Help configuring PC for streaming/rendering video.

I hope I've posted this in the correct place; I apologize, if not.

I currently own an HP a6130n (AMD X2 5000+, 3GB RAM, Vista Home Premium 32 bit), which I intend on configuring as a media center. I have never fiddled around in this arena before and hoped I'd get some answers to some questions here.

I am streaming video via my home network (Linksys WRT54G2 router, Serviio DNLA server software, Sony BDP-S570 or PS3). Here are a couple of questions:

1. When streaming video wirelessly to my BR player, is the process of streaming the video file passed through the graphics card, using the graphics card memory, or is it handled by the processor? I am currently running on-board video and noticing some occasional choppiness on the TV. One of the upgrades I will be making is a graphics card ... especially since I'll be rendering HD video from my camcorder.

2. I'm not sure if this is possible, but can a system be set up to use two network cards, which could be configured for two separate needs. One to upload and download from the internet and a second to manage traffic for streaming video?

3. Would a RAID 0 setup be beneficial, in any way, for streaming video? I am aware it would help in the rendering process of editing HD camcorder footage, but what exactly would I be gaining using this method? Would a single 1TB 7200RPM storage drive be sufficient for both applications?

4. Would upgrading to a quad core processor be of any benefit, as far as streaming or rendering is concerned? Generally, the PC is not being used when video is streaming to the TV.

Thank you in advance for your assistance!
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More about help configuring streaming rendering video
  1. Welcome newcomer!

    Permit me to answer your questions is reverse order, for no particular reason:

    4) Faster CPU would have little to no effect on your streaming, but everything to do with your rendering. Consider an upgrade. You did not ask, but when you upgrade do it to Win7 64 bit so that you can access more than 4 GB of RAM, which may speed up your rendering even more.

    3) Yes, a 1 TB 7200 rpm HDD will suffice. RAID 0 will boot your machine faster, load your programs faster, load and store your files to be rendered faster.

    2) I think you could have two network cards, and might even be able to segregate which traffic flows through each one, but that is not your bottleneck.

    1) Assuming when you refer to streaming, you are using your Blu Ray player to access shared files on your PC, that are being transferred over the wireless connection to your BR, and the player itself is decoding them. If so, then the answer to graphics or CPU is neither. The choppiness may be coming from your inability to transfer the data over the wireless fast enough. Consider upgrading that component first, or if you want to test, connect your Blu Ray player directly to your network with a long CAT 5 cable.

    So the bottom line is: You do not need an updated graphics card (or even an HTPC for that matter) unless you are going to skip the Blu Ray and connect your TV directly to your PC.

    I have wrestled with the same thing myself.
  2. Eloric,

    Thank you for the kind welcome and the thorough explanation.

    Since posting this, I have done research and determined what you suggest (upgraded router) as the most obvious culprit. I will upgrade to a wireless N router/adapters and report back.

    Another question I have; would a small solid state drive, say 40GB, be a worthwhile addition to my system to store the operating system and program files? I have heard great things about their speed in loading; however, I did read some negatives in the longevity side (limited number of write cycles). Do you have an opinion on this?

    Thanks again!
  3. Excellent question on the Solid State Drive. I love my SSD. It noticably speeds things up. I splurged and went for an 80 GB version.

    40 GB would be cramped to hold all your programs, and you would have to watch your (video) data very closley. 60 GB is probably a really good compromise and here is a very fast one for a reasonable price: OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G 2.5" for $104.

    And what I said were the benefits of RAID 0, go triple for SSD. Even comes with its own 3.5" adapter tray. All you need is a SATA cable.

    Longevity? There is a TRIM function that cuts out the individual bits that go sour. There is just a tiny bit of loss as your drive grows old - with no real impact on capacity. I say who cares if I have a 79.85 GB drive when I retire that puppy? By that time I expect to replace it with a much bigger (and less expensive) model anyway.
  4. I have not had an opportunity to upgrade my wireless router, but I will definitely update you on the outcome when I do.

    Thanks for the information on the solid state drives. I think you've sold me on them.

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