Question Video card for 4k?

qwiksilvertrav

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So finally making the jump to a 4k home theatre set up. Currently have a home theatre PC perfectly capable for 1080p movies but is not set up for 4k.

It's a small form factor case. These are parts of the setup I have so far.
-Has a 4th gen I5 processor. Should be good for 4k? I'll have to power on the PC again to see what model but I think it's a 45XX or 46XX I5.
-32GB Ram
-Network Drobo drive. Has 32TB storage as it sits right now with 1GB SSD fast cache

I'll be playing movies off of the Drobo. Drobo and HTPC are ethernet wired, no wireless.

HTPC will feed video to a Yamaha RX-V6A and then feeds to a Sony 4k A90J TV.

My biggest question is what low profile/small form factor card can supply great 4k and pass through Dolby Atmos/DTX etc? I will not be gaming on this as a I have a gaming rig already built for that.
Read some sources saying the ZOTAC Geforce GT 730 Zone Edition 4GB is a great, cheap small form factor card that can rock 4k. But then read other sources saying it gets pushed to it's limits and isn't enough.

Basically looking for super smooth 4k at 120hz and able to pass through all the latest sound and video codecs that will work on a 4th gen intel board.

Open to any advice or suggestions! Thanks!
 

Nathaniel_9

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Any card with an HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.3 output should work, I would think. That would be as early as a 1050 Ti if you want to use DisplayPort, but you will have to jump up to a current-gen RTX 3050 for HDMI 2.1 compatibility. Honestly though, the audio stuff is beyond me.
 
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I'll be playing movies off of the Drobo. Drobo and HTPC are ethernet wired, no wireless.
HTPC will feed video to a Yamaha RX-V6A and then feeds to a Sony 4k A90J TV.
That is smart TV.
Install Plex server on your PC and install PLEX client on your TV.
Play 4k content on TV directly using media library from PC.

Not sure about your Drobo network drive. Which model is it?
It may support installing PLEX server on it. Then no pc would be even necessary for media playback on TV.
 
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qwiksilvertrav

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That is smart TV.
Install Plex server on your PC and install PLEX client on your TV.
Play 4k content on TV directly using media library from PC.

Not sure about your Drobo network drive. Which model is it?
It may support installing PLEX server on it. Then no pc would be even necessary for media playback on TV.
It's a Drobo 5N2.

The plex option is completely new to me. I'll have to look into that. What I'm used to is having the PC hooked up to my receiver and playing movies on the PC. As simple as PC --> receiver (handles the audio) --> TV
 

BFG-9000

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GT730 is a terrible card for 4k HTPC use. It's only HDMI 1.4 which only allows 4k at 30Hz in full color, or 4k60 with lower quality Y'CbCr 4:2:0 subsampling (which the later drivers switch to automatically).

Worse, it is only "VDPAU Feature Set D" which means it can only partially hardware assist 4k H.264 only, so your poor CPU will have to do full software decoding of everything else, and even if it could do this its fan would get quite loud.

"E" in GTX 750Ti adds DCI, partial assist for 4k H.265. "F" in GTX 950-960 have full hardware decode of H.264, H.265 (Main and Main 10), DCI and VP9. Pascal GT1030 and GTX 1050+ "H" adds hardware decode of Main 12 H.265 too at up to 8k, but everything streaming appears to be changing over to Google's AV1 now (which requires nVidia RTX 3000 series or AMD RX6000 series for hardware acceleration).

So it really depends on what format 4k files you want to play. If it's just H.265 then a cheap GT1030 will decode all flavors fine (note that it will not encode them in hardware in case you are creating your own 4k videos)


As far as IGP, your Haswell chip will only decode1080p H.264 in hardware, with only partial acceleration for 1080p H.265. First Intel IGPs that could accelerate 4k60 are Skylake for H.264 and Main H.265 (VP9 only up to 4k24), and Kaby/Coffee Lakes which could do H.264, Main and Main10 H.265, and VP9.
 

qwiksilvertrav

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Nice! Well my next question is this will be running through my Yamaha AV receiver. So I need a server of some sort that will feed the Yamaha video/audio then runs to the TV.

Would this list idea work? Still researching and learning all of this.

Get Nvidia Shield Pro. I can have the Drobo connected to my network switch making it available on the network, set it up as a plex server. Then Nvidia Shield will grab it and display at 4k @ 120hz? I could also install plex on the TV itself if I'm not using surround sound and am fine with the TV speakers.
 

qwiksilvertrav

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GT730 is a terrible card for 4k HTPC use. It's only HDMI 1.4 which only allows 4k at 30Hz in full color, or 4k60 with lower quality Y'CbCr 4:2:0 subsampling (which the later drivers switch to automatically).

