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  1. Member
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    Hi All.

    I need to select components for my pc based on the monitor which is going to be used. It has a native resolution of 1920 x 1200 and has 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI-D and 1 x HDMI ports. I will running two of these monitors in a dual monitor setup. I would like video playback to be the best quality possible. Most video will be downloaded from the Internet or streamed. I would like the pc to be able to handle the occasional game, but this is not as important as the video. I also would like it to be as future proof as possible, so I don't mind buying components which may seem to be overkill for my needs now, but may come in handy later on, as I do not upgrade too often.

    I have taken a look at the HTPC boards here and elsewhere and am not sure if they apply to me as it's not really going to be a 'Home Theatre' pc. I just want good quality video playback.

    The OS will be Linux (probably Ubuntu) and the processor will be AMD.

    Is there anything in particular which I need to look out for in a motherboard?

    Most importantly, any suggestions for a graphics card to suit my needs would be greatly appreciated. I am not sure if it's true or not, but I get the impression from browsing various forums that ATI graphics cards tend to be problematic with Linux.

    Thanks for any help or advice!
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  2. A US$500 card won't get you any better video quality than a US$100 card. A Nvidia GTX 260 based card with dual DVI output will run you around US$200. That will be sufficient for gaming.
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    Thanks jagabo.

    So can HD be viewed with any graphics card? It doesn't need to have any features about HD?

    Just for information, if gaming wasn't an issue, what would you have recommended then?

    Thanks.
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  4. Get Slack disturbed1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by A Traveller
    Thanks jagabo.

    So can HD be viewed with any graphics card? It doesn't need to have any features about HD?

    Just for information, if gaming wasn't an issue, what would you have recommended then?

    Thanks.
    Get a card with VDPAU capabilities. The GTX 260 jagabo recommended is great for gaming, supports VDPAU, and has excellent Linux support directly from nVidia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDPAU

    Any modern GPU will display Movies with great quality. The limiting factor for quality movie playback comes down to the quality of the display device (Your Monitor), and the playback application. I have a lowly nVidia 9400, supports VDPAU, which displays 1920x1080 H.264 high def material while using ~10% CPU power. It doesn't game for crap though

    With the GTX 260, you'll get the best of both worlds. Hardware acceleration for video decoding, and one hell of a powerful gaming GPU.
    Linux _is_ user-friendly. It is not ignorant-friendly and idiot-friendly.
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    Thanks for that extremely helpful post.

    I've taken a look at the 260 card and noticed that some cards were called 'GTX 260-2' and some were just 'GTX 260'. What is the difference between the two?

    There are also many brands available - Zotac, BFG, XFX, Sparkle, Palit, MSI, Sapphire. Is there any particular one that I should consider (or avoid)? Looks like the MSI one is a bit too expensive.

    I've also come across another card called the GeForce 8800 GT, which seem to have gotten good reviews. Does the 8800 GT also have everything that you have suggested? I can't seem to tell because both cards have better specifications in different areas. Which one would be best for my needs, considering what you suggested, such as Linux support, VDPAU, etc? I think they're both going to cost the same amount anyway.

    (CLICK THE SPECIFICATION TAB)

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_gtx_260_us.html
    http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_geforce_8800_gt_us.html

    Thanks again!
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    Not all 8800's support VDPAU. A 9800 or the GTX 260 series would be your best bet for gaming.

    According the links you posted, the GTX 260 offers quite a bit more muscle than the 8800.

    8800 vs GTX 260
    Processor Cores 112 192
    Graphics Clock (MHz) 600 MHz 576 MHz
    Processor Clock (MHz) 1500 MHz 1242 MHz
    Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec) 33.6 36.9
    Memory Clock (MHz) 900 MHz 999 MHz
    Standard Memory Config 512 MB 896 MB
    Memory Interface Width 256-bit 448-bit
    Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 57.6 111.9

    It's not who fast the Clock runs, it's what the GPU can do in those ticks that matters. The GTX 260 has a higher fill rate, and much greater memory bandwidth.

