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Discussion Starter #1
Hi!

I really want to get into the HTPC world since even the Perfect Vision is now glorifying it. Problem is I already spent money I shouldn't have in buying my projector, Sony VPL-W400Q. Now, I am going to tell you what I have so you can tell me what I need thinking about price and performance or in other words the best bang for my buck. I've reading about Radeon for video and SoundBlaster for 5.1 but since my PC is slow I want to make sure it will work for me too.


What I have:

PII 350MHZ

128 MB RAM

6.2 GB HD

TNT card (don't laugh its been good http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif )

Diamond MX300 (Vortex2)


I also need a DVD rom so any specific brand mention is also needed. Hopefully I can make my PC a HTPC without having to also change CPU and motherboard...at least not now. If not then is back to my old Toshiba SD3109.

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Luis,

I have a system running on an AMD K6-2 400 MHz processor. Like your system, it is right on the border of having enough speed for DVD playback. With an older video card, I was not able to get smooth playback of DVD's. When I upgraded the video card to a Radeon VE, I was able to get smooth playback using the ATI software DVD player that comes bundled with the card. With this system I can't get smooth playback with the other software DVD players, but the ATI player works fine.

If your computer is going to be a dedicated HTPC, I would definitely recommend doing a fresh installation of your OS. I found that having too much additional software installed (including DVD Genie and Girder) would actually hamper the DVD playback and make it choppy.

I hope this helps.

Good luck,

James
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response, I'll keep that in mind. Do you think that I have to look for a good brand DVD rom or any cheapie will do?
 

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Any cheapie DVD ROM will probably still be ok. It's about your video card and the bus it sits on.


James, is your video card in a PCI or AGP?


------------------
Buyer's Guide to HTPC for Newbiess>c>
 

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Luis,


Does your projector have dsub? I would highly recommend going with a tiny big bigger processor. They are virtually free these days. You can probably update to a celeron 500 or so for almost nothing. Just to avoid bottlenecking. I bought a gig processor for just over a hundred the other day.

As for the dvd drive, i bought a toshiba OEM drive. It works really well, but you probably won't even need that burly of a drive. It is super quiet (even though it's a 16x) except when i'm ripping of course.

Also there are several faqs floating around about sound dampening your box for HT use.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Luis Gabriel Gerena:


...


I've reading about Radeon for video and SoundBlaster for 5.1 but since my PC is slow I want to make sure it will work for me too.


What I have:

PII 350MHZ

128 MB RAM

6.2 GB HD

TNT card (don't laugh its been good http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif )

Diamond MX300 (Vortex2)
With this setup, you might consider picking up a Hollywood Plus PCI card along with the DVD drive. As was mentioned above, PII 350MHZ is probably right on the border for smooth software DVD decoding. A hardware decoder might be a better solution (plus, it includes SPDIF output as well).


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Discussion Starter #7
"A hardware decoder might be a better solution (plus, it includes SPDIF output as well)."


Doesn't hardware decoders inferior to the regular ones? I heard that they look worst but I guess that for my slow CPU I have little choice. Can't the Radeon take care of that decoding?


Someone asked if my projector has dsub...what is that?

Regarding sound cards what other options I have for 5.1 if the SoundBlaster is not recommended.
 

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Quote:
Doesn't hardware decoders inferior to the regular ones? I heard that they look worst but I guess that for my slow CPU I have little choice. Can't the Radeon take care of that decoding?
I have no experience with the Hollywood Plus (or any other hardware mpeg decoder) but have seen a number of posts about the H+ as a cheap answer for CPU limited systems. A search of the forum turns up mixed reviews, so maybe the Radeon and the ATI player or WinDVD might be a better bet. I guess it depends on just how much you're willing to spend and the level of quality you're willing to accept.


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Luis,

Riverside is right. A cheaper (slower) DVD drive will be fine. In fact slower drives are often more quiet. You may want to consider not using a SoundBlaster card if you are looking for SPDIF output to a receiver. Search the forum for information about the SoundBlaster's SPDIF output, I remember reading that it isn't spec.


Riverside,

I'm using an AGP Radeon VE.

Good luck,

James
 

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Luis,


Well, you could replace your mobo with a 3DCinemax, I don't know if DC are still selling those, at:
www.digitalconnection.com


This board features an MPACT2 Mpeg decoder which was considered as being superior to the Hollywood Plus. I'm still using an MPACT card, the 3DFusion, since I don't want the hassle with the ATIs... I'm feeding an 8" CRT FP and am getting great results. I'll be borrowing a Radeon equipped HTPC this weekend, then I'll draw my own conclusions on the Radeons.


For quiet DVD drives you might want to check this recent post:
http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum12/HTML/012109.html


RC

 

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For a front projection system, you definitely DON'T want a Hollywood+. That was my first attempt at DVD playback on a PC, it made such a bad impression that I stayed away from HTPC for 2 years. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif


You really need a mobo with an AGP bus slot for the video card. Mobos are cheap, less than a hundred dollars. A Celeron processor at 800 Mhz wont be more than a hundred dollars either. Hopefully you have an ATX case, if so the upgrade cost would be minimal.


Vern


[This message has been edited by Vern Dias (edited 07-12-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well my mobo do have an AGP slot ( my TNT is AGP) so I can use that for the Radeon. I guess I can look for a cheap Celeron too and not go too over budget. What do you mean by ATX? Sorry but I don't know too much about computers inside, except for the basics.
 
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