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Home theater processor ? Much needed help.

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February 22, 2006 4:45:35 AM

Ok too many posts to read so I will just ask. I am building a system to take place of everything except my reciever and TV(59"widescreen w DVI-ports) for my home theater. The system I am building will hold ALL of my dvd's on hard drive(no more clutter) So far it goes like this. BIG thermaltake case....11 drive bay's. Thermaltake home theater liquid cooling system Asus A8N-sli premium MOBO thermaltake 680watt PSU super tight plexor dvd burner(does it all) 7 in 1 A drive(Hell I dont even know the name brand somethin off the wall) Also I have a fan controller that fits nicely in one of the drive bay's and a Audigy 2 ZS platinum sound card.So this leaves me with getting 4 gig's memory,1 tera of hard drive space(still no clue how to set it up or divide it up...any clue's) my TV tuner card and or Graphics card(at least a 512one) a operating system (preferably WMCE) and a CPU....NOW I have been told I dont need a AMD 4800(why) I was told on several occations that this is for multi tasking(OK I know that isnt running a TV show and recording it while it is making the sound and Picture digital HD/THX and Ripping DVD's Not multitasking?) Sorry boy's INTEL is NOT a option at this point (as if it were anyway....lol) So as a NEWB and doing TOOOO damn much research (enough to get me TOTALLY confused) I am lost. What 939 AMD is the right processor I need. I am not tryin to spend $1200 for the newest stuff (FX) But am I right ? will what I will be doing with this not be considered multitasking? Is this NOT what the 4800 was meant to do?......I mean if I want to surf the web I got other PC's/laptop's to do that on.
February 22, 2006 5:58:42 AM

hello? I have seen some real smart cats on here answering a HELL of a lot harder questions than this.I am new to forum'z and this whole computer thing in general so If I aint asking the right questions or supplyin the right info let me know.....sorry dude's.
February 22, 2006 6:03:53 AM

I don't have an answer to your question. I'm really bad at picking out specific hardware for specific situations.

However, I do have SOME advice for you - Learn to be patient. Wait a bit more than an hour before becoming extremely impatient with the lack of response to your post. I don't know what time it is where you are, but here in the US in my area, it is 2:00am. Most people are sleeping right now. Learn to wait a little bit and not be so impatient. You'll get your response soon enough.
Related resources
February 22, 2006 6:49:09 AM

Cool I had no Idea.....lol I just found this forum place and it seem's to be full of useful info and people who seem to be knowledgable.
February 23, 2006 12:23:46 AM

back on top so the question will be noticed.......
a b à CPUs
February 23, 2006 1:24:50 AM

I've had a HTPC for about 4 years now. Same idea as yourself with wanting it to replace VCR, DVD player, CD player, etc...with that said, here's what I've found works well for me...right now, my HTPC is channeled thru the receiver just like any other component, just as the cd player, VCR, and DVD player used to be. I was able to successfully integrate the HTPC and remove the clutter of all those components, now my media center is just the TV, receiver, CATV box, and the HTPC...gigs of space is good, segment the drives in a way that makes the most sense to you, I've got one 250GB drive just for mp3's, another 250GB drive just for encoded DVD's and TV shows recorded ala PVR, you get the idea...since the sound is going to be jacked thru the receiver, I highly recommend an M-Audio 7.1 Revolution or Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 for the sound card rather than any Creative product or onboard sound. The M-Audio and Audiotrak support digital coax and optical directly out the rear of the card whereas Creative requires that effed up break out box. The fidelity and quality of the M-Audio and Audiotrak is superior and use the VIA HTS ENVY chip for audio processing whereas Creative uses proprietary chips. The only real advantage that Creative has over the other two is the CPU utilization and THX support. However, sound quality and fidelity is far more important than saving a few clock cycles and having THX (THX isn't worth it IMHO, not compared to 7.1 or DTS), just be sure to have nice 7.1 surround sound home theater style speakers to really hear it, otherwise your fancy HTPC will be as useful as a 10ft dick...which leads me to your CPU of choice, by all means go with a dual core proc (X2 4400, X2 4200, or Opteron 170) or with a dual processor machine (Athlon MP or Opteron), choose a CPU of at least 2GHz, this will be fast enough to do what you need, and having dual core, the clock cycles used by the sound card will be the least of worries, don't overclock, just buy a cpu fast enough for your needs...4GB of name brand quality memory will be more than you'll ever use, get something with at least CAS2.5...a 512MB video card is overkill unless you plan on using th machine for hardcore gaming as well, a 128MB mid-range ATI All-In-Wonder would perform nicely and be good for moderate gaming, or even a 256MB model for more eye candy, I do not recommend nVidia for use in a HTPC, ATI offers a better solution for the HTPC...DO NOT run WMCE as the OS, go with XP Pro for full admin functionality and networking capabilities, assuming you'll want to network this machine and stream audio and video to other pc's in the house...lastly, think about exactly how many tasks you'd realistically ask this machine to do, will you really encode a DVD while recording the South Park or Simpsons with the PVR? Will you really be surfing the web and playing MAME at the same time? Will you really be authoring DVD's while downloading warez from the groups? Think about how you will be using the machine, not what the machine could possibly do, and make your hardware decisions based on your realistic usage needs, it will save some headaches and some money too. Most of all enjoy!

