How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/device? - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 09-25-2010, 11:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/device?

Hi everyone!

I have two computers systems set up right next to each other. My wife and I just watched the Oregon/Boise football game on live OTA TV with Microsoft Media Center using both systems [first time we compared the systems side by side].

System A
GTX+ 9800 GPU
Acer 19" monitor
Pinnacle PCTV 800e USB TV capture stick

System B
GTS 250 GPU
21.5" Acer monitor
Hauppauge WinTV HVR 1600 PCI capture card

We recognized a huge difference between the two. Here are some of the main differences:

Colors on System A much more vivid and deep whereas System B colors appear somewhat faded and dull.
Clarity on System A much more clear.
System A was somehow approximately 0.05-1 second faster in picking up and broadcasting the OTA signal.

My question is this: How might I determine if the quality difference is located in my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/device?

Does the motherboard and/or CPU play much of a role in these differences?

Last question: Is there someway I can adjust the GPU to create better colors and clarity?

I would appreciate some understanding in these areas.

Thanks,

Soar
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/devic

Since both GPU's are nVidia it should be easy to rule that out. Open the nVidia Control Panel and look at the Desktop Color Settings (or something like that, my main PC is ATi and I am going from memory on nVidia settings). You should find a setting called "Digital Vibrance" which adjusts how colorful/vivid the image is. Make sure both cards have it set the same. Also make sure both cards are using the same connection to the monitors (HDMI, DVI, or VGA, the color is different between them). In fact, try connecting both to the same monitor to rule out the monitor difference. Test one at a time so you can use the same interface to the monitor.

Generally clarity is an issue with the tuner. A better tuner will tune a clearer picture. Also the use of splitters or low quality cables can affect picture quality, especially when using analog cable sources. If using an antenna, test one at a time using the same antenna in the same position with the same cable, an antenna can change quality if you move it to an area where the signal is worse, and two antennas in two different positions may not get the same signal quality.

Once you rule out the monitor you can hook up the two systems next to each other to test the delay. Delay can be caused by the tuner card, the CPU, the hard drive, or just about anything. I know Windows Media Center does buffer the content so it has a delay and it also uses this delay to record the stream to disk (it's like a DVR, you can rewind live TV so it does take a bit of time to record the stream as you watch it).
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/devic

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalcProgrammer1 View Post
Since both GPU's are nVidia it should be easy to rule that out. Open the nVidia Control Panel and look at the Desktop Color Settings (or something like that, my main PC is ATi and I am going from memory on nVidia settings). You should find a setting called "Digital Vibrance" which adjusts how colorful/vivid the image is. Make sure both cards have it set the same. Also make sure both cards are using the same connection to the monitors (HDMI, DVI, or VGA, the color is different between them). In fact, try connecting both to the same monitor to rule out the monitor difference. Test one at a time so you can use the same interface to the monitor.

Generally clarity is an issue with the tuner. A better tuner will tune a clearer picture. Also the use of splitters or low quality cables can affect picture quality, especially when using analog cable sources. If using an antenna, test one at a time using the same antenna in the same position with the same cable, an antenna can change quality if you move it to an area where the signal is worse, and two antennas in two different positions may not get the same signal quality.

Once you rule out the monitor you can hook up the two systems next to each other to test the delay. Delay can be caused by the tuner card, the CPU, the hard drive, or just about anything. I know Windows Media Center does buffer the content so it has a delay and it also uses this delay to record the stream to disk (it's like a DVR, you can rewind live TV so it does take a bit of time to record the stream as you watch it).
Calc,

Wow, you sure know a lot about this stuff! Thanks for the very informative post.

I did as you said and opened the Nvidia Control Panel and then checked out the Desktop Color Settings. Sure enough, each system was set up exactly the same with the exception of Gamma. I hope to play around a little with it after completing some of the other tests you recommended.

I am using a signal splitter just as you said and I will test each cable to be sure the problem is not there. Both cables are attached to one antenna so that kind of rules out the antenna.

Connections to the monitors are exactly the same [DVI] so that eliminates that door, but the cables have different manufacturers so I will check the cables out just in case there is difference there.

When looking at the TV capture devices, both are kind of old, but perhaps the Pinnacle PCTV 800e may have a slight edge on the older Hauppauge HVR-1600. I will try to dig out the specs on each and do a comparison between the two.

As for the delay, something you wrote caught my attention: CPU difference. System A has a i5-750 with DDR3 whereas System B has a Q9550 with DDR2. I suppose there is a significant difference between the two!

Thanks for sharing your depth and breadth of knowledge in this area. To be 100% honest with you, I was clueless on how to proceed with the investigation.

You have helped very, very much.

Soar

PS Hey, I noticed in your signature you have not ventured into the wonderful world of SSD yet. I've been debating with myself now for 2 days on whether or not to purchase the Vertex 2 60gb. NewEgg has it for $135 right now and that seems fairly reasonable. Have you any thoughts on it?
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/devic

I don't think the DVI cables should be an issue, DVI is a digital connection which means that the color data is encoded as 1's and 0's, all the cable does is get 1's and 0's from point A to point B. As long as those bits get interpreted correctly on the other end the color will be correct. The issue with cables is when you're using an analog signal (which older antenna TV or cable is, though if you're using an antenna it is probably digital as analog over-the-air has been phased out in the USA), analog signals are interpreted as voltage levels which can change depending on the length of the wire and any interference it receives.

