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Will this budget computer work as an HD DVR for clear QAM cable?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've been looking for the cheapest possible way to watch HDTV on our HDTV monitor. I have actually ruled out a set top QAM tuner (~$90-$130) because of cost; that's right, we're doing this the "dirty cheap" way and shooting for less than fifty or sixty dollars of total expenses. I've got my eyes on two computers on Craiglist and already have a USB QAM Tuner and can get a Radeon 2400 video card (which will allow me to meet what the tuner says are its minimum requirements). I was just wondering if anyone had any experience with USB QAM Tuners and either of these setups:

Computer 1:
P4, 3Ghz (Socket LGA 775, motherboard unknown)
1GB of RAM
NVidia GForce 7300GT 512Mb (may or may not work with 1080i in Entech Powerstrip to a 1080i only HDTV - the Radeon 2400 256MB is the fallback)
40GB Hard drive (not planning on recording, but I may upgrade the hard drive for the "pause" feature)

Computer 2:
Dell Optiplex 745
Core2 Duo 1.86 Ghz (assumed to be a KW628 MM599 Motherboard)
1GB of RAM
Would be using the Radeon 2400 video card
40 or 60GB 2.5" SATA Hard drive used with a $5 mounting bracket


Thanks in advance.

- 2B
post #2 of 9
Assuming that C2D system has a PCIE slot, and that your TV has an HDMI input, you could get a Radeon 5450 for less than $20, often as little as $15.

Personally, of those two, I think I'd pick the C2D. Maybe you could find an equally cheap 3ghz Pentium D?

By the way, I've used a Avermedia Volar Max tuner for OTA recording on both a Pentium D and a slow C2D laptop without a problem.
post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

By the way, I've used a Avermedia Volar Max tuner for OTA recording on both a Pentium D and a slow C2D laptop without a problem.

Good info. I'll be going with an Avermedia product very soon on some old tech as a dirty cheap solution.
post #4 of 9
I have Radeon 2400 Pro on my desktop, and I can't get it to do maximum resolution (I have it hooked up to 2 monitors)
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Wow. That one guy really was right - you get more replies if you have the right title to your thread .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Assuming that C2D system has a PCIE slot, and that your TV has an HDMI input, you could get a Radeon 5450 for less than $20, often as little as $15.

Personally, of those two, I think I'd pick the C2D. Maybe you could find an equally cheap 3ghz Pentium D?

By the way, I've used a Avermedia Volar Max tuner for OTA recording on both a Pentium D and a slow C2D laptop without a problem.

The set has RGBHV and Component inputs which was why I had my eye on the 2400 Pro, since I won't have to deal with custom resolutions over VGA and stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

I have Radeon 2400 Pro on my desktop, and I can't get it to do maximum resolution (I have it hooked up to 2 monitors)

What is the card's maximum resolution?

- 2B
post #6 of 9
Radeon 2400Pro specs:

•Two integrated DVI display outputs

•Primary supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI) or 2560x1600 (dual-link DVI)1
•Secondary supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI only)1
•Each includes a dual-link HDCP encoder with on-chip key storage for high resolution playback of protected content2

◦Two integrated 400 MHz 30-bit RAMDACs
•Each supports analog displays connected by VGA at all resolutions up to 2048x1536

◦HDMI output support •Supports all display resolutions up to 1920x1080

Integrated AMD Xilleon™ HDTV encoder •Provides high quality analog TV output (component/S-video/composite)
•Supports SDTV and HDTV resolutions
•Underscan and overscan compensation
post #7 of 9
The 2400 should work ok (but their were a few different versions of it like the pro and xt). My first HTPC for OTA had an ati x850 card in it and it did 1080 with no problem. Remember, the 2400 is part of the HD series that ATI started. You'll have better luck with that the the older nVidia cards. IMHO ATI has always been a step ahead for HTPC theater use.

That first cpu in that HTPC was an athlon 4000 I believe. That was 5 or 6 years ago when they first broadcast HD.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsilvest View Post

The 2400 should work ok (but their were a few different versions of it like the pro and xt). My first HTPC for OTA had an ati x850 card in it and it did 1080 with no problem. Remember, the 2400 is part of the HD series that ATI started. You'll have better luck with that the the older nVidia cards. IMHO ATI has always been a step ahead for HTPC theater use.

That first cpu in that HTPC was an athlon 4000 I believe. That was 5 or 6 years ago when they first broadcast HD.

It should work fine for watching HDTV live though. 256MB of video memory was the only specific graphic card specification in the tuner's requirements. We have a Radeon 9200 on a P4 2.8Ghz desktop that I tried it on, but the HD channels do get a little choppy.

- 2B
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
UPDATE!!!

Just thought I'd letcha'all know that I finally figured it out and have a computer successfully set up and tuning QAM with our USB tuner. Here's the current detailed specs (photos and full writeup will be supplied shortly in Mr. Bob's famous "don't dump your CRT RPTV" thread):

Dell Optiplex 745 ($40)
Mygica A680b USB HDTV Tuner (already had this, new cost is roughly $20 shipped)
Core2 Duo 1.8Ghz
1GB of RAM (included, 2 512MB pieces)
40GB Laptop SATA Hard drive (free gift from a friend)
Onboard Intel Q963 Video card (whose drivers will not allow Windows 7 to start - also, it will not allow the Windows xp install disc to start without a bluescreen and the computer also won't restart correctly - a lousy card)
Add in PCi Express Video card ATI Radeon 4550 (got this for $10 shipped from a friend here on AVSForum, but these are usually >$20 shipped on eBay)

The setup is not perfect. The computer's fan is quite squeaky (which I plan on fixing) and 1GB of RAM makes quite a difference in Windows 7 like you wouldn't believe, although it does work okay for basic live TV and live HD playback.

I do plan on posting a writeup in the "don't dump your CRT rptv", so stay tuned for that.

Thanks to everyone who helped in the setup!

- 2B
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