Quantcast Why choose vintage ATI card over USB dongles? - digitalFAQ Forum
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08-12-2019, 01:55 PM
bobbintb bobbintb is offline
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I see here that the old ATI All in Wonder cards are really popular. I'm still reading a lot of posts but I'm wondering why so many are choosing legacy hardware over some of the more common USB adapters. I realize there are a lot of crappy Chinese ones but it seems there are plenty of higher quality ones, I'd imagine. Or even some of the newer PCIe card instead of the old AGP. Is it just preference or do the older ones actually produce better results?
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  #2  
08-12-2019, 02:04 PM
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Quality.

On a scale of good, better, best, AIW is best.
None of the USB options are best. Just good and better.

And as mentioned, worse. But AGP/PCI also had worse. Just nobody talks about those anymore, most BT-based cards.

The PCIe AIW was crippled compared to the AGP/PCI. Drivers removed abilities. PCIe's ATI MMC 9.1.x removed important features (example: dropped frames counter).

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08-12-2019, 02:32 PM
bobbintb bobbintb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Quality.

On a scale of good, better, best, AIW is best.
None of the USB options are best. Just good and better.

And as mentioned, worse. But AGP/PCI also had worse. Just nobody talks about those anymore, most BT-based cards.

The PCIe AIW was crippled compared to the AGP/PCI. Drivers removed abilities. PCIe's ATI MMC 9.1.x removed important features (example: dropped frames counter).
I guess I'm just not clear on how it was better. By quality do you mean better capturing quality? I was just going to get a USB dongle or something, provided it did not try to compress the video and I can't find anything I have lying around. Other than that, I'm just not exactly sure what else to consider. What specifically was crippled in the PCIe? Aren't there modified drivers that restore those features? The reading I've been doing on this forum mostly seems to indicate that around that time, ATI was king due to how much cheaper it was than competitor cards and later cards focused on PVR vs transfer. But I'm not quite clear on how that translates to results or how it compares to what is available now. On the software side as well, does the card need specific software? Why choose the old ATI software over Premier Pro or OBS studio? I usually try to avoid the software that cards come with because in my experience, it's usually a pain and does a poor job. I just don't see any specific reasons why a newer capture device and Premiere Pro wouldn't be better than trying to dig up an old AGP card and use the vendor software. I believe you when you say it's best. I'm just trying to understand the reasoning a little better before I go make the effort.

Additionally, I recently got rid of a bunch of hardware. I still may have an old motherboard with AGP but has anyone tried using one of the AGPs card with an AGP to PCIe adapter?

Last edited by bobbintb; 08-12-2019 at 02:42 PM.
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08-12-2019, 02:57 PM
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It's not just about compression. It's about correct video values: IRE, color, luma, etc.

No, there are not any modified ATI drivers for video. For graphics, yes, but those have nothing to do with the Theatre chip video. The PCIe cards had problems due to bad PCIe drivers.

For MPEG, ATI MMC is required. And that's one reason for the AIW. It does 15/20mbps max, which can be archival, sub-broadcast, BD spec. The MPEG is hybrid software/hardware encoding.

The other is correct values. Rarely is an AIW out of spec, and require you to fiddle with proc amp controls internally per system. Calibration is an art, and also requires calibrated monitor to do it. As an example, the VC500 tends to run dark, and the ATI 600 clones tend to run a bit bright. You can guess the values, both are good cards. But "best" is the AIW, rarely is it incorrect.

OBS is streaming software, not capture
Premiere is an NLE, not capture.
Both have many issues, specifically in regards to dropped frames. Because, again, not capture software.

There's nothing "old" or "vintage" about ATI. It's legacy hardware, still viable for modern use.

Yes, software that comes with cards is usually junk. ATI MMC was an exception to the rule.

There are no AGP>PCIe adapters. The tech is not compatible whatsoever.

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08-12-2019, 02:59 PM
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I started with ATI USB 600, then switched to PCIe AIW (x600 pro to be exact).

