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Thread: Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

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    Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

    I have an old Athlon (not sure the speed) on an Asus K8V-SE deluxe motherboard, 512mb ram, radeon graphics card. It's been running windows 7 well on it and it's also got a TV tuner in it so it acted as a good media centre for a while.

    I would like to up the ante and go to 1080p, but of course it's too whimpy to run it smoothly. Now, considering that Freeview HD is here there are a lot of options!

    1) find the cheapest way to upgrade this machine with an AGP graphics card that does h264 and vc1 decompression in hardware. Could cost around £50 for a card that can do this. This would be cheapest, and also buy a Humax Freeview HD box for £170ish for freeview HD. Or...

    2) just throw it and get a more powerful machine and build a fully fledged HTPC, in the hopes that a freeview HD tuner card will come out in time for the World Cup? would cost £200 - 400ish(?)

    I'd like a Freeview HD receiving HTPC in time for the world cup, I'd prefer to get there with option 1 as it's the cheapest, but I understand that it's probably a bit long in the tooth to do anything about and also it would be a bit clunky when it could all be integrated in one HTPC. I'd also rather not blow £170 on a freeview HD box when I can put that towards a HTPC with probably a cheaper Freeview HD card when they come out.

    But I must have HD in time for the world cup! =) So what would you do?

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    Re: Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

    Quote Originally Posted by hatrack View Post
    ... I must have HD in time for the world cup! =) So what would you do?
    Have an epiphany that, even in HD, football is essentially just 22 over-paid prima donnas running around a small patch of grass kicking an inflated pigs bladder, and give up on the whole thing as a bad job!

    Hey, you're the one who asked what I'd do

    Your most realistic option to ensure you have Freeview HD in time for the World Cup is a Freeview HD set top box. There's no DVB-T2 receivers available at the minute, and to bet on one suddenly becoming available just in time for you to put together a complete new build before the World Cup starts is ... well, I wouldn't put money on it happening.

    That said, your best bet might be to hold off another month or so just in case a suitable card did become available. If one doesn't, you can still get a set top box, but if it does, you might still have time for that complete upgrade. Something like a single core Sempron on a 760G motherboard with 2GB DDR3 would do the trick for a bit more than £100, so even if a DVB-T2 receiver card was £100 on launch that'd still only be £30 more than the set top box...

    Either way, I'm not sure upgrading your existing PC would be sensible. You'll realistically need some more RAM as well (512MB is barely enough to run Win XP SP3 smoothly, IMNSHO), and AGP graphics cards hold a massive premium over better PCIe cards....


    Of course, you could always talk a mate into getting a Freeview HD set top box, and watch all the matches at his house

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    Re: Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

    If it were me, I'd sell the old PC for whatever you can get and then build a new one from scratch. Dual core, 2Gb RAM and a decent uATX board with HDMI output would suffice, its always going to be difficult with the old PC and its very limited for the future.

    Hauppague have already said that they intend to have a USB DVB-T2 tuner on the market prior to the World Cup. Its a major selling point, but might carry a high price tag

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

    Quote Originally Posted by s_kinton View Post
    ... Hauppague have already said that they intend to have a USB DVB-T2 tuner on the market prior to the World Cup ...
    Fair enough - it makes sense I guess. In which case I'd definitely look at doing a new build and selling off your old PC (potentially in bits, rather than as a whole).

    I still back my idea of talking a mate into getting a Freeview HD STB so you don't have to spend anything, though

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    Re: Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

    Yeah, I know building a new HTPC is the answer, just didn't want to admit it! I might get the Humax close to the world cup in the hope a Freeview HD card arrives before the World Cup and sell the Humax (they might even have a shortage and go for a premium before the world cup!), but there would probably be driver issues with Windows Media Centre and all that jazz to get it to play in HD properly. There always seems to be with tuner cards (well there was with my experience of a Hauppauge Nova-T)

    OK. Done. I'm going to build a new system, wait for a hauppauge tuner for a month but get a humax tuner if no news of a PC card materialises. What's the best combo for a silent system, super cheap? Doesn't matter if it's in an big ATX tower case (though a midi tower would be ideal), it's tucked away behind the telly so you can't see it. It would be good if it didn't consume much power too. What's the best bang for buck around?

    Whats the best place to buy that AMD sempron combo? I was thinking, if I can get MB, Sempron, RAM for 100ish, case with psu for 30-40ish, gfx card £25ish, 1tb hdd for 60ish. That's £225. Will that sempron single core definitely do h264 1080p?

    just speced this out from aria.co.uk :

    Arianet Mini 727-03B MICRO ATX BLACK +500W PSU #37211 £ 19.75 £ 19.75
    AMD Athlon II X2 Dual Core 250 3.00GHz (Socket AM3) Processor - Retail #37441 £ 44.99 £ 44.99
    Gigabyte GA-MA78LM-S2 AMD 760G (Socket AM2+) DDR2 PCI-Express Micro-ATX Motherboard #38039 £ 41.99 £ 41.99
    Corsair Value Select 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 PC2-4200C4 533MHz Dual Channel Kit #24346 £ 33.99 £ 33.99
    Hitachi HDS721010CLA332 1TB 3.5" SATA II Hard Drive - OEM #39369 £ 49.99 £ 49.99
    Asus ATI Radeon HD 4350 512MB DDR2 PCI-Express Graphics Card #37477 £ 24.99 £ 24.99

    Cart Total £ 215.70
    Delivery Costs:
    The delivery cost for your order depends on the weight of the order, as well as the delivery destination. More carriage options will be available when you log in.
    Approx. Delivery £ 6.95
    VAT £ 38.96

    Total £261.61 for dual core in a micro atx case. Do I need a CPU fan?
    Last edited by hatrack; 30-03-2010 at 02:07 PM. Reason: added prices

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    Re: Upgrade old PC for 1080p? Freeview HD HTPC?

    I'd drop the HD 4350, its just not needed in a HTPC and get a 780G board or nvidia 8200/8300 with built in HDMI and decoding.

    I'd recommend the Antec NSK series of cases and PSUs, they're pretty well priced. I wouldnt trust a 500w PSU that came with a £19 case for running 24/7 with all my media on - just not worth the risk of it going pop!

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