View Full Version : Buying new advice

30-03-2007, 11:40 AM
Hi All. I'm sure you get a bit sick of these questions but here goes anyway.

I want to buy a new computer, primarily for multimedia (ie editing home movies and photos etc) and to use to record TV.

1st question. What type of CPU would you recommend and why. My current CPU is a P4 2.53 and since the advent of core duo's, 64bit etc it has all gotten a bit beyond me! :confused:

2nd question. What sort of TV tuner would people recommend at the moment? Is there any big advantage of external over internal? And with the upcoming release of digital TV is it worth perhaps putting off this purchase until standards have become a bit clearer? Any body know much about Sky's proposed My Sky 2?

3rd question. What type of graphics card will I need. I'm not a big gamer (and mainly game on an XBOX 360) although I do have a slight desire to get the latest Flight Sim although I know that does need a serious video card!

I'll be installing Vista Ultimate (courtesy of PC World - thanks very much :thumbs: ) and probably go for 1 Gig Ram an a couple of 320ish HDD's

Hopefully you can help without getting the sales pitchs I know I'd get instore :rolleyes:

30-03-2007, 11:53 AM
If you are going to be installing vista, I'd strongly recommend that you get at least 2 Gigs of RAM.
As to the rest, I'll let the other folks here give you some guidelines as they probably know more about what's available than I do...
For more info on what people are recommending at the moment, you might like to have a look at the following thread

30-03-2007, 12:36 PM
1st question. What type of CPU would you recommend and why.

2nd question. What sort of TV tuner would people recommend at the moment?

3rd question. What type of graphics card will I need. I'm not a big gamer (and mainly game on an XBOX 360) although I do have a slight desire to get the latest Flight Sim although I know that does need a serious video card!

Core 2 Duo. Because its the current king.

Hauppage. Take your pick which model but preferably with a hardware decoder too, if nor get a separate hardware decoder. According to my friend the fanatic, it makes a HUGE difference.

Wouldn't matter if not for the gaming. Because of the gaming the best card you can afford. No point in being specific without knowing your budget.

And with Vista, get 2Gb, 1Gb won't do it.

Actually, a thought, you want to record TV? Then forget Vista and go with XP, I bet there's all sorts of DRM hassles with Vista.

30-03-2007, 01:23 PM
The advantage of a hardware encoder is it doesn't cripple your PC and it garentees the audio and video are in sync, On the downside on-the-fly compression is not as good as a multi-pass software encoder (depending on the encoder and 20 trillion varibles) and they are generally (maybe always?) restricted to a single format, So the encoder is strickly a mpeg encoder.

If your goal is simply to record and playback TV then the onboard hardware encoder is the way to go, If on the other hand you want to delve into all the intricies of codecs, formats and compression then the TV cards that pass the hardwork over to the CPU as can be manipulated by software may be more fun (read:Drama) in the long run.

30-03-2007, 01:25 PM
and go read the "Lets build a PC" thread in teh chat section, Plenty of info.

30-03-2007, 02:12 PM
My friend does both - decodes and encodes. He says software solutions suck.

30-03-2007, 06:09 PM
right, Anyone who watches an avi file is decoding, Codec=compressor/decompresser.

When you encode you are compressing, when you are watching the file its decompressing during play back, hence the need for the required codecs to be present on the machine which is to be used for viewing.

This is also why many commercial codecs have a free version which only allows decompression (playback of file)

And, Your friends wrong, Your letting their opinion over rule your logic, Multi-pass variable bitrate encoding is by design capable of better results then on the fly hardware encoding, I would say your friend just done a poor job of it and the simple solution gave them better results.

30-03-2007, 06:12 PM
Do I need to explain varible bitrate multi-pass encoding and why it can produce better results then hardware encoding?

30-03-2007, 06:26 PM
I agree with Metla. :eek:

A hardware encoder usually will only do one type of video format - MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4 etc.
While it is nice to have a hardware encoder because it takes the load off the CPU, you are stuck with whatever format it can handle.

With a software encoder you can choose whatever codec you want as long as you have it installed. But it will put load on your CPU.

For a TV card I recommend the Hauppauge PVR150MCE or 500MCE.
Good cards and have MPEG2 encoder onboard which is great for recording TV.
I have the 500MCE which is basically 2 150MCEs stuck on one card and it allows you to record 2 channels at the same time or watch one while recording another.
Also recommend Vista Home Premium over XP MCE as the media center is better from what I have read.

31-03-2007, 02:11 PM
1GB of RAM running Flight Simulator X? Are you crazy? Vista is already taken a lot of RAM so 2GB is the recommendation not 1GB.
The best video card on the deal is the 8800 series, check them out, there's the expensive one and the cheap one but the difference is the price you pay for it but it is worth it when you bought Nvida. Because those cards supports next generation of gaming and it is arriving very soon.

31-03-2007, 07:45 PM
He said:

That's correct. A software compressor that encodes raw video will give best compression and quality. The downside to this is it's not very practical. It means recording Gigabytes of raw data, a very fast PC, quality capture card, fast I/O bus, then an overnight process of encoding (and if it's bad, another night). Although, I believe the studios use professional hardware encoders to do this job, and in this regard may be still better than software.

For the user, the most practical way of recording video data, either on a PC or a HD recorder box is using 'on the fly' compressed video (MPEG) methods, and I believe a hardware encoder is still better for this than software.

But I have no opinion personally as I don't do either.

31-03-2007, 08:51 PM
Hes not wrong from his viewpoint...if that makes any sense.

But no one messes with RAW footage, You use the huffy codec for capture, Files are about 6 GB per hour, You then edit and encode into your desired format, Like straight into DIVX,or author to DVD. Quality all the way

No need to capture to MPEG unless its to be watched and deleted. But even then there are better codecs.

The other downside is that Mpeg is a pain in the Arse to edit, Most apps can't do anything with it, and the ones that do re-encode it and ruin the quality, Bad luck if all you want to do is cut out the adds after the recording is done.

And as far as I know the studios use Linux clusters running custom built apps.

His second paragraph is right on the money, and pretty much what I said earlier, If its a media box then a hardware encoder is the most simple method.

I personly never record TV on mine, But rather used it for its capturing abilities, VHS, old camcorder, output from second PC, In this regard the hardware encoder and its lack of abilities would have been useless. Qiuality would have suffered drasticly.

01-04-2007, 04:01 PM
Thanks for all your advice. I have read the other threads too and it does seem the Core 2 Duo is the way to go but am still a little unclear as to why perhaps.

By the sounds of it a MPEG2 hardware encoder will do the job for me, I do have a little experience editing MPEG2 already as I have a DVD camcorder. As long as you edit with software that doesn't recode everything (ie only recodes the "edits") the results are fine. Does anyone know much about the move to digital tv tho? Is the Hauppauge WinTV HVR1300 card likely to work with terrestrial DTV when it arrives. Am I better to leave that part for a wee while and see what happens?