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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I intend to use an E4300 overclocked to 2.4GHz to playback HD-DVD and mpeg2 (Dscaler IVTC) now and H.264 in the near future via VGA (maybe svideo/component too). I don't intend to game at all.


After looking through the other threads, I must be missing something as I have not been able to determine the minimum video card I need to accomplish this: all the solutions seem to go for the higher end cards. I would like the minimum card possible to keep power usage and cost down (ie the most cost effective video card).


I'm currently using a Radeon 7000 @ 1280x960p72 for mpeg2, but the current CPU (Celeron 2.5GHz) is inadequate for Dscaler IVTC. This will probably be fine for mpeg2 with the E4300, assuming it will output 1920x1440p72, but will it still be enough for HD-DVD?


Can anyone suggest a suitable vintage of video card to meet my requirements?


I notice that even the mid-range video cards don't provide much acceleration for HD codecs (apart from mpeg2) and one has to go to Nvidia 8800 levels to achieve reasonable acceleration percentages, so it seems more practical to go for a lower level GPU and rely more on CPU grunt for software decoding.
 

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If what we hear is true, you'll be able to overclock that chip not only to 2.4, but well over 3 GHz with no effort, and with plain vanilla mobos and memory, too. Now I'm not saying that you should go for the maximum overclock possible, but it's good to know that you have all that processing power available on tap.


Your video board choices are limited by the availability of HDCP for digital path. You should probably be fine with the lowest one that supports it and has sufficient memory bandwidth. I'm not sure if that includes the 7300's and the X1300, but anything above that should be fine.
 

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One thing to keep in mind is that for Blu-Ray/HD-DVD you'll need an HDCP compliant video chain, which obviously includes the video card. Coincidentally I was on NewEgg earlier this morning and searched "HDCP" under graphics cards to try and answer the same question you are asking.


It seemed that the cheapest you could find an HDCP compliant card in PCIe was ~$150. Most of what's available was from the X1600 family with a few X1900/X1950 cards and a lone GeForce 7900 in the
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the responses Magius and DJ79.


I am a little confused about the HDCP remarks though. Is it definite that HDCP must be supported in the video card to play HD-DVD? I will probably only be using VGA and maybe component (ie analogue) output and I thought I read that HDCP is only required if outputting digital. There doesn't seem to be a definitive statement about this that I can find.


Also, I will probably only be playing HD-DVD and HDTV mpeg2 in the near future: H.264 and blu-ray will be longer term things and therefore not so important right now. Consequently, I thought I could get away with a cheap video card now and then upgrade later once prices have fallen commensurate with my decoding requirements increasing.


I'm really after the cheapest system now that will handle HD-DVD and HDTV mpeg2 via VGA. I think HDTV mpeg2 will be a given with the E4300, even with a Radeon 7000.


Was just curious whether even a Radeon 7000 would handle HD-DVD at least 1280x960p72 via VGA.


Maybe I'll just try it once I get the equipment together and report back.



Will probably start at 2.4GHz as that is simply using standard 266MHz FSB, but I will be getting DDR2 667 memory to provide the extra overhead if I want to push to 300MHz FSB and beyond.
 

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IanD,

I beleive that the confusion about HDCP is that both HD-DVD and BluRay might *play* whether HDCP is supported or not, but only at a restricted resolution. Since HDCP is never supported over VGA or component, or any analog path for that matter, the HD-DVD/BluRay player (including software players) will downgrade the resolution to standard DVD quality when they are used. Same thing over a digital path (ie: DVI) if HDCP is not supported.


In order to get the full high resolution picture that you've paid for with these discs, the entire video path from player to monitor must be digital *and* HDCP compliant.


With graphics cards you have to be careful because many do not support HDCP. At one time there were even cards that were advertised as HDCP compliant, when in fact only the GPU core supported it, and the OEM manufacturers weren't installing the HDCP crypto chips! Talk about a class action waiting to happen!


