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Suggestions for mini-pc JUST FOR TV

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August 4, 2002 7:03:12 PM

I'm sick and tired of watching DIVX movies on my monitor and tired of moving my PC to a TV just to watch a movie.

So I've decided to build a mini-pc specifically for watching DIVX movies on TV..
For starters I'm thinking about the Shuttle SS51G XPC and REALmagic XCard.. I don't know exactly how the XCard works but wondering if I would need an additional video card?

How much RAM would I need?
CPU speed?
Would an 8MB cache hardrive make any difference?

Thanks.

More about : suggestions mini

August 11, 2002 10:59:15 AM

You could use a standard VGA output and a converter box, such devices generally cost $40 and up.

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August 11, 2002 5:35:06 PM

Well if I just buy the REALmagic XCard would I need an additonal video card? I'm only going to be using it only on the tv.
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August 11, 2002 7:23:44 PM

I don't know anything about that card. But I do know that you can get a Micro ATX board with the nVidia nForce, GeForce2 MX graphics onboard, home theater quality 6-channel audio onboard, and LAN onboard, and put the thing in <A HREF="http://www.caseoutlet.com/case/4117/CS-4117.html" target="_new"> This Case</A>, and use that system on your TV. But I don't think you can get a TV-Out adapter for the board I would recommend (Abit NV7m). You can see a review of the board at <A HREF="http://www.amdworld.co.uk/nv7m.htm" target="_new">http://www.amdworld.co.uk/nv7m.htm&lt;/A>. And lacking a TV-Out feature, you could use a simple VGA to TV adapter, such as <A HREF="http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite..." target="_new">This One</A>. That way you get your nice small case, reasonable video performance (you could do some gaming on the TV), great audio performance, etc. Better than anything else out there that's made to do the same job.

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August 12, 2002 8:25:50 AM

Hmm thanks for your opinion. Like the TwinBank memory architecture. But an AMD based motherboard is what sort of bugs me most. I'm not sure if's the past experience or what but I've been committed to Intel. Not saying AMD is horrible or anything but I just like Intel. Which is why I'm pretty well much going with the Shuttle SS51 XPC. <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.html?i=1661" target="_new">http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.html?i=1661&lt;/A> Then adding whatever additonal parts that I would need.. Like hardrive, cpu, etc.

I'm also not a big fan on onboard graphics as I believe they won't last long later on, so I prefer buying a seperate card although it may cost more but will last longer and would be far easier to overclock.

Hmm would you lost quality with the VGA to TV adapter? I mean would you be able to notice the difference froma direct tv out card and one using an adapter?

Thanks for the post!
August 12, 2002 8:41:41 AM

Well, the one thing that has going for it is the AGP slot, you could put a nice Radeon card in there. The onboard audio is questionabl IMO. And a cube is not a nice shape for use in an entertainment center. I'm sure if you looked hard enough, you could find a desktop mATX case that's similar in width to a typical VCR and a little taller, and an mATX board to go in it.

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August 13, 2002 2:40:18 AM

Hey, take a look at <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/Showimage.asp?image=11-130-10..." target="_new">this case</A>. With an nForce board and <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/Showimage.asp?image=13-130-35..." target="_new">this card</A>, you can have TV-Out and a hot performance system that blends right in with your VCR and whatever else you have there.

Of course, it only has half-height PCI slots, you would need to modify the braket of that card to make it fit. Or you could get a case like <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/Showimage.asp?image=11-119-00..." target="_new">this</A> with full height slots, but it cost 4x as much, and is much larger!

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August 13, 2002 7:19:25 AM

It's not that I haven't seen mATX cases or boards but in my mind I'm thinking Shuttle was dedicated into making their XPC series. But you did make a good point of view as the shape of the Shuttle is more of a cube shape and it wouldn't really match an entertainment theater.

With AMD 3DNow! Technology would you think it would give better graphic performance and quality over Intel?
Like the Coolermaster case.. looks very professional but as you said it's expensive and larger.

But actually really size wouldn't be too big of a problem for me. The main issue I could have is noise. Like a PSU fan, the hard drive, cpu fan, and any case fans.

