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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting frustrated here and tempted to just send this 4830 back. I built a htpc out of spare parts trying to keep the costs down as much as possible, but it's not going as easy as it should.


Primary

ASUS A8n-sli premium

opteron 170

2x1GB DDR

Vista Ultimate

BFG 8800GTS 512


HTPC

ECS RS480-M

AMD 3700+

2x1GB DDR

Vista Ultimate

Saphire 4830


First problem I ran in to with the 4830 is that apparently there's a compatibility problem with hdmi audio and the older ATI x200 chipset that my motherboard has. So while I figured the ATI video card should work best with a motherboard using an ATI chipset, that wasn't the case. The cpu would max out at 100% bringing the system to an absolute crawl and after an annoying amount of research I found out that the only way to make the two work together is to disable HD Audio in device manager and give up on hdmi audio.


I found the easiest and by far most effective way for me to get HA working on my primary (nvidia) system is to just install Haali, AC3 and the standalone MPCVideoDec.ax codec. I can then use media center or wmp with no problem and get full HA on all of the .mkv's I have or come across.


Using the same method of codecs on the htpc I can only get about 1/4 of my movies to play with any HA and if the movie is 1080p without HA it's not feasible on that system. I bought the 4830 for that reason to replace a 7800GT. One of my movies, Saving Private Ryan, plays on the 4830 with HA but it has terrible artifacts and flashing spots. If I play the same movie in the full MPC-HC program it plays fine, but I don't want to use MPC. It plays fine on my primary system with just the codec and wmp or mce.


I suspect the standalone MPCVideoDec.ax codec doesn't play as well with ATI cards as it does Nvidia, but it works so well with my 8800gts and is so easy to use that I hate to have to switch over to something more complicated, not to mention the hours of research it takes every time you switch methods.


Anyone have any insight in to this problem? I would have just moved the 8800 over to the htpc and got something else for my primary, but there's not much sense in upgrading right now especially with what i've got. I guess I could just swap the 2 cards between systems, but the 8800gts is a big card in my small htpc case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Updating the last thing, I got an older version of the ATI driver 8.09 and was able to get HA on a few more of my MKV's, but still had plenty that didn't and wouldn't run smooth on my otherwise older system.


I also decided to try out the public beta of Windows 7 on my htpc. At some point early on in the install my cpu fan kicked up really high and loud and I thought the cooler must have come loose on the cpu or something, it didn't make sense. At that point I didn't want to abort the install and the mobo was set to shut off the system if cpu temp gets too high so whatever. Turns out the conflict between the ati video card and ati chipset put the cpu to 100% early on in the Windows 7 install and dragged the system down to a crawl. I let the install finish, took well over an hour, until I could get to the point of disabling HD Audio in device manager. After doing that the cpu fan slowed down and the system sped up enormously.


I then got the ATI WIN7 beta drivers and installed Haali, AC3, registered MPCVideoDec.ax and associated MKV with wmp12. Nothing seemed to change with the files that would HA and those that wouldn't so I decided to go down to Fry's and come up with a better solution. I got a bottom of the barrel, cheap, weak 9500GT plugged it in, used the Nvidia drivers available from Windows Update and tried the MKV files again. Bam, everything I have plays at 25% CPU or less now and is plenty smooth. I don't seem to get the under 10% cpu I had with Vista, but that's ok as long as it runs smooth. The 9500GT is smaller, cooler, doesn't require an additional power plug and just works. Of course, everything can't be that easy and it wasn't. I lost sound.


My setup is DVI out from the video card to HDMI in on the tv and 3.5mm audio from sound card to tv. There are 3 HDMI, 1 VGA and 1 3.5mm input on the tv (LG PG20). The 3.5mm audio port is shared across all of those inputs but it apparently auto enables or disables based on whether there is an audio signal over hdmi or not. The 9500GT apparently is designed to pass audio through the HDMI even though it has no audio processor or anything on it, and there's no easy on-off switch for the feature. So the TV is receiving a signal that says audio is coming through the HDMI and it disables the 3.5mm jack. The solution is to plug in an spdif jumper from the sound card to the video card creating a bridge between the 2, but the manufacturers of most of these cards that use this feature usually don't include the spdif cable that you need and I don't think it's a very common wire, at least not in the box of spare parts and jumpers I've acquired over the years. I tried to make my own wire by cutting up an old cdrom spdif wire and it works, but I guess I'll break down and go buy a new one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok last one. I tried to get sound working right on the 9500GT through spdif and kept getting popping sounds and inconsistent sound. It may have been because I made my own wire or because the Realtek onboard sound or driver was no good with Windows 7, but I had to get analog sound working through the 3.5mm plug and that was much more difficult than it should have been. After researching I found the solution done by others to edit the Nvidia drivers to treat the hdmi out from the video card as a straight DVI connection with no audio so that my tv wouldn't expect audio through hdmi. Now everything is working awesome.


Windows 7 really is a good OS already and it's got a ways to go before it's complete. 7MC is definitely improved over VMC and even recognizes and catagorizes mkv files under the movie tab making the need for MyMovies or other movie plugins somewhat obsolete. There is a nice monitor calibration utility in W7 that helps set contrast, brightness, color, gamma and even TrueType font settings to look their best on your monitor. In my case a 50" 720p plasma and windows has never looked better on my tv, it's very nice on the eyes and so sharp.


Now it's time to finally enjoy the fruits and sit down and watch some movies. Only problem is sometimes I have more fun getting things to work than actually using them.


Thanks for the outpouring of help on this project!
 
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