General DVD Questions

Hey, I am custom building a computer soon and just decided that I'd like to have a DVD drive in it.

What is the deal with Aopen and Acer. Are they the same? I am going to try and buy all my hardware from one place, to save on shipping. They only carry the Acer 16x DVD. While only tested the Aopen 16x DVD.

What is the best DVD drive?

What is the deal with hardware decoders? What do they do? Are they necessary. How do you hook up one? When you custom build a computer, you want to have windows recognise one piece of hardware at a time so it doesn't wig out. Does this mean that the hardware decoder should not be installed when the computer is turned on for the first time?

Do DVD drives offer DMA-66 support?

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More about general questions
  1. I can't say which DVD-drive is the best, but when buying one, think about what you're going to use it for. If you use it mainly for movies, you don't need a fast one. For example, I have a 6x DVD-drive, and it seems to be totally adequate for all of my needs (mainly watching movies, occasionally unpacking something from a DVD).

    About hardware decoders, you don't need them at all, if you have a modern pc. They are only useful if you don't have enough CPU processing power. You should save your money and not buy a hw decoder.
    About hooking up one piece of hardware at a time. I have built numerous pc and always put in everything at once, but never had any problems with hardware recognizing. I don't think it makes much difference how many devices you pulg in at once.

    As fas as I know, DVD-drives, like CD-ROMs are perfectly happy with DMA-33 and don't take any advantage of DMA-66 or DMA-100.
  2. A hw decoder is a card that plugs into one of your PCI slots similar to a video card. My opinion is that even if you have a fast processor, you may not have a good video card or good sound card and you will not see or hear very good DVD playback if this is true. Plus if you want to view the DVD on a TV (and you don't have a hw decoder) then you will need a video card with TV out. The hardware decoder gives you awesome picture regardless of what video card you have plus they usually have good sound output (Dolby Digital) if you ever want to hook up to a home theater. I don't think even the fastest processor could deliver the smoothness of the dedicated hw decoder.

    As far as the best DVD drive, it depends on what your going to use it for. The fastest one I believe is the Pioneer 16x (also the one that Maximum PC chooses), but if you want to read subchannel data while recording using your burner on the fly, then one of the toshiba's listed here:
    will probably better suit.

    I've had problems in the past with things conflicting in PCI slots, but the best way to prevent this from happening has been to not let Windows assign IRQs by disabling the Plug and Play Operating System option in the bios. Also, for some reason my hw decoder did not like sharing a PCI slot with another component. See your mobo manual for which slots are shared.

    AOpen is a rebadged Acer product. Acer had a reputation for building proprietary computers way back when that were not very upgradable. They changed their philosophy to be more "open" (able to accept more and different components) and they changed their name to go along with the philosphy. Hence, AOpen (combined Acer and Open).

    - Every private citizen has a public responsibility
  3. A bunch of different review sites I have read recommend the Pionner DVD-115, it is a 16x DVD drive and as I said is highly recommended. I have one in my system and have no complaints with the few DVD's I have watched on it.
  4. If you are building a new computer base your decision on the hardware decoder on what resolution you will be running your desktop in....I have a larger monitor and run at 1600 or higher res and when you run a higher res like this the hardware decoder will make the text on your desktop difficult to read but will have nice dvd playback if you are only running a 17" or smaller monitor and plan to use windows at no higher than about 1280x1024 maximum maybe even 1024x768 than the hardware decoder will give you a nice picture also think about this if you are building this computer with a geforce or radion card they have a hardware motion compensation chip on them which makes software dvd play very smooth at almost any resolution. I have played with several software dvd solutions over the past 2 years and the real magic card. and can say generaly the the software solutions look nicer with better color and contrast. as far as the audio is concerned if you get a soundblaster live 5.1 series of card you will have dolby digital decode on the sound card and can have a spdif or optical out to hook to a home theater system if desired. I have the sb live platnum 5.1 card and have all the digital outputs needed in the front and back of the computer allowing hookup of a minidisk with tos link (fibre optic). Thus completely eliminating the need for a hardware decoder.
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