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Another n00b HCPC question.....

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Smurfin, Aug 15, 2003.

  1. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Currently I run a cheapy Skyworth 1050p PAL progressive DVD player (cost me £50 a year ago from these forums), this is hooked up to my Sanyo PLV-Z1 PJ.

    I want to improve the picture quality and am thinking of going down the HCPC route. Ideally I don't want to spend too much money as I've spent waaay to much recently anyway, and I already have some PC components lying around.

    btw before I go any further I'm pretty crap with PCs, so forgive me if I make some blunders:rolleyes:

    It's going to be for 100% DVD playback, and the main requirements are:

    1. Runs DVDs perfectly with no juddering
    2. Is very quiet
    3. Large harddisk (looking for 250gb-500gb probably).
    4. 5.1 DD and DTS sound.

    I already have 512MB of 266 DDR RAM, and an AMD Athlon 800 processor (200 FSB). Are these components any good for a basic HCPC?

    If so, any recommendations on a cheap motherboard? I can get a Radeon 7500 for £25, is this gfx card any good?

    What (reasonably) cheap soundcard options should I look at?

    Hard-drive suggestions for quiet running?

    I'm also looking at the LMP case, it's damn expensive at £229 but I want it to look good:D

    Whats MOST important is whether the picture quality will be better than my Skyworth with the projector, and whether the sound is on a par/better than existing. (audio equipment this will be used with is listed in my sig.)

    Any help would be appreciated, and like I say, I need to do this cheaply (definately don't want to break the £500 mark, which is why ideally I want to use the existing components I have).

    Cheers
    Matt
     
  2. buns

    buns
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    You could try the xcard/pdi route..... meant to be dead easy (though not necessarily!)..... cuts out the need for soundcards and extra cabling since it uses spdif out.

    Im using the radeon 7500..... its fine for me but it does have the fan causing a bit of noise.....

    A good case.... though its a minitower is the antec sonata..... great psu, lovely looks (for a pc) and wonderfully quiet.

    And if you need a dvd drive..... i have a lovely slot loader as good as new which you can buy of me! :D

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    ps. although you say you dont want to spend money..... your post points otherwise! :p
     
  3. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    And in English mate?;)

    Hmm how loud though?

    The LMP comes with the Pioneer slot loader already installed;)

    Yes, bugger, what to do?:D
     
  4. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Will my 800mhz processor be any good buns? Just restricts me with which motherboard and thus which gfx card I can use...I think?
     
  5. buns

    buns
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    well i think the limitations imposed by your processor are dependent upon what you want to do. Mine for instance uses h3d to do deinterlacing so all that the pc is doing is having to scale the picture and output. However, software dvd players or the xcard (coming to that) solution will be more intensive so im not so sure..... you would need to ask someone else if 800 is enough.

    Ok, Xcard and pdi. Im sure you have heard of sdi..... an expensive aftermarket modification on dvd players which combined with a capable pc or scaler can give simply breathtakoing pictures. Well, the xcard has a pdi (parallel digital interface as opposed to serial....). If you combing this with a capture card capable of connecting (using an internal ribbon cable), the results have been suggested to be not too far away from those you can get with sdi. Software wise you would have to use dscaler to deinterlace the image that the pdi interface sends it..... but dscaler is a lovely bit of software so you wouldnt have any problems with that. The Xcard also has a digital output hence no need for a soundcard. If you have a look at pms av, they have an xcard/cable/capture card combo at $225 inc shipping and i can personally vouch that they are efficient!

    The only thing is...... i tried the h3d equivalent to this and it didnt happen smoothly at all! But im told this is just bad luck :D

    The 7500 fan isnt deafening, but it is audible when the house is silent... i guess it all depends on how much you are concerned. Id consider checking out the card Jeff is talking about, its fanless and a better card. It costs more, but a true av addict wouldnt be willing to skinp on internals when they are paying through their teeth for looks :p

    Have fun!

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  6. MuFu

    MuFu
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    buns - unplug the 7500 fan and see how it goes. Most will run fine without it connected for HTPC use. Mine's been running for ages with no problems (literally months - it's on 24/7).

    MuFu.
     
