Finding, questions, and recommendations from a newbie (1 Viewer)



Hi, after some readings I decided to post this message....I did not read all postings one by one but prepared myself as much as I could before posting any questions with obvious answers :lol: . (questions are in red)

GOAL: build my first HTPC with a best quality/price ratio. I only want to watch TV, record TV shows, burn DVD Video or DVD Data of recorded tv shows, watch DVDs, watch Divx (shared drive from other PC via wireless) and off-course, weather, news feeds. The quality of the picutre is the most important. I would like to fit everything in a small but cool enclosure. I imagine that a small enclosure means a smal mother board, which means a max of 2 or 3 PCI slots. So I am thinking about one slot for the Tuner card (w/ SVIDEO out support) and one slot for a Sound blaster card. I can always use the USB port for a wi-fi component.


- From what I understand, there seem to be 3 major type of Video/VGA configurations.
#1 - TUNER CARD with TV cable IN, SVIDEO out (optionally VGA out)
#2 - TUNER CARD with TV cable IN, SVIDEO out AND VGA out
#3 - TUNER CARD with TV cable IN + GRAPHIC CARD with SVIDEO OUT (and VGA, HDMI..higher grade graphic output)

Does #3 provide the best quality result in terms of watching TV, playing back DVDs and Divx ? Or the main advantage is to play video games with heavy graphics demand ? Of course if I go with the nvidia 6600GT, I'll get component output , but maybe to pricey for my final use...?

Do I need a graphic card to install my PC ? ... If I buy a Tuner/SVIDEO out card only (i.e. PVR 350), and install windows for the first time, I assume I will need a graphic card first ? Correct ? What if I don't have enough PCI slots ?

I realized that a lot of members sign with their HTPC config. So, I started looking for all members (including moderator) and search on their name and number of posts as to find their config and classify by their expertise. Bottom line, it would be nice if each members HTPC was listed in their profile. That doesn't mean that the one with the most post is the most knowledgeable...but it helps getting an average configuration from all forum members and find a pattern in choosing enclosures, RAM, software configs..etc. For example, the CPU USage vote result helps a lot for a newbie like me as well as anyone else.

Thanks all for any recommendations. :lol: [/list]


Retired Team Member
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  • December 7, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
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    Just answer briefly. 3 by far is the best choice. You can get component out on a 6200 agp/pci-e card which are pretty cheap cards. The PVR-350 specifically can only output video its decoding (tv stream) on its svideo out, can read more about it in these forums. Its not any good for use with MP. So your better off going with a 150 or 250 and saving money (idealy the 150/250 MCE cards have FM radio whereas the plain 150/250 cards dont).


    Portal Pro
    February 15, 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    Also, most mATX boards come with an AGP + 3 PCI (or PCIe + 3 PCI). So this is usually plenty, even for dual-tuner setup.

    If possible, look to get low-profile cards so that you can choose low-profile boxes.


    Retired Team Member
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  • April 23, 2004
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    Australia Australia
    i plan on getting a nVidia 6600GT as it has more hardware decoding than my current AGP card (see below)..also i want to play games has DVI, vga s-video....might need an adaptor for component...but its definitely the best choise of my opinion

    Also the MSI Mega systems are quite small and nice looking...although it only has 1 PCI card(and cant really be used when an AGP card is used due to space limitations inside


    Component Cards

    I was suprised to relaize that I cannot find any component cards !!!
    Now...this makes sense since DVI seems to have a greater future then component anaolg outputs...


    Retired Team Member
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  • September 15, 2004
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    Re: Component Cards

    zarmazievex said:
    I was suprised to relaize that I cannot find any component cards !!!
    Now...this makes sense since DVI seems to have a greater future then component anaolg outputs...

    As mentioned, some GeForce 6200 and 6600 cards come with a Component adaptor. HTPC News has a review on the 6600 Component Out here...


    Portal Member
    February 10, 2005
    There is a new aopen board with component out too, but it is 915g (intel integrated) graphics. And it needs a pentium m chip, which is costly, and doesn't do video stuff well, from what I read. It may show video well, but changing your mpeg2 to mpeg4 may be processor intensive. Apparently, the intel integrated chip doesn't have much power, graphically speaking.

    There is a volari card (v3xt? search the boards for volari, or look on that has a low profile component out. But then you need agp. Most modern boards have pci xpress rather than agp, so if you want a cool chip (like the venice or san diego, with 90mm cores and cooler runs) then you are out of luck, because they aren't on agp mobos.

    The x300 apparently has component out sometimes (like the card from club), and that is even pci express, but then again, if you get an xpress200 mobo, that has essentially the same chip, but with an integrated graphics chip for free, what is the gain? MSI has a pretty good m-atx board with that, from what I hear. But from the benchmarks I've seen, it get's only about 1/2 the performance of some other board with the dedicated (x300) board. 14 fps for doom 3 vs 30 fps for a discrete x300. But doom 3 is asking a lot from an integrated graphics processor. And for your htpc, you probably aren't looking for doom 3 performance.

    nvidia will release a board later this year with an integrated chip based on the 6200 that may have better integrated graphics performance, but you have to wait until q3 (hopefully). It *may* be about 150% to 200% the performance of the xpress 200, but without having a board to check, that is just speculation based on the boards out there.

    I want low power consumption, which the integrated chips have (IGP), but there's nothing out now that handles hi-def mpeg well (as far as I understand.) caveat : (The x300 does have dxva, but I see nothing about the xpress 200 that claims to have dvxa)

    That is my brain dump, and I hope it helps.



    Guys, thanks...this helps a lot demistify the video card. I went to Compusa/Good guys (video/computer reseller in the USA), and was suprise to find out that the majority of new consumer flat panels, Tvs only provie s-video and component analog output ! I thought we were in a digital world. INtersting how in some areas the market has picked with some really cool technologies, and some others are still behind...oh well that is another subject.

    Thank you all for your support.

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