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Need help, questions about media center PC.

Old 12-03-05, 03:56 PM
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Need help, questions about building a media center PC.

Hey everyone. I've been reading threads on here and other forums regarding building a HTPC or Media Center PC. Here's what I want to do and my current setup. I just want a pc that I can connect to my TV and Receiver in my living room. I want to view the computer on my 47" Panny RPTV. All I want to do is go online, view pictures, video files, and play MP3s on my receiver. I have a server upstairs that has all my mp3s so I would just put a wireless card into the pc. I also have DirecTV but I don't think there is anyway to have that go through this pc to record programs. I currently have a DirectTivo unit.

I don't want to spend a lot of money and I already have a pc that I can use, so I guess I just need to know what I need video card wise to connect to my TV and audio card wise to connect to my receiver to listen to the mp3s. Thanks for any advice.

Last edited by danicus007; 12-03-05 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 12-04-05, 12:41 AM
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I have basically that setup but have a media center PC. You don't need it. I record most of the stuff for tv on my tivo, but have the option to do it through media center, but don't. So that probably isn't an advantage to you. It sounds like all you really want to do is use your tv as a screen, correct? If that is all you want, check and see if your computer has an s-video out because it might. If it doesn't, a pretty cheap video card with an s-video out is all you need.
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Old 12-04-05, 10:04 AM
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The S-Video connection would be good for viewing JPG's, but that's about it as S-video/composite can't really handle computer resolution. If your RPTV is an HDTV (not EDTV) you can use it pretty much as a full resolution widescreen computer monitor @ 1280x720 with some minor overscan. If it doesn't have a dedicated VGA input, you can get a video card with a component video out dongle to get the signal in that way (example for $55.)

As far as the audio goes, you can use the speaker/headphone out jack on your computer to connect to your receiver with an 1/8" plug to RCA stereo adapter from Radio Shack. If you want to go higher quality, you can get a sound card with digital out, which would be necesaary if you wanted to play movied with DD or DTS tracks through the receiver.
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Old 12-04-05, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by matome
The S-Video connection would be good for viewing JPG's, but that's about it as S-video/composite can't really handle computer resolution. If your RPTV is an HDTV (not EDTV) you can use it pretty much as a full resolution widescreen computer monitor @ 1280x720 with some minor overscan. If it doesn't have a dedicated VGA input, you can get a video card with a component video out dongle to get the signal in that way (example for $55.)

As far as the audio goes, you can use the speaker/headphone out jack on your computer to connect to your receiver with an 1/8" plug to RCA stereo adapter from Radio Shack. If you want to go higher quality, you can get a sound card with digital out, which would be necesaary if you wanted to play movied with DD or DTS tracks through the receiver.
What kvrdave said is pretty much right but I also want audio to go through my receiver to play mp3s off the server. I have a Panasonic PT-47X54 which is an HDTV, here's a link to the TV. That video card from Newegg has a component dongle so that should work well. Will this video card work on an older K7 Athlon machine? Or does it need like a 4X AGP slot or greater? As far as the audio you're basically saying to bring out the audio from the normal jack on my audio card and get an adapter to connect it to the RCA inputs on my receiver? I wasn't aware that anything like that was made. I'll search radioshack.com for it. Thanks for your advice.
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Old 12-04-05, 11:25 AM
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Looks like one of these is what I need for the audio to work:


http://www.audiogear.com/cgi-bin/sho...&preadd=action

or


http://www.audiogear.com/cgi-bin/sho...&preadd=action
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Old 12-04-05, 11:29 AM
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The normal soundcard will sound pretty crappy. It's worth it to spend around $100 and get a card with very good analog out or use a digital connection to the receiver. The digital card can be a cheap one since it's keeping the audio in digital form and the receiver is doing the critical work.
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Old 12-04-05, 11:30 AM
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I just realized that Video card is a PCI Express slot. I'm guessing only newer motherboards have this slot. Is this backwards compatable to work on an older PCI slot, or is the other way around where older PCI cards will work on PCI Express slots?
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Old 12-04-05, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by danicus007
I just realized that Video card is a PCI Express slot. I'm guessing only newer motherboards have this slot. Is this backwards compatable to work on an older PCI slot, or is the other way around where older PCI cards will work on PCI Express slots?
Never mind, just did a little research and found that the new PCI express slots are entirely different.

