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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was given the remnants of an old PC, and I am considering using it for an HTPC. The mobo is a ASUS p5ad2-e premium with a single core intel p4 running at 3.4 Ghz, with 2.5GB of DDR2 RAM. I have installed win7 pro as an OS, and it has an 80GB IDE HD housing the OS. Currently I have an old crappy video card in it, and it's rough enough that when I try to view full-screen video on my 20" LCD monitor, I get a BSOD on the execution of the screen expand. I also recently added a 1TB SATA WD green edition drive (64 MB cache), primarily as a means to house backups for other machines I have in my home network, although it will also now be the central store for all my media files.


Since this is an "extra" machine, and it seems to have decent horsepower in it, I was thinking about using this as a starter HTPC and media hub. I've also looked at using a cheap XFS Radeon 4350 card to help out with the graphics work. I selected this partly because of a severely limited budget, and I'm also constrained by needing to use component input on my TV (it's an old Sony kdp-65xbr2 RPTV, but it still works great), and this card has the 9 pin S-video port which will support component out . My concern is being able to play back both DVD's and possibly blueray in the future, through the component dongle attached to this port. My only other machine I can hook up with the component dongle (which came in my pile of used PC parts) is my wife's work laptop (older dell Inspirion), and it shuts off the output to the TV on DVD playback. Except for the inability to play DVD back on the TV screen, I was impressed by the screen clarity I was able to get through the component connection on a 65" TV. I'm not sure how DRM plays into feeding out copyrighted material from the PC to TV connections, or if this is related to the laptop's limitations. Should any decent modern card like the 4350 be able to stream HD upconverted output from both physical DVD's and ripped movie files? Is the age/speed of the rest of the system going to keep me from having a workable setup?


TIA, this forum has been a tremendous resource for learning about how to build my HT so far!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks etheesdad. I also found out a friend has a GeForce 8800GTS card he isn't using and I could use that instead. Any significant improvement of one card over the other for HTPC applications? I won't be doing any gaming, this will be solely a storage server and media player/recorder. My TV also only supports 720p/1080i, so 1080p will never be required of this either.


Am I correct in also assuming that DVD playback over the component out should be no issue then? What software should I be considering, and are there suitable free solutions, or will I need to buy something (hopefully cheap)?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by C T Riopelle /forum/post/18188302


Thanks etheesdad. I also found out a friend has a GeForce 8800GTS card he isn't using and I could use that instead.

LOL
thats a BEAST of a card for an HTPC!

Quote:
Originally Posted by C T Riopelle /forum/post/18188302


Am I correct in also assuming that DVD playback over the component out should be no issue then? What software should I be considering, and are there suitable free solutions, or will I need to buy something (hopefully cheap)?

w7 has its own mpeg2 codecs, so no issue there. u can use 7MC, or Mediaportal or whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks again.


Also found out my friend has an HDTV tuner card he'd sell me, giving me DVR capability. Would having just a single CPU start to bog me down if I start doing recordings? Would the GeForce card upgrade help with this activity, or is it's extra HP mainly going to help with gamer specific issues? I'm also a bit concerned with heat/noise as the CPU already runs hot in this box (typically over 60C) and my ventilation in the available HT setup area isn't all that great.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by C T Riopelle /forum/post/18190358


Thanks again.


Also found out my friend has an HDTV tuner card he'd sell me, giving me DVR capability. Would having just a single CPU start to bog me down if I start doing recordings? Would the GeForce card upgrade help with this activity, or is it's extra HP mainly going to help with gamer specific issues? I'm also a bit concerned with heat/noise as the CPU already runs hot in this box (typically over 60C) and my ventilation in the available HT setup area isn't all that great.

If the tuner card has dedicated hardware encoders, then it won't be too much overhead (other then the I/O stream to the hard drive and the scheduling of changing channels and start/stop recording).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fallen Kell /forum/post/18190855


If the tuner card has dedicated hardware encoders, then it won't be too much overhead (other then the I/O stream to the hard drive and the scheduling of changing channels and start/stop recording).

You bring up an interesting point there, as the mobo in this thing only supports SATA 1 standards. Will the data transfer limitations of SATA1 prevent me from keeping up recording with HD datastreams?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18190938


Recording is not a cpu intensive task.


You have plenty of grunt there to run tuners

Depends on the tuner and what type of material you're recording. If recording from digital sources (e.g. ATSC, QAM), then yes, it's not CPU intensive. If recording from analog (e.g. NTSC), unless the tuner card already has a built-in hardware encoder, you're going to use up CPU cycles to encode the video albeit, a PIV 3.4GHz should be able to handle that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As I already have 2 D* DVR's in the house (one HD and one SD), the HTPC would most likely just be used for recording of OTA HD stuff that I'd like to archive permanently. Since I have satellite and my only cable service is my internet connection (via Charter), I'm pretty sure my cable feed doesn't have any programming available anyway. Good to know the good stuff is less processor intensive than the old signals were.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Did another search for video cards and today another $40 card popped up. This one is a Radeon HD 3650 1GB 128-bit DDR2 (powercolor), which has 2x the memory and 2x the memory interface of the HD 4350 I was originally looking at. It appears to me that graphics cards aren't series numbered such that bigger numbers are necessarily more powerful than smaller numbers, so I'm not sure with one of these will be "more adequate" or have more staying power for me. Neither has HDMI out, but since my HDTV only supports component (any my entertainment center is built-in around my beast of a TV so it's not going anywhere anytime soon), that seems to be of little consequence to me.


Effectively, what does a more powerful GPU get me in an HTPC? Are there any typical applications where I will want significant horsepower if I want to be able to expand my capabilities beyond simple playback and record?


Sorry to keep asking such fundamental questions, but over the past 2 years or so I have really lost touch with HT technology, and haven't researched HTPC stuff in that time either. There's just so much catch up to do if I want to do things right!
 

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i have a AGP version of the 3650 in a htpc, and it works fine (bluray no problem).


some video cards , such as the 3650 i bought, have system requirements (power supply size for example). Be sure to check the requirements of the card you decide to purchase and make sure your system is adequate.


In my case, i ended up putting in a larger power supply (i was converting an old dell 4600 to a htpc).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, my decisions for cheapo power supplies made an easy choice for me on what video card to ultimately use. The GeForce 8800 I wanted to test drive requires the 6 pin PCIE power input, and I don't have any way to supply that. Got the XFX 4350 on sale at newegg, and it should be here next week.


I'm a little nervous about it being a passively cooled card, since the CPU generally runs so hot in my setup. Unless I leave the box open to the elements, the CPU is running up near 70C when it gets a good loading. I'm hoping a beefier GPU helps a bit there, but I still don't want the box to get too hot inside with my 1TB main network storage drive being housed in it. Maybe I'll end up using the free external drive dock that came with the drive if I get too paranoid.


Hopefully I can get things up and running and I'll check back in when I need the inevitable next step assistance...
 
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