First time build advice please.

Silver Arrow

Active Member
Hi All

I am looking to upgrade my Sony Vaio VX100. I like the case and want to keep it, but all else is up for changing.

What I want from my new Media Centre is:-

To store and play music.

Same with Photo’s.

Play Blu Ray movies.

Record HD TV via series link.

I have no real wish to play high end graphics games.

OS will be Win 7.

We do have a pretty good sound system, so have no wish to change this, although it doesn’t have audio input for HDMI. I use a Sony Digital sound processor which has Optical and Digital RF inputs. My preference is the RF line, it seems a richer sound.

It will be viewed via a 40” or 46” LCD tv.

I need advice from you guys as to what if any of my preferred requirements are feasible.

I fancy upgrading the Mother board to an Intel I5 based unit, I have, for no particular reason thought the Asus P8Z68 V Pro looked like a decent bet.

I have read that both Graphics and Sound are handled by the mother board, but prefer a separate card to deal with both at a higher quality. I would like to play music at 24 bit level, but don’t know whether any cards will handle this.

I would like help please with advice. Do mother boards fit seamlessly into a different casing? Will I have to “modify” the back of the Vaio case?

What video card will be suitable, but not over specified?

Same with the Sound card and TV / Satelite card?

What memory should I fit to the mother board?

Any other issues and problems I should be aware of?

Appreciative of any help and replies. Please understand this is my first time build.

Andy
 

MooCow

Well-known Member
Do you have any info or links on your Sony VX100? That comes up with a video camera rather than a PC of any type - may be helpful as it will allow us to see what type of motherboard it can potentially take for the upgrade.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
I guess it's probably the VGX-XL100

I use a Sony Digital sound processor which has Optical and Digital RF inputs. My preference is the RF line, it seems a richer sound.

Are you sure that's how they're labelled? I'd expect anything labelled RF to be an antenna connection, and 'optical and digital' sound like a confusion of Optical and co-axial S/PDIF inputs (both of which are digital).

I have read that both Graphics and Sound are handled by the mother board, but prefer a separate card to deal with both at a higher quality. I would like to play music at 24 bit level, but don’t know whether any cards will handle this.

You'll only get more quality if the graphics and sound card are actually doing anything, i.e. processing the signal in some way, rather than just providing the ports to carry it between the blu-ray disc/freesat tuner and TV/Speakers. That's all digital, so the signal isn't dependant on the quality of the connections and there's no conversions into analogue. Are you looking to use the PC to convert the 2 channel TV signal to surround sound (or vice versa if you've got 2.1 speakers)?

I would like help please with advice. Do mother boards fit seamlessly into a different casing? Will I have to “modify” the back of the Vaio case?

Assuming they both correspond to the same standard (ATX/mATX usually), 99% do but sony, like apple, is very fond of propriety stuff so it may be impossible or require some DIY modifications. Without even having basic information about the machine it's obviously impossible to say.


On the TV Tuner front, is it a satellite card you're after specifically, if so how many tuners do you want from it?

Also, if you're talking about i5s I guess
 

Boro David

Novice Member
Hi,

I'm not familiar with the case you have so can't really comment on that.

If you are not high-end gaming than an i5 is overkill for an HTPC an i3 will be more than enough

RAM - 2GB is enough, though given the price at the moment 4GB is probably the sweet spot.

Can't comment on the motherboard, except that it seems to cost ~£140 which seems expensive for an HTPC unless it has some particular feature that you need?

Satellite card - I can recommend the TBS6981 - Amazon is a good place to get them.

Dave
 

MooCow

Well-known Member
That case (assuming its the VGX-XL100) is going to take some modding, the board appears the opposite way round than any standard ATX/MATX kit.
All appears to be a single card for HDMI, followed by a riser with the with the tuner card and then a second card below it with the component outs. The network, SPDIF and the USB are more of a worry, I suspect they are on the motherboard directly and they are completely the wrong end of the board to replace it with a standard one and subsequently get the connectors out of the machine.
Theres a decent enough interior shot here:
http://www.avforums.com/forums/atta...1143410630-sony-vgx-xl100-review-dsc00422.jpg
Also appears to have a proprietary sized PSU.

For a beginner, I would be looking to a replacement case rather than the amount of cutting and cursing you are setting yourself up for off that.

Maybe have a browse of the owners forum too - http://www.xl100.co.uk/e107_plugins/forum/forum.php - may be some specialist knowledge which may be helpful.
 

Silver Arrow

Active Member
Appreciate your responses so far, yes it is a VGX-XL100.

I'm at work at the moment, will read through the replies when I get home.

Cheers

Andy
 

Silver Arrow

Active Member
Sorry about the slow response.

Thanks again for the replies.

Looks like upgrading the motherboard is a non starter, perhaps I was / am getting ahead of myself.

As my wish is to improve the graphics and sound performance, I have seen that a Radeon 4550 card could fit, I wonder what sound cards will also slot in?

Output will need to be via the Coax digital (thanks for the earlier correction), I do not understand why I wouldn't get any improvement in quality of output? Surely the separate card should handle a higher bandwidth, and if as I have heard, the music industry upgrades output to 24 bit, will I need a better card?

A free sat card to enable series link recording is also required, single tuner will suffice, but HD is neccesary.

The DVD player is the original and is SD, I fancy upgrading to a Blu Ray read write, although I can't find a slot loader model rather than pop out tray, any ideas / suggestions?

Appreciate any help given, whilst I am comfortable fitting cards etc, I haven't done this sort of upgrading before and don't want to spend money if the stuff isn't going to fit.

Andy
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
As my wish is to improve the graphics and sound performance, I have seen that a Radeon 4550 card could fit, I wonder what sound cards will also slot in?

It's rather unclear from the manual what the situation is exactly with the two(?) PCI/PCI-E slots. It seems like there's a graphics card with an HDMI output and a clear backplate, I assume this is a PCI-E 16x slot but it wouldn't hurt to check. There also seems to be another slot on the other side that's apparently PCI. Is there any access to the backplate of this card to plug cables in or is it covered over?

Output will need to be via the Coax digital (thanks for the earlier correction), I do not understand why I wouldn't get any improvement in quality of output? Surely the separate card should handle a higher bandwidth, and if as I have heard, the music industry upgrades output to 24 bit, will I need a better card?

You'd have to get someone more knowledgeable to confirm this, but as far as I understand it the only 5.1 partly 24-bit signal generally supported over S/PDIF is DTS 96/24 5.1, which uses the same bandwidth as normal DTS. If you want full 24-bit sound then it's a case of changing your receiver to one that supports HDMI or going analogue if your receiver supports that.

Bandwidths limits are usually more pressing on the cables and old protocols (S/PDIF was designed in the 1980s for the CD) rather than the hardware in the PC, if you can find out what the sound chip is on the motherboard though then it may be possible to find out what that supports (it may be written on top of it if you can see it, or you may be able to find a system information tool that will tell you it).
 

Silver Arrow

Active Member
I have read that the SPDIF specs were restricted to the levels you state, and probably the only option for higher quality sound is to output through HDMI, this would mean a change of my Digital Sound Processor as it doesn't have HDMI input.

If this is true, it is quite disappointing as the current unit, whilst knocking on a bit, is still working fine. I will have to check out what is available.

As the sound output from the XL100 can be selected to be through HDMI, I may not therefore need to upgrade the card.

Sorry to ramble... Musings of a fool methinks:)

Andy
 

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