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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was planning to build a sweet HTPC with all new components, but lack of work has changed that. SO! My goal is to make a cheap HTPC for now out of what I have: 3Ghz processor, 2GB Ram, older AGP mobo, silverstone case.


I just want to play movies, doesn't have to handle HD although that would be nice, and needs to output 5.1 sound.


I have looked at a few cards for AGP, but the reviews are frightfully mixed. Any recommendations on a decent AGP video card that will output a decent resolution? Like to stay around $50 if I can.


*HDTV versus S-Video - what is the difference when a video card says it outputs one of these? They both look the same, and HDTV output also does S-Video . . . is it just marketing, or is a video card with HDTV output better?


For audio card, need a card that can output coaxial or optical, have to run it to my reciever. Looked at Bluegears, but pretty expensive . . turtle beach has some cheap cards, but are they any good?


Any advice appreciated!
 

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Actually,


I just helped a buddy of mine build an HTPC to play blu rays on an old AGP system with a P4 2.8Ghz. We didn't use an AGP card - we used a PCI card!

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814187041


It's based on the latest Nvidia G98 chips and decodes H.264 and VC1 well. It's the only PCI card that can do this, I think. It lets you take an old PC and make it run Windows 7 Aero well, blu-ray, VDPAU on linux, and CUDA accelerated apps. Pretty neat for a cheapo card that's passively cooled too.


I just hope you have extra PCI slots!
 

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btw, make sure you get 8400 GS cards with the clock speed at 567MHz. The slower speed indicates the older 8400 GS that does not do the VP3 level PureVideo decoding. The newegg item i linked is the G98. There is another card on there with more RAM but it's the older 8400 GS. Don't get that one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
For some reason your link didn't work leonowski, and I couldn't find the name of the card you were referencing!


Wouldn't an AGP card be better than a PCI though?


renethx, thanks for the recommendations! That Diamond XS71 looks great, and really inexpensive!! The ASUS video card looks good, but pretty pricey . . . would something like


PNY VCG62256AEB GeForce 6200 256MB 64-bit GDDR2 AGP 4X/8X


or


Nvidia Geforce 6600GT 6600 GT 512MB AGP


be decent choices?


I have heard that you can get a DVI converter cable for some cards, but probably not the best way to go. I just need to get component out, that would be nice.


Appreciate the suggestions and advice!
 

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Stay away from GeForce 6xxx/7xxx cards. These cards lack hardware decode acceleration for 1080p contents.


There are not many choices of good AGP cards. Look here . NVIDIA does not make AGP versions of the current GPUs. HD 3450 is great for 1080p contents, but weak in video post-processing (for example, deinterlacing is weak in case you watch TV in PC). HD 3650 is the best video playback card. ASUS HD 3650 includes a component video breakout cable. You may need something like HDFury2 if the card does not have a 7-pin mini-DIN connector (supporting composite/S-/component video).
 

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you didn't provide any info on your cpu, but honestly it may be cheaper to buy a new motherboard with onboard video and spdif output.


I have an agp 7600gs that will play hd mpeg2 no problem, but it was about $150 new. I don't even see it anymore.


mpeg4 hd (i.e. blu-ray) stuff is out of the question unless you buy a newer pci (not pci-e) video card.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. /forum/post/17018768


honestly it may be cheaper to buy a new motherboard with onboard video and spdif output.

Unfortunately there is no onboard video that supports component video or even S-video. You have to buy a discrete graphics card anyway if you want component video, and DDR2 (or DDR3) memory too, as well as CPU and mb.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. /forum/post/17018768


mpeg4 hd (i.e. blu-ray) stuff is out of the question unless you buy a newer pci (not pci-e) video card.
Blu-ray is no problem with the ASUS AH3650 AGP card and a single-core processor. Read the article Good Times with Blu-ray on AGP and an Athlon 64 and Newegg customer reviews .
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/17018834


Unfortunately there is no onboard video that supports component video or even S-video. You have to buy a discrete graphics card anyway if you want component video, and DDR2 (or DDR3) memory too, as well as CPU and mb.

very good point. I missed that requirement.

Quote:
Blu-ray is no problem with the ASUS AH3650 AGP card and a single-core processor. Read the article Good Times with Blu-ray on AGP and an Athlon 64 and Newegg customer reviews .

sorry. I meant with nvidia hardware. I couldn't find an apg 8x00/9x00 video card. pci 8400 and 9500 boards are available, though.
 

