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toronto365

That all looks pretty good.

I would consider changing the motherboard for the 690G based equivalent from Gigabyte as it does not require the use of a riser card to get the digital audio out. Otherwise, the problem you may have is that putting a better vid card in that ASUS board is going to take away your coax digital output.

As for the possible issues with the TV connection, that is a per case kind of problem. There is another thread here that exclusively covers these issues as they can be quite "fun". I would link to it but can't remember where it is...
 

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Toronto

I'm looking at basically same thing, x2 4400, 2g corsair 800mhz, asus board and antec NSK2480 case with 380w psupply.
Not 2 concerned about the riser card at this point. Once I get the Blue Ray player I'll invest in better vid card and reinstall my chaintech optical sound care and tv tuner. Any thoughts/problems folks?
Thanks
 

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toronto365,

I would go with a Core 2 Duo E6750 (or E6850) and matching motherboard designed for HTPC (something like the ASUS P5E-VM HDMI.) I would also get an ATI 2600 or nVidia 8600GT video card. Try to get a silent model or retrofit it with a quiet GPU cooler. For Blu-ray playback, you will need an HDCP capable video card and Windows Vista Home Premium.

I would also get a 750GB disk drive. (Price per GB is about the same as a 500GB drive but it looks like you will need the space and it will save energy, as will the C2D.) If you are planning on recording HD OTA, you will want a good quality ATSC TV tuner card and a large drive.

ATX power supplies are designed for mATX motherboards and most mATX cases. Some cases take smaller power supplies but they are usually included. There is a full review of the Nmedia HTPC-288S case here.

Ease of use is highly dependent on the HTPC software and remote. (In particular, the software must fully support the remote.) Most people use MCE, Sage or BeyondTV. Sage and BeyondTV have 30 day trials so you can evaluate them. There are also some threads discussing their use.
 

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9) You are always better off to use a REAL controller but those are usually a few $100 and not really worth the cost. As for you using RAID 0, I do not recommend this. In RAID 0, if you lose one drive you DO lose EVERYTHING. If you want the speed, then go for RAID 10. This ends up needing 4 drives but what you end up with is mirrored RAID 0 stripes. Nice and fast and 1 on 1 redundant. You can actually lose 2 drives in a RAID 10 setup and still continue to operate.
Another option to consider is using a WD RAptor drive 10K. I use a smaller 150 gig drive for OS, games and programs, and a larger seagate 7200rpm for recorded content.
 

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I_Want_My_HDTV said:
I would also get an ATI 2600
Actually, the new ATI fav is the recently released 3450 and 3650. They are both better than the 2600 for HTPC use and they are both less expensive.
 

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que3jxp: you raise a good point and a question I had about the case. the specs says it comes with a digital coax output port above the PSU that only needs to be connected to the mobo header - I just don't know - do all mobo's generally have this header?
- I've been doing some research on my TV and I don't think I'll be able to use DVI so I will likely have to use component, which is also on the riser card

I_Want_My_HDTV: why Intel over AMD?
- can I get away with on-board video for basic functionality? non-hd / no games, etc. I'm trying to stay within a $500 budget
- I already have a 500gb drive full of content, so the new 500gb will be for o/s and pvr recordings
- thanks for the link on the HTPC case - I actually read it before and that was one of the reasons for choosing it
 

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Q said:
que3jxp,

when you going to get the ati card so I can get mine after your review?
Well....

Not exactly BAD news. We decided to go to Florida this year so a frivolities spending freeze was impemented by the chairman of the board. :D

So sorry.

ROBINPRICE was telling me that he was pretty sure he was going to get one of the new HD 3450 cards. Maybe I can get his commentary up here...
 

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Ya. I never actually ended up getting one. Other house stuff was to be bought so this card got left out.

Plus I need to save money for when que3jxp takes me to Florida! ;)
 

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toronto365 said:
I just don't know - do all mobo's generally have this header?
Yes, generally. The only problem is that they are not always a standard connector on the mobo. You can tell by downloading the manual for the mobo you are interested in and looking at the installation info to see if it is compatible with the connector on that case.


toronto365 said:
why Intel over AMD?
Right now, Intel is technically faster. The only major comment to the debate is that even a "slow" AMD X2 is generally so fast that it doesn't really matter for the average user or HTPC.

toronto365 said:
- can I get away with on-board video for basic functionality? non-hd / no games, etc. I'm trying to stay within a $500 budget
Regardless of if you go AMD or Intel, stick with an AMD or NVidia integrated graphics solution and you should be able to get away with integrated for a while and even for BluRay.
 

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Actually, the new ATI fav is the recently released 3450 and 3650. They are both better than the 2600 for HTPC use and they are both less expensive.
I was almost set to get the 2600xt. Now I have to reasearch my options again.

If you have already looked into these cards could you give a quick breakdown or pro's and con's?

Thanks
 

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Q said:
If you have already looked into these cards could you give a quick breakdown or pro's and con's?
No prob!!!

