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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Folks,


I'm assembling a new HTPC. I've got most of the components squared away, except for the video card. I want a dual head Radeon card. Thus 8500 or VE?


The VE is cheaper, immediately available, and QUIETER (no fan). I think for DVD viewing, it's not necessary to be concerned about performance, so I think the VE would be the greatest bang for the buck.


I would ask for assistance with 3 questions, please.


1) I look forward to a little Flight Simulator on my new LT150 equipped system, too. Would this be reason to shell out more and get the 8500?


2) Does anyone have any thoughts on the likelihood of quieting an 8500? Perhaps, removing the fan, or replacing it with a fan/HS from quietpc.com, for example?


I have tried to "do my homework", but am not quite certain I have the correct "big picture" about how to configure the VE effectively. Thus...


3) If it turns out that I get the VE, might someone please enumerate the recipe for best use. By "recipe", I mean a brief list of steps. For example, maybe it goes something like this:

1. Flash the BIOS (or is this only necessary with LE??)

2. Apply the DC merge file (again, maybe only with LE??)

3. Apply registry hacks with DVDGenie (or are these already part of the merge file?)

Other steps I am missing.


I have seen lots of previous posts on the subject, but am still not certain of the necessary sequence of steps for the VE. I have also seen the very helpful dtvmax site, but, even though it warns against using the VE in a HTPC, I'm thinking that the previous VE difficulties had to do with custom resolutions, and have been overcome.


Thank you all for any comments and assistance, especially with the recipe in #3, above.


Regards,


David Grove
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
"Alms for the poor?"



--(Your two cents, please?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Last try.


(3rd time's the charm, so they say.)
 

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Hi David,


I probably can't be of much help, as I don't do any gaming and I don't know anything on the 8500, but I do have a VE. :)


Regardless of what dtvmax says, the VE has proven to be a great solution for dual display HTPCs. Later drivers I think have cured most problems with compatibility. It works very well for DVD playback. Much better than my GF2 Twin View.


You don't mention your system, but with my ME, CUSL2, PIII800EB and G11, no flash was needed. The atidvd.reg file I think you're referring to is a file that steadies the ATI player for DVD playback. Very helpful but not needed for install.


You'll get different opinions on which drivers to use, but I use the 7143s for ME. 7140s perhaps for SE.


Do yourself a flavor and load ONLY the 4.1 DVD player from the disc. Forget everything else, such as Hydravision. It does not play well with others. If you have to, download the player from the ATI website first, then install it from the saved file. You'll need your VE disc to do this.


With the latest build of Powerstrip, you'll be good to go for all your custom resolutions.



Hope this helps.


Chris
 

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Hello davidgrove,


If you decide to get the VE, what OS will you be using and will you need custom T&Rs for your projector? If you do and use Win98SE, use the 7040 drivers or in WinMe the 7043s to get custom T&Rs and then use Powerstrip to set it up. In Win2K, the 3226 drivers work for custom T&Rs. You don't need to flash the bios or do anything special when installing the VE (no merge files that I know of). When you boot up after physically installing the VE, cancel the New Hardware Detection wizard and then install the ATI VE drivers, then reboot. Upon rebooting, Windows will automatically detect the VE. You do not need to install Hydravision as it only adds additional virtual desktops. After installing the drivers, right-click the Desktop, Properties, Advanced and under Monitors tab (I think) there is a way to set up Hotkeys to quickly setup primary monitor, secondary or both monitors to be active, although only one can have the dvd overlay at a time. I have used Ctl-Alt-P as the hotkey for projector only, Ctl-Alt-M for monitor only and Ctl-Alt-B for both projector and monitor active with the dvd overlay on the projector. You can obviously set it up anyway you like. I have my DILA connected to the physical VGA connector and my LCD desktop monitor attached to the physical DVI connector with the supplied DVI-VGA adapter. A forum member, Alaric, has posted very helpful tips for the VE as well as CCLAY. I would suggest searching for them in the forums. I love the dual head VE...especially if you don't want to use your projector for maintence of your HTPC.



Have fun,


Rick



Addendum: Chris (CCLAY), you must have posted right before I did :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you, kindly.


I have an older system that I recently "put out to pasture," so find myself back at this great forum. Sorry to see the l]old one go, especially because it was all SCSI (ASUS P2B-LS), but time for a change.


