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The HD2600 should be more than adequate for HD OTA playback.

In theory, it should do HDDVD/BluRay acceleration as well, but as I said, there are reports that the drivers for the AGP versions are not doing H.264 decode, for some reason. The hardware is there, though. Some people report success with the VisionTek cards, since they have custom drivers.

The only reason I mention the 9550 is because I have one, I know it works for OTA HD, it's passively cooled (I'm a stickler for noise), and you can probably get it for next to nothing. 64MB is probably a bit small, but more importantly, you also want the version with the 128bit memory interface, not the 64bit one. The exact card I have is this one: http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/VGA/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=1187.

Gigabyte has a whole slate of passively-cooled cards (they call it "SilentPipe"). However, I can't seem to find any AGP ones on NCIX or TigerDirect right now. Pity. Anyway, if the fan doesn't bother you, anything 9600, 9800, X600, X800, X1950, etc should be fine, as long as it has a 128-bit memory interface. For video playback/PVR use, I find the X1950 to be overkill, personally. Avoid the 200 or 300 series (9200, X200, X1300, etc). I had less luck with video out on NVidia AGP cards, so I can't make a specific recommendation there, except to avoid the low-end cards (5200, 6200, 7300, etc).

As to CPU usage, I just checked some 1080i material, and it averages around 60% CPU. Not low, but I've never had any stuttering, and I have 3 tuner cards in the machine (2 analog NTSC and 1 ATSC).

Long story short, I think the Sapphire HD 2600 pro on NCIX is probably your best deal, if you can live with the fan.

Oh, one more thing: I find it's best to connect your TV at its native res, and do all up/down-rezing in the HTPC. So if your Panasonic is 720P, set your HTPC to output 1280x720, 60Hz, and let your PC do the deinterlacing and downrezing of 1080i material. If the overscan bothers you, adjust for it in your PVR software (BeyondTV lets you do this), or use a slightly reduced res (I think ATI provides some by default). If you send it a 1080i signal, any progressive material you have (eg., 720P) will be uprezed and interlaced by the HTPC, then de-interlaced and downrezed by the TV, which may lead to a quality loss.
 

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60% eh? Well considering mine is locked at 100% all the time when trying to watch HD (which is rather painful at the moment lol), a 40% drop would put me more at ease. :) I guess with some of the newer cards it would be a bit lower than that. : )

In theory, it should do HDDVD/BluRay acceleration as well, but as I said, there are reports that the drivers for the AGP versions are not doing H.264 decode
Correct me if I'm wrong, but H.264 is a BD decode and VC1 (?) is for HD DVD, right? If that's the case then I'm not really bothered by that, because if I did get a new drive it would be an HD one.

I think the Sapphire HD 2600 pro on NCIX is probably your best deal, if you can live with the fan.
The video card I have right now has a slot fan right next to it to help keep it cool. I doubt the fan on the new card would be any louder than the ones I already have in the case. (7 or 8 of them I think lol). My case is not very quiet, but it's not very loud either. Besides if I'm watching an OTA hockey game or a movie from DVD, the surround system would be turned up and I wouldn't be able to hear the comp anyway. ;) I'll probably put the case in an out of the way place anyways. The tuner card I bought also came with a nice remote and an IR extender, so the final location of the case won't be that big of a deal. ;)

Some people report success with the VisionTek cards, since they have custom drivers.
In one of the first links given to me to read, it mentioned something about that too. It mentioned a driver from a different company that did work with the 2400/2600 cards. I'll have to go back and reread all those pages again to find that info. (great. lol)

As for the tv settings, thanks, and I'll keep that in mind when I finally do set things up. (I already printed off a copy of this page for future use.

Anyway, if the fan doesn't bother you, anything 9600, 9800, X600, X800, X1950, etc should be fine, as long as it has a 128-bit memory interface.
I'll do a quick look at Tiger, Canada Computers and a couple of other spots to see what they have available. When I first started looking I was happy to see cards for $50, but those were PCI express ones. If I can find a suitable 128mb+ AGP version for close to that I'll be a happy camper. I guess I should start searching for one.

The Sapphire card looks sexy though. It would go well with my mobo and memory sticks which are also red. : )


If anyone else has an opinion on any of this, please feel free to join in.


Btw, I'd like to thank everyone that has helped me so far. I would hated to have bought the wrong card and then be stuck with something I can't even use. : )
 

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First time set up of HTPC

Hey all, I am just setting up my first system and have a few questions.

I only want to do two things: watch DVDs and surf the internet. I don't have cable or satellelite so that is out.

I have a cheapo dell Intel Celeron D 346 PC with MCE 2005 1G RAM and the Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3000.