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Last I checked, Nvidia dropped HWA support with the 8XXX series cards for XP. Judgin by your specs, it would be most likely you are using XP, correct?


ATI does a great job with AGP and you can get an HD2600 or HD3650. The 3650 is basically a smaller die, cooler clone of the HD2600. It decodes very well and will hold its own game from 2006 and back. It can play crysis at low settings. I just installed an AGP HD 3650 in my friends dell witha 3.0 P4 and it played Grid (2008) just perfect.'


HD playback will be just fine.


The 5.1 can be achieved one of 3 ways. Analog, digital and hdmi pass through. The latter is the trickiest. You could pick up an optical sound card and send it out to a system if you have one. But do not discount analog out. I have my Bd system sending decoding DTS-MA out to my reciever via 5.1 analog out. It does a great job and sounds just as good as my DV-HD805. Analog also gives you more control on what you are sending out as well. It is true that you will get some signal loss theoretically, but not so much over a distance of 18"-3'.


The HD2600 does have component out. It is an adapter that fits into the s-video slot. My old one has one.


Here is a posst where someone did it.

http://www.avforums.com/forums/graph...component.html


I believe the one that I used was an HD2600XT PCI-E. It is available in AGP as well.


You can clearly see the component in this picture of a 4650

HD 4650 from newegg


That being said, you don't need to spend $80. Search around and you can probably find one for cheaper. Even ebay might work. Try to make sure they include the cable for the HD TV. I did a search on ebay and found one for less than $10 (the cable itself). I imagine you can pick up a 2600 for about $30-40 on ebay that will work just fine.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectron /forum/post/17018324


For some reason your link didn't work leonowski, and I couldn't find the name of the card you were referencing!


Wouldn't an AGP card be better than a PCI though?

Go to newegg.com and search for item N82E16814187041


With your specific use (HTPC), this particular PCI card is better than most AGP offerings. It's a G98 Nvidia chip with third gen PureVideo HD with complete hardware decoding for all blu-ray video codecs. I don't think an AGP card exists that does this all.


It's also really cheap.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonowski /forum/post/17020914


Go to newegg.com and search for item N82E16814187041


With your specific use (HTPC), this particular PCI card is better than most AGP offerings. It's a G98 Nvidia chip with third gen PureVideo HD with complete hardware decoding for all blu-ray video codecs. I don't think an AGP card exists that does this all.


It's also really cheap.

I would beg to differ. An 8400 isn't going to decode better than an AGP 4650. Perhaps you don't understand that AGP has 4-8x the bandwidth of PCI. It isn't about the bandwidth as much as it is about the decoding capabilities. Depending on the OS, ATI usually decodes better than Nvidia for AVC. furthermore, ATI allows hdmi sound pass through if he ever decides to upgrade down the road. All in all, I suggest that the HD X6XX series is the best fit for his needs. I used to be an nvidia loyalist, but I have begun using both in my 10 systems in the house today as well as the 30 PCs that we have at work.


Both are great, but I think you will find that ATI has the edge on video decoding while nvidia has the edge on FPS on certain games. All in all, they are pretty close.


Furthermore, no GPU offers full decoding of AVC or any other codec. The CPU is still always involved. It is a question of how much is offloaded to the card and how involved the CPU needs to be. If what you are saying was the case, a P II 266 could run bluray without problems. Realistically, you need something in the lines of 2.0 Ghz or stronger with the best HWA GPUs out there. There are exceptions, but for the most part the CPU is still important.


That being said, your 3.0GHZ system can already decode Mpeg2 and VC1 in 1080p. AVC will play, but it will be a little choppy. You just need a little more to put it over the edge.


It really doesn't matter which card... it matter which chipset. There are subtle differencs in the card layouts and cooling systems, but an HIS 2600 is not going to vary too much from an MSI 2600 and so on. It is still the same chipset and will use the same ATI drivers. I would still go with a more quality brand like Sapphire, MSI or similar.


So what exactly connection are you using. Reading the posts, you talk about S-video. S-Video is not HD TV and cannot carry more than 480i. Your TV needs component, vga, dvi or hdmi to carry 480p and up. furthermore, your TV needs to be able to process it. I have had CRT 480i with component ins... it doesn't mean it can do HD.


