Building new HTPC ... AIW-x800xl vs. AIW 2006 PCI Express

First off, let me start out by saying that I am building a bran new machine from the ground up. I have always been a huge fan in the ATI All-In-Wonder Products.
All I have acquired at this point is a 300 gig Hard drive and a wrieless KB/mouse. And a sony 56" HDTV. I have been doing a lot of researching on products that ATI has to offer, and due to the fact that I am budgeting my graphics card spending to no more than $300.00USD I have narrowed it down to these 2 cards. (AIW x800xl and the AIW 2006 PCI Express.) If someone thinks there would be a card more suited for me in this price range, I am definitely open to suggestion.

My main goal for building this PC is for general upgrade reasons from the dell : ( I got for christmas over a year ago, as well as have the ammenities of A htpc, and possibly to do some video editing.

One thing I want to make clear is that having the top of the line video card is really not of primary concern to me. From what I have seen, the Graphics chips that come in any new series ATI card is more than impressive to me. I dont care about getting 100FPS at super high resolutions. Though I do plan to do some gaming, I dont need top of the line in this area.

Here is what I primarily want to do. I want to have my (dish Network) running through the machine 24-7. I want to use it as a PVR for recording my favorite movies, and most importantly I want to be able to have tivo functions(ff,rw,pause). I want to do this as well as use the computer for all the other things I do.

I am concerned about a lot of things I have read about ati's new all-in-wonder features. A lot of people are complaining of the PVR features either half way working, or not working at all. Now a lot of these reviews I have read are dated late 2005. For all I know ATI has repaired these problems since.
I called ATI's pre-sales division and they were totally useless( I fealt I had more product knowledge than they did).

I do realize that since I am using dishnetwrok that I wont have use of the Electronic Programming Guide. I will just run the input via the s-video input and record what I want on the fly.

Here is what I really need to know. Help from anyone out there running any AIW card would be helpful.
Will running this PC I am building as a pvr 24-7 put a big strain on the computer, or is all or most of those processes taken care of by onboard chips. Will this run in the background without either stealing all my resources, or causing my computer to crash all of the time. I plan on running this card with both output to my standard CRT monitor as well as to my sony 56" HDTV.

Does anyone have any recomendations of what OS I should run with this? Should I run regular winxp or windows media center, or does it really matter.

I plan on buying a mobo made by(asus,abit or gigabit) and I also plan on installing 1 gig of memory. I would like to go with an amd processor, though I havent researched that aspect yet. Any advice of CPU/MOBO/RAM from people with success would be appreciated.

I know this is a long drawn out post, but any advice would really help me out. I just got my tax return, and if I dont spend the money productively I know if a matter of months I will have squandered it on techno-junk.

Thanks in advance for your time.


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5 answers Last reply
More about building htpc x800xl 2006 express
  1. Prozac: Thanks for the info

    And yes, the x800xl from what ive read is a better card. Its like $300.00 usd vs the 2006 pci express which is around $200.00 USD.

    What I am really looking for anyone out there with all-in-wonder knowlegde, at least on the new model cards.

    Also any advice on other building blocks would be nice.

    As I said before I already have a 300 gig HD, cordless KB/mouse, monitor and HDTV covered.

    My budget to cover the following is at the most $1000.00

    graphics card (that supports digital out and some kind of video input)
    MOBO ->preferablly a good name that supports PCI express
    CPU -> some form of AMD preferablly (there are so many available now I need to research)
    RAM -> 1 Gigabyte of whatever goes with my cpu and mobo
    DVD Drive -> +/- R/RW
    Sound Card if not built into mobo
    Case and good Power supply

    If I get the AIW X800XL, thats 300.00, which leaves $700.00 for the rest

    any input on the AIW cards for what I want to do is really what I am looking for, as well as any other hardware advice. Its been a couple years since I have built a PC. Things sure do change quick.

    Thanks in advance

  2. Okay - I'm no genius, especially on TV/Streaming etc on the computer. But one thing I feel like mentioning is that there isn't any gcard out that supports HD content in terms of HD DVD/Blu Ray content (Ati/Nvidia)

    Apparantly not Nvidia or ATi has fully fledged support because of some encryption keys required on a chip that is not present on any of these companies cards. So, from what I can deduct - these cards that claim to have HD support can't run HD DVD/Blu Ray content.

    Once again, I'm stating this vaguely - my knowlegde on this is very limited. So take it with a grain of salt :D
  3. I have built a couple of htpc ( but both of them were using cable signal for recording..... so not sure how it works with satelite signal)..... my limited experience showed me that you should avoid using the multimedia software provided by ATI, even the most recent version avalaible for download on their website is extremely buggy for programmed recording.
    I find that installing microsoft media center and only installing the most recent drivers from ATI is a better option than installing plain old windows xp and the ATI multimedia software.
    For your question regarding the AIW 2006 vs the AIW x800xl, the choice is quite easy, the x800xl will run circles around the 2006 if you plan to play any games.
    If you want my opinion, i would drop altogether any AIW cards for your project, ...... i would maybe buy a cheaper pci express card and install a seperate pci tv tuner , then , if you ever start becoming a gamer, you just swap your cheap pci express video card for a better one, and you wont have to change your tv tuner!
    And regarding your question about tv recording putting a strain on your system?, i absolutely would go with a dual core processor, i don't know your budget, but a 3800 x2 from amd is not that expensive and does a wonderfull job at multitasking
  4. I've used AIW cards for the last 8 years. I too am starting to get into the DVR stuff with my computer pretty heavily these days. Very true that ATI Multimedia Center has come leaps and bounds with stability. It wasn't untill this latest release that I could actually record shows on a regular basis without lockups. My suggestion would be to avoid AIW cards completly. That's waht I'll be doing with my next system build and here's why:

    The problem with AIW cards is that thier video features are software based. If you want to get some heavy duty pvr software like SnapStream or Sage or MythTV if you want to play with linux, then you'll want to go with something from hauppauge (or the stand alone ati tv tuner). Those tv tuners have built-in mpeg2 decoders/encoders which drastically reduce any strain your DVRing puts on your system. PLUS if you use a hardware based solution you can run a video postprocessor like ffdshow (which can be very processor intensive) to clean things up a lot.

    If you're fine with just using the ATI software, then by all means, sitck with an AIW. I'll be using mine for some time since I really just use it to record shows and stream them to my xbox. But if you ever want to start getting into alternative DVR software solutions, then avoid them like the plague.
  5. The AIW 2006 has fairly significant system overhead in PVR use, compared to more powerfull AIW products. I know that from actual testing, and never cared enough to find out why.

    If you don't need a tuner, I'd go with the Turtle Beach Video Advantage. Why? Because it comes with great software and will let you record Macrovision-corrupted video.
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