Guide to Playing HD-DVDs on a PC - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:29 PM
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Default Guide to Playing HD-DVDs on a PC

My original post can be found here on page 3. CochiseGuy suggested I repost my overview of connecting a PC HD-DVD Rom Drive and getting it to play movies in this section, so I will try to one up my previous post by cleaning it up and adding more info I didn't previously mention. This "Guide" is really my personal experience in getting HD-DVDs playing flawlessly on my system. My PC is not setup to be a HTPC, I have little experience with HTPCs so you with need to do further research if you are trying to update your system to become one.

Do not attempt to upgrade your computer if you have little or no knowledge of internal pc components.

What you will need to get your PC to play HD-DVDs:
-A pc with Windows XP or Vista
-A HD-DVD Rom Drive or XBox 360 Add-on
-A fairly decent video card capable of handling and processing HD video.
-A decent processor, 3ghz is the minimum requirement, but I have heard of some 2.6ghz+ AMD systems working
-At least 512mb of Ram/Memory, 1gb for Vista users
-A HDCP compliant monitor or AnyDVD HD
-A software based HD-DVD player such as PowerDVD 8 Ultra with the HD-DVD hack, or WinDVD 8 with HD Playback
-XBox 360 HD-DVD Add-On users will need a empty USB 2.0 port on their pc

To determine if your pc will be capable of playing HD-DVDs with this drive the first step you should take is installing and running the Cyberlink HD/BD Advisor from here.

Upon running the Cyberlink Advisor you will be able to determine what parts of your system will or will not be capable of playing HD-Content. I was able to determine that my Video Card wasn't up to the minimum requirements. Because my pc is an older P4 system without a pci-express slot I was limited on what video cards I could buy. I do not play games on my pc so I decided to just go with one of the cheapest AGP cards I could find that was on the list of recommended video cards. However if you do plan to play games on your system you will likely want to research a better card than what I ended up choosing. The best place to look is New Egg or Tiger Direct, just make sure to read user reviews and search for reviews else where on the internet such as Toms Hardware as well.

After a few hours of research I ended up deciding to get a Sapphire Radeon HD 2400 PRO AGP, 256mb card, mostly due to it being cheap, but also because it did not have anywhere near as many problem posts online compared to the next cards up, the Radeon HD2600 series. The card was $50 + $6 shipping, plus it has a $15 mail in rebate, so $41 made it a great bargain for me.

Once the video card arrived and I installed it using the latest drivers from the official Sapphire website for Windows XP 32bit. If you have Vista or XP 64bit you will need to go there to download the appropriate drivers if you decide to pick one of those Sapphire HD 2400 cards up. I recommend the latest drivers because the ones on the disc are outdated and have been reported to have several issues that cause system instability. If you decide upon another card or already have a video card that is acceptable, you will likely need to install the latest drivers for it.

After getting the card setup I ran the Cyberlink HD/BD Advisor again which still told me I did not have a HD-DVD drive installed. I installed the drive when it arrived the next day and Windows automatically detected it and was able to see discs when I placed them in the drive. However I should note that I had previously used a 360 Add-On drive on my pc which at the time required me to install the UDF 2.5 File System Drivers on my pc which XP users will need. For Vista users, Windows should automatically detect the file system and drive. Without the driver Windows will not show that there is a disc in the drive and might lead you to believe your drive or disc are faulty.

Playback Software:
After installing the drive I attempted to play my 1st HD-DVD in the drive, with Cyberlink Power DVD 6.5 with HD-DVD support. Unfortunately I was greeted with a blank error message and then the disc did not play and I no longer could find the disc to reinstall PowerDVD 6.5. After a bit of research I decided to buy the latest version of Power DVD Ultra even though it has HD-DVD playback removed... you may be asking "why?" Well I took a chance because I read about a hack that added HD-DVD playback back into Power DVD 8 Ultra edition. Once I installed Power DVD 8 Ultra Edition and applied the hack I tried to play the HD-DVD again and this time I was successful with no errors or stuttering. You may have some success with other software, but before purchasing anything you need to make sure it has the ability to play HD-DVDs. Some basic versions of WinDVD & PowerDVD offer the ability to only play DVDs and CDs, so make sure you either buy PowerDVD 8 Ultra Edition and apply the HD-DVD Hack, or you research the software you are thinking about getting before you lay down the cash. Some newer versions of software based players have removed HD-DVD playback so again please research before you buy.