If your TV is s-video, composity coaxial only, the max you can do is 480i.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmarchini /forum/post/17021373


I would beg to differ. An 8400 isn't going to decode better than an AGP 4650. Perhaps you don't understand that AGP has 4-8x the bandwidth of PCI. It isn't about the bandwidth as much as it is about the decoding capabilities. Depending on the OS, ATI usually decodes better than Nvidia for AVC. furthermore, ATI allows hdmi sound pass through if he ever decides to upgrade down the road. All in all, I suggest that the HD X6XX series is the best fit for his needs. I used to be an nvidia loyalist, but I have begun using both in my 10 systems in the house today as well as the 30 PCs that we have at work.


Both are great, but I think you will find that ATI has the edge on video decoding while nvidia has the edge on FPS on certain games. All in all, they are pretty close.


Furthermore, no GPU offers full decoding of AVC or any other codec. The CPU is still always involved. It is a question of how much is offloaded to the card and how involved the CPU needs to be. If what you are saying was the case, a P II 266 could run bluray without problems. Realistically, you need something in the lines of 2.0 Ghz or stronger with the best HWA GPUs out there. There are exceptions, but for the most part the CPU is still important.


That being said, your 3.0GHZ system can already decode Mpeg2 and VC1 in 1080p. AVC will play, but it will be a little choppy. You just need a little more to put it over the edge.


It really doesn't matter which card... it matter which chipset. There are subtle differencs in the card layouts and cooling systems, but an HIS 2600 is not going to vary too much from an MSI 2600 and so on. It is still the same chipset and will use the same ATI drivers. I would still go with a more quality brand like Sapphire, MSI or similar.


So what exactly connection are you using. Reading the posts, you talk about S-video. S-Video is not HD TV and cannot carry more than 480i. Your TV needs component, vga, dvi or hdmi to carry 480p and up. furthermore, your TV needs to be able to process it. I have had CRT 480i with component ins... it doesn't mean it can do HD.

I too had my doubts. Try the card for yourself. It works wonders.


The last piece of the puzzle was Nvidia including full VC1 acceleration on the G98 with the entropy decoder.


AGP/PCI difference is irrelevant when it comes to the bandwidth we are talking about. This card can decode VC1 and H264 just as well as the ATI card.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonowski /forum/post/17021504


I too had my doubts. Try the card for yourself. It works wonders.


The last piece of the puzzle was Nvidia including full VC1 acceleration on the G98 with the entropy decoder.


AGP/PCI difference is irrelevant when it comes to the bandwidth we are talking about. This card can decode VC1 and H264 just as well as the ATI card.

It fully accelerates... doesn't fully decode. There is a difference. We both know what we are talking about; I just didn't want the new guy to get the wrong idea. There still is a CPU hit... just not nearly as dramatic. My P4 2.8 on my old dell used to go from about 60-80% playing back my HD DVDs to about 30%. Still has some of a hit. Granted my X2 5K doesn't have much of a hit with it on and only about 40-50% with it off unless it is a high bitrate scene which doesn't happen all that much through most features.


If he has an AGP slot, I would recommend he use AGP. If his application is HTPC use, he may need those other PCI slots for other devices such as sound card, tv tuner (s) etc. There really isn't much else that goes in the AGP slot so you are in essence wasting a pci slot.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by leonowski /forum/post/17020914


Go to newegg.com and search for item N82E16814187041


With your specific use (HTPC), this particular PCI card is better than most AGP offerings. It's a G98 Nvidia chip with third gen PureVideo HD with complete hardware decoding for all blu-ray video codecs. I don't think an AGP card exists that does this all.

What are you talking about?
Radeon HD 3xxx/4xxx AGP supports hardware decode acceleration for H.264 and VC-1 (as well as MPEG-2) fine (in all modes VLD, iDCT, Moton Compensation, Deblocking). And how is this PCI card better than HD 3650? HD video decoding is just one aspect of the video playback in HTPC. Deinterlacing and other post-processing are very poor in 8400 GS (because of the lack of sufficient stream processors [only 8, even smaller than 16 of the 9300/9400 IGP]).


From Good Times with Blu-ray on AGP and an Athlon 64 :


- AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2GHz (single core)

- ATI 3650 512MB AGP

- Windows XP

- Cyberlink PowerDVD 8 Ultra


27 Dresses - 20th Century Fox - AVC @34 Mbps


The Orphanage - New Line Home Entertainment - VC-1 @27.9 Mbps




 
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