd try to find one with HDCP support. Paired with an HDCP compliant monitor you'll be able to watch hi-def content on your pc.

You haven't given me an idea of your budget, but based on what you've said i'll assume you're looking to build a low budget HTPC.

Here's what i'd suggest:

Motherboard - ASUS M2N-E socket AM2.
It's inexpensive (about $95.00 dollars) and based on the Nforce 5 series chipset. It's also newly compatible with DDR2 800 ram, a nifty feature for AMD users.

Processor - AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800. (65 Watt editon)
Its cheap, powerful, and perfect for HTPC usage. Retails right now for about $130 Bucks.

Ram - In terms of ram I have a few things to say. I'd suggest using at least 2GB of ram, not 1. More ram equals better performance, period. If you plan on showsqueezing your recorded media you'll want the performance boost some quality ram will give you. I'd suggest 2 GB of Corsair XMS or XMS2 series ram, DDR2 800. There are also fine offerings from Crucial. Mind you, quality ram is expensive, however the boost it provides will be well worth it.

Graphics Card - As stated before, the 7600GT will work just fine. Look for one with HDCP support.

Hard Drives - This one is all up you. Seagate and Western Digital make excellent drives in a variety of flavors. If i were building this, i'd want at least a 500GB SATA drive in my box.

Case - Again, totally up to you. Id suggest offerings from Silverstone and Thermaltake. Look for an ATX case.

Power supply - Sadly, i can't make many suggestions here. If you're looking for a budget psu, i'd not know what to say. Look for one that weighs in at about 500 watts and modular.

Tuner - Nvidia DualView MSE, ATI Pro Theater 650, or Hauppage PVR-250.
The ATI and Nvidia offerings are excellent, however will put you back about $150.00 bucks. The Hauppage offering is simply a standard tuner, nothing special about it. All three are compatible with Beyond TV 4, IMHO, the best PVR software out there.

I think i've covered all the basics. If you play your cards right and already own a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and dvd drive, this setup should put you back less than $1,000 bucks.

Enjoy
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post #5 of 22 Old 12-15-2006, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. As far as budget, well I was trying to stay extremely cheap since this is a single purpose box. I abandoned pc's long ago for linux boxes and now macs but Steve Jobs hasn't come out with anything near MCE and BTV as far as home media.

Case - I'm torn on cases but leaning towards the antec fusion aside from the fact that it only has 2 internal 3.5" drive bays but it needs to integrate well in my av shelf.

Ram - Unless the footprint of BTV and MCE exceeds 1GB, I probably won't buy 2GB.

GPU - I don't see any 7600GT's with HDCP, only 7900 and up.

HD's - I have quite a few hd's laying around 3x250, 300, 320 so I may put a couple in the box instead of a larger one.

Tuner - I've got a PVR150 and a Vbox Cat's eye 150 already.

Since it doesn't sound like a 6150 is a good decision for video, I need to figure out what mATX board will suffice.
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post #6 of 22 Old 12-15-2006, 08:49 PM
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If you're used to Linux you should try MythTV. It won't cost you anything but time to try it. Take a look in the Linux Forum, or just go to http://mythtv.org
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post #7 of 22 Old 12-16-2006, 12:32 AM
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I wrote Hardware Recommendations for Building a High-Definition HTPC that may be helpful.

There are several HDCP GeForce 7600 GT cards, e.g. ASUS EN7600GT/HTDI/256M, MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus.
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post #8 of 22 Old 12-16-2006, 06:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightusr
Thanks for the reply. As far as budget, well I was trying to stay extremely cheap since this is a single purpose box. I abandoned pc's long ago for linux boxes and now macs but Steve Jobs hasn't come out with anything near MCE and BTV as far as home media.

Case - I'm torn on cases but leaning towards the antec fusion aside from the fact that it only has 2 internal 3.5" drive bays but it needs to integrate well in my av shelf.

Ram - Unless the footprint of BTV and MCE exceeds 1GB, I probably won't buy 2GB.

GPU - I don't see any 7600GT's with HDCP, only 7900 and up.

HD's - I have quite a few hd's laying around 3x250, 300, 320 so I may put a couple in the box instead of a larger one.

Tuner - I've got a PVR150 and a Vbox Cat's eye 150 already.

Since it doesn't sound like a 6150 is a good decision for video, I need to figure out what mATX board will suffice.
Sounds like you have a lot of your bases covered. Good for you!

As renethx said, there are a few Geforce 7600 models with HDCP support to consider, all of which run well under $200.00 dollars.

