Ready to buy HTPC: Final check

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Matthew Todd, Dec 13, 2001.

  1. Matthew Todd

    Matthew Todd Second Unit

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    I'm ready to buy an inexpensive HTPC and this is what I'm thinking of putting in it right now. What do you think? Would you change anything?

    I'm going to be using this to drive an Ampro 2000D 7" CRT front projector for video (bandwidth of 56kHz) and an Onkyo TX-DS656 for audio (DD only, no DTS capability yet).

    This is what I'm thinking so far:

    Processor/Motherboard: Duron 800Mhz and compatible Mobo

    Memory: 256 MB SDRam (Crucial or Kingston)

    HD: 40 GB 5400 RPM (Western Digital, Maxtar, or Fujitsu)

    Video Card: Radeon VE

    Sound Card: SB Live Value II (4830 or 4832)

    DVD-Rom: Toshiba 12x

    OS: Win 98 SE

    Do you see any compatibility problems here or anything else I should consider?

    I am planning on using the Theatertek software player and need something that is going to provide SPDIF digital output for the Onkyo receiver.

    I was considering using a SB Live 5.1 until I learned that generally it will not do SPDIF digital out. The digital output is out of spec on its voltage. I've been told that the Value II (4830 or 4832) does not have this problem. Can anyone confirm this?

    I'm not building this myself, but I have a friend who will do this for $675. Of course it also comes with a keyboard, mouse and 3.5" disk drive, etc.

    Anything else I should consider, or is this going to work well?

    I could get DDR Ram for $50.00 more if it would help. I could change from a Duron 800 to an Athlon 800 for about $15 more if it would help.

    Anyone know anything about the ATI Expert video card? It would save me about $35 over the Radeon VE. I was told it has the same hardware DVD decoding as the Radeon.

    Just looking for approval before I make it final!

    Thanks,

    Matt
     
  2. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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    You may want to consider the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz soundcard. It does 5.1 and S/PDIF output. You can get it for $65 at Newegg.
     
  3. Matthew Todd

    Matthew Todd Second Unit

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    Thanks for the help John. Do you know if the digital out on the Santa Cruz card works? You would think that there wouldn't be so many compatibility problems floating around!

    The $50.00 more for DDR Ram is both for the Ram and the MOBO upgrade. I think he said the Ram is about $30 more and the MOBO is about $20 more (total $50.00).

    The $675 includes a case with the required heatsinks/fans. (I told him I want this thing to be a quiet as possible)

    So you would recommend springing the extra $50.00 for DDR Ram?

    I would be happy to go with the Santa Cruz sound card if it doesn't have problems with it's digital out and I can use it with the Theatertek software DVD player.

    Matt
     
  4. Marty Christion

    Marty Christion Stunt Coordinator

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  5. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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  6. Paul_H

    Paul_H Extra

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    I have the Santa Cruz card and am satisfied with it. The digital output is in the standard S/PDIF. You can also hook up 5.1 channel analog. I have not used the digital output but the analog outputs have almost no noise even with the gain all the way up on computer and reciever. It should be noted "The Santa Cruz does not do true Dolby Digital in hardware, despite that capability being built into the Cirrus Logic chipset that powers it – that capability must be provided via software such as PowerDVD (which is included). This is due to Turtle Beach not licensing the trademark and hence being unable to legally activate that function." Via FAQ for Santa Cruz How would this affect performace will decoding DVDs too? I would expect a minimal load on an 800MHz.
    The original drivers were a little weird but I haven't had any problems in the past 9 months. I wouldn't expect any compatiblity issues digital output on CD drive into soundcard to digital output. The A/D conversion in the Santa Cruz takes place at 18 bit so you would be losing some possible resolution compared to your reciever DAC. This would happen if drive was hooked up to cards analog input(when else?). Santa Cruz is far superior to the Sound Blasters in that price range.
    You might want to consider a professional card since this is for dedicated sound setup. The Hoontech DSP24 cost $124 with just analog outputs(beter DAC than your reciever) and $178 with digital output depending on your budget.
    I would go with Windows 2000 Professional which might cause you more problems to setup, but save you the irritation of 99% of whole system crashes. Hard disk speed can be an issue if you plan of playing music and video and doing something else on your computer. If 7200 rpm wasn't much more I would go for it.
     

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