HTPC Video Card advice

Discussion in 'Computers' started by MattGreene, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. MattGreene

    MattGreene Extra

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    I am building a new HTPC and was wondering if it would be better to get a VC with 512mb of GDDR2@450mhz or 256mb of GDDR3@1200mhz. In other words for movie and TV apps is it better to have more mem or faster mem. Thanks in advance for any help!
     
  2. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    As far as I know - completely irrelevant. Playing video isn't exactly taxing for the latter generation video cards.

    The one thing you might want is to get a card that offloads processing of H.264 HD material; I know ATI has a technology they call Avivo that does that nicely, and I'm sure that Nividias cards do too. For that I guess faster memory wouldn't hurt (but again, amount of memory on the card just for showing video is pretty unimportant.)

    I'd say that just about any card out there that isn't downright ancient would do fine for your HTPC. It's gaming you have to buy really pricey cards for.
     
  3. MattGreene

    MattGreene Extra

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    Thanks!
     
  4. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    A good card would be the 7600GS (PCIe). It can handle 1080p h.264 decoding too. Affordable - under $200 US.

    The ATI Radeon X1600 Pro can't do 1080p h.264 decoding - only 720p, so be careful!
     
  5. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Actually, I did not know that last about the X1600, and was actually considering getting one for my own HTPC rig. [​IMG] Good info, thanks.

    Found some more info about it online and they say the X1800 series will decode full 1080P, but you're quite right that a Geforce 7600GS is by far a more economical choice, so Geforce it is for me too.
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    For whatever reasons, some of nVidia's cards don't support H.264 decode acceleration -- including the one I happen to have [​IMG] Be sure to check the list.
     
  7. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    The same is sorta true about the ATI cards - only the X1000 series supports H.264 decoding in the first place.
     
  8. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    I also need to correct myself a bit. I think I was missing a rather important point, and that was that not all cards offload HDTV-decoding equally well.

    For non-HD material I still say it doesn't matter much, but for HD it definitely does.

    Matt's original question was in fact a very good one, because from what I've read lately, memory speed is definitely a factor in decoding HDTV well, or I should say memory speed and core speed both are important. Memory amounts are less so.
     
  9. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Oh - more things to confuse us - I've read a thread on doom9 that refers to threads in the official NVIDIA forums that if your CPU does not support the SSE2 instruction set you will lose h.264 hardware acceleration even if the card supports it!

    So if you have an Athlon XP CPU and get an AGP 7600GS or 7600GT, you're screwed if you want accelerated h.264 decoding! Arrrrgh, how frustrating is that?

    Right now I have a Core 2 Duo E6400 CPU and a 7900GT card - but I use software h.264 decoding with the CoreAVC Pro decoder. The machine is fast enough to do this without hardware acceleration. To heck with NVIDIA - at least software decoding will always work if you throw CPU power at it.
     
  10. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    True, but the Nvidia card would give other advantages too; deinterlacing etc can be done there in the hardware now.

    I agree it is ridiculously hard to get that stuff to work now though. I'm above average at tinkering with this stuff (though hardly an expert) and I spent hours at it yesterday trying to get all aspects of this stuff to work. So far, I've failed. We'll see how it goes.
     
  11. MattGreene

    MattGreene Extra

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    this is my first htpc and while i am going to try to capture hd signals through a dvico card and powered antenna, i am primarily using it for an analog dvr, music server and upscaling dvd player. it will have an fx-57, 2gb of corsair xms ddr1 and i decided on a Radeon x1600 pro w/256gb of gddr3. now if i can get a mobo that works ill be in business! Thanks again for all the help.
     
  12. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    See if you can find a Radeon 1600 with HDMI. There are such beasts out there. That will future proof you a little, at least (no HDMI = no HD discs in that machine in the future.)

    The Radeon should do really well at all normal resolution tasks and quite decently at helping you decode H.264 in 720P. It will choke on 1080P, though but since HD isn't your major consideration it should do quite well.
     
  13. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    Can someone explain to me what all this is about with 720p and 1080p decoding. I've seen cards mentioned here run these things and higher 100% smoothly. I dont know much about it and im having trouble understanding such things like "help you decode 720p" and " no H.264 decoding" when these things as far as I know are done all the time with those cards?
     
  14. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    You can view all HD formats purely in software; for instance, to view H.264 quite well using only your CPU to decode the video the CoreAVC codec is probably the highest regarded.

    The deal with having a card that can help decode is that it lowers the CPU requirements, which helps making sure playback is smooth and of the highest quality. To decode 1080P purely in software you need one heck of a CPU and it has to work hard; with assistance from the video card, the CPU doesn't need to be as beefy/work as hard.

    Also, those cards can do more than just decode, they can process the image to make it sharper, cleaner and better (deinterlacing etc.)

    So, if you have a nice new dual core CPU, you probably don't need help with the decoding, but even then the other processing in the card can be helpful.
     
  15. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    So if you have an AMD X2 CPU which PCIe video card would you get to run 1080p and H.264?
     
  16. sarah99

    sarah99 Agent

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    No video card currently available can do x264 hardware acceleration that works a damn.
    The CoreAVC codec does a better job than the best so called "hardware accelerated" cards. Therefore it doesn't matter what card you have, the cheapest ATI 9100 series with 64 meg of memory ($50) will be as good as the most expensive Nvideo ($500) with all the bells and whistles. Just remember to install CoreAVC (free)

    PS. If you have Power DVD 7 installed, it forces the use of it's own internal codec which is very poor (so x264 is unlikely to work at all)

    In this case you will have to pay for the CoreAVC dual core codec (only the single processor edition of this codec is free) and I can confirm it works very well with Intel dual core processors.
     
  17. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    They may not work all that well yet but there are updates coming out constantly for both graphics card drivers. I wouldn't write off buying a decent graphics card just yet.

    No need to buy a $500 one if there will be no 3D gaming going on, just something good enough. A 7600GS should do the job, and those are around $100.
     
  18. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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    http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/articl...50aHVzaWFzdA==

    PS readup on coreavc playback. if you have a fast enough CPU, coreavc 0.0.0.4 is available for free while coreavc pro 1.1 will set you back some $.

    if you have your eye on HD-DVD/BR playback in the future, you'll want to buy a vc with HDCP rom onboard.
     
  19. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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