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View Full Version : How Much would a graphics card upgrade affect a Media Centre PC



noone
26-09-2005, 11:24 AM
Hi all

Currently in our media centre Pc we have a Radeon 9200 SE ( 128 meg ) with it outputting ( via composite not S video ) to a 21 inch tv ( quality is good ) , i was wondering whether upgrading the Graphics card to a 6600GT or a 9600XT would make a noticable difference. Also is S Video any better quality then a regular composite cable - the new graphics card will have s video , currently we only have composite
Stats
AMD XP 2800
1 Gig Ram
9200Se

Thanks

tweak'e
26-09-2005, 11:34 AM
difference between svideo and composite.......on a 21" tv your not going to notice any difference. you really need a high end and large tv to really notive the difference.

Battleneter
26-09-2005, 11:43 AM
I have seen TV out running on all of those cards , no you will notice no real difference, ATI TV out does look a little bit crisper IMO but barely worth mentioning.

Your gaming performance would of course imporve heaps on like a 6600GT :)

chiefnz
26-09-2005, 11:51 AM
The only place you'll see a difference is if you're using a High Definition TV (HDTV) capable graphics card. You will require a TV that supports HDTV though as well. A graphics board capable of this will set you back a bit $$$-wise but if you're a stickler for quality etc then it's well worth it.

cheers

chiefnz

noone
26-09-2005, 08:48 PM
how about upgrading a IDE 133 HDD with a 2 meg buffer to a sata I drive with an 8 meg buffer

Speedy Gonzales
26-09-2005, 08:52 PM
And I take it, u have onboard SATA?

Depends what u want to do with the SATA.

It might load Windows, a bit faster, thats about it.

noone
27-09-2005, 11:44 AM
yes onboard sata
I will use the new drive to record on to and use features like time shifting with

BIFF
27-09-2005, 12:09 PM
Depends what mpeg2 decoder you are using. If you get a 95xx or higher ati card you can get dxva and vmr9 hardware accelleration from the graphics adaptor. If you are using the nvidia mpeg2 decoder a nvidia 6200 card would allow you to use the nvidia pureview features in addition to vmr9 and dxva support. I have had trouble with suspending and resuming with nvidia cards though.

noone
27-09-2005, 04:23 PM
we have a leaktek Winfast DV 2000 Tv capture card

noone
27-09-2005, 04:33 PM
In your guys opinion for the max of $250 what do you think will be the best upgrade possible for the PC - considering it is now a media centre pc and never used to be

Stats

Amd XP 2800 +
1 gig ram
80 Gig 2meg buffer IDE HDD
DL , DVD RW
Leadtek DV 2000 TV Card
Ati Radeon 9200 SE


Thanks

Metla
27-09-2005, 04:44 PM
1.A plasma or LCD TV
2.A couple of big fast harddrives
3.DVD Writer

noone
27-09-2005, 06:26 PM
1.A plasma or LCD TV

Yeah right


2.A couple of big fast harddrives

In consideration


3.DVD Writer

Note: DL DVD RW Lg 4167 BW - dvd superdrive - dvdram/r/rw/dl/cdrw etc

After now using the unit for a week there is one thing that i can see that needs to be changed , when recording or timeshifting there is a definate lag in the video ( as it is recording and playing back at the same time ) , What would fix this problem , i am thinking a faster HDD , or a faster CPU

noone
27-09-2005, 06:28 PM
how bout this

$100 - upgrade cooling so i can overclock CPU - XP's are hard 2 come by these days
and
Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000rpm SATA

Metla
27-09-2005, 09:09 PM
What will overclocking achieve?If you look at the cpu usage during capture its probally sitting on 40%

Anyhow, A couple sata drives..........raided.


Job done.

noone
28-09-2005, 10:47 AM
but during recording it goes right up ( anything from 70%)

Metla
28-09-2005, 11:18 AM
Capture/recording, its the same process.

Nothing wrong with 70% or more, Anyhow, try lowering your encoding levels, pick a codec and settings that don't hit the system too hard. Only experimenting will find the sweet spot for your system.

You may want to invest in a sound card if your using onboard audio.

BIFF
28-09-2005, 12:50 PM
As the DV 2000 is Windows Media Center compatible I'll assume you are running Microsoft Windows Media Center. Are you running 2002, 2004, or 2005? If you are running 2002 applying SP2 will get you a free upgrade to 2004.

