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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm getting a new TV [samsung lnt4065] to be able to finally enter the HD world [it will be replacing a 36" Sony Wega] and I want to keep the same setup I'm running now, just add full HD (1080p) capability


I'm currently running a server in the basement of my house that serves as a torrent downloader and streamer.. and possibly a Myth backend one day


my house is set up with a Gigabit wired lan, so streaming from the server is not an issue.


My issue is that i dont know what the minimum requirements are for a HTPC to be able to process 1080p without dropping any frames


is it mainly a video card/processor/RAM function? or a combination of all three?


is there a general rule for minimum system requirements to run 1080p?
 

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Bad news: 1080P decoding is tough on hardware.


Good news: Most up to date PCs should handle it fine.


More Good news: If you're not up to date, there are ways to spread the load over different components.


Any of the recent Intel core2duo CPUs should be able to handle the decoding, even if it takes a mild overclock. On the AMD side, anything above and including a 5200 x2 should give you little trouble.

I'm still on Socket 939, and am running a dual core Opteron 180, on one machine and a 4200 x2 on another. The Opteron (stock) performs much better than the 4200.

If your hardware isn't that powerful, you can try to look for optimised software for decoding. CoreAVC (not free) can be used to minimise CPU usage.

A better solution may be to use a video card (GPU) specifically designed to do hardware decoding and reduce CPU usage. The nVidia 8500 and 8600 series cards accelerate h.264 decoing (the most brutal codec, I think). They use the PureVideoHD drivers (PVHD), which are only available for Vista in finished form and in beta for XP. Also, in order to take advantage of the hardware you have to run specific software to watch your media, e.g. PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra Deluxe or some such (also not free).

Alternatively, AMD/ATi offers a couple of cards too in the 2x00 series that accelerate h.264 and VC-1 codecs. However, iirc, I've read that the nvidia cards have a better picture quality and offload more cpu cycles.



Even more good news: Your Gigabit LAN should be perfect for streaming movies. I use central storage too, mapped to a drive letter on my HTPC and play media directly from my NAS.
 

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Very informative... thanks.


Does that mean a stock or mildly overclocked Intel C2D would be able to decode 1080p h.264 files even if you had something like integrated graphics?


Also, how much picture quality difference is there between solutions involving C2D+IGP, nVidia 85/600 and ATi 2x00? I can imagine there being a difference in deinterlacing quality, but that would only apply to 480i and 1080i sources. If videos are 1080p to begin with... how much difference could there be?


Thanks again.
 

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


Very informative... thanks.


Does that mean a stock or mildly overclocked Intel C2D would be able to decode 1080p h.264 files even if you had something like integrated graphics?

Yes, the CPU can handle it. The power of a graphics solution generally doesn't have much to do with the decoding, as traditionally GPU power is more related to 3D pixel pushing ability. That's why the highest-end nVidia cards actually are poorer at decoding 1080P material- it's because they lack the extra, non-3d hardware (I think).

You should be fine with integrated graphics. In fact the AMD 690G chipset will soon be receiving BIOS upgrades that allow the onboard video cards to process 1080P video with anything above a 4800 (?) x2 CPU. Just be sure to ahve enough RAM if its shared with the onboard ggraphics. You won't go wrong with 22 GB.


By the way, a lot of people favour the E6600 CPU, but I've heard that 6300 with or without overclocking are also good for these applications. This is just an impression I get from extensive reading; I have no experience with these Intel CPUS myself.

Quote:
Also, how much picture quality difference is there between solutions involving C2D+IGP, nVidia 85/600 and ATi 2x00? I can imagine there being a difference in deinterlacing quality, but that would only apply to 480i and 1080i sources. If videos are 1080p to begin with... how much difference could there be?


Thanks again.

There can be noticable differences. Each technology/company has its own way of displaying stuff. I kow that on my 7900 series nVidia card, I get colour banding- i.e. discrete transitions between hues of the same colour, whereas this is supposed to be much les prominent in 8X00 series cards from nVidia and also ATi cards in general. So, in this case, the picture quality will vary from card to card, even given the same 1080P signal. Driver release can also play a big factor in PQ too.
 

