• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."
  • Recovering from Halloween? Take part in our Spooky Giveaway to be in with a chance of replenishing your wardrobe. A simple riddle stands in your way. Visit the sweeptake thread over here.

Will a Pentium 4 Northwood suffice for HTPC?

severus

Senior member
Dec 30, 2007
563
4
81
I'm not really talking HD/Bluray here since I doubt that. I have a 2.6 800mhz Northwood sitting on my desk for over a year now. Also have about 3 gigs of pc3200. Been contemplating grabbing a sub $20 Aopen/Abit/Soyo mATX board and putting it in an htpc case and attaching it via composite to my 39" unless there's a PCI/AGP card with an HDMI port (doubt it). Basically just want to use it to play movies and music, don't need all the bells and whistles. Anyone ever try it?
 

cubby1223

Lifer
May 24, 2004
13,525
42
86
I used to run an htpc off a via epia-m system. Then later a pentium !!! 1ghz system with a GeForce 6200 with digital output.

Your P4 cpu is far more powerful than those. Just grab an agp card with dvi output and get an adapter to hdmi.
 

NutBucket

Lifer
Aug 30, 2000
26,022
184
106
What format are the movies you want to play? My core2 laptop could not play high bit-rate 1080p MKV files at native resolution due to the crap video chipset, for example.
 

dagamer34

Platinum Member
Aug 15, 2005
2,592
0
71
It's not going to handle anything above 480p very well, with 720p being borderline and 1080p out the window. Also, it's going to suck down a ton of power relative to what it's doing. What kind of HTPC things will you be doing with it? At this point, a Roku running Plex is far more power and space efficient, does 1080p content, and only costs $99. Plus, it makes no noise and comes with a remote.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
314
126
I have the best PCI card you can get (a GT 430) and it sucks. I mean it can play all my videos but it drives my HTPC at 20fps while my regular PCIe 430 drives it at 60fps. If you are going to go all 2002 and just click and play the media files with a mouse its fine, but if you want to run a modern interface like XBMC it sucks. AGP options are all much worse than my card too.

Plus you take into account the extra heat, noise and power usage of that era tech and its just not worth it. Donate it to charity.
 

pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
5,847
1,028
126
I got rid of my P4 box last summer.
P4 2.8 and a 7600gt AGP card
1080p was a pipe dream.
720p was doable.
Fairly useless as an HTPC unless you could deal with lower resolutions.
It served well when it was hooked up to a CRT tube TV pushing 480

Do not bother with Northwood P4's. Do not upgrade, do not waste time on it. Put zero $$$ into it.
 

Savij

Diamond Member
Nov 12, 2001
4,233
0
71
Edit again: I could have sworn that you could get some PCIe mobos for that but I guess not...scrap it.
 
Last edited:

Zorander

Golden Member
Nov 3, 2010
1,136
1
81
I'd sell those RAM chips (which I'm sure still fetch a price) and, perhaps, the CPU. It can substantially kick-start building a low-end budget system (which will easily play any media contents).

I really wouldn't put any more money into a decade-old CPU.
 

Rasterman

Member
Jan 7, 2008
25
0
61
Yeah not worth it, if you plan on keeping it any length of time, it will actually be cheaper to buy a brand new energy efficient system than run that p4wer hog.

When I upgraded my old C2D I save over $70/year in electric, after a few years it adds up.
 

severus

Senior member
Dec 30, 2007
563
4
81
I do have a GA-965P-DS3 board but i'm not sure if the bios is dead on it and I don't have a 775cpu to test on it. I might run to microcenter and buy a $4 pentium D throw it on with 2 gigs of ddr2 and see if it works. That should be a bit of an upgrade. I know a Pentium D is a terrible processor, but a $4 experiment plus the 10 minute trip to Microcenter won't hurt the bank all that much. If the board does indeed work, I can always buy a low end 775 dual core like an e2160 or e4400 which should be ample enough to run 1080p with a pci express card
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
45,445
4,029
126
If you got a PCI-E motherboard, and like a 6450 PCI-E card, then it might be viable. Otherwise, junk it.
 

CU

Platinum Member
Aug 14, 2000
2,215
4
81
I used a P4 1.8 with a PCI 8400gs with mythtv within the last 12 months and it worked ok for SD live TV and PVR. The 8400gs should handle 1080i/p also, but I never tried it.
 

