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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have the option to put the xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on on my HTPC. My question is should I take that route? Along with PowerDVD and an x-fi Elite sound card, will I get better PQ and SQ? Or should I not even bother and continue using via the xbox 360 console?


and I'm aware of the possible limitations I face and that I may need to upgrade:

athlon 64 3200+

1GB Memory

6600GT OC (via component)


Which I guess brings up another question, DVI (HDCP) or Component? I here about better black levels with component but will I lose out on other PQ benefits? Any help is appreciated.
 

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From my experience, PowerDVD 7 Ultra has poor PQ. Banding/contouring and poor skin tones. No amount of tweaking the PowerDVD color controls can fix it. What a waste of money!


Oh - you will need HDCP for the HTPC, unless you use VGA output only. I assume component will work too.


If you use component on the HTPC, the XBOX 360 will probably look better if you use its VGA output.
 

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My experience is different. When I first tried PowerDVD with a 7900GT it would only work with 92.91 drivers and even then the colors were off. However, on my other HTPC using a 7800GT it worked perfectly using the latest 93.71 drivers. I am using component to get past the HDCP issue. I have since picked up a couple more 7800GT's because they work so well in this application. So, IMO, picture quality is at least equal and maybe better when using my HTPC versus using the XBox 360. The sound, however, again IMO, is significantly better with my HTPC.
 

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I compared the beginning of Training Day with the XBox ,my 3,4Ghz Dualcore PC with

MSI 7600 GT Diamond plus and as third player my Notebook with ATI x1700 Gcard.

The projector is a Sony Pearl.The original HDDVD is in the Xbox and on the

Computers i play the Evo File from the Harddisc.So all 3 Players run simultaneous

and i can switch the input of the Pearl.

XBox with YUV has the softest picture but on the positiv side nearly no color banding.

PC with HDMI ,DVI 1080p60 or 24 and PWDVD Ultra has a sharper picture but terrible

color banding.When the sun rise there are more the 10 vertical lines in the picture.

The same problem with VGA and YUV.

When i use PWDVD 6.5 there is less color banding with HDMI and DVI and

nearly no color banding when using VGA 1080 24psf with a little bit more

sharpness,detail then with the XBox.

It shouldn't be that the newer retail version produce a bader picture then

the older 6.5 who can't play the newer HDDVD's.

Notebook with DVI 1080p60 or 24 and PWDVD Ultra has same sharpness then

PC and noticeable less color banding.But still more then XBox or with 6,5 VGA.

So i think it's to early to upgrade your PC.
 

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Sorry for hijacking this thread a bit here, but I wasn't getting any answers where I posted this in a new thread I created, so maybe someone here can provide some insights?


I need some advice on upgrading my now 4 year old HTPC.

My dilemma (as you can discern from my existing system) is that my mobo has no PCIe, and thus I can't just simply upgrade my video card as might be the solution to all of the questions below. Thus if I am to move to PCIe, I must replace my CPU, mobo, RAM and video card.

So therefore, the questions I have are geared around not having to upgrade unless I need to, but whilte still achieving adequate playback potential.


What I use it for and how I use it (in order of importance):

HD file playback (MPEG2, h264 (see question #2 as it is not for playback of h.264 from HDDVD or Bluray)


Theatertek 2.4, Purevideo with HW acceleration enabled through a 6600GT, with some detail enhancement and noise reduction through the Nvidia Control Panel


DVD playback


Theatertek 2.4 & FFDShow


Other file playbacks (ex. divx, avi, etc.)


Theatertek 2.4 & FFDShow OR Media Player Classic (if can't play with TT)



Questions I have:

1. Big question: Is upgrading my existing hardware to the proposed system (detailed below) going to provide me with any benefit that I can not achieve with my existing hardware and the Media Player Classic, Haali Splitter & CoreAVC combo that presumably is able to play h.264 very efficiently?


Right now, I can play most 1080i .ts files smoothly (even some labelled as h.264) with Theatertek/Purevideo. However, I cannot for others labelled h.264 (why? - is it because some are MPEG2 and others are something else like mkv or something? This is where I am really lacking knowledge, and thus what I am most confused about). Do I need to just use the CoreAVC combo to achieve smooth playback of these h.264 files without needing to upgrade any hardware?



2. I have an Xbox 360 with HDDVD addon. What pq benefits would I get building a PC with a Nvidia 7600GT video card and a Core2Duo CPU, etc. as recommended in some guide threads on this forum?


I'm thinking none, as I don't need to playback HDDVDs on it, which the Xbox 360 with HDDVD addon is fully capable of doing on its own. However, is the true benefit of going the super-PC route that you can play HDDVD files, without necessarily requiring the disk they originated from?



3. If in Question #1 the answer is that I should be ok with the CoreAVC combo on my current hardware: What impact would upgrading to the proposed system below have for my uses (just fishing here for any practical reason to upgrade)?