PS - FYI, my HTPC is not the same machine as in my signature. That's my production server and gaming machine... :p 
February 24, 2006 3:13:20 AM

Now see that is what I am talking about. this guy seem's to know his stuff. I had planned on the WMCE os because it offer's the remote control. And as for the Creative card Well I have already installed it on my Home PC just to get used to it so I guess I am kinda stuck with it. as for another question of mine I was wondering if I can run a ati 512 graphics card AND a TV tuner card. If so I will run into problem's because With BOTH PCI express slots took I only have room for 1 pci slot which will be taken by the Creative sound card.Thus NO ROOM FOR ANY THING ELSE..... You also said The AMD x2 4400 would do nicely is there a REASON I should stray from the 4800 other than cost wise.I wqill use this Primarily for Movies and TV but I would Like th option to play a few games on it. I guess I am like most people I just dont want to sink everything I got in this but I don't mind to spend the money if it is worth it. I should be finished with this within the month if I get on the right track on what to purchase.Thanks again chunk
February 24, 2006 5:02:11 AM

If it helps any, I plan on going with an Athlon 64 3000+ for my HTPC. I chose this processor for a couple reasons:

1. Cheap
2. Runs cool (I plan on using a passive heatsink from thermaltake to cool it. http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/product/cooler/retail/cl-...)
3. All around good cpu.

Next I plan on grabbing a Radeon x1300 for a video card. Again, the one i'm looking at has passive cooling. No fans. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...)
I plan on doing some light gaming w/ this PC. The x1300 actually does well at low resolutions in all games. My resolution probably won't be higher than 1024x768... i have a 16:9 46' Sony HDTV. Resolution will actually be something widescreenish. Anyways, it'll be low.

For sound I'm planning to use this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/CustRatingReview.asp?Item...

For power supply I'm going to use this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

For motherboard I'm going to use this:
http://usa.asus.com/products4.aspx?l1=3&l2=15&l3=210&mo...

I haven't settled on a TV tuner card or case yet. The case however will most likely be from Silverstone or Thermaltake.

Do you see the overall theme to my setup? Noiseless. All cooling (except for case cooling) is passive. I'm hoping that the fans supplied w/ the case will do an effective job of circulating air. We'll have to see. :-)
a b à CPUs
February 25, 2006 1:18:39 PM

Here are a couple of links to check out for HTPC info and products...I found them helpful with researching and just seeing what's out there.

http://www.pcalchemy.com/

http://www.digitalconnection.com/

Note! You do not need to run WMCE to use a remote control. The ATI All In Wonder series comes with a remote and there are 3rd party remotes that integrate with the HTPC that load and act like a USB mouse, specifically the iMon PC Remote.

Lastly, mpjesse wrote "Do you see the overall theme to my setup? Noiseless." It's worth repeating because there is nothing more bothersome to hear the constant whir of fans in the background from you set up. I receommed Zalman coolers all the way and Nexus brand case fans to help with noise.

Enjoy!
February 25, 2006 2:04:20 PM

I like your setup. some questions? Can you record/replay HDTV? How do I get the HD vid/audio signal to my hard drive and back? Do I need a dual core processor if I only plan on doing one thing at a time (games, music ,TV)? My system is an external HDTV tuner and reciever to the HTPC. The HTPC outputs music and recorded TV back to the HES. The HTPC will also play games. Signiture recommendations for HTPC as a starting point?
February 27, 2006 2:23:43 AM

Thanks chunky just to clairify The case I have is a Thermaltake ARMOR(((YEA I KNOW ITS BIG...lol))) and for cooling I have the Thermaltake Rhythm(just got it in the mail yesterday.I was hopeing there was a way around the WMCE. I am looking around to see if I can use a 512 GPU ATI X1900 XTC (just for gameing) anda All in wonder TV tuner card for everything else.Is there a easier way to do this or am I just doing some overkill?
February 27, 2006 2:44:39 AM

quick question kinky, on what type of display will this htpc be connected? i ask because even if it's an hdtv, a 1900xt 512 might be overkill. most hdtv's have a native resolution of like 1366x768/1024x768 (or there abouts).

