The Dark Side of Video Cards for DVD

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  • JonMarsh
    Mad Max Moderator
    • Aug 2000
    • 15214

    The Dark Side of Video Cards for DVD

    Yes, the Emperor has succeeded in turning me to the dark side. With nearly a week without HTGuide Forum, my feeble connection to the lighter side of the force has atrophied unto nothingness- now, I know nothing but the power of the dark side. Did I mention I signed up for the XP Windows Preview program, both OS and Office?

    Worse, there is now a new DVD video standard in my HTPC- a Radeon 32 MB DDR board. As has been rumored on sites like AVS, discussed by Anandtech, etc., the Radeon has some rather good internal processing for DVD's, including higher numbers of bits used in internal intermediate processing stages, more hardware support (motion compenstaion and IDCT- inverse discrete cosine transformation- a processor intensive stage for mpeg decoding), and to top it all off, 10 BIT output 360 MHz DAC's. Whooo Hoooo!

    Well, all that technical verbage is just that- technical verbage- the proof is in the watching, and that's what it is hard to tear myself away from doing, running that card into my NEC XM29Plus! Gorgeous! Have been using 848X480 and 1280X1024. Vibrant, detailed, three dimensional, you name it, it's got it. "Desperado", "Shakespeare in Love", "Fifth Element", "Matrix" have never looked this good- it's like wiping a smudgy glass a little clearer. Note: forget the ATI player- too buggy. All viewing with WINDVD, version 2.64. ATE driver is latest 7.20 version; "special purpose" beta. Translation: Unsupported. DirectX 8.0a.
    No tweaks needed to overlay, very, I mean, VERY minor adjustments to monitor. Am I happy. Now, how am I gonna afford a Sony G90 so I can see something this good on a large screen? Answer: I'm not. And that's a drag.

    Yes, I know about ATI's weird history for driver updates and all. Believe me, this scares me spitless to be putting an ATI board in one of my systems, and to be contemplating buying more. But it looks so good on DVD. Also, with the IDCT support, it's designed to support HDTV decoding, and should work with Ravisent products in the pipeline for that purpose.

    Gotta run, need to make dinner for my duaghter before she goes to work.

    Regards,

    Jon




    Earth First!
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  • KennyG
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Sep 2000
    • 745

    #2
    Damn, Jon you've got me thinking, but I must have 1280 X 720 @ 120hz, seems like a simple request, but I've heard that res may not be available.

    Comment

    • JonMarsh
      Mad Max Moderator
      • Aug 2000
      • 15214

      #3
      Not yet, Kenny, not yet. You know about the stuff Stephen Orr posted on the AVS forum, so 1280X720 should be possible with the last, updated registry hacks. Also, if the "closer working relationship" with PowerStrip pans out, then there should be some additional gains in flexibility. For you, right now, I'd say take a wait and see attitude. My NEC presentation monitor does pretty well eating all kinds of display modes, what with height and width controls on the remote control, so it's really easy to get a nice picture. The tube on that thing is a Toshiba Microfilter tube, and the phosphor colors are comparable to filtered FP setups; so the picture has amazing depth. I snuck the HTPC into a dealer in San Jose, and got them to let me try it on the 10HT Sony; it had promise, but they weren't keen on me redoing one of the custom color calibrations, and you have to do that for starters just to get the contrast ratio optimized. Seeing the Radeon on the NEC is the first thing in years that has got me thinking along the lines of CRT FPTV again (been there, bought the T-shirt), but I absolutely can't install one in my present living room. Soooo, for now, have to wait, see, and think.
      I'll let you know what I find out with the further adventures of Radeon. The 32MB DDR's are pretty cheap out here, and by internet order, so I'm probably going to get another one shortly to play with.

      Take care.

      -Jon




      Earth First!
      _______________________________
      We'll screw up the other planets later....
      the AudioWorx
      Natalie P
      M8ta
      Modula Neo DCC
      Modula MT XE
      Modula Xtreme
      Isiris
      Wavecor Ardent

      SMJ
      Minerva Monitor
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      In Development...
      Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
      Obi-Wan
      Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
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      Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
      Just ask Mr. Ohm....

      Comment

      • gil
        Junior Member
        • Dec 2000
        • 27

        #4
        Jon,

        What do you think of the Radeon VE 32MB DDR?
        It comes with TV out (composite & S-video) which I would like to have for a new PC.

        Also what are your thoughts on an AMD T-Bird along with an Asus A7v-KT133A motherboard combination as far as stability and compatability.

        Thanks,
        Gil

        Comment

        • JonMarsh
          Mad Max Moderator
          • Aug 2000
          • 15214

          #5
          Hello Gill,

          The 32MB DDR VE should be a very nice all around board; I'm planning on getting one for my bedroom HTPC, replacing an ELSA Gladiac (this is NOT an urgent upgrade, just a "sometime soon"- for DVD quality).

