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HP z555 Upgrade Project

post #1 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Today I began the project of upgrading my Hewlett Packard z555 Digital Entertainment Center HTPC. The goal of the project is to make the PC more "relevant" to today's technology and capabilities. I realize that some of my goal could probably be accomplished more cheaply via other means, but the fun is in the doing.

I began by wiping and reloading from HP's recovery DVD, to make sure I was starting with as clean a load as possible. I then ran PCMark05, 3DMark06, and Passmark's PerformanceTest to get a benchmark of the system "stock." I will repeat these tests as I complete each step to get an idea of performance improvement. Stock numbers:

PCMark05: 3331
3DMark06: 982
Passmark: 381.2

The steps I plan to take are:

Phase 1: Upgrade the graphics card (Complete)

The stock nVidia Geforce 6600 graphics card was replaced with an MSI NX8500GT MTD256EH. This was done to:
  1. Improve GPU performance
  2. Provide an HDMI connection
  3. Quiet the system (fanless)
  4. Provide HDCP compatibility
Installation went flawlessly. No issues from drivers, no clearance issues in the case. The card is a low-profile card, but does not include a low-pro bracket. Reading from other sources, MSI will send you the low-profile bracket at shipping cost if you ask, which I will try tomorrow. Right now, the card is sitting in the slot sans bracket, but the PCI-E card retainer in the back of the slot is holding it snugly in place.

Performance numbers:

PCMark05: 3482
3DMark06: 2096
Passmark: 396.1

Cost $83

Update 12/7/2008 I replaced the MSI 8500GT with an Asus EAH4550, based on ATI's 4550 graphics set. Installed the Catalyst 8.10 drivers. Playback is much improved, no more of the stuttering I was experiencing with some movies like ID4 and RE:E. The price was less than I paid for the MSI ($60 at NewEgg as of this writing).

The EAH4550 is supposed to have an onboard encoder capable of full Multichannel LPCM encoding over HDMI, to include Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA. As of this date, I have not been able to get this functionality working. However, the improvement in video quality alone is worth the upgrade cost to me.

I would now recommend the EAH4550 over the MSI 8500GT for this upgrade project.

Performance numbers forthcoming.

Cost: $60

Phase 2: Upgrade CPU (Complete)

Currently has a Pentium 4 530. From other sources, the highest CPU that this chipset (Intel P915) can handle is the Pentium 4 650 series. (Anyone smarter than me shed light on this?) This is being done to help with future performance needs (see Phase 4 below).

UPDATE 12/9/07: Replaced CPU with the Pentium 4 650. Reused stock CPU cooler with fresh thermal compound due to heatsink that came with chip wouldn't fit the MB holes (pre-threaded, chiller has plastic feet).

Benchmarks:

PCMark05: 3736
3DMark06: 2130
Passmark: 428.4

Cost: $90

Phase 3: Upgrade RAM (Complete)

Performance gain, hopefully. Plan is to go from 512MB to either 1 or 2 GB (undecided as of yet, comments?).

UPDATE 12/9/07: Digging through my parts bin, I found a 512MB stick of Crucial RAM that was of the right clock speed, so I stuck it in one of the free RAM sockets. Wonder of wonders, it worked! Free upgrade! I performed this at the same time as the CPU upgrade, so for benchmarks, see above. I did not do benchmarks for one or the other, just after both.

Cost $0

UPDATE 7/26/08: Cannibalized two 1GB sticks of DDR2 400 RAM from my "dropped dead" office PC, and put them in the z555. PC accepted the RAM, performance seems roughly comparable. Haven't checked yet to see if it fixed the stutter problem I had with "Independence Day" BluRay.

Cost $0

Phase 4: Upgrade DVD drive (Complete)

Plan is to replace the current DVD-RW drive with the LG GGC-H20L HDDVD/BluRay player / DVD burner, and swallow the PURPLE pill. This will require removing the wireless network card and installing a SATA controller. I don't use the wireless card now, so this is no big loss.

