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Discussion Starter #1
To start off... I'm pretty confused at the moment about where to go with my current PC. I'd like to retire it by converting it into a HTPC with PVR capabilities. Here's the specs:


Shuttle XPC

AMD 2500+ Barton XP

1 GB RAM

250 GB HD


The Shuttle would make a great HTPC IMO. Currently, I have a Geforce 6600 GT 128 MB AGP Card which I absolutely hate since it's got a crazy loud fan. I would like to replace this video card with a fanless AGP card, but I'm not sure which option to go with. Looking at the forums here there's lots of talk about video cards with decoders built in such as the ATI 2400/2600. Sounds like a good start, but after a couple hours of looking around I can't find one that's fanless. I'm also confused on what TV tuner card I should go with. I have HDTV Cable, and would like a PVR card with 2 tuners so I can watch and record at the same time.


So, after all this... here's the questions in my head at this time:


- Does anyone know of a fanless ATI 2400 or 2600 for an AGP board?

- If I don't get a hardware driven decoder, can I just get a standard fanless 6600 or 7600 and then find a PVR card that would make pull up the slack by having the decoders built in as well? Any Suggestions for this setup?

- I'd like to get a PVR card with IR Remote capabilities and a dual-tuner. Card must fit into a PCI slot as that's all I have available... any suggestions?

- I'd like to run Windows XP Pro or Ubuntu, hopefully software is available for this setup?


The fact that I'm looking for a fanless setup is what makes this difficult. But having a quiet HTPC is key for me. Any help you guys can give is always appreciated.


Thanks!
 

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You don't need much of a video card for SD, a fanless Nvidia 6200 would actually work. If you want to do HDTV, your current 6600GT or the 7600 is a good choice and the only reason to go higher to something such as the ATI 2600 is to watch Bluray/HD-DVD. The memory bandwidth is key for being able to deinterlace 1080i HDTV. Make sure the card you choose has a 128-bit memory bus.


What kind of tuner are you looking for (HD/SD)? A good dual tuner (1 HD, 1 SD) is the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600. I think the best dual SD tuner was the Nvidia DualTV, which is no longer made but you can find used. Be aware that tuner cards do generate some heat, so you may want to consider external USB tuners or the HDHomerun (a dual HD network based tuner).
 

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If you don't need any HD acceleration it should be easy enough to replace the cooler on your 6600GT, no? There should be at least a few aftermarket coolers that would not require a fan (though would take up a lot of space as these are fairly large coolers). I'm sure Zalman makes such a heatsink for your card. These usually still get the GPU pretty hot under high load but if airflow is sufficient it shouldn't overheat. Plus if you never use any 3D applications (i.e. games) it'll never get very hot anyway and the fanless heatsink solution will be fine I'm sure. Alternately a very quiet aftermarket cooler with a fan (like an Arctic Cooling unit) would fit the bill as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Excellent! Thanks for the tips!


I looked into Zalman coolers for my existing card, and it doesn't look like they make a fanless solution for the 6600 GT AGP. In fact, most of their cards explicitly say they're compatible with everything except the 6600 AGP Series. I've emailed Zalman customer service for suggestions. I looked at Arctic Cooling, and have to take some better measurements as their options are huge in comparison, but it might work, yet it'll be a tight fit in the Small-Form-Factor case.



I'm looking for a HD-PVR, 1080i or 1080p compatible. One that I can use as a tuner would also be excellent, then I can rip-out my current HDTV Tuner box and have 1 less thing hooked up to my TV. Blu-ray/HD-DVD playback is not important at this time. I looked into the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600, and it looks good. I have a couple questions though for people that have used this card before:

- How "Media Center" friendly is this card if I'm using XP Pro or a Linux/MythTV setup? Is the packaged software any good for this purpose?

- Any experience using this card with Linux/MythTV? A "beta" linux driver is available from 3rd party suppliers... just looking for some opinions here.



Thanks in advance for all the tips, I'll let you know how my fanless cooler hunt works out....
 

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mod and old cpu heatsink with a quiet fan

a 6600 gt seems to take about 60 watts on load so a Thunderbird class heatsink and fan ought to do.
 
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