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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I must admit I am usually quite the researcher but after Black Friday i am lazy and just going to post my situation. I'm very capable with computer hardware but this is my first time delving into home theater PCs.


I just got this TV Samsung 32 inch LN32C350D1DXZA (for my room)


My desktop PC is the bomb.. 6 core Phenom II water-cooled to 4ghz, radeon 5850, 2tb of HDD, etc. However, it is too far from the TV to be of any use plus I want a dedicated box.


Th box I'm thinking of using has an AMD Athlon 2100+ over clocked to 2.2ghz completely stable with 200fsb. It's fairly fast considering the overclocks. It has 2x 120GB WD caviar se drives (no RAID or anything). Motherboard is Abit NF7-S, which has great onboard sound. The video card is a Radeon 9700 Pro. I don't believe there are any PCI-e slots on this motherboard.


What I want to do: I want to be able to play the DivX movies that are stored on my main desktop. I also want to be able to play Netflix and then hulu, in order of importance. In addition, it would be nice to be able to be able to record live TV, pause it, etc. I assume that means I need a TV Tuner card.


Oh, and i want to be able to use either my iPad or Droid X as a remote for this box.


So my questions: how do i connect the box to the TV when there is no HDMI out? It does have DVI and VGA. What OS do I use? Will i be able to easily access my movie library on my other computer? If I get an HD TV Tuner, will it be hard to do so without a PCI-e slot?


My parents have a Samsung BluRay player which allows them to have "apps" and stream Netflix and stuff. I like that set up, but obviously I need something a bit more powerful.


I'm not poor here, but I'm very frugal. TV isn't the most important thing in my life. If I can do something for cheaper with more work, I'll do it. I like projects. If the ability to record live TV would require me buying a new mobo/etc for a new tuner card, then I may forgo it completely. The project doesn't need to be simple, but I'm striving for convenience once its set up.


Thanks for all your help.
 

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DivX movies should be easy. I checked the specs for your TV and it's supposed to have D-SUB input so you can just use that. Just use a separate cable for audio. The other things are a bit more problematic. I think it'll have issues handling Netflix and Hulu (even with hardware acceleration) and it's not really worth it to upgrade. You're better off replacing the darn thing. As for the TV thing, are you subscribing to a pay TV service? What channels do you want to be able to receive on the computer?


My thoughts, just use it for DivX and be happy with it. Try Netflix and Hulu and if it works, lucky you. If you have to spend even $50 on components (TV tuner excluded) in order to get anything to work, then don't bother.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Maybe I'm a bit confused. I'm thinking of turning a computer into a dedicated media box. Isn't that what things like Boxee and XMBC do? How would I not be able to run Netflix with that computer? It's not slow even compared to my six core phenom. When you say "it" will have problems, do you mean the box? What's the bottleneck? I could run Crysis on that thing.. Maybe I'm getting old I don't know.


Also I looked up about getting a DVI to HDMI cable. Isn't that better than VGA? Would it include sound? (I know VGA doesn't)
 

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Netflix can be pretty taxing on the CPU. Then again, they do have lower bitrate streams so if your hardware can't handle it, Silverlight will probably just bump you down to a lower quality stream. Hulu's pretty taxing since you don't have hardware acceleration. My Pentium Dual-Core E2160 1.80 GHz (Allendale) was just barely enough for fullscreen Hulu 480p and it stuttered on Hulu HD. Again just try the services on your system. If they work, good for you. If you experience any stuttering, etc, well we warned you.


Don't bother with DVI -> HDMI. Frankly, I can't really see any difference in picture quality just switching cables on 720p. Since your video card likely doesn't support audio via DVI, you'd still need to get a separate cable for sound.
 