You will find that the DV 2000 is the mpeg2 ENCODER, you will also have some sort of software mpeg2 DECODER. This may be in the form of DVD playback software. Media Center hooks into the codec provided by that software.

Fire up the DVD player software and look for an option to use DXVA or VMR9 accelleration. To use DXVA you need to apply 2 microsoft patches, one a DRM package, and the other a hotfix for Media Player 10.

Assuming that the DV2000 works as per microsoft's recommendation it should be encoding the signal in mpeg2 format in hardware (the only software encoding capture card for WMC I'm aware of is the dodgy ATI all-in-wonder). Therefore if you are recording but not watching telly, the CPU should only be at about 20%, most of the grunt should be going into the playback part of the process.

A new graphics card will take up some of the load of decoding this mpeg2 video in hardware if it supports DXVA and VMR9.

If you are using media center you don't have a choice of what codec to use for encoding, this is a good thing...

Battleneter
28-09-2005, 02:29 PM
In your guys opinion for the max of $250 what do you think will be the best upgrade possible for the PC - considering it is now a media centre pc and never used to be

Stats

Amd XP 2800 +
1 gig ram
80 Gig 2meg buffer IDE HDD
DL , DVD RW
Leadtek DV 2000 TV Card
Ati Radeon 9200 SE


Thanks



The thing is, as a Media Center it is already above specs, So 4 gig of ram A 7800Gt video card and a AMD dual core CPU isn't going to improve your picture much if at ALL! only HDTV wich has been mentioned or more HDD to hold more movies will help.

Example,
My Xbox is modded into a media center and is only (off the top of my head) a Celeron 733, 256MB ram and 120 gig HDD gefore2 class ish,....... and it plays moveis as GOODl as my AMD 64 overclocked to 4000+ rating with 2 gig ram, 256MB Radeon 9800Xt.

Only difference is, if you are ripping movies from DVD, a very fast processor will help a lot in the time it takes, not the end quaility.

Battleneter
28-09-2005, 02:31 PM
Ok I guess the question (after thinking about it) is why do you think it needs an upgrade?

And what sort of movies do you mainly play, DVD or ripped DVD etc?

noone
28-09-2005, 04:32 PM
why i think i need a upgrade - When i am recording and watching it lags

Battleneter
28-09-2005, 07:43 PM
Ok, then a faster processor is where you will get most of the benefit. Ripping is extremly CPU intensive, extra ram or HDD won't improve things much with those specs you already have.

If you can spring for it go for a new MB and low end AMD64 than you can hell overclock, but this will cost you $350.

noone
28-09-2005, 07:51 PM
If i dont buy the new CPU , how much with extremly good cooling could i overclock an AMD XP to

Battleneter
28-09-2005, 08:24 PM
The XP2800 won't overclock a lot further on Air. You would probably get a few hundred more megahertz depending on the core with something like a Thermaltake 12 or a Zalaman7000 both $60 ish. Just not sure its worth the time doing.

To possibly get a good overclock you would need water cooling which is not cost effective (may as well buy an AMD 64).

noone
28-09-2005, 08:37 PM
i am considering water cooling ( there is a thread floating around ) , this is becuase of the Overclock thing and the noise of the computer - this will not be solved with a 64

Battleneter
28-09-2005, 08:48 PM
But its not worth the cost to do a Athlon XP. Some of the nastiest water cooling kits are around $200, for $350 you can get a AMD 64 that will kick its ass all over the place, see my point?

noone
28-09-2005, 08:57 PM
yea , the kit is was plannig on getting is $200 , i will start to look at the 64 but becuase of the high price i am going to keep a open mind bout overclocking

BIFF
28-09-2005, 09:05 PM
why i think i need a upgrade - When i am recording and watching it lags

You haven't answered the question about using Windows Media Centre, after a bit more digging I don't think that card is supported in WMC? So are you using the software that came with the card? I don't think it has a hardware mepg2 encoder in which case it will be hammering your CPU.

If you want a good solution I would suggest coughing up $190 for a Hauppauge PVR-150 and you shouldn't have any problems with time shifting live TV.

Try Computer Lounge at www.computerlounge.co.nz

noone
28-09-2005, 09:55 PM
oh sorry , i checked the microsoft website and it didnt seem that this card supported WMC so we are using windows XP Pro , with the supplied software ( Winfast PVC )
does the Hauppauge PVR-150 have a hardware encoder , if it does then i will not need to upgrade to a Amd 64 , will I ?