Worse, it is only "VDPAU Feature Set D" which means it can only partially hardware assist 4k H.264 only, so your poor CPU will have to do full software decoding of everything else, and even if it could do this its fan would get quite loud.

"E" in GTX 750Ti adds DCI, partial assist for 4k H.265. "F" in GTX 950-960 have full hardware decode of H.264, H.265 (Main and Main 10), DCI and VP9. Pascal GT1030 and GTX 1050+ "H" adds hardware decode of Main 12 H.265 too at up to 8k, but everything streaming appears to be changing over to Google's AV1 now (which requires nVidia RTX 3000 series or AMD RX6000 series for hardware acceleration).

So it really depends on what format 4k files you want to play. If it's just H.265 then a cheap GT1030 will decode all flavors fine (note that it will not encode them in hardware in case you are creating your own 4k videos)


As far as IGP, your Haswell chip will only decode1080p H.264 in hardware, with only partial acceleration for 1080p H.265. First Intel IGPs that could accelerate 4k60 are Skylake for H.264 and Main H.265 (VP9 only up to 4k24), and Kaby/Coffee Lakes which could do H.264, Main and Main10 H.265, and VP9.
I'm wanting 4k at 120hz to be fed to my Yamaha receiver. I won't be doing any video editing, just viewing is all. Sounds like a need a newer processor and motherboard and at least a GTX 1030 or newer? Basically a rebuild of the home theatre PC which isn't that big of a deal.

But seems in my prior post that might be a easier option with Nvidia shield. That is if I'm thinking about this all correctly. lol
 

Karadjgne

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Anything above a 750ti is ok for 4k playback as it's all 2D. But with wanting a 120Hz possible output I'd go somewhat bigger like a 1660.

The problem is nobody records in 4k 120Hz, that's a pretty massive file comparatively and beyond the transmission ability of most setups. What you'll find is that most 4k content is 24Hz, the limits of hdmi 1.4. So the 120Hz TV is going to be about reducing stutter and smoother playback, not actual viewing frequency.
 
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qwiksilvertrav

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Anything above a 750ti is ok for 4k playback as it's all 2D. But with wanting a 120Hz possible output I'd go somewhat bigger like a 1660.

The problem is nobody records in 4k 120Hz, that's a pretty massive file comparatively and beyond the transmission ability of most setups. What you'll find is that most 4k content is 24Hz, the limits of hdmi 1.4. So the 120Hz TV is going to be about reducing stutter and smoother playback, not actual viewing frequency.
Got it ok. Would still like the hardware to be able to 120hz. I have 8k hdmi cables etc. Does the 1660 have hdmi 2.1?

Also see my post about the Nvidia shield option. Sounds a little easier than the PC. But then again I'd hate for the PC to go to waste. Could just throw a 1660 in it and call it a day. Hmm
 

Karadjgne

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No. Anything prior to the 3000 series has hdmi 2.0 and DP 1.4a. To get hdmi 2.1 you'd need a 3050 or better.

Before spending a ton of cash, having a solid plan would be good. Using the pc on the 4k TV would be ok with just a 1660 if all you did was web browse, but for gaming.. Eh nope. Even a 3050 is somewhat stunted there, it takes a 3070 to get playable framerates in many games. Unless you chop the resolution to 1080p.

Shield isn't a bad idea for the streaming, but cloud based gaming using nvidia's gpus is somewhat not that great. Especially multiplayer as the normal lag is multiplied.
 
I'm wanting 4k at 120hz to be fed to my Yamaha receiver.
What model receiver?

Play videos on smart TV with Plex.
Video library on Drobo with Plex server.
Connect TV to receiver with HDMI ARC.

4k 120Hz - for watching videos? That doesn't seem to be a reasonable requirement.
120Hz is purely a gaming feature. Videos are mostly 24fps or 30fps anyway (with some rare 60fps exceptions).
So for video consumption you're perfectly fine with 4k 60Hz.

No need for PC to watch videos.
Use PC for web browsing or something else. BTW - your smart TV probably has web browser too.
 
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Karadjgne

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I have 2 tvs. One a standard TV with smart features like Netflix and Hulu apps, the other is an Android TV which for all intents and purposes is a smart phone without the phone part, so full browser ability and total streaming functionality.
 

qwiksilvertrav

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No. Anything prior to the 3000 series has hdmi 2.0 and DP 1.4a. To get hdmi 2.1 you'd need a 3050 or better.

