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Can I run XBMC on a Intel Pentium 4 computer? If so, which PCI graphic card to get?
I just recently got an old P4 2.8Ghz with 1GB ram and a 40GB HDD. The built-in Intel Card is able to run xBMC Live but lags and doesn't play video properly. If I was to purchase one of the following video cards, would it work well?

Nvidia Geforce 8400 GS PCI (Not PCI-E)
Nvidia Geforce 9400 GT PCI (Not PCI-E)

I read on another forum that I'm better off with an 8400 but my goal is to use xBMC Live and be able to play all types of Video without loading the CPU. From what I see on the Wiki, anything over 8500 will use the GPU instead of the CPU. Let me know which is best, thanks.
The Geforce 8400GS will work fine. That GPU supports VDPAU so XBMC can get the GPU to do the H264 decoding so you'll be good to go. The CPU is also fast enough to handle any DivX/XVid stuff you throw at it too.

I've got a similarish system working perfectly with XBMC

Celeron 2.8GHz
Nvidia Geforce 8400GS PCI

Both the 8400GS and 9400GT work fine with VDPAU so I'd just go for whichever is the cheapest and/or quietest.

The full list is here

You need a card that supports - "NVIDIA VDPAU Feature Set" and both those do.
Hey Guys,

I am sure these questions are asked over and over again, so I apologize, I have searched and find so much conflicting information its difficult to know the way to go. I previously used my old Xbox with XBMC however I switched to a P4 M system for Hulu, I really miss the XBMC interface....

Current Setup...

P4M 1.8 Ghz
1GB Memory
Intel GMA Crappy Graphics
M-ITX System with a 80W PSU
720P TV and 2 Channel Audio (VGA or HDMI ports, currently using VGA)

What I need is XBMC and smoother Hulu Playback, I was going to switch to a Atom ION based system, then decided maybe I need more horse power in the CPU department and now wondering if I should just but a new PCI 8400 GS Graphics card ($40 new egg).

So, cheap option first...
SPARKLE SFPC84GS512U2LP GeForce 8400 GS PCI at $39 (some reviews mention poor Hulu Playback?)
Use original P4 M 1.8Ghz and 1GB Memory, I have no AGP or PCI-E slot

Or a Sempron based system...
ZOTAC GF6100-E-E AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 430 $40
G.SKILL 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 x 2 for 2GB $50
AMD Sempron 140 Sargas 2.7GHz @ $40
Total : $130

Or should I just go for the more common Zotac ION based system using something like the ZOTAC IONITX-G-E at $155 ?

Oh, and my old system I am stuck with 1GB (motherboard maximum), planning on either Windows or Linux based (probably Linux).

Thanks in advance!
The ZOTAC GF6100 is a bad idea since you need at least a Geforce 8 series for hardware decoding of HD video.

The GeForce 8400 GS PCI would work, but only for video that can be hardware decoded, so Flash based video would be very choppy in Linux (in Windows it should work fine with Flash 10.1 which support hardware decoding, I haven't tried it though, since I don't use Windows).

An ION based system would be fine for everything, apart from Flash based video in Linux (but still much better than the GeForce 8400 GS PCI card).
These are the specs of the PC in question:

Pentium 4
Motherboard: P4B266-LM 1xAGP 3xPCI
Generic video card: I can't tell what it is or find model#
1GB (2x512MB DDR-266mHz) RAM
IDE DVD Rom Drive
IDE 50GB Hard Drive

My video card is connected through the PCI port and only has a VGA output. It looks pretty weak to be honest.

I installed XBMC live on it, but the problem is that the response is super laggy. When I move anywhere in the menu, the sound is played immediately but the menu takes about 2 seconds to change.

Would this be a problem with the video card? If I were to buy the Nvidia 8400 GS PCI card, would XBMC run smoothly and without hiccup?

Power supply is 250 Watts. Would I need to upgrade it to accommodate the new video card?

I just want to ensure that with that single purchase I will be good to go because I honestly do not want to spend any more than that. (I'd rather invest in a smaller form factor computer in that case)

Video Card I would purchase:

My Needs:
-Play DVDs
-Play 1080p content that I have connected through Gigabit LAN on NAS
-Function with skins Night, Alaska, Transparency

I'm sure the ladder shouldn't be much of a problem.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: I read someone saying this about the 8400 GS video card:

Why it can't handle HD:
The problem isn't that the card's chipset can't handle the video resolution, it's quite capable of that, the problem lies within the PCI bus, PCI maxes out at what can be equated to 133mb/s. Simply not fast enough to handle the movement of 1920x1080 video at 30 frames per second.

What about investing money into a nettop-pc (revo, eee-pc, zotac etc.) ?

You could save the money for the 8400 GS and be ready for 1080p playback.
Just use the XBMC-Live (Linux).
That is what I was originally planning to do before I realized I had many computer parts gathering dust and taking up space. The way they currently are, I probably cannot get much money for them, but adding a new video card might just allow me to use it as an HTPC for a few months and then sell it.

The reason I do not jump in and get those Acer Revos, Asrocks, etc is because I'm going to be using this HTPC on an old analog CRT which does not have HDMI or DVI inputs. The 8400GS provides me with the option of using S-video and eventually HDMI when I upgrade my television.

i think your configuration should run as long as the graphic-card supports Pixel-Shader 2.0.
Otherwise you'll see just a white screen.

What about a 8600 GS/GT, I think this would be definitely good enough.
You could also get an used card.
So the lag I'm experiencing right now can be attributed to the crappy video card that I currently have?

I also didn't find anything on an 8600 GS or GT.

but the 8400 GS I linked to in my first post has two reviews of people saying it worked with XBMC so here's to hoping. Smile
fonzie Wrote:So the lag I'm experiencing right now can be attributed to the crappy video card that I currently have?

Yes, the video card could be the problem.
Anyway, it could be also the CPU (>2 GHZ should be good enough).

If people are working with a 8400 GS without problems, then you should give it a try. :-)
However, you should keep in mind, that you're dealing with the min. requirements, and that it could be sluggish (skin menu etc.), but the video-playback should be fine.
Aw crap! I just checked the Bios. The CPU speed is 1.8Ghz. I think that might actually be the root of the problem. Sad
I think it will work for you except one thing: GET A 512 MB MODEL!!

The slow PCI bus is less of a problem with more VRAM.
I tried an AGP video card to see if XBMC live would run smoother. So I reinstalled XBMC, but when booting up it would ask for username and password. I would enter them and it'd bring up a screen with info but not launch XBMC. I read that it probably had to do with a video card driver missing in the live CD and that I would have to update the driver manually. I have no idea how to do this so I think I'm going to throw in the towel.

I'm simply going to throw XP on the PC and sell it for as much as I can (not a lot). I can use the money from that towards the purchase of a new atom HTPC.
Sounds like a good idea just shooting for a new box to avoid headaches.

For someone who comes across this thread in the future I must say:

1. There are NO AGP video cards that have VDPAU support. That means that there is no way to throw in a AGP card and make an old P4 box useful.

2. I can tell everyone from experience that a Pentium 4 with the right GPU can playback 1080p, but it is a much harder route than getting a new box.

3. Maybe the best option for old Pentium 4s (aka what I did) is to buy this mobo:

For approx the price of a 8400 GS PCI you can get a mobo that allows you to use a PCI Express GPU. That means that they GPU will be useful in a future box.
My daughter's computer is a P4, 2.4ghz with an old Radeon 7500 in it. I tried installing Dharma on there but unfortunately, videos playback is only a white screen. Tried going back to non-Dharma version of XMBC and now can't get old version to stream from the living room Windows 7 box and am going a bit crazy.

If running Dharma is possible on the my daughter's computer, can anyone suggest a very inexpensive video card? Should I be looking for OpenGL or Direct X support? FYI, I don't need 1080 HD playback.

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Can I run XBMC on a Intel