  7. buns

    buns
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    Mufu,

    Actually it doesnt matter to me...... the pc is closed in a cupboard now and needs no touching, i couldnt hear it even with beekeepers super sensitive spl! :D

    I got shot of my psu fan sometime back with exactly the same idea as you give and it seemed to work just fine, so i guess this is just as valid...... so mr smurf..... you neednet worry about the 7500 noise! :D but hold on..... that means you dont need a 9600..... so maybe its not such a good thing :p

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    ps. i really shouldnt laugh because im just as bad!
     
  8. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    So in answer to my questions?:D
     
  9. buns

    buns
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    In answer.... the 7500 will do fine as a starter and if it proves too loud for you liking..... just disconnect the fan and you're sorted!

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  10. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    What about everything else?:D
     
  11. buns

    buns
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    That needs additional input! I have never tried a software dvd players so i cant argue their side, but i do know Jeff loves his theatretek setup beyond any other option.

    How much do you know on this stuff? Having had difficulties, i suggest that if someone without at least some knowledge came against such troubles..... that would be the end. So keep that in mind..... there is no point spending anything if you cant do it or dont have someone to give good support.

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  12. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    My house-mate has built 4 PCs in the last few weeks and knows his stuff. He just knows bugger all about PCs being used as DVD players...
     
  13. buns

    buns
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    well as long as he has an idea of why doing (a) gives rise to (b) and is good at problem locating, it should be ok. In fact just get him to start posting in your place :p

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  14. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Ok, what do people make of this spec then:

    AMD Athlon 750
    Gigabyte GA71 XE Motherboard
    512MB SDRam
    PowerColor Radeon 7500 128MB EVIL MASTER - Retail (GX-002-PC) £43
    M-Audio Revolution 7.1 PCI Sound Card £73
    Samsung SD-616QBB 16x48x DVD-ROM (Black) Region Free- OEM £32
    Maxtor Diamondmax Plus 9 200Gb 7200rpm 8mb Cache ATA133 £158
    Antec Sonata Piano Black Quiet Case £87

    Total cost: £393

    OR:

    Substitute the Samsung for this: Pioneer DVD-120 Slot Load - OEM (£30). Not sure which is the better DVD player?

    It's cheap n cheerful, I'm trying to use as many components that I already have to keep the cost down. So for £400....is this spec any good for a basic HCPC?

    Will it be quiet?

    Cheers
    Matt
     
  15. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I don't think the cpu is powerfull enough, other than that I would substitute the 7500 for a 9600 non pro (£90 and well worth it.)
     
  16. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Hmm what the minimum you'd recommend Jeff? cpu wise. Ideally I don't want to replace the motherboard and RAM....price will end up being in the £600 range otherwise.
     
  17. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The minimum I would go for is a 933Mhz in PIII money, why not go for a XP 1700+?
     
  18. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Don't think the motherboard will support ne thing in the realms of an XP 1700 but I might be wrong.
     
  19. owenw

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    Hi Jeff

    How does the 9600 rate against the 9700 Pro / 9800 Pro cards? Are they only a slight bit better or loads better for DVD playback?

    Trying to get my head around the whole deinterlacing / scaling thing before I buy anything.

    The x-card decodes the Mpeg2 in hardware and is compaible with dScaler right? Where as the Radeon is also able to hardware decode Mpeg2 but cannot be deinterlaced and line-doubled with dScaler?

    I know the TV capture board in a Radeon AIW's doesn't work with dScaler but what about line level video such as s-video/composite?

    So all this must make the Radeon pretty redundant except as a pass thru for the RGB signal or have I missed something?

    Sorry to ask what are probably blindingly obvious questions.

    Owen
     
  20. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The and 9500 and 9600 are the same as the 9700 & 9800 as far as DVD is concerned. They can differ slightly in terms of analogue output quality, this will change from model to model, make to make.

    The believe the xcard is supported wth DScaler (it was certainly on the cards). The Radeons mpeg and deinterlacing capabilities aren't used with DScaler, but DScaler still benefits from the Radeons 10bit DACs and overall good analogue output.
     
  21. SeaneyC

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    Are we talking about the same Xcard here?

    There's the capture Xcard, which was touted to be the best capture card before the flyview/packard bell tv-100. DScaler supports this card

    Then there's the Sigma Designs mpeg decoder card, which isn't supported directly by Dscaler, but is used in conjunction with a PDI input card (modified BT card or Holo3D) so that Dscaler can do its magic.