Firstly, for all those in here reading up for the first time, here is a list of the most preferred video card GPUs for HTPC use:

  • ATI Radeon HD 2400
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600
  • ATI Radeon HD 3450
  • ATI Radeon HD 3650
  • NVidia GeForce 8500
  • NVidia GeForce 8600
  • NVidia GeForce 8800 GT (Specifically, the GT and NOT the GTX or GTS. Those cards do not support PureVideo HD)
  • NVidia GeForce 9600
After this, there are four major categories of importance:

  • CPU Offloading: The ability of the GPU to do the video processing and decoding work. VERY important for BluRay playback.
  • True HDMI: This means that the video card not only outputs video on HDMI but also the audio.
  • Analog output: Some still need Component Video (YPbPr)
  • Post Processing: There are a myriad of video wizardry tricks that allows for the image of DVD, MPEG2 and HDTV content to be moderately to greatly enhanced. Some GPUs do this better or have more "tricks" than others.
Generally, ATI wins in the following:

  • CPU Offloading. HD 3x50 for sure (Only truly important for BluRay)
  • True HDMI (This is more dependant on the card maker than the GPU)
  • Post Processing (Tricks but not always overall quality)
NVidia wins this way:

  • Post Processing (Quality but not number of tricks)
  • Analog Output (Specifically, NVidia drivers allow for the best tweaking and frigging options when having to use component or any other analog output)
All of the reviews that are done comparing the two companies are done principally with the HQV benchmark DVD and/or BluRay discs. Both ATI and NVidia are pretty much even steven on the DVD front but bob back and forth on who is better on BluRay.

ATI has been winning in the last few months with their HD 2x00 hardware but there have not been any test results posted on the newer HD 3x50 series. There is some anecdotal commentary that the new HD 3x50 cards are just as good, if not better than the HD 2x00 cards so it seems safe to say that there is no real risk in buying without proper results from an HQV test being done.

Overall, if your focus is for a digital connection (DVI/HDMI), my personal experience has favoured ATI.

I also have the need for a good component video out device and I am totally committed to NVidia on this front. With ATI, you need to use PowerStrip to be able to properly fine tune the settings with respect to over/underscan. Not a terrible issue, but I prefer as pure a setup as possible and if I can avoid having to use yet another widgety program, I will.

Long story short, unless component video is a major need, one should be more focussed on who makes the card and what the price is rather than what GPU is on it. The video quality differences that have existed over the last 2.5 years of HQV comparisons are usually quite petty and are far less glaring than the reviewers or fanboys would have you believe. (The best thing to know is that short of a VERY expensive DVD or BluRay player or a dedicated video processor, both cards have no rivals. The image you get will generally be as good as it gets.)

Saying that, one of the most consistent card manufacturers is Gigabyte. They produce cards based on both ATI and NVidia GPUs. They are also one of the few companies that are always focussing on building dead silent passively cooled cards for the HTPC market.

In a pinch, the best card for the least money RIGHT NOW (Right now changes every month it seems), is the ATI Radeon HD 3450. It is fully capable of doing any video playback and can easily be had for $50. Certainly a MAJOR upgrade from an older ATI X1xxx, NVidia 6 or 7 series and especially from onboard graphics.
 

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que3jxp,

The hd 3450 does look good for a HTPC setup. I don't play any games at all so that is not important to me.

I will be using DVI/HDMI so any analouge output is not important.

Do you think it will solve my problems with the 1080i video I have had with OTA broadcasts?

Do you think it will playback DVD and Bluray at 1080i/p with no problems?

Excellent review and comparison.
 

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NVidia GeForce 8800 GT (Specifically, the GT and NOT the GTX or GTS. Those cards do not support PureVideo HD)
Slight correction, the older 8800 gts 320MB and 640MB do not have pure videoHD. The newer 8800 gts 512 MB (PCI-E 2.0) is built on the same g92 core as the 8800gt, and does support purevideo HD.

Otherwise nice write-up. Should be stickied. Although you'll need to update it every two weeks when a new GPU comes out, like the 8800gs!
 

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mr_raider said:
Otherwise nice write-up.
Thanks! And thanks for the update on the NEWER 8800GTS cards. I figured they would start using the newer silicon but had not yet heard that this was the case.

Q said:
Do you think it will solve my problems with the 1080i video I have had with OTA broadcasts?
What were those problems again? I can't remember.

Q said:
Do you think it will playback DVD and Bluray at 1080i/p with no problems?
Considering that the 2400 was able to do it, the 3450 had damn well be able to. :p
 

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Ah yes. I remember now.

I get that kind of tearing on my MPEG2 TS files from my firewire setup and only when it is 1080i content.

Given that my system downstairs that has a 7600 GS does not experience this issue (Upstairs system is using 690G onboard), I can only assume that it should make the problem go away.

jvincent said:
Is it possible that you were just seeing 3:2 pulldown effects?
This is probably the proper description of what is happening. Even though both Q and I have MPEG2 content, it is at a much higher bit rate than DVD and therefore causes graphics cards that are otherwise fine for DVD to not be as capable on HD material.
 

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yes jvincent that is it. I think in my case it is telecine judder. I have tried A LOT of things but I think the onboard video 690g is just not able to do it.

I wanted to find a review of the 3450 using HQV tests to be sure before buying though. The 3650 got a score of 128.
 
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