Before spending a ton of cash, having a solid plan would be good. Using the pc on the 4k TV would be ok with just a 1660 if all you did was web browse, but for gaming.. Eh nope. Even a 3050 is somewhat stunted there, it takes a 3070 to get playable framerates in many games. Unless you chop the resolution to 1080p.

Shield isn't a bad idea for the streaming, but cloud based gaming using nvidia's gpus is somewhat not that great. Especially multiplayer as the normal lag is multiplied.
Forgot to mention I will not be gaming on the TV. I have a gaming rig separate so I'm good there!

This set up will strictly be for watching 4k theatre content with surround sound etc.

UHD files I'm playing are obviously .265.

So with that said what setup would you recommend?'
 
Forgot to mention I will not be gaming on the TV. I have a gaming rig separate so I'm good there!

This set up will strictly be for watching 4k theatre content with surround sound etc.

UHD files I'm playing are obviously .265.

So with that said what setup would you recommend?'
I have a Windows machine set up as my Plex and Roon server. I rip my UHD 4k discs using MakeMKV. I then used Nvidia Shield as endpoint to feed my receiver and TV. I used direct stream and had Dolby Atmos.

I also just use the Plex app on my LG C1 in another room.
 

Karadjgne

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Suggesting isn't easy, other than the obvious 'get what you can for the budget' answer.

You say you want hdmi 2.1. That's a 3050 or better, no ifs or butts. Playback is easy for a cpu, there really are no hard requirements there, other than whatever OS you plan on, Linux will run on a potato but Win11 has its own Tpm2.0 fuzzy stuff, so no potatoes there.

And you miss the point on 120Hz. There's nothing out there at 4k 120Hz. At best, you'll get 4k 60Hz, but even DVR movies, stream downloads etc only run 24Hz. Windows native is 60Hz.

Watching 4k24 on a 30Hz monitor is miserable. It's nothing but stutters and chop. Watching 4k24 on a 60Hz is far better because the screen refresh cuts down on the frame time by half, even if it's the same frame. A 24Hz on 30Hz has a frame refresh of @ 33ms. At 60Hz, that's closer to 15ms. Same frame, refreshed, less noticeable stutter. Going to a 120Hz, the screen refresh is down to 7-8ms per refresh period, or about 5 refreshes for every one at 30Hz. Almost zero stutter, if any noticeable at all, but the playback is still 24Hz. It's the monitor itself that's refreshing 120x a second, not whatever is put into it. You won't be watching movies at 120Hz, you'll be watching movies at 24Hz being refreshed at 120Hz
 

qwiksilvertrav

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Suggesting isn't easy, other than the obvious 'get what you can for the budget' answer.

You say you want hdmi 2.1. That's a 3050 or better, no ifs or butts. Playback is easy for a cpu, there really are no hard requirements there, other than whatever OS you plan on, Linux will run on a potato but Win11 has its own Tpm2.0 fuzzy stuff, so no potatoes there.

And you miss the point on 120Hz. There's nothing out there at 4k 120Hz. At best, you'll get 4k 60Hz, but even DVR movies, stream downloads etc only run 24Hz. Windows native is 60Hz.

Watching 4k24 on a 30Hz monitor is miserable. It's nothing but stutters and chop. Watching 4k24 on a 60Hz is far better because the screen refresh cuts down on the frame time by half, even if it's the same frame. A 24Hz on 30Hz has a frame refresh of @ 33ms. At 60Hz, that's closer to 15ms. Same frame, refreshed, less noticeable stutter. Going to a 120Hz, the screen refresh is down to 7-8ms per refresh period, or about 5 refreshes for every one at 30Hz. Almost zero stutter, if any noticeable at all, but the playback is still 24Hz. It's the monitor itself that's refreshing 120x a second, not whatever is put into it. You won't be watching movies at 120Hz, you'll be watching movies at 24Hz being refreshed at 120Hz
Gotcha on the 120hz. Makes sense!

Budget wise I can afford the RTX 3050 or better. I believe the 4th gen Intel motherboard will accept it with a single PCI E slot. It'll have to be low profile as well. I'll shop around here.

Looks like I should be able to leave the rest of the PC alone running this card and I should be good for 4k streaming.

Still looking into running the Drobo as plex server instead but haven't had a lot of time to look into being busy with other projects. I have Plex installed on my smart TVs and also the Plex app installed on the Drobo. Added the folders from the Drobo to Plex but I my TV's done see anything at all in the Plex app.
Obviously I'm missing something.
 
