Quantcast Thoughts on new PCI-E capture cards? - digitalFAQ Forum
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01-10-2007, 05:22 PM
awow69 awow69 is offline
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Hey, Kevin. The time has come for me to get a new computer. I'm having fun spec'ing it, but the video capture aspect (the most important for me) is unclear. Everybody I ask tells me that AGP technology is on its way out, get a PCI-E card. Now, motherboards for the Core 2 Duo processors that also have an AGP slot do exist, but seem to be a compromise and reportedly need quite a bit of tweaking to dial in. If a good PCI-E solution exists, I'll just put the older cards on eBay.

So, my question to you: any thoughts/experience on a new(ish) capture card that runs on a PCI-E buss? My card history is A-I-W 128 16MB PCI, now A-I-W Radeon 7500 AGP. Am I correct that most, if not all, of the new A-I-W are using the same Rage Theatre chip as my 7500, or is it a new version? And is there any improvement in the Theatre 650 chip in the new TV Wonder 650?

I do a lot of capture work, with the following chain: JVC SRV10U > s-video > AVT 8710 TBC > s-video > ATI 7500 using VirtualDub to capture AVI with the HuffYUV 2.1.1 codec. I recently went to capture a new, pretty clean VHS source and noticed that the video had rippling noise in both vertical and horizontal directions. To be honest, I don't know if I'm just being more critical (and it was always this way to a degree) or whether something in my system is introducing the noise. When I plug my s-video from the AVT8710 directly into my NTSC monitor (old Commodore 1702 with s-video > RCA adapter) I see none of this noise. I switched my purple input dongle with a spare and still see the noise...also see it in s-video, composite, and coax inputs (last 2 directly from VCR, no intermediate TBC). I replaced the power supply on my CPU, removed all peripherals except card and boot HD and still saw it. Lastly, I installed the old A-I-W 128 (no small feat in XP!) and even though I can only get 240 lines vertical due to the stupid crippled drivers, I still saw the noise...leading me to believe it's the system and not the card although I'm at a loss to explain it. The last test would be to install the AGP card in another system and see what's what, but I don't have another CPU to test with.

Thoughts? I have no interest in gaming or overclocking...just a nice stable, fast capture platform. Thanks!

David M
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  #2  
01-13-2007, 11:34 PM
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My standard response on "new technology" still applies. Newer does not mean better. Newer does not mean older tech will disappear. While PCIe is a new technology, AGP is not going anywhere anytime soon, and quite a few AGP cards are superior to newer PCIe cards.

You can get a PCIe card, sure, but it does not mean much. Most people build a computer, and then never again upgrade parts, instead just buying a newer system at a later date. So if you see a great AGP card, get it, and use that, and forget about PCIe.

I actually plan to upgrade my ATI AIW 7200 to a 9800 here this year sometime. That's an amazing quality card, no matter how you slice it (graphics, video, etc). PCIe has nothing to offer me, as it concerns video.

I'v not paid attention to new ATI cards lately, the Theatre 550 chips were pretty disgusting to use, as they were incompatible with ATI MMC, meaning you had to find third-party software, which was half the benefit of using ATI cards. I don't know if that has changed, but a number of issues around that chipset existed, and I was turned off by it. I know Theatre 200 works, and I obey the rule of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Wires age. Power fluctuates. I find myself replacing video and audio wires about every 3 years sometimes. So try a new wire. Power needs to be regulated, so I suggest you invest in a UPS that uses AVR (CyberPower has this on many units, APC has it on some). Get one of the $100 range units for the computer and other video equipment. You can plug a few things into a strip, and then plug the strip into the battery-protected AVR outlets.

The AVT-8710 may be the culprit too. Some of them have issues. Mine goes nuts from time to time, losing chroma signals (making the signal B&W, or just two-color).

I'm sold on Core 2 Duo, I have a laptop based on one (in fact, I'm using that laptop as my main computer while I get settled into my new residence), but not so much sold on desktop Core2 motherboards. I honestly don't think any one of them is better than the others. It's not like Pentium 4 systems, where certain motherboards really shined, and others really sucked. All Core2 boards seem to be in the middle. So whatever you have read or heard about AGP boards and Core2, forget it.

