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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Adding my pleas to those other newbies out there for some guidance in video card selection....


I've been running an HTPC for a couple of years now. I've primarily dedicated it to music server status until now. A few months ago, I lost the use of my stand-alone Denon 3800 DVD player for a while and discovered that TheaterTek 1.5 was a really nice piece of playback software for my DVDs.


I'd like to move more fully into the video playback area of HTPCs. I've read many threads on video card recommendations, ffdshow, etc., etc. I've managed to eke out a small list of things I think I would like to do, but am baffled on how to actually select a new video card.


I'm really a hard-core Macintosh user. There, we take what video card Steve gives us and we LIKE it. :)


I'm currently running:

Asus P4B-533VM motherboard (AGP 4x, 3PCI slots)

1.8GHz P4

Radeon 7000VE (VGA & composite outs)

M-Audio Delta DiO 24/96

512MB RAM

80GB Barracuda IV

120GB Barracuda V

Windows 2000 SP4

ATI Catalyst 4.9 drivers


Everything is packed into a relatively small "equipment-style" case. The motherboard is mATX (micro-ATX) form factor, and I like that everything is so compact. The setup drives a standard 15in monitor, my basic 20in TV & my Sanyo PLV60HT (native resolution 1368x768--generally run as 1360x768)


I'm primarily interested in upgrading the video card and possibly the processor. I like the size of things the way they are configured now. I'm also happy with my thermal/noise performance. I find I only need to run the CPU heatsink fan with my setup--and that is generally undervolted. My PCI slots are filled with the sound card, a FireWire card, and beginning tomorrow, a 1000base-T ethernet card.


Anyway...all the NVidia quality threads have me drooling to move to at 6800-class card, but I'm afraid it might be overkill. The 6600-series aren't available in AGP versions yet, and I can't even find a 6200-series card for sale. I get utterly lost in all the variations of the 5x00-series cards (to say nothing of the Radeon 9x00 series). :(


My goals are:

1) VMR9 playback--forum consensus being that if you can achieve it, it's the best.

2) Maximizing TT2 picture quality

3) Possibility of using DVI connections when I upgrade my display(s)

4) Multi-head driving. Ideally, the same picture on all 3 displays (meaning converting a DVI connection to a 2nd VGA). Less ideally, a way to quickly switch the primary display to any of my 3 devices and have the resolutions switch automatically.

5) Ease of driver upgrades/testing. I always seemed to have problems with the ATi driver upgrade process...

6) ffdshow usage (although this would be primarily a processor upgrade issue)


My concerns are:

1) Cooling a current video card in my small case

2) Keeping fan noise to a minimum

3) How will limiting myself to a 4x AGP bus impact my desire to run VMR9?

4) Fitting a current-generation video card in my case


VMR9 usage would push me in the direction of the 6x00-class cards, but is it worth it considering my old AGP slot? If not, what then? Searching on newegg for just 6x00-class cards gives me more that 30-40 choices! How do PC users differentiate between all the different ones? Pointers are greatly appreciated! I'd even love to find an easy way of figuring out which is the "highest-end" card in a given manufacturer's series (for example Nvidia's 6800Ultra->6800GT->6800->6600GT->6600->6200).


Thanks,

Brad
 

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For one thing... you would want to rule out all video cards that occupy 2 slots as you are using a small enclosure (unless you know for sure you wont be adding any other PCI cards, you have 3, I assume 1 taken by sound card), next you would rule out all noisy cards, then rule out all cards that run hot... you'd be looking for a card that has a VGA, S-Video and a second VGA or a DVI. (usually DVI is more popular and the better cards come with adaptors). I'm not sure about having clone mode on all three displays though, and VMR9 may not run so smoothly on more than 1 display (or it might). It's hard to recommend since your hardware and software config will have an impact on whether problems will show up. Wish it were easier though. I currently run a FX5900XT which is quiet (near silent unless you are really close) and cool, I'm having probs with tearing on my pj but not on my crt monitor... things I am working through. I can say that there is a 99% chance that things won't work exactly as expected, such is the nature of the beast.


Cheers...

Duy-Khang Hoang
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by hdkhang
For one thing... you would want to rule out all video cards that occupy 2 slots as you are using a small enclosure (unless you know for sure you wont be adding any other PCI cards, you have 3, I assume 1 taken by sound card), next you would rule out all noisy cards, then rule out all cards that run hot...
Thanks for the input! You've nailed down some of my requirements perfectly. However, I'm at a loss as to how to find this kind of information. I'm particularly interested in the size question (since all of my PCI slots will be filled). In my searching on newegg, I've only found one 6800 that specifically says that it is a single slot solution ( here ). The pictures look the same as the other manufacturers' versions. Any idea where to find out how many slots these cards will take up?

Quote:
you'd be looking for a card that has a VGA, S-Video and a second VGA or a DVI. (usually DVI is more popular and the better cards come with adaptors).
Yep. This one I've figured out. I will definitely be looking for a card with DVI/VGA/S-Video that includes a DVI->VGA adapter and an S-Video->Composite adapter.

Quote:
I'm not sure about having clone mode on all three displays though, and VMR9 may not run so smoothly on more than 1 display (or it might). It's hard to recommend since your hardware and software config will have an impact on whether problems will show up. Wish it were easier though. I currently run a FX5900XT which is quiet (near silent unless you are really close) and cool, I'm having probs with tearing on my pj but not on my crt monitor... things I am working through. I can say that there is a 99% chance that things won't work exactly as expected, such is the nature of the beast.
Again, thanks for the pointers. I guess I'll add the 5900XT to the list of possibilities.... :)


Anyone else?

Brad
 

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I am also searching for a new Video Card but mine is going to be on the high end of things, never really been a gamer, but I figure if I go all out then it would work out.


Here's my specs:

AMD XP 3200+

1 Gig of RAM

550 Gigs of Hard Drive Space(I have a lot of archived movies and tv shows)

Nforce2 Soundstorm Sound Card(ASUS A7N8X motherboard)

Windows XP SP2

ATI Radeon 8500 DV



So basically all that I can really upgrade without overhauling my entire motherboard or switching chipsets is the Video Card. My spending limit is around $500. So my question is, what is the recommended Nvidia card in that range? All these different manufacterers confuse me. Is BFG any good? What is the closest to reference?
 

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well at this point the 6600, 6600GT are PCIe only.


Which means you're looking at probably gettinga 6800.


The 6800's VPP unit is broken so you really won't be able to take full advantage of TT2.0


If VMR9 is your primary goal though, any DX9 hardware card will do that.


That means all of the FX 5x00 nvidia cards and the radeon 9500,9600,9800,and xX00 cards.
 

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The 6800GT looks downright fantastic with TT2.0 and I think it's an exaggeration to say it's "broken." It's a great card despite what has been said.


sotti, you're honeslty saying you'd prefer a Radeon 9500 to a 6800GT? No way...
 

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So If I just went with a Geoforce FX 5700 Ultra, then I would be able to do VMR9?


I also need Dual DVI, component out and S-Video Out.


Is there a site that has a checklist type search where they will recommend a video card for you?


All these features are confusing, and then everyone strays from the reference design. At least with ATI, you can get it directly from ATI.


Nvidia just confuses me.
 

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nothing has dual DVI and component and svideo out, especially at the same time.


yes the FX5700U can do vmr9



and I never said that I'd prefer a 9500 over the 6800GT, I Know hte 6800 is alot more powerful.


But there are some features of the 6800 that where promised that don't work. Maybe broken was wrong, crippled is probably more accurate. And the ATI cards don't have those features to begin with.


So cualexander, what exactly are you going to be hooking the computer up to at the same time?


DVI, DVI - two flat panels, + compenent for HDTV + svideo for VCR?


I mean really, lets talk about what you need, because that is a tall order for interconnectivity.
 

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Ok, it just sounded as though you were suggesting the others were equivalent or even superior... unless something has changed (despite the crippled features you mentioned) that I'm not aware of the 6800 cards are still the ones to beat for HTPC use. If that is, you intend to do heavy post-processing of DVD playback. That's not to say I'm all that pleased with NVidia myself... the lack of support on the EDID bug is another disappointment.


I agree with sotti you should be concentrating on:

1) what are you going to connect it to

2) what needs does it have to fulfill?