UPDATE 12/9/07: Received and installed Rosewill SATA controller, placed in slot vacated by wireless card. Install and driver load went flawlessly, no issues. Awaiting drive (tomorrow, hopefully) to complete major upgrades.

UPDATE 12/10/07: Received and installed the LG GGC-H20L drive. Hardware and software installation (OEM PowerDVD Ultra) went flawlessly. Plays HD DVD and Blu-ray perfectly! 30-40 percent CPU utilization with GPU hardware acceleration turned on. No stutter, no blur, just perfect audio and video.

Cost:
$20 (SATA controller)
$320 (LG BD/HD drive)
-------
$340

UPDATE 7/12/08: User mz4 points out that a SATA-to-IDE connector will let you connect the new optical drive without sacrificing the wireless card. I found this one at NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16812200156, which looks like it should do the job just fine. Were I to do it again, I'd probably go this route.

Phase 5: Miscellaneous

Having the case open, I notice that the side fan on the case is moving no air at all. I will be replacing this.

UPDATE 7/26/08 Reversed the stock fan. PC seems quieter, not much noticeable difference in heat.

Phase 6: FireSTB

I am also going to try again to get the FireSTB application working again. I think I had something corrupted on my old load (not surprising to me) so hopefully the clean build I have now will allow it to function properly. Any help that anyone can provide would be most appreciated. I could record the video, but no sound, on both HD and SD channels. Also showed as Copy Free on my STB.

UPDATE 12/9/07: The MyTray application still won't record in conjunction with MCE, but I can record perfect video and sound on both SD and HD channels with CapDVHS. I'll just use this to record from now on. It has a timer function, so perhaps I can use this for delayed recordings. More to follow.

----------------------------------------------

PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra (OEM), Arcsoft TMT, and MyMovies

I started with PowerDVD OEM, but I have since purchased the retail version of ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater (TMT). I did this because it integrates seemlessly with both MCE 2005 and MyMovies. I am in the process of ripping my SD DVD's to VIDEO_TS folders, and the playback is very, very good. The WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) is very high, she finds it very easy to find and play both discs in the drive and ripped movies.

Audio Settings

Alright, so I tested this drive, software, and my audio equipment. Specs of my system (repeated from elsewhere, but all in one place here for easy reference):

Video Card: MSI NX8500GT-MTD256EH
Sound Card: Integrated Realtek 889 audio card (using Toslink optical out)
Amplifier: Pioneer VSX-815K (Toslink optical in, capable of: DDEX, DD5.1, DTS, DTS-ES)

Audio formats that I have been able to test from various HD DVD's, Blu-ray's, and DVD's:

LPCM (Uncompressed)
LPCM tracks are read by PowerDVD, and are listed as such in PowerDVD's information box. But, they are apparently downmixed by the software, since it is the OEM version. My amplifier reports that it is receiving a Dolby Digital stereo signal and outputs as such. Surround is capable by putting the receiver in Dolby Pro Logic IIx mode.

Dolby TrueHD
Dolby TrueHD tracks are read by PowerDVD, but are similarly downmixed. The amplifier again reports receiving a Dolby Digital stereo signal. Again, surround is only capable with this track by using Dolby Pro Logic IIx.

Dolby Digital Plus
Dolby Digital Plus tracks are read by PowerDVD. They do not appear to be downmixed, but my receiver is not capable of receiving Dolby Digital Plus, but it reads the signal as Dolby Digital Surround EX. This is a 6.1 track, and does output to the receiver properly. Personally, I think this track sounds really good on my equipment.

Dolby Digital Surround EX
Dolby Digital Surround EX tracks are outputted properly by PowerDVD and read properly by the amplifier.

Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are outputted properly by PowerDVD and read properly by the amplifier.

DTS-HD ES
DTS-HD tracks are read by PowerDVD and outputted without downmixing. My amplifier cannot read a DTS-HD track and reads it as DTS-ES Discrete 6.1. Personally, to my ears this tracks sounds best of all tracks I have tried.