I have Plex installed on my smart TVs and also the Plex app installed on the Drobo. Added the folders from the Drobo to Plex but I my TV's done see anything at all in the Plex app.
Obviously I'm missing something.
You have to link Plex client with your Plex server.
If you don't do that, only public plex content is available.

 

qwiksilvertrav

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Also, I guess I'm overthinking this. Looks like some lower cheap cards will easily run 4k video files for viewing.
GT730 is a terrible card for 4k HTPC use. It's only HDMI 1.4 which only allows 4k at 30Hz in full color, or 4k60 with lower quality Y'CbCr 4:2:0 subsampling (which the later drivers switch to automatically).

Worse, it is only "VDPAU Feature Set D" which means it can only partially hardware assist 4k H.264 only, so your poor CPU will have to do full software decoding of everything else, and even if it could do this its fan would get quite loud.

"E" in GTX 750Ti adds DCI, partial assist for 4k H.265. "F" in GTX 950-960 have full hardware decode of H.264, H.265 (Main and Main 10), DCI and VP9. Pascal GT1030 and GTX 1050+ "H" adds hardware decode of Main 12 H.265 too at up to 8k, but everything streaming appears to be changing over to Google's AV1 now (which requires nVidia RTX 3000 series or AMD RX6000 series for hardware acceleration).

So it really depends on what format 4k files you want to play. If it's just H.265 then a cheap GT1030 will decode all flavors fine (note that it will not encode them in hardware in case you are creating your own 4k videos)


As far as IGP, your Haswell chip will only decode1080p H.264 in hardware, with only partial acceleration for 1080p H.265. First Intel IGPs that could accelerate 4k60 are Skylake for H.264 and Main H.265 (VP9 only up to 4k24), and Kaby/Coffee Lakes which could do H.264, Main and Main10 H.265, and VP9.
So to be clear and break this down. I should be fine to pop in a GTX 1050 and call it a day? Should pass through Dolby Atmost etc I assume and Can easily run h.265? Is a CPU upgrade a must? Thanks

Also not editing or creating 4k videos. Only viewing.
 

Karadjgne

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A 1050 is hdmi 2.0. Only the 3000 series are hdmi 2.1 capable.

Playback is easy. Your pc will handle h.264 no issues. For h.265 that requires 6th gen intel or newer. It's an instruction set issue, 4th gen don't have them
 

qwiksilvertrav

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A 1050 is hdmi 2.0. Only the 3000 series are hdmi 2.1 capable.

Playback is easy. Your pc will handle h.264 no issues. For h.265 that requires 6th gen intel or newer. It's an instruction set issue, 4th gen don't have them
Dang ok. Looks like a rebuild then if I go the HTPC route. New motherboard, cpu, ram and video card. Was hoping that would be avoidable. lol I'm going to keep exploring this plex server as a alternative and see.
 

qwiksilvertrav

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Well I got to spend more time on PLEX and have it set up. I stupidly downloaded plex and signed in with google rather than the account I created on the Drobo. Duh.
So now I'm able to view all of my Drobo 5n media on my TV's etc.

Big question is will this be full 4k quality video and lossless audio? My TV passes the audio over to my 4k Yamaha receiver when playing Netflix etc and assume it'll do the same on the Plex app.
If this is the case I have zero need for building a HTPC. If I can achieve the same with Plex than it's literally a waste of money. lol
 

Karadjgne

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Isn't that usually the case though? Building a new pc to cover all the bases is generally just a quickie fix for figuring out how to actually make your current stuff do the work.

Granted, everyone likes new pc's, what's not to like, but most would be just as happy not spending a s-ton of cash to fix something that isn't broke, just misunderstood.
 

qwiksilvertrav

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Isn't that usually the case though? Building a new pc to cover all the bases is generally just a quickie fix for figuring out how to actually make your current stuff do the work.

Granted, everyone likes new pc's, what's not to like, but most would be just as happy not spending a s-ton of cash to fix something that isn't broke, just misunderstood.
Yep lol.

Well now after testing it the Drobo 5n is completely incapable of being a Flex server. Just a spinning circle on my TV and other devices. No processing power! Not sure why they even have this as an option on a Drobo as it's completely useless! This was trying to stream 1080p content.

SO, decided I'll just rebuild this PC with the latest Intel processor and a RTX 3050+ low profile card. Make it somewhat future proof for a bit. I'll make that PC my plex server and point it to the Drobo for media.
Unless anyone has a cheaper option that'll work just as good. Again I just want to view 4k and audio at the highest quality I can on my home theatre setup. It'll be a 7.1 Atmos setup. That's the goal!
 

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