    Or have i totally lost the plot?
     
  22. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Nice hijacking...
     
  23. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The xcapture is a capture card, the xcard is an mpeg decoder card. Sorry Smurphy.
     
  24. owenw

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    Ahh I see :)

    This is a bit off topic, but whats the best option for only getting S-video into the PC? I don't need a TV tuner, just want to output from a Sky box into the HCPC

    thanks,
    Owen
     
  25. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The PB TV100 and DScaler 4.1.7, excellent for the money.
     
  26. owenw

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    cheers Jeff
     
  27. SeaneyC

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    Sorry!

    I'd say anything less than 1Ghz is asking for a bit of trouble with Dscaler, mine exhibited a lot of delay when used with a few simple filters on my old 1Ghz Athlon, but now flies along with my 2200XP+ system. You can pick up an old motherboard that will take your old ram, complete with a newer quick processor for about £100 these days, so it shouldn't stretch your budget too far.

    If you can't stretch to Theatertek, the sonic codecs are quite cheap, and can be used inside of zoomplayer for a cheaper solution. I personally actually prefer the UI of Zoom compared to TT, but many people differ, it's really up to personal preference.

    Don't forget the cost of windows!
     
  28. owenw

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    If you are looking for TheatreTek and a good soundcard Digital Connection have an offer of the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 soundcard with TT (oem version) bundled for $129

    https://www.dcpuraty.com/store/Product_List.asp?CID=3&CAT=SOUND CARD

    If you're going to use Windows XP get Home edition. XP Pro is identical except for additional networking/ admin features which you won't need if it's a stand alone PC.

    Owen
     
  29. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I've just built a couple of pcs - an HTPC and a desktop.

    I can give you a rundown of the best of both for a cheap HTPC that will give you a great pic and good sound via spdif:

    ECS K7S5A Pro - £25 http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=45566

    Duron 1.3 - £27 http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=32320

    SoundBlaster 4.1 - £13 http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=43053

    Seagate Baracuda's are silent, so try and find one of those if possible.

    Any cheap case will probably do, but it may depend on you heatsink and fan height which one you get - if the PSU covers the CPU then it may stop you using a larger cooler or make it less effective. I saw a nice G3 case at a computer fair - it was black, and had what I can only describe as a bi-fold door type front to hide all the drives etc. It was only £25 too and I liked the look. I nearly bought one when I went back except the cheapest was now £39. I bought a Coolermaster case instead which was a bit dearer, but looks like a bit of AV kit and not a pc.

    Coolermaster now make some 24db coolers for the AMD range, but I bought a 29db one and replaced the fan with a Zalman (Papst equivalent) 20db one - it takes 80mm fans: Coolermaster CP5-8JD1F-0L £7.40.

    I used a 20db Papst to replace the PSU fan (been going strong for over 2 years now), and a fan mate to reduce the case fan that came with the case. It's pretty quiet now.

    Your Radeon 7500 will give you a great image, though a 9600 Non Pro will be a bit better, and is fanless - £90: http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=49372

    I was using a Radeon VE for over 2 years with a Duron 950, and when combined with PowerDVD XP, will produce a very smooth and artefact free image. You can get PowerDVD XP for around £4 from computer fairs.

    You can probably build the cheap HTPC for around £200 (+ HDD), but if you're using your existing Radeon and SDRAM then it will be a bit cheaper.

    Unless you're using DScaler 4 you should be OK - I had a 950 Duron and never had any issues with DVD playback. I use a Liteon 163H which is made region free easily via firmware, and the 165H is about the same - very quiet for DVD playback too £26: http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=29901

    I'm now using an ASUS matx mobo which has built in 5.1 and lan (and graphics, but I'm using a Radeon 9600 for the htpc), and that cost £42. Of the matx boards, it seemed the most reliable judging by the reviews. I only got the Asus because the ECS wouldn't fit into the matx case.

    HTH

    Gary.
     
  30. joust

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    Hi Smurf,

    Check out these components for sale that I used in a HCPC for a while with my Panny AE100. The gfx is a step up from the 7500 (and will give great performance) and the TV card is the one used by most with DScaler (though I never got around to trying this) http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=88602

    Joust
     

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