DTS-HD Master Audio
S/PDIF doesn't have the bandwidth to handle this track, so all it outputs to my receiver is the DTS 5.1 core track, which my amp up-converts to DTS Neo:6. Sounds good!

DTS-ES Discrete 6.1
DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 tracks are outputted properly by PowerDVD and read properly by the amplifier. Sounds identical in quality and tonal range to DTS-HD on my receiver.

DTS
DTS tracks are read properly and received properly by the amplifier.

Temperatures and Performance

With Resident Evil (Blu Ray) playing for several minutes, temperatures and performance seem to have stabilized. CPU utilization is around 60-70%, but no stutter. Good, smooth playback, even this high. Pentium D, C2D, C2E, or C2Q should have no trouble at all here.

HD DVD's do better. Transformers hovers around 35-40%.

Temperatures: Ambient stays around 40 C, and CPU hovers right around 55 C.

----------------------------------------------

So that's the project, already underway. I will update each phase as I complete it. My hope is that this will be of use to others out there who may want to get some more years of enjoyment out of these wonderful machines.

Thanks for the help you all have already given me, hope I can give a little back.

BW
post #2 of 1126
I applaud your efforts. I, too, am considering this, but I'll have to admit that just purchasing a replacement (to get dual core, etc) sounds tempting as well. My Z system runs hot, and has some quirks, but has been a relatively reliable entertainment center mainstay for the last 3 years or so. I run mine with an HDHomeRun (I went back to antenna due to QAM pixilization issues) - and I upgraded to 1GB of RAM a year or so ago.

I really like the Z for the form factor, but I'd love to do a full MB upgrade to get to a dual core system. Not really feasible with this case, but still.

Good luck with your upgrade. Let us know how it goes...

JR

PS - Saw your post on: http://thegreenbutton.com/forums/thread/212414.aspx
post #3 of 1126
I'd go for 2 gb of ram. Doesn't cost that much more and provides a little more future-proofing.

I'm also looking at replacing my intel 630 with a 650. Where are you finding them, other than ebay?
post #4 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Dove into Newegg today when I got notice that the LG Bluray/HDDVD drive was available. Tightwads raised the price $10! That's OK, though, it's on its way, as is the 650 processor. Should have all this installed and evaluated by the weekend.
post #5 of 1126
You are quite brave, sir. I had the z555 and debated this same course of action with myself. I cave, sold it on CL for $400 and just bought a new system with a touchscreen interface and purple drive. Good luck, though! I applaud your efforts. The z-series did have an incredible design, I just wish it wasn't so darn hot and loud!
post #6 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Apparently one fo the reasons it's so hot is that the side fan that is supposed to evacuate the hot case air... isn't. I put my hand over it and could barely feel any movement. That one's coming out and is being replaced by a harder blowing fan.

One other thing that I've read that people have done is reverse the fan flow. The CPU fan pulls air in through the top vent, and the side fan evacuates it. A coupld of threads I've read have had the fans blowing the opposite way. The posters reported that their systems ran much cooler. I'm going to add temperature readings from MBM to my stats when I perform the next steps.

Derek, I found the Pentium 4 650 processor here. It showed as In Stock when I ordered it, now showing Please Call for availability. Hope that's not a bad sign.

I'll post how it goes, hopefully by Sunday.
post #7 of 1126
Wow! Not a bad price. I've been casually watching ebay for this cpu and auctions are closing near that price for used cpus.

I wonder if they have any left...
post #8 of 1126
I've had the z555 for about a year and a half now and the wife and I have had a love/hate relationship with the thing (fortunately, we're in the love column at the moment, knock on wood...). I've tinkered around inside the the box more that I would have liked, but I've had pretty good success. I bought a refurb from ebay.

I upgraded the ram to 1 gig and noticed some improvement. Getting to the ram slots was a little difficult because you have to remove the CD/DVD module to get to it. Be careful! There is a thin silver band behind the front left corner of the faceplate that feeds information to the display. I didn't notice it and yanked it out of it's slot. I was able to put it back though and it still works fine.