In any case, if you really want an HD capable HTPC, you're best bet is a brand new HDCP compliant video card. As I said previously I was just in the same boat, and based on the Anandtech article that I linked you I just purchased a 7900GS for $150 after rebate. It may not be the best card going for gaming, but for H.264 acceleration it should do very well, and the GPU even has a good reputation for overclocking



Hope that helps!
 

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Save your self a lot of headaches and get the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus HDCP vid card. It is a proven card that supports HDCP thru both the HDMI and DVI ports. Its one on the less expensive cards that will do HiDef DVD.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanD /forum/post/0


Can anyone suggest a suitable vintage of video card to meet my requirements?


I notice that even the mid-range video cards don't provide much acceleration for HD codecs (apart from mpeg2) and one has to go to Nvidia 8800 levels to achieve reasonable acceleration percentages, so it seems more practical to go for a lower level GPU and rely more on CPU grunt for software decoding.

I dont think the latest HD-DVD/Blur-ray software players implement hardware acceleration. The manufactures of the players have not specifically confirmed hardware acceleration is supported for VC-1. I know PowerDVD 6.5 (HD-DVD) does not support HD-DVD (VC1) acceleration on my ATI X1800XT (mpeg2 acceleration does work). I read another thread where this is discussed and noone can show a CPU usage change which would demonstrate acceleration is working.


Please let us know if you find out otherwise.
 

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From the sticky (Core 2 Motherboard Complete List - With Hardware Recommendations for a HD HTPC):


# What CPU utilization can you expect when playing back H.246 movies with these cards?


AnandTech did a CPU utilization test with a Blu-ray DVD H.264 encoded movie. The title is X-Men III and its maximum bitrate is over 41 Mbps (the highest bitrate one can find right now in HD H.264 movies). The test was done with Core 2 Duo X6800 (2.93GHz) and various video cards. Assuming there is a simple linear relation between CPU utilization and CPU clock speed, if Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.40GHz) were used in playing back this movie, the average & maximum CPU utilization would be


* GeForce 8800 GTS: 40.6% x 11/9 = 49.6%; 59.4% x 11/9 = 72.6%

* GeForce 7950 GT: 43.2% x 11/9 = 52.8%; 68.8% x 11/9 = 84.1%

* GeForce 7600 GT: 45.7% x 11/9 = 55.9%; 70.3% x 11/9 = 85.9%



Thus you can play back the movie without dropped frames with any of the three video cards. If Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86GHz) were used,


* GeForce 8800 GTS: 40.6% x 11/7 = 63.8%; 59.4% x 11/7 = 93.3%

* GeForce 7950 GT: 43.2% x 11/7 = 67.9%; 68.8% x 11/7 = 108.1%

* GeForce 7600 GT: 45.7% x 11/7 = 71.8%; 70.3% x 11/7 = 110.5%



So you can expect smooth playback only with GeForce 8800 GTS.


# References


* Hard|OCP Forums - The Official 100% HDCP ready video card list

* AnandTech - NVIDIA and ATI HDCP Compatible Graphics Cards Roundup

* AnandTech - HD Video Playback: H.264 Blu-ray on the PC

* AnandTech - HD-DVD Playback: On the Xbox 360 & on NVIDIA GPUs

* NVIDIA PureVideo - Product Comparison

* TweakTown - Setting up HDMI on your HDTV: NVIDIA vs. AMD
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanD /forum/post/0


Was just curious whether even a Radeon 7000 would handle HD-DVD at least 1280x960p72 via VGA.

With a C2D at 2.4ghz, any HD-DVD can be played with any graphics card at all. I've got a machine a fair bit slower than that (3.5ghz Pentium), and it does VC1 at 50% cpu, AVC at 80%, both without graphics card acceleration. Your machine will be about 25% faster than mine, so is unlikely to be much troubled - even at stock 1.8ghz, you'll definitely be able to play every VC1 disc without any GPU acceleration, and will be borderline for AVC.