EskLuxor

Member
Apr 24, 2008
67
0
0
i have a dell e6400 laptop with Core2Duo 2.26 4gb 250 5400rpm, it has some crap integrated graphics. it handles 720p mkv just fine and most lower bitrate 1080p mkvs. larger 1080p mkvs show stutter/framerate issues. it plays local media on hd, on 16gb flash, and streamed media across my network from shared 3tb hds on a i7 2600k. i have a amd 4400+ 2.4ghz with 2gb 320 7200rpm 8600gts OC that plays all media w/o issues.
 

Matt1970

Lifer
Mar 19, 2007
12,321
2
0
i have a dell e6400 laptop with Core2Duo 2.26 4gb 250 5400rpm, it has some crap integrated graphics. it handles 720p mkv just fine and most lower bitrate 1080p mkvs. larger 1080p mkvs show stutter/framerate issues. it plays local media on hd, on 16gb flash, and streamed media across my network from shared 3tb hds on a i7 2600k. i have a amd 4400+ 2.4ghz with 2gb 320 7200rpm 8600gts OC that plays all media w/o issues.
Clock for Clock a Core 2 Duo is probably 4 times faster than a P4.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
12,868
2,438
126
My P3-866 with a GeForce 4MX can handle most video formats and (scale) output them at 1080p - anything that it can offload onto the graphics card. I use VLC for video playback.

It didn't have a hope of handling the amount of videos it can handle now before I put that graphics card in. Its hardware acceleration support for video formats isn't universal but it handles about 95% of the videos I've played on it.

I'm retiring that computer shortly, sadly (IMO). It's nice to see a bit of kit that is still completely reliable and yet pretty damn old, but I rely on it too much to keep trusting to luck.

There are AGP cards with DVI ports, and you can get a DVI -> HDMI adapter from there. Plug the computer's audio out to the television's auxilliary audio in and you're set (I think). My server is hooked up by VGA to my TV, with an audio connector in the way I just described.
 
Last edited:

el-Capitan

Senior member
Apr 24, 2012
571
2
81
My P3-866 with a GeForce 4MX can handle most video formats and (scale) output them at 1080p - anything that it can offload onto the graphics card. I use VLC for video playback.

It didn't have a hope of handling the amount of videos it can handle now before I put that graphics card in. Its hardware acceleration support for video formats isn't universal but it handles about 95% of the videos I've played on it.

I'm retiring that computer shortly, sadly (IMO). It's nice to see a bit of kit that is still completely reliable and yet pretty damn old, but I rely on it too much to keep trusting to luck.

There are AGP cards with DVI ports, and you can get a DVI -> HDMI adapter from there. Plug the computer's audio out to the television's auxilliary audio in and you're set (I think). My server is hooked up by VGA to my TV, with an audio connector in the way I just described.
OMG! That's awesome! :)

Great to see some older HW still pulling its load. I remember that I too had a Geforce 4mx (440?) for a while. Couldn't afford anything better during my student years in the UK. Good times!
 

skillyho

Golden Member
Nov 6, 2005
1,337
0
76
I have a s478 P4 @ 3.2 with a Radeon 9250 connected via DVI and it does 480P stuff (xvid/divx) fine as well as YouTube. 720p is tolerable but with random loss....

Ehh...it's doable. I would get a Radeon 3650 or something like that to offload the processing to the GPU and see what happens. You can get them on eBay for $15-$20 if you're patient.
 

nextJin

Golden Member
Apr 16, 2009
1,848
0
0
You can build such a cheap HTPC these days that plays most anything I wouldn't bother even trying with that CPU. It's an HTPC it will likely be on quite a bit, a new setup might even pay for itself after a year or two.
 

holden j caufield

Diamond Member
Dec 30, 1999
6,324
10
81
just get a new one btw my Pentium M 1.3ghz laptop played videos way better than my 2.2ghz Pentium 4 laptop. Pentium 4s were crap
 

IndyColtsFan

Lifer
Sep 22, 2007
33,269
458
126
It's not going to handle anything above 480p very well, with 720p being borderline and 1080p out the window. Also, it's going to suck down a ton of power relative to what it's doing. What kind of HTPC things will you be doing with it? At this point, a Roku running Plex is far more power and space efficient, does 1080p content, and only costs $99. Plus, it makes no noise and comes with a remote.
Be forewarned, though - playing MKVs on a Roku via Plex requires transcoding and you do need a decent backend box.
 
Last edited:

AnitaPeterson

Diamond Member
Apr 24, 2001
5,584
10
81
I had a P4@3.6 GHz Prescott, so one generation above the OP's CPU.
It was paired with a Radeon HD3850.
It was *barely* able to display 1080p mkv content - it worked, but CPU utilization was really high.

I can't see the OPs rig working for HTPC purposes, unless there will be no 1080i/p playback.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY