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How To Get Decent DVD Playback On A PC?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by plague1392, Jan 23, 2004.

  1. plague1392

    plague1392
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    I was thinking of building a HTPC because I really want a 1:1 pixel mapping with my HS20. I’d only use the PC for DVD playback and nothing else, so that’s the only important factor. I’ve tried playing DVDs on a number of PCs and every time I’ve been unimpressed.

    I gave it a go with my current PC and for the most part the image is very good. However, when there are fast changes in the picture I got a horizontal line effect for a fraction of a second, which it is very noticeable and distracting. I tried to take a screenshot but they didn’t show up on the screen captures so I got a pause and took a picture of the screen. Take a look here and here. I get a completely different sort of problem on my laptop.

    Neither problem occurs with my Philips 963sa DVD player, which rather puts me off the HTPC idea. I’m using an Athlon 2500+ Barton, and a GeForce FX 5600 Ultra with WinDVD software. So what’s the problem? Processor not fast enough? Bad software? Crap graphics card (definitely, but is it crap for DVD playback as well as games)?

    If it is my hardware or software, what would I need to get decent DVD playback? Reading around the forum I get the impression that ATI cards are better for DVD playback than nvida. Is that correct?

    I’d be really grateful for any advice as to what I need to get DVD playback without these sorts of problems.
     
  2. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker
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    The graphics card of choice is any Radeon card, though the 9600 has improved mpg block noise removal. The non-pro version is cheaper and quieter beacuse it doesn't have a fan. I've never seen any tearing with any of the Radeons I use - 7000, 7500 or 9600, except when tinkering with the s-video output.

    I've looked at the pictures, and I've not seen that effect on any htpc I've had, so I'm guessing that it's the graphics card. You could try changing the refresh to 60 or 72hz for NTSC, or 75hz for PAL, but I don't think that'll make a lot of difference.

    Your pc is fast enough, so you should maybe think of changing the graphics card. I have heard that there is to be a new Nvidea DVD player coming out soon, so maybe they have a card to match. Curently though, only the Radeons seem to have DVD playback built into their cards that is up to the job of home cinema.

    I take it you're using the vga output from the pc? That's where the improvemnts will be seen. Using the s-video output is normaly a waste of a htpc.

    Gary.
     
  3. KraGorn

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    What sort of connection are you using to the HS20, for that beast you should be using DVI.

    Looking at the first image it looks to me like duff video card, though whether it's the decoder or not isn't obvious to me. Did you select Hardware Assist (or whatever WinDVD may call it). Radeons get their superior quality from their on-board MPEG decoder support which TheaterTek, the player I use at the moment, makes use of, does WinDVD have that too?

    I have to say I've not seen the effect you illustrate on the MX 400 which is the only nVidia card I've ever tried with a projector.
     
  4. drummerjohn

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    GFX card or poorly encoded film.

    What film is it?

    Is it just that film?
     
  5. plague1392

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    Thanks a lot for the advice. I got similar problems with other DVDs I tried so I think it’s the graphics card. I’ll get a Radeon for my HTPC. Would the Hercules 3D Prophet 9600SE be as good for DVD playback as the 9600 or 9600 Pro? The reason I like the look of it is because of the fanless design so it would be quiet. If not which brand and model of Radeon should I go for?

    I was going to use a lot of components from my current games PC so I could upgrade it. This is what I was going to use for my HTPC so far:

    Athlon 2500+ Barton
    Abit NF-7
    512MB PC3200 RAM
    M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card
    Sony DDU1521 DVD
    Windows XP
    TheaterTek DVD player software
    Some sort of Radeon 9600
    Accent HT101
    Accent Remote control
    Samsung VFD Display

    Any problems with any of that?

    I just need to decide which hard disk, PSU and CPU cooler.

    I can’t seem to find any 5400rpm hard disks for sale anywhere apart from a 300GB one. Can anyone recommend a quiet hard disk? Also is it worth bothering with something like the SilentDrive Acoustic Enclosure here. Someone in another thread said that if you set Windows to turn the hard disk off after 3 minutes of inactivity it doesn’t usually start up again while you’re watching a movie, so would the SilentDrive be a bit useless?

    There seems to be a wide range of quiet PSUs here. I quite like the look of the QTechnology Ultra-Quiet ATX PSU 350W but is it any good?

