Q's for the computer/home theater inclined

Posted this on some HTPC specific sites without too many responses.

How would my nigh-three-year-old Gateway (don’t laugh) perform as an HTPC? I would mostly be wanting to use it for movies and such, but would like just enough umph to get by with some of the newer FPS games (read Deus Ex 2). I would also be using it for copying some television shows/movies onto CD’s (pretty important as the Critic doesn’t appear to be coming out on DVD anytime soon).

The upgrades I have in mind are video card and RAM. The RAM would be doubled to 256megs. I was looking at ATI All in Wonder cards for the video card. The thing that worries me is that I would like to keep all of this under $250, and the All in Wonder cards in that pricerange look to be 64megs (which my current TNT2 card is). Would it be worth the upgrade, or could I possibly get a 128meg video card and a cheap video capture card? Sorry for being vague overall, I’m just pretty ignorant in the matter.

Current computer specs:
Processor: AMD Athlon 750 MHz
Installed L2 cache: 256K
RAM included: 128MB
Hard disk size: 20GB
Maximum RAM: 384MB
RAM type: PC100 SDRAM
Graphics memory type: SDRAM
Graphics memory amount: 32MB
Graphics chip set: nVidia NV5 M64
Hard disk rotational speed: 7200 RPM
Hard disk interface: Ultra ATA
DVD-ROM drive speed: 12X
Graphics card: Riva TNT2 M64

Well, your plan sounds… err… sound… sigh

You may be able to get by with out the RAM upgrade, although the prices these days are pretty low… the All in wonder cards are great, however if you already have a 32MB video card (It’ll work), you can buy a ATI TV-Wonder Card which is a separate add-on, not sure of the American pricing, but my USB version was $100 CDN.

However, I was looking at your specs, and I think a Hard drive upgrade may be in order, especially if you plan on recording shows. I started doing that with my old 30GB drive, long story short, now I have a 80GB drive…

As with every project, you don’t have to do it all at once, start with the TV card, and then do what you can until it becomes absolutly necessary to get a bigger hard drive, better vid card etc. That way prices decrease while you save dough!

Take my word for it, I didn’t buy all this in one day! :wink:

Thanks for the info. I figure the first thing I upgrade is going to be the RAM. I’ve found 256megs for under $30, so why not?

I think my main concern/question is will an ATI AllInWonder 8500LE card and the RAM upgrade make games run quickly enough with the current processor. I don’t need to have crazy resolution (especially when I find myself running this on a FP CRT) or have details all the way up, but the Gateway had a lot of trouble running the first Deus Ex (though I believe it uses the Glide Engine, intended for Voodoo cards), so I doubt that using the current card and getting just the TV Wonder would be sufficient.

As for the HD size, I agree I’m not working with much. But I figure that with the CDR, the only time recording trouble will come up is during marathons…

Any more enlightenment would be appreciated.

Ok, well if the games issue is what your after, then yes, the 8500 All in Wonder will do quite nicly. If you max out your ram (384) and get an 8500 you will be just fine for many of the newer gamnes out there… Doom 3 may give you issues, and UT2003 won’t run at full quality but it doesn’t sound like that is your issue. Give the 8500AIW a shot and drop the $30 on a stick of RAM and I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Good Luck :smiley: