Videocard requirement for HTPC?
Mar 10, 2006 at 3:21 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

trains are bad

Headphoneus Supremus
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Specing a PC.

I do not play games currently, or have any plans to get into gaming.

What I would like out of this computer is the ability to function well with video. At the least, I want to be able to watch DVDs through a regular TV. Are the same video cards that are good for gaming good for video? It would seem to me the requirements for rendering 3d graphics are very different from just video. What kind of video card should a multimedia/HT PC have? What do you think about the ATI All-in-Wonder?

Are there video cards that allow you to record and capture analog video?
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 1:50 PM Post #2 of 6

Drewpy

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PCI-E or AGP? What's you budget?

If you want to do a lot of video capture, or intend on using your computer while capturing video I'd recommend something like the Hauppage line of capture cards. They use hardware MPEG compression, so it doesn't tax your CPU (keeping temps lower, and thus easier to keep quiet, which I consider important in an HTPC) whie encoding video for PVR duties. In keeping with the quiet theme, try looking for a graphics card with a passive heatsink. The stock cooling provided on some graphics cards can be loud and high-pitched, so a passive heatsink will ellimiate that noise source.

Most newer graphics cards have S-Video out capability (S-Video would be recommended over composite out) so you can use your TV as a secondary display (for movies, slideshows of pics, etc...). Component out for HDTV support is nice, but sometimes only comes on more expensive cards. Since you stated no interest in gaming, there are many choices for under $100 (CAD), and quite a few under $75.
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 1:58 PM Post #3 of 6

mshan

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If you are not going to do any gaming, an old but goodie is the Matrox g450 (32 MB video memory version). They are typically available on eBay for less than $25 shipped. There is also an S-video / composite dongle made by Matrox for this particular video card that typically runs around $7 shipped. There are video card versions with two VGA outputs and others with one VGA and one DVI output (I think the dongle is VGA to s-video/composite).

This card, though dated, has beautiful 2D image quality and is supposed to have very good TV out via that dongle mentioned above.

It also has a really cool dual monitor driver where you can zoom part of one image on the other screen, extend your desktop to the second montior, clone the first monitor, or watch dvd full screen while websurfing on the first monitor.

It has very underdeveloped DirectX support, so it is essentially useless for gaming.

As for analog video capture, you can get a separate add in card. Computer tv tuner cards sometimes offer the same functionality (e.g. Leadtek Winfast 2000XP).
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 4:11 PM Post #4 of 6

trains are bad

Headphoneus Supremus
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What about this little deal? PCI x16 is better than AGP right? I spec'd my motherboard with a PCI-e x16 slot.

14-125-175-02.JPG


http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16814125175
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 4:24 PM Post #5 of 6

mshan

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Very nice choice, but probably much more than needed for casual DVD viewing.

However, if you choose that 6600GT, you might want to look at http://www.theatertek.com. This is an awesome software based DVD player that is optimized Nvidia's PureVideo codec.

Another cheap option is an Nvidia 6150 mobo with integrated graphics:
MSI K8NGM2-FID
http://forums.anandtech.com/messagev...readid=1803985
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 4:57 PM Post #6 of 6

pedxing

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Discussing PCI-E vs AGP is sort of pointless. Just buy the board that is compatible with your mobo. If you are concerned about future upgrades, you may want to just buy a new mobo which is practically replacing most of the computer. PCI-E 16x is sometimes slower than AGP-8x, but most people don't even notice it.

Many HTPC enuthusiasts and video-buffs criticize NVIDIA-based cards of having a funny color ramp, like its too high or something. If you are concern about video quality and 2D quality, I think ATI might be a better way to go. ATI is reknown to pay more attention to video quality.

The All In Wonder cards are good all in one solutions for the price and they are convenient to use. If you want better quality, you may want to buy seperate dedicated PCI cards for playback/video capture. I don't know any video capture or playback cards offhand.

I suggest you look at www.avsforum.com for more information about capture cards and playback software.
 

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