Spec me a BR/HD-DVD HTPC

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Walter Sobchak, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. Walter Sobchak

    Walter Sobchak
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    capable of giving me HD audio to the analouge inputs of my Denon 3802.

    Can it be done for under £600?
     
  2. Walter Sobchak

    Walter Sobchak
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    Product Name Qty Price Line Total
    Intel Core 2 Duo E2160 "LGA775 Conroe" 1.80GHz (800FSB) - Retail Intel Core 2 Duo E2160 "LGA775 Conroe" 1.80GHz (800FSB) - Retail £42.99
    (£50.51) £85.98
    (£101.02)
    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32-Bit Edition DVD - OEM - 1Pk (66I-00715) Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32-Bit Edition DVD - OEM - 1Pk (66I-00715) £59.99
    (£70.49) £59.99
    (£70.49)
    LG GGC-H20L Blu-Ray Reader & HD-DVD ROM Serial ATA Drive - Retail LG GGC-H20L Blu-Ray Reader & HD-DVD ROM Serial ATA Drive - Retail £124.99
    (£146.86) £124.99
    (£146.86)
    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler (Socket LGA775) Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler (Socket LGA775) £14.99
    (£17.61) £14.99
    (£17.61)
    Antec Fusion Black HTPC Case - 430HE Watt PSU Antec Fusion Black HTPC Case - 430HE Watt PSU £96.99
    (£113.96) £96.99
    (£113.96)
    Samsung SpinPoint T 500GB SATA-II 16MB Cache - OEM (HD501LJ) Samsung SpinPoint T 500GB SATA-II 16MB Cache - OEM (HD501LJ) £52.99
    (£62.26) £52.99
    (£62.26)
    GeIL 2GB (2x1GB) PC2-6400C4 800MHz Ultra Low Latency DDR2 Dual Channel Kit (GX22GB6400UDC) GeIL 2GB (2x1GB) PC2-6400C4 800MHz Ultra Low Latency DDR2 Dual Channel Kit (GX22GB6400UDC) £31.99
    (£37.59) £31.99
    (£37.59)
    Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H GeForce 7100 Micro-ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard Gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H GeForce 7100 Micro-ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard £43.99
    (£51.69) £43.99
    (£51.69)

    Would the above be powerfull enough?
     
  3. MikeK

    MikeK
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    IMO, you'd need a "designed for HiDef video" graphics card or a more powerful CPU (or both :) ) - the Geforce 7100 / E2160 would most likely not be powerful enough.
    While I've not tried it specifically with this Gigabyte board myself, if you use PowerDVD Ultra as your BD/HDDVD player, it may even refuse to start BD/HDDVD playback, complaining about the graphics card!

    For graphics cards, you are probably looking at the ATI 2400XT/2600Pro/2600XT as being the most suitable, while from Nvidia it'd be the 8500GT/8600GT.

    If you want analogue outputs to your receiver, that means the audio decoding will also have to be done in the HTPC (unless it's LPCM already), so that's a further CPU overhead to consider!

    The soundcard is another possible upgrade you may wish to consider!
    The DACs on the motherboard are unlikely to be superhifi quality (consider the total cost of the motherboard and the likely amount that's therefore been spent on the DAC section) - though I suppose you could try the suck it and see approach here!


    As for CPU, it really depends on what you are using for the graphics (and whether the graphics card will be doing any of the decoding, and if so, how much - ie video acceleration).
    With no video acceleration, I think an E2160 would struggle at stock speed.
    You could overclock it of course (like the E2180, these chips overclock pretty well), but if you want a stock speed solution, I think you need to look higher up the range - something like the E6750. (Any higher than that though, and personally I'd be looking at the quad cored Q6600 in preference to the dual core E6850 - both are around the same price - £170).

