What is my weakest link?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by EricE, Sep 15, 2002.

  1. EricE

    EricE Agent

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    Below is a list of my HTPC components from the CPU all the way to my speakers, where is my weakest link in this system? (Note: I bought this computer way before I really knew what HT was, let alone serious HT Computers)

    PC:

    Dell Dimension XPS T500 on Win 98 SE
    Pentium 3 500 Mhz
    256 MB RAM
    Video Card: 3Dfx VooDoo 3 AGP
    Sound Card: Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
    Hitachi GD-5000 8X DVD-ROM (appears to not support digital connection to sound card, only 4-pin analog)
    Dell 17" Monitor
    Softward DVD Player: Power DVD w/ audio expansion packs, audio is set to Digital Out
    CD Player: Winamp (primary), also have a player that came with my original TB Montego sound card

    Connected to my TBSC Versajack set to Digital Out (RCA jack to Coaxil Digital input) is my Denon AVR-1802 Receiver. My PSB Image 4t Speakers are single wired to the receiver using 14 AWG Copper speaker wire with bare wire connections.

    In review of my system above, what seems to be the weakest link? where can I make significant improvements short of putting together a new computer for home theater use?
     
  2. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    What speed is that RAM? What is your motherboard's FSB speed?
    Assuming you can't get multichannel bitstreams out of your DVD-ROM, I'd say that's the weakest link for sure... especially since a 16X DVD ROM would be less than $50. I'm curious as to your success with this type of application... I posted a thread about the versajack (1/8" digital coax) here, and I'd appriciate it if you could contribute any info. I'm connecting via a similar connection on my Audigy. If you CAN get a multichannel bitstream to your reciever, then the sound card and DVD-ROM would be the last things to replace IMO. Otherwise, they're the first.
    After that I'd tend to say it's the combo of motherboard, processor, and RAM, since these all sort of go together as far as performance ceilings go. 256MB of DDR goes for about $70 these days if I'm not mistaken... an Athlon XP 1500 and a 266Mhz FSB amd motherboard could be had for ~$150-200.
    The last thing would be the video board. While Voodoo3 isnt the best, it's definatley adequate for DVD playback as far as the rest of your system goes. A new video board like the Radeon 9000 would cause a sharp bottleneck in performance...
    Hope I've been of some help.
     
  3. EricE

    EricE Agent

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    Thanks a lot for your input, it does help a lot. I believe my RAM is 100 Mhz, and my motherboard is an Intel 440BX AGPset with an L1 cache of 32 KB SRAM and L2 Cache of 512-KB pipelined write-back SRAM and has a System clock speed of 100 MHz. I'm not sure what all this means, I just copied over from my online manual for my computer. Was this what you were asking about?
     
  4. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, that's enough info... it's about what I figured. Have you had any problems with dolby digital or DTS bitstreams? Can you get them both to your 1802 with no problems?
     
  5. EricE

    EricE Agent

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    They seem to work just fine, switching between DD and DTS streams my receiver does indicate it and the front panel led switches between the 2 showing it is doing the processing for the bit streams. I have PowerDVD set to output Audio to S/PDIF and my TBSC to Digital Output. Now only reason why I can't say 100% that this works is because I don't have a full 5.1 speaker set yet. I just got my mains and am in the process of building my system.
     
  6. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    This is encouraging then, beause DTS .vob files made my computer slow WAY down and horrible things came out of my speakers... maybe it's just me and not the output [​IMG]
    Welp, in that case, leave your DVD-ROM and sound card alone for now, and upgrade your motherboard, processor, and RAM. You kinda have to do it all at once for it to be effective... your RAM wouldnt work in a DDR motherboard... neither would your processor... if your power supply is less than 300W, you might consider stepping that up too.
    That's just my advice though...you may want some other opinions, but I think that would give you the best improvement for your dollar.
     
  7. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    you're really at the very bottom of what you need

    Forget the Voodoo 3, the S-Video out on it is awful. If you step up to a Radeon 7500 or 8500 card, you can get a Component Video adapter from ATI and that will let you direct output to an HD or SD set. The S-Video isn't half bad either
     
  8. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, I was assuming you were connecting via VGA. ALL computer video boards Ive seen have crumby S-video quality... I wouldnt upgrade the video board first... just go with a converter to component output from the VGA... a new board going through a converter would only give you marginal improvement... does that motherboard even support AGP 4X? [​IMG]
     

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