Note also that hardware acceleration with many cards causes a lot of picture quality problems - you're better off just doing it in entirely in software.


Of course, to go Bluray you might need a fair bit more CPU grunt, at least to play AVC (as cited in the post above). However, note those demands will never be replicated with HD-DVD, as the highest bitrate you'll ever see is around 25mbit peak due to format limitations. As above, a C2D 2.4ghz will handle that no prob.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by getnate12345 /forum/post/0


I dont think the latest HD-DVD/Blur-ray software players implement hardware acceleration. The manufactures of the players have not specifically confirmed hardware acceleration is supported for VC-1. I know PowerDVD 6.5 (HD-DVD) does not support HD-DVD (VC1) acceleration on my ATI X1800XT (mpeg2 acceleration does work). I read another thread where this is discussed and noone can show a CPU usage change which would demonstrate acceleration is working.


Please let us know if you find out otherwise.

Acceleration is supported on some cards: see this article that I found in the PowerDVD thread: http://www.hardwarezone.com/article...161&cid=11&pg=1
 

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btw, why avc/h264? the h264 encoded dvds I've seen don't look any better than the vc-1 encoded ones. ditto h264 vs vc-1 clips I've seen on my PC. But vc-1 requires a whole lot less horsepower to decode. so what's the adv. of avc? Is it just an anti-microsoft thing?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinker /forum/post/0


Save your self a lot of headaches and get the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus HDCP vid card. It is a proven card that supports HDCP thru both the HDMI and DVI ports. Its one on the less expensive cards that will do HiDef DVD.


I checked the prices on pricegrabber and that card costs about as much as the MSI NX7900GS, which also has HDCP. so any reason to get it rather than the more powerful 7900?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by barth2k /forum/post/0


I checked the prices on pricegrabber and that card costs about as much as the MSI NX7900GS, which also has HDCP. so any reason to get it rather than the more powerful 7900?

It all comes down to how fast the core is clocked when it come to vid playback thats from all the articles about HD playback. The 7900GS is clocked at ~450mhz and the 7900GT is ~560mhz. The 7900GS is a better gaming card (architecture wise) but the 7600GT is prob better for video playback. I haven't tested any 7900GS since they only have DVI ports. I rec the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus for two reasons....it has a HDMI and a DVI with both ports being HDCP (much easier to intregrate with clients TV's) and I have tested the card and had no probm installing them for HD playback on the last 3 HTPC's that I built/updated and delivered. Plus I am using two of them, one in one of my personal HTPCs and the other in demo unit. The only probm for me is getting them. They seem to be in short supply after the initial 5 that I got. Supplier is now backorder...what seems like forever...



Since the OP wanted the Min vid card to do HD. I also used 8800GTXs and GTSs for certain builds but they have some issues that hopefull can fixed by new drivers and are not a hardware issue with the cards themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the responses.


It seems that I will initially do just as well with a cheap ATI card and C2D @ 2.4GHz for playing back VC-1 and HDTV mpeg2 in software as higher end card, so I will start there as it involves no additional expenditure.


I can always upgrade to the suggested higher end graphics cards if required.


Anyway, will report back when I finally have a system together and can test things out.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinker /forum/post/0


It all comes down to how fast the core is clocked when it come to vid playback thats from all the articles about HD playback. The 7900GS is clocked at ~450mhz and the 7900GT is ~560mhz. The 7900GS is a better gaming card (architecture wise) but the 7600GT is prob better for video playback. I haven't tested any 7900GS since they only have DVI ports. I rec the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus for two reasons....it has a HDMI and a DVI with both ports being HDCP (much easier to intregrate with clients TV's) and I have tested the card and had no probm installing them for HD playback on the last 3 HTPC's that I built/updated and delivered. Plus I am using two of them, one in one of my personal HTPCs and the other in demo unit. The only probm for me is getting them. They seem to be in short supply after the initial 5 that I got. Supplier is now backorder...what seems like forever...