    With a graphics card which can take some of the decoding load off the main CPU, the processing requirement drops significantly - in that case an E2160 should cope quite easily.
    You should note though that getting video acceleration working properly, while a doddle for many, has posed significant problems for some - it seems a bit flaky at times (though many of the issues have been around XP, so hopefully won't be relevant to Vista users)
     
  4. anthony.s

    anthony.s
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    Agree with the above that a 2600 is your best option for HD-DVD and Bluray.
    Playback is perfect using the LG drive. The Nvidia while almost as good does not completely accelerate the decoding of all HD/BR stream types
    DXVA problems can arise with file based HD content though if not created properly.
    Your suggested processor will be completely suitable when using a 2600.
    Can't comment on audio though but analogue is analogue so just make sure the card has the required amount of outputs.
     
  5. abraxus

    abraxus
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    I would point out from my own experience that whilst the 2600 would decode HD DVD and Blu Ray discs, as well as full rips of those discs, it doesn't help a great deal if you have a powerful enough processor.

    Further if you have any Hi Def h.264 (mkv files) the graphics card doesn't help at all and your processor choice may struggle with the 1080p ones.

    I have an E6600 processor and using CoreAVC as the video codec I can playback 720p and 1080p with only around 35% processor use and no graphics card assistance. HD DVD & Bu Ray discs use no more than 20% processor power and 15% graphics card power.

    So if you intend to use a wide range of HD file types I'd question the benefits of the graphics card and simply go for a powerful enough processor. The main benefit I get with the card is two dvi outputs to feed my TV and projector at different resolutions.

    This is all in my expereince and of course depends on what you want to play back. If it's simply HD DVD and Blu Ray discs and full back up rips of these then your choice of processor and a 2600 graphics card will be fine.
     
  6. Walter Sobchak

    Walter Sobchak
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    What soundcard would you recommend?
     
  7. anthony.s

    anthony.s
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    That is not true I'm afraid.
    MKVs are accelerated completely if they are encoded correctly using profile L4.1 and a suitable codec.
     
  8. Walter Sobchak

    Walter Sobchak
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    How about this mb, instead of buying a GC?

    Asus P5E-VM HDMI Intel G35 Micro-ATX (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard

    £89.99
    £105.74 inc VAT

    Enjoy Full HD 1080p Multimedia Home-Theater Entertainment with True 1080P HDMI Support. This motherboard also supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It also can support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world. The Intel® G35 Express Chipset boosts your gaming and multimedia experience with the integrated graphics engine Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3500. It supports the latest 1333MHz FSB multi-core processors and platforms; and delivers breakthrough advances in 2D and 3D graphics and video capabilities. Featuring the Intel® Clear Video Technology, Enhanced Post-processing and Windows Vista compatibility, this chipset meets the changing display requirements of visually rich applications and provides smooth playback of High-Definition Videos, superb 3D effects and performance, crisp imaging, and accurate color control.

    - CPU LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Quad / Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 Processors
    - Support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU
    - Chipset Intel® G35 / ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
    - Front Side Bus 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
    - 4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2 800 / 667 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
    - Dual channel memory architecture
    - 1 x PCI-E x16
    - 2 x PCI-E x1
    - 1 x PCI
    - Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3500 integrated Graphics
    - Dual VGA output support: HDMI/DVI-D and RGB
    - Supports Microsoft® DirectX® 10, OpenGL® 2.0, Pixel Shader 4.0
    - 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
    - Intel Matrix Storage Technology supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10
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    - PCI-E Gigabit LAN controllers
    - Realtek ALC 883, 8-channel High-Definition Audio CODEC
    - ASUS Noise Filter
    - IEEE 1394
    - USB 12 x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6ports at back panel)
    - ASUS Splendid
    - ASUS AI Gear 2
    - ASUS AI Nap
    - ASUS Fanless Design
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    - ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
    - ASUS EZ Flash 2
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    - Precision Tweaker 2:
    - SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
     
  9. pjclark1

    pjclark1
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    Why buy this drive when the Blu writer HD reader version is only £179?
    and
    what everyone else says
    add an Ati 2600 graphics card
     
  10. abraxus

    abraxus
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    Granted but I'm referring to all MKV's and specifically those mkv's that are most widely available. I have over 1tb of hi def mkv's and none of them get hardware accelerated.

    Faced with the prospect of re-encoding about 130 films or ensuring I have a processor that can handle wahtever's thrown at it then my choice would be the extra on the processor.
     

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