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85 posts

Master Geek


# 21132 16-Apr-2008 18:13
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I want to upgrade my media PC to something that has hdmi ports natively and something that can decode freeview hd with ease. I'm looking at getting http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=2758 (found it in that other post and man that rocks). Now the most intensive thing that this pc will be doing is decoding hd freeview, so what cpu would you guys recommend that I get (keep in mind that the onboard gfx card on this board takes a bit of the load off the cpu). Currently I'm looking at a AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+, which is clocked at dual core 2.8GHz. I will be running 1 gig of ddr2 667 ram.

Firstly is this cpu fast enough/to fast for what I want to do?

Secondly Which is the favourity DVB-T card (bang for buck wise) that most people are using. I don't require a remote or anything as I already have a mce2005 remote kit.

Any help greatly appreciated :)

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62 posts

Master Geek


  # 124141 16-Apr-2008 18:43
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Hey

The CPU & memory will do their thing just fine, BUT (and it's a big one) you will still need a decent graphics card to do the hardware decoding of the DVB-T stream as it will pretty well max out most CPU's.

I bought an nVidia 8600GT based card for this and it runs just fine, but an 8500gt would also suffice.

On the DVB-T card front, I went for the Hauppage HVR-2200.  At about $150 it can handle 2 channels at the same time - and for that money it's a bargain.  It is not as flash for analog as say one of the PVR range from Hauppage (i think they put an MPEG decoder on the card) but hey you want it for Freeview.

Another consideration is to get at least 2 fast hard drives.  Firstly the HD stuff chews through space quickly (hence the speed) and with 2 drives you can comfortably partition things for speed.

Then the software.  Don't bother with Windows MCE (any flavour) as it won't handle DVB-T.  Then your choices are really DVBViewer (about 15 Euros and it works), GB-PVR (free and works well) or Media Portal (free and IMHO the most configurable). 

Finally you'll probably be thankful for splashing out another US$99 or so to get the Cyberlink codecs that will actually decode the h.264 streams used.  Have a look on this forum for links.  There are others that kinda do the job, but again IMHO these are the fastest and most reliable right now.

Enjoy, it's worth it once you get it all up and running.



85 posts

Master Geek


  # 124167 16-Apr-2008 20:24
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Ah I see, thanks for that info I thought the onboard would be powerful enough. Now I have kind of changed my mind. My old htpc is a 1.86ghz intel core2 duo with a ati x600 card in it. If i upgraded the card to an 8400gs and bought a dvb-t card would I be able to play hd freeview at full framerate or is the cpu to slow?

Secondly is it ok quality wise to convert from DVI to HDMI or is it better to buy a card that has HDMI outs already on it?

 
 
 
 


1846 posts

Uber Geek


  # 124269 17-Apr-2008 08:40
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First up, your cpu should be plenty to deal with the DVB-T assuming you plan on upgrading your graphics card to one which supports onboard decoding. This will help immensly.

Secondly, HDMI = DVI - Audio signal

So in effect DVI=HDMI if you don't plan on using its audio stream. I don't know many people who do use the audio stream on their HDMI connections and it has no ill effects.

I'm just waiting on some new RAM to get my GA-MA78GM up and running properly but it's definitely a very nice board.

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  # 124282 17-Apr-2008 09:16
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You also need to be aware of the fact that HDMI isn't necessarily the best way of connecting a PC to your TV.

Depending on the TV model using a VGA input may infact deliver the best picture. Many TV's are incapable if delivering 1:1 pixel mapping via HDMI which means that text and pictures will be slightly blurred as each pixel that the video card outputs isn't mapped directly to each pixel on the panel.

Because TV formats are also overscanned you will more than likely also need to run a program such as PowerStrip to create a custom resolution to ensure your Windows desktop doesn't extend beyond the visible screen area.

1 post

Wannabe Geek


  # 124283 17-Apr-2008 09:17
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The motherboard linked to in the original post does include HD video decoding support, so a separate gfx card should not be necessary. See this link for more information: 


It is said that it supports playback of H.264 video at 1080, even with a reasonably lowly Sempron processor.



62 posts

Master Geek


  # 124306 17-Apr-2008 10:13
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@sbiddle - didn't know that about HDMI.  I've been running DVI-HDMI for a year or two now, even though I had the option of s-video or VGA.  maybe I should try the VGA input.

That motherboard sounds pretty sweet mind.  Onboard GPU capable of churning h.264.  Hopefully it has decent cooling, but if it works that sounds like a great way to go.  The only thing I've heard is that the ATI GPU chipsets just aren't as good as teh nVidia ones when it comes to NZ DVB-T.

348 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 124333 17-Apr-2008 11:09
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Using an 8600GT and the latest nvidia drivers and a 40" Sony Bravia V series LCD i have no problems whatsoever using a dvi-hdmi cable the picture is stunning on HD test loop. The latest drivers have a few tabs for tv connectivity on the nvidia control panel, one will resize your desktop to counteract the overscan, another will set output to 720p or 1080i your choice. Also when i connect back to my 22" Monitor the resolution automatically changed back to 1680x1050 and the icons went back to where they were supposed to be ( I was very impressed with this) perhaps it is a Vista SP1 improvement or just the new graphics drivers.

 
 
 
 


722 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 124520 17-Apr-2008 20:36
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jamesla: I want to upgrade my media PC to something that has hdmi ports natively and something that can decode freeview hd with ease. I'm looking at getting http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=2758


The only issue I have with this board & others like it are the limitations with minimal PCI-E x1 slots. If you go with the HVR-2200 & down the track you want to add another, you will need a mobo upgrade. Or to fit a PCI DVB-T card.

As Pink Floyd once said, "thirteen channels of sh*t on the wall." But some people like sh*t. & in you're case; it would be, 'two channels only on record.'




Silverstone LC14 HTPC Case/Intel E4600 CPU/GA-EP35-DS3 MOBO/Asus EN9500GT graphics/2GB RAM/total 2TB HDD space/HVR-2200 & 2X 150MCE tuner cards/LG GGC-H20L BD Drive/MCE2005/Mediaportal/TVServer 1.1.0Final/LG 55"3D LED-TV/Denon AVR-1803 receiver/X1 projector

170 posts

Master Geek


  # 124801 18-Apr-2008 16:34
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sbiddle: You also need to be aware of the fact that HDMI isn't necessarily the best way of connecting a PC to your TV.

Depending on the TV model using a VGA input may infact deliver the best picture. Many TV's are incapable if delivering 1:1 pixel mapping via HDMI which means that text and pictures will be slightly blurred as each pixel that the video card outputs isn't mapped directly to each pixel on the panel.

Because TV formats are also overscanned you will more than likely also need to run a program such as PowerStrip to create a custom resolution to ensure your Windows desktop doesn't extend beyond the visible screen area.


Something to think about with this comment is that while text looks crap without direct pixel mapping, video is fine, and if you plan on adding a blu-ray player or to play protected content, I don't think a vga connection would be compliant. Someone else mentioned problems with ATI cards, I can tell you from direct experience that my ATI HD3870XT card will crash often when playing HDTV, not yet sure whether its having problems with a non-stable signal (planning on spending time on my aerial this weekend), monogram aac decoder, or just dodgy catalyst drivers. All else looks really sharp, ie; blu-ray & recorded HDTV.

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