Hmm haven't seen that MSI tv-out card before but I think I'm sticking with the Realmagic XCard since it's a decoder card for DIVX.
August 13, 2002 8:46:41 AM

Sure, but you'll still need TVO capabilities to see anything except the movie on the TV. Decoder cars don't turn VGA into TV, they simply pass through the main TV-Out signal and overlay the movie. With no TV-Out signal all you see is the movie-kind of makes it hard to use programs then doesn't it? If you had an adequate processor and TV-Out, you wouldn't needthe decoder card anyway. As for AMD, their problems have always been related to VIA chipsets, I don't know of any with the nForce. But the nForce does have an adequate video and sound solution. If you were to use, say, the inexpensive XP1600+ processor and a cooler with 80mm fan, even a quiet fan of that size would be sufficient. And the TVO card is short enough to fit the half-height slot in that cheaper case. Best of all, you'd have a system that can handle gaming (at TV resolution, even the latest games should run on that video) and movies, for around $500:

Case $50
Mobo $120
CPU $60
DVD-ROM $40
hard drive $100
floppy (usually free)
TV adapter card $20
two 256MB PC 2100 modules $120
Large Cooler $20

Total $530

And I was being a little generous on some of those prices, especially the fan, check <A HREF="http://www.nexfan.com/29/325.htm?164" target="_new">this out</A>

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August 17, 2002 11:10:27 PM

Ah your absolutely right. I think I'll just do that. The case is just right, adequate mobo with integrated video, and perfect tv adpater card. Does the NV7M only support Athlon 1600+ or higher? I don't mind paying for something better since they're so CHEAP! Yeah seems like the perfect cooler! And the fan is only at 29dbA!

Thanks Crashman for all the advice and info.
Really appreciate it!
August 17, 2002 11:52:44 PM

and would that MSI TVO card work for the Abit NV7M? On newegg it says it's an optional card for the MSI K7N420 Pro mobo...
August 18, 2002 2:26:04 AM

Those nForce boards support the complete line of Socket 462 processors, anything you want. Now as to whether that card works with the Abit board, uh, probably, but not certain.

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August 22, 2002 7:50:56 AM

Nice. Why are nforce boards not so popular? I mean I don't hear much about them... Price?

Hmm not sure if the card will work for sure eh.. well hmm what did it mean "low-profile slots" for the case?
I was thinking maybe the Realmagic Xcard since it's only $100 but not sure if it would fit..
August 22, 2002 9:41:31 AM

Remember that a Video Overlay card only puts out the movie, not the desktop image, so controlling your computer with only an overlay card can be problematic!

That little case has "half height" slots. The TV-Out card you looked at is a half-height card, but on a full-height bracket, unless they include a half height bracket, you'll have to shorted the stock bracket.

The nForce board is hated in this forum by many because 1.) it includes onboard graphics which are not cutting edge for games, 2.) It's not VIA. People relate VIA with AMD, they think if they want to support AMD's competition they have to support VIA. But VIA is the arrogant company who never admits to their defects.

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August 23, 2002 8:14:11 AM

Oh yes that's right. I keep on thinking that the card would be an tvo for imaging and video..

So half height cards only? meaning I wouldn't be able to use like a AIW Radeon 8500 in the case even if I shortend the stock bracket?

VIA? Wow I didn't think they were that important.. Maybe because I'm just not a giant AMD fan... But actually in my opinion I prefer SIS though that's only towards Intel but not sure bout AMD..
August 23, 2002 9:34:33 AM

You would need a slightly taller case, like 1.5 inches taller. I have a new AT mini desktop I could modify into a Micro ATX desktop and paint black if you like, same size as the one you were looking at except for the height (~1.5 inches taller). You wouldn't like the PRICE though! Of course, if you want a really nice small case with full height card slots, you could get that $200 Coolermaster case!

I've been looking everywhere for a small case with full height slots, like the Cooler Master unit. I did find <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProduct.asp?description=1..." target="_new">This Nice Unit</A> but it would need a little dressing up to look OK in an entertainment center.

If you really like the idea of full height slots, that opens your motherboard options back up, because it opens your video card options back up. Then you can start the selection process all over again!

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August 23, 2002 7:58:05 PM

The Coolermaster case I think is a little on the pricey side if it's the ATC-600 you're talking about. But it's a nice case!
Yeah no thanks. Price is a important factor in building this pc.

Hmm how would you dress up the case?

Yeah that's true..
Well I'm aiming on value.. Like I'm not going to really need a high end cpu or high end memory because I just want to watch movies on it. I don't plan on using it for anything else but movies..
So it'd be basically looking for a low end computer that is sufficient to play movies..
August 23, 2002 10:05:08 PM

Well, a lot of people have painted their cases and drive covers matching colors, you could do that with one of those beige MicroATX desktops and get full height slots. I've done this before for a system I used to use in my home theater. You have to remember that even the cases I showed you with full height slots are very small.

It would of course be handy to have an ATI All In Wonder card with the remote. The rest of the system could be fairly cheap.

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August 25, 2002 10:46:06 PM

Oh okay then that'd be simple to paint then.

ATI All In Wonder is a good start.. But would say just a ALL IN WONDER RADEON 7500 be sufficient.
Oh so you have a system that you use to use for your home theater?
Like I'd probably be getting an athlon xp but don't know how fast I need it to be and how fast the ram would have to be.. and 256MB of RAM would be more than enough right?
August 25, 2002 11:00:44 PM

256MB is pleanty, the Athlon XP 1800+ is cheap and much more than needed, and the 8500DV is only ~$170 at Newegg with the remote, in case you decide to "go big" for the extra $30 and get added features. One consideration is that you might like to play some games on that system too.

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August 28, 2002 2:10:34 AM

That's going "big"? Okay how about an old P3 700MHz? 256MB PC133 SDRAM and say a old Powercolor Geforce2 MX 64MB video card with TVO?

That's all the oldest parts I have sitting in a box.. Is that still considered "big"?
August 28, 2002 3:42:31 AM

It would be powerfull enough, but the MX cards had crappy TV-Out, and the P3 700 still cost more than the XP 1800+!

If you want to "go big" on just one part of the system, I suggest the video card. I mean, look at all the fuctionality you get on the Radeon 8500DV, for $170! You get a remote, tv-in, a great card for movies and games, etc. If you build a cheap system around that card, you're doing great for a TV settup. Would I suggest any "slower" processor than the 1800+? Not when the 1800+ goes for around $60!

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August 28, 2002 3:45:27 AM

Oh, if you want to use the system as a TiVO replacement (digital VCR), you might want to go big and fast with the hard drive. Since you need a hard drive anyway, you might as well spend the extra $30 there to "go big" and get the full functionality of TiVO. BTW, I think the TiVO comes with a 38GB drive, so you could do "better than TiVO" with a large drive, say 100GB.

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August 28, 2002 5:18:53 AM

No no I'm not trying to go "big".. I'm trying to be CHEAP and get something that is sufficient. I don't want to spend any money on this but since you said MX cards have crappy tv-out I'm guessing only ATI has good TV out.
Well I don't think I'd want a Radeon 8500DV just to watch movies. I plan on making this machine just for movies and not games. Plus I'm going to wait later this or next year and I THINK ATI might either change to 0.13 micron technology or they MIGHT have a Radeon 9500 which should have a lower clock speed than the Radeon 9700 but still have the same features.... I'm HOPING that's how it'd turn out at least...

I already have a P3 700MHz so if that's enough then why bother buying an Athlon anymore?..
But anyways I have an 80GB Maxtor already for it and I think that will be enough.

I don't want to go big on anything but I just want something sufficient enough to play Divx movies. So what kind of video should I get that has a good tv output and is sufficient to play DIVX movies?

Thanks
August 28, 2002 4:43:50 PM

Sounds like a plan! You could always get an AIW Radeon 7500 and save a few bux (still trying to convince you on the digital recording features and remote, earlier versions lacked the remote and non-AIW cards lacked the tuner).

<font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
August 28, 2002 6:17:45 PM

The ATI AIW Radeon 7500 would be fine for what you want. I have one and the remote is a great little feature. It also plays most of the current batch of games just fine. As far as any future gaming ability... obviously it will get way out of date. However, it will handle your movie viewing just fine! (and then some)

<font color=green><b>More salt than just a grain you will need with posts of mine. - Yoda</b></font color=green>
August 28, 2002 8:51:59 PM

Don't all AIW Radeon's have a remote?
August 28, 2002 8:54:58 PM

Okay well I'm trying to find the cheapest ATI card that has good TV out and that's bout it really. Not going to use it for anything else as I already have my own computer for gaming and running any other applications or programs. Well would any other ATI card have any good TV out? I mean I don't need all the extra features just a good tv out really that can handle divx movies. If it's missing a remote control I can always purchase one for it. Which I think it's called the Remote wonder or something but I'm pretty sure I can purchase a remote for the ATI card seperately.
August 28, 2002 9:54:10 PM

I can't remember if the AIW Radeon did, but my friends earlier AIW 128 didn't.

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August 29, 2002 7:59:31 AM

Hmm okay. Well not sure which one I'm going to get yet but if it doesn't I'll just get a remote for it.

Hmm I was just on VIA's site and was looking at their C3 processors...... Would they work well for a home theatre platform? It looks neat since it doesn't require any fans because of the low voltage they run on.. but performance wise I'm not sure how they'd do to run movies....

