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Someone Want To Figure This Out?

Over the last six months, I’ve been slowly building my wife a computer on the cheap. In total, I’ve spent maybe $100, plus various collected junk parts, and built a very nice Media Center PC without hurting the old bank account. Problem is, the goal is to connect the PC to the HDTV, and the video card outputs VGA and S-Video, neither of which I can connect to the TV for an HD signal.

I picked up a VGA to component video cable, and summarilly discovered I know nothing about video equipment. As I understand, and please correct me if I’m still wrong, the VGA outputs RGB signals and my TV only accepts over component YPbPr signals, so a cable isn’t enough. I either need an RGA to component converter (not cheap) or a video card that can output a compatible signal.

Now, here’s what I think I’ve gathered: Some video cards can be set to output YPbPr component over VGA, and then my VGA-to-component cable will work. Others output DVI and I can get a converter to plug it into my TV’s single HDMI slot (which I’d rather not do, I’m saving that for the Xbox 360). Also, there are other ways to get component out of my computer, including video cards that take component cables.

I’d prefer to be able to use my VGA-to-component cable. HDMI (or rather, DVI to HDMI) is a last resort. If you understand this better than I do, please explain what I’m wrong about. I have some Amazon referral money I can use to pay for it, but I’d like to spend under $100 for the card and accessories (like cables), and hopefully I can sell the current (unused) video card to make some of that back.

Besides some advice, I’d like to give something back, so if you recommend a video card (AGP, or worst case regular PCI), list it below in the comments with an Amazon referral code, so when I buy it you can get some money back. Consider that the PC has a weak power supply, so if the card requires me to buy a new power supply, it better be cheap enough that both the card and the power supply are under $100.

So, if you know a little about video cards and formats, help me out (earn a little referral cash) so I can finish this thing and my wife can stop borrowing my laptop. I’d really appreciate the advice.

November 19th, 2007 Posted by | General | 10 comments

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  1. Get a new card – find out if you need pci-e or agp first. If you can do pci-e i’d recommend this card:

    ati 2400pro (you can find lots of manufacturers who make it). It is under $50 and does everything you want. I believe when I got this it came with the vgs > component adapter, but don’t quote me. Usually these cards come with a variety of cables – check out for some other media center reviews of video cards.

    Comment by hkk | November 19, 2007

  2. Most HDTV’s have a VGA socket, I would recommend you plug it in via that. If you can tell the difference then you have far better eyesight than I do!

    Comment by Andrew | November 19, 2007

  3. Most low-end video cards have adapters for component output in the box if you get the retail versions. Check Newegg, and look at the pictures, you’ll see if they do.

    I’m happy to help more if you post the specs of your frankenmachine, or email me with them if you prefer.

    Comment by Jeremy | November 19, 2007

  4. Actually, plenty of HDTVs don’t have VGA, like mine. Trust me, if I could do that I wouldn’t need to ask.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | November 20, 2007

  5. Hkk, I can’t do PCI-E, sadly. Old motherboard, fast but older processor.

    Jeremy, if you point out a low-end with a component adapter, I’ll buy it and give you the referral.

    The Frankenmachine is a 2 GHz Pentium 4 (nothing amazing, but fully capable of what I need) with 1.28 GB of RAM. It’s got an old E-Machines case, PCI and one AGP on the board. I haven’t been able to find the exact wattage of the power supply, just people that say it’s underpowered and lacking.

    The video card that’s giving me problems is a BFG/3D Fuzion GeForce FX 5500 256 MB AGP card. It’s a very good card, but NVidia isn’t updating the Vista drivers for it, so I can’t use any advanced functions (which, for all I know, could include outputting component). With the drivers it has, the card is incapable of anything useful.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | November 20, 2007

  6. Here ya go, Nathan. Sorry about not getting it to you sooner :)

    That one has a component out cable in box. Supports the majority of PureVideo acceleration features, and is only one generation behind, so driver support is still in full gear. Should do the job.

    Comment by Jeremy | November 21, 2007

  7. Oh, one thing you might have issues with – playing DVDs through the TV out. nVidia has some sort of copy protection crap in their drivers that can prevent your from playing DVDs on the TV. If that happens, the easiest thing to do is go grab a copy of AnyDVD, which strips out the copy protection of DVDs on the fly.

    You can get it here, if you end up needing it:

    Comment by Jeremy | November 21, 2007

  8. Jeremy, $200? A lot more than I was looking to spend. It doesn’t need to have component in the box, just the ability to output component over VGA. If you find anything below $100, let me know. Thanks for trying, though.

    Also, the DVD stuff shouldn’t be a problem, since I’ll probably be playing DVDs on the 360, and anyway outputting over VGA shouldn’t be considered a TV out, if that’s what I wind up doing. If they give me this problem over component, though, that’s a really ridiculous restriction. Someone probably hacked the drivers to get around it, I bet.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | November 22, 2007

  9. [...] been trying to find a video card for my wife’s computer all week, and Google has been no help. Every search on a product name reveals site after site that is [...]

    Pingback by » Google Prioritizes Sales Over Content » InsideGoogle-part of the Blog News Channel | November 23, 2007

  10. Damn, sorry, the thing was $99 when I posted it. Let me do some more looking and I’ll get back to you.

    BTW, you do know that the 360 will act as a media center extender and doesn’t use the vid card at all? I had my MCE box up and running with the built in nVidia video – you couldn’t watch TV on the PC, but it ran great on the 360.

    Comment by Jeremy | November 25, 2007

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