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Proposed HCPC and some queries.

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Andy.T, Jun 4, 2002.

  1. Andy.T

    Andy.T
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    Hi guys,

    Pull up a chair and coffee this could be long. Back? Ok here goes. :D

    I am totally new to this but have started by reading the articles here and on AVS, I still have a bunch of questions though.

    I'm looking at building a HCPC to drive my Panasonic AE100 (which I have yet to buy, but it will be mine... oh yes... it will be mine). :devil:

    Seriously though, I'll be buying an AE100 in a couple of months and I want the HCPC to drive DVDs on my Sony KP41DS1 until then. I'd like it to act as a juke-box using EAC and Monkey Lossless and eventually to act as a PVR using Showshifter or something. I'd also like to be able to play some games on it on the big screen, though it won't be my main PC.

    Audio fidelity is really important to me and I want the best picture for now on the TV and for later on the AE100. Bearing that in mind, how does the following seem as a starter?

    Case - Anything pretty
    PSU - Enermax Powersupply ATX 350W (P-4) Whisper Series for P4/AMD (EG365P-VE)
    CPU - AMD Athlon XP 1800
    Mobo - Abit NV7-133-R RAID nForce 415
    Ram - 256mb
    DVD Drive - Toshiba SD-M1612
    Video Card - I can't find anywhere selling the ATI 7200 But would like fanless. Any suggestions?
    Sound Card - Creative Labs Audigy or if I can stretch to it M-Audio 2496
    Hard Drives - Maxtor 80gb ATA133 7200rpm (1 initially then more later)
    TV Card - ATI TV-Wonder or Haupage Win TV
    Combined Wire-free Keyboard/mouse - Any suggestions?
    Wire-free Joystick - Any suggestions?
    OS - XP or ME

    Questions

    a) How much of a problem is the lack of Dscaler support for the ATI All in One TV Wonder?

    b) Is there a way of getting RGB to the TV or am I stuck with S-Video?

    c) I will possibly look to remote control the HCPC from my main PC for ease of use with either PC-Anywhere or SMS. Does anyone have any experience of this or foresee any problems?

    Andy Trump
     
  2. buns

    buns
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    I'll work my way through what i can.......

    DVD jukebox is a big deal if you intend on doing it at proper dvd quality......needing massive hard drives (to my knowledge), im almost certain your spec'd drive wouldnt be enough.

    Why go athlon? Its a more common route using intel chips.....for me i will go this way simply because i can come to a forum like this and be almost certain someone can help.....whereas an athlon based system (well i think it is the via chipsets are the prob) you may have more difficulty in finding good help.

    I would definitely go for the m-audio......whats the point in a great picture if you penny pinch on sound!?

    I dont know about the 7200.......the 7500 will probably be very close on price for more performance....albeit with a fan.

    Os....i use ME and it is useless! For relaiability sake....go for XP

    The lack of descaler support is only a problem if you will be using external sources.....i think!

    Ad
     
  3. Andy.T

    Andy.T
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    Thanks for the help. Sorry when I said jukebox I should have made it clear I meant audio CD only.

    I was thinking Athlon XP from what I had read on the AVS forum, Intel is a little more money but is do-able and I agree on the Via chipset mobo's.

    I would be using Dscaler when it came to the PVR side of things later on as this would be a external source from the Sky box, I hope I've got that right.

    Andy Trump
     
  4. Jeff

    Jeff
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  5. Andy.T

    Andy.T
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    Thanks Jeff, I have just phoned Downtown and they confirmed it does have the TV-Out port (the web site was a bit vague).

    Does it matter that it is OEM? I thought I read somewhere that they should be avoided - if not I'll order it now. :)

    Andy Trump
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff
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    It might be classed as OEM but it is a proper ATI card unlike some of the 7500's etc.

    Jeff
     
  7. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Hi Andy,

    I would go for a £137 Pentium 4 1.6A S478 (with 512KB cache "Northwood").

    This will work out only a little more than the £99 Athlon 1800+, but can be overclocked to around 2.5GHz if you ever chose to.

    These would also have the benefit of an intel motherboard chipset, anything else can apparently need patches or replacement drivers to avoid stuttering within HTPC's.

    A lower cost intel route is the new £84 older Pentium 4 "Celeron 1.7 s478 256KB cache", but that will be a little slower than the next generation 1.6A as standard and wont overclock very much.

    The intel cpu's also run much cooler than Athlons. I have an Athlon 1900+ in my desktop and it kicks out quite some heat, so the Enermax variable fan has to be turned a little fater and generates a bit more noise to keep the Athlon at 54 degrees c or below.

    The reason I noticed the Northwood 1.6A is that I'm transfering some Laserdiscs I've captured onto DVD-R and the 1.6A overclocked can apparently work 20-30% faster than the Athlon for MPEG2 compression. This can be quite significant because 100GB/2Hrs of losless D1 disc can take 90hours to compress down to 4.7GB with the highest quality 2-pass VBR settings and noise reduction.

    The potential overclocked performance could be of use if running as a PVR while using the HTPC for something else.

    prices: dabs.com; fast search intel cpu
    overclocking: overclockers.com
    performance: tomshardware.com anandtech.com

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  8. Andy.T

    Andy.T
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    Thanks for all the help so far guys. I will go the Intel route, its a little more than I budgeted for but if it saves stuttering and compatability problems it'll be worth it.

    The Radeon 7200 turned up today complete with S-Video out, is there anything I need to check to see it's a genuine ATI card like Jeff said? It looks exactly the same as the picture on the ATI site (with the addition of the S-Video socket for Europe) so I guess I'm ok. Just paranoid. ;)

    Andy Trump
     
  9. meep

    meep
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    Hi All,

    perhaps someone could clarify exactly the problems encountered with non "Built By" ATI cards.

