One of my two HTPC systems is primarily an audio test computer; it uses a 600 MHz SLOT A Athlon with a early ASUS MB with the AMD chipset; it has an ISA slot, which is why it is used for Audio Test with an Audiomatica CLIO board.
It is equipped with a Radeon 64 DDR board (it was in stock in Best Buy that day), and a Philips Acoustic Edge sound card.
I'm currently using the Ravisent Cineplayer 4 DVD player software; it has slightly better picture quality than the ATI player, and some disks which the ATI wouldn't read (Mission to Mars, for example), read and play just fine on this player. Normal use is full screen DVD scaled to 1280X720. Plenty of horsepower for this application, and currently this is the most stutter and glitch free player I have put together, considering it's received no system tweaking (the others, ATI and WINDVD, settled down after some system tweaks). This system has overall better performance than my other HTPC, a 900 MHz Athlon with MAudio 24/96 cards, a Radeon 32MB DDR board, running the ATI player. Difference is the player software, I think.
All my HTPC systems run WIN98SE; only desktops are running WIN2K and XP.
Now, a caveat- many other users report problems with the Cineplayer 4.0; audio sync issues, stuttering, etc. This hasn't happend on my system- it's been essentially flawless.
The Ravisent player is only available from their web site, and it is copy protected, with a product activation scheme similar to Windows XP. I've run into this "innovation" with several pieces of new software; I'm starting to find that quite irritating. The previous generation of Ravisent code are the codecs/filters for Matrox and ATI players.
I'm waiting for availability of the Theater Tek player to evaluate it on my other HTPC system, which is a 900 MHz Athlon, on an ABIT KT7 MB. This may be the ultimate way to go, though we're hearing good things about PowerDVD 4.0, which is good, since I've setup several friends with it. (It's robust and less glitchy than the ATI player, but older versions couldn't match ATI for picture quality.)
Bottom line- a 600 MHz Athlon can make a very good DVD player with the right supporting components.
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