What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

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What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Marbles_00 on Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:30 pm

AAARRRRGHHH :!: :!:

I need help. I'm ready to blow my head off over what to do here. Most of my HTPC equipment has been decided on...though granted...I'm finding out some things just may not work...others I'm going to have to compromise, which doesn't really matter to me. The thing I'm getting frustrated with is WHAT VIDEO CARD SHOULD I GET???

I was going to go with a NVidia 7X series, but by the time I'd buy...something like an 8600 or 8800 would be in my price range. Then I've been reading the threads over at AVS and people are really loving the ATI HD3850. Should I save my pennies now and wait for that to come down in price, or see what NVidia rivals with (9x series). I've also started to look at the ATI HD2x series as well (cheap). Should note that my use is purely for HTPC (DVD watching, currently SD Sat etc.). I would like the card of choice to be able to handle HD content (both Blu-ray, ripped, and HD Sat) in the future. My RPTV states that it is HDCP compliant, so the video card should be as well. I already have an DVI/HDMI cable so my preference is a DVI card. Don't care about HD sound at this point...don't see/hear the benifits for the cost.

I've been ATI for so long, and since my MB is a NVidia chipset, I was going to go with NVidia...but I've also been reading about problems with their drivers...and how ATI is just the better card for HTPC use...I just don't know anymore (I could never stand the ATI drivers set personally).

I'm hoping that ye'good trusted Xlobby folk can help a poor soul out in determining what to get. Hopefully this doesn't feul an "Intel/AMD" type of flame war.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby defrag on Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:31 pm

I'm in the nvidia camp - not for any reason, but that's kinda the way it has been. I currently run a 8800GTS in the htpc that it inherited off my main pc (which has 2x8800GT in SLi). The only issue I have with it at the mo is custom resolutions in Vista. I had to drop down to XP in order to get it to run at 1360x768 on my tv. I have no gripes with ATI cards, just happy with what I've got.

Everything runs just fine, which is all you can ask really.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby jji666 on Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:53 pm

It's been 15 months since I faced that choice and I am sure things have evolved. However I started with an ATI 1600 and the drivers simply sucked. I switched to an Nvidia 8800 based card and have never looked back. HDCP implementation was much better, drivers more stable, PowerDVD could handle it, etc. I think the general perception is that Nvidia supports its products with driver updates better than ATI does.

I watch plenty of resource intensive H264 at 1080p and it works great.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby P3rv3rt B3ar on Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:17 pm

Well these are ofcourse all matter of opinions... IMHO ATI is crap. Its going to be only nvidia on bears computers now on.

If somebody remembers i switched to ATI after long peaceful time with nvidia while building my first attempt of xlobby htpc machine. First it looked great with its theater mode, until i found out that was resolution limited. no use. Then it went busted after less than half years use, fan broke. i had to start machine 3-4 times to get fan spinning normally... then i bought better nvidia card to accompany it... i was planning to use 4 screens with tandem dualheads. Surprisingly that piece of crap didnt work together nvidia card at all. If somebody can remember i really did try. As soon as i started run tandem nvidias no probs with display adapters.

No ATI for bear never ever. Again just my opinion and is not really based extensive experience... just for one disapointment really. However i really havent had such disappintment with nvidias.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Grooby on Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:50 pm

I believe latest ATI's offload all flavours of HD inc VC-1 (Blu-Ray) which Nvidia does not, to the card rather than relying on the cpu. ATI 2400pro/xt or 2600pro/xt should be fine allowing you to have a lower spec cpu.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Marbles_00 on Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:22 pm

I believe latest ATI's offload all flavours of HD inc VC-1 (Blu-Ray) which Nvidia does not

That's what I've heard also...anything to offload the CPU (no matter how powerful it is) is a good thing...so that's a huge plus for ATI. I've also heard that Nvidia's driver crush blacks...and I don't even want to get into the ATI Catlyst drivers. I'd use the Omega ones before loading that crap on another computer.

I was realy leaning toward NVidia, but with the problems indicated above...I'm not so sure now. If only that Asus 8600GT Silent with 512 RAM comes down a little in price...that board is really catching my attention.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby lpg on Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:06 pm

I just bought the 8800GT 512mb. I have been using NVIDIA for years without problems. The 8800GT uses the same processor as the GTS version at a much better price point. The HD formats do offload to the nvidia card. My CPU runs at about 30 to 40% during HD playback. I paid about $279 for mine but know they are now around $200US. There is alot of power in the card enough to handle the latest movies and games.