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I have that exact same CPU/Mobo/GPU combo. That hardware is simply not capable of handling full modern HTPC duties. DVD's, Divx, and music is about all you can expect from it. Get another PC if you want more than that. I also assume it's running XP and you'll have hardware acceleration limitations and tearing problems with DXVA/Silverlight/Flash as well. It's just not worth messing with. I would like to see you try running Crysis on it though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The front side bus is nearly doubled from stock.. The overclock puts the clock speed at 33% faster but the FSB can be nearly doubled if I try, allowing the RAM running 1:1 too. I had an x6 phenom so i have no reason to defend it out of pride. The GPU is also heavily overclocked.


If I push it, I can get 230fsb and 2400mhz stable from it. I cant imagine Netflix taxing this but i'll report back if not. What OS should I run? Linux? And run Boxee with it?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo1 /forum/post/19559963


Okay so playing Netflix through Boxee sucks here. If I spent 30 bucks on ebay for a video card with 256mb/512mb of memory, would it work?

Don't bother with Fleabay. Go with a REPUTABLE online vendor.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo1 /forum/post/19559963


Okay so playing Netflix through Boxee sucks here. If I spent 30 bucks on ebay for a video card with 256mb/512mb of memory, would it work?

That depends. Define "suck". Does the video stutter or something? Bad picture quality? A detailed description would help. Also, do you know if Boxee uses Silverlight? If it does, you're pretty much screwed. Silverlight's heavy on the CPU. Not so much on GPU. Even if you replace the GPU, I doubt that's gonna solve your problem. Yes, HTPC's don't require much processing power but don't you think an 8-year old CPU is expecting too much?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It is stuttering. I realize that my PC is old but I don't have trouble playing Netflix outside of Boxee.. Should there be a difference? I also would like to think it's better than most current "budget" computers considering the video card. I didn't realize Boxee's had to be so powerful.


I see nothing wrong with eBay for old parts. 4-5 year old computer parts are worth nothing.. If i could pick up a motherboard supporting dual core CPUs for $25 and it breaks in a year, it was worth it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo1 /forum/post/19561924


I see nothing wrong with eBay for old parts. 4-5 year old computer parts are worth nothing.. If i could pick up a motherboard supporting dual core CPUs for $25 and it breaks in a year, it was worth it.

Yeah, there is nothing wrong with ebay parts but when prices for new parts are less than those found on ebay, it doesn't make much sense.

For instance Newegg has a uATX Intel board for $20 AR w/ free shipping & no taxes.

Last weekend they had a HD 5550 video card with audio & HDMI port for $10 AR.

And these are brand new items with the full warranty.

You can't find similar deals on ebay.

Of course you are limited to AGP cards, deals on those would be hard to come by.
 

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Boxee has a lot of processing overhead. You aren't going to find a video card that will get the rest of your hardware around that. I don't know what OS you're running, but it doesn't have DXVA support in XP either. You're squeezing water from a stone man.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo1 /forum/post/19561924


It is stuttering. I realize that my PC is old but I don't have trouble playing Netflix outside of Boxee.. Should there be a difference? I also would like to think it's better than most current "budget" computers considering the video card. I didn't realize Boxee's had to be so powerful.

One reason I can think off, Boxee is also eating CPU cycles. As for budget computers, integrated graphics have actually caught up with your GPU. Besides, your GPU is only good for gaming. It doesn't have features such as hardware decoding (not that Netflix uses it). Seriously, you're better off buying a cheap motherboard (785G or 880G), cheap CPU (Athlon II X2) and 2GB DDR3 instead of trying to upgrade your current PC. You'll probably find that even if you spend money on a new video card, etc, it still won't be good enough for certain things.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hirent /forum/post/19562096


Yeah, there is nothing wrong with ebay parts but when prices for new parts are less than those found on ebay, it doesn't make much sense.

For instance Newegg has a uATX Intel board for $20 AR w/ free shipping & no taxes.

Last weekend they had a HD 5550 video card with audio & HDMI port for $10 AR.

And these are brand new items with the full warranty.

You can't find similar deals on ebay.

Of course you are limited to AGP cards, deals on those would be hard to come by.

o.

Exactly. This in the KNOW, stopped using eBay 3 years ago.
 
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