The CD/DVD module started giving me trouble so I swapped it out with a different module from another HP computer in the condo. It fit like a glove and since I never used that Lightscripe business anyway, I have no complaints.

I recently purchased a DVI/HDMI converter cable that I'm using to run the video from the z555 to my Phillips flat screen. It has improved the picture somewhat. I was never very happy with the output from the GeForce, it seems like I was always increasing the brightness, decreasing the constrast, or some other obscure tweak trying to improve the picture. The new cable has helped with picture quality.

I did flip the side fan around from it's original factory setting and that reduced the number of times that the z555 shifted into "jet mode". Boy, that fan is loud! Frankly, I've noticed that the fans don't go into overdrive nearly as much now as they used to. Maybe my karma is improving. I used TweakMCE to change the location of my recorded TV shows and that helped too.

I had to replace the Hauppage TV card within a week of unboxing the machine and I was none too happy about that. I've tried to get over-the-air high def broadcasts, but we must be in a bad spot because I can't get a signal.

I've taken the plunge and ordered a new AV receiver and surround sound speakers to replace the feeble set-up I've got going now. I'm impatiently waiting for delivery next week. Good luck on your project. I'm very interested in hearing how it progresses. Please post often!
post #9 of 1126
Green Button is useless, save for searching topics.

That system is barely faster than mine...

I suggest doing a external 500GB or larger HD as MCE makes for huge files on its highest settings.

I have a 250GB and 500GB drive I run from USB 2.0 without issue, including HD@720p

OTA HD -

Did you look on Antenna Web for your location??? If you have stuff blocking the way, you might have a problem. I use a fairly small Radio Shark surf broad antenna with a small amp. I don't even think the amp is needed and its pointed right at Mount Wilson for those of you in the Los Angeles area , getting any HD channel is not an issue, only the ones from Ventura as they are directly behind me... (as the antenna is mounted indoors)

Might want to look into a VBox 150 HD card. I have one, problem free from day one and cheap ($60)

I have 2GB of RAM and its a bit of overkill, XP SP2 runs MUCH faster on 1GB compared to 512MB, but there is a noticeable improvement with either upgrade.

Look at some XP tweaker guides to get a bit more juice out of your RAM upgrade, but be careful, some are reg hacks...

My four years old system (2.4Ghz non HT) does 720p no problem, a only studders a bit on 1080i.

I'm just trying to figure out if its GPU or CPU limited at this point so I can get smooth 1080i playback.

Blue Ray/HD-DVD Playback -

I'm getting a PS3, so I can't be any help to you there.
post #10 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Well, the CPU, LG HD/BR drive, and SATA controller are all on their way. The CPU should arrive tomorrow. I'm going to start it with the included heat sink/fan and see how that goes. Should have gotten some benchmarks today, but had other stuff going. Only thing I would add would be temperature, but that's not THAT big a deal at this point. Will be when I start changing out the stock fans, though.

Anyone with a z-series DEC have any recommendations as to which aftermarket CPU cooler would (a) be powerful enough to justify buying and (b) fit the case without surgery?

@ John9044,

Yeah, I noticed that connection when I first took it apart. Almost tore it off, myself. I actually do use the LightScribe burning capability, makes attractive "labels" when you do it right. That was actually a plus with the LG drive, since I don't lose that ability.

Thanks as always!

BW
post #11 of 1126
You are a brave man. I sold mine on Craigslist and bought components for a new HTPC including a nice case from OrigenAE and a Core2Duo/Intel 3100 CPU/motherboard. It is infinitely faster than HP, runs cool and silent, and handles Vista MCE and HD video with ease. At some point it's just easier to upgrade, rather than squeezing every last drop of juice from that, uhhh, orange.
post #12 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Well, today I took care of two items on the list.

I received in on Friday the Pentium 4 650 CPU, and installed it today. Installation went without a hitch, with one caveat. The motherboard in the z555 has threded holes for the CPU cooler, and the one that came with the new CPU has the plastic "spreader" pins. So, no go there. I wiped off the stock cooler and applied fresh thermal compound, and reused it. Seems to be working fine.

