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Multimedia PC, what components to run hd movie files needed?

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July 31, 2008 2:25:47 PM

I have built myself a gaming computer about a year ago and a friend of mine was wondering if I could help him.

He is looking for a multimedia PC that can be hooked up to his television to play movies and music. I have a bunch of HD movie files (.mkv) and was wondering what requirements a new pc for him would require to run them smoothly.

I was thinking a Core 2 Duo around 2.4 GHz, 3 GB of ram, giant hard drive, maybe a tv tuner....but my biggest question is graphics card. My laptop has a **** integrated card and can handle the files but screen tearing is noticeable at times.

So if some people could post some basic setups they feel would be sufficient at running movies in file form, possibly blu-ray drive too, i would really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance :) 
July 31, 2008 4:08:09 PM

Actually almost all of todays GPUs are equiped with HD video output, any any game oriented machine can handle those HD video, as long as you have the right software.
Now answer my question!
Do want to play games with your future computer or just want to have a HTPC? or do you want it as a allrounder?
July 31, 2008 4:26:36 PM

Just about any dual core on it's own should be able to handle high def files, 1080p may use up a lot of the CPU resources though. If you want to have the GPU help than you can get something cheap like an ATI 3450, some even have HDMI ports right on them so you don't have to use a dvi to hdmi dongle.
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July 31, 2008 4:40:30 PM

If the files are H.264, and are DXVA compliant, then all you need is a cheap processor and a modern video card that supports GPU acceleration... along with a player (and render) that also supports DXVA.

If not, a fairly fast processor will be needed to ouput 1080p. 720p should be playable on most modern processors. more important is the decoder used. ffdshow, using libavcodec is currently only single threaded. ffmpeg (which develops libavcodec) is currently working on implementing crude multithreaded support, so expect ffdshow to get that capability sometime in the near future.

If you dont mind paying a little money, then go for CoreAVC.
July 31, 2008 5:07:08 PM

If you're only interested in HDPC setup....Might I suggest the AMD 780G chipset it has HDMI built in and Hybrid crossover ready for adding a game card later...couple that with a Phenom and you're off to the races.
Can get those pretty cheap...too!
July 31, 2008 8:43:17 PM

johnnyq1233 said:
If you're only interested in HDPC setup....Might I suggest the AMD 780G chipset it has HDMI built in and Hybrid crossover ready for adding a game card later...couple that with a Phenom and you're off to the races.
Can get those pretty cheap...too!

Agreed - see my thread on a HTPC that I just built:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/252191-31-quad-system...

There's also the newer 790GX chipset that is coming out, unless I missed something and it's available.
July 31, 2008 8:53:28 PM

San Pedro said:
Just about any dual core on it's own should be able to handle high def files, 1080p may use up a lot of the CPU resources though. If you want to have the GPU help than you can get something cheap like an ATI 3450, some even have HDMI ports right on them so you don't have to use a dvi to hdmi dongle.


Any idea how a system based on AMD 780g MB compares to an Intel system - such ASUS P5QL MB or similar and ATI 3450 512MB GPU as far as x264 decoding and HTPC usage goes? Which better - AMD system with 780g with on board GPU OR Intel with p35 chipset and ATI 3450 512MB GPU?
July 31, 2008 10:01:40 PM

First off will be the price...the onboard ati3xxx is very hd oriented as the hdmi port will indicate.
It draws very little power=more efficient and less fans=quieter.
A phenom quad core is relatively cheap compared to the intel quads.
Tom's did a review of the 780G chipset with a lowly sempron running bluray and it ran great!
The intel you'ld have to trade up the card or buy a second as the p35 should support crossfire.
The AMD you'ld just need to add a card and then you could use the hybrid or run just the dedicated card for gaming. A single 4850 will kill 2 3450s!
just look at newegg or where ever you shop and check the prices..you'll see the difference...
Hope this helps!
August 1, 2008 2:56:03 PM

johnnyq1233 said:
First off will be the price...the onboard ati3xxx is very hd oriented as the hdmi port will indicate.
It draws very little power=more efficient and less fans=quieter.
A phenom quad core is relatively cheap compared to the intel quads.
Tom's did a review of the 780G chipset with a lowly sempron running bluray and it ran great!
The intel you'ld have to trade up the card or buy a second as the p35 should support crossfire.
The AMD you'ld just need to add a card and then you could use the hybrid or run just the dedicated card for gaming. A single 4850 will kill 2 3450s!
just look at newegg or where ever you shop and check the prices..you'll see the difference...
Hope this helps!


Thanks for the reply. My Gigabyte 780G mb and AMD BE 5000+ is a great combination, but it seems like cd2's in the same class as the BE 5000+ are just as good (if not better) as far as power consumption /heat goes. I wouldn't consider the current generation quad AMD processors - too hot and too power hungry. A friend is about to build an htpc system, and is deciding between Intel MB with ATI 3450 or something similar to my new build - 780G mb and AMD BE 5000+. That's why I asked the question.

Once other factor - AMD option is a dead end as far as processor upgrades goes. The affordable Intel MB's (around $100) will support the Intel quads just fine.
August 1, 2008 11:41:14 PM

Well then you've pretty much answered your quetion..then.
Intel and an ATI HD4850....then you won't have any worries about HDTV or HD Gaming!
And it's future proof till Nahalum comes out..sry for the spelling.
Best of luck..hopefully it'll go together without a hitch!
August 4, 2008 6:33:21 PM

Thanks everyone for your help, I think I'm gonna go with the 780g w/built in ATI gpu.

One last question: would an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz be sufficient to work for this HTPC build? I'm looking for a good price on a CPU no video games in the future are going to be played. And if I get it, do you think the fan it comes with will be good enough if I don't plan on overclocking?
August 5, 2008 7:10:59 AM

5000+? Actually? More than enough.
Stock fan? Of course, but sometime you need something more quiet for a HTPC.
August 5, 2008 7:20:26 PM

If thats more than enough what would you suggest? I don't want to risk choppiness in playing the movies because I am selling this to someone
August 6, 2008 6:11:50 AM

It is more than enough, but it is OK to buy it since it is not expensive and it has no big price differences with its lower version. Actually 4400+ or 4800+ or even lower is enough but they are not very different in price.
hmmmm...I have a HTPC with X2 5200+ windsor...hehehe..it is my ex-gaming machine.
!