point is you don't a overly powerful card to get any game to run >50fps at resolutions of 1024x768 (or there abouts).

so it might be a waste of cash to get something like a 1900xt 512. unless of course you're going to have a display with a very high resolution...

just something to think about. ;-)
February 27, 2006 8:29:14 PM

Its a Hitachi HD I think it only goes as high as 1024x768 but I may be wrong I purchased the TV under 2 years ago. It is a 1080i TV will that pose a problem with the rumor's I hear about the 1080p being a better cleaner pic.?
February 27, 2006 9:56:33 PM

1080p is supposed to look better, but to be honest I've never seen it in action! My HDTV is 1080i and I'm just now starting to see 1080p in new hdtv's at Circuit City, Best Buy, etc.

the other thing is there's not a whole lot of set top boxes that do 1080i. And if I'm not mistaken current digital broadcasts are still in 1080i.

i too am very curious to see if 1080p looks any better.

anyone else seen it in action? it's hard to imagine anything looking better than 1080i. lol.

-mpjesse
a b à CPUs
February 27, 2006 11:05:39 PM

Methinks that a 512MB x1900 would be overkill. Don't know how you could use an ATI All In Wonder card AND a 512MB x1900 together. I don't know of any motherboards that support PCIe and AGP. Don't know enuf about SLI mobos to say if you can use 2 PCIe normally used for SLI as individual video cards for output to the same monitor. The All In Wonder series have a TV tuner built in, usually a Philips, and are also well suited for playing games, expecially if your resolution is max 1024x768. Perhaps one idea, get something like an ATI X800 XL and a seperate PCI HDTV/Analog tuner card. You would have a dedicated gaming video card a dedicated tuner card for analog and HDTV to capture all analog and hi-def programming your CATV company offers. If you can't find a combo HDTV/Analog tuner card then go with an ATI AIW X800 XL and a seperate HDTV tuner card and still get the same result.

As a matter of perspective, here's a window into my set up and how I use the thing. My HTPC is a P4 2.4GHz 533fsb, 2x512 corsair value ram, ATI AIW 128MB 9600XL, an M-Audio 7.1 Revolution for sound, and set into an Antec Overture media case. Zalman coolers on the cpu and gpu with Nexus case fans. It's all run thru my Pioneer receiver and then out to the home theater speakers via digital coax and Monster cables and out to a 35" Sony Trinitron CRT via S-Video. I keep my desktop at 800x600 and can read it clearly from the couch at 15ft away. I don't game other than MAME with an Ozstick single. I record with PVR, play DVD's, and surf all from the comfort of the recliner. I delegate all the dl'ing, DVD authoring, and CPU intensive work to a production machine.

Enjoy putting it together! Post how it turns out...
February 27, 2006 11:08:26 PM

Just a FYI,'

The forums on AVSforum.com are an excellent start for someone wanting to build a HTPC.

1080P vs 1080i vs 720P = Not much difference... My 720P Optima H78DC3 has great color/resolution and i have not seen much content available for the 1080P crowd YET. HD-DVD and Blue-ray will not even support 1080P out of the gate.

As far as your processor choice.... Why not INTEL? I have to say you are building a HTPC which is the ONE thing in which the INTEL performs better... If you are going to be encoding/decoding audio/video the INTEL kills the AMDs in this respect and the AMDs will perform only marginally better in gaming... (before the AMD fanboy flaming starts i can reference the THG articles/charts that securely show what i am talking about) I am not a fanboy of INTEL so don't think that... My HTPC/Media center PC will have whatever proc is the best at doing HTPC type things..

On the note of 4gb of ram.... This is really miney wasted unless you are going to go with an option of Linux (not a bad option) or Win x64 for your HTPC. Windows media center edition will only recognize up to 2gb...

Hope this helps..
February 27, 2006 11:08:38 PM

Quote:
lDon't know how you could use an ATI All In Wonder card AND a 512MB x1900 together


Crossfire.

but why not just get 1 X1900 All in Wonder u can use it for TV or gaming
February 27, 2006 11:13:13 PM

I would also think about the software you will use to present your material... Codecs you plan to use?

Also, you might want to rethink your Hardrive situation since you may be better off with a 500gb nas server in raid 5 rather than having 1tb localized... There are a number of reasons for this. If you are going to rip DVDs as stated to a server that is a lot of data to RE-DO. In a raid 5 config you would not lose everything.... Just have to rebuild a new drive into place of the older one. Also the raid 5 perfomance will be quite nice.
February 27, 2006 11:18:54 PM

Finally,

If your TV only supports 1024x768 it is NOT HD. HD is a minimum of 720P or 1280x720P.

