How would this bad boy do as an HTPC?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Frank Grimes, Feb 22, 2003.

  1. Frank Grimes

    Frank Grimes Second Unit

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    How would my nigh-three-year-old Gateway (don't laugh) perform as an HTPC? Would I even be able to hook this up to a VGA input on a projector? Would purchasing an AllinWonder 8500DV and doubling the RAM be a worthwhile upgrade? I would mostly be wanting to use it for movies and such, but would like just enough umph to get by with some of the newer FPS games (read Deus Ex 2). Sorry for being vage overall, I'm just pretty ignorant in the matter.

    Processor: AMD Athlon 750 MHz
    Installed L2 cache: 256K
    RAM included: 128MB
    Hard disk size: 20GB
    Maximum RAM: 384MB
    RAM type: PC100 SDRAM
    Graphics memory type: SDRAM
    Graphics memory amount: 32MB
    Graphics chip set: nVidia NV5 M64
    Hard disk rotational speed: 7200 RPM
    Hard disk interface: Ultra ATA
    DVD-ROM drive speed: 12X
    Graphics card: Riva TNT2 M64
     
  2. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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    I'd up the ram to at least 384, and replace the graphics card with a newer Radeon variant. I'm not a big fan of the AIW series though - I think a Radeon 9x00 and a separate video capture card would be better
     
  3. Frank Grimes

    Frank Grimes Second Unit

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    What's wrong with the AIW cards? Can the 9700 be had for under $200, as I would like to keep the card+ RAM under $300. Do you think that 250megs RAM and the 8500 would be a worthwhile ~$250 upgrade? To sum all of my questions up, will my processor basically prevent noticeable performance enhancement with 256Meg RAM/ATI 8500, and with my both the ATI and my current TNT being 64meg cards, will actual gaming performance get better? Sorry about the somewhat annoying post, it's all question marks and no periods...
     
  4. Daniel Alan

    Daniel Alan Agent

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    the 9700 cannot be had for under 200, but the 9500 pro can be and for a HTPC you will not notice a difference. Oh, and I think that 256megs of ram would be plenty and 128 would be OK, but what you may want is a bigger HDD to store stuff.

    yes the 8500 is more than enough with the processor you have, but I would get the 8500LE with 128megs of ram, its actually cheaper than the 64 normal 8500 (the LE stands for light edition) and you can overclock the le to normal speeds easy and with little to no risk
     
  5. Frank Grimes

    Frank Grimes Second Unit

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    OK, I figured Crucial.com was the place to buy RAM, but tigerdirect sells it for a decent amount cheaper. Why would there PC133 RAM be cheaper than the PC100 (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati..._tlc.asp?id=10)? I know that my computer won't benefit from the 133, but could I just buy it instead of the 100 to save some cash?

    As for the 8500LE, it doesn't appear to me to be quite the HTPC type card the AIW 8500DV is. I definitely would like to improve gaming, but I was also looking forward to possibly using my PC as a VCR of sorts and copy some shows to CD (a biggie since "The Critic" on DVD doesn't look to be happening). I'm not terribly concerned about the HD size as it holds plenty enough MP3's for me and I would only have about 3 games installed at a time.
     
  6. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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    PC133 is cheaper than 100 because of quantity available. you can use it without problem, just not to its maximum capability.

    If you want to do PVR type stuff and recording, you don't want an AIW. you want something with software that actually works, which is why I recommended a base radeon with an additional capture card. go check out the HTPC forum at avscience for more info on why you don't want an AIW...
     
  7. Kyle

    Kyle Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, that config would work fine. I have a Gateway select 950

    Processor: AMD Athlon 950 MHz
    Installed L2 cache: 256K
    RAM included: 512MB
    Hard disk size: 120GB
    Maximum RAM: 1.5 gig
    RAM type: PC133 SDRAM
    Graphics memory type: SDRAM
    Graphics memory amount: 128MB
    Graphics chip set: nVidia Geforce 4 ti4600
    Hard disk rotational speed: 7200 RPM
    Hard disk interface: Ultra ATA
    DVD-ROM drive speed: 2X (old Toshiba)
    Hauppauge PVR 250
    Sound: Sound Blaster audigy
    Monitor: Toshiba 57HDX82
    Windows XP Media Center edition

    I have to use a RCA transcoder, since the DVI port gave a rolling picture.
     
  8. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Frank:

    I think your computer would perform fine. My computer is a similar model (Gateway with 800MHz processor + an AIW 7500), and it can do video capture duty fairly well. I also love most of the features on the 7500 - I use the computer as a makeshift bedroom TV, and with the RF remote, I can control the TV from under the covers. I also schedule it to record CSI every Thursday while I'm going to a night class at college. It fits my needs perfectly. Quite a nice deal.

    As for Matt's suggestion to get seperate cards for TV Capture and graphics -- I wouldn't. While the AIWs DO have a few problems left to iron out, I think the added complexity of 2 chips would make this problem worse instead of better. The more cards you have in your computer, the higher the probability that one of them will cause a problem. The All-In-Wonders also have a nice bundle of stuff that you don't get with most standalone cards, so I'd stick with them.

    As long as you update the drivers on your cards regularly, you shouldn't see any major problems with the AIWs.

    Instead of getting an All-In-Wonder 9700, though, I'd stick with getting an 8500DV or 7500 instead. While the 9700 is quite nice, I don't think it would really prove its price difference with any computer under 1.5 GHz. I think your computer will be able to chug through games for another 3 to 6 months, but by the time Doom III is out, you MAY want another computer. By this time, a new generation of cards will likely be out, so it will be a bit cheaper to purchase the 9700.

    I'd also consider upgrading my hard drive to AT LEAST 80 GB. If you want to record full-resolution, DVD-grade video, it will take up about 4 GB an hour, and that can REALLY add up quickly. I upgraded my hard drive to 120 and its become half full already with very little recording.

    If you're slightly averse to mucking around inside your computer, you can buy external models of hard drives from just about any store. I actually built my own using my computer's old hard drive and a case I bought online. Don't know if there's any price difference for doing it yourself, but it certainly is useful. If you DO get an external drive, you'll need to make use of a firewire or USB 2.0 connection. The All In Wonders have a FireWire connector on their cards, so you can easily use those if you want to hook an external drive up. The external models will get about half the transfer speed of an internal unit, but it's usually sufficient enough for most files. Also, an external model can be moved onto a new computer if you get one in the near future.

    You can also install a hard drive internally, but it could prove a bit difficult to install everything correctly if you don't know what you're doing. It IS a lot cheaper to install internally, plus it's faster and it takes up less space.

    It's up to you how to upgrade, but I'd strongly recommend a replacement for your hard drive, regardless of where you put it.
     

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