I'd grab a 9800 AGP AIW card off eBay, and build a new Intel system with whatever board fits those two requirements.

In the meantime, test for audio/video wire degradation and power noise removal (by way of UPS w/AVR).

Let me know how that goes.






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  #3  
01-14-2007, 06:39 PM
awow69 awow69 is offline
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Thanks very much for the reply!

Quote:
Originally Posted by admin
My standard response on "new technology" still applies. Newer does not mean better. Newer does not mean older tech will disappear. While PCIe is a new technology, AGP is not going anywhere anytime soon, and quite a few AGP cards are superior to newer PCIe cards.
The problem is that adopting the new processor technology puts me at a crossroads with the video buss. Core 2 Duo motherboards exist with AGP, but PCIe is far more prevalent and with more solid motherboard choices. I guess at it's core, my question would be: Are the PCIe versions of the A-I-W 2006 edition or X series cards on par in capture quality with the 9xxx series AGP cards? Same Rage Theater 200 chip, right? I saw a few eBay candidates for about $100.

Quote:
Originally Posted by admin
Wires age. Power fluctuates. I find myself replacing video and audio wires about every 3 years sometimes. So try a new wire.
I should have mentioned that I replaced both of my s-video cables with better, shielded cables with sturdy construction. Still the same noise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by admin
Power needs to be regulated, so I suggest you invest in a UPS that uses AVR (CyberPower has this on many units, APC has it on some).
Great suggestion. I have been thinking I need to get a UPS, and the AVR conditioned signal should get rid of line noise. I will put that in place at earliest opportunity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by admin
The AVT-8710 may be the culprit too. Some of them have issues. Mine goes nuts from time to time, losing chroma signals (making the signal B&W, or just two-color).
I made sure to mention that I saw the noise without the 8710 in the chain. Interesting thing I *did* learn is that explicitly setting the TBC "system" to NTSC, rather than putting it in "auto" mode, made a difference in frame drops over tape glitches. I can capture glitchy tape in non-"auto" mode without dropped frames, but the TBC cycles through the systems when it encounters glitches in "auto" mode and I get dropped frames. Nice discovery for me.

Quote:
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I'm sold on Core 2 Duo...but not so much sold on desktop Core2 motherboards
Right now, I have found exactly 2 C2D desktop motherboards with AGP functionality. I'm leaning toward not compromising the motherboard stability and function by limiting my mobo choice to the AGP video requirement.

I guess I'll be the test case and report back. - awow69
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01-18-2007, 09:33 AM
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I forgot about the 2006 PCIe cards. If those are using Theatre 200 chipsets that cooperate with ATI MMC, then go for it.

As far as AGP being a compromise as compared to PCIe, I don't think that's really true. They are not that much different. And you're looking to video use anyway, not graphics use. I doubt you're playing the "latest and great" video games.



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  #5  
01-19-2007, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by admin
As far as AGP being a compromise as compared to PCIe, I don't think that's really true. They are not that much different. And you're looking to video use anyway, not graphics use. I doubt you're playing the "latest and great" video games.
No, you misunderstood me...AGP isn't the cause of compromise. The new Core 2 Duo motherboards also use the new chipsets for northbridge and southbridge - intel's 965 chip and nvidia's 680i. These chipsets do not support AGP. The motherboards I was referring to as a compromise use older VIA chipsets that support AGP, but are not the newest technology nor are they optimized for Core 2 Duo.