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Thanks. As long as I've got your ear... do you (or anyone else for that matter) have a gut feeling on the following questions:


Solution 1: Intel C2D or AMD 5200 x2 + integrated or cheap/old gfx

Solution 2: cheap/old processor + nVidia 85/600 or ATi 2x00 card


1. Which solution would produce the best picture quality?

2. Which solution would be more economical (best bang for the buck)?

3. Which solution would be more efficient (i.e. lower power/heat requirements)?

4. Which solution would be the most stable?


I don't 3-D game so I'm really only interested in video/audio playback quality with the smallest, cheapest, least-fuss option. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
this was exactly what i was looking for


thanks for your input


in that case, im just going to upgrade the current htpc i have to:


p4 3.0ghz, 2gb ram, and possibly a tv tuner with hardware encoding
 

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


Thanks. As long as I've got your ear... do you (or anyone else for that matter) have a gut feeling on the following questions:


Solution 1: Intel C2D or AMD 5200 x2 + integrated or cheap/old gfx

Solution 2: cheap/old processor + nVidia 85/600 or ATi 2x00 card


1. Which solution would produce the best picture quality?

2. Which solution would be more economical (best bang for the buck)?

3. Which solution would be more efficient (i.e. lower power/heat requirements)?

4. Which solution would be the most stable?


I don't 3-D game so I'm really only interested in video/audio playback quality with the smallest, cheapest, least-fuss option. Thanks again.

I'll tell you right now, that I'm more experienced with the AMD side of things. I'm quite impressed with the Asus 690G based motherboard (around $70). That has dual video (DVI and VGA) right out of the box, and motherboard assisted CPU based 1080P decoding. However, the speed demons right now have to be the C2D CPUs... if you plan to overclock at all. If you will not overclock, a 5600X2 (65W rated, about $20 more than a 5200 X2) and an ASUS 690G (about $80 for the HDMI version) is a great combo. No graphics card needed.

It's tough to recommend AMD right now, unless you have specific needs, which I do.


I don't know about this picture quality, but anecdotally, people prefer ATi to nVidia for PQ. The 690G boards have onboard ATi graphics, but I haven't seen its PQ yet.


Best bang for the buck depends on what equipment you have now. If you have a decent CPU, go with the new breed of video cards (make sure you get HDCP enabled versions). If your current CPU isn't all that, I'd recommend a new build every time. You can use onboard graphics for now, and then upgrade to a PCI-e solution later for $200 or less later.

On Sunday I'm building a 5200 x2, 690G based desktop/HTPC for a friend, using onboard graphics and sound. With 2 GB of RAM, a 500 GB HD, a DVD burner and a DVD drive, nice case and PSU for $700, including 35 ft HDMI cable, DVI to HDMI adaptor and 35 ft RCA cables. I went with AMD because my friend doesn't need a video card and the 690G chipset was just too alluring. Plus at the time I ordered, I didn't know how well the C2Ds overclocked... and how easily!


Power/Heat (and they mean noise too!) are dependent on many factors including CPU heatsinks/fans and cases, PSUs etc. In general the latest CPUs from Intel and AMD are both quite energy efficient. C2Ds can overclock well without increasing voltages too. If you're looking at CPUs only, my guess is to buy new, because a lot of the older generation CPUs, especially Pentium 4, were monsters when it came to power requirements.


Stability: Both ATi and nVidia seem to be having driver issues if you read many of the threads on this forum. I'd say it's a tie between the two video card companies. As for stability of a new build versus older CPU, I cannot say as I hardly ever get stability issues. I know that the newer CPUs overclock well, so at stock speeds they should be completely stable.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cookd2 /forum/post/0


this was exactly what i was looking for


thanks for your input


in that case, im just going to upgrade the current htpc i have to:


p4 3.0ghz, 2gb ram, and possibly a tv tuner with hardware encoding


If your CPU is a socket 775 and your mobo can take one, consider a C2D CPU.
 

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



Solution 1: Intel C2D or AMD 5200 x2 + integrated or cheap/old gfx

Solution 2: cheap/old processor + nVidia 85/600 or ATi 2x00 card

I had built both. Surprisingly, the one gave me the most pleasant experience is powerful CPU+integrated graphic card. Remember, when you have fast CPU everything you did is fast contrary to the solution#2.
 

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Anyone making a claim that they are running HD-DVD or BluRay playing at 1080p using integrated graphics? If so, please state your hardware configuration.
 

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


Anyone making a claim that they are running HD-DVD or BluRay playing at 1080p using integrated graphics? If so, please state your hardware configuration.

This is a good point which I myself really want to know. However the OP mentioned only 1080p playback and a few boards now can do just that. For example, Asrock Conroe1333 stated clearly at their website they can play 1080p content fine.
 

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Wow, this thread is extremely old LOL. Back then one had to worry about software decoding stuff like h.264/AVC 1080p, these days it's trivial. Any modern graphics card will do this in hardware, not much need to worry.


I'd recommend you OC that C2D to 3.4GHz or so if you really need to software decode, so you'll be sure of no hiccups, but realistically you should just install any modern videocard provided you have an x16 PCIe slot. Even a $30 HD 5450 will do the task and won't matter what CPU you have. If you're just looking for video playback that's all you'll need; though if you're looking for gaming performance you'll need a better video card than that.
 
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