Since the OP wanted the Min vid card to do HD. I also used 8800GTXs and GTSs for certain builds but they have some issues that hopefull can fixed by new drivers and are not a hardware issue with the cards themselves.

I see, so that's why the diamond plus is so expensive.


since the 7900gs card only has DVI, does that mean that if you use a hdmidvi cable you'll lose hdcp function?


do you have bluray or hddvd. or both?


how is the noise on the diamond plus?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by barth2k /forum/post/0


I see, so that's why the diamond plus is so expensive.


since the 7900gs card only has DVI, does that mean that if you use a hdmidvi cable you'll lose hdcp function?


do you have bluray or hddvd. or both?


how is the noise on the diamond plus?

Most of the newer TVs only have HDMI so I go HDMI direct. And with monitors I go DVI direct. But then again I have use on some other systems that was setup up before the Diamond Plus with HDMI was available, 7600GTs that were only DVI HDCP and just used a DVI-HDMI connection and the HDCP was OK. Cleanest connection was with the MSI Diamond Plus...no adapter required.


Currently only using HD DVD with the affordable 360 addon, other HD DVD and Blu Ray drives are too expensive at this point in time.


The non Nvidia ref designed fan on the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus is quiet when used for vid playback. It does speed up when used for stressful 3d gaming but slows down after very quick. On the other end the ASUS 7600GT HDCP vid card (HDCP over HDMI but not over its DVI port) using the ref designed Nvidia fan will speed up and get loud like the MSI but never seems to slow down after, waited like for 1/2 hr and the fan was still run full. Had to replace the stock fan with a Zalman cooler but that just added to the expense and another step in building so I stop using that card ASAP. Both of these cards had probms running HDMI direct with PDVD 6.5 but was fine with ULTRA. When I was doing some initial testing of the two cards deciding what to use I found out that the DVI on the ASUS card was not HDCP, tried to use DVI-HDMI with PDVD 6.5 (prior to release of ULTRA) and the vid didnt pass HDCP. The MSI thru DVI-HDMI passed HDCP when using PDVD 6.5 (but there where other issues with 6.5 that ULTRA resolved). Both worked using component since anolog ignores the AACS/HDCP requirements.
 

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I have just purchased a Sharp 1080p HDTV and have it connected to my HTPC via s-video using an ATI X1300 card. For some reason it won't increase from 1024x768 and isn't full screen. I have a 1920x1080 res option in the card settings but it just seems to be a window that "zooms" into the larger screen size. Is this a limitation of using s-video? I am looking at getting a card with built in HDMI to make connection better. Will the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus play back at 1080i/p or would I need to wait for something a bit more powerful?


Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by brittonc /forum/post/0


I have just purchased a Sharp 1080p HDTV and have it connected to my HTPC via s-video using an ATI X1300 card. For some reason it won't increase from 1024x768 and isn't full screen. I have a 1920x1080 res option in the card settings but it just seems to be a window that "zooms" into the larger screen size. Is this a limitation of using s-video? I am looking at getting a card with built in HDMI to make connection better. Will the MSI NX7600GT Diamond Plus play back at 1080i/p or would I need to wait for something a bit more powerful?


Thanks.

Its the limitation of s-vid. It will not do 1080i/p


The MSI 7600GT will do 1080i/p with no probms as long as you use the digital (HDMI or DVI) or anolog (component) connections.
 

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Tinker,


Thanks for the quick reply. I'm looking to use the HDMI direct to the TV so will try and get hold of a Diamond Plus. Are there any other factors that might limit playback performance. My HTPC is currently running an AMD 64 3800 X2, 1Gb RAM (shortly increasing to 2Gb) and will be upgrading to Vista for the buildin media centre software. Would it be worth getting a higher spec CPU?
 
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