I'm not hatin' on AGP, just recognizing that the latest and greatest motherboards are leaving it behind. You're right, I'm not a gamer and I'm sure I don't use all the AGP bandwidth. It's the aging interface technology that necessitates a compromise. That being said, I think I am going to get an ASrock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard that has both AGP and PCIe. It's not the most stable, and it needs to be tweaked to get everything integrated, but it is cheap and versatile. I'll be sure to report back. - awow69
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  #6  
01-23-2007, 04:25 PM
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Hi all. I was hit by lightning back in November and bought a new computer with PCIe. I bought an All in Wonder PCIe and learned the hard way they only support the newer MMC. No video soap or any adjustments. I tried everything then called ATI and was told its all automatic with the new AIW cards and they will not work with 9.02 or anything below 9.12 or 9.13, I forgot which. I am friends the manager of the store and we tried the 2006 edition and the x1900. The x1900 was opened before. No dice with clean installs and lots of attempts on the older mmc versions. The captures with the new stuff is terrible. I called ATI again and they said they are not going to support the AIW series in the future. MMC 9.16 may be the last update. I am stuck with crap. I found an AGP board with a pentium 4, 2.8 here in town and bought it for my 9600xt card. this works great with MMC 9.02 Does anyone have any suggestions as to what card would be a good one to try next. Something that captures TV too. I hope this helps someone.wineslurper
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  #7  
01-23-2007, 06:32 PM
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You can always install a PCI ATI AIW 7200 card, instead of an AGP. Go into the BIOS and change back and forth between PCI and PCIe as needed, at boot-up. Just use the old ATI AIW for video, and then get a plain old PCIe graphics card from nVidia or ATI, not an AIW.

That just came to me too. I use a ATI AIW 7200 PCI in my second computer. I also have an AGP card install for faster graphics, and switch as needed.

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  #8  
02-14-2007, 04:11 PM
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I was intrigued by this thread and decided to do a little research. I have not looked into newer ATI cards at all since I bought my AIW 9000 Pro with a new PC a couple years ago, so I was initially not familiar with much of the hardware/software discussed above. I have included some reviews as they helped me with learning about the more recent options. Perhaps most of you already know about all of this, but maybe it might be helpful to some:

---

It appears that since the release of the ATI Theater 200 chip (ASIC), two more "Theater" multimedia chips have been released, the Theater 550 PRO and Theater 650 PRO. There also has appeared to be some multimedia support software "discontinuities" over the past couple of years.

It appeared that ATI moved from including its longstanding Multi-Media Center (MMC) software to adding 3rd party software (e.g. Cyberlink's PowerCinema 3.0, etc.) with its Theater 550 PRO based products. The following reviews appear to give the 550 PRO chip reasonably good ratings, but have "less than adequate" recommendations for the 3rd party multimedia software, with many tests uncovering major problems and significant limitations with the software:

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/...r_550_pro/defa ult.asp, with notes regarding software at http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/...r_550_pro/page 6.asp and http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/...r_550_pro/page 8.asp.

http://www.beyond3d.com/reviews/ati/550pro/, with notes regarding software at http://www.beyond3d.com/reviews/ati/550pro/index.php?p=03 and http://www.beyond3d.com/reviews/ati/550pro/index.php?p=07.

http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=1752, with notes regarding software at http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.c...id=1752&page=4 and http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.c...id=1752&page=6.

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2393&p=1, with notes regarding software at http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2393&p=9.

...

With the Theater 650 PRO, it appears that ATI is once again providing "in-house" multimedia software, but with a new package called Catalyst Media Center. Here is some information/reviews of the Theater 650 PRO and associated products:

http://www.htpcnews.com/index.php?op...ontent&task=vi ew&id=256&Itemid=51.

http://www.anandtech.com/multimedia/showdoc.aspx?i=2778.

http://www.hothardware.com/viewartic...ticleid=851&ci d=2, with notes regarding software at http://www.hothardware.com/viewartic...ge=5&articleid =851&cid=2 and http://www.hothardware.com/viewartic...ge=6&articleid =851&cid=2.

http://reviews.cnet.com/ATI_Theater_...05-8902_7-3190 8877.html?tag=txt.

...

The big question appears to be does the new Catalyst Media Center provide the functionality and video parameter configuration granularity of the current (old) MMC software. Per links on the ATI website such as http://ati.amd.com/products/catalyst...ter/index.html, I have not been able to glean a lot of detail. The ATI website has always appeared to me to be big on "marketing", but light on specifications and details as to exactly what the software will and won't do. Perhaps it's there and I'm just not seeing it. From the screen shots included in the hothardware.com review, it doesn't look like there is a lot of granularity.