          That HTPC system uses an ASUS A7V, with a 750 MHz processor; it runs quite nicely. Very stable, easy to setup; more so than the ABIT KT7 Raid system in the living room, which I got going fairly easily, only had to disable one standard DLL. However, other friends have had a lot of problems with the ABIT, to the extent that their nickname for it is "Spawn of Satan". Your mileage may vary.

          The bedroom system had ME on it for a while, and backgraded to WIN98SE when the three month Maxtor HD started dying. Too much of that lately with Maxtor drives; the replacement was a Fujitsu (really, really cheap; runs faster than the 7200 Maxtor ever did); mostly in the past I've used IBM, had best reliability from them.

          BTW, PowerStrip 3.0 build 121 beta is out, which supports custom resolutions properly on Radeon. Yippeeee! Will try out later today and report results.

          Regards,

          Jon




          Earth First!
          _______________________________
          We'll screw up the other planets later....
          the AudioWorx
          Natalie P
          M8ta
          Modula Neo DCC
          Modula MT XE
          Modula Xtreme
          Isiris
          Wavecor Ardent

          SMJ
          Minerva Monitor
          Calliope
          Ardent D

          In Development...
          Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
          Obi-Wan
          Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
          Modula PWB
          Calliope CC Supreme
          Natalie P Ultra
          Natalie P Supreme
          Janus BP1 Sub


          Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
          Just ask Mr. Ohm....

          Comment

          • gil
            Junior Member
            • Dec 2000
            • 27

            #6
            Jon,

            I just ordered the Radeon LE 32MB DDR w/ TV-out for a new PC I'll be putting together. The price was right at $89 shipped from newegg. From what I'm told it is essentially the same as the standard Radeon but clocked slower and hyper-Z is disabled which can be re-enabled with a reg edit.
            The VE doesn't have the same chip as the standard Radeon and is missing some hardware features so I decided against it.

            I'm gonna need that Powerstrip program for upping the clock rate. Where can I find the Powerstrip 3.0?

            Now leaning towards an Intel based chipset using the Asus CUSL2-C and a PIII. The AMD T-birds price/performance look really attractive. But weirdness with the Via chipsets and driver incompatabilities I've been reading about have me scared.

            Found a good deal on Western Digital 7200 RPM drive so picked one up, but 1st choice was the IBM. My old Maxtor made quite a racket so switched to WD and so far so good.

            Gil

            Comment

            • JonMarsh
              Mad Max Moderator
              • Aug 2000
              • 15214

              #7
              Hello again Gill,

              PowerStrip is from Entech, in Taiwan (don't you just love the net?); can be bought online, but for just adding resolutions, the "demo" version will work fine. PowerStrip has a lot of nice features, and it's a good thing to support people that write nice software for us, particularly stuff like this that isn't exactly "mass Market". You can find it at:





              The PowerStrip 3 beta, build 121, has added the resolution control support for the Radeon. And it DOES work! A particularly nice thin Ashley Saldana has done is to incorporate defined modes for "special" applications, so there's a "standard" LCD/PC mode 1280X720P, and there's also an HDTV mode, with front and back porches, sync pulses, etc., set to comply as closely as possible with HDTV specs.

              I finally installed the 7089 Radeon drivers that I'd downloaded last week, and installed the build 121 of PowerStrip 3 Beta. We have joy in Mudville, er, rather that is, Livermore, because now my Radeon DOES do 1280X720P. Checked it out on a local 10HT belonging to an HT acquaintance, and the HDTV mode locks up solid, has a clearer, nicer desktop than the GeForce did, and looks much better on desktop and video than the 848X480P DTV mode does. The Pixel Works processor in the 10HT apparently doesn't scale very well compared with an HTPC; it looks like one of the scalers in the NEC flat panel display, which disort and make text ugly. For example, the Samsung displays have a much better scaler chip, and they can handle weird steps like XGA to SXGA and make it look pretty good. The Pixel Works chip looks to be optimized for HDTV input. DVD is definitly sharper, more natural, and doesn't have a crawly moire pattern because of the interaction of the 10HT scaler as the image slowly pans. Which brings up an interesting question- for those with progressive scan DVD players, I don't really think that's the right solution for the 10HT. Unless they do something different handling component input vs. DTV RGB input- which I doubt.

              Anyway, with the 7089 drivers and PowerStrip Beta 3, build 1.21, plus WINDVD 2.64, it's "two thumbs up". I've heard others have gotten this to work with 540P, for RPTV's, so this may now be a workable solution on a lot of systems.

              Regards,

              Jon




              Earth First!
              _______________________________
              We'll screw up the other planets later....
              the AudioWorx
              Natalie P
              M8ta
              Modula Neo DCC
              Modula MT XE
              Modula Xtreme
              Isiris
              Wavecor Ardent

              SMJ
              Minerva Monitor
              Calliope
              Ardent D

              In Development...
              Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
              Obi-Wan
              Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
              Modula PWB
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              Natalie P Supreme
              Janus BP1 Sub


              Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
              Just ask Mr. Ohm....