The biggest difference I see involves adjusting your video levels during capture to avoid clipping shadow or highlight. Much has been said in this forum before. Basically, the Virtualdub Preview mode histogram is used to ensure your video is not below 16 or above 235 to avoid crushing shadow or highlight. See the Virtualdub Capture Guide thread in this forum for more on that.

The difference is the USB has no proc amp control (Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, Color). So if the output of your video into the USB capture device is too high or low, you have to get a proc amp to insert in the video path. Otherwise, you are going to capture things with a lot of blown out shadow or highlight. It is quite likely, in my experience, you will need some kind of proc amp control somewhere in the video chain. It is much cheaper to have an AIW catpure card (AGP or PCIe), which DOES have an internal proc amp control to allow adjustment of brightness and contrast, so you don't clip.

This is more subjective, but I also personally thought the quality of the captures was better with the PCIe x600 I got, compared to the ATI USB 600. I think there was less noise, and therefore a bit more efficient capture bitrate (using HuffYUV). Just my personal experience, anyway.

As has also been noted on this forum, if you get a PCIe AIW that is recommended, you have to get two additional cables to connect to the card. Non-PCIe just has the usual purple or domino breakout box/cable. Those are cheap and easy to find, in my experience. For PCIe, you also need an additional connector that you plug between the card input connector and the aforementioned purple or domino breakout box/cable. To complicate even more with those PCIe, it depends which model you get, because there are two variants of this cable. There are gory details about this in this thread that show pictures of what they look like. Black screen on AIW X600 Pro composite/svideo inputs?
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08-12-2019, 03:21 PM
bobbintb bobbintb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
It's not just about compression. It's about correct video values: IRE, color, luma, etc.

No, there are not any modified ATI drivers for video. For graphics, yes, but those have nothing to do with the Theatre chip video. The PCIe cards had problems due to bad PCIe drivers.

For MPEG, ATI MMC is required. And that's one reason for the AIW. It does 15/20mbps max, which can be archival, sub-broadcast, BD spec. The MPEG is hybrid software/hardware encoding.

The other is correct values. Rarely is an AIW out of spec, and require you to fiddle with proc amp controls internally per system. Calibration is an art, and also requires calibrated monitor to do it. As an example, the VC500 tends to run dark, and the ATI 600 clones tend to run a bit bright. You can guess the values, both are good cards. But "best" is the AIW, rarely is it incorrect.

OBS is streaming software, not capture
Premiere is an NLE, not capture.
Both have many issues, specifically in regards to dropped frames. Because, again, not capture software.

There's nothing "old" or "vintage" about ATI. It's legacy hardware, still viable for modern use.

Yes, software that comes with cards is usually junk. ATI MMC was an exception to the rule.

There are no AGP>PCIe adapters. The tech is not compatible whatsoever.
Ah, that's very helpful,thanks. don't know why I said "vintage" when I said "legacy" everywhere else. In regards to the software, it's been a while since I've used Premiere but while it is mainly NLE, it does capture as well. I'm assuming what you mean by that is that you cannot capture with the level of adequacy that software specifically designed for capture can. OBS also does do capture in addition to streaming as I've used it for that very purpose recently. But that probably falls into the same category of it can capture that Premiere does.

While I've never used one, there are in fact AGP to PCIe adapters. Or at least there were, once upon a time. I'm highly dubious of their effectiveness though, which is why I ask.

Assuming no barriers to entry, which of the AIW cards would you recommend? Is this the list I should be looking at?:
ATI All In Wonder Hacks, Drivers, Codecs and MMC

Last edited by bobbintb; 08-12-2019 at 03:54 PM.
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  #7  
08-12-2019, 05:09 PM
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NLE capturing well is arguable. It causes dropped frames more than not. And it doesn't preserve the captured file without further re-encode processing. NLEs don't have "stream copy"/lossless type export features. Any NLE capture is double encoded on output.