I also discovered in my parts bin a 512MB stick of Crucial RAM, that just happened to be the exact clock speed of the z555. Cool! Didn't even know I had that one. So I stuck it in one of the empty RAM sockets, and it came right up. So, double the RAM for $0. Yay!

Benchmarks:

PCMark05: 3736
3DMark06: 2130
Passmark: 428.4

Not bad numbers for $90 total outlay, I think.

Also, I received in the Rosewill SATA controller that I'll need for the HD/BD drive, so I went ahead and replaced the wireless network card with that. Drivers went right on no problems, so I'm ready for the drive. According to "Brown" it should arrive tomorrow, so I'll throw that in and get started with testing out my HD DVD's. Don't own any Blu-Rays, so I'll have to rent/borrow/buy one.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

PS @ mattsoft,

You're probably right, but I look at it this way. The fun is in the doing. I could buy a ready made system, but I enjoy getting elbows-deep in my PC, and the satisfaction I derive from a successful project more than makes up for any advantages I would get from simply forking over for a pre-worked solution.

Reading over what I just typed, that may come off as snide, which is not how I intended it. Just trying to convey my thoughts on the buy-it/roll-your-own equation.
post #13 of 1126
Thread Starter 
SUCCESS!!!

I received today the LG GGC-H20L drive. Install went without a hitch. I do have to retract a statement I made in another post about the drive being larger than normal. I was repeating what I had been told, and it turned out to be untrue. The LG drive is exactly the same dimensions as the stock HP DVD drive it replaced.

So. I installed the drive, and immediately threw Transformers (HD DVD) in. It performed the de rigeur download of latest patches, then playback started. Playback is crisp and clean. No stutter, no blurriness, nothing but pristine 1080 output to my Hitachi widescreen.

Audio is incredible. Output from the z555 is via Toslink optical cable. The OEM PowerDVD is set for S/PDIF output, and it lights the "Dolby Pro Logic IIx" on my Pioneer amp. Does this mean that it is outputting Dolby 5.1, or it is upsampling 2.0?

I then decided to give it another test, and threw Serenity (HD DVD) in. Again, beautiful picture and great sound.

We decided to perform the full test tonight, and ran out to Blockbuster. Came home with Apocalypto (Blu-ray) and played that one. Same results. Perfect picture, no stuttering, gorgeous sound.

Hardware acceleration is turned on for the MSI 8500GT card. CPU utilization during playback is between 30-40 percent.

WOOHOO!!!! Dual-format playback capability with perfect output. Can't ask for better than that! HD DVD and Blu-ray both work 100%. Completely happy with this one!

Next steps are to upgrade the case fan and CPU cooler. Any thoughts on anything else I should do? Any reason at this point to upgrade to Vista or the retail version of PowerDVD Ultra?

Thanks as always!

BW
post #14 of 1126
I would recommend retail for power dvd as it adds 5.1 surround sound via spdif, if you system has spdif output.
post #15 of 1126
Thread Starter 
@Skippy911,

Thanks for replying. My system does have S/PDIF (Optical and Coaxial). I am currently hooked to my amp via the optical connection. I'm getting sound during playback through all 6 speakers as it is. My amp says it's getting a surround signal. Is there something I'm misunderstanding about what I'm seeing, or am I really getting 5.1 surround?

Thanks again!

BW
post #16 of 1126
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

SUCCESS!!!

I received today the LG GGC-H20L drive. Install went without a hitch. I do have to retract a statement I made in another post about the drive being larger than normal. I was repeating what I had been told, and it turned out to be untrue. The LG drive is exactly the same dimensions as the stock HP DVD drive it replaced.

So. I installed the drive, and immediately threw Transformers (HD DVD) in. It performed the de rigeur download of latest patches, then playback started. Playback is crisp and clean. No stutter, no blurriness, nothing but pristine 1080 output to my Hitachi widescreen.

Audio is incredible. Output from the z555 is via Toslink optical cable. The OEM PowerDVD is set for S/PDIF output, and it lights the "Dolby Pro Logic IIx" on my Pioneer amp. Does this mean that it is outputting Dolby 5.1, or it is upsampling 2.0?

I then decided to give it another test, and threw Serenity (HD DVD) in. Again, beautiful picture and great sound.

We decided to perform the full test tonight, and ran out to Blockbuster. Came home with Apocalypto (Blu-ray) and played that one. Same results. Perfect picture, no stuttering, gorgeous sound.

Hardware acceleration is turned on for the MSI 8500GT card. CPU utilization during playback is between 30-40 percent.

WOOHOO!!!! Dual-format playback capability with perfect output. Can't ask for better than that! HD DVD and Blu-ray both work 100%. Completely happy with this one!

Next steps are to upgrade the case fan and CPU cooler. Any thoughts on anything else I should do? Any reason at this point to upgrade to Vista or the retail version of PowerDVD Ultra?

Thanks as always!

BW

Congratulations! Man, now that you've had the courage to do this I may follow suite.

Thanks for all the good info! I'm going to order the LG GGC-H20L as an early Xmas gift... to ME!

Cheers!

JR
post #17 of 1126
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

Audio is incredible. Output from the z555 is via Toslink optical cable. The OEM PowerDVD is set for S/PDIF output, and it lights the "Dolby Pro Logic IIx" on my Pioneer amp. Does this mean that it is outputting Dolby 5.1, or it is upsampling 2.0?

I think the fact that your receiver is showing pro logic iix means it is getting a 2.0 signal and converting it to multichannel. That is how my receiver works.

great news about the cpu utilization. That bodes well for my project, however I'm still leaning towards an ati 2600xt.
post #18 of 1126
Great work, I'm also upgrading my Z555, I've upgraded the RAM, PSU, and video card, I decided to use the geForce 8600GT. I also want to upgrade the CPU, does anyone know the reason why the P4 651 won't work with the the MB?
I've also moved the HDD and added a couple of silverstone 92MM case fans to keep everything nice and cool.
post #19 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by noobmodder View Post

Great work, I'm also upgrading my Z555, I've upgraded the RAM, PSU, and video card, I decided to use the geForce 8600GT. I also want to upgrade the CPU, does anyone know the reason why the P4 651 won't work with the the MB?
I've also moved the HDD and added a couple of silverstone 92MM case fans to keep everything nice and cool.

@ noobmodder,

The 6x1 series chips (Cedar Hill) will not work because (a) they are made on the 65nm process instead of the 90nm process, and as such they (b) have different voltage requirements.

You have to use the 6x0 chips. The 650 is the highest that has been confirmed to work, based on my research. The 660 and 670 are not supported by our motherboards.

Where did you put the 92mm case fans, and how did you secure them? My machine still gets quite toasty, and I would love to cool it down. Thanks in advance!

@ Derek,

I changed my input, and now it just shows "Dolby Digital" on the amp. I get 5.1 sound from all speakers. Is it now receiving the 5.1 track, do you think? I thought I had this figured out, but now I'm not sure. Thanks for the help!

BW
post #20 of 1126
Thanks for the info, I replaced the original case fan on the side with a SILVERSTONE FN82 80mm Case Fan. I used stick-on velcro to secure it on the bottom of the case and a little on the side to one of the case's rails. I totally removed the original fan with its housing to make room. The new fan is just small enough to fit and the velcro makes it easy to change its direction. I moved the HDD to the Media Drive slot and I placed the second SILVERSTONE FN82 80mm Case Fan on the tray where the HDD orginally sat since it already had ventilation holes. I have the Case Fans sucking in air and the CPU fan blowing air out of the case. I like to use velcro for fans since you can stick it almost any where and it also acts as a vibration dampener. Right now most of the noise is from the CPU and GPU fans. When I upgrade the CPU I'm going to try using the CNPS8700 anf the Cf700CU fans from Zalman for the CPU and the GPU respectively.
post #21 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Sounds like a good idea, I'll probably go a similar route.

