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HTPC Should I (do I need to) upgrade my computer?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Bboy_Jon, 22 Jan 2009.

  1. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    Currently I am running

    Athlon 64 x2 am2 3800+
    Gigabyte ga-m57-sli s4
    4 gb (3.25) ddr2 800
    7600 Gt (pci express)

    My computer is hooked up to my 40" Samsung LCD. It WAS connected via vga, but I just got an hdmi/dvi adapter so now I have it connected through that. Ive been playing mostly 720p movies. 1080p movies worked...sometimes, if it was x264 I couldnt run it, but today I tweaked some settings and now it can play them fine. I dont think the videos are actually playing in 1080p (due to my cards limitations...correct me if I am wrong please!) but the resolution is set to 1080p.

    So yeah, Next week I plan on ordering a more htpc like case so if need be I might as well order some new parts...if I NEED to.

    So should I upgrade at all? Thanks!
     
  2. Infection

    Infection Gaming Fanatic

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    Video card could use some upgrading (We're in the 200 series now, which really is the 10 series), the processor could be upgraded to (As it's been discounted / deactivated on most sites), you have enough RAM (might think of a 64-bit operating system to use all 4gb though), and if you wanted upgrade the Motherboard to, your computer is fine but it's a tad dated, if your looking for some parts I'll recommend a setup below. (These will be in American Prices / Newegg).

    BBJ Build (Note: This is designed to be put into a HTCP)
    Motherboard: ASUS P5QL-CM
    Processor: Intel Pentium e5200 (Dual-Core, 65w, 45nm)
    Video Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4650
    Power Supply: Rosewill RG530-2 530W (80% Bronze Certified)
    Memory: Your old Memory will work fine

    Total Price (USD): $313.46 (Including Tax & Shipping)
    Estimated (GBP): £227.85


    By upgrading I imagine you'll experience better performance within certain applications, you may also start noticing richer colors and perhaps some better shadows, you by far do not have to upgrade your computer if you want. If it works then continue to use it but if you feel like you want to upgrade your computer go right ahead.

    Heck based on your motherboard you could probably upgrade to a Quad-Core Phenom, keep your current memory and power supply and just add a new video card to allow for higher resolutions and / or better colors and perhaps "more" features. The motherboard I selected is basically built to fit into HTPC cases, While I know some HTPC cases support ATX most use mATX so that is what I recommended for a motherboard choice.

    Basically you do not need to upgrade if you don't want to, the only issue may be if your HTPC supports ATX motherboards, if not you'll have to upgrade to the form factor it supports.
     
  3. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    hmmm Should I go phenom? :D

    The new case I have already selected is a silverstone lc13

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163117

    I plan on keeping everything BUT the video card and cpu but for htpc purposes (1080p playback) do I need to lean more towards a video card upgrade or cpu? I am more of an nvidia guy but, I really dont know what to get...8800gt or something. I used to be ati but yeah...I have no idea on cards nowadays...what other good cards are there?

    Also, what is the difference between AM2 and AM2+? and what is the difference between pci express x16 and pci express 2.0 x16. Can my mobo support AM2+ and 2.0 pci-x?
     
    Last edited: 22 Jan 2009
  4. klutch4891

    klutch4891 New Member

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    I think the main difference between PCI Express 1 and 2 is that 2.0 provides more power? It doesn't really matter though, a PCI 2.0 card will work in a 1.0 slot no problem.
     
  5. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    Grab an ATI 4550 as its got the UVD function.

    UVD is short for Universal Video Decoder. With proper 3rd party software like WinDVD or PowerDVD you can enable support for UVD (2) which provides hardware acceleration of H.264 and VC-1 high definition video formats used by Blu-ray and HD DVD. The video processor allows the GPU to apply hardware acceleration and video processing functions while keeping power consumption & CPU utilization low.


    Would save you a bucket of cash, as your current CPU wouldn't need upgrading nor anything else.
     
  6. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    I concur with Burnout21. Get a new graphics card and keep the rest (for now). As for the graphics card I'd suggest a HIS IceQ 4670. Cheap, silent and still able to play current games, albeit at lower settings. The price difference between a 4550 and a 4670 is exceedingly small, and the only passively cooled 4550 (which would be the one reason to get something below a 4670) comes from Gigabyte, at a price premium.

    I strongly advise against a Phenom because of the power draw. It's also been said that Cool'n'Quiet has some problems in K10/Phenom range.
     
  7. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    the low end cards that support acceleration in this way, means old hardware like P4's and 939 systems with PCI-E card now be put to use under tv's across the land! lol!

    And as soon as Intel give the Atom ITX a PCI-E slot, ITX HD players will sell like crazy!
     
  8. Montyburns

    Montyburns New Member

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    Hey,

    Just my 2cents, but my 3ghz single core P4 could/can handle 1080p video, running off an external USB2 bluray player, thanks to a fairly decent graphics card (AGP 3850) taking on most of the decoding work.

    So, i'd say the only thing you'll actually *need* to upgrade could be the graphics card, since i'm not sure if the 7 series can do HD video decoding.

    The rest of your system looks pretty decent to me. Not cutting edge or anything, but fast enough.

