£150 Home Cinema PC Upgrade - Possible?



Thanks to everyone that helped with my laptop question - but it looks like I may have to use my old PC instead..... Thing is - there are lots of questions I need to ask. So, any help with any of them would be appreciated.

I have a celeron 433 with 128meg of ram and I want to turn this into a home PC but my budget is VERY small. Around £150 small!

So, is it worth adding a new 40gig hard drive (best?), a pioneer DVD drive (looks good - region free) and Radeon graphics card to this machine?

At the moment it plays some stuff okay but others are jittery.

Would the Radeon card take over most of the strain?

Everyone seems to think the Radeon 9000 is a great card for the price - but will it pass through the DTS sound to the TV? Are there 3-4 separate audio cables or just one?

Do people use the S-Video output on the Radeon for the pictures?

Or should I just forget trying to upgrade this machine and wait until I win the lottery for a proper system?! ;)


Prominent Member
Hi and welcome,

What was it you were particularly trying to get out of a HTPC?

I don't think using a PC based DVD player makes much sense if you are running to a normal TV, such as you have to over S-Video.

This is because this only carries normal, standard definition, interlaced video.

HTPC's (and any deinterlacer/scaler kit) only come into their own if you have a progressive display device, like a projector, plasma, lcd or high-definition TV or simply out to a high-resolution pc monitor. Then their progressive "VGA" output can be used to drive the component inputs, plus using the great scaling of a Radeon graphics card.

Unfortunately very few TV's can take this in Europe and S-Video connections don't carry it. S-Video outputs from a HTPC look only as good if not worse than domestic players, plus you have all the hassle of having to craft remote control, boot time, WAF, etc.

If you wanted to try, then the Radeon 9000 would be a low-cost way to try. Ensure hardware assisted dvd decoding is running in your software player and the CPU might be powerful enough as-is.

Alternatively, what are domestic DVD players like for that budget?



Thanks for the reply!

The reason I want a HTPC is because I have oodles of Vob's and MPG's I want to play straight onto my TV without having to burn to CD and swap the VCD's halfway through. I also want to stick some silly DTS intros and "Coming Soon" kinda things on the front of the movies because I'm sad like that ;)

I have a fairly okay Wharfedale M5 for my general DVD pleasure - but I just wanted to have those extra bits as detailed above too....


Standard Member
Rob pretty much said it all. But there are some solutions out there. You can get a VGA -->RGB converter for as little as 59euros - www.trust.nl video products Teleview or Teleview 1610. But your TV will need to have an RGB input although it does output S-video and composite.

As far as the sound goes you don't mention what processor/receiver you currently own so I presume you want the sound to go directly to the TV. So you need to buy a sound card and run a cable from the sound card to your TV again no mention of what connections on the back of TV. SCART, RCA.....

All of this can be done for under 150 pounds.


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