I watched my first HDM movie all the way through last night. "Apocalypto" played through with no stutters or issues. CPU usage stayed stable, no spiking.

The unit was quite warm at the end, but we have it in an enclosed bay (door is open, though). We'll move it to an open shelf in the next couple of days, but I still want to add some better internal cooling.
post #22 of 1126
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

@ Derek,

I changed my input, and now it just shows "Dolby Digital" on the amp. I get 5.1 sound from all speakers. Is it now receiving the 5.1 track, do you think? I thought I had this figured out, but now I'm not sure. Thanks for the help!

BW

Possibly. how do you have pdvd configured?

I have read lots of conflicting reports about whether or not the pdvd that comes with the lg drive can output 5.1. Until I stick the drive in my computer and try it for myself, I won't know if this is true.
post #23 of 1126
looks like someone actually figured out (and shared) how to get dts 5.1 output with the oem version of pdvd:

Quote:


Thank you, you just saved me $99 as I am not going to upgrade to PDVD Retail. The key word was "uncompressed sound". I put in The Fifth Element and this time I selected uncompressed. Yes, SPDIF mixing to 5.1 DTS works fine with the OEM version. Here is how:

1. Before you start playing the movie, make sure you have SPDIF selected. You have to do this each and every time you start the movie [e.g. if you have stopped it to take a break] because PDVD OEM will default it back to 2 Channel.
2. Start playing the movie, and select PCM uncompressed sound.
3. Open Audio Settings and select Enable SPDIF Mixing and Mixing-DTS.

So no need for me to upgrade to retail until they fix their bug, as the OEM is supposed to be 2 Channel

from:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post12471568

I just bought a 3.4 ghz p4 to replace my 3.0 ghz p4. Now I just need a new video card!

Did windows complain and require you to reinstall when you replaced the cpu?
post #24 of 1126
Thread Starter 
@ Derek,

Thanks for the find, I'll give it a try. I know I'm getting DD now, the only thing hooked up is the Toslink, Pro Logic is not on, and all speakers are "speaking."

To answer your question, no, it did not choke on the new processor. I did a wipe and rebuild while the machine was still stock, and upgraded the hardware from there. Haven't had to do another reload since.

For the video card, might I recommend the MSI 8500GT I upgraded to? I don't know it you have a visceral reaction against nVidia, but playback is silky-smooth with this card, and relatively low CPU usage. Granted the ATI might have more performance, but that wouldn't help your playback much. Would help games, though...
post #25 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

looks like someone actually figured out (and shared) how to get dts 5.1 output with the oem version of pdvd:



from:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post12471568

I just bought a 3.4 ghz p4 to replace my 3.0 ghz p4. Now I just need a new video card!

Did windows complain and require you to reinstall when you replaced the cpu?

Well, those instructions must have been written with an earlier version of PowerDVD. I can do everything except step 3. The "Enable S/PDIF" and "Use DTS Mixing" options are greyed out on my installation.

I'll look around. I'm installing the trialware version of AnyDVD HD, we'll see what that does.

EDIT 12/13/07: Oops. OK, the DTS-Mixing option in PowerDVD is greyed out when I play an HD DVD disk. It is available when I put in a Blu-ray disc. Once I check it, the DTS indicator lights on my amp when I have the 5.1 uncompressed audio track selected. Sound quality is the best so far. With HD DVD's, whether I select the 5.1 or 5.1 TrueHD tracks, the best way to get surround output is with Dolby PLIIx. I'm guessing this is a function of the crippled OEM software.

Thanks for the help!

BW
post #26 of 1126
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

@ Derek,

Thanks for the find, I'll give it a try. I know I'm getting DD now, the only thing hooked up is the Toslink, Pro Logic is not on, and all speakers are "speaking."

To answer your question, no, it did not choke on the new processor. I did a wipe and rebuild while the machine was still stock, and upgraded the hardware from there. Haven't had to do another reload since.