Any other Video cards that you guys can recommend. Also, based on X's comments above, what Sound card would be a good buy? Thanks for all the help.
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Old 12-04-05, 02:53 PM
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So is there any benefit to having the analog card if you're going to hook it up to a receiver anyway?
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Old 12-04-05, 04:22 PM
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A video card with DVI would be best, if you have a DVI/HMDI input on your Tv. You'll want to be VERY careful if it's a CRT set.
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Old 12-04-05, 04:35 PM
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What kind of cable do you use going to that one Digital Jack on the first sound card? I saw the digital cable used on the digital only cards but the back of my receiver doesn't have that type of jack on it. I only have RCA jacks on the back of my receiver.
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Old 12-04-05, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by gcbrowni
A video card with DVI would be best, if you have a DVI/HMDI input on your Tv. You'll want to be VERY careful if it's a CRT set.
I have a 47" Panny RPTV (HD) with HDMI connection. I'm assuming that means it's not a CRT. I thought CRT was just a regular old tube style TV? Why do you say to be VERY careful? Because the TV may not be able to handle the display settings like a normal computer monitor and it could cause damage?
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Old 12-04-05, 05:00 PM
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If you have the HDMI connection, definately get a card that will allow you to use it.

I have the Soundblaster Audigy and just have hooked up using adapters like the above. Works great.
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Old 12-04-05, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
If you have the HDMI connection, definately get a card that will allow you to use it.

I have the Soundblaster Audigy and just have hooked up using adapters like the above. Works great.
So you don't do any of the digital stuff with your sound card, you just use the adapter out of your audio out on your sound card to RCA into your Receiver?

I'm not looking for amazing sound or anything, so I think that should work for me too.
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Old 12-04-05, 06:51 PM
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I'm noticing the DVI to HDMI cables are pretty pricey. If I use S-Video, will this damage my television in any way? I don't plan on watching DVDs from the computer or anything, just viewing the internet and maybe watching clips of videos online, would S-video really be all that bad? I'm thinking I can get away a lot cheaper just going out by S-video and buying the radio shack adapter for audio from my sound card and not using digital.
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Old 12-04-05, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by danicus007
I'm noticing the DVI to HDMI cables are pretty pricey.
Not really.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/se...yword=hdmi+dvi

S-video quality sucks in the type of configuration you'll have. You wouldn't want to do any browsing with it.
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Old 12-04-05, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by danicus007
What kind of cable do you use going to that one Digital Jack on the first sound card? I saw the digital cable used on the digital only cards but the back of my receiver doesn't have that type of jack on it. I only have RCA jacks on the back of my receiver.
It's a standard RCA plug. A yellow composite video cable would work fine. But you'd need a coax digital input (RCA form factor) on your receiver.
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Old 12-04-05, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Not really.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/se...yword=hdmi+dvi

S-video quality sucks in the type of configuration you'll have. You wouldn't want to do any browsing with it.
Cool, thanks for the link. I found an HDMI cable for $35 and an AVI to HDMI adapter for $12. I've read it's better to buy the HDMI cable and adapter seperate instead of a DVI to HDMI cable because most newer DVD players in the future will be HDMI not DVI.

I found these here:
http://www.cablestogo.com/product.as...3307&sku=40316

So I guess I just need to buy the cables and an inexpensive video card that's either 2x AGP or PCI and has a DVI output. The reason I say 2x AGP or PCI is because I'm using an old K7 Athlon 800mhz pc for this project.
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Old 12-04-05, 08:38 PM
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Here's an AGP 2X/4X card with DVI for $27: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814153024

You surely won't be playing the latest games on it, but it should work for the basic stuff you want to do.
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Old 12-04-05, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by matome
Here's an AGP 2X/4X card with DVI for $27: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814153024

You surely won't be playing the latest games on it, but it should work for the basic stuff you want to do.
Awesome, thanks. Looks like that should work.
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Old 12-05-05, 03:41 PM
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Instead of going the DVI to HDMI route, would this work:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814999203

It goes from the DVI port on the video card and adapts to the component into the HDTV. Looks like a good option. Any suggestions?
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Old 12-05-05, 04:10 PM
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Maybe I wasn't clear in my earlier post...

Regarding the audio cards, is there any benefit to getting the one capable of analog output if the signal is going to be sent to a receiver anyway? Is that only a benefit when outputing directly to 5.1 PC speakers?
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Old 12-05-05, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by danicus007
Instead of going the DVI to HDMI route, would this work:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814999203

It goes from the DVI port on the video card and adapts to the component into the HDTV. Looks like a good option. Any suggestions?
If you're planning on saving the HDMI port for a DVD player, that should work fine.
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Old 12-05-05, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by matome
If you're planning on saving the HDMI port for a DVD player, that should work fine.
Thanks matome. That was one of the reasons I didn't want to use up my HDMI port on the TV. I think I'll go ahead and order this adapter with the 2x AGP video card mentioned above and see how that works out. Appreciate all the help.
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