The CNET review above appears to imply that all of this will be moot anyway when CableCard is fully implemented. Not being very familiar with CableCard and the demarcations of this technology, I do not know if this will be true or not. There will continue to be a need however for capture/encoding of basic analog source from archived VHS/8mm, etc. videos and home movies.

If anyone has any more information or understands the ATI market strategy, please provide input. These things will be good to keep in mind for future upgrades.

---

Note: Edited this post as word processor based characters (quotes (""), etc.) were changed to question marks (?). - mitch
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02-14-2007, 08:08 PM
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Thanks for the great overview, mitch! I complicate my situation by capturing lossless HuffYUV-encoded avi. I'm using VirtualDub, which is still VFW. I process the avi streams using AviSynth.

Kevin, in your opinion what would be the PCI A-I-W card to get for a new system. No plans to go to Vista anytime soon.

Thanks also for your input, Wineslurper! It would seem that I need the primo PCI-based Theatre 200 card. I know that works with my Radeon 7500 AGP card.
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  #10  
02-16-2007, 05:08 PM
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Your Welcome! I am looking for a solution also. Kevin said to try a 7200 pci card. What MMC release will work with it? I hope 9.02
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02-17-2007, 07:42 AM
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On my own ATI AIW 7200 AGP card, I was using ATI MMC 9.02 but recently rolled back to ATI MMC 8.7 because 9.0x has troubles with PAL composite/s-video inputs. The newest ATI MMC 9.1x dropped PAL/SECAM options altogether on NTSC tuner cards. ATI seems to abandon features these days rather than fix them (even after they break them).

For me, this is a problem, as I use my ATI AIW card for PAL capturing out of a PAL S-VHS VCR (to create either PAL DVDs, or to convert to NTSC using VLC with X-mode deinterlace, my laptop nVidia output, and a JVC DVD recorder... a method that works quite well).

While these downloads are no longer available on ATI.com, I have them if you need them.

I have to say I have little faith in modern ATI cards, especially now with AMD at the helm. Having tried the 550 cards, I was left very dissatisfied, it felt more like a 2000-era BT8x8 card, because of how bad the software options were.

The ATI AIW 7200 PCI card in my second computer runs ATI MMC 8.7 also.

If you really want 9.02 or even 9.14, those are options, but some of the features in the 9.x version of MMC are broken or missing. The newest 9.14 of MMC, for example, no longer has VideoSoap at all.

It seems 8.7 is the most perfect version of ATI MMC, and given how ATI no longer offers the download, I'll probably make it available publically on the site guides in the future (probably make the addition when I implement the site re-design and upgrades here in about April timeframe).

From what I can see, Catalyst Media Center is nothing more than an ATI re-brand of Cyberlink software, with heavy emphasis on TIVO-like ability and output to TV, a home theatre PC (HTPC). It's less and less about recording these days. I fear many capture card companies have relented 100% to DVD recorders, and now have shifted focus to an HTPC market instead.

The sad part here, the irony, is that DVD recorders are getting worse, not better. The 2004-2005 era machines are much better than the 2006-2007 era machines. Between 720x480 forced encoding at all presets, and various flaws with TV Guide On Screen (TVGOS), the newest of DVD recorders are becoming less attractive than VHS VCRs.

So rest assured your "old" technology (2001-2004 capture cards, 2004-2005 DVD recorders) are some of the better choices for those of us who want to actually make high quality videos, not just watch them.

On a final note, if you're having trouble finding a ATI AIW 7200 PCI card, I'll swap mine for a ATI AIW AGP 9800 card. Now those are easy to find on eBay, and are in the $50 range.



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  #12  
03-09-2007, 02:39 AM
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Get the ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCIe
This card has the Theatre 200, the only PCIe card that does.


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  #13  
03-09-2007, 05:35 PM
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Hi Kevin, That is what I have in my new computer now. It will not work with any MMC that has video soap. I have tried all the versions of mmc that are compatible with it and I am not happy. I know it has Theater 200 but ATI has told me it will not work with the older MMC versions. If someone knows how to get it to work with 9.02 or 8.7 I would love to find out how. I am heading for a 7200 pci if all else fails.
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