Quote:
So basically all that I can really upgrade without overhauling my entire motherboard or switching chipsets is the Video Card. My spending limit is around $500. So my question is, what is the recommended Nvidia card in that range? All these different manufacterers confuse me. Is BFG any good? What is the closest to reference?
In that price range the 6800GT is the one to go with (best price/performance performer). The eVGA 6800GT is the one I have and I can run any game currently out there (i.e. Doom3, FarCry) at maximum resolution settings without even taxing my CPU (P4 3.0c OC'd @ 3.3GHz). The eVGA has the reference cooling assembly and high-speed DDR2. I believe the BFG has DDR2 clocked higher and performs a bit better but it also has a beefy cooling setup and is more expensive. Well, this was true as of the time I purchased my card anyway...
 

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mnn- I swear we are twins, almost the exact same system. ;) Our cards have GDDR3 though. AFAIK the BFG just OC's the GPU slightly and leaves the ram alone (370/1000).


And have you tried the leaked 66.81 drivers? They definitely help the 6800 cards perform better for gaming and video processing too.

Quote:
Taken from OSNN.net, tests w/6800U

Half-life 2 VST @ 1280x960 AA2 AF2:
61.77 - 45.345448 fps
66.02 - 72.021233 fps
Now it seems there is a WHQL certified version out.

http://www.nzone.com/object/nzone_do..._2k_66.81.html
 

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Quote:
mnn- I swear we are twins, almost the exact same system. Our cards have GDDR3 though. AFAIK the BFG just OC's the GPU slightly and leaves the ram alone (370/1000).
You're right of course... I had a brain fart on those specs! :D Thanks for correcting my errors - you're also right about the BFG.


Good to know I have a twin :cool:


Wow, that driver does look nice... I've been apprehensive to try it because the other 66.xx drivers gave me some AR problems with games. Good to know there is a WHQL certified version out. I'm going to try them out tonight. Thanks for the heads-up.
 

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Wow! You just sold me on the 6800 series.


The 66.81 driver release is WHQL Certified for the 6800 and it has the features I've been looking for.

Specifically:


Added support for using HDTV over DVI connectors

Added support for advanced DVI timing on all GeForce 6 series GPUs

Added supported for TV/HDTV setup in the nView Display Setup Wizard


I mean, I wanted to find a card that will work with DVI to my HDTV. According to this, Advanced DVI Timings and HDTV are supported now. Sweet.
 

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I have been trying to figure out which video card to go with. Seems like many of you out there prefer Nvidia cards for HTPC.


I have some questions.


I would like to know more about heat and noise level of their 6X00 cards. If some one can point me to a site where I can see the information on a chart, I would be more than happy. Your subjective experience is welcomed too. Also, it helps me if you could throw in their minimum power supply need too.


Another question.

I know ATI HD Wonder would not work with Nvidia cards. What card for HDTV purpose would best match your choice of 6x00 card?


Thank you for your imput.


Michaelmorio
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Michaelmorio,


Looking at the NVidia website, you can find that they are recommending at least a quality 350W power supply for their 6x00 cards. I believe that the 6800 Ultra may require even a slightly beefier supply....


I'm also interested in folks' heat/noise observations. Any manufacturers' cooling solutions better than anyone else's?


Best,

Brad
 

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eVGA's stock cooler is so loud and obnoxious, plus it blows heat into the case, making EVERYTHING in the case hotter. arghhh!


I'm waiting for Zalman to release a big beefy heatpipe for the gt+ series but the only option it seems is the Arctic Cooler aka NV Silencer.
 

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I know its low power and old, but I am using an nvidia fx5600 from gainward. No fan so it is quiet. It has vga, svideo, and dvi outputs. With the new 66.81 drivers I can control overscan using the dvi output to the tv set. This provides a pretty nice picture. I might upgrade to a 6600 when it comes out in agp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, my search continues....


I'm pretty set on a fanless solution, and after going through all the options available on newegg, I can see my options are:

Gigabyte 6800


and any number of FX5200s. There doesn't seem to be anything in-between. All of the 6800GT solutions I found have fans and are supposedly 2-slot options as well.


So...anyone tried the Gigabyte 6800? I can't seem to find any reviews of this specific card (everyone is reviewing the "Ultra", which I can't consider).


Best,

Brad
 

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personally I don't think you need to read reviews of specific cards, perfomance and features are almost always exactly the same.


The only things that are different are the cooling solutions and the software bundle.


If you don't want a two slot option and you want something better than a FX series card then clearly you want a 6800 vanilla, but ther are still FX5900 cards to be had.
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...145-072&depa=0
 
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