What's the best hardware / software for computer-based theatre set-up?


I am designing a new media room and wish to have the entire system controlled by computer interface. What's the best slot-mounted DVD player / recorder? What's the best sound card? What's the best Video card? Is there any home theatre ready computer out there?

I'd do the following:

DVD Player: Not really an issue, get something 8x or 16x and thats good enough, unless you're looking to record too. Most recorders are pretty much the same too. Just get something in your price range.

Sound Card: If you're just looking for a good home theater experience, find yourself any card with optical out (Hercules has the GameTheater XP which should work), and put that optical out into a true Dolby DTS reciever.

Video Card: nVidia Geforce 3 or 4. DVD decoding is pretty basic, so it won't matter which particular model you get (A Geforce4 MX420 will be fine and costs about $100). You can also consider a Radeon 8500 or 9700. Make sure you get something with S-Video out, because you'll want to go to your TV. Video cards don't have component out yet, so S-Video is the best you'll get, unless you've got a TV that will take DVI.

Good luck with your system. Let us know how it turns out.

Chris Alderman
Check out and take a look at their new DVD decoder cards. I use a Hollywood Plus (3 years old) and it still has a better picture than any stand alone DVD it will output DTS and DD5.1. The new card...something X...actually has component outputs for those that want to run to a HDTV in progressive scan. Partner one of their cards up with either the Creative Audigy or Audigy 2 (if you want 6.1 instead of 5.1 capabilities) and a DVD-ROM that is at least 6X or above and you will have yourself a very nice set-up indeed. I currently use my XBox and the Onkyo HTB650 for my main set-up. My computer is in my room with the Hollywood, Audigy set-up. Both are great for the use I get out of them! Good luck!

Chris :)

Unregistered guest
any sort of processor that should be considered? is a pentium 4 better/worse/same than like an athlon XP/ FX ..??

New member
Username: Doctor_t

Post Number: 3
Registered: May-04
I dont know if any slot mounter DVD-ROMs are available other than Pioneer's unit, which is no better or worse for DVD playback than most other units (look for 12x or faster)

DVD software is very important. I like using Zoomplayer Pro + the WinDVD platinum codecs (had to buy zoomplayer, got WinDVD free with a dvd-rw.) I also tried PowerDVD, TheaterTek and others, and for sheer control and video quality this is unbeatable. I drive everything through a single remote control outputting to a projector and a TV (for daytime / nighttime viewing.)

Any post Geforce 4TI <- TI part is important from Nvidia is fine. Do NOT get a Geforce MX or use integrated video if you have a good TV. The GFti4200, 4400, 4600, all the Geforce FX cards and the new 6xxx cards which are not widely available are all fine. Any ATI Radeon newer than a 8500LE is fine.

If you're not a game the CPU will have a limited impact, I suggest getting something with a 3000+ rating at this point to keep it from getting obsolete. The Athlon 64 should have a longer shelf life with the upcoming 64 bit OS' if you're thinking that far ahead.

For a sound card get a SB Audigy2 ZS if you ever play games or an M-Audio revolution if its only music and home theater.

I have a holywood+ card and it looks no better to me than the zoomplayer + radeon 9800 output. Its sitting on a shelf. That's my 2 cents I know it has it's supporters. The hollywood requires very old software and its useless to me. I mainly care about the VGA output to my projector, and if you have a HDTV try and get a Radeon 8500/9x00 + HDTV dongle.

Hope that helps.

New member
Username: Ranny555

Nyc, Ny Usa

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jun-05
i have Compaq EVO D51 Pentium 4 1.8 GHZ
1. Can i watch through the pc on the Plasme HD even if the tv doesnt support HDTV?
2. What type of tuner card do i need in order to wach TV through the PC ?
Will be glad to get suggestions for making the system controled by one remote control (PC,RECIEVER ,TV ,etc)
Thanks for the help

Gold Member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 9143
Registered: Dec-03
I wouldn't do that with a Compaq Computer. It takes more than just changing the OS to convert your PC to a media center. You have to have all the ports and video cards, sound cards etc. Plus with the Compaq, you never know when it will fail.

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