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HD play back with oldish cpu + newish graphics card?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 4, 2008 8:28:26 AM

Sorry if this seems like a silly question (I think it is, but would rather double check before spending money), but finding reviews specific to mixing oldish hardware with newish hardware is kind of tricky, especially when it's in regards to video play back...

So here's the situation. I recently bought a lovely new TV.
At the moment I've got my old box hooked up to it:
P4 530@3.0ghz (can ramp that up, but no real need to)
6600 GT
2GB PC4200
Forget the mobo I've got in it, but from what I've read it's an old enough chipset that even though the socket's the same the newer CPUs won't work in it for power reasons, so upping to a q6600 or something would basically just result in me building a new box altogether.

The power supply is only 350W, but I'm going to be changing that anyways as the fan in it is a bit louder than I'd prefer.

All I'm using the box for basically is video playback without having to go through the trouble of burning, and also seeding overnight without having to run the one in my room while I'm trying to sleep.

What I'm having trouble with (aside from the noise from the PS) is playing back stuff encoded at higher resolutions... it's fairly smooth at some points, but if a lot is going on on screen it gets pretty unwatchable with low/no framerates.

What I'm considering doing is purchasing a newer ati card and popping it into my gaming box, then moving its 8800gt into the old one... at the moment I'm not playing anything that needs a better card and was planning on waiting until SC2's release before upgrading, so unlike the power supply this isn't something that I'd just be doing anyways.

What I'm not entirely sure about is if I'm still going to be bottlenecked playing back HD videos by the older CPU, or if the 8800gt will help me out and make them watchable, so if anyone could please let me know one way or another, it'd be much appreciated =)
October 4, 2008 10:14:45 AM

With your CPU, by adding a video card that supports HD encoding, your video streaming should be fine. Problem is, what video card slot is on your old motherboard? AGP? PCI-E?

Your CPU is at the bare minimum of handling HD content such as H.264 (it will work at 1080p without lag assuming you're able to get something like 3850, if your system is running on AGP). If you're changing the PSU, then it should be handle the power draw from the newer video cards.

If your motherboard supports PCI-E x16 then the 8800GT will work (if you get a new PSU), but don't expect to play games because like I said your CPU is at the bare minimum requirements of the newer games. The 8800GT will be able to handle the workload of the HD video content.
October 4, 2008 2:01:35 PM

if u have a agp slot then go with 3650.i should handle well with ur 350W PSU.
if u wana go a bit higher then aim for 3850.
i dont no if the 4xxx series is out on agp or not. if they are then get 4670/4550

if u have PCI-x slot, then go with 4670 or 4550 depending on ur gaming needs.
ati cards are better for HD performance then nvidia on certain cases..so i think u are better off geting nvidia.
NOTE: 4670 will give u a very good performance but the 4550 might hold u back as u have old CPU
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October 4, 2008 2:06:28 PM

sarwar_r87 said:
if u have a agp slot then go with 3650.i should handle well with ur 350W PSU.
if u wana go a bit higher then aim for 3850.
i dont no if the 4xxx series is out on agp or not. if they are then get 4670/4550

if u have PCI-x slot, then go with 4670 or 4550 depending on ur gaming needs.
ati cards are better for HD performance then nvidia on certain cases..so i think u are better off geting nvidia.
NOTE: 4670 will give u a very good performance but the 4550 might hold u back as u have old CPU


You might want to read his original post. He's pretty much thinking of using his 8800GT on his old computer (after getting a new PSU).

In addition, last I checked there probably won't be a 4xxx series on AGP.

October 4, 2008 2:09:01 PM

Gpu does not actually do the the video decoding. It accelerates decoding and reduces cpu load. Your p4 might not be fast enough to handle even the reduced load when trying to decode high resolution hd encodes. So buying new graphics card for it may just be dumping money into a lost cause.
October 4, 2008 4:51:41 PM

I think there's a fairly recent article on Tom's that reviewed the 780G and the Nvidia chipset that's similar. I think they got a 2.3Ghz Athlon to playback blu-ray with just the onboard HD 3200. So if you put in any HD 3k or 4k card, your rig should do fine.
October 4, 2008 6:04:31 PM

johnyeah said:
You might want to read his original post. He's pretty much thinking of using his 8800GT on his old computer (after getting a new PSU).

In addition, last I checked there probably won't be a 4xxx series on AGP.


i know. but that will be a waste for the 8800GT as the P4 will bottleneck the gpu like crazy.....so i was just suggesting to get a cheaper solution and save money. 8800GT is a strong card and can handle modern games given he doesnt use a monster monitor and a 8800GT + P4 is a shame
October 5, 2008 1:08:17 AM

First of all thanks for the replies.

Yes, the old 6600gt is the PCI-e version&the mobo (obviously) has a slot for it so no issue there.

Secondly, I am changing the PSU regardless. As mentioned it's loud, so even when playing divx movies it's distracting. On top of that, I'm going to eventually need a new PSU in my gaming box, and unlike the video card I can't think of any particular reason to put off upgrading it and using its current PSU in the one hooked up to my TV as it's nice and quiet, and I know it handles the 8800gt fine. So picking a cheaper card to avoid upgrading the PSU isn't going to save me any money.

At the nearby stores (I'm far too impatient for shipping on the net ^^) it looks like 3450 at 50$ or 3650 at 72$ are the only two choices that are both cheap enough that I wouldn't mind buying one now while continuing to wait for SC2/next gen cards while still able to offload from the CPU.

So here's what I'm going to do...I feel silly for not thinking of it before posting in the first place, but meh.

I'm going to go ahead and upgrade both my PSUs, as I have to do it anyways. Then I'm going to borrow the 8800gt from the gaming box and pop it into the older one to make sure that it'll let me watch HD videos before spending any money.

If it does I'm going to have 2 choices... either leave it in there and go buy a shiny new card for the gaming box, or put the 8800gt back into it and buy a cheap card for the old one.

So now the question is - assuming the P4 530+8800gt are in fact capable of playing back HD video, should I expect a cheaper (34/3650) card that can do offloading would be capable of doing it as well? I'm really not sure at all which parts of the card have how much to do with the process to know.

And no, gaming with this one is not an issue at all... if it was, I'd just move the good box upstairs and be done with it =)
October 5, 2008 3:01:01 AM

Anything in or above the HD 3xxx series has hardware support for everything up through blu-ray. HD 3450 and 3650 will do the same.
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