              Comment

              • RickS
                Super Senior Member
                • Aug 2000
                • 1247

                #8
                Hi, Jon & Thomas!

                Well......finally got out of that TTP to get something done. This thread is about video cards and it seems like the Radeon card is the way to go.

                I would like to get as "stable" as possible HTPC setup in my system.

                Could you please advise what you would recommend for a rack mount(must be rack mount) HTPC. I will buy part for part what you suggest. Then the fun will begin.

                Rick




                The Home Theater
                DVD Collection

                Comment

                • JonMarsh
                  Mad Max Moderator
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 15214

                  #9
                  I built a rack mount HTPC which resides in ThomasW's main theater, for his Sony 400Q.

                  This system was built a couple of years ago, but still works quite well. The chasis is an Antec black rackmount, with 300W supply; some of the auxiliary fans are disconnected; they just aren't needed. Thomas's system has an ASUS BX type motherboard, with a 450 MHz Intel processor. Most of the system's I've built in the last year are Athlon based. I recommend the ASUS A7V if you want to go that way. I still occasionally build Intel systems, but I'm a retro kind of guy; been using ASUS CUBX motherboards, which are still available, becuase they use the tried and true BX series chip set, which ANYTHING runs on. Super compatibility and stability. No AGP 4X support, though. Don't need it for HTPC.

                  Another system I built recently uses a PIII on that MB; combine it with 128 MB of SDRAM, a 10-30 GB ATA66 or better HD (IBM is first choice, but Fujitsu, Maxtor, WD models can be OK), an ACER, Pioneer, or Sony DVDROM (I've had more firmware issues than I care for with Toshiba), and an ATI Radeon, 7089 drivers, WINDVD 2.64. I've had the most stable results on my Athlon systems with 98SE; tried ME, but had problems with fast shutdown, some other driver compatibility issues (ME required a lot more driver updates from 98 than most people expected).
                  PowerStrip 3.0 Beta, build 121 for tweaking and tuning, and special resolutions.

                  Actually, I've gotten the ATI DVD player to work fairly well this week, but it is glitchy; I think the final 7.1 release will be pretty good; will report back on that as news develops.

                  Regards,

                  Jon




                  Earth First!
                  _______________________________
                  We'll screw up the other planets later....
                  the AudioWorx
                  Natalie P
                  M8ta
                  Modula Neo DCC
                  Modula MT XE
                  Modula Xtreme
                  Isiris
                  Wavecor Ardent

                  SMJ
                  Minerva Monitor
                  Calliope
                  Ardent D

                  In Development...
                  Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                  Obi-Wan
                  Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                  Modula PWB
                  Calliope CC Supreme
                  Natalie P Ultra
                  Natalie P Supreme
                  Janus BP1 Sub


                  Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                  Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                  Comment

                  • JonMarsh
                    Mad Max Moderator
                    • Aug 2000
                    • 15214

                    #10
                    For those interested in the continuing saga, last night I uninstalled the 7.0 ATI DVD player upgrade, which had been downloaded from ATI's site, installed the 7093 drivers, and intalled the 7.1 DVD player. The new version of the DVD player by default has the video control panel enabled, instead of having to go do a registry hack. Plus, unlike the experiences reported by some of those hacking the 7.0 panel, it works and isn't buggy. It includes a gamma control, which is very useful for enhancing percieved detail in dark parts of the picture.

                    The new drivers and player work quite well together; with a little tweaking using several DVD's I'm familiar with, and AVIA, I soon had a gamma setting I was happy with. Brightness and contrast were not touched. I took KennyG's recommendation to heart, and tried out Arnold's new film, "The Sixth Day", and the results were very pleasing- this *is* an excellent transfer, definitely reference quality. ON a par with "Fifth Element", for fine detail, and consistency scene to scene.

                    The player works well, and unlike the last version, didn't seem to be dropping occasional frames.

                    A recommended upgrade.

                    Regards,

                    Jon




                    Earth First!
                    _______________________________
                    We'll screw up the other planets later....
                    the AudioWorx
                    Natalie P
                    M8ta
                    Modula Neo DCC
                    Modula MT XE
                    Modula Xtreme
                    Isiris
                    Wavecor Ardent

                    SMJ
                    Minerva Monitor
                    Calliope
                    Ardent D

                    In Development...
                    Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                    Obi-Wan
                    Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                    Modula PWB
                    Calliope CC Supreme
                    Natalie P Ultra
                    Natalie P Supreme
                    Janus BP1 Sub


                    Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                    Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                    Comment

                    • RickS
                      Super Senior Member
                      • Aug 2000
                      • 1247

                      #11
                      Jon,

                      Thanks that sounds very promising!!!!

                      Rick




                      The Home Theater
                      DVD Collection

                      Comment

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