MythTV is an excellent PVR, however can be tricky to install. Because you're using a Hauppage card you'll need to install the IVTV drivers prior to installing MythTV. Sadly, these drivers also proved to be a pain in the neck to install with my Ubuntu Linux Box (Edgy). I eventually got everything going after a few days of worth of work and it's well worth it.

The only other thing i'd suggest you purchasing is an IR blaster. This of course will allow you to change the channel from via your cable or satellite box directly from MythTV. John Rhees USB-UIRT is an excellent choice and costs about $50.00 bucks.

:) Cheers.
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post #9 of 22 Old 12-16-2006, 08:47 AM
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What about sound cards?
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post #10 of 22 Old 12-16-2006, 08:53 AM
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The Soundblaster X-FI extreme music should work just fine, unless that is you do insane amounts of audio production with your HTPC.

It's a great card with a high signal to noise ratio, and Dolby and DTS decoding, amongst other things.

It's priced at around $100.00 dollars.

That's only my opinon though :P
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post #11 of 22 Old 12-17-2006, 12:19 PM
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Does the quality of a sound card matter if it has optical or spdif out?
In other words, are all cards used solely for optical or spdif out equal?
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post #12 of 22 Old 12-17-2006, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danskim

In other words, are all cards used solely for optical or spdif out equal?
Absolutely not.
A crappy signal going exiting through an optical or coaxal SPDIF will still be a crappy signal.
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post #13 of 22 Old 12-17-2006, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm pretty torn. I've upped my budget but that's not helping the decision process. I want to make sure I can play blu-ray or hd-dvd when the drives come down in price but Anand's assessment on h264 decoding and cpu/gpu requirements is really throwing a wrench in the process.

It looks like if I get an e6300/e6400, the best motherboard to get is the gigabyte GA-965P but I would've loved to get the Antec Fusion case and get an mATX board instead. My bind is that there aren't any good mATX 965 boards that are overclockable. Some questions...

1) GPU - should I get 7600gt or a 7900gs. All this box will do is be a pvr/htpc, no gaming.

2) Case - If it must be an atx-fitting case instead of an matx, should I get one with 2 drive slots for hd-dvd/blu-ray? It looks like an ahanix d4 would fit my needs well but they're extremely hard to find from vendors. Silverstone cases are ok but I still love the look of the Antec Fusion.
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post #14 of 22 Old 12-17-2006, 03:44 PM
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Ram - In terms of ram I have a few things to say. I'd suggest using at least 2GB of ram, not 1. More ram equals better performance, period. If you plan on showsqueezing your recorded media you'll want the performance boost some quality ram will give you. I'd suggest 2 GB of Corsair XMS or XMS2 series ram, DDR2 800. There are also fine offerings from Crucial. Mind you, quality ram is expensive, however the boost it provides will be well worth it.
Not sure why people push for so much ram on a dedicated HTPC. With MCE all the video goes on and off the HD. If you actually monitor the ram usage you will see you are hardly using it. I have 512 in my setup and don't think I have ever seen usage over 300.
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post #15 of 22 Old 12-17-2006, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ams123
Not sure why people push for so much ram on a dedicated HTPC. With MCE all the video goes on and off the HD. If you actually monitor the ram usage you will see you are hardly using it. I have 512 in my setup and don't think I have ever seen usage over 300.
I don't either but I know some people run a lot of desktop apps or games on their machines probably. I've got 2.5GB in my Powermac g5 for all of that.
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post #16 of 22 Old 12-17-2006, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightusr
1) GPU - should I get 7600gt or a 7900gs. All this box will do is be a pvr/htpc, no gaming.
I would leave the choice of GPU - from my experience, hardware assist on h264/vc1 really isn't working well at all yet. Obviously they've got MPEG2 acceleration nailed, but that's only a consideration for some Bluray discs.

The difficulty is in knowing how performance will develop. At present a 7300GS appears to aid cpu load with h264 files more than a 7800GT. Although the latter is hugely faster with 3D, it has a 400mhz clock vs a 550, and that appears to be critical.

Personally I suspect cards will develop that are more specialised, including obviously HDCP and perhaps a separate HD processor. If that's the case, any money spent on current (3d-focused) cards is a bit wasted. Thus, my advice: get a 7300GS (make sure it's a 550mhz model) for $40 off ebay, and then resell it when you need to upgrade. Alternatively if you need spatial-temporal HD deinterlacing of MPEG2, which you might if you view live broadcast HD, then go for a 6600GT - also peanuts on ebay.
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post #17 of 22 Old 12-18-2006, 09:42 AM - Thread Starter
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arfster, the primary function of the box will be a hd/sd dvr. That's why initially I thought I would get an AMD x2 3800-4200 and a mATX board with a built-in 6150 but after reading anand's article on h264/wmv hd-dvd and blu-ray, it led me to the conclusion that I need an overclocked e6300 and something of 7600gt caliber.
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post #18 of 22 Old 12-18-2006, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ams123
Not sure why people push for so much ram on a dedicated HTPC. With MCE all the video goes on and off the HD. If you actually monitor the ram usage you will see you are hardly using it. I have 512 in my setup and don't think I have ever seen usage over 300.

Those who upscale DVD content will find the excess ram a bit more useful. I suppose the average user could get away with a gig or so.
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post #19 of 22 Old 12-18-2006, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightusr
arfster, the primary function of the box will be a hd/sd dvr. That's why initially I thought I would get an AMD x2 3800-4200 and a mATX board with a built-in 6150 but after reading anand's article on h264/wmv hd-dvd and blu-ray, it led me to the conclusion that I need an overclocked e6300 and something of 7600gt caliber.
Yeah, I think certainly a C2D is a good idea, and the 6300/6400 are pretty cheap now. If you can overclock it to 3ghz you should match the Anandtech figures - ie 56% CPU running h264 HDDVD, even without GPU acceleration, less for VC1. YOu could get away with a top end Pentium or AMD dualcore, but at that cost you're better off with a basic C2D.

If that's the case, then the only real need for anything more than a basic GPU would be for the mid/high end MPEG2 HD features. If so, a 7600GT sounds good.

If you need HDCP though, the cards are a fair bit more expensive. If you don't need to do live deinterlacing of broadcast video stuff, I think there are some ultra cheap ATI cards with HDCP out there. With a C2D, any HD-DVD should be fine.


However, if you're thinking of Bluray, then its higher bitrates mean some h.264 titles will hurt:
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2886&p=4

Looking at the bottom table, you should get zero framedrop in software mode as long as you can overclock to around e6700 speeds (2.66ghz) or more. Given even basic enthusiast fan units mean over 3ghz is possible, this looks the best route - it's certainly a lot cheaper than buying a 8800 graphics card.....
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post #20 of 22 Old 12-18-2006, 02:55 PM
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Thanks for all the great info. Trying to build a HTPC for my Mits 1000u on a $1300 budget and this thread has helped a lot!
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post #21 of 22 Old 12-18-2006, 03:08 PM
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Hi,

Something is out of kilter with your current machine. Your hauppuage card is a hardware encoder and the vbox should just be writing .ts files to you HDD's. Neither of these operations should require much cpu at all. You should not be having any trouble simultaneously recording both SD and HD with this machine. In fact, you should be able to do quite a bit more than just one SD and one HD stream at any given time, especially if the machine is providing no playback.

Does your machine by any chance use a VIA chipset? I have heard a good bit of talk that VIA chipsets dont play well with pvr hardware. Just a thought.

I would get that box sorted out and use it as my media server. It should do a fine job at that.

As far as a box for HD playback there has been plenty of good advice given already. I agree that a 7600GT w/HDCP compliance is a good safe bet going forward. For playback of HDDVD and BD I would take a good look at the these threads:

General BD and HDDVD playback.

HD DVD playback with Xbox 360 add on drive.

I am in the process of building a new sagetv client for my family room and I was set on an E6300 or E6400 so I could do HD and HD DVD. Because of space constraints I needed an matx board as well. I ended up with an Abit socket AM2 matx board and a 4600+. So much for getting a conroe for Christmas. :rolleyes: I am sure the 4600+ will handle the job just fine, and the price was quite competitive.

HTH

J

Not afraid to break a few eggs....
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post #22 of 22 Old 12-19-2006, 07:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I ended up reloading the XP1900+ box with a fresh install XP and MCE and it can capture 2 streams without a problem. I do watch a bit of live and recorded atsc hd tv and it sounds like I could get some use out of hardware acceleration. The video quality of live hd using overlay isn't as good as my Samsung TS360 DirecTV.

arfster, in your one of your posts you mentioned that a 6600gt would help just fine and when I'm ready to make the jump to blu-ray and hd-dvd I would just get a better gpu to provide hdcp and reduce cpu load.

At this point since I know my current PC can handle multiple streams, I'm thinking about adding another hd tuner and possibly a standard def tuner to the box and relocating and then using beyondtv link or whatever to view shows off of it.
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