A few HTPC questions

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Mike SD, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. Mike SD

    Mike SD Auditioning

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    After a much thought, I've decided to turn my old, spare PC into a HTPC, mainly to be used as a PVR (as opposed to using Comcast's PVR). It's specs:
    • AMD 1GHz T-bird CPU
    • Abit KT7A-Raid MB
    • SB Live! 5.1 card
    • 256MB RAM
    • 60GB HDD
    • GeForce 256DDR 32MB
    • Win2k Pro

    Currently, the GeForce 256 DDR video card can only output 640x480 to my SDTV; that won't due (Powerstrip didn't help). My main PC has an ATI Radeon 9500 Pro that does a pseudo 800x600 desktop with good clarity, so I'm currently watching Ebay auctions for a Radeon 9200 (should be similar output).

    I'd like to grab a Beyond TV bundle that comes with a TV Capture (w/ MPEG Decoder) card and IR blaster. I'm also looking for a cheap HTPC case. Finally, my questions:
    1. I'd love to use my programmable remote from my Onkyo 595 receiver, but do I need to first purchase a Beyond TV compatible remote so my Onkyo remote can learn from it?
    2. Is there a better option than ATI cards for TV output? The 9200's are in the $40 range.
    3. Can someone recommend a quiet, ATX HTPC case for under $150?[/list=1]

      I'm hoping to spend around $350 to get this up and running.

      Thanks!
      Mike

      PS - You'd think a HT site's spell checker would recognize Onkyo [​IMG]
     
  2. Harold Wazzu

    Harold Wazzu Supporting Actor

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  3. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Supporting Actor

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    Sorry I can't help with the questions, but I would seriously look into at least doubling the amount of RAM of your computer for that kind of use. You'll definitely notice the smoother performance.
     
  4. Matt Wright

    Matt Wright Stunt Coordinator

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    1. Yes

    2. Don't bother with ATI's TV-out. NVIDIA's is quite a bit better. Most find NVIDIA's to be sharper and have more color detail. You could grab something like a good quality GeForce FX 5200 and you should be fine.

    3. Harold Wazzu already mentioned a very good option.

    I don't see an optical drive listed, do you have a DVD-ROM drive already? if not, I would suggest you grab a DVD burner so you could archive things.

    Also the 60GB will have to go, you will fill that up quickly and I guarantee you, given its' age, it will be noisy. A modern large hard drive from Seagate or Samsung will be a refreshing change for the quieter.
     
  5. Mike SD

    Mike SD Auditioning

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    I currently have a DVD writer on my main PC, so I'll just transfer the files over my network. Also, I don't plan to have a DVD player in the PC just yet, since my stand alone Sony player has served me well.

    I'm hoping the 60GB HDD will be adequate for now.

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  6. Matt Wright

    Matt Wright Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes that is due to the age. In older NVIDIA cards it was up to the to graphics card manufacturer to choose an extra 3rd party TV-out chip to drive the TV-output. It could be one of many vendors that were compatible with NVIDIA's GPUs; Some stunk, some were pretty good. Modern NVIDIA GPUs have NVIDIA's own in-house designed TV-out circutry that works very well.
     
  7. Mike SD

    Mike SD Auditioning

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    Ahhh, thank you very much. I had one concern with ATI and that was due to some instability when I had my Radeon in my older PC (it's the reason why I built a new one). This opens up my options. [​IMG]
     
  8. Mike SD

    Mike SD Auditioning

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    Well I got started on building this during the weekend and I hit more damn road bumps that I care to admit. For starters, my Onkyo reciever wasn't recieving a digital signal from my SB Live 5.1's SP/DIF. Then, the IR Blaster from the WinTV 150 card wasn't changing my older Comcast digital cable box. Finally, to top it all off, Direct X apps (which Beyond TV is) are having major problems such as text smearing, texture tears, and freezing.

    Turns out my motorboard (which was never stable to begin with) was the culprit as it doesn't play nice with newer cards. I bit the bullet and upgraded the motorboard to an Abit AN-7. Had to get new DDR memory, but I was able to re-use my Athlon 1GHz CPU. As a bonus, it has onboard optical outputs, and real time 5.1 decoding.

    So that leaves me with the IR blaster problem, thoguh I haven't got that far along with building up the new PC. I should be tackling that problem tonight.

    Now why was it it didn't pay $10 a month for Comcasts DVR feature?.... [​IMG]
     

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