New to HCPCs & PC illiterate :P


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Aug 13, 2002
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Hi all

Well I'm finally getting into projection, hopefully when Jeff gets back from Italy I will be buying his DLP PJ from him.

I demo'd it couple of days ago, and the picture from the PJ+HCPC was simply breathtaking. I was amazed...and it's got me thinking.

I have a progressive scan DVD player (Toshiba 510), but of course it's NTSC progressive only. Out of 300+ DVDs, about 180 of them are R2 PAL, and hence my post here.

I already know that when I will likely be disappointed when it finally gets hooked up to my DVD player [as I've seen it in its best possible form!] anticipating this, I want to start looking at ways and means of building a HCPC.

So I need advice please:D

* How much can they be built for? I've read - I think on here - about HCPCs being built for as little as £300...but is there a big difference in quality/performance between say a £300 HCPC and a £600 one?

* What components do I need?

From the sticky thread I assume:

DVD player with digital out. Fortissimo is suggested as a cheap option, but does performance vary between this and more expensive cards? How much is this?

What speed CPU is required for "comfortable" HCPC use?

Suggestions on a good motherboard?

I assume a big hard-drive isn't required? What is the optimum capacity?

Which gfx card? Radeon seems to be the name mentioned, but there are obviously lots of them! Which ones in particular are recommended?

RAM. How much is ideal?

Power supply - there are various wattages, what do most people go for?

Which OS is the most stable? xp, 95, 98 etc?

And another 1000 questions which I can't think of now.

I know alot of the questions above are basic - I freely admit I am crap when it comes to PCs - but if I can get a list together of everything, I have a friend who can build the whole thing for me :D

In general, how easy are HCPCs to configure? Looking again at the sticky thread, there is a hell of alot of software available to download but err...I'm not sure what any of it does:(

Is there a definitive guide to complete HCPC newbies like myself?

Any and all advice would be appreciated.

I think you need to flick through the past 2-3 months of this forum - most of the question sshould be answered.
The difference between a £300 and £600 won't be in image quality - it's more likely to be a matter of better sound card, capture cards for TV, silent PSUs, gaming performance etc. If you want a plain "vanilla" HCPC, then the lower end should do.
Operating system - I'd say either Win98SE or WinXP.

Take a look at
this thread - I shoved a list of bits together on it - some may be out of date now, but it gives an idea. I'm using a plain "powered by" Radeon (with offical ATI Radeon drivers), and it's fab.

Any more questions, just shout!
Thanks, I suppose I should have said what this is going to be used for.

The HCPC will be used exclusively for DVD playback. No TV, no PS2.....just movies:D

Actually the reason I'm doing it this way is because I really want to preserve the impact of the big screen for as long as possible.

I hate the idea of TV on the big big screen, would rather watch it on my 24" panny:D
Ok looks like the basics are pretty the big Q....which soundcard?

I'm guessing that soundcards give various performance on the 5.1 front.

I want something which will give excellent performance and err...relatively easy to configure. Any recommendations?

Oh and can someone tell me what SPDIF means please?

Is there a definitive list of programs and configurations for HCPCs anywhere?
Originally posted by Smurfin
Oh and can someone tell me what SPDIF means please?

Is there a definitive list of programs and configurations for HCPCs anywhere?

It is your digital coaxial output, easy really!

I have recently built an hcpc......£370 for alot of machine! That lacks a sound card, but with an m-audio 24/96, it is still under £500 for a fairly much top notch pc.

I presume you have been at frightening yourself!? :D

Originally posted by Smurfin
Oh and can someone tell me what SPDIF means please?

SPDIF: Sony Philips Digital InterFace
Just the name for the standard consumer digital interface (co-ax and optical, Co-ax uses RCA-phono normally and optical uses the TOSLINK socket).

On the CPU front, I don't think you can actually buy a CPU that will be too slow these days. 800Mhz is the slowest I've seen around, I run a AMD Duron 800 in my 2nd machine, it's fine.
Can anyone recommend a good soundcard please?
Unless you go to the length of the MAudio cards like the 2496 (about £150), the choice is a bit limited. There are £20 jobbies suchas the Soundblaster 4.1 that will do the job - i.e. they have an SPDIF output for your av amp, but they don't sound quite as good - I'd suggest one of those is worth a go if you're on a budget. The Soudblaster Audigy would be a next step up, but I'm not sure it's worth that step - better go the full MAudio route if you're going that far.
Have a quick read thru this.

In short I would suggest in order of quality/price:
  1. Terratech EWX 24/96 £115
  2. M-Audio Audiphile 24 £142
  3. STAudio DSP24 MKII £179
  4. Echo Mia £179
  5. Ego-Sys Waveterminal 192X £185
  6. RME DIGI96/8 PAD £265
  7. LynxTWO £650
What is the quality of the AV receiver you are connecting to?
Branxx, my current AV set-up is as follows:

Plus U3 1080 DLP PJ (when I get it next week!)
Toshiba SD510 prog scan DVD player
Yamaha DSP-A1 amp
Mission 775e mains
Mission 773e rears
Mission 75c centre
REL Storm mk I sub
REL Storm mkIII sub

Want to minimise the cost of the HCPC as I've spent so much money on AV recently, but whatever happens I don't want to compromise the sound quality!

Originally posted by Smurfin
I hate the idea of TV on the big big screen, would rather watch it on my 24" panny:D


Not sure I'd agree there. I feed my sky digibox through dScaler and get a very nice image on the big screen. Now, granted, I wouldn't watch the dross like Eastenders (not that I do anyway!) but a good movie or something like The Sopranos (starting on Tuesday:) ) is great!

You know what they say, junk in, junk out, quality in, quality out!

FYI, I built my HTPC with a Sb live 5.1. It works great but I've just bought an m-audio Delta 410 which I'll be putting in the machine soon.

Keep an eye on my website for a comparative report over the coming weeks (whenever I get time to do the swap)

Just my 2 cents (euro cents that is!)


You'll probably not like this but I am quite convinced, having had Yamaha DSP-A1, any of the sound cards I mentioned have better audiophile quality then Yamaha. So what ever you choose will be an improvement provining you replace Yamaha as well.

HTPC Software AC3/DTS is so obviously better then Yamaha's. Yamaha's amplifiers are also a weak point.

However, all of this you have to take in an relative sense at the quality level we are talking. In a wider sense Yamaha DSP-A1 is still very competent piece of kit, alghough a bit dated.

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