    I'm running a hercules badged Radeon 8500 LE ("powered by ATI") into my Sony 1271Q with no problems (apart from some tearing at 50Hz, rectified by a move to 75Hz).

    What should I be looking for as a problem?

    Regards

    Peter
     
  10. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    My PC is an athlon 900MHz with an asus A7v mobo ( via chipset) and it took me ages to get it stable under W2K ( albeit W2K was just released). It still has foibles though ( at the moment its up the swanee but it was. my fault!). I run fairly intensivegraphics packages on it 2D and 3D

    The 1.3 P3 based HTPC I recently built immediately "felt" more stable to me without any hardcore tweaking : far better dvd playback than my PC thank god.

    I've been toying with the idea of chucking out the athlon and via mobo and going the intel route instead.
     
  11. Andy.T

    Andy.T
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    I forget where I read it Peter, I think it was in one of the millions of FAQs I've read over the past week or so.

    It seemed to be saying that OEM cards can have compatability issues with the ATI drivers, but being a newb I could have got the wrong end of the stick. ;)

    If you haven't noticed a problem with yours I wouldn't worry.

    Andy Trump
     
  12. Sinzer

    Sinzer
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    The anti-AMD feeling is a bit untoward. You can buy VIA chipsets for Pentium and they tend to have the same compatibility issues.

    If you want a slightly cheaper system than a pentium, then I would go for a :

    EPOX - 8KHA+ DDR - £80, very stable board, my PC never stutters, running Win XP I have never had a crash. (EPOX have a very good rep and most geek shops would recommend them very stable).
    AMD 1600-1800 - Processor speed is not crucial, you are looking at keeping heat down, you could even underclock it. Pointless overclocking a chip as you need to start ramping up cooling.
    256 Meg Crucial, 2100 DDR CAS 2.5 - £40 - Very good memory, I would most likely look at going for 512megs.
    Western Digital Caviar 80Gb Special Edition £100 - The fastest HD on the market.
    HSF - Zalman Flower Fan £30 - very quiet.
    Coolermaster aluminium case - Which one depends on your choice, http://www.coolermaster.com.
    Sound and Graphics cards are up to yourself, you could always go secondhand, try to veer away from the SB/Geforce/VIA combo as this is what causes the most problems. Getting one without a fan you are looking at a Geforce MX or the ATi 7200. Or you could make some modifications and remove a fan or put a quiter one on it.

    As you want to run this quietly you could look at getting a Papst case fan, very quiet (19dB), very slow fans which help heat dispersal.

    If you want no fans at all (excl PSU), then you could run a low end Pentium with just a heatsink, maybe include a small case fan.

    AMD is not all bad, Pentium has some advantages, bu the speed/price ratio always wins my money.

    Also, you need an internet connection.... disregard whatever anyone says about running components out of a box. ALWAYS download the drivers you need (go to good hardware sites like http://www.guru3d.com etc. to find out which drivers are the most compatible with your cards etc.). The drivers that come packaged are always out of date and often hashed together with loads of useless utilities.
     
  13. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    If you want to build a cheap and stable HTPC that works, then you couldt try the same components that my HTPC uses to drive a Davis DLS8 DLP projector:

    ECS K7S5A mobo £51
    Duron 950 £36
    fan £4 (£19.50)
    memory 128 100 £17.34
    case £18 (£16.45)
    floppy £7
    HDD £49 (26)
    DVD £36 (multiregion)
    Radeon VE 32meg £36 (64ddr £10)
    KB/Mouse £4.50
    SB 4.1 £24

    All prices are from ebuyer.com, and you have to add the bracketed price for a quietpc (except in the case of the Radeon, which I added just for the sake of it).

    Hardware = £285 to £360.

    The above quietpc spec is more or less the spec of my machine except I'm using an Aureal SQ1500 instead of SB 4.1. The Aureal was £18 including postage from the USA.

    I used my existing copy of WinMe, the free copy of WinDVD 2.3 that came with a DVD player (free web upgrade to 2.8), and ATI MMC 7.5 which is a free download. I just installed the MMC DVD player software and used Zoom Player as the front end (free) to use the ATI video with WinDVD audio.

    I sometimes just use the WinDVD player combined with YXY (free) for those occasional titles that don't play well under Zoom.

    OS can be boughty from computer fairs for less than £60 if you really need to buy it.

    HTH

    Gary.
     
  14. Andy.T

    Andy.T
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    Oh sure, the AMD crowd pipes up now I've ordered the kit! Hehe ;)

    Well for those interested, when all the kit turns up I will have ...

    - Abit BD7-RAID Motherboard for S478/P-4 Pcs I845D, ATA/133, ATX, DDR-Ram, Raid

    - Intel Pentium 4 1.6 GHz Boxed PC400 Socket PGA478, 512kB "Northwood"

    - EKL PAPST CPU-Fan Sock478

    - Enermax Powersupply ATX 350W (P-4) Whisper Series for P4/AMD

    - DDR-DIMM PC2100 256MB DDR CL2.5 Generic Memory 184-Pins

    - Maxtor IDE ATA-133 80GB 7200RPM DiamondMax Plus D740X

    - Toshiba IDE DVD Toshiba SD-M1612

    - Cheap tat case :rolleyes:

    Andy Trump
     
  15. Pootle

    Pootle
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    You really REALLY don't want an audigy if your after really good sound, go for the 24/96 if you want digital out, or the 410 if you want 6-8 channel analogue out.

    BTW, most radeon's with fans can be easily converted to ZALMAN passive heat sink, which are excellent, and if you're worried about the temp, just underclock them a bit. Just make sure that there is some air movement past the zalman from a case fan - I left out the cover slot for the card below the graphics slot, and put a big slow fan in the front of the PC, and it works a treat.
     

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