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Minimum PC Spec That Works !

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by GearHead, May 22, 2002.

  1. GearHead

    GearHead
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    Without trying to spend too much money I thought I'd have a dabble at turning my lowly PC into a HCPC. To make a start I've fitted a Radeon 7500 graphics card and a DVD-ROM drive into my existing Celeron 488Mhz, 128MB PC. Its actually a 433 Celeron but I've upped the bus speed from 66 to 75MHz.

    It plays DVDs using PowerDVD but the problem I'm getting is a noticeable judder to the picture whenever there is fairly large scale movement.

    Is that to be expected given the spec of the PC or am I going to have to bite the bullet and upgrade ? If I need to upgrade whats the minimum I should be aiming for.

    The Motherboard will actually run a Celeron up to about 700Mhz with a 133MHz bus speed. I thought I might start with a 1.3GHz Celeron, put that into the existing motherboard running as fast as it will go with my PC100 memory. If that doesn't do it, I could always replace the memory with 256MB of PC133 and run everything a bit faster. And if thats still not enough, get a new motherboard to run the processor at full speed.

    I don't really want to start out on this road though if the spec I've got should be okay and I just need to perservere with the nuts and bolts of drivers, configurations and so on. One little thing that's worrying me is that there is an info-box in PowerDVD which contains a section for Video Acceleration, all the categories are marked as 'Not Detected' apart from 'IA MMX' (which I believe may actually relate to the processor anyway).

    I havn't even bought a decent sound card yet. Ouch, this might start to get expensive.

    Hope you HCPC gurus can shed a few pearls of wisdom

    Allan
     
  2. jonny m

    jonny m
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    don't try the cely 1.3 ghtz in your motherboard, it wont work at all due to different voltages required on different pins on the 256k cache celerons (any above 1.1ghtz) and you may even break it.

    my motherboard abit be6-ii can take a max of 1.1ghtz celey. There was some rumour of a converter board for the later celerons and piii's it would fir the slot 1 motherboards, but not use if it ever surfaced or whether most if its market just decided to upgrade to athalons/durons etc.

    regards
    j
     
  3. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    You may just about be OK with a Celeron 700.

    Failing that, an ECS K7S5A mobo (£50.80) and a Duron 950 (£33.13) will do the job - it's what I'm using and I get no judder with DVDs or dropped frames with DScaler.

    Considering how cheap Durons are, you could go a bit faster if you wanted to.

    Try ebuyer.com for those prices.

    HTH

    Gary
     
  4. GearHead

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    Jonny,

    Thanks for the warning. I think a motherboard and processor upgrade is probably on the cards.

    Gary,

    I'll check out those suggestions and prices, thanks.


    I've just tried the Radeon in my son's 1.4Ghz/256MB-PC133 machine and it flies. I ran the diagnostic check and compared the results he got with his GForce2. The Radeon was getting about 3 x greater frame-rates. DVDs played superbly.

    Allan
     
  5. Der_Pobman

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    If you got the MB and CPU upgrade route make sure your PSU can handle it, AMDs use far more power than your old Celeron will. ALso make sure it takes the memory you have on your old system. Unless you want to upgrade to the latest faster ram. Just remember if you end up replacing the MB, CPU, RAM and PSU you are going to rack up your costs pretty fast...

    If you go the AMD route you might as well jump up to the 1ghz version and morgan cores.

    Cheapest option is to find an old Celeron 700 for your system, they are almost worthless now so if you can find one (new or used) it will be dirt cheap. C700 is fine for DVDs, unless you want to run complicated de-interlacing algorithms etc. This would then likely cost you no more than 20 pounds for the upgrade, while replacing everything is easily going to push you beyond the 100 mark.

    BTW what is your MB, you can often push them higher than the manual says. Though Jonny is right you cant put a new Celeron Tualatin in your board.

    Regards

    Der Pobman
     
  6. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    I have had a Celeron 800, Celeron 1.1GHz and Pentium3 1GHz running in my Abit BE6-2 HTPC.

    Celeron 800 overclocked to 8x133=1063MHz
    Celeron 1.1Ghz overclocked to 11x115=1265MHz

    These were both very good for DVD (WinDVD, TheaterTek) and DScaler (720x576 very occasional dropped frames or 640x576 no dropped frames with Adaptive noise filter enabled too).

    The Celeron 800 lets the bus speed go higher because of the lower multiplier. There's very little between the two when overclocked.

    I only swapped to a spare Pentium3 1GHz/133 because I was trying to capture 720x480 with losless Hufyuv and that seemed much more optimised at 30% on the P3 with 80% on the Celerons.

    I'd say if you have an Intel m/b then the Celerons 800-1100 will be peanuts and great value, it also avoids non-Intel chipset/AMD issues which reportedly can cause stutter.

    I wouldn't bother with a Tualatin (Celeron >=1.2GHz, P3>=1.2GHz) motherboard as they have no future beyond a few months. Although if you happen to have a tualatin compatible (very recent) motherboard the 256KB cache Celerons are great value.

    If price is not as sensitive, Intel are apparently about to release Celeron 1.7's which are the older Pentium4's. I'd say if replacing a motherboard now, look for one that'll support s478 into the future.

    I have nothing against AMD, I have an Epox 8KHA+/266A/AthlonXP 1900+ in my desktop. Its just that seems much less troublesome to stick with Intel chipset motherboards for HTPC at the moment.

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  7. GearHead

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    Thanks guys for all the replies.