    The brands would matter like Pepsi vs. Coca Cola vs R.C. It's more a matter of taste than anything. Only a slight few are cheap crap. Most manufacturers happen to make quality products. I currently own 6 eVGA cards, never an issue with any of them. That doesn't mean much, as I have not had the opportunity to own enough other makes to make a solid comparison.

    BFG, PNY, Gigabyte, eVGA are known good manufacturers. There are others, but those come to mind. Sparkle seems popular, but I believe it's more from a price point, than a quality point.
    Linux _is_ user-friendly. It is not ignorant-friendly and idiot-friendly.
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    Ok, thanks again for all your helpful advice. I really appreciate it!

    Unfortunately, since you have been so helpful, I'm going to take advantage of that (haha) and ask if you have any advice on the motherboard side of things. What features do I need to ensure that the motherboard have to make the most of my setup (or ensure that it is at least compatible!!!!)? Are there any motherboards available that are known to be friendly with Linux (Ubuntu)?

    Do I need to ask the manufacturer of the monitors if they have drivers for Linux, or do monitors normally work automatically anyway?

    Lalstly, am I correct in thinking that nowadays I don't need to worry about the motherboard or soundcard having an SPDIF out as the single cable does it all?

    It's going to be an entirely new pc, so any advice on hardware BEFORE I buy the parts would be a huge comfort.

    Thanks again, and sorry for the extra questions.
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    Originally Posted by A Traveller
    Ok, thanks again for all your helpful advice. I really appreciate it!

    Unfortunately, since you have been so helpful, I'm going to take advantage of that (haha) and ask if you have any advice on the motherboard side of things. What features do I need to ensure that the motherboard have to make the most of my setup (or ensure that it is at least compatible!!!!)? Are there any motherboards available that are known to be friendly with Linux (Ubuntu)?
    Never buy the brand new, just out of R&D, equipment. You'll pay too high of a premium, and not gain that much over previous generation technology. Given the speed technology moves, previous generation is still quite cutting edge. There are known problems with known equipment, just as there are devices that are known good. Intel has always made rock solid equipment with fantastic Linux support. They (Intel) commit a large portion of code directly to the Kernel. AMD doesn't have anything against Linux - Intel just has more money and man hours to spare. Some on board network chips are crap, some are a little better. Intel NICs are considered the best supported and best performance, Realtek is well supported as well. Marvell, Yukon, and some newer nVidia network PHYs have been hit or miss.

    Do I need to ask the manufacturer of the monitors if they have drivers for Linux, or do monitors normally work automatically anyway?
    It's not actually a driver that would be needed, because of what's called EDID (Extended display identification data) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_display_identification_data 98% of all monitor's send this information. Just Google your prospective monitor to see if anyone else has issues.

    Lalstly, am I correct in thinking that nowadays I don't need to worry about the motherboard or soundcard having an SPDIF out as the single cable does it all?
    Single cable - you're thinking sound over HDMI correct? To be honest, it may or may not work. Depends on which chipset the sound device is using. Google would be, once again your best bet Generally speaking, most sound devices work out of the box, one way or another. Perhaps not 100% of the features of 100% of the devices work right away, but - generally it does. Other features (SPDIF, HDMI, 8-channel surround .....) may need human intervention (tweaking/hacking) to work properly. The documentation is out there though. I have personally read articles on using the HDMI port of nVidia's graphics cards with audio to connect to systems. It has been done. These cards have an internel audio connection. This is only a pass through though, so I don't believe you would get the hardware DTS decoding most SPDIF outputs provide.

    It's going to be an entirely new pc, so any advice on hardware BEFORE I buy the parts would be a huge comfort.