    Any suggestions on a CPU cooler? I’ve read that the 2500+ Barton runs quite cool and that DVD playback doesn’t really stress the processor a lot, so I’m after something quiet more than powerful. A friend has a Zalman flower cooler and that seems fairly quiet, so I was considering that.

    Sorry to ask all these questions. I’m not usually interested in how quiet a PC is or how good the DVD playback would be. My games PC has 11 fans in it and sounds like a hurricane but that wouldn’t be ideal if I was trying to watch a film, so I’m very grateful for all the advice.
     
  6. KraGorn

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    9600SE looks the same as a 9600 non-Pro .. any 9600 should be the same as far as DVD playback is concerned, as long as its' fanless it'll do nicely. :)

    'Tis strange the disappearance of 5400 disks around 120Gb .. I have a number of Seagate Barracudas of that size and speed and love them. I read recently someone recomending Western Digital 7200s with some sort of fluid bearing ... my problem with 7200+ drives is the potential for 'whine', not sure if this sort of bearing stops that.

    I have the 400W QT PSU, for the two fans it has, the 350W should be fine .. as with a 2500+ CPU. For cooling I use the 6000 cooler with an overhead 80mm quiet fan, slugged using the in-line speed adjuster, IMHO the 7000A is somewhat over-kill unless you're clocking.
     
  7. plague1392

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    KraGorn, thanks a lot for your help. Your post has really assisted me in making my final decisions.

    Searching around about fluid bearing drives it seems to be fairly common in a lot of drives now. I decided to get a SATA drive, but only Maxtor and Samsung seem to do them with fluid bearings. According to the description on overclockers.co.uk for the Samsung SP1213C 120GB it “answers all your AV needs with a drive that is so quiet, YOU WON'T EVEN KNOW IT IS THERE.” I’m easily convinced :)

    I’ve decided to go for the Zalman Super Flower Cooler CNPS7000A-ALCU because the case I’m getting is fairly small and I don’t know if there’d be enough room for the one with a separate fan

    That’s me all sorted then. Just have to wait until I get paid at the end of the week :(

    Thanks again.
     
  8. drummerjohn

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    Go for the Samsung - I have one in my SKY+ box and its the quitest drive I have ever heard - and it has a 3 year warranty.
     
  9. Pootle

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    The last couple of hard discs I've bought have been seagate barracudas exactly because they are so quiet.

    This site http://www.storagereview.com/ includes nopise measurements, which isn't all that common.

    I use an antec sonata case, which has rubber mounts for the disc drives, and a quiet (although not totally silent) PSU. Out of the box it is as quiet as my previous case was after much work to reduce its noise. You can get the sonata case from overclockers too.
     
  10. plague1392

    plague1392
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    Thanks for that advice Pootle, especially about the case. The case and PSU I had decided on was going to cost nearly £300, which is a little excessive.

    I had a look at the Antec cases and the Sonata isn't really suitable because it's a tower rather than something I could put on a shelf as I would a DVD player. However, the Antec Ovature looks very nice and at £90 for the case and a decent PSU I think I’ll forget about the Accent. That’ll save me another £45 on the VFD display which I was going to have to buy purely to fill the gaping hole in the front of the Accent case.

    Thanks also for that hard disk site with the idle nose figures. It looks like Seagate have the top four quietest hard disks, so I’ll go for the Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 Serial ATA 120GB disk instead of the Samsung.
     
  11. plague1392

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    Wow, after pricing in the new case the total cost of the PC is down nearly £300 from £924.27 to £658.26. It's definately not worth spending the extra for a case that looks marginally better.

    So here's my current list. Anything wrong with any of this? In particular am I getting the right type of DVI cable?

    Case: Antec Overture Piano Black - £90.36
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Antec_160.html

    Processor: Athlon 2500+ Barton - £58.79
    http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?action=info&sku=116244&p=&t=&l=&AvdID=1&CatID=&GrpID=&cks=SER

    Motherboard: Abit AN7 - £73.44
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Abit.html

    RAM: TwinMOS 512MB DDR PC3200 - £61.69
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_TwinMOS_147.html

    Graphics Card: Hercules 3D Prophet 9600SE - £62.28
    http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?...p=&t=278&l=2&AvdID=1&CatID=24&GrpID=1&cks=PRL

    Sound Card: M-Audio Revolution 7.1 - £72.79
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_M_Audio_155.html

