computer for a tv

jackjohnson44 used Ask the Experts™
I just bought a 65" plasma and wanted to hook a computer up to it so I could rip dvds to it and play them back later.   I will have fios dvr and won't want it for that.  I also have google tv and internet on my dvd and tv so I don't really need it for that either.  I was thinking of just using it for video and possibly some mild windows 7 stuff from the couch.  I might hook up speakers so I could use it to play my mp3s or spotify.

My question is about the video card with an hdmi output.  I have an old dell server, but was thinking that it might be eaiser to just buy a small new box.  Should I just get a card in an old box?  They are different prices and I don't know the difference.  Should I get a new computer just for that purpose?  Is there another option?  I definitely want it to be windows though.
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Do you know what kind of slot you have for a video card on your motherboard?  Also, the power supply plays a role too.

Usually any video card with HDMI on it will work.  nvidia or ati makes no difference.
Hi. Your question is somewhat difficult to answer, but I'd anyway give you my opinion based on the information you give.

Of course it is always tempting to reuse hardware you already have, and that might actually be a good idea. But it depends on what this hardware is; both because of performance and stability. Because you want to use it to playback video, you would want a CPU that is not to slow, and also plenty of RAM. And of course you'd need a ok graphic card. I don't know how much you want to spend, but you might want to go for the mid-range prized cards. But you might come across some problems... Is your old hardware windows 7 compatible? Maybe unofficially yes, but you can maybe (not nececarily..) have problems with stability. Do you have enough RAM in your old configuration? If you need more; will you need to by expensive out-dated RAM? Maybe... And if you are bying a graphic card, can you buy a PCI-express card? Or is your hardware old so you need something with a different interface? And last but not least; what about your disk... how many hours has it been running? You know; it is not a question of "if", but a question of "when" your harddrive crashes... The more hours, the more likely it is to crash.

If you buy a new box, you'd probably get cheaper RAM, a bigger disk, and you don't really need a very expensive graphic card... because the total configuration is anyway so much better than you previous hardware.

Sometimes I also reuse old hardware for new purposes, and 80 % of the time I regret my decicion:-) But the other 20 % I lay back, enjoying my success, and thinking about the money saved.

My opinion is that if your old hardware is less then 2-3 years old, I'd might consider reusing, but if its any older, I would buy a new box.

As a final note, I'd also say that if your old hardware is a Dell Server, it gives out to much noise to have it in the living room. You can forget it if you are married:-)

Good luck!
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions Consulting

Get something quiet. I like the mac mini personally (I like mine running windows 7).
Ensure you’re charging the right price for your IT

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden using our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Start calculating Now!

Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

I've bought several of these to drive my flat panel HDTVs -- they work great for playing DVDs, streaming NetFlix, playing recorded TV from my Beyond TV server; etc.


gary, that is exactly what I was looking for.  Thanks.  A card will be at least a hundred, and if that thing is only 300, it is a much better option, especially after reading tommy's comments.

Since I am going to go that route, are there any upgrades to consider?  I don't mind spending a little more, as long as it isn't a ton.

Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
The units are great exactly as they come.    The only thing you may want to add is a DVD drive ... this is a good one:

It's not needed -- unless you plan to rip your DVDs to that system -- but is a handy unit to have around.

I assume your rips will be to another system and you'll play them across the network (as I do) ... but with that drive you could rip directly to that system.

The Revo's are really amazing little units.   VERY small ... and they only consume ~ 20 watts of power.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial