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I'm a high school student, so my resources are minimal. My question is, what are the minimum hardware requirements for DVD/CD playback? I want to set up a stereo/DVD player in my room. I want to set up a workstation that will double as a media PC. Would a P2 be good enough, or do I need something more? RAM capacity? Other suggestions? My budget is pretty much anything less than $100. Thanks
Video playback depends on a few factors. Most important are the CPU speed and video card. A P2 might work, if you have an MPEG decoder card or a video card with sufficient hardware assist. I've tried a P2 266 with an ATI Rage Pro and MPEG2 playback was jerky. However, my friend apparently managed with a GeForce4. Still, I'd suggest you go for a P3, or a 400Mhz+ P2 at the very least. Generally, the faster, the smoother. To give you a guide, I remember seeing DVD computers with P2 400/450. One person has told me he uses a P3 550. I use a 650 and it plays MPEG2 smoothly most of the time, but with low deinterlacer settings.
Get a video card with good Xvideo support. It doesn't have to be high end. Onboard video shouldn't be too bad (you can't go wrong with Intel graphics here). Be cautious of some older nVidia cards (my old TNT2 shows tearing on some video pans).
You shouldn't need too much RAM. I suggest 128Mb bare minimum. 192-256Mb would be better, especially if you run KDE, Openoffice.
Hard disk space is no biggie either. An old 3gb drive could do if you don't intend to store any media files on it. But don't be afraid to go for 6gb+ if you have large or lots of workstation apps. Add more again for any media storage, eg MP3 collection. You could have 2 drives - smaller one for apps and a bigger one for media.
Buy a used xbox and soft-mod it. Best deal you can get out of microsoft actually. In fact, I hear they loose money every time they sell one. If enough people were to buy them and not purchase any xbox accessories or games, MS would have to discontinue them.
I now have a living-room PC (newer hence faster), but I used to watch DVDs on my main PC, which is a PII 350. This is the extreme lower limit though, because I had to run Xine absolutely alone (with X, but no window manager, no service on boot except sound), and I still encountered some occasional saccades (barely worse than your average cheap living-room DVD player, however).
if your budget is under $150, then just buy a cheap DVD player set top and you will be golden. you can find them for as little as $30 and they will have all of the connections you need/want to get to your TV and stereo.
a computer media box is not cheap and yes an 1100 with 512 - 1G of ram and a nice Nvidia vid card will work well.
i have an AMD 1100 with 1G pc 2100 (may even be older 133) with an Nvidia GFx 5200 128M vid card and my only issue now is figuring out why my NFS server and the LAN tends to bog down with some of the movies i have for my kids like Madagascar and other animated shows, but things like M*A*S*H work just fine without a burp.
that has to be something in my LAN or my NFS server as everything local on my media box runs very smooth.
again that box when i built is (few years back) cost between $500 - $800, today it would still run you between $300- $500 so way more then your budget.
make a trip to walmart or target or any electrics store that sells set top DVD players and buy a cheap one.