    Cheers
     
  9. voodoo2k4

    voodoo2k4 Ghetto Modder

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  10. Infection

    Infection Gaming Fanatic

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    Think about it, if it's "JUST" For a media center PC thats running movies should he not upgrade the CPU, the graphics card he has now is working and by upgrading his CPU now he will unsure that when he does (if he does) buy a video card he won't be bottlenecking it. But if he goes the Video Card route he could experience better resolutions, colors, shadows, could play some of the more recent games, etc.

    PCI-e 2 FAQ
    AM2+ Wikipedia Article

    Basicallly any PCI-e 2.0 card will work in any PCI-e 1.0 slot, using a PCI-e 2.0 graphics card in a PCI-e 2.0 slot will simply double the data transfer rate that PCI-e 1.0 had it also has a few more features but you can read about those on the Wikipedia article.

    That passive HD4650 looks good, I'd go with that for my HTPC (If I had one) as it would be completely silent (hopefully).
     
  11. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    If I got the HIS 4670, should I get the 1gb or the 512mb version?

    My computer is honestly not even a real htpc, Its just a regular (was gaming rig) plugged into my tv. Ever since I got my 360 I just stopped playing games (mainly because I bought bioshock for pc, because it looked fantastic on 360, and figured it would be even better on pc. The game ran like crap even on lowest settings, i think it needed a patch, but yeah after that incident I just stopped buying games for pc since it was guaranteed to look better on 360 for me atleast...)

    But I still want to have the option to play some games if I wanted to. I also do some occasional 3d modeling/rendering and mess around with photoshop and what not. Any cards that would be good for that as well as hd playback would be great. I am liking these prices though :D

    I think I will set the budget for the card at $100.
     
  12. Infection

    Infection Gaming Fanatic

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    Bioshock ran like crap because (Sorry to say it) your computer is crap, your not going to experience good gameplay on a PC for old newer games like Bioshock unless you have a decent system.

    The 4670 would be better in the 1GB version because it would take less of a hit when AA / AF is enabled. (if you enable it).
     
  13. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    Well the thing is, it ran crappy on high settings, which was understandable, but the fact that even on the lowest...and I mean lowest, looked like the first versions of half life/cs it still ran like ass.

    Actually, come to think of it now...I dont remember if I bought bioshock before I upgraded my pc or not. I think I was still running my athlon xp and 6600gt and it ran like crap even on lowest settings (which is what really got me mad) and then I ended up getting a whole new computer but never got around to installing/playing bioshock...

    But yeah :D its whatever.
     
  14. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    I'd say that you should go with the 1GB version if you either are running a 64 bit version of Windows or not using more than 2-3GB RAM. The reason is that 32 bits only cover a 4GB address space, so 32 bit Windows has to map the graphics card memory (as well as a lot of I/O registers etc.) into the upper part of the system memory. That usually means you'll only have about 3GB available for other purposes.

    If you plan on playing more games you might want to look at higher-specced graphics cards like the Radeon 48xx series. They'll cost you a bit more and you might possibly have to get a new PSU too, since they require quite a bit of power. They will most probably also be noisier.

    The good thing about the 46xx series (4650 and 4670 are identical except for clock speeds and type of RAM used) is that it requires very little power, will generally run very quiet (the HIS IceQ versions run at about 0.5 Sone which is practically inaudible; the passive version IS inaudible) and it'll be a vast improvement over your 7600GT. Oh, and it's cheap as well. :)
     
  15. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    I have a 500w xclio psu I think I would be fine on power, but yeah I am leaning towards the 4650/4670. Any other video cards I should check out?

    Edit: I was recommended a powercolor/sapphire 4830. It is only a couple dollars more than the 1gb 4670. Should I go for that?
     
    Last edited: 23 Jan 2009
  16. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    The 4830 is a castrated 4850/4870. Everything that applies to those cards applies to the 4830 too, but it won't be quite as fast. It's a good deal faster than a 46xx series card, though, and supposedly very overclockable.

    I'm not familiar with PSUs from XClio, but from their web site they seem to make products on the "flashy" side. I don't know which 500W model you have, but the "GreatPower" should be fine for both a 4850 and a 4870. I'm not sure I'd trust any of the other ones with anything higher than a 4850 (it's not in the wattage, it's in the amperes on the 12V rail(s)).

    IF you decide to get a 4830, make sure to get one with good and quiet cooling. Preferably the HIS IceQ 4830, although I can see that Newegg doesn't carry it. I'd say you're fine with Sapphire or PowerColor then. Personally I like the cooler on the ASUS the best, but apparently there are some (quality) issues. :)
     
  17. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    Yeah I have a greatpower. I got it based on other forum stickies so i hope its good enough :D

    I was recommended the 4830 mainly because it is cheaper and can oc past a stock 4850. Would ocing show any real improvements?
     
  18. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    As far as I can tell you can oc the holy c*** out of a 4830, so if you're into that kind of thing the 4830 seems to be the way to go for you. :)

    Be prepared for a certain noise level, though, unless you plan on getting a good aftermarket cooler in the foreseeable future. Something along the line of an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 rev. 2 or an Accelero Twin Turbo.
     
  19. Bboy_Jon

    Bboy_Jon New Member

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    exactly how much louder is it? Currently I have 3 80mm and a 120mm fan in my rig. I used to rock 5 80mm, 3 120mm deltas (loud as hell) and it sounded like a jet, but I was able to sleep through it lol

    Would ocing the 4830 (even to just 4850 speeds) make any noticeable difference?
     
  20. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    If you ask this way, I'd say probably not! :D
     

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