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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody,


I'm searching for information in turning my current home theatre system into a PC gaming/DVD on hardrive viewing paradise.


I currently own a Mitsubishi 55" HDTV (2001 medallion series), 5 disc Sony DVD player, a decent Sony receiver and speakers I'm really happy with.


Where I want to get to:

To have a PC hooked up to the HDTV for PC gaming, viewing DVD's off the hard drive and playing games (both online and 'regular' variety).


I'm clueless when it comes to what PC hardware I'd need to make this work (in addition to any upgrades I'd need to bolt onto the HDTV). I've been stuck in a Macintosh world doing graphic design for the past 7 years so I'm really behind when it comes to PCs.


I'd love any advice, things to start aquiring, bits to steer clear of, and anything else anyone could impart in getting me to my goal.


Thanks a ton!

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Lots of post about this very subject. A good place to start is the FAQ at the top of the page.


For what you want, you need a fairly powerful PC.


Intel P4 at least 2.4 ghz

ATI Radeon 9500 or above

120-200 GB hard drive or more.


Lots of patience and reading. This forum is the best for that. HTPC has a learning curve, and the more you get into it, the more there is to learn.


Worth it though. Besides a great theater experience, game-playing becomes almost surreal. If you play MMORPG's like I do, you will forget all about planet earth.
 

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Gaming is one of the sore spots for HTPCs, but it can be done. It all depends on what your TV is capable of displaying.


Most games don't allow you to specify a different resoultion other than the standard ones like 640x480, 800x600, or 1024x768, etc. So... you'll need to make sure that your display can show these resolutions.


640x480 is no problem for 99% of HDTVs... so if that is a resolution you are happy to play in, then you won't have much of a problem. Anything higher than that, and you start running into problems with your display not being able to show all of the screen, and you end up with a scrolling desktop.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Puwaha
Gaming is one of the sore spots for HTPCs, but it can be done. It all depends on what your TV is capable of displaying.


Most games don't allow you to specify a different resoultion other than the standard ones like 640x480, 800x600, or 1024x768, etc. So... you'll need to make sure that your display can show these resolutions.
I would say it's the other way around. Almost all current games (that I play) support custom resolutions.
 

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Good places to start are the semi-monthly recommended systems at sites like sharkeyextreme.com and anandtech.com


These sites recommend gaming configurations for a variety of budgets. One thing to bear in mind when reading them is that the components they specify are for optimal gaming and not necessarily optimal for HTPC. The main difference is quietness, but there are other differences as far as sound and video output quality go. Generally, gaming machines go for raw power and game compatibility, and for HTPC one has to compromise things like processor and video card horsepower in order to keep quiet, and the best components for sound and video quality in HTPC have not historically been the best ones for game use.


As another poster said, the best thing for you to do is to read the FAQ to establish a base of knowledge and then do searches to drill-down into specific subjects. However, to save you some time if you don't want to go that route I'll go out on a limb and recommend a system (similar to mine) for you that I think is a good compromise between gaming performance and HTPC requirements, on a reasonable budget:


-Antec Sonata case (includes Quiet TruePower 380 powersupply)

-Asus A7N8X Deluxe Motherboard (includes onboard sound and NIC)

-Athlon XP 2400+ CPU

-Coolermaster Aero 7 Heatsink/Fan

-512 MB Corsair, Crucial, or Mushkin RAM

-Radeon 9600 videocard (ATI, Sapphire, Hercules, or Crucial version)

-Seagate Baracuda V 120MB HDD (x2)

-Sony DRU500AX DVD+/-RW Drive

-HiPix DTV-200 HD Tuner / DVR Card

-Logitech wireless mouse & keyboard

-Whatever Dell-branded, Hitachi-based 18" LCD monitor is on sale

-Windows XP (Pro or Home doesn't matter for HTPC purposes)

-PowerDVD 4.0 XP (will probably come with video card)

-WinAmp 2.xx


Just about any of the choices above can be argued - they are all compromises and not every base is covered - but I think this is a realistic setup that will deliver very good HT performance and usability and an excellent gaming experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is great! Thanks for all the responses. Two follow up questions (the Faq is a bit overwhelming at the moment so please forgive me if this is covered).


1) I assume that putting a HD Tuner card in the computer will let you receive broadcast HD signals that will run through the computer and onto the HDTV, correct?


2) Are these tuners, on the whole, cheaper than picking up the 'bolt-on' tuners that the HDTV sales people sell?


Thanks for all your repsonses this is awesome!


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Quote:
1) I assume that putting a HD Tuner card in the computer will let you receive broadcast HD signals that will run through the computer and onto the HDTV, correct?
Yes, and yes sort-of. There are two kinds of DTV tuner cards. The HiPix and other older ones have their own VGA outputs which you can connect them directly to your TV/Projector (depending on your TV, you may need an adapter or a transcoder). You can also connect these in a loop-back configuration so that your main VGA out and the DTV card's go to the monitor / TV at the same time. Recently several tuner-only cards have come out that use the computer's video card for part of the processing and screen rendering (this is desirable for a lot of reasons). These newer cards are cheaper and may have performance advantages over the older ones, but the software is immature.

Quote:
2) Are these tuners, on the whole, cheaper than picking up the 'bolt-on' tuners that the HDTV sales people sell?
Yes, much cheaper. Also, they generally perform as well as the very best STBs. Most importantly, they let you record to your hard drive and provide rudimentary PVR functionality - can't get that from an STB.
 

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Keep in mind that PC HDTV cards only do OTA, whereas most STB's also have satellite HDTV receivers.


Also - if you live in an area with marginal receptions, most PC HDTV cards are not as good as STB's at locking on to weak signals.
 
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