4. What impact does the difference between 512 DDR2 533Mhz RAM and twice that amount have for my specific video needs?


I've read that there is no benefit above 512mb, but is this true? (purely a cost savings question here).



5. What recommended critical system components would you require to use FFDShow on HD .ts files (bypassing Purevideo HW)? Can this be used on h264 files as well using the CoreAVC combo? Or is FFDShow resizing/sharpening just to intense for current available hardware and with HD file playback.


6. What is the recommended best way to achieve superior pq with DVDs?


Is it still DScaler's inverse telecine version of the codec through Zoomplayers customized media playback, or is just using the CoreAVC combo good for DVD as well?



7. I've read that CoreAVC will soon support GPU hareware acceleration. What does this mean for my existing system setup's ability to play h.264?


8. PowerDVD: I have read that using this option allows offloading to the GPU for h.264 playback. Is this the best option to go with for an all around player for all of my uses? Or can I achieve betterpq/smoother playback with a CoreAVC.



Existing Critical System components:

P4 2.8C 800Mhz 512K CPU o/c'd to 3.02

P4P800-SE mobo

No name 1GB DDR 400mhz RAM

BFG Nvidia 6600GT AGP o/c'd to 575/1.25


Proposed Critical System components:

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86Ghz 2MB cache CPU


Translated into a solo CPU, what Ghz does this equal?


Asus P5B-E mobo


Mainly because of the firewire ports and the optical SPDIF out that I need


Corsair 512MB DDR2 533mhz Value RAM

MSI 7300GT (350Mhz) 256MB PCIexpress


Sorry for the long post.
 

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I'll re-iterate my earlier recommendation. Unless you really WANT to build an HD-DVD capable machine right now, stick with the 360.


Things will be a lot more stable later in the year and prices will be better to boot.
 

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


I'll re-iterate my earlier recommendation. Unless you really WANT to build an HD-DVD capable machine right now, stick with the 360.


Things will be a lot more stable later in the year and prices will be better to boot.

Excellent advice. However, what if you want to play h264 HD files and not HDDVDs? n your opinion would it be worth it at this time for this purpose?
 

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


I have the option to put the xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on on my HTPC. My question is should I take that route? Along with PowerDVD and an x-fi Elite sound card, will I get better PQ and SQ? Or should I not even bother and continue using via the xbox 360 console?


and I'm aware of the possible limitations I face and that I may need to upgrade:

athlon 64 3200+

1GB Memory

6600GT OC (via component)


Which I guess brings up another question, DVI (HDCP) or Component? I here about better black levels with component but will I lose out on other PQ benefits? Any help is appreciated.

I have both and checked it on my 4.2m wide screen with a Ruby. I was extremly disappointed when I tried the 360. The HTPC is much better, but you need to



- disable purevideo / hardware acceleration

- have a core duo like mine running at high speed (3.6 ghz)

- Use a Nvidia card (have not tried ATI, but Nvidia from the past was better than my ATIs I had before) with HDCP via DVI

- re-calibrate the drivers-settings to get rid of colour problems as mentioned


Than you have a picture, which is extremly good. Much better than Xbox. Needless to say that the xbox is loud like a chain.saw-massacre, while my PC is build in a way that you can't hear it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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


I have both and checked it on my 4.2m wide screen with a Ruby. I was extremly disappointed when I tried the 360. The HTPC is much better, but you need to



- disable purevideo / hardware acceleration

- have a core duo like mine running at high speed (3.6 ghz)

- Use a Nvidia card (have not tried ATI, but Nvidia from the past was better than my ATIs I had before) with HDCP via DVI

- re-calibrate the drivers-settings to get rid of colour problems as mentioned


Than you have a picture, which is extremly good. Much better than Xbox. Needless to say that the xbox is loud like a chain.saw-massacre, while my PC is build in a way that you can't hear it.

Rather than starting a new thread, I'll continue with this one.


multiblitz, you mentioned "re-calibrate the drivers-settings to get rid of colour problems as mentioned". I'm assuming your talking about the Color banding issue. I'm having the same problem. I also noticed that adjustments within PowerDVD does nothing to the image. I also tried running a SD DVD's THX Optimizer from within PowerDVD to calibrate but couldn't get any rectangles to show in the white box. I soon discovered that bringing up the nVidia display properties (and just leaving it in the background) brought me my 8 rectangles in the Contrast screen test. Weird! Anyway, where are you calibrating your settings?


And does anyone know if the color-banding is a PowerDVD issue or a possible nvidia 7xxx issue? I've read that somewhere but don't remember where.


And BTW, I've tested King Kong on both xbox 360 and HTPC and Holy Crap! The detail on the HTPC was astounding! It even began choking my X2 4200+ PC when skipping chapters...
 

