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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, I'm a newly employed sysadmin and I in about six months or so I think I can save up for a Home theater setup. I can manage to save up to about $8k or so and I need some feedback to see if the things I want is feasible. First off I won't be able to have enough money for everything I want but I'm looking for a tri monitor home theater setup. I want to play games on the main monitor (I'm thinking about plasma for main one) with the other two monitors which can be regular 19 inch crts with the possibility of upgrading to two more plasmas if I continue with bachelorhood.


i dont want to use the matrox cards available but instead I want a all in wonder ati 9800 pro for the main monitor (i want to be able to play hl2 with decent speed). so how would I go about setting up the other two monitors?


Also im looking to have digital cable, pvr and sound for all three monitors.

That means I have to have 2 more tv tuner cards right? or is there another way? also would that mean two more sound cards? or is there a adaptor that I can use which hooks up all three cords than splits it to one to my sound card. would that mean i need to get two different brand of tv tuner cards?


any insight is appreciated.


park
 

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A comment and a question.


First, I may be dense here, but what's the point of a tri-monitor setup?


Second, plama isn't the ulimate home monitor. Front projection is.
 

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Park, there are separate forums for each type of HD set, and you'll get some good information there. I prefer plasmas, but there are great plasmas and bad plasmas, and you need to know which ones stand out. The same thing with DLP or front projection or anything else--each type has outstanding units and bad ones. Even if you think you've established what the 'best' technology is, if you don't get the right set, you'll still be disappointed.
 

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regardless if a tri-display setup is a good idea, at a budget of 8k i wouldn't be messing with 3 screens. unless of course you only want to spend like $500 of that on audio.


-how much do you want to spend on audio?

-are you planning on a htpc? if so, is that part of your 8k budget?

-do you have any gear now?

-do you want 5.1? 7.1?


answers to these questions will help us help you out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
first off thank you for the help fellas. ok now to get more specific.


in regard to salmoneous's post I have a dual monitor setup right now and i use the second monitor mainly for watching tv. the third one will be for putting all my secondary programs on like music player, outlook, trillian and a few other things. I like well lighted areas around my place and I also like the space saving form of the plasma screens.


in regard to billharris, i prefer plasma right now and am shooting for them as a stopgap item until oled flat hdtv monitors come out. Once it does come out I will probably give the monitor as a gift to my folks on their birthdays. (their birthdays are jan 16 and 17!) I definitely will do my shopping and search around this forum when the time to buy the screen comes.


I will be using most of my original equipment and the system specs are:

2100+ amd (1.31 ghz) on asus mobo running frontside at 333 with 768megs ram with dvd, ati 9700 pro, cd burner and the sound card is a sb audigy gamer. ide 7500 hd 50gigs. My speakers blow right now though so I use $30 headphones.


I currently have 2 19 inch monitors so I am looking for one main plasma screen.


Speakerwise I will be getting the logitech 5.1 z680 (cheapest is $273 at pricegrabber) and if i need to buy two more sound cards, I think my total audio budget will be anywhere from $273 to $1000 at most.



I am guessing htpc stands for home theater pc so the answer to that one is yes. I think trying to get the 3 pvrs going and also the upgrades to the current system as it stands right now will be the most expensive part of the project besides the plasma screen. I am shooting for a full tower case and going for a athlon fx or reg 64 mobo (maybe opteron if I can squeeze that in the budget) with 4 hds and three hotswappable sata drive bays (i havent seen any on the web yet) the 3 hds will be for pvr recording of course.


yes i am crazy but than again Im not into cars and this is what I choose to spend my money on. ( no dating for awhile, I got off a bad relationship) plus its nice to entertain the gang.


thanks again guys.


park
 

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Dude, that setup is going to be so complicated your house is going to like the cockpit of the space shuttle! You can do EVERYTHING on one screen. Check out my rig:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0&pagenumber=1


Also, aren't there severe restrictions on resolution when you have multiple monitors on one PC? You're going to have wire together a PC for each monitor to get decent performance. There is a program called WidevieW that will do this.
 

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You can run each monitor at independent resolutions off one PC - I have 2 LCDs in portrait mode and 1 CRT in landscape on my main PC. I hooked up another CRT (for 4 monitors total) to set it up properly (Nvidia DualView gets confused at first) and it was pretty cool.