So far I have an ASUS TUSL2-C mobo w/ 1.13G Tualatin CPU (gonna try one of those Zalman HS). Also got one of those very quiet German PS (I think quietpc.com sells either the same or a similar model). Use LT150 for display. Gonna get Seagate 80G 'Cuda IV HD, either Radeon VE or 8500 video card, and whatever the new M-Audio card turns out to be. Leaning (75%) toward ME for driver issues, as well as the XP registration thing putting a burr under my saddle. (No doubt I'll get over it [as Scott McNealy would no doubt say] and get XP, eventually, but I have to rebel a little first :D ) Then, of course, the usual S/W (DVD players, dScaler, DVDgenie, etc.)


Thank you again for comments. Still wondering how VE would do with Flight Simulator. (Can't watch movies all the time... or can I :)


Regards,


DG
 

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Haven't tried Flight Simulator, but it (VE) does fine with TR4 at 1360X768, if thats any help. Laura does look a little chunky however at this aspect ratio.
 

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Hi David:


___If you’re a FS fan, the only card I would recommend would be the latest 7500 at an absolute minimum and would highly suggest the latest 8500. I normally fly at 1024x768 32 Bpp to a std. 19†monitor and even a hopped up “LE†to 184 MHz core and memory as well as all 3D functions being enabled can’t give me a solid average 45 fps/30 fps minimum under Crimson Skies, Jane’s World War II fighters, MS Combat FS ETO, or even F22 Lightning III. The VE will be much worse. Its not so bad when you’re the only one flying but get into a furball w/ 10 or more planes in the sky or if your protecting a bomber group with large groups of Luftwaffe fighters coming up, you can kiss your framerates goodbye. Framerates mean life and without them, you are either shooting holes in the air or getting filled with holes at close in gun range. When I used to fly regularly, I would pull the AGP based Radeon and place my tried and true GeForce2 GTS back in for at least acceptable frame rates. Now I use a PCI based Radeon for DVD playback and the GeForce2 for all my gaming needs. I could not be happier :) The VE even with some of its ills being cured can still be a monster to setup just like the GeForce2 MX dual heads before it. Under XP, you can move the primary around as you see fit so some of the issues will go away but for an avid gamer, anything but the 7500/8500 means very poor gaming IMO.


___Good Luck


___Wayne R. Gerdes

___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.

___ [email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for the thorough FS/Radeon comments.


I'm seeing several members with dual video cards, sounds like a good idea.


But, I suppose, if I get the 8500, I have my cake and eat it, too.


So, here's another question... Is there a way to lose the fan on the 8500? I'm guessing that passive is probably not really possible for this GPU. But, what about a quieter, third party cooling alternative?


Regards,


DG
 

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David,


Is the fan on the 8500 that bad?


My GF2 Twin View had a fan and it was probably the quiestet fan in my PC. The Toshiba 1402 is the loudest device in the system, but with the excellent 3 fan Marquee case from DC , noise is at a minimum.


I would think that if you plan on doing some heavy gaming, you'd need the fan.


Chris
 

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Hi David:


___Well here is what I did with the GeForce2 GTS’ fan … I pulled the fan and declocked the core to just 150 MHz via PS. I upped the memory another 25 MHz to compensate which it did quite well. With the Detonator 4’s, I am still ahead (performance wise) of what I was with the fan. It runs a bit hot but has been in this condition for a better part of two months without a problem. I also removed the PCI based SDR Radeon’s GPU fan and am running its core asynchronously at just 124 MHz although the std. 166 MHz appeared to be fine for the few weeks I left it in that condition … I looked into other HS’s but after pulling a std. Radeon’s F/HS and replacing it with a larger HS I pulled from an older Pentium, I decided a cracked core may not be worth it with the PCI based unit. The .15-micron cored 8500 should be able to have its core dropped to ~ 200 – 225 MHz from its std. 275 retail/250 MHz OEM w/out a fan and possibly still perform very fast but without the GPU fan on its integrated HS for absolute silence. I do not own an 8500 or a clone of such just yet so I cannot guarantee this to work nor can I take responsibility if it burns up on you ;) The reason why performance is so close to std. is that these cards are memory limited anyway and increasing or dropping the cores std frequencies has much less impact vs. their memory clocks. This is just another reason to make sure you have PowerStrip 3.0 in your HTPC utility tool box and running on Startup.