I also have a DELL 2400MP projector.

Here are my queries:

1. Since I use a projector, what is the best way to interface the video? Just a VGA cable? Can I locate the computer at the other end of the room and extend the cable to the projector?

2. What is an inexpensive remote control? I see lots of them on the stickies, but no specific recommendation.

3. Any recommendations for inexpensive wireless keyboard and mouse?

thanks for the help
d1
 

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I found a Palit Radeon HD 2600 card at Tiger, but grrrr, it's a PCI one. lol ($103 too). It even had a HDMI out so I wouldn't have to use an adaptor. :(

Lets see, my wish list so far is...

1. find a 2400 (but I would prefer a 2600 card)

2. around or under $100 (if it's a 2600 card)

3. AGP slot

4. a real HDMI output so I don't have to buy an DVI adaptor (if if comes with an adaptor, great)

5. fan/no fan, I don't really care as long as the fan isn't too loud.


I can live with 1,2,3 and 5. If the card needs a DVI-HDMI adaptor I guess I'll have to find one, but that wouldn't happen until I move everything downstairs later this summer.


Is that list asking too much? : )
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but H.264 is a BD decode and VC1 (?) is for HD DVD, right? If that's the case then I'm not really bothered by that, because if I did get a new drive it would be an HD one.
Nope, both BluRay and HDDVD support all 3 codecs: MPEG2, H.264 and VC-1. According to wikipedia, most early HDDVD discs came out using VC-1 as you say, but that's changing. The other reason I continually mention both is probably because I have geeklust for the LG dual-format drive...

I'll do a quick look at Tiger, Canada Computers and a couple of other spots to see what they have available. When I first started looking I was happy to see cards for $50, but those were PCI express ones. If I can find a suitable 128mb+ AGP version for close to that I'll be a happy camper. I guess I should start searching for one.
Don't forget to look at ncix.com. I've had good luck with them.

Btw, I'd like to thank everyone that has helped me so far. I would hated to have bought the wrong card and then be stuck with something I can't even use. : )
No problem. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #247
SenorBlanco said:
So your flatly stated claim of falsehood is, empirically, false.
Please note that I did not actually state flatly 100%. I still left myself a slice of doubt in my opinion.

SenorBlanco said:
And yes, I did mean 1080p: the video card is set to output 1080p ([email protected]) via DVI->HDMI to the TV, which accepts a 1080p signal. The video sources, of course, are all 1080i, deinterlaced by the video card and PVR software to 1080p, rather than deinterlaced by the TV, but the DVI signal is 1080p.
This is NOT the same as playing back 1080P content. Go HERE and download a few clips and watch them hand your computer its hat. 1080i MPEG2 content is only 540p per frame. Deinterlacing two frames together is not that demanding of a task.

The resulting output resolution may indeed be 1920 x 1080 on your TV, but that does not mean that the content you are playing back is anywhere close to the same level of data complexity of actual 1080P content.

ASA said:
Thanks SenorBlanco. Finally someone that has the same proc as me. : )
Please take note of my main system and that I have pointed out several times in this thread that I have been and still do use an Athlon XP platform.

ASA said:
So you wouldn't use the card I posted a link to in this post (just above) with my setup?
I would if ATI enables the hardware decoding for AGP...

ASA said:
I remember reading about that, but I also read that there was a different driver that would allow for it to work and the only problem was with the 2400 and not the 2600.
If this is the case, I have some shopping to do!!! I will look into it and see what I can find out.

ASA said:
I have a 720P Pani that can accept a 1080i signal, so I assume that wouldn't be a problem...?
I assume your TV is a flat pannel or a DLP RPTV. In this case, the actual native resolution is 720P. As already pointed out by SenorBlanco, you are best to set your video output to the native resolution of the TV and let the HTPC do all of the scaling.

ASA said:
Btw, I just found a 9550 for under $30 at Tiger direct, but it's only has 64mb DDR. That wouldn't be up to the job would it? lol
Probably not. As very importantly noted by SenorBlanco, you need to avoid cards that have a memory interface of only 64bit (Not to be confused with the 64 MB that the card has). The memory bus of the graphics card is VERY important.

ASA said:
So far I am looking at 3-4 choices...
Don't forget that I also added that the Radeon X1600 Pro is a reasonable choice.

ASA said:
X1950 Pro AGP (I haven't done much research on this one, but I will... $230 though
Do not forget about NCIX.com

ASA said:
I would hated to have bought the wrong card and then be stuck with something I can't even use. : )
No prob. I have bought a ridiculous number of video cards in a foolish attempt to only buy "just" enough power for the use at the time. It is better if you over buy a bit and learn from other peoples mistakes. (Like mine!!!)

SenorBlanco said:
Avoid the 200 or 300 series (9200, X200, X1300, etc).
Actually, in a fit of zero self control, I bought an X1300 Pro AGP a year ago and it actually does very well. What saves it is the fact that is supports AVIVO. The older 9xxx and 8xxx ATI cards did not have AVIVO at all.

SenorBlanco said:
I had less luck with video out on NVidia AGP cards, so I can't make a specific recommendation there,
As I have noted throughout the history of my thread, NVidia has better composite, s-video and component. They also have better driver tweaking for those outputs. However, if you are using VGA or DVI/HDMI, ATI is my fav and is most frequently the better choice.

SenorBlanco said:
...except to avoid the low-end cards (5200, 6200, 7300, etc).
Oh sing the gospel my HTPC brother!!! The 5xxx series as a whole is outdated, the 6200 is only suitable for a small (20" - 27") CRT and the 7300 is not much better. The worst of the decievers was the Radeon 9100. It was nothing but a rebadged 8500.

ASA said:
4. a real HDMI output so I don't have to buy an DVI adaptor (if if comes with an adaptor, great)
This is not really an issue as DVI and HDMI are actually electrically equivalent. The only thing you are doing by using an adapter is changing the physical connection from the big white DVI-D to a nice tiny HDMI. You can get an actual cable from monoprice that is DVI-D on one end and HDMI on the other.

Otherwise, you will have a hard time finding a card with an HDMI port right on it. They are out there but usually on the more expensive cards.
 

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Ahhhh, so much reading. lol

Right now I don't plan on getting a BD or HD drive for my rig. So I guess the lower models cards will do fine. I will also look into the X1600 Pro that you suggested, but so far the prices I've found have been closer to $200 (and that's on NCIX too) :(


Btw, if I were to find an AGP card that did not have any HDCP support (like an X800 agp), would that effect my HTPC setup and TV in anyway? (taking into account that I will only be using the rig for OTA and DVD playback, and that my TV has all the connections choices that a home theater guy would want). I'll probably end up using the component in on the back of the tv and save the HDMI input for something else.

Here is the card I'm talking about.

http://www.sapphiretech.com/us/products/products_overview.php?gpid=24&grp=2

The AGP version of that card says it doesn't have HDCP support. The link says that the X800 also has a 256-bit memory interface (that's what you were talking about when you said stay away from 64, and get at least 128 or more, right?), but I can't see anywhere if the AGP version actually has the same 256-bit memory interface as it's PCI brother. :confused:

Btw, it's also only $60. (music to my ears) lol

I assume your TV is a flat pannel or a DLP RPTV.
LCD rear projection to be exact, and imo OTA looks very good on it too. : )


I will look into it and see what I can find out.
Yes, please do. But would the lack of that ability really matter if I don't intend to play 1080P with my setup?



(why does it have to be so hard for AGP users?) :rolleyes:
 

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You may want to consider this video card: Sapphire HD 2600 Pro 512M DDR2 VGA+DVI-I+TVO AGP . It can be purchased for just under $100 at many online retailers.
 

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You may want to consider this video card: Sapphire HD 2600 Pro 512M DDR2 VGA+DVI-I+TVO AGP .
That's one of the cards I was looking at (I posted a link at the top of the page), but I'm going to wait a little bit until I hear back from que3jxp about some of the questions/concerns I/we have about getting that card.


It can be purchased for just under $100 at many online retailers.
Thanks for the heads up, but I already knew about the price. I've seen it selling from $90-$110, and some of those were from an actually walk in store. It's a pretty good deal for what it does. If the problems that were reported doesn't effect the AGP version while using 1080i or lower, then that might be the card I'll end up getting (even though I didn't want to spend that much). I promised the wife I wouldn't spend anymore $'s on "unnecessary" things. I could probably get away with a $60 card, but something just over $100 is pushing my luck. I like my happy home. :p


Now somebody else sent me this via PM. Similar to the one that SenorBlanco is using. (it's only $60 as well)

http://ca.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=2&l2=9&l3=18&l4=0&model=287&modelmenu=1

More details...

http://ca.asus.com/products.aspx?modelmenu=2&model=287&l1=2&l2=9&l3=18&l4=0

Everyone is being so helpful... but my brain is going to blow soon trying to keep all the specs in order. lol
 

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This is NOT the same as playing back 1080P content. Go HERE and download a few clips and watch them hand your computer its hat. 1080i MPEG2 content is only 540p per frame. Deinterlacing two frames together is not that demanding of a task.
Actually, the material on that page is 24 fps progressive, so it's actually *lower* bandwidth than 1080i after decode (1920x1080x3x24 = 149MB/sec for 1080 24p, vs 1920x540*3*60 = 186MB/sec for 1080i). So bandwidth is not the problem. The problem is that the material is encoded in VC-1, which obviously puts a strain on a machine without hardware support for that codec, such as a 9550. And in fact, when I play them on my desktop machine (which has a GeForce 8600), they play just fine, with about 25% CPU usage. (Would be less on a HD 2600, with its full VC-1 decode, but the 8600's partial decode does ok.)

