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Will my HTPC be able to display Blu-Ray?

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April 11, 2009 10:58:18 PM

I was thinking about getting a Blu-Ray drive to watch movies on my HTPC. Here are my current specs.

AMD Athlon 64 3000+
MSI MS-7145 motherboard
1GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT
Windows XP Home SP3

I want to replace the video card with this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Will I be able to watch Blu-Ray movies with this configuration?

From what I have read, this card will handle the HD video decoding so it shouldn't matter what kind of processor I have. Will this work, or do I need to upgrade the processor as well?

More about : htpc display blu ray

April 11, 2009 11:04:52 PM

The GPU should be able to decode a bluray disc, might consider getting more RAM.
April 12, 2009 3:53:24 PM

tommylikewingy said:
I was thinking about getting a Blu-Ray drive to watch movies on my HTPC. Here are my current specs.

AMD Athlon 64 3000+
MSI MS-7145 motherboard
1GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT
Windows XP Home SP3

I want to replace the video card with this one.


Will I be able to watch Blu-Ray movies with this configuration?

From what I have read, this card will handle the HD video decoding so it shouldn't matter what kind of processor I have. Will this work, or do I need to upgrade the processor as well?


NO NO NO!!! Apparently Blu-Ray doesn't work with XP! You need Vista! It sucks, but that's the way it is. Maybe postpone your upgrade and wait for Windows 7, or buy Vista on sale. But don't buy a Blu-Ray player on XP! No! :pt1cable: 
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April 12, 2009 4:04:15 PM

the 7800gt probably doesn't have HDCP aswell so it won't be able to output the video.

also my PC which is slightly less powerful than yours can only just output 1080p video so I have doubts that if it did have HDCP that it could output Blu-Ray.
April 12, 2009 4:10:54 PM

Yeah. I agree. You might wanna go for a GPU with onboard HDMI, just in case. Oh, and if you want to get HD sound, you'll want to make sure that the motherboard has those SP/DIF or whatever you call them connectors, so that you can get 5.1 sound.
April 12, 2009 4:59:56 PM

Thats why I want to replace my current video card with the one I linked to above (Radeon HD 4650). From what I've read, you are able to play blu-ray movies if you have SP2 installed on windows XP. Is this correct?
April 12, 2009 5:06:20 PM

Oh, sorry about that. Oh, a Google search reveals that you're correct! That's good news for both of us! High definition... :sol: 
Well, I'll be upgrading (or downgrading) to Vista (not *cough* legit *cough*) soon anyway, so either way, I don't mind. That must be a relief for you.
April 12, 2009 7:01:21 PM

XP will be able to play blu-ray discs, you just need the right software, like PowerDVD. That 4650 has HDCP built in and would be perfect for a HTPC build. It'll take the load off the CPU when watching movies.
April 13, 2009 1:55:33 AM

Axeon said:
XP will be able to play blu-ray discs, you just need the right software, like PowerDVD. That 4650 has HDCP built in and would be perfect for a HTPC build. It'll take the load off the CPU when watching movies.


Agreed. Although you might be able to use VLC or something instead. I think that some Blu-Ray players come with a software disk. My Mum's HPl laptop can read Blu-Ray, and it uses this big multimedia suite to read Blu-Ray, and I couldn't get it to work with Windows Media Player.
April 13, 2009 1:57:59 AM

Ah! I couldn't edit my post! It's an HP laptop. :pt1cable: 
April 13, 2009 2:06:40 AM

tommylikewingy said:
I was thinking about getting a Blu-Ray drive to watch movies on my HTPC. Here are my current specs.

AMD Athlon 64 3000+
MSI MS-7145 motherboard
1GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT
Windows XP Home SP3

I want to replace the video card with this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Will I be able to watch Blu-Ray movies with this configuration?

From what I have read, this card will handle the HD video decoding so it shouldn't matter what kind of processor I have. Will this work, or do I need to upgrade the processor as well?


Yes, ATI graphics starting with the 2xxx series support HDCP. Cards from at least the 3xxx series even have a built-in audio codec for HDCP audio compliance.
April 13, 2009 2:11:26 AM

Whoops, should be HP laptop. Couldn't edit my post for some reason...
April 13, 2009 2:16:06 AM

Cool, if it has software included then you're good to go.
April 13, 2009 3:19:22 AM

Also VLC can't do HD or Blu-Ray, its only for standard video files.
April 13, 2009 3:24:23 AM

Axeon said:
Also VLC can't do HD or Blu-Ray, its only for standard video files.

Meh. The software included will do the job.
April 13, 2009 7:19:04 AM

What is the software included anyways, is it WinDVD?
April 13, 2009 10:36:52 PM

I can speak from experience. I have that Blu Ray drive and XP.

The PowerDVD software is junk, especially the OEM version that comes with the drive. Quite a few people have had problems with it and have relegated to downloading cracked/pirated versions because some of PowerDVD's versions/updates cause problems with Blu Ray playback.

