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Complete Newb to HTPC !

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by richjthorpe, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Hi all,

    Can anyone point me in the right direction for a description of parts needed for a HTPC. I keep reading about TV capture cards, Graphics cards, DScaler etc but I don't know whether I need a Capture card and GPU or just GPU or what !?

    What I intend to do is upscale a digibox signal before passing through to an LCD panel (HDTV ready). I don't want to spend too much (Although as with anything you get what you pay for I suppose). I don't need a HD recorder at the moment as we already have one, but might upgrade to one in the future.

    I'm guessing that I need a PC to kick off, probably around 2.8Ghz, what is recomended in memory terms ?

    If I wanted to input 2 video signals (Only thing I've found out is that capture cards only take Composite or S-Video not RGB) does that mean I need 2 cards and would I be able to auto switch between them and not have to go into the System to change it manually ?

    Appologies if this has been asked before, please direct me to where ever needed if it has !

    Thanks,

    Richie.
     
  2. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Some first steps. :)

    1) A P4 2.8 is probably okay for scaling, a bit more could be useful.
    2) 512Mb of memory should be fine.
    3) A Sweetspot capture card can take RGB as well as S-Video input, I used one for my NTL set-top box.
    4) DScaler is the software that takes the signal from Sweetspot, processes it (such as scaling, de-interlacing etc.) and then uses the graphics card to display it.
    5) GPU means Graphics Processing Unit .. the 'CPU' present on the graphics card, this is what ATI and NVidia make, like Intel and AMD make CPUs.

    Hopefully this starts to clarify what's going on and help you understand the bits and pieces involved .. and prepare your next set of questions. :D
     
  3. Steve Bate

    Steve Bate
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    Doesn't Dscaler just do the de-interlacing and the GPU do the scaling?

    Steve
     
  4. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Thanks for replying KraGorn !

    Right, I think I'm up to the 'Able to stand but still wobbly and could fall over at any time' stage. Take that as a metaphor for a new born baby or just after 10 pints of Belgiums finest !

    So, I need a capture card that has S-Video or Sweetspot that does RGB. Just found Sweetspot on the net and it has 3 phono input. Up to now I have never seen a converter that converts an RGB SCART into separate R,G,B phone leads. Have I not been looking hard enough ?

    I also need a graphics card to process the signal through a scaler/de-interlacer as you say with a DVI output. I've heard that ATi and Nvidia are the AMD and Intel of the graphics card world (Battling for supremacy !). As a starting point, what is the minimum I should get from either range ? Can any graphics card do that can output the res of the screen or does it have to be a special HDCP compliant one ? I tried looking for these but my brain got fried with all the numbers ! How much memory do I need on these cards ?

    The LCD I'm getting only has 1 DVI input. I'm wanting to get the Denon 1910 DVD player with DVI out. Is there a switching unit/card where I can plug both the Denon and HTPC into it so one single cable goes to the LCD panel ?

    Thanks,

    Richie.
     
  5. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I don't know, I don't use it any more, but I thought I'd read that DScaler can also re-size .. if not then yes they GPU will end up doing it .. or can DScaler pass the video stream on to FFDSHOW for re-sizing perhaps?
     
  6. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Sweetspot used to sell one themselves, that's what I used to connect my STB to the card. In fact must use theirs I think because it also uses an S-Video lead to provide a sync signal.

    The card I would use would be the NVidia 6600GT or ATI 9600, I'm having problems with a 6800GT stuck at 60Hz on the DVI output so I'm back to my ATI but that's something to be discussed.

    Pretty much any ATI or NVidia card can be persuaded to output the same resolution as the display, if necessary we use Powerstrip to do that if the graphics drivers don't support the resolution that's needed.

    128Mb on the card is fine, 256Mb is a waste of money simply for an HTPC as far as I've ever known.

    HDCP is something entirely separate and at present not relevant to PCs, there are no HDCP-compliant cards AFAIK .. I can provide a link for info on that if you're interested :) .. suffice to say the DVI output of a video card (or DVD player for that matter) will work when connected to an HDCP-compliant DVI input on a display.

    You can get a DVI switch, but they're not cheap, mine cost £199 IIRC. Depending on the projector you may well find that using Component from the Denon may not be significantly inferior to using its' DVI, I'd wait to check that before buying a DVI switch.
     
  7. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Thanks KraGorn, that's made me 100 times clearer. When I get round to setting it up (Probably Jan/Feb) I might be tapping you on the shoulder again ! :)

    Thanks again,

    Richie.
     
  8. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I just happened to be bored at work this afternoon ;) .. plenty of help round here from those more knowledgeble than I. :)
     
  9. richjthorpe

    richjthorpe
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    Hi again,

    The way I will route sound would be from source direct to the AV amp. The video would go from source, through a SCART switcher (Maybe) then through the HTPC on to the panel. To me that seems quite a lot of interference ! Am I going to find difficulty lip synching linking up this way ?

    Also, with regards to Freeview PVR vs HTPC, are HTPCs poorer, on par or completely outstrips PVRs ?

    Thanks,

    Richie
     
  10. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    'Fraid I can't comment on PVRs, I don't use the PC for that purpose so have never looked into what's available.

    As for your audio question, you may indeed hit delay problems, signal switching itself isn't a problem but if you start do a lot of processing I guess it could begin to be noticeable. OTOH, I don't recall problems with ny NTL STB, and in that case the audio went straight to my receiver.
     
  11. cwick

    cwick
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    If you're using freeview and want PC based PVR functionality, the Nebula card is an excellent solution.
     

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