    Thanks again, and sorry for the extra questions.
    Buy good RAM, a good PSU, and Check warranties
    Linux _is_ user-friendly. It is not ignorant-friendly and idiot-friendly.
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    Thanks for all that, disturbed1.

    (Yes, it was sound over HDMI that I was referring to.)

    Hope all goes well!
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  10. I haven't seen any graphics cards with two HDMI outputs. You're going to be using DVI outputs so there will be no sound (DVI can carry audio multiplexed with the video but I haven't seen any devices that actually use it). You will probably end up running sound to your monitor/reciever/speakers separately.
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    Ok jagabo. Thanks for clarifying. Yes, I will only be listening to the sound on my pc speakers, not the monitor's speakers.
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    It's me again!

    I have now bought the monitors, as you may already know (HG281D).

    The graphics card that they have been connected to is an old GeForce 3 Ti200 (64Mb). I did not know that this card had a DVI port. It was only in the process of connecting the monitors, that I discovered it. So, it has one DVI and one VGA. Can I connect both monitors to my pc at the same time, one via DVI and one via VGA? I haven't tried it as I don't want to damage anything!

    I am still planning on buying a card with 2 DVI's as suggested here as I want both to have good quality connections. I am, however, curious to know, would there be ANY difference at all in video playback/quality or images between the GTX 260 and the card mentioned above? I have looked on the website linked to here but could not see that the Ti200 had VDPAU. If this can be done, will the graphics card properties automatically include options to rotate one monitor, or can does the card have to be a special "dual monitor" card?

    I tried downloading an HD clip from the Internet. It was about 75Mb for about 3 minutes of video. The first five or so seconds, played fine, but after that it was just like watching a slideshow of still images, no sort of motion. I also played a game from about ten years ago and it had a slight jerkiness to it, unlike on my 17" (15") CRT. Any possible reasons for these two issues? I reduced the window size from within the game, however, that didn't make any difference. As mentioned before, it's the video playback that is most important, so I don't mind if game related things aren't 100% perfect, but it would be nice! Haha.

    Thanks.
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  13. Geforce 3 Ti 200 is pretty old. It definitely does not have CUDA/DXVA/VDPAU. I don't think it has dual monitor support. Try hooking both monitors up and see if the setup applet will let you set up dual monitors. Same with rotation. Just try it.



    Are you really running a 700 MHz CPU? That would explain the jerky playback of HD video. The old graphics card would explain the low frame rate on games. Slow GPU + high resolution = slow rendering.
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    Thanks again jagabo.

    It's slightly more than 700MHz, Haha!

    Ok, so when I purchase all this brand new expensive gear and am ready to go in terms of high quality video playback, what would be the best way to ensure that I can still watch my current low quality video and all the other normal/low quality video that you come across everyday on websites, such as AVI, MPEG, WMV and FLV? Is it just a case of reducing the size of the player's window until the video is watchable?

    disturbed1 mentioned the requirement of a quality 'playback application'. Is GOM Player one of those?

    Thanks.
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    Originally Posted by A Traveller

    disturbed1 mentioned the requirement of a quality 'playback application'. Is GOM Player one of those?

    Thanks.
    I thought this was the Linux forum.

    Don't believe GOM is a Linux application, never used it myself.

    Mplayer (or any of it's frontends) would be more than enough.
    Linux _is_ user-friendly. It is not ignorant-friendly and idiot-friendly.
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    Hi disturbed1.

    Yes, sorry, I haven't started using Linux fully yet. I'm still at the stage where I'm looking for compatible hardware.

    I'll re-post the low quality part on the appropriate board. Thanks for alerting me about going off track. I tend to get so involved in my problems and sorting them that I forget where I am and what I'm doing!!

    Thanks everyone for all the help received in this thread. It has been most helpful!!
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  17. No player is going to make low quality videos look like high quality sources. Some things can be adjusted like black level, tint/saturation, aspect ratio problems, deblocking, and a little sharpening.
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    Thanks jagabo.
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