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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What sub $100 card is most popular right now that will give me the correct black level on my LED HDMI TV?

I have a Samsung LED TV UN60EH6003F that will be the only monitor attached to a computer that will be used specifically for Windows Media Center and HDhomerun Prime for my Time Warner cable viewing in my garage.
Just want to watch 720P/1080i shows like sports programming and the nature channel while I work on things in my garage.
I may toss in the random BlueRay 1080P movie I suppose.

I have an old fanless DVI card in the Core 2 Duo computer right now. It's HDCP compliant and was very popular here on the forum back in the day. MSI Radeon card. But the computer black level looks horrible on my HDMI LED TV.

Don't care about audio since this will be a two channel setup. Could someone recommend one or three HDMI cards that you know will give great HDMI TV black levels right out of the box?
I don't care if it's fanless or not. Actually a fan would be just fine since it gets hot out there.
 

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Two main things.

1. There's no such thing as an "LED TV", TVs marketed at such are LCD TVs with LED lighting (side/edge, back, etc.). Additionally there's nothing special about it being LED lit or not, when it comes to inputting/displaying correct black levels. However you may have to set either the TV or the videocard (or both) correctly in order to see the correct black levels.


2. Native DVI is only capable of 0-255 levels. If you're using a DVI to HDMI adapter however, newer video cards should allow 16-235 levels if you set it up as such. However older cards and Intel on-board video may not allow for this easily/properly. With older Radeon cards you were required to use a proprietary dongle to get both HDMI audio and Pixel Format selections out of a DVI port. AMD recently dropped that requirement, however it may still apply to older cards (and will definitely apply to older drivers). Can you say what card you actually have and what driver version you're on?


Your best bet is probably just to set up your TV for 0-255 on the input your PC is on, which should give you correct black levels without having to do much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the informative post!

I double-checked, it's an MSI Radeon HD 2600 PRO.
It's actually running the OLD MSI drivers that came in the box, probably from 2009. I couldn't get the latest ATI RADEON driver to work. Kept getting errors in MCE while trying to activate Digital Ready. Something about it not being compatible, can't remember for sure.

I'll head out to the garage to see if the 0-255 is an option on the TV. I don't remember seeing it before or I'd have tried it, but I'll check again. :)

I'm fairly set on upgrading the card though. I want something with HDMI output.
I couldn't find the ATI dongle for DVI to HDMI so I'm using a DVI to HDMI cable. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nope, no specific option on the TV for 0-255 or otherwise.
I did have an HDMI low or normal black level setting.
But can't try it out right now since I'm outside of the OS formatting a drive for my Mothers computer.

I'll probably get the ATI HD6450 if no other suggestions are made.
It works fine on my Mom's computer, though she's using a computer monitor.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X6ABTM/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

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I'd recommend a GeForce 740. I picked up a 4GB EVGA DDR3 model for $100. One of the quirks of Samsung TVs is that you may need to edit the input menu to list the HDMI input that your PC is connected to as "PC", so the TV will properly recognize it with no overscan and proper colors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I picked up a 4GB EVGA DDR3 model for $100.
Thanks for the post!
Does the 4GB help mostly when gaming or will it be used if you have say, 20 different 500MB video files open on your desktop?
I've always kind of wondered how important the onboard RAM is and if it's used for everything or only specific purposes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You know what, that GeForce 740 is a great looking card based on the reviews.
I may re-think this and just get the 740 for my primary HTPC connected to my BenQ W1070 projector and then move my current nVideo GT 520 out into the garage computer. :)
 

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Thanks for the post!
Does the 4GB help mostly when gaming or will it be used if you have say, 20 different 500MB video files open on your desktop?
I've always kind of wondered how important the onboard RAM is and if it's used for everything or only specific purposes.
The 4GB is useful for gaming and other resource-intensive functions. Video - normally - gets punted straight to the video decoding engine on the GPU, so the amount of memory really makes little difference so long as you have at least 1-2GB on the card. If you use shaders/image post-processing software like MadVR, then the memory becomes more relevant. I can say that it is an excellent card for HTPC use and decodes everything I throw at it without so much as a fart of the fan whirling up.
 

