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Home PC to HTPC conversion.

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by whuuf, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. whuuf

    whuuf
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    I currently own a dell dimension 8200 with the following spec.

    1900 MHz Intel Processor
    512__RDRAM
    80gb MAXTOR hard drive
    NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500__
    Creative SBLive! sound card
    AOpen DVRW2412PRO
    liteon dvd 16x JLMS XJ-HD165H

    Now I'm currently in the process of spending all my hard earned on a plasma (prob pio 434hde), av amp and speaker set, so I've none left for a decent dvd player for the time being, so I thought I'd make the most out of pc and turn it into a all singing all dancing htcp.

    These are the upgrades that I have researched on here and am pondering getting.

    Fanless ATI 9600 graphics card. - do I really need this just yet? will it make a massive improvement?
    M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card - for improved sound and coaxial audio out to amp.
    Gyration Ultra Suite keyboard and mouse - anyone tried this downstairs or upstairs from pc base? (gives a no line of site 7.5 mt distance range so should be ok.)

    The only problem is that the pc is upstairs and plasma is downstairs (around 7m cable run) so I have to get the connections right first time as they will be plastered in the wall.

    It will be used for playing mp3 vis a jukebox set-up, games, general surfing and divx/dvd. Also want to make sure that it is HDTV ready and be able to process a progressive scan pic (does this rule out the vga?).
    For the video I am unsure whether to use vga or dvi (with hdmi adapter to fit plasma) over this distance. The vga can stay always connected where-as the dvi(hdmi) would have to be manually swapped with the hdmi dvd player connection when I get it.
    Also will the coaxial lead be ok over the 7m run and does anyone have any good recommendations for a good quality lead.

    Quite a few questions there I hope some of you guys can help me out a bit. :)
     
  2. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    PC output is progressive by nature, so using vga or dvi will give you that.

    Coaxial should be fine - I've used lengths almost that long in my lounge, and found no difference in quality over a shorter run. Just make sure it's not a very cheap cable and you should be OK I would think.

    Gary.
     
  3. whuuf

    whuuf
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    thanks for the quick reply gary. so if I play a dvd on the pc and run it through the vga it will appear progressive on the plasma? Also will there be much difference in quality between vga and dvi especially when it comes to HD. Oh and how much roughly does a good quality 7m vga cable equate to in pounds?
     
  4. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    If the plasma can take the progressive signal via vga, then you will be OK.

    I personaly can't see much difference between dvi and vga on my projector , so you should be fine with either.

    I bought a 25ft vga cable for £35, but you can get them cheaper now if you look around. Make sure it's guarenteed for a ghost free signal - ITM do them and will guarentee their cables over 200ft IIRC.

    Gary.
     
  5. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    A couple of other things you asked about:

    The ATI would give slightly better DVD decoding but I don't think it's worth changing what you have.

    As far as HD is concerned, be aware that most HD material is likely to be protected by HDCP, I don't know of ANY HDCP compliant hardware or software at this time. HDMI isn't an issue I'm interested in so don't know what options are available at present on HTPCs.

    Not sure why you're considering a 7.1 card, while at the same time intending to use a coax SPD/IF. :) Using SPD/IF means you're using your receiver/amp to do decoding and so a 7.1-capable card seems redundant I'd have thought.
     
  6. whuuf

    whuuf
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    cheers gary i'll look into the ITM cables.

    KRaGorn, the pioneers hdmi input is htcp compliant so that wouldn't be a problem if i chose the dvi route although I suppose the vga wouldn't. I think I will run both cables down if I have the room to cover all possabilities, and the leave the vga as always connected.
    On the sound card issue, I basically want the best sound I can get through a digital out from the pc and the m-audio seems to be highly recommended on here. I will also be hooking up a small 5.1 surround set-up that I have where the pc is based upstairs which is for when I get banished from downstairs when her indoors wants to watch some rubbish soap. :rolleyes:
     
  7. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Notu sure I understand how one sound card's digital output would differ from another's, however if you've researched it I guess that's what you've discovered.

    My HDCP concern is at the PC end not the display, if I understand correctly, all parts of the data chain need to be HDCP compliant which would mean an HDCP video card and software.

    Maybe I got it wrong. :confused:
     
  8. whuuf

    whuuf
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    my sound card hasn't got a digital output so I need to get a new one. I thought that the better the sound card then the better the output would be? So your saying that i can get just a cheap sound card with a digital out and there would be no difference in the quality coming out. That it is the quality of the surround reciever which makes the difference?

    Your probably right that the source needs to be hdcp compliant but as there is no HDTV yet that part is not important yet and can be upgraded later. I just want to make sure that the rest of chain is ready if I ever need it.
     
  9. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Certainly that's how I understand it .. the SPD/IF spits out the digital audio stream as it exists on the DVD and the amp decodes it, thus I see no 'quality' issue which could arise at the soundcard end, either it works or it doesn't ;) There IS a quality issue in the coax vs. optical decision, though that's more theoretical than practical unless using top-end system.
     
  10. Markatlarks

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    A word of caution.

    I set up my HTPC using the above card - and passed it thru a Pioneer 2100 7.1 amp. It worked a real treat.

    However because of my new configuration - like PC-100 Tv card, Nebular Digitv , wireless network card etc I was short of a PCI slot. So because my Asus Motherboard has a SPdif out I thought hey ho - No need for the Revo card. WRONG!

    When I tried using the on board StudioMax software/hardware I had huge (3 second) sound delay when projecting my dvd via Theatre Tek. So be warned. The card went back in and I got rid of the PC100 as a compromise.

    I guess there was a cure for the 'delay' but I have spent enough time trying to get the HTPC to work 'perfectly' and for the cost of the card - which is fairly future proof being 7.1 (you could sell it later if required) - I thought it was an extravagance I could afford!

    I also have the Gyration 7 Metre remote mouse and keyboard. The receiver is connected to a usb cable. I would be inclined to extend the cable to where you will be controling the PC. I would not be confident about the range - having to go thru stud partitions and floors. There is a 25meter version but that is a lot more expensive.

    I second the details of 'high quality' coax. Its cheap so get the best. On a network you can transmit up to 180 feet - so your pc and the sound signal should handle the distance you are talking about.
     
  11. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    My HTPC uses an ASUS nForce2 board and has no problem with the SPD/IF ... a mini-ATX Shuttle system also uses its' on-baord SPD/IF without a glitch. :)
     
  12. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Damned board glitched .. double-post. :mad:
     

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