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There are only two video cards that I would consider using for the optimum video quality of HD DVD and BD playback:


The Nvidia 8800 line (GTS or GTX).


The ATI X1950XTX.


Both cards support HDCP from the DVI (HDMI Capable) ports.


The PC allows complete AR control via YXY.

The PC supports any output refresh rate, including 24PsF, 48P, and 72P.

The PC delivers much better image quality than the XBox 360 as long as you have one of the two video cards mentioned above and enough CPU processing power to avoid DXVA hardware assist decoding.

Cyberlink is about to release an update to PowerDVD Ultra on 2/9 that addresses the current issues with HD DVD playback of certain discs.


Bottom Line:


You are going to spend a bundle to build an HDPC that can deliver optimum HD image quality. If you are not ready to do so, then use your XBox. Do NOT use Vista 64bit. Best not to use Vista 32bit either. XP is your best bet today.


Vern
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vern Dias /forum/post/0


There are only two video cards that I would consider using for the optimum video quality of HD DVD and BD playback:


The Nvidia 8800 line (GTS or GTX).


The ATI X1950XTX.


Both cards support HDCP from the DVI (HDMI Capable) ports.


The PC allows complete AR control via YXY.

The PC supports any output refresh rate, including 24PsF, 48P, and 72P.

The PC delivers much better image quality than the XBox 360 as long as you have one of the two video cards mentioned above and enough CPU processing power to avoid DXVA hardware assist decoding.

Cyberlink is about to release an update to PowerDVD Ultra on 2/9 that addresses the current issues with HD DVD playback of certain discs.


Bottom Line:


You are going to spend a bundle to build an HDPC that can deliver optimum HD image quality. If you are not ready to do so, then use your XBox.


Vern

Yes! Vern Dias! You're the one I read about regarding the 7xxx problem. based on your recommendations, I have a few more questions for you if you wouldn't mind answering them. And the whole HTPC vs Xbox Thing? I've already made my transition to the dark side and I can't stop.



1. I know you have an 8xxx card. Why didn't you go the ATI route? at 650Mhz core, I would think that would help quite a bit for HD & BD Decoding.


2. Was it really the 7xxx causing the banding issue and not PowerDVD? It's really annoying me and I still have time to return it and get another card. I have the 7950GT.


3. Do you own or have you seen the Toshiba stand alone players in action? If so, do they outperform an HTPC with these specs, PQ wise? how about audio-wise?


Thanks for the quick feedback. Thought this thread was dead...
 

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I too was debating getting an 360 or upgrading my HTPC for HD-DVD. And I have about the EXACT same computer config as you. Turns out, after adding the cost of a new HDCP video card, HD-DVD software, and potentially a faster cpu, the 360 ended up simply being way cheaper. Moreover, the lack of integration with MCE2005 (as in you have to launch PowerDVD seperately) seems like a big downer to me.


Anyways, long story short....I've watched exactly 1 HD-DVD movie (Superman Returns)...in the meantime, I've logged 100+ hours of Gears of War. I've totally forgotten why I picked up the HD-DVD drive
 

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Quote:
1. I know you have an 8xxx card. Why didn't you go the ATI route? at 650Mhz core, I would think that would help quite a bit for HD & BD Decoding.

Actually, I have one system running an NVidia 880GTX and another running the ATI X1950 XTX. The 8800's are DirectX 10 compliant. I don't believe the ATI's are.


Since I don't run DXVA assist on either card, I don't see a significant difference in CPU utilization between the two.

Quote:
2. Was it really the 7xxx causing the banding issue and not PowerDVD? It's really annoying me and I still have time to return it and get another card. I have the 7950GT.

Well, it doesn't happen with either the 8800 or the X1950 XTX. The 7950 just couldn't seem to handle 1080 playback at the best quality settings, either.

Quote:
3. Do you own or have you seen the Toshiba stand alone players in action? If so, do they outperform an HTPC with these specs, PQ wise? how about audio-wise?

I have a Toshiba HD-D1 and Panasonic BD player. The video quality I get from PowerDVD is as good or better than either of these players. From an audio perspectivem I am using 7.1 channel analog out from the PC and it again matches or exceeds the analog out from the Toshiba and the Panny. Not to mention the fact that the HTPC is perfect on HDCP handshakes while the Tosh and the CII scaler combination sucks in that area.


HDMI all around.....


The only negative right now to PowerDVD is the incompatibility with certain HD DVD discs. This friday, Cyberlink is due to issue a patch to correct this.


Vern
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the reply Vern. I guess that pretty much confirms the banding issue. If you don't see it anymore, it's gotta be the card. I'll be RMA'ing mine tommorrow. I just have to figure out whether it's going to be ATI or nVidia. And a "case closed" on the stand-alone player too. Despite what my wife thinks. I hate all this tinkering.
 
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