Would you say that all ATI All In Wonder series have good TV out and would work well playing DIVX movies? Or only the newer cards like the 7500-8500 cards are good?

I was thinking of maybe the AIW 128 pro but not sure if it well do any good with movies..
August 29, 2002 12:07:51 PM

The Remote wonder cost $50. The AIW 7500 cost $130 and includes the remote. I'll let you do the math.

The VIA chip produced about half the heat with about half the performance. You need good performance for video capture, I would say just get a big quiet cooler for the chip you have.

My Radeon has perfect TV-Out.

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August 29, 2002 6:09:49 PM

Ah true true.

Okay so VIA not too good on their own processor.

What do you consider as perfect TV-Out?
I used an old ATI Rage Fury card before and when I try watching a movie using the S-Video out and I see in the background like a very faded white bar constantly moving up... you won't notice it when watching the movie but if you carefully look at the tv screen you will see it.
I know it's not the S-Video cable as I bought a brand new one with gold plated ends.. so I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the video.
August 29, 2002 6:29:07 PM

Ok an AIW Radeon 7500 or a Radeon 9000 pro?
August 29, 2002 8:09:05 PM

Well, it could be a weird problem with that particular card, or the driver, or the configuration. Anyway, I haven't had any problems with ATI cards TV-Out like I did with GeForce 2's (the fixes for GeForce 2 cards are inadequate for configurations that use both the monitor and the TV-Out like I do). But I have a Radeon LE TVO (same layout as the Radeon 64MB DDR card, but with 32MB and no video in, a cheap alternative) and it works perfectly for TV-Out. You could just buy the AIW 7500, $123 is cheap!

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August 29, 2002 8:11:49 PM

AIW 7500, because I think the digital VCR and remote would be better features for you than the gaming ability of the 9000 Pro. BTW, the 9000 Pro is always a bad choice, the 8500LE is cheaper, performs better, and has the same tv-out features. But the extra features of the AIW put the smart money on the AIW 7500 for you.

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August 29, 2002 8:27:35 PM

Okay. The LE version cards are the same cards as the regular but are clocked down to a lower speed right?
Okay so what would you mean as a digital VCR? Is it the Interactive Program Guide for TV?
Well in Canada it costs about $205 for me but yeah I guess that's cheap compared to the $500 ones. Well even say for example an Radeon 9700 what advantages will you have with it later on? I mean shouldn't an AIW 8500 still be able to handle future games?
August 29, 2002 8:38:02 PM

My original version Radeon LE still plays the newest games at resolutions higher than a TV offers. In fact, I can play the latest games at 1024x768 with it, and that's about the limit for high definition TV's. So the 8500LE shouldn't have any problems with new games for quite a while. But the 7500 is a faster version of mine, so that shouldn't either. Anyway, if you look at the price of a Radeon 8500LE stateside of just under $100, compared to the AIW 7500 for $123, the 7500 looks like the better deal because it comes with a tuner and remote. But if you want better performance, the 8500DV comes with all the features of the AIW 7500, plus a firewire port, plus 8500LE gaming performance, for $169.

So it's really up to you, but I wouldn't discount the value of the remote or the TV tuner just yet. I'd get the 8500DV for your application, but you're cheaper than me, you'd probably like the AIW 7500.

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August 29, 2002 9:43:56 PM

Hmm okay I see. Well how does the AIW 8500 and AIW7500 differ? Clock speed? And why was it that the AIW 8500DV cheaper than the AIW 8500?
I'm not needing any additional ports since I have USB 2.0 ports and a seperate firewire PCI card.
August 29, 2002 11:21:10 PM

The Radeon 7500 is a sped up version of the original Radeon, a 2 year old chip. The 8500 is a newer chip with newer features. The newer chip not only runs at a faster speed, but it has a lot more hardware features.

The 8500DV is the 64MB version of the 128MB AIW 8500. Other than the memory size I don't believe there's a difference.

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August 30, 2002 9:09:15 AM

Man technology goes too fast! Though sometimes I think it won't make a great difference.. Like the first generation of SATA drives.

But I think the AIW 7500 will be just fine anyways.

Hmm does memory size affect performance in any way? I don't think games can use up 128MB plus you can always set your AGP Aperture size right?
August 30, 2002 2:49:33 PM

Games generally don't need more than 64MB of Video Ram or 64MB of dedicated main memory. When you buy your main memory, Win98 like 128MB or more, WinXP likes 256MB or more. I think ATI's "ME" driver works better than their "XP" driver for video capture, and the "ME" driver should be backwards compatable with 98SE.

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