I agree with chris5977 though - you're not going to get good enough performance off a single PC - best to run separate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hmm u guys r right about performance. if all three pvrs are running at the same time, i dont know if even a dual processor opteron can handle the encoding processes, not to mention if other programs were running. the thing is though if that were the case, couldnt I get some mpeg hardware? actually with two of them tivos I guess most of the workload will be off the cpu. which would mean I could do with one hotswappable drive bay which isn't bad. With most soundcards included with the mobo nowadays (plus a ethernet) and with some of the posts I saw in other areas of avs I'm coming to the following conclusion about whats needed and the setup:


most mobos support up to 4 devices which means that the cd burner, dvd drive, and two hard drives (one being hotswappable) will be my limit in which case I will have to get two tivos. this should also help out on the performance issue.


I will need two more sound cards, two tv tuners, and one all in wonder pro along with my 9700 pro which will max out my expansion slots.


a good switch.


So get the speakers, put it into some sort of switch which is connected to all three sound cards (one of them being onboard mobo sound) which is hooked up to two tivos and one pvr.


so the problems are performance and setting up the monitor.


with music running, tv running and recording, chat client up, outlook up I am getting cpu usage at 45-90's% with my current system. When downloading its at 100% cpu usage. Its still not bad to browse while all this is going on! So with a dual opteron 2.2 ghz I believe the performance will be fine! The trouble with that though is wether or not they make pci express expansion slots with that one I think. If not a athlon fx 64 chip could give me acceptable performance. (i'll go intel if they cook something up better than the p4ee, the amd 64 chips have been getting better framerates for some games.)


so if I wanted to play hl2 or doom I can just disable the extra two monitors. the thing though is what sort of switch (audio switch only?) do I need to get? (preferrably one that will let me do all the above plus give me three extra to play around with which I can hook up game consoles to in case I really wanted to bleed money later)


it looks like I can stay within my budget. trouble is how do I get the monitors to work?


park... dreamin away...!



(thank you once again guys)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
screw it. I'll go matrox. that part is too much of a headache. what sort of switch do I need to get?
 

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Here is another option, especially if you want to have multiple PVRs running at once.
http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/

This software lets you use one mouse and keyboard to run multiple PC's. It doesnt matter what OS they are running, or what software is on each, it lets you just move your mouse off the edge of one screen and onto another. I have used it a little and it is very seamless operation. This would give you the power of having it function like one PC, but it would be 2 or 3 machines, each doing its own task. You get around many of the headaches you seem to be running into:

multiple resolutions, multiple PVRs, separate soundcards for each machine each doing its own thing, CPU usage, etc. Take a look at it and try it out. Its free! It will cost a little more to set up, but if you are looking at buying a couple Tivos, then the price difference might not be so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Best networked one desktop setup I've seen yet. This could be a interesting way to phase out pcs that are getting outdated.


It looks as though the one desktop solution is possible with decent performance. with the new MS-9130 dual opteron mobo with four pci slots, it could provide decent power. i also looked through matrox's website and they have a decent performing dual pci with tv out card.


Im going with the networked solution now from your replies on this subject because of the performance issue.


The thing is what sort of receiver or switch do I need to get? Is the VSX-49TXi overkill? I need something cheaper. How about hooking up the sound sources thats plugged into a receiver or switch hooked up to another receiver or switch so that I can plug in 3 or 4 soundscards and other devices? Would that degrade quality?



park
 

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Thanks, it sounds like you are trying for a couple of the features I had in mind when designing my system. I wanted to be able to do the following:

1. Watch TV/Sat/DVD on fp screen while having PC access to myHTPC on the small screen (check out www.myhtpc.net if you have not seen this awesome interface)

2. Watch TV/Sat/DVD on the small LCD and have a desktop on the fp screen

3. Direct applications to either screen at the touch of a button (look for Ultramon on google if you do end up using dual monitors on one PC, it makes monitor selection a breeze)

4. Have it all controlled by a remote control (Pronto TSU-2000 in my case)

5. Monitor my outdoor security cameras on either the small LCD or the fp screen (great for when the movie is loud when the pizza arrives)


Its working well for me, but has taken some time to get it to the way it is today. I would love to add a 15" LCD touchscreen at the end of my couch as a controller for it all, but that will be next years project.
 
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