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HTPC advise

Discussion in 'Projectors, Screens & Video Processors' started by wilders, Sep 18, 2002.

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  1. wilders

    wilders
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    I want to build a HTPC to go with a CRT projector Im thinking of buying and need a few questions answered please....
    The pc I was going to use has only 1 AGP slot and 1 PCI, is this ok? Here's a link to it, it very small and should fit into my set up nicely....

    http://www.shuttleonline.com/Images/ProductImage/ss51.jpg

    If there are no problems with this PC, can I have some recommendations on graphics cards to put in it? I was going to put a slot loading DVD drive and p4 1.8 cpu (which I already have).

    Also, if i wanted to run my tv/sky/ps2 throught it, how do i connect everything up? Some sort of switching device? Sorry for the stupid questions!

    Thanks
     
  2. GagHalfrunt

    GagHalfrunt
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    I would go for one of the ATI Radeon cards; either the 7500 or 8500.

    I personally wouldn't go for a MB which only has one PCI slot.

    The other thing I would do is get a Brooktree based capture card (WinTV/Pinnacle etc) to use DScaler to watch your external sources.
     
  3. wilders

    wilders
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    I agree on the pci front, but this particular pc is intended solely for htcp use, so i assume i only need a AGP graphic card with the svideo connectors and a pci sound card to hook up to my amp.
    Would I need anything else pci-wise? Like I say, Im new to this but from what i've read 2 cards in the machine is all i'll need.
    (By the way, I have 2 other network pc's for web based stuff /games/other bits and pieces)....

    Are my assumptions this would do the job (and look good too)
    correct?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  4. ReTrO

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    wilders: I have started a thread about mini-itx and flex-atx based PC's in the general chat forum. They are ideal for running as HCPC's.

    After you have put a Radeon into the AGP slot then you will probably only need a capture card or a better sound card for the PCI slot.

    If I weren't a poor student I'd get one of these instead of my Athlon Xp behemoth!

    :)

    Ed: Just re-read your post. What you want is a good PCI TV/capture card for getting the video input. You can switch any s-video sources through an AV amp with the capability.

    I'd go with a tray DVD rather than a slot, because they are much quieter (i've got a Pioneer 106S2 slot loader which is damn loud!).
     
  5. John DB

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    Retro have you tried Pioneers dvd utils program which enables you to slow down your dvd rom.

    Its available here

    Works a treat on my 106s slot loader, not sure about 106s2 though?
     
  6. ReTrO

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    I suspect it will work. The 106 has been S2 for quite a while now, your's is probably one of them. It's not indicated in the product desciption etc but says on the drive sticker.

    Cheers m8y!:)
     
  7. wilders

    wilders
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    Thanks for the advice, as i live less than an hour away from Roland, I will book a session with him to see what they offer.
    On the HTPC front, if I bought a Radeon ALL-IN-WONDER® RADEON™ 8500DV - this appears to have a tv tuner/capture all on board and is AGP, this i assume will then leave the 1 and only pci slot for a good sound card to connect the amp.
    Am I correct here or do I also need a dedicated tv card?
    Also with the Radeon, it says there is a spdif socket on the radeon, can i use this to connect to my Yamaha amp?

    By the way I am a network engineer and good with pc's, its just this a/v thing open up a whole new can 'o worms...!!!!!
     
  8. GagHalfrunt

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    I have a Asus GeForce2 GTS which has Video In and Out but frankly it now sits dormant in my PC. It was a waste of money, I should've bought the "Pure" one.

    The main reason for this was because it doesn't work with DScaler (nor does the AIW).

    If it were me I would get a motherboard with good sound on board and use the PCI slot for a good Brooktree compatible capture card.
     
  9. wilders

    wilders
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    This is the sort of reply I need, if Im going to build a good HTPC, I need some recommdations..
    Will the brooktree card word as is or do I need a 2d card in the AGP slot?
     
  10. meep

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    Wilders,

    typically, most people run with a minimum of three "cards";

    1. Video Display Card in AGP slot (Radeon 7500/8500 most popular)

    This handles picture output from your PC. It's also partially responsible for decoding the image of your (internal) DVD.

    You'll need software called "powerstrip" to fine adjust the card's resolution, refresh rate and various other settings to best suit your projector. You'll also need DVD playback software.


    2. Video Capture Card (must have 'brooktree' compatible chipset)

    This takes in signals from your vcr, digital satellite box, video camera or whatever other video source you might have. (a lot of people use something like the WinTV GO card from hauppage (sp?))

    You'll need software called dScaler to deinterlace and massage the video signal. This enhances the image quality, helps smooth out pans, allows colour correction etc.


    3. Audio Card

    You have lots of options here. Either your DVD playback software can decode DVD audio and send it out via an analog sound card or you can install a card with a digital output which you can connect to your receiver's digital in and let that handle the signal decoding.


    In addition to those, and depending on what features are built into your motherboard, you might also like to add a modem, a network card, a firewire card or a USb card/faceplate.

    Have a look at my website where you'll get an idea of what's involved in putting the PC together.

    Have a look at the dscaler and powerstrip websites for info on those programs and the cards they support.

    You'll get much more detail in the HTPC forums if you want to ask questions there.

    I doubt you'll get away with a 1 PCI slot motherboard and even if you do now, you'll probably kick yourself when you want to add something the the future.

    Peter
     
  11. wilders

    wilders
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    Peter,
    Thanks very much for your response, this was exactly the sort of response I was hoping to get, a nice brakdown of whats needed....i'll check out your website.

    Maybe this can be made a sticky for other 'newbies'?????
    Wilders.
     
  12. Caveat

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    While Peter has succinctly put the majority view, and I agree with much of his advice, there is another point of view: That dedicated HTPCs arent generic PCs and benefit from a different perspective: They should do their job (and need do no more). be quiet, be pretty, be easy to use.

    With the provisor that this is just for HT playback - not PVR etc, then I think its a very sweet box, but over spec'd.
    The shuttle has digital audio out, so unless youre absolute top end audiophile no need for an audio card.
    LAN, USB, Firewire all built in, so all you need is the video-in PCI card, and Video Out AGP Card. So I agree 1 xPCI and 1x AGP is just enough.

    The over-spec relates to noise or more specifically heat.
    I run a 1G Taulatin Celeron and a fanless ATI Radeon in a microATX box, having replaced both (PSU and CPU) fans with papst fans its still louder than my Barco. My guess is the P4 will be harder to keep quiet than the P3 - personally Im going to a Fanless VIA C3 next (The Mars lander that NASA sent off was powered by roughly a 386 - amazing what dedicated hardware can achieve).

    One of the interesting things about HCPC is re-assesing your priorities.. suddenly speed isnt everything and heat and noise become far more critical.

    Just to add a word about usability - IR keyboards can have their Codes learnt by Pronto type remotes to make the PC far more usable day to day.

    ReTRo - couldnt find your thread could you post a link?
    I assume its about Tiny Fanless Boxes Ive been dreaming about putting under the TV in the living room?
     
  13. ReTrO

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    Most probably. I have the mini-itx website as my home page so I know all the latest news.

    www.mini-itx.com
     
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