    Hard Disk: Samsung SP1213C 120GB Hard Disk - £69.33
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Samsung.html

    DVD Drive: Sony DDU1521 Black - £26.72
    http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?...&p=&t=775&l=2&AvdID=1&CatID=3&GrpID=3&cks=PRL

    Floppy Disk Drive: Sony Black Floppy Drive - £10.79
    http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?...1&p=&t=85&l=2&AvdID=1&CatID=8&GrpID=1&cks=PRL

    CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS7000A-Alcu - £33.49
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Zalman_121.html

    Akasa Rounded Ultra Cable - Metal Braided - £11.52 (£5.76*2)
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_IDE_151.html

    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal compound - £6.67
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Thermal_Materials_27.html

    Monitor Cable DVI-DVI M/M 2m (is this right?) - £19.16
    http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?...p=&t=161&l=2&AvdID=1&CatID=34&GrpID=9&cks=PRL

    ATI Remote Control - £19.92
    http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.asp?action=info&sku=116192&p=&t=&l=&AvdID=1&CatID=&GrpID=&cks=SER

    TheaterTek DVD 1.5 - £41.31
    http://store3.esellerate.net/store/catalog.aspx?s=STR473523819&pc=

    Total: £658.26
     
  12. midlandswarrior

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    take a looka t this link http://www.dscaler.org/images/Mummy_MacrovisionOn.jpg

    its relating to a macrovision signal that can cause problems when using dscaler, look similar to your pics

    info here http://deinterlace.sourceforge.net/FAQ.htm#PURPLESTRIPES

    it could be that on fast movin scenes the macrovision is not bein removed quick enough :confused:

    one way to check would be to use a ripping program that removes macrovision (dvd decryptor???) and watch it again
     
  13. KraGorn

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    That is correct for a digital DVI connection, it's a DVI-D ... for an anlog connection, though WHY you'd want analog via DVI I don't know :confused: ... you'd need a DVI-I.


    Nice case. :smashin:

    Rounded cables :confused: .. somewhat of a fashion accessory IMHO :D ... not needed in that case and with that limited hardware, ie. you're not filling it with disks and massive heat generation from overclocked GPU and CPU.
     
  14. plague1392

    plague1392
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    Midlandswarrior, thanks for the information. I won’t be using the graphics card or DVD software I took those pictures with so hopefully the same problem won’t come up.

    KraGorn, good to know I’m ordering the right one for a digital connection. There seems to be a lot of different types of DVI cable around and I wasn’t sure.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the HS20 with a 1:1 pixel mapping. I get paid on Friday so will order it over the weekend and hopefully have the PC together mid next week.
     
  15. Erpland

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    Analog via DVI is for CRT's
     
  16. KraGorn

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    Really, never knew that.

    Do CRTs use it instead of the traditional 15-pin VGA connector?
     
  17. Erpland

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    Im not sure if to be surprised or appreciate your sarcasm,;)
    Yes old VGA socketed CRT's can use DVI connectors 'instead' of the traditional connector.
    Ive used both types at the same time with 2 CRT's in a Dual display setup, the fact the DVI connector also put out a digital signal was meaningless at the time.
    Some cards remember dont bother with traditional VGA connectors anymore, why have 2 formats when one can do the job of both?
    Note: most card manufacturers supply a DVI - VGA adapter.
     
  18. KraGorn

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    :eek:

    No sarcasm intended .. "never knew that" was a statement of fact, I didn't know that CRTs used DVI-I, I've rarely seen any DVI equipment that used the analog component.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. :suicide:
     
  19. Erpland

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    Plague

    There may be a couple of problems with your setup, you'll probably find the Zalman 7k heatsink will not fit due to the Hard drive cage on the Antec case being so close to the mainboard.

    I worried about the same issue whilst mine was already on order and with no luck finding a suitable quiet replacement I got a pair of tin snips on standby. Yes they were needed, I had to cut 12 fins off. :rolleyes:

    Also the IDE sockets on their sides, these are obstructed by the power supply's location, again very tight up to the mainboard.

    :( , at best you'll have to put the cables in before screwing in the board, one of the cables might still block an air vent on the PSU though.
    Why arent you using a SATA cable?