___Good Luck


___Wayne R. Gerdes

___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.

___ [email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you, CCLAY and xcel.


I don't really know how loud the 8500 fan is (don't have one, yet).


For this machine, I'm making special effort for quiet. I'd like the very, very quiet PS I already have to be the noisiest thing in the system. One way to accomplish this is to eliminate fans. With the 1.13G Tualatin PIII, I think I may have a shot at passive CPU cooling, but if not, I think the Zalman fan/HS would probably be next best thing. (Zalman may not be best thermal performance, but, I bet it is good enough, and it is certainly quiet, by all reports.)


So, trying to get rid of GPU fan is just another step to try for quietness. I agree that games will likely require a fan of some sort. Oh well, just because I may not achieve the goal is no reason not to try. :) I did enjoy a fanless video card (Matrox G400) on my old machine.


I will be using a very, very quiet HD (Fluid bearing 80G Seagate Barracuda IV)


Oops, don't mean to shift the main thrust of subject matter.


Thank you all for comments regarding Radeon 8500 (and VE).


I will be going with the 8500 (want that dual head, too.)


Regards,


DG
 

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Hi CClay:


___The PCI Radeon’s fan was the loudest fan in my system so I can assume the 8500 would be the same. The Toshiba SD-M1402 is the loudest device when in use as you have also experienced. I should have kept the black SD-M1202’s but they were earmarked for other HTPC’s …


___Randy: As far as the Zalman CPU F/HS’s is concerned, you can achieve even better thermal performance plus you will have even less dB output with an SVC GoldenGate, 60 to 80 mm funnel, and a PC Power&Cooling Silencer case fan. My case is currently open to atmosphere beneath me and I cannot hear it with this solution. Well, in the middle of the night when the TV is off, I can barley hear it ;)


___Good Luck


___Wayne R. Gerdes

___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.

___ [email protected]
 

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David I use the Sennheiser DSP-Pro it was actually made from Virtual Techology Systems. A device that could solve your problem with undesired 'fan noise' during your use of simulator program. Using your red and white sound 'phono' jacks from your computer to the Dolby Surround Pro-Logic Surround unit to premium headphones. I use the Sony V-700 5Hz. to 30,000 Hz. sound frequency 'spread' headphones. The system although no longer built is available at current price of $249 at http://www.sennheiser.com


IMO David they would give you a premium sound choice for uninterrupted by any fan noise that 'any' computer can generate! I use my own while the air conditioner, door bell etc. all of the above could be activated, I don't hear anything else but what is being piped through the premium headphones. I have 8 full systems in the closet for back up through the years ahead. I have 2 systems online one of the original 'Auri' bought back in 1994 and one of the Sennheisers neither of them have ever had 'any' trouble. Fully operational, I never experienced such a system in my entire life!:)
 

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David,


I can't help with respect to your Radeon choice, except to confirm that a Radeon is a must for pic quality, even if a nVidia card is better for gaming.


On the Zalman front, however, maybe I can. My power supply was also the noisiest thing in my HTPC, but I could hardly hear it. Then I replace my stock Intel PIII fan with the Zalman gold-plated fan shaped (like a peacock tail) cooler. It was considerably louder than the power supply. Then I plugged in their user friendly snap on fan wire interconnect with a built in resistor - it probably lowered the voltage to the fan to about 7v (didn't measure it), something which many do on their own with a soldering iron. You could hardly hear it. A perfect fix, and better cooling than with a passive heatsink - although not at all as effective as with a noisy high speed fan.


Now, I have a power supplyl that sort of fits inside my HTPC case (Novia micro-ATX case requiring one to cut out the back panel!). It is an expensive skinny 2U rackamount 300w power supply with 2 small and very noisy fans. Next will be to rip open the power supply to try to place resistors on the leads of its built-in fans. Hopefully, if I don't plug-in too many power hungry devices, they will still provide enough cooling to not blow it up?


Enough said. This post was only to point out that one can probably use almost any good - albeit loud - CPU heatsink as long as you make sure to place a resistor on the positive lead to its fan, or replace its fan with a more silent model. No need for the encumbersome and expensive glittery gold peacock from Korea! ;)


Cheers,
 
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