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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » The Afterlife   » Minimum config for running DVD on a PC

   
Author Topic: Minimum config for running DVD on a PC
Michael Schaffer
"Where is the
Boardwalk Hotel?"

Posts: 4143
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Apr 2002


 - posted 08-22-2002 03:44 PM      Profile for Michael Schaffer   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Schaffer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My computer is a Pentium II 350 Mhz with 64 MB SD-RAM and an ATI Rage 128GL graphics adapter with 16 MB of memory. Will that configuration allow me to play DVDs fluently?
The reason I am asking is since I hardly ever watch TV or Video, I don`t want to invest in a standalone DVD player. Still, I like to watch stuff like the director`s commentary or cutroom floor scenes, so getting a DVD drive for that purpose would be OK if the system isn`t too slow to replay them without spasms.
Michael

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Joe Beres
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 606
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 08-22-2002 03:49 PM      Profile for Joe Beres   Email Joe Beres   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would say that you should look at the drives available and check their requirements to start . I would tend to think that even if you are in the manufacturer's specs, the speed and memory you have may prove to be insufficient or possibly prohibitive.


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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10638
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 08-22-2002 05:15 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most PC specs I have seen for Windows-based DVD players usually suggest a minimum of a Pentium II 400MHz, Windows98SE or newer, DirectX 6 or newer and 64MB to 128MB of RAM installed for both the OS and DVD player to function.

If you run a software player like PowerDVD, WinDVD or Interactual's PC Friendly app, you will need more muscle in both the CPU and graphics card. I've seen pretty decent performance on a PIII 550MHz running a 32MB TNT2 Ultra video card.

A hardware based DVD solution (where an expansion card is doing all the video and audio decoding) might take more load off the processor and allow you to get by with an older Pentium II chip.

At the very least, if I were running a PII 350MHz and needed DVD capability, I would upgrade the RAM and video card. RAM is dirt cheap now. Get your PC up to at least 128MB, if not 256MB or 384MB of system memory. But be careful to buy RAM compatible with your motherboard. I'm sure a PII 350MHz requires standard PC 100 SDRAM DIMM modules. Off the shelf DDR RAM and Rambus RIMMs will not work.

16MB is too little memory for video cards anymore. 32MB is now the minimum. You can buy some 64MB cards for not all that much money. Just check to see if some of their functions include helping with DVD playback. Basically, a PII 350MHz is a slow processor now and the goal is to get as much of the workload off of it as possible.

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3835
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 08-22-2002 06:25 PM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You might want to check out the FAQ for building HTPCs (home theater PCs) on the HTPC forum at http://www.avscience.com

That FAQ discusses three different build levels for HTPCs based on price/performance.

Paul

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17638
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 08-23-2002 03:30 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Here's a tip worth gold...do not ever buy a Liteon DVD drive. They are shit. (For those with fragile eyes, I was going to say "crap", but the word "crap" just wasn't strong enough for the sheer reliability of a genuine Liteon DVD drive.)

As far as what brand of drive to buy...most people I've talked to seem to favor the Toshiba DVD drives, but I'm not really an expert on this so take that for whatever you feel it's worth.


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Daryl C. W. O'Shea
Film God

Posts: 3977
From: Midland Ontario Canada (where Panavision & IMAX lenses come from)
Registered: Jun 2002


 - posted 08-23-2002 04:21 AM      Profile for Daryl C. W. O'Shea   Author's Homepage   Email Daryl C. W. O'Shea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have configured a computer with the same video card to run DVD playback. It looked fine. However it was a 1.0Ghz Athlon with 128MB of PC133 SDRAM. I remember when software decoded DVD drives first came out that PII/350 was the minimum system requirement. So you may be able to get it to work with the current processor and video card, an extra stick of ram would help though.

If you can find a hardware MPEG decoder card you'll have no problem. I still have my original Sigma Designs Hollywood Magic decoder card. It works great and has a coaxial Dolby Digital out and SVideo out on it.

