[mythtv-users] PC configuration

Rod Smith mythtv at rodsbooks.com
Sat Mar 17 15:07:55 UTC 2007

On Saturday 17 March 2007 08:58, Jason wrote:
> So if I don't go with a PVR-350 (don't have this yet), should I buy a new
> video card and pvr card (with a remote)? Note that I don't want to upgrade
> the motherboard and cpu.

Here are some prices at Amazon and NewEgg (the latter seems not to carry the 
PVR-350 or PVR-250):

Video encoding cards:
PVR-350 (Amazon): $129.99

PVR-250 (Amazon): $133.99

PVR-150 MCE (Amazon): $95.62
PVR-150 MCE (NewEgg): $89.99
PVR-150 (NewEgg): $71.99

Video (display) cards:
Chaintech LA-FX20-H (NewEgg, FX5200, S-video out): $31.99
MSI FX5200-TD128LF (NewEgg, FX5200, S-video & DVI-D out): $33.99

All of the above prices for encoding cards are for devices with remotes; some 
are available without remotes for a bit less. (I'm not sure precisely what 
the MCE buys you in the PVR-150, though.) Obviously, the PVR-250 plus a new 
video card wouldn't be price-competitive with the PVR-350, at least not based 
on Amazon's prices. The two nVidia FX5200 video card prices are from the low 
end, which is all you need for a standard-definition MythTV DVR. You could 
pay more if you wanted to or if you needed some specific feature.

Of course, going with separate devices also allows you to broaden your 
options. For instance, you could get a USB video capture device if you think 
you might run out of PCI slots in the near future or you could buy a 
non-Hauppauge product.

> And the GeForce 2 GTS (deluxe) Graphic Card has TV out.

Be sure to get a video card with the right TV output. S-video is as good as 
you're likely to get for SD output on an NTSC TV. (Component output is 
better, but is very rare.) Some TVs don't support S-video, though, so you 
might prefer composite or even need an RF modulator. DVI-D is a digital 
output format that might be useful in the future; for $2 more it might be 
worth getting even if you don't need it now.

> And I was considering the PVR-350 because of the decoder (it would off load
> some work from the CPU).

The PVR-150 and PVR-250 both do this (as does the PVR-USB2, which uses a USB 
interface). Some non-Hauppauge cards also do MPEG encoding, but the only one 
I'm personally familiar with (the AVerMedia AVerTV M150-D) isn't 100% 
reliable, so I wouldn't recommend it.

> Also, MythTV will soon be going to OpenGL for the menus, so it will not be
> supported at all for that .... how soon will this happen and what PVR
> support openGL?

This is only an issue for output devices (video cards, rather than video 
capture cards), so you don't need to be concerned with it unless you're using 
the PVR-350 or some other unusual method of getting video to your TV. Any 
standard video output card will work with OpenGL. For regular video cards, 
you need to be more concerned with Linux/X support for the TV outputs and for 
XvMC support. The former is required unless you use a separate adapter 
between the video card and the TV. XvMC support isn't required, but can 
reduce the CPU load when playing MPEG-2 video. The nVidia FX5200 does support 
XvMC (when used with nVidia's binary drivers), so it's a popular chipset for 
use with MythTV.

Rod Smith

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