    My new system based on this case was disappointing in most areas, I would definitely consider Shuttle boxes again for HCPC's you could have got an SK41 or SB51 using your same choice of components, would have been prettier and semi portable and cheaper, you only need to replace the fans and my SB51 actually ran cooler and quieter with 2 HD's than the same setup in a Overture case :eek:
    The only reason I upgraded was because I wanted to run more HD's and a power hungry Radeon 9800 AIW, I havnt done either yet, so Im already planning the mods for the Overture :smashin:
     
  20. Big Adam

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    Comprehensive Guide to DVI (and HDMI)

    DVI-A is for ANALOGUE
    DVI-I is for ANALOGUE & DIGITAL
    DVI-D is for DIGITAL only
     
  21. plague1392

    plague1392
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    Erpland, thanks a lot for your feedback. That’s rather worrying about the case. As I’ll only have one hard disk can’t I put it in the empty front facing 3.5inch drive bay and maybe remove the mounting for the hard disk that’s in the way of the CPU cooler?

    There doesn’t seem to be any other cases that look fairly nice but aren’t overly expensive so I think I might go for it, and if it doesn’t work out I can get a new case a further down the line.

    I did consider a Shuttle but having had one in the past I wasn’t impressed. While it was fairly quiet normally once it warmed up the fan started reving in bursts of three about every ten seconds and it drove me mad. The only other option was to have the fan on full speed all the time but that was far too loud.

    I do intend to use an SATA cable for the hard disk. One of the rounded IDE cable was for the DVD drive in the HTPC and I thought I may as well get another one for the DVD drive in my main PC.

    Thanks again.
     
  22. Erpland

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    sure you can just leave out the hard drive cage and the heatsink will have loads of room.
    Im speaking for a P4P800 Deluxe mainboard BTW, but your CPU socket looks like its in about the same place so 95% sure it will be the same as mine.
    The Zalman 7000 is a great cooler though, out of all my new kit it was the only thing that didnt disappoint, even if the blades dont sound well balanced on high speed. (shame I butchered it as I might remove my cage now, see below)
    As for the 3.5 front bays, well, Antec seem to really challenge us, the drives are only screwed in from one side, the other side is like a small sprung piece of steel that keeps it steady, probably wont do any harm if you're desperate but i dont think its going to sound to good vibration wise for a HD, then again you never know, maybe it will turn out as a good solution especially if you make the steel clip a bit tighter.
    This case has quite a lot of vibrations even from the rubber equiped hard drive cage which is only screwed from the top.
    Im considering removable enclosures for my 2 to help with noise (my DVD is external), I have the Samsung SP080's (Raided 0) and they are very quiet spinning but sound like a bag of nails on access.
    From user comments I hear the Seagates are a bit noisier spinning so didnt get them, but knowing my luck I bet their access noise is nowhere near the beasts Im stuck with.

    As for the Shuttle you just need to replace the fan with a weaker one, force it to run at low speed and mount it outside the case sucking out for good temps and peace.

    And if you think thats too much hassle, theres more bad news about the Overture case, the 92mm case fan is way too noisy on anything but the lowest RPM, you also have wind noise from the punched out grill, so theres another job for my tin snips after a visit to the quiet fan shop.:suicide:
    None of this should really matter though because Im going to end up shoving it in a cupboard, I think the best looking PC's are invisible ones. :zonked:
     
  23. Rattus

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    Hi plague,

    I've just put together the same sort of machine in an Antec Overture case, and found I had to do the following.

    1) remove the hardrive cage, and mount the drive to the mounting hole for the cage. This is a medium term solution, as I intend to put the cage back in once I can get one of the ThermalRight SP-94 CPU coolers (I'm using a Pentium4 3GHz, so the potential heat output is reasonably high under load)

    2) the back left section of the case is quite still, so in order to keep my PVR 250 (old school) cool I've put in an undervolted card slot blower next to it, in the far left slot.

    These mods are working like a charm right now. It's a nice box, though quite long front to back, plus I've had to invest in a can of Foliatec silver vinyl dye to match the drive panels - but hey, that's just part of the fun.


    Good luck

    Martyn
     
  24. BBD

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    I'm using a Zalman 7000A-ALCU in an Antec Sonata and I have no problems with clearance. I have an Asus AMD motherboard.

    I bought it from www.thecoolingshop.com It a little bit cheaper and the delivery was free. Ordered it at 3.00pm and it arrived the next morning!
     

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