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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby S Pittaway on Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:31 pm

i have a core 2 duo at 2.66Ghz (it was reasonably priced), i have not had any problems playing back hd material in softare...

to me the main critera for a vid card was silence and when i did my shopping ati had the cheapest a hd 2400 pro??? at £25

it has played back everything i have asked it to do and the picture is nicer than my old nvida card.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Jay on Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:58 pm

I have the ATI Radeon 2400 series. Latest Catylist ver. Using component to HDMI adapter. Cheap. Works perfectly.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Marbles_00 on Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:45 pm

Thanks for all the replies so far.

It looks like, right now, I'm going to go with an Asus 8600GT with passive cooling. I was really looking at an ATI HD2600pro (or even the XT), mainly because of the price/performance ratio. Only thing, the major supplier of that type of board to my local computer stores in the area, is Sapphire, and all their boards appear to have a fan on them. Actually all the ATI products sold in my local computer stores have fans. I don't want to take the chance and then have to spend more to get a silent GPU cooler. I read that one can get a Gigabyte ATI card that has passive cooling, but I haven't seen any sold in my local stores. I haven't looked at any online stores yet, but after shipping costs (and possibly duty costs if bought outside of Canada), I may have been better to buy the 8600 from a local store. So that being the case, then I should have gone with the 8600 right from the start. What other manufacturers of the ATI HD2600 have a silent version?

I also looked seriously at the 8800 NVidia, but started to read more and more that it was a power hungry beast and at min. you should have a 500W supply. I could probably get by with my 480W Enermax, but I don't want to be powered strapped if adding future components.

So still, keep the info coming, its all helping as I started all over the board and with all your help, I've been able to narrow my decision down to two products...the HD2600 vs the 8600GT.
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    -OTA
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby S Pittaway on Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:00 pm

i am with jay, for £25 mines perfect.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Marbles_00 on Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:08 pm

Pittaway/Jay

Yeah, the 2400pro? Does it do onboard decoding like its big brother?

Which do you have, the 256M or 512Meg version...I guess for HTPC it doesn't really matter all that much. I see a local store does have an Asus 2400pro with 256Meg (800MHz bus speed) with a passive cooler for $53 cdn. Is this the one you have?

http://www.canadacomputers.com/index.ph ... 99.243.272
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    -HTPC
    -MediaPVR
    -UnRAID box
    -OTA
are all discussed.

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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Jay on Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:29 pm

Mine is from Diamond. ATI Radeon 2400 Pro, 256MB DDR2, core clock 525MHz, PCI Express X16.
It has a fan but I've never heard it.
Don't know about onboard decoding. I disabled hardware accelleration.
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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby Marbles_00 on Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:08 am

Jay, Pittaway,

I have a few more questions about the HD2400. Jay you mentioned your using a component to HDMI adapter...do you mean the ATI DVI-HDMI adapter or is this a third party box your connecting to?

Have you tried using the card with a simple DVI to HDMI cable? How's the quality?

Also wondering if your able to achieve 1080i with that type of connection. My RPTV is 1080i capable (actual resolution without overscan though is 1366x768), do..or have either of you tried those resolutions with that card using a DVI (vid card) to HDMI (TV) connection?

Been reading that huge...huge thread on the HD2XXXX cards over on the AVSForums...very informative with the registry tweaks, and links to reviews.
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where my:
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    -HTPC
    -MediaPVR
    -UnRAID box
    -OTA
are all discussed.

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Re: What Video Card Is Good for HTPC Uses???

Postby S Pittaway on Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:38 am

like jay, i do everything via software so hardware acel is disabled...

when i bought it i was under the impression it did acel most things tho?

Mines from saphire, 256 mg ram, no fan. it comes with a dvi to hdmi adapter and has a soundcard built in.

On your tv you are probably best using 1360x768 or 1368x768 both should let you go pixel pefect with a few stray pixels :)

Mine runs into a lcd tv (1366x768) via d-sub (the picture looks great, i think people get to worried about the connection) and a projector (1280x720) uisng hdmi (720p).
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