Also could i use the old tv turner and then beable to record two things at the same time etc

BIFF
28-09-2005, 10:23 PM
oh sorry , i checked the microsoft website and it didnt seem that this card supported WMC so we are using windows XP Pro , with the supplied software ( Winfast PVC )
does the Hauppauge PVR-150 have a hardware encoder , if it does then i will not need to upgrade to a Amd 64 , will I ?

Also could i use the old tv turner and then beable to record two things at the same time etc

Yep, due to the encoding being done in hardware it'll use all of about 15% CPU to encode. My first media center was a 1GHz Pentium 3 and was fine, so an XP2800 will chew through the task. You should be able to use both cards at once, however you should be careful about tuning the codec used by the DV2000 as Metla has suggested, as picking a very high compression rate will load up the CPU big time. Personally after making the shift to my hauppague card I am now using my other 2 software capture cards as paperweights as they were just such fussy things that I wouldn't dare fart near them if I was recording something precious due to dropped frames and audio sync problems.

As I slapped my PVR-150 straight into my Microsoft Media Centre I didn't even look at the software that came with it, so I'm not sure if it comes with a MPEG2 decoder (aka DVD software). I would choose carefully the DVD software that you use, as time shifting will bring out any problems in the decoder (ie jumping back 8 seconds 3 times, forward 8 times to avoid ad breaks etc).
I would personally recommend the Nvidia DVD decoder, but it's not free (very few mpeg2 codecs are due to it being licenced)
ffdshow is an open source one, but it's CPU heavy, might work out ok though -you can certainly try it.

If you want to see which mpeg2 codec(s) you have installed you can use a free tool from microsoft called deccheck.exe a google will turn it up :)

noone
29-09-2005, 11:16 AM
Should i get the 150 or the 150MCE ?

Metla
29-09-2005, 11:41 AM
however you should be careful about tuning the codec used by the DV2000 as Metla has suggested, as picking a very high compression rate will load up the CPU big time.


Wrong end of the stick,What I was suggesting is that he lower the compression, which would take a load off the cpu and the bandwidth being fed to the HD.

Personally I wouldn't ever encode into mpeg on the fly, Rather using Huffy and then encoding down at a later date.

Though I detest TV so cant imagine ever recording the drivel.....

BIFF
29-09-2005, 07:17 PM
Wrong end of the stick,What I was suggesting is that he lower the compression, which would take a load off the cpu and the bandwidth being fed to the HD.

Personally I wouldn't ever encode into mpeg on the fly, Rather using Huffy and then encoding down at a later date.

Though I detest TV so cant imagine ever recording the drivel.....


No no, got right end of the stick, just can be read in two ways.. :)

BIFF
29-09-2005, 07:22 PM
Should i get the 150 or the 150MCE ?

I believe it's basically the same card, one might have an FM tuner on it or somthing for the radio.... I would suggest the Wintv-pvr150 retail (has no FM radio tuner however) as it comes with a remote and IR blaster (the IR blaster is cool, it sticks on in front of the IR receiver on your cable or sky box, that way the computer can flash out the codes to change the channel for you if you are using s-video or composite as the input rather than using the RF receiver and aerial...)

noone
30-09-2005, 03:44 PM
the 150 has a very few amount of connectors , is it possible to have sound and video ( via composite ) to the Tv as well as sound and video in ( via composite ) from say a Camcorder

Amit

BIFF
01-10-2005, 08:54 PM
the 150 has a very few amount of connectors , is it possible to have sound and video ( via composite ) to the Tv as well as sound and video in ( via composite ) from say a Camcorder

Amit

The PVR-150 has svideo, composite, and RF inputs, though only one can be used at a time. If you just want to plug a lot of things in I believe Dick Smith have a RCA multibox thing with a remote so you can switch between multiple video/audio sources. If you want to record two things at once I would recommend the PVR-500 as it's a dual tuner system, though the price goes up a lot for that card....

noone
01-10-2005, 09:06 PM
not much price increase actually , yet there only seems to be a MCE edition , is this the same as the 150 where the MCE edition is OEM ? and not as good

noone
01-10-2005, 10:09 PM
what i dont get about these better cards is there lack of Video/Audio in ( not out )connectors , am i being dumb or do they really not have them

BIFF
02-10-2005, 03:28 PM
what i dont get about these better cards is there lack of Video/Audio in ( not out )connectors , am i being dumb or do they really not have them

They have both audio and video in (in various forms, eg svideo composite, RF etc). They don't have any outputs, your graphics card output and soundcard output are what you plug into your television...