    Pobman, I'm not near the PC at the moment but I have an incling that it has a VIA chipset. Looking around for an old/cheap Celeron around the 700Mhz mark is a possibility. Will phone my local dealer, dabs only seem to stock FC-PGA2 Celerons which I assume are the type I can't use in my current M/B

    Rob, If I decide a new m/b+processor is worth pushing for I think I'll go for something like:

    ABit AT6 with Intel 815EP chipset (£74) with Celeron 1.3 Retail (£74). Probably get 256MB of PC133 at the same time. Oh well, there goes another £180 or so.

    As you say, 1.7Mhz, s478 processor (and motherboard) might be worth waiting for (It'll only add about £30 to the bill) but not sure how long I would have to wait.

    Allan
     
  8. Rob.Screene

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    I think the 800 Celerons were when they made the jump from 66MHz fs-bus to 100MHz fs-bus. I think they're also a later stepping so overclock a bit better.

    I'd look for an 800 at least, I don't think a 700 would be very sensible and I doubt there's much in the price.
    regards,
    Rob.
     
  9. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Just noticed on dabs.com:
    Celeron 1.7 128KB S478 Box
    Mfr code: BX80531P170G128
    Quicklinx: 215KWS
    Long Lead Time Expected
    £71.00+VAT=£83.42

    When available, I think these will be the fast, low heat/low noise, intel chipset compatible cpu bargains for new HTPC builds.

    I'm not sure if the existing Socket-478 motherboards support these, but I'm pretty sure they will as these are just apparently rebadged non-northwood Pentium 4's.

    Rob.
     
  10. GearHead

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    Rob,

    So these 1.7 Celerons will use PC2100 DDR RAM ?

    Mmmm, would definitely be worth going for if they are just around the corner. Not too keen on waiting months though.

    Allan
     
  11. jonny m

    jonny m
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    Hi GearHead
    A word on the celeron p4's as far as I can tell they require a different psu cable as they need 3 different types of voltage for the p4 core, your current psu won't hack it, although your idea of going for a 1.3ghtz celey has got me thinking also!

    the 1.3ghtz celey or pIII's 1.3ghtz-preferably if you can get one are actually very good and can easily outperform a p4 1.7ghtz on most tasks, although isn't the p4 better for media streaming? not sure either for which is best for dvd, but for games and generally most tasks (ms office) the piii spanks the p4, due to its better fpu, shorter pipeline's, better cache\instruction ratio

    im alittle worried about athalons also, generally they seem to be quite good but if you get the combination wrong it can be trouble identifying the component, my wife works (or did) for tech support for games and the first question generally was athalon and/or radeon! and the answer usually was yes, the most reliable combination intel+nvidia for games.

    I would go for the 1.3ghtz celey+ the abit 815 mb both are a good combination, Im running a 1.1ghtz cely + abit be6-ii and its very reliable.

    The cheaper p4 mb's use sdram which is rubbish for performance, if going the p4 route you really need to get ddr.

    regards
    j
     
  12. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I'd read a lot about the problems people were having over at avsforum, and it generaly boiled down to the via chipset.

    I'm running two AMD machines - one htpc and one desktop, and I don't have any problems with either. One mobo - ECS K7S5A is using the SiS chipset, and the other - Gigabyte 71XE4 is using an AMD chipset. Both are running Radeons.

    I play games on the desktop machine (1200 TBird) and I don't seem to get any major slow downs even in Q3 on the 'busier' levels.

    Having said that, the Intel route does seem to be a more robust system because you don't have to worry about mixing and matching components.

    Gary.
     
  13. jonny m

    jonny m
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    Gary
    Yeh you are right, most problems stem from using via chipsets unfortunately they make up a large proportion of athalon mb's , sis and amd/760/761 are much more stable. I use a via chipset at work with a pIII and its crap, personally I would never touch a via chipset with a bargepole with any cpu.

    j
     
  14. Rob.Screene

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    Thanks for the tip about power supply differences.

    I agree the Celeron 1.7 (Willamette) doesn't easily outperform the Celeron 1.3 (Tualatin).

    However there are some tests in which the 1.7 is quite a bit faster. http://www4.tomshardware.com/cpu/02q2/020515/celeron-06.html#audiovideo_benchmarks.

    From overclockers.com, it looks like the Celeron 1.3 will overclock with relatively standard cooling to about 1.6GHz; +23%.

    It looks like the 1.7 P4's were managing between around 1.9-2.1GHz = +17%.

    I think if absolute performance today is the requirement, then the Celeron 1.3 on a Tualatin board makes more sense than I would have thought.

    Alternatively, it will be nice in 2 years time to be able to drop a 2.4GHz Celeron in it's place without a motherboard swap. I think that's the real benefit over the Tualatins.

    cheeers,
    Rob.
     
  15. Der_Pobman

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    I agree, and have said before, that to do a P4 (or new Celeron) justice you must use it with fast ram ... I also agree if you are willing to overclock then a Tualatin is wonderful, a simple 1.1ghz chip (1ghz is hard to find now) can be pushed to 1.5-1.6Ghz ... where is is giving you similar power to 2Ghz P4's. Though memory bandwidth is still not as good as a P4 can be.

    Regards

    Der Pobman
     
  16. Rob.Screene

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    I must stop thinking about this and get on with some boring system testing ready for tomorrow!

    Available now:
    Pentium 4 1.6A S478 Box 512KB
    Mfr code: BX80532PC1600D
    Quicklinx: 16FZWS
    116+VAT=136.29

    This is I think the slowest Northwood Pentium 4, smaller die and double size 512KB cache. overclockers.com lists this as running to about 2.4-2.5GHz with relatively standard cooling; +53% oveclocking.

    There isn't much that performs better, at any price; http://www4.tomshardware.com/cpu/02q2/020506/p4b-08.html

    It sounds like the Nissan Skyline GT-R of HTPC cpu's!
    Rob.
     

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