Most HD RPTVs tube and projection purchased two years or more ago will probably support 1080i native and a downconverted 720P. I personally prefer the 720P as on my screen (118" in size) i can see the interlaced update. The progressive is INHO a better image. (this discussion could get just as heated as any INTEL vs AMD or NVIDIA vs ATI.... discussion :-)
February 28, 2006 12:31:48 AM

The interlaced vs progressive will show a differance on a projection tv but on a crt or a widescreen like mine I doubt there will be much differance. As for the intel portion I just would rather be able to use my AMd in a couple years than to be rebuilding the system again in a few month's. I have absolutly nothing against the intel line they have always treated me good but I will NEVER use this for anything other than movies and gameing so the AMD is much better at gameing and if graphics are the main issue then picture qaulity falls under that so the AMD dual core 4800 SHOULD pick up the slack. AS for the memory useage not useing the full 4 gig's It will use it it just wont show it does just the same as if you have a 500 gig harddrive it will not show you have all of it but only a portion but all 500 gig's are still there for use. I do agree with useing the xtc 1800 ati for it all but I need a A/V card so I am not running coax to the back of the TV which would be defeating the purpose. so what now.........any answers . I do not claim I know all this and only think I am right from what I have learned so far but will be happy to know otherwise if I am wrong so please humble me ESPECIALLY if I am on the wrong track....lol The ATI seems to be a good buy for me but I have heard a few bad rumors about them not lasting long. So envidia is not out of the question if anyone knows anything about them.
February 28, 2006 12:33:26 AM

To the chess guy thanks for the help.....You too are very knowledgeable.
February 28, 2006 12:43:37 AM

As for useing a XTC1900 ATI and a All in wonder I do not know any way to use AGP and PCIe in sli mode either but they do make All in wonder PCIe and a XTC1900 ATI512 GPU in PCIe so can those components be ran sli . I thought they had to be exactly the same product to the "T" Anyway I had planned on using the XTC1900 for Gameing and the All in wonder for TV and While gameing running the XTC 1900's work to the All in wonder A/V card so it can send it to the TV on 1 channel which will be DVI (I only have 1 DVI input) So basically the GPU will send it's work to the A/V card to the TV. Its kinda hard to explain cause my vocabulary is running short.......lol Maybe I need a new processor. If it hasnt been explained clearly then I will try again just ask.
February 28, 2006 1:03:54 AM

Just a fix to one of your comments:

The reason the just over 2gb will be recognized could have nothing to do with the hardware (it could but on a newer motherboards not likely) it is the OS that will more than liekly limit your more than 2gb usage. It is a fact of the OS limitation. This is why I mentioned Linux as an option so you can easily run a distro that will recognize and use 4gb. Windows in its current 32bit form will NOT recognize/use greater than 2gb. Also the larger drives you are talking about are not a hardware limitation either. It is the LBA which Windows does or does not recognize for size limitation of drive. Current drivers limit this and will NOT use the rest of the 500gb. This does not mean that they will not come out with a new driver or extension to the feature set.

Just my :2cents
February 28, 2006 1:12:08 AM

K,

In response to this... First ATIs multiple card configuration is called CROSSFIRE while the NVIDIA solution is called SLI. I beleive you will need an exact match to use the NVIDIA solution ( ie.. two identical PCI-E 7800s ). Where as the ATI solution still requires the same interface (both cards on PCI-E) you can use a lesser (performance and price) card as the second) as long as you have a Master card (pun intended). So an ATI config could look like this (1900xtx PCI-E (MASTER) with a 1600xl PCI-E as the secondary).

All this does is buy you a horizontally/vertically split screen updated by two video cards. You could however use mnultiple cards in a multi display configuration.

What are the inputs that your TV will accept? My guess is component video. If so you will need something similar to the ATI breakout box shipped with the All-in-wonder.
February 28, 2006 1:14:28 AM

Another option would be to also use a DVI switch...
February 28, 2006 1:48:43 AM

DAMMIT man back to the drawing board. I am not sure if the Asus A8N sli premium MOBO will do the crossfire thing. I was banking on the ATI stuff as being SLI so Now I have to go with the Nvidia setup..... Do you know if I can use a A/V card in the Master PCIe slot ran as primary for movies, ect and have a 512 GPU in the secondary PCIe slot for games that will run Games I play from the GPU to the A/V card to the TV?
February 28, 2006 1:50:23 AM

My HTPC is in a silverstone lc16 in black to match my stereo gear

6 320 gig WD sata's

athlon 64 3700 (wouldn't have hurt to go x2 but I didn't have the budget)

2 gig (2x1gig corsair value 3200)

Lite-on DL burner

ati x800pro oc's to PE (component video out until I get a real tv then hdmi)

logitech mx5000 bluetooth keyboard and mouse

silverstone sst-st60f power supply (this thing rocks)

And you don't need pro unless you login to a domain, I wish people would stop saying that, get mce, it's pro without the domain logon feature (if you do it right during install it will even do that.)

The coolest thing is the imon that comes with the case, the remote has a nice pressure pad for mouse movement and keyboard control, you can control ANYTHING on the pc with it.

I have a standalone dvr for my cable, once cable card capable dvr tuners come out I'll switch.

I do everything from encoding my wifes anime so she can watch on the bedroom tv, to playing all the latest games, with out any problems! Be nice to have the x2 for encoding while gaming though.....

Edit: forgot the mb, it's an asus a8ne deluxe, everything but firewire, I use my primary computer for video stuff though.
February 28, 2006 1:51:02 AM

kinky you know you cant run crossfire on an sli mobo and the x1900 can be cross fired on a crossfire mobo
February 28, 2006 1:51:47 AM

The switch is starting to sound good.........lol and for Linux If I have this much trouble learning this It would be a nightmare trying to learn a new OS.......lol
February 28, 2006 1:57:56 AM

See I was curious about the WMCE But I keep hearing go Pro.....Both sides seem great. Seems to me I will be going Nvidia now.......
February 28, 2006 2:14:57 AM

i dont care for media center..woo photoalbum..woo watch movies...woo

who gives...exactly Pro is better
February 28, 2006 2:17:48 AM

But it's nice to have the features if you may want them, I don't use them, my wife loves them.

Edit: Hell, I have mce, imon media center, ati's media center, and logitechs media center, they all do something better than the others. I tend to lean on imon's the most though.
February 28, 2006 2:18:49 AM

Er... ATI makes an 1900XT All in Wonder w/ tuner built in.
February 28, 2006 2:21:48 AM

With analog tv disapearing, I avoid tv tuners, I just output my dvr to the video inputs to record shows via svideo, I run straight to the tv also for higher quality with the component video. Just can't change channels on the pc, but the imon remote and my dvr remote handle everything. Need to get that new logi remote....
February 28, 2006 2:29:46 AM

Quote:
this discussion could get just as heated as any INTEL vs AMD or NVIDIA vs ATI.... discussion


You must be blind. lol. What kind of source are you using to get your 1080i signal? When I first got my hdtv, i switched back between 720p and 1080i... 1080i looks a hellva lot better. Then again my screen is on 46 inches. I guess the difference wouldn't be as decernable with a 118 inch screen. Dunno.

Also... I think using a digital connection like hdmi and DVI might make that interlacing less noticable. I can see a pretty good difference between component out and DVI out. (for the record, I can't see any interlacing in 1080i from the naked eye...) but that's just me.

-mpjesse
February 28, 2006 4:17:33 AM

I am using HDMI out from a Dish Network 942. I also output HDMI from my upconverting DVD player @ 720P.

It is very possile that our set looks better at 1080I given that it may have a "native resolution" of 1080I. The native res of my projector is 720P.

Also @ 118" of screen you really do see everything....
February 28, 2006 4:21:20 AM

I agree with MPJesse if you want the best of both worlds go with the ATI 1900XL All-In-Wonder....

I really think you only need a single card.... You will be able to accomplish everything you need with one very good card. The ATI and a Switch should give ya everything ya need.
March 4, 2006 2:08:47 AM

k well thanks for all the help You guys been a BIG help.
March 4, 2006 2:51:14 AM

I thought about using a projector for a home theater... but the major problem I have is other light sources. In order to take advantage of projectors, the room has to have almost no other light source or it looks like crap.

Unfortunately I can't create a room in my house w/ low lighting.

So, a traditional tube projection TV is what I had to get.
March 4, 2006 4:23:42 AM

Jesse.

With the Stuart Firehawk screen al whole lot of that light control has been fixed. It is a great screen for some ambient lighting and when the lights are out it is just awesome.

I am shooting on a DIY screen right now since nearly all my viewing is at night.
March 4, 2006 6:24:37 AM

Just to clarify, All-in-Wonder boards cannot be used in a Crossfire configuration. See here. This was news in December when it was only the X1800 but I would guess it applies to the X1900 as well.
March 9, 2006 5:50:45 PM

Bump
!