HTPC newbie needs a few questions answered (please!)

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Brian_C_Massey, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. Brian_C_Massey

    Brian_C_Massey Auditioning

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    Hi, I am contemplating turning one of my older PCs into an HTPC.

    It is a Dell Optiplex GX 240, Pentium 4 1.7 GHz, 400MHz FSB, with 768Mb PC133 SDRAM, and a 40Gb 7200 RPM HDD, and an ATI Rage Ultra 16mb graphics card. It is running Windows 2000 Professional.

    I have a spare nVidia GeForce 4 MX 440 64MB AGP 4x video card with TV out that I could throw in it (if this is adequate; nVidia claims it has hardware encoding which I understand is important). I've verified the GX240 has a 4x AGP slot. So, is this card suitable for a basic HTPC? If not, what would you recommend? This PC will not be used for any gaming.

    I have a spare Hitachi 250Gb 7200 RPM PATA drive that I can install into this machine, to be the secondary drive, and store all of the recordings.

    I need to decide on a TV Tuner card, and I think I like the Hauppage 150 or 250. Someone please help me understand the difference.

    I would probably want an RF remote that can penetrate a wall, with about a 20 foot range.

    I probably want a DVD+/-RW drive. Best choices?

    I have no idea what software I should choose. Which is the best/easiest to use?

    The PC only has integrated audio with the little mini out jack. Do I need a soundcard?

    The TV is a 53" rear projection Sony with plenty of composite, S-video, and component inputs available. Also a cheap Dolby ProLogic 5.1 receiver with RCA inputs.

    Have I forgotten anything else?

    Also, this machine is currently acting as a development webserver. I could disable the webserver if it conflicted, or used too many resources, but I'd like to see if I can have the machine handle both duties. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance for your help....
     
  2. Walter Scott

    Walter Scott Agent

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    I, too, would like to hear about this. I am looking at the nVidia GeForce 4 MX 440, the Hauppage 250 and Sage TV.
     
  3. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    winDVD has rather demanding system requirements, although you probably won't need half the new features.

    If you want to listen to DVD soundtracks, you'll want a sound card with 5.1 outputs-- a dolby digital/dts receiver hooked up via S/PDIF would have been optimal, but, you can't have everything. Besides, some DVD Player apps decode DVD-Audio, and that sort of thing requires an analog 5.1 connection. You may want to get a DVD Player application that decodes dts, as well.
    Anyway...

    I would definitely replace the Rage with a better graphics card. The GeForce4 MX may well suffice, although Component Video may not be available with your card.
     
  4. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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