Almost forgot, the ATI DVD player software has (or used to have) compatibility issues with some VIA chipsets. WinDVD and PowerDVD usually work well (better) instead.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7929
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-23-2002 06:31 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have nothing but good things to say about Plextor CD-ROM drives, so I'd definitely suggest taking a look at their DVD drives as well (though I haven't personally used them).

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Mike Williams
Master Film Handler

Posts: 255
From: Knoxville, TN
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 08-23-2002 07:01 AM      Profile for Mike Williams   Email Mike Williams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For the amount he may have to spend to get his system up to the minimum requirements, he might as well just get a DVD player from Wal-Mart for $79 and he can hook it in to his TV.
I just don't think it is cost effective yet if the goal is to save money.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16057
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-23-2002 09:34 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Try the Hollywood DVD adaptor card. Just about any computer can play DVD's with it almost always with superior results. I ahve one in my computer as ewll as several software based DVD decoding engines, one that is quite expensive.
My dislkke about the software based decoding schemes is the lack of controlable contrast range. A couple offer little range, although they decode fine the resultant image is a bit in the washed out side. I think the one software based decoder I have that is pretty acceptable is from Creative Labs.
The secret to the hollywood card is that it is doing all the work, not the computers CPU, and video card.
Mark
Check it out here: http://www.sigmadesigns.com/products/hollywood_plus.htm

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Michael Schaffer
"Where is the
Boardwalk Hotel?"

Posts: 4143
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Apr 2002


 - posted 08-23-2002 11:59 AM      Profile for Michael Schaffer   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Schaffer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The main reason why I would prefer a PC solution over a standalone player is the regional code. Friends of mine have a lot of DVDs they imported from the US. While I heard that you can change the regional code of some players by using certain secret key combinations on the remote control, it would be much easier to use a PC where software solutions for this problem are easily available.
Michael

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16057
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-23-2002 12:40 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm not sure how the Sigma DVD card would work as you are wanting to but if you write them they could surely answer that. The card is cheap, around 50.00 U.S., sometimes even less.
Mark

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Adam Fraser
Master Film Handler

Posts: 498
From: Houghton Lake, MI, USA
Registered: Dec 2001


 - posted 08-23-2002 02:26 PM      Profile for Adam Fraser   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Fraser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You can buy a code free DVD player for $399 U.S. from these people. It might be cheaper than buying all the upgrades for your computer.
http://www.codefreedvd.com/


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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3835
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 08-23-2002 05:56 PM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For all-region (and progressive too) try these guys:

JVB Digital http://www.jvb.nl/jvb.asp?cur=1§ion=home&page=front

Pre-modded or DIY kits. When I get back to full-time work I may be getting the modded Panasonic RP-62 from these guys. All region, progressive output, and better-than-Apex build quality for €269 aint too bad. Even with shipping that will be cheaper than my contemplated HTPC project.


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Daryl C. W. O'Shea
Film God

Posts: 3977
From: Midland Ontario Canada (where Panavision & IMAX lenses come from)
Registered: Jun 2002


 - posted 08-24-2002 02:27 AM      Profile for Daryl C. W. O'Shea   Author's Homepage   Email Daryl C. W. O'Shea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you happened to own an EEPROM programmer you could always reprogram the chip in the CD-ROM/DVD drive every six times. I'm sure it would be a lot of fun.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10638
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 08-25-2002 02:40 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have to say I prefer watching DVDs on my regular home theater system, which is kind of modest compared to many rigs. It is just a 32" RCA TV, Yamaha V995 receiver, 5-disc Pioneer DVD changer and a really good set of Paradigm speakers. It is not as fancy as my father's HDTV/THX Ultra/DTS-ES 6.1 capable setup. But it is still better than watching on the computer.

And my computer setup isn't bad. A 21" Viewsonic P815 monitor can do alright for DVD viewing. I have an Altec Lansing ADA-885 speaker system that will handle Dolby Digital playback. The biggest benefit of watching on a computer is you have progressive scan playback. My regular TV is not an expensive enough model to do that. Plus, software apps like PowerDVD will allow you to do screen captures. I have a lot of fun taking such images into Photoshop and tinkering aruond with them.

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