HDCP:
A note of great importance, if your monitor is not HDCP compliant you will have to purchase AnyDVD HD or a new monitor. There is no way around it other than you might be able to connect your monitor using the VGA connection instead of DVI and in some cases it will work. Just keep in mind by using the VGA connection instead of DVI you will be converting the signal to analog and therefore losing some of the image quality. I already had AnyDVD and was able to purchase the upgrade to the HD edition which allows my non-HDCP compliant monitor to play HD-DVDs.

Playback:
Some of you may be able to get away with not buying PowerDVD 8 Ultra or WinDVD with HD-DVD support because you have something else to play HD-DVD files or already have a version that has HD-DVD support. Some of you may also get away with not having to buy AnyDVD HD to bypass the HDCP video protection. The 1st step you should take in deciding whether it's worth it to add HD-DVD playback support is to install the DB/HD Advisor and see what it says. The software aspect of things will set you back $100 or more and may not be worth it to some. However it should be noted that AnyDVD HD will allow you to backup your HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, & copy protected DVD discs to your pc for backup purposes which may be worth it to those who have some of the more expensive HD-DVD titles that can not be cheaply replaced.

Hope this helps in some way,
Jason

My system specs:
OS: Windows XP Pro
CPU: P4 3.2Ghz (LGA775, 800mhz bus, single core)
Memory: 1gb (2x 512mb, PC3200)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 2400 PRO (AGP)
HD-DVD Rom Drive: Toshiba SD-H802A (2.4x, IDE)
Monitor: Hanns·G HW-191DPB 19" 5ms (Connected via DVI)

I'll try to update this guide if I come up with anything else to add to it.

Disclaimer:
This guide is provided "AS-IS" with no warranty if you destroy your system trying to get it to play HD-DVDs. I will not be held accountable for any damage you might cause. It is based upon my own experience upgrading my pc to play HD-DVDs and is almost exactly the same steps I took to get HD-DVD playback.

Last edited by kfelon; 06-04-2008 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:00 PM
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Thanks kfelon for making the thread. I think it will be great to have one thread for exchanging info for high-def playback on PCs.

A question regarding HDCP. I'm using a Vizio 20" 720p HDTV for a monitor, it accepts up to 1080i input via HDMI or component. That Sapphire HD 2400 card you bought looks like it has an adapter similar to what my ATI All-in-Wonder has for using s-video connection & converting it to component output:



Apparently s-video does not using all the pins; by using all the pins in the connector ATI is able out output up to 1080i out through it. Wouldn't using component output to the monitor make AnyDVD HD not required?


And regrading processor requirements, doublejack made an excellent post in the bargains thread regarding minimum processor requirements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublejack View Post
As I stated earlier in the thread, a 2.25GHz AMD processor is actually fast enough if you have a video card that will do hardware decoding. The codecs used to encode high def media (such as VC-1 or H.264) can be decoded by either the GPU, or by the CPU using a brute force via software approach. The minimum recommendations assume no help for the CPU, ergo the steep requirements. However, if you have a newer video card such as an ATI HD-2600 or an HD-3450 then the GPU does nearly all of the work and you don't need much CPU power. Your 2.25GHz CPU would be overkill in some situations. It all depends.

The best way to tell exactly what your system is capable of is to download some test videos. You can get several true HD videos right from microsoft's website, among others.
Thanks, I'll try some of those HD videos from Microsoft. A question: when coupling an HD-2600 card with a slower processor, is it worthwhile to go with 512MB memory onthe card instead of 256MB?
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:04 PM
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I can also confirm the cheap HD-DVD drive that was posted here will playback fine if you connect it with a cheap IDE to USB 2.0 connector or a external enclosure. I used one of these during initial testing before connecting the drive in my pc tower.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:11 PM
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Great post kfelon!

And can anyone comment on the pros and cons of using the Xbox add-on relative to installing an internal drive like the one sold by Geeks.com?
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CochiseGuy View Post
Thanks kfelon for making the thread. I think it will be great to have one thread for exchanging info for high-def playback on PCs.

A question regarding HDCP. I'm using a Vizio 20" 720p HDTV for a monitor, it accepts up to 1080i input via HDMI or component. That Sapphire HD 2400 card you bought looks like it has an adapter similar to what my ATI All-in-Wonder has for using s-video connection & converting it to component output
From what I understand most if not all the AGP cards do not have an HDMI connector and would require a separate adapter. Even if you go buy the adapter you will not be able to transfer sound via the cable since the card does not have any onboard sound processors. If you have a PCI-Express connection on your motherboard you will be able to purchase much better cards that do have sound processing and on board HDMI, unfortunately I have limited experience using HMDI/SVideo/Component on my PC and can only provide second hand info in that regard.

:Edit:
I believe HDCP is not carried over a component connection. From what I understand about S-Video to Component that there is some signal loss and you will not get full HD output.

