Advice on changing my spare PC into an HTPC (1 Viewer)



Hi everyone... it's my first post here and I'm looking forward to building my HTPC and using MP. I was really happy when I discovered MP was a .Net project as I'm a .Net developer myself so am hoping to get involved in the development in 2005 when I have the time (too many clients right now!).

Anyway, I have an older PC, a Dell 420 Workstation with dual 600Mhz P3's, 512MB of RDRAM and 3 18GB SCSI drives... in it's day (in '99 when I bought it) it was simply the fastest thing in a beige case but now, clearly, it's getting a bit long in the tooth - so I thought I'd convert it to an HTPC... but I have some questions I'd love to get some input on:

1. I live in Australia and am connected to pay-tv via satellite (DVB-s) so, given my PC is not the fastest thing around anymore, I am assuming I will need a DVB-S card with onboard MPEG2 encoding and decoding. I've been looking at the PVR350 and it looks excellent but also very expensive - can anyone recommend any other cards out there?

2. My graphics card is a pretty old 32MB Elsa Geforce 2 - will I need a new graphics card as well?

3. Ditto for the sound card - it's a Soundblaster and still does an adequate job but will I need a new one of those too?

(I'm not planning to use this PC to watch TV on a CRT/LCD - I want it to play back through my TV as you'd expect)

4. It's a pretty noisy machine (fans mostly) so can anyone recommend some good quiet fans... it's not an area I really know anything about.

5. I need a nice quiet drive - think I'll go for one of the Samsung's everyone's recommending.

Anything else I need to think about? If I put in a DVB-T card later on will that also work with MP?

Looking forward to some expert input!



Retired Team Member
  • Premium Supporter
  • September 28, 2004

    Welcome to MP forums.
    Under this link you will find the requirements of MP:

    A bit more on issue:

    I strongly suggest to update your hardware to at least minimum of thew requirements.

    Here is the link to wiki pages with tons of installation / configure tips:

    Support for DVB-x cards is under active development. Hopefully we get something to play with soon. I am waiting it too ;-)

    Hopefully you can find MP as good HTPC software as I have found.

    And once more welcome.



    Hi There,

    I think when you use the minimum hardware requirements, you can enjoy MP at most.
    But I have to say, I have an geForce2 Ti in my MP system, and it works perfect. Sure, when you use an DirectX 9 card thing will be better, but for me it is enough.
    You can also do as I did, just give it a try with your current hardware, and if you have the feeling MP can do better, then there is always time to upgrade.



    Thanks for the welcome - I had a look at the requirements links and I think the only thing I lack in my spare PC is the CPU power, but 1.2Mhz is not too far from 1.4Mhz so I may be OK with my two 600MHz P3's... it also has RD-RAM and SCSI drives so it actually is still pretty fast despite it's age. If it turns out not to be up to the task I'll hunt around and find a couple of 733's or 1Ghz chips if I can.

    Ignore what I said about DVB-S - I have since found out that a PVR-350 is all I need... I'll be encoding/decoding the anlogue signal coming out of my STB into the Hauppauge (ie: not a digital signal) so that should be OK.

    So I think I'm going to go ahead and buy the '350, install MP and all the other bits and peices and see how I go from there.

    Thanks again for the advice and the links - the documentation project looks like it will be invaluable.



    Portal Member
    January 21, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Well, I still haven't built my HTPC as I've been away for Xmas and am still really researching the whole thing. However, I'm still a little confused about what cards do what with MP - I know these are dumb, noobie Q's but it would be good if someone could fill me in on some really basic stuff!

    1. If I go for a PVR-350 I understand that it will record/playback in MPEG2 which is clearly fine for recording TV & watching it back... but for watching/listening to other types of media like AVI, MP3, JPG etc I take it it's your normal TV out graphics card that handles all that? So the PVR-350 literally only encodes and decodes analog TV streams right? If so, then how does the PVR-350 know to play the MPEG2 stream back - won't the normal graphics card try to do that as well/instead? I guess when you install the PVR-350 it will tell the system that *it* will handle all MPEG2 streams - am I correct in that?

    2. I could go a bit cheaper and get the new PVR-150 but it only has software decoding.... with the spec of my spare PC (listed above) will that cause me problems? The PVR-150 is half the price of the 350 so it would be great to save that money for a good remote, a wifi card and some quiet fans!

    3. What's a good budget TV-out DX9 graphics card that works well with MP and would work well with all non-MPEG2 streams? There's so much on the market it's hard to decide - any recommedations would give me a great place to start.

    TIA for any input or feedback,,


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