I highly recommend downloading K-Lite Mega Codec pack and installing the "Full w/ Media Player Classic". And also get AnyDVD HD so you won't have to update your software every time studios come out with newer BD+ protection. AnyDVD HD allows me to play my Blu Rays with MPC and it works far better than PowerDVD.

The 4650 is fine. Just try to find one that comes with either an HDMI port or DVI-to-HDMI adapter.

If you want DTS-HD and DD TrueHD playback, then you will also need a good sound card, something from ASUS or Azuntech and the ones you would need start at a little over $100. Otherwise, your sound will be reduced to DVD quality.

If this HTPC will be playing audio thru a stereo system, then you must upgrade the sound card to the $75+ level because everything lower, and especially the motherboard audio, will have noise and possibly crackle. I have a M-Audio external firewire professional setup with $250 Seinnheisser headphones and also a $75 creative sound card. The Creative sound card has some noise so that is why I recommend spending a little more money.
April 14, 2009 2:46:44 AM

PowerDVD is good software but i use the Nero Showtime that I have in Nero Ultra 7, it has "hardware decode aceleration" as well and preforms better than PowerDVD with CPU usage wise.
April 14, 2009 5:28:12 AM

Nice choice, its a good solid card. ;D
April 14, 2009 12:54:52 PM

Thanks. I'm kind of in the process of piecing together a decent home theater PC. Now I have the video card and in probably a few months I can get the Blu-Ray drive. Within the next year, I hope to get a quiet HTPC case, motherboard and processor. The computer I am using now works, but it is big and loud. Any other recommendations would be appreciated.
April 14, 2009 6:47:00 PM

Great! Are still going with AMD? Or Intel? For the case I personally have seen the Antec Fusion 430 and its a beautiful case. Heres a link
http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?id=NDk=

How fast is that processor? The Athlon 3000+? I'm planning a HTPC build too and i dunno if my proceessor can handle it lol. Also what sound card are you using? Thanks
April 14, 2009 9:47:31 PM

I really don't know at this point. I was thinking of going with AMD because they make some good cheap low power processors that are easy to cool.

I'm not using my current computer as a DVR, mainly just to stream movies from my main PC in my office and play a few old school emulated games. The processor I have now is only single core 2.0GHz, but it works for what I need it to do. I'm just using onboard sound and it is only hooked up through the TV, since I don't have a sound system in my living room.

I was using an old P4 1.4GHz with 384MB of RAM for this purpose, but it was struggling, so I bought my current set up off of craigslist for cheap.

I really like that Antec case. I've been looking at a couple different Shuttle barebones, they are tiny.
April 14, 2009 10:05:25 PM

tommylikewingy said:
I really don't know at this point. I was thinking of going with AMD because they make some good cheap low power processors that are easy to cool.

I'm not using my current computer as a DVR, mainly just to stream movies from my main PC in my office and play a few old school emulated games. The processor I have now is only single core 2.0GHz, but it works for what I need it to do. I'm just using onboard sound and it is only hooked up through the TV, since I don't have a sound system in my living room.

I was using an old P4 1.4GHz with 384MB of RAM for this purpose, but it was struggling, so I bought my current set up off of craigslist for cheap.

I really like that Antec case. I've been looking at a couple different Shuttle barebones, they are tiny.


Recent stepping Core 2 Duos use less power for the work performed, so anyone looking to build a high-performance HTPC might want to think about performance-per-watt, rather than just watts, before building.
April 15, 2009 3:53:21 AM

2.0Ghz?, hopefully my 2.4Ghz P4 can handle it lol.
April 15, 2009 4:02:50 PM

^^^^^^^^^^^ It can.
April 20, 2009 12:17:50 AM

I upgraded my video card to a Radeon HD 4650 and tried to play 1080p .mkv files, but the video is very choppy and CPU usage is at 100%. I have K-lite codec pack installed but I want to know if the video card is actually doing the decoding instead of the CPU. Any ideas? Do I need to install something else besides the catalyst drivers for AVIVO?
April 20, 2009 1:54:50 AM

tommylikewingy said:
I upgraded my video card to a Radeon HD 4650 and tried to play 1080p .mkv files, but the video is very choppy and CPU usage is at 100%. I have K-lite codec pack installed but I want to know if the video card is actually doing the decoding instead of the CPU. Any ideas? Do I need to install something else besides the catalyst drivers for AVIVO?


It sounds like you're using CPU decoding only.
April 20, 2009 4:32:10 AM

I've been having problems with a HD 3650 AGP with Avivo. I just found out that it can only decode VC-1, and H.264 with the newest ver. of PowerDVD or MPC-HC. WMV and MPEG2 encoding is not yet developed for MPC_HC tho.
April 27, 2009 7:11:51 PM

MPEG2 decoding is supported. With hardware decoding, there 2 crucial factors:
1) the program playing the video has DXVA acceleration enabled. This is DirectX Video Acceleration.
2) The video was encoded to VC-1, H.264 or MPEG2 AND was encoded using proper settings.

MKV is only a container and can hold Xvid, Dvix, MPEG2, H.264 and some others. Download MKVToolnix and install. Then drag the video files into it that are causing these problems and report back what Video Codec is being used as well as the audio codec.

Something I noticed recently was that Quicktime files encoded in H.264 were not being hardware decoded.
April 27, 2009 7:42:30 PM

I just tested a bonus video from Blu Ray Batman -DK which is a H.264 Elementary Stream and about 20% of my 4 cores were being used to play it. However, a 720p 1.09GB downloaded TV show uses 0% which uses H.264.

Playing a DVD with MPC-HC used 0%.

I think what we can take from this is that it might be a hit or miss when playing Hi-Def video. If a video was properly encoded, then we should be fine. I just can't believe that the studio would screw up encoding the Batman bonus video, which is the largest and longest bonus video on the disc. However, the actual movie is VC-1 and doesn't use CPU at all.
April 27, 2009 7:50:37 PM

I just tested with WMVs downloaded from Movielink and Amazon and none of them use the CPU.

I also tested a 720x3xx(DVD size) H.264 movie encoded from a Blu Ray down to 700MB and it used 5-6% of the CPU.

I forgot to add that I have a 8800GT 512.

When I talked about Quicktime video, I was using MPC-HC to play them.

"Not all H.264 and MPEG2 are created equally."
April 28, 2009 12:25:41 AM

+1, A tutorial was meantioned earlier in this thread that helped me alot, thanks! H.264 can be decoded perfectly using a player called Media Player Classic - Home Cinema. But not all can be decoded. Certain files can't be accelerated with Avivo (ATI) while most of all can be decoded with Puervideo (Nvidia). I haven't tried MPEG-2 or VC-1 yet. Heres a great site for HD quicktime trailers that'll test your GPUs encoding power. For whoever owns or makes the site and its contents, thanks so much!

http://www.davestrailerpage.co.uk
April 28, 2009 12:53:52 AM

Now I'm confused. Do you need to "encode" these videos in a different format and then watch them to test the GPU? Or do I just attempt to play one of them "as-is" and the GPU "Decoding" will work provided that I am using the right software?
April 28, 2009 1:32:29 AM

So my bad, I meant that the graphics card will decode the file with its acceleration technology, i.e Purevideo, Avivo. The video does not need to be encoded.
April 28, 2009 2:03:41 AM

Thanks for the help. I was able to play the X-Men Origins Wolverine trailer on my 46" LCD and it looked amazing, no skipping or anything. I wasn't able to play it with MPC-HC though. I installed PowerDVD 9 and was able to use the Avivo decoding through their software. Is there a specific setting in MPC that I am missing or do I need to install a specific codec?
April 28, 2009 2:13:38 AM

Ok I spoke too soon. The video played fine and and didn't skip this time, but the processor usage is still jumping up to 100% and when I look in Catalyst Control Center, the GPU usage is at 0. When I pressed play the second time, the computer locked up and I had to reboot.

I've read about people having problems with hardware acceleration using Windows XP. Do you think I should install Windows 7 beta and try it?
May 28, 2009 9:17:00 PM

Update - I installed Windows 7 and PowerDVD 9 and hardware decoding works great. CPU% is at about 10% with hardware decoding on and goes to 100% with it turned off. I still haven't gotten it to work yet on Windows XP, but I've yet to try the tutorial for MPC-HC.
May 28, 2009 10:00:37 PM

How does Windows 7 run on your AMD 3000+ is the performance smooth?
May 30, 2009 1:00:19 AM

It is a little bit slower than XP booting up, but for playing video I can't tell any difference. Now that I have hardware decoding working on Windows 7, HD video looks even better.
May 30, 2009 1:12:40 AM

Yeah, when connecting my HTPC rig to my friend's HDTV it looks pretty ugly. I want to run Win 7 but I don't know the requirements and I doubt it'll run fast on my CPU.
May 30, 2009 1:52:03 PM

Here are the minimum requirements for Windows 7

* 1 GHz processor (32- or 64-bit)
* 1 GB of RAM (32-bit); 2 GB of RAM (64-bit)
* 16 GB of available disk space (32-bit); 20 GB of avaiable disk space (64-bit)
* DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

I'm using the 32bit verision. I would say you should be able to run Windows 7 just fine. The only problem might be your graphics card, but you could always set it up to dual-boot XP and Win7 like I have. Then you can use both and when RC1 expires you don't have to reinstall XP.
May 30, 2009 3:01:41 PM

Well those specs in my signature aren't my HTPC rig, here is my rig.

2.4oGHz Pentium 4 Single Core CPU
250GB HDD
1GB DDR RAM
HD 3650 AGP

How will I know what drivers to install? Since my card is AGP the drivers from ATi are for PCIe cards........

PS. Yeah I have another hard drive for Win 7, the 250GB will be XP and a 40GB will be Win 7
!