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The 4GB is useful for gaming and other resource-intensive functions. Video - normally - gets punted straight to the video decoding engine on the GPU, so the amount of memory really makes little difference so long as you have at least 1-2GB on the card. If you use shaders/image post-processing software like MadVR, then the memory becomes more relevant. I can say that it is an excellent card for HTPC use and decodes everything I throw at it without so much as a fart of the fan whirling up.
Let's be honest though, a 740 is not a powerful enough GPU to warrant 4GB of ram. It's the equivalent of an AMD 250 (non X). It will run out of GPU processing power long before video ram even remotely becomes an issue. 2GB would be more than enough to satisfy this card in terms of capabilities GPU wise.
 

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Two main things.

1. There's no such thing as an "LED TV", TVs marketed at such are LCD TVs with LED lighting (side/edge, back, etc.)
Well, they do exist, but you're correct that what is marketed as "LED TVs" are LCD. OLED Displays have been around for some time, and OLED Televisions are available (if not a little on the pricey side, not unlike Plasma when they were first introduced) too.
 

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What sub $100 card is most popular right now that will give me the correct black level on my LED HDMI TV?

I have an old fanless DVI card in the Core 2 Duo computer right now. It's HDCP compliant and was very popular here on the forum back in the day. MSI Radeon card. But the computer black level looks horrible on my HDMI LED TV.
This is a calibration issue, not a hardware issue. You need to make sure your TV is calibrated to match the output levels of your computer. IIRC some Samsung TVs make weird calibration decision based on which input the PC is connected to, or even the name of the input. Try looking for a PC vs TV setting in your TV (or maybe Limited vs Expanded). Or try connecting your PC to a different input. Also check your playback software, see if there's a setting for PC vs TV levels and change it, or your video driver settings.

Last thing is to just get out some calibration test patterns (AVS709, do a search here) and adjust the brightness contrast correctly.
 

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I think you need to spend $500 or more for a Video Card to be compatible with your Samsung LED TV, because the general rule is that video card has to be 50% of the TV retail price to work properly.

While at it, buy Muffler bearings in bulk, local repair shops charge an arm and a leg for them.

:eek:
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is a calibration issue, not a hardware issue. You need to make sure your TV is calibrated to match the output levels of your computer. IIRC some Samsung TVs make weird calibration decision based on which input the PC is connected to, or even the name of the input. Try looking for a PC vs TV setting in your TV (or maybe Limited vs Expanded). Or try connecting your PC to a different input. Also check your playback software, see if there's a setting for PC vs TV levels and change it, or your video driver settings.

Last thing is to just get out some calibration test patterns (AVS709, do a search here) and adjust the brightness contrast correctly.
Hey Stanger, you're probably right - I recognize your name as being real helpful on the forum.
I do know what was mentioned earlier about the ATI DVI to HDMI dongle being required for correct black level back in the day. That may not be an absolute requirement any longer due to driver capability. Unfortunately, I had compatibility issues with the latest driver and chose not to screw with it.
Kinda have my mind set on a true HDMI card for connectivity and want to make sure I get one that doesn't require me to fiddle too much in order to get the correct black level.

I was a huge HTPC guy here back when the forum first started out but I'm long since worn out on "fiddling".
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
For the record, I know this is calibration. I've never said otherwise.
But calibration goes hand in hand with hardware requirements.
 

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You should be able to get it calibrated with the brightness and contrast controls on the TV, if your issue is that black levels are washed out (gray) rather than blacks being crushed. I'd try that before you go buy another card. You're likely (I'd say better than 50% chance) of having the same issue with any card. HDMI won't magically fix it, it's just a different cable, there's the same handshaking logic on either side (pretty much) whether it's DVI or HDMI.
 

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I know next to nothing about graphics cards compared to some of the others who have chimed in already however when you can pick up a HD 5450 or 6450 hdmi card new for as low as $30 these days that would seem like the best solution to me. If you have no plans to do MadVR or gaming then I don't know what the point would be spending more than that. Meanwhile I'm sure you could work out the configuration to get your current card to work for free, as stranger advises. However if you use your HTPC as much as I do you'd probably save as much on your power bill over the life of the card using an HD 5450 or 6450 as the card itself costs. So why not just switch to the newer hdmi card and be done with it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I may re-think this and just get the [geforce] 740 for my primary HTPC connected to my BenQ W1070 projector and then move my current nVideo GT 520 out into the garage computer. :)
However if you use your HTPC as much as I do you'd probably save as much on your power bill over the life of the card using an HD 5450 or 6450 as the card itself costs. So why not just switch to the newer hdmi card and be done with it?
:D :)
 
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