Both of those processors are very powerful so I don't think CPU power is an issue, I can watch TV fine on my laptop which is a Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz.

As far as the "wonderful" world of SSD goes, the entry price is too high, I am fine living the good life in the land of the hard drives. $135 gets you 60GB of SSD. $135 got me 3TB of hard drives a few weekends ago when 1.5TB's were on sale for $69.99. The difference is huge and I'm quite happy with my new RAID array. When SSD's become more affordable and competitive with HDD prices I'll consider them, until then I'm fine with the loading speeds of fast HDD's.
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/devic

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalcProgrammer1 View Post
I don't think the DVI cables should be an issue, DVI is a digital connection which means that the color data is encoded as 1's and 0's, all the cable does is get 1's and 0's from point A to point B. As long as those bits get interpreted correctly on the other end the color will be correct. The issue with cables is when you're using an analog signal (which older antenna TV or cable is, though if you're using an antenna it is probably digital as analog over-the-air has been phased out in the USA), analog signals are interpreted as voltage levels which can change depending on the length of the wire and any interference it receives.

Both of those processors are very powerful so I don't think CPU power is an issue, I can watch TV fine on my laptop which is a Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz.

As far as the "wonderful" world of SSD goes, the entry price is too high, I am fine living the good life in the land of the hard drives. $135 gets you 60GB of SSD. $135 got me 3TB of hard drives a few weekends ago when 1.5TB's were on sale for $69.99. The difference is huge and I'm quite happy with my new RAID array. When SSD's become more affordable and competitive with HDD prices I'll consider them, until then I'm fine with the loading speeds of fast HDD's.
Calc,

Ok, thanks for sharing more info. Yes, I know they are expensive, but I keep hearing that OCZ Vertez 2 calling my name....

Hey, one more question if you don't mind...

I never asked anyone this question and it just came to my mind:

I will start my long awaited AMD 1055T build within the week. I have lots of the GeForce GTS 250's laying around. Will they work in an AMD build or must I go the Radeon route [I hope not, because I do not have any of the Radeon's on hand]!
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/devic

AMD's chipsets do not support SLI (you must use an nVidia chipset motherboard for this). If you only plan on using a single GPU it will work regardless of what chipset you have but if you want to use 2 or more GPU's in SLI you must get an SLI compatible motherboard. I am not super knowledgeable on AMD right now as I just built an Intel system, but I'm pretty sure that AMD's own chipsets only support CrossFireX (AMD's multi-GPU tech) and not SLI (nVidia's multi-GPU tech). In response, nVidia is making their own AMD CPU compatible chipsets which do support SLI (however they do NOT support CrossFireX). If you want an AMD CPU, nVidia GPU system you'll want an nVidia chipset (I think they're called nForce).

Intel, on the other hand, includes both CrossFireX and SLI support in their chipsets so on Intel boards you can use either type of multi-GPU setup. You can't mix an AMD GPU with an nVidia GPU though, this never works.

So yes, you can build an AMD 1055T build and use multiple nVidia GPU's, just make sure you buy an SLI compatible motherboard, if you get an SLI compatible board it will have an nVidia nForce chipset. If you just want to use one nVidia GPU it doesn't matter what motherboard you pick, any will work.
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:28 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How might I determine if the problem is my GPU, Monitor, or TV capture card/devic

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalcProgrammer1 View Post
AMD's chipsets do not support SLI (you must use an nVidia chipset motherboard for this). If you only plan on using a single GPU it will work regardless of what chipset you have but if you want to use 2 or more GPU's in SLI you must get an SLI compatible motherboard. I am not super knowledgeable on AMD right now as I just built an Intel system, but I'm pretty sure that AMD's own chipsets only support CrossFireX (AMD's multi-GPU tech) and not SLI (nVidia's multi-GPU tech). In response, nVidia is making their own AMD CPU compatible chipsets which do support SLI (however they do NOT support CrossFireX). If you want an AMD CPU, nVidia GPU system you'll want an nVidia chipset (I think they're called nForce).

Intel, on the other hand, includes both CrossFireX and SLI support in their chipsets so on Intel boards you can use either type of multi-GPU setup. You can't mix an AMD GPU with an nVidia GPU though, this never works.

So yes, you can build an AMD 1055T build and use multiple nVidia GPU's, just make sure you buy an SLI compatible motherboard, if you get an SLI compatible board it will have an nVidia nForce chipset. If you just want to use one nVidia GPU it doesn't matter what motherboard you pick, any will work.
Calc,

Cool! Thanks for the great info again! I suppose for now I'll stick with the GTS 250 due to budgetary discretion and I already purchased the MB and I do not think it can do SLI. Not to worry, I see no need for SLI since I do not do much gaming at all.

EDIT: The specs say nada about SLI, but do say this about Crossfire: 2 PCI-E 2.0 x16 interface with ATI CrossFireX support for ultimate graphics performance.

Hey, how's school?

We just entered our two week modified traditional scheduled break after 9 weeks of school. I am so happy to have some time off!

How's your classes and studies coming along?

Soar
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