The real problem is the multiple meanings for 1080p. In the film industry, 1080p means 1920x1080 24 frames progressive encoded without 3:2 pulldown into a 1080i signal (early professional HD cameras from Sony did this). In consumer TV's, it means the ability to accept 1920x1080 60 frames progressive over HDMI, which is the sense that I was using it. There is no OTA broadcast standard for 1080p, AFAIK. I'd never heard anyone define it as the ability to play back 24p VC-1 material, though. ;)
 

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1)a. depends on what your projector supports.. need more info
b. maybe
c. my rule of thumb (may be wrong) If you can buy the cable length, it'll work... mostly.
There's probably some stickies that'll get you started.

2) define cheap. I HIGHLY recommend the Logitech Harmony remotes. I couldn't live without my 670.

3) inexpensive wireless? I'm using the Rocketfish Bluetooth mouse/keyboard (100.00 bucks).
The mouse has WMP control buttons along with standard 3 buttons. I took the keyboard downstairs about 30' from the computer and it was still controlling volume so range isn't a problem. The keyboard doesn't lose keystrokes, but sometimes when you first use it there's a delay before they're on the screen. OTOH, I can enter BIOS with it. There's a few reviews on the net.
 

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Discussion Starter #253
SenorBlanco said:
There is no OTA broadcast standard for 1080p, AFAIK.
I believe you are correct.

SenorBlanco said:
I'd never heard anyone define it as the ability to play back 24p VC-1 material, though.
When we build HTPCs, we do it to meet the needs of source material and not screen resolution. the reason for this is that even if you play 1080p content on a 640x480 screen, it is still going to put the same strain on the system if you had the resolution at 1920x1080.

SenorBlanco said:
I had no problems with 1080p playback on a Radeon 9550,
That is what you had originally stated...

Had you stated that you had played OTA 1080i, I woould have said nothing except that there could be studdering.

Because there is no broadcast standard for 1080P (That we are aware of), all HDTV that we recieve from cable, sat or OTA is safely known to be in MPEG2. This is nowhere near as intensive as VC-1 or H.264.

Now in step with your original comment about 1080P playback, the only forms of 1080P out there are stuffed into VC-1 and H.264 and because of that, your statement as it was IS incorrect. (There are a few BluRay movies that were done in MPEG2 but they are the exception.)

What you should have said is that you are able to play OTA 1080i and let the card deinterlace/upsample it to the native 1080P of your TV and that it has never given you problems. Given that the 9550 is basically a 9600, I can deal with the veracity of that statement.
 

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Discussion Starter #254
ASA said:
Now somebody else sent me this via PM. Similar to the one that SenorBlanco is using. (it's only $60 as well)

http://ca.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=...87&modelmenu=1
Just be very sure that the DVI port will do digital out. A lot of the older cards that had a DVI port had a DVI-I or DVI-A that did not necessarily do DVI-D.

I know this is yet another headache to deal with but where you are looking to use the DVI for your setup, you want to get this right.
 

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There is no OTA broadcast standard for 1080p
Doesn't Japan have that already? I could of sworn I read an article a while back that mentioned that. :confused:


Just be very sure that the DVI port will do digital out. A lot of the older cards that had a DVI port had a DVI-I or DVI-A that did not necessarily do DVI-D.
If I do end up getting that one I'll make sure to check. : )


I know this is yet another headache to deal with...
Don't worry, I haven't gone off the deep end just yet.



:p

According to ATI, the new Cat 7.12 drivers fix the issue.
See, I knew I had read that somewhere. :)

que3jxp, did it say anywhere the AGP versions of that card benifited from that driver as well? If yes, that 2600pro is starting to look better and better. I just wish it was a bit cheaper. (yeah I know, I shouldn't complain lol)
 

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Discussion Starter #259
ASA said:
did it say anywhere the AGP versions of that card benifited from that driver as well?
If you read the ATI link I posted ( ;) ), you would see that, yes, indeed, this driver is supposed to turn on hardware accelleration on the AGP cards.
 
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