For the video card, might I recommend the MSI 8500GT I upgraded to? I don't know it you have a visceral reaction against nVidia, but playback is silky-smooth with this card, and relatively low CPU usage. Granted the ATI might have more performance, but that wouldn't help your playback much. Would help games, though...

Good to know about not having to reinstall. Although I plan on reinstalling mce soon, it would suck if I was forced to do so now.

Nvidia is my first choice (I have used nvidia in my htpc since day 1), but I keep reading that ati will accelerate all hd content in hardware, whereas nvidia doesn't fully accelerate all codecs. I'm still on the fence.

I could care less about games. This machine is our media server for the house.
post #27 of 1126
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

Well, those instructions must have been written with an earlier version of PowerDVD. I can do everything except step 3. The "Enable S/PDIF" and "Use DTS Mixing" options are greyed out on my installation.

I'll look around. I'm installing the trialware version of AnyDVD HD, we'll see what that does.

EDIT 12/13/07: Oops. OK, the DTS-Mixing option in PowerDVD is greyed out when I play an HD DVD disk. It is available when I put in a Blu-ray disc. Once I check it, the DTS indicator lights on my amp when I have the 5.1 uncompressed audio track selected. Sound quality is the best so far. With HD DVD's, whether I select the 5.1 or 5.1 TrueHD tracks, the best way to get surround output is with Dolby PLIIx. I'm guessing this is a function of the crippled OEM software.

Thanks for the help!

BW

Excellent! Looks like the info in the big lg drive thread is mostly correct, but varies on the media source. Strange.

You are supposedly able to upgrade the oem version to full retail with the correct patches. I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Right now I'm holding out for arcsoft. Their player is getting much better reviews than pdvd, and is supposed to integrate with mce. We'll see...
post #28 of 1126
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

Excellent! Looks like the info in the big lg drive thread is mostly correct, but varies on the media source. Strange.

You are supposedly able to upgrade the oem version to full retail with the correct patches. I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Right now I'm holding out for arcsoft. Their player is getting much better reviews than pdvd, and is supposed to integrate with mce. We'll see...

Yeah, it's weird. I checked my HD DVD's, they have either TrueHD, or just DD+ 5.1 or DD 5.1. I don't have the DTS mixing option for any of them, always greyed out. The one Blu-ray I rented I can do it.

Should I be able to set PowerDVD to enable the HD DVD's to downmix to DTS at least? The DTS track on Apocalypto sounded incredibly good, but that was because it had the uncompressed track. The HD DVD's hat have TrueHD I have tried both that and the normal 5.1 track, and none of them give me anything better than DD PLIIx. Which sounds good, but I'd like to get better.

Or I could simply upgrade to the retail version. Or like you wait for ArcSoft. If they ever release it...

What's this upgrade path you speak of?
post #29 of 1126
Really good news, I was going to upgrade, but I think I'll watch and see how it goes for you One note to those that spoke of the loud fans or fan shifting. I had the same issue and here's what I found. The CPU Heat sink compound was bad, I cleaned and replaced it with some top heat conducting silver compound. 2nd there was a 50% CPU trigger of some sort that caused the fans to kick in (could have been the heat created at 50% too)After much checking I found an eronous win32 file consuming Large amounts of CPU. Found it to be a questionable version and removed it... Whala! never any noise now! Quite as you please and a lot cooler. Hope this helps some that haven't checked the thermal compound on the CPU/Heat Sink...
post #30 of 1126
Thread Starter 
It's going great so far, except I think PowerDVD might have broken standard DVD playback. I'm still working on it, but I have my Xbox360 for that if I just have to watch one.

Other than that, I think you're right about the thermal compound. The fresh paste I put on seems to have quieted down my rig as well.

This was a great upgrade, well worth doing. I spent right at $500 to convert a capable but dated HTPC into a dual format player, with HDCP and better gaming capacity to boot. I believe in results, and this project delivered.

BW
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