HTPC- What equipment do I need?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bryant Brunner, Nov 8, 2002.

  1. Bryant Brunner

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    First off, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm looking at getting a new tv and pc. So any suggestions for equipment are greatly appreciated. I'm looking for the system to serve as my primary pc, hometheater and tv.

    Questions:
    1. What requirements are there for the tv for my to use it as a monitor? (i.e. does it have to have a RGB (15-pin) or DVI input?)

    2. What speed processor, how much RAM is recommended, video card?

    At this point my focus is on picture quality and sound for the above uses.

    Thanks for the help. Really.
     
  2. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    RPTVs don't make great monitors in general-- you might want to consider front projection as an alternative. You CAN, if your tv doesnt have a 15-pin connector, use a VGA transcoder to convert the signal into a component signal that you can hook into the component inputs on your TV. DVI would be the prefered method of connection by most.

    As far as your bones components, this depends on precisely what you'll be using the computer for. You can get by with pretty basic components (low-clock celeron or duron and 256MB of PC-133 ram) if all you want to do is play DVDs and MP3s... but overhead is always a good thing-- and I suggest taking it as far as your budget will allow. Also, the above described system wouldnt be good for much else. In general, any Athlon XP chip or recent P4 with 512MB of DDR should be all you'd need at the top end of things.

    As far as video cards, Radeons seem to be the top pick for home theater use. From there it's going to be determined on how much gaming and high-end graphics processing you'll be doing. A Radeon 7500 makes a perfectly fine card for video playback (generally the top pick). The 9000PRO is good if you're on a budget but still want the ability to do a little gaming, and the 9700PRO is the top of the line gaming card available from ATI at the moment. Some have commented on greyscale problems and conflicts with newer drivers on cards beyond the 7500, but others have noted great results. I'm personally waiting on the 9500PRO to come out-- essentially a slightly stripped version of the 9700... should be good enough for most end users.

    For sound, I suggest you read the meta-FAQ over at AVSforum... I deeply regret getting the Audigy... if I could do it over again, I would have purchased one of the cards from M-Audio.
     
  3. Thomas_Jones

    Thomas_Jones Auditioning

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    Many video cards (especially ATI's wonderful ALL-In-Wonder series) have alternate outputs like s-video or even composite, which you could use to send the signal to your television. But you can lose a lot of image quality with this method, so experiment to see what works best for you.

    Good luck, and enjoy building it yourself.
     
  4. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    All consumer video cards have a sub-standard tv-output... the s-video or composite signal will be poorer than that of a cheap standalone DVD player... and it would also be interlaced if I'm not mistaken.
     
  5. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    People generally don't use HTPCs unless they have a projector. If you do decide to go with a FPTV, a PC around 550-800mhz will be fine for DVD playing, opening up applications for mp3s, etc...
    I have a PC in my home theater but it's not for watching DVD, mainly PC gaming. The GF4 card I'm using now has an S-video out but reading text or anything but gaming and it looks crappy.
    One thing to look for is extra quiet PC parts such as quiet cooling fans and power supplies. You might even want to consider water cooling which is something I really want but I have to catch up with my credit card first. [​IMG]
     

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