Last edited by kfelon; 05-28-2008 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobF View Post
Great post kfelon!

And can anyone comment on the pros and cons of using the Xbox add-on relative to installing an internal drive like the one sold by Geeks.com?
Well, the add-on sure is a lot easier to install - set the drive on top of your PC, connect the USB cable & the power cord and you're up & running. The internal drive is around $27 shipped if I recall; I got a new add-on for $35 shipped and went with that. And my PC only has one slot for an internal DVD drive, and I have a great +R / -R writable drive in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kfelon View Post
From what I understand most if not all the AGP cards do not have an HDMI connector and would require a separate adapter. Even if you go buy the adapter you will not be able to transfer sound via the cable since the card does not have any onboard sound processors. If you have a PCI-Express connection on your motherboard you will be able to purchase much better cards that do have sound processing and on board HDMI, unfortunately I have limited experience using HMDI/SVideo/Component on my PC and can only provide second hand info in that regard.

:Edit:
I believe HDCP is not carried over a component connection. From what I understand about S-Video to Component that there is some signal loss and you will not get full HD output.
How did you connect to your monitor, with DVI? That doesn't carry audio either. The playback software directs the audio to the PC's audio card, right? That S-video to Component connector was included with your video card, wasn't it? With the same S-video to component adapter on my ATI All-in-Wonder card, I get up to 1080i output.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:46 PM
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This thread is really informative - many thanks.
I would add that for those of you who want to be able to back up any of your hd-dvd titles to hard disc, but do not need to purchase Anydvd for any other purpose, you can use the free version of DvdFabHDDecryptor. http://www.dvdfab.com/free.htm
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobF View Post
Great post kfelon!

And can anyone comment on the pros and cons of using the Xbox add-on relative to installing an internal drive like the one sold by Geeks.com?
The internal drive is very inexpensive (I got mine for under $16 since I ordered something else along with it and used the discount code mentioned elsewhere). Shipping for the total order was $8.
Generally speaking, I find internally installed drives run faster and more reliably. Not having another box/wires, etc. hanging around is nice also. But there is no reason an external drive connected via USB2 shouldn't work just fine.
You also have to consider whether you want to tie up a drive bay for a rom drive in your computer. I guess it depends on how much you plan to use it.
I happen to have an external USB2 drive case sitting around doing nothing useful and plan to install the Toshiba HD-DVD drive in that and see if it works ok. hhhhdvd
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Old 05-28-2008, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CochiseGuy View Post
Well, the add-on sure is a lot easier to install - set the drive on top of your PC, connect the USB cable & the power cord and you're up & running. The internal drive is around $27 shipped if I recall; I got a new add-on for $35 shipped and went with that. And my PC only has one slot for an internal DVD drive, and I have a great +R / -R writable drive in it.



How did you connect to your monitor, with DVI? That doesn't carry audio either. The playback software directs the audio to the PC's audio card, right? That S-video to Component connector was included with your video card, wasn't it? With the same S-video to component adapter on my ATI All-in-Wonder card, I get up to 1080i output.
I currently used a DVI monitor and not a HDTV that is why I used the DVI connector. Also if I ever turn the pc to a HTPC I figured I'd just reroute the audio through my receiver and use a DVI to HDMI adapter if I couldn't get the component adapter to display correctly.

Yes the sound is directed out my sound card to my stereo I have on my desk. Yes the S-Video to Component adapter cable was included in the box along with the DVI to VGA connector, the drivers disc, and the card itself.

If your current All In Wonder card is outputting 1080i, then maybe the HD2400, HD2600, or HD3450 will do the same. You could then output the audio with a special red white Y Splitter that you are probably already using for sound output to the TV.

Thanks,
Jason

:EDIT:
After further research I am unable to find out if the HD 2400 or HD 2600 is capable of outputting a 720p or 1080i signal through the S-Video/Component adapter. Hopefully someone else will be able to help you in this department.
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Old 05-28-2008, 04:15 PM
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Nice post...

It took me weeks of back and forth research months ago when I was doing this on my own. It can be a VERY tricky and confusing subject for a pc novice.I will stress that PROPER HARDWARE choice is absolutely critical to success.

A word of caution though.... Most current HTPC setups will NOT support multichannel Lossless Audio Codecs!! I have put my "final build" on hold as I am going to wait for the newer 8000 series integrated mobos as they apparently can pass 8 channel lossless audio.

A side note.... My HD DVD "addiction" only actually began on March 29th with the purchase of an Xbox Add-on (with King Kong) from a liquidation center for $ 25!

Who knew! )
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