I don't understand the love of OBS. It's a fad as far as I'm concerned, in terms of analog video capture. It has a much larger resource overhead that VirtualDub, and it shows, causes problems. Yes, not much different than NLE capturing, in resource terms.

OBS is a streaming tool, use it as designed.
Premiere/NLEs are for editing, use as designed.
Problems happen with video when afterthought features are used, such as SD capturing with BM cards.

AGP to PCIe would have to be some sort of scammy Chinese device. There may be some weird situation where a PCIe card was actually designed as AGP, adapter to PCIe, and cold be adapter back. I remember stuff like that going back to the early 90s, weird backwards-compatible (backwards, period!) type hardware. But those are oddballs, not general-use adapters. It's like Firewire>USB, which doesn't exist as such, but a few unique devices can adapt specific data transfers by connecting to both.

The AGP 7500, 8500, 9000, 9200 are generally easiest to install and acquire. No special adapters, no unique quirks. I have the 9600 cards, special adapter, quirks. Also the PCI 7500, rare, quirks, which I use with far more recent hardware than AGP, yet still supports XP. Also AIW USB. XP required for AIW>

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08-12-2019, 06:03 PM
bobbintb bobbintb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
NLE capturing well is arguable. It causes dropped frames more than not. And it doesn't preserve the captured file without further re-encode processing. NLEs don't have "stream copy"/lossless type export features. Any NLE capture is double encoded on output.

I don't understand the love of OBS. It's a fad as far as I'm concerned, in terms of analog video capture. It has a much larger resource overhead that VirtualDub, and it shows, causes problems. Yes, not much different than NLE capturing, in resource terms.

OBS is a streaming tool, use it as designed.
Premiere/NLEs are for editing, use as designed.
Problems happen with video when afterthought features are used, such as SD capturing with BM cards.

AGP to PCIe would have to be some sort of scammy Chinese device. There may be some weird situation where a PCIe card was actually designed as AGP, adapter to PCIe, and cold be adapter back. I remember stuff like that going back to the early 90s, weird backwards-compatible (backwards, period!) type hardware. But those are oddballs, not general-use adapters. It's like Firewire>USB, which doesn't exist as such, but a few unique devices can adapt specific data transfers by connecting to both.

The AGP 7500, 8500, 9000, 9200 are generally easiest to install and acquire. No special adapters, no unique quirks. I have the 9600 cards, special adapter, quirks. Also the PCI 7500, rare, quirks, which I use with far more recent hardware than AGP, yet still supports XP. Also AIW USB. XP required for AIW>
Yeah, that's pretty much what I though you meant when you said they don't do capture. I think OBS is just a quick and easy solution and mostly used for making YouTube stuff anyway so I don't think the target audience cares about the limitations we would for our purposes. I set up a little studio for my kid to make videos with and OBS was a good solution for that.

I looked at the AGP PCIe adapter and I think there was only one company that made it and, as expected, it had it's limitations. I only remembered that one actually existed so I wasn't sure. Plus I doubt there are any, even if it did work.

Looks like I'm going to have to hit the electronics recycler because only a few months ago I cleaned out a bunch of my old computer parts I was certain I'd never need, including anything with AGP. I could have sworn I had an AIW but if I did I got rid of it then too. Looking at the images of cards, none of them look familiar so maybe I didn't. I know I had a Hauppauge at one point though. I think I traded that a while back.

One last question. Do these cards usually connect to equipment via coax? I imaged they would be S-video but it looks like they are all coax. Pictures on eBay suck so maybe there are S-video ports I'm not seeing. Thanks all for the advice.

Last edited by bobbintb; 08-12-2019 at 06:17 PM.
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  #9  
08-12-2019, 09:53 PM
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Once upon a time, NTSC AIW had analog coax for analog cable/air. Worthless now.
PAL had whatever that aerial connection is.

AIW are all s-video and composite via the purple/domino break-out box (aka dongle). Only use s-video.

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