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Help Recycling older components-- htpc?

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Last response: in Systems
July 29, 2009 3:36:01 AM

I recently built a brand new machine, and now I have nearly a full PC's worth of components. They're far from top of the line, but until last month I was using them for my main PC so they're at least usable. I'd like to do something with them, but I am having a hard time figuring out what I can do with outdated hardware. Can anyone suggest what I can do with these components:

Athlon 64 3700+
some DFI mobo with only AGP
256 MB geforce something crappy
and an audigy 2 soundcard
250GB hd
650w psu

the only things i'd really be looking to upgrade would be the best AGP card you can get and some more memory (not much money). would it be possible to make a decent htpc for a 720p plasma? or would it be best to make some kind of media server or something? any suggestions would be appreciated. thank you.

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July 29, 2009 5:44:59 AM

add a couple of hard drives , under clock the cpu , add a gig more RAM and install windows home server and suddenly you have .....
July 29, 2009 8:35:37 AM

You can turn it into a basic HTPC. I don't know if the CPU is powerful enough to play Blu-Ray discs even with a GPU capable of offloading some of the decoding like the HD 4670.

Whenever I upgrade, I tend to use the older parts for an HTPC. Example, my current HTPC has an E6600 in it. When I upgrade my current primary PC the Q9450 will go into the HTPC.

July 29, 2009 3:17:35 PM

I think the only problem is the vid card, I doubt it could play Blu-Ray. I've tried using before a GeForce 6600 to play a 720p video and it occasionally stuttered. I tried the same video on a 7600GT and it played flawlessly.

But for anything below 720p that should be able to play it.

Also maybe a quieter cpu hsf? :D 
July 29, 2009 7:08:57 PM

Thanks for all your help. I have a few questions still. Would S-Video out to a 720p plasma 42" give me full quality? i noticed i can't get anything but svideo out on an agp card. or would i be better off doing a dvi-hdmi adapter. and the 4650 and 4670 cards are 1gb 128-bit. i don't know specifically what the bit measurement means, but are they better for an htpc than a 512mb 256-bit?

a home server also sounds appealing. what is the purpose of underclocking a cpu for a home server? would i perhaps be better off building a home server to store everything and then building an htpc with good components down the road to link to it?
July 29, 2009 7:16:48 PM

I'm pretty sure S-video is limited to 480p. Go for a DVI/HDMI cable for best quality.
July 30, 2009 7:23:09 AM

seems like there are a lot of audio issues with the hdmi on newer versions of windows. also with installing new drivers. i dunno, i'm torn about how to proceed.
July 30, 2009 7:48:47 AM

Yeah the CPU definitely cannot handle Blu-ray or HD content by itself, it would need a card with UVD (ATI) or PureVideo (Nvidia) for it to be able to handle high resolution videos. For AGP the HD3650 is a great card with built in 5.1C sound for HDMI passthrough. I have it, paired with a old Pentium 4 2.4GHz CPU for a HTPC.

I've heard that the AGP HD3450 can handle HD fine, but since I do not have this card I cannot confirm. If you do decide to go with the HD3650, get the HIS version which has audio passthrough. The Sapphire doesn't as I'm told from the company. To get HDMI working I installed drivers directly from the disk no problems.

You could probably get a little more performance by overclocking that 3700+.
July 30, 2009 7:55:48 AM

cool that helps a lot thank you. may i ask what os you're using with yours?
July 30, 2009 7:58:06 AM

Dual boot with XP/Windows 7 RC.