The Future of Media Portal and HD content

fallenturtle

Portal Member
August 9, 2005
32
0
Washington, DC Metro Area


I'm coming to realize that my HTPC system sucks. It needs more power when it comes to playing x.264 720p material.

My plan is to continue using this system using Media Portal as my front end. The future seems a little hazy to me regarding x.264 720p in the Windows universe, especially when it comes to future HDCP concerns and XP vs Vista (my understanding is that some graphics cards HD hardward decoding can't be fully utilized unless you're running Vista).

I am somewhat on a budget, so my feelings are I can either put more money into a graphics card or money into a CPU and more memory (all will have to be upgraded either way since I'm still using a AGP based system). My question is when trying to decide where to put my power emphasis, I want to try to ensure that I can continue using MP for all my content and that it won't become a performance handicap.

Do you think the future development of MP is going in a direction where I should be focusing more on software based decoding (better CPU/memory with either FFDshow or CoreAVC) or on GPU hardware based decoding (my concern relating to all this DRM issues and MP being open source.)

Or does it really not matter at all?
 

rtv

Retired Team Member
  • Premium Supporter
  • April 7, 2005
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    Osnabruck
    As MP only relies on the underlying codecs / filters it doesn't matter from the GUI's point of view.

    On a budget there's at least on cheap card that does full HD-acceleration:
    AMD's HD2900Pro - it's about 90 EUR here - maybe 110 bucks for you.
    If you can get a Nvidia 8600 GTS for cheap it would be an alternative.

    With either of these cards the cpu is almost only used for decoding the copy protection - therefore go for any recent dual core and you'll be happy with it (A AMD X2 will show about 30% cpu load when the graphics card does the h.264 decoding). Don't forget to add a license for Cyberlink's PowerDVD or get hardware where it's bundled with.
     

    ThaClown

    Moderator - Dutch Forums
    May 28, 2006
    808
    28
    Den Bosch
    Yes I can account for this, I have a AMD dualcore and a HD2400 Pro and it works great! For not alot of money I now play anything on my HTPC!

    So I would suggest a small dualcore and 1 gig memory and a HD2400 or HD2600 (edit: pnyberg yes you are right my bad) with PowerDVD. Works great!
     

    pnyberg

    Portal Pro
    August 21, 2006
    405
    18
    Stockholm
    Be aware that the HD2900 does not include the UVD engine - meaning it does not offload the CPU when decoding HD material. If you go for a HD2900 you will need a faster CPU. Both HD2400 and HD2600 has the UVD, and they are cheaper as well. So if you ask me I would go for a HD2600.

    Just my tw cents.
     

    fallenturtle

    Portal Member
    August 9, 2005
    32
    0
    Washington, DC Metro Area
    so let me make sure I've got this straight... with a HD2400 or HD2600 I can use Media Portal to watch x.264 encoded 720p via the PowerDVD codec and have it offload it to the GPU? Does the media matter? PowerDVD's website seems to be focused on HD-DVD and blu-ray but all my HD content is in .mkv containers.

    For video, do you think I would be better off with a HD2400 with more onboard memory (512) or an HD2600 with less (like 256)?
     

    Inker

    Retired Team Member
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  • December 6, 2004
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    so let me make sure I've got this straight... with a HD2400 or HD2600 I can use Media Portal to watch x.264 encoded 720p via the PowerDVD codec and have it offload it to the GPU? Does the media matter? PowerDVD's website seems to be focused on HD-DVD and blu-ray but all my HD content is in .mkv containers.

    For video, do you think I would be better off with a HD2400 with more onboard memory (512) or an HD2600 with less (like 256)?
    For using GPU acceleration for H264 in mkv read this thread. The driver situation/filters don't seem there yet, but I guess this will be solved over time.
     

    fallenturtle

    Portal Member
    August 9, 2005
    32
    0
    Washington, DC Metro Area
    so let me make sure I've got this straight... with a HD2400 or HD2600 I can use Media Portal to watch x.264 encoded 720p via the PowerDVD codec and have it offload it to the GPU? Does the media matter? PowerDVD's website seems to be focused on HD-DVD and blu-ray but all my HD content is in .mkv containers.

    For video, do you think I would be better off with a HD2400 with more onboard memory (512) or an HD2600 with less (like 256)?
    For using GPU acceleration for H264 in mkv read this thread. The driver situation/filters don't seem there yet, but I guess this will be solved over time.
    Ugh... now I'm more confused. That thread you posted focuses on Vista and EVR. Does this mean with XP and MediaPortal (which uses VMR9 and not EVR, right) I won't be able to use the HD2600 hardware acceleration for x.264 720p files?

    I don't see why ATI can't just put out a directx plugin that allows any DirectX compatible video player to use the onboard H.264 decoder.

    I really am no expert on H264 and codecs, but .MKV files work great on my setup (HD2400 and PowerDVD + AC3) so for me it is great now
    Through MediaPortal using the PowerDVD codec or through PowerDVD as the viewer itself? What is your CPU usage, if I may ask?

    Here's what I'm thinking:
    ASUS M2V Socket AM2 VIA K8T890 ATX AMD Motherboard
    GIGABYTE GV-RX26P512H Radeon HD 2600PRO 512MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+(65W) Windsor 2.0GHz Socket AM2
    2 gigs (on 2 chips) OCZ DDR800 memory

    Think that's too little power or too much power?
     

    ThaClown

    Moderator - Dutch Forums
    May 28, 2006
    808
    28
    Den Bosch
    Im vieuwing through MediaPortal (I made sure in codec sttings that PowerDVD is used when I play H264 or .MKV files)
    Have had no problems yet with 3 different movies (both HD DVD- and BlueRay rip) and 2 TV series in HD format (Planet earth and Band of Brothers)
    Max CPU is 28% for me during buisy sections of Planet Earth (normal load is about 19%) wich is very good in my opinion.

    Your setup looks very nice, 2 gig mem is a bit mitch imo but with the prices of memory now a very good option (it is a bit like my setup and I am very happy with it)
    Maybe you could look into digital TV in MP (maybe a FireDTV) I like it alot.

    And (just wondering) what case are you getting?
     

    fallenturtle

    Portal Member
    August 9, 2005
    32
    0
    Washington, DC Metro Area
    Im vieuwing through MediaPortal (I made sure in codec sttings that PowerDVD is used when I play H264 or .MKV files)
    Have had no problems yet with 3 different movies (both HD DVD- and BlueRay rip) and 2 TV series in HD format (Planet earth and Band of Brothers)
    Max CPU is 28% for me during buisy sections of Planet Earth (normal load is about 19%) wich is very good in my opinion.

    Your setup looks very nice, 2 gig mem is a bit mitch imo but with the prices of memory now a very good option (it is a bit like my setup and I am very happy with it)
    Maybe you could look into digital TV in MP (maybe a FireDTV) I like it alot.

    And (just wondering) what case are you getting?
    Well the order is placed, so here's keeping my fingers crossed. I guess now if I have issues, I'll know its in my settings somewhere. :)

    I'm pretty much avoiding TV as much as possible. I like certain shows and I find my ways to watch them, but for the most part I find television frustrating. Probably a good think I changed my major half way through college from television production to graphic design. :)

    Currently I have the home theater setup in the basement which, since its half finished, gives me the liberty to hide the PC in a closet (I use an RF remote). Because of this, I'm just using an old case. I'm moving across the country in two months and I believe that the new place won't have anywhere to hide the PC, so I'll have to rethink my case situation then since the current case would be terrible in the open (silly fan LEDs and stuff). I also have an HTPC case that on a HTPC in the bedroom that I barely use. It's a Silverstone SST-LC10S-M and while at the time, I thought it was awesome... after using it I realized it was a terrible HTPC case and I now regret the purchase. My biggest beef with the case is the fact that its cooled by two 60mm fans which was just a terrible design. I was too inexperienced when I got it to realize just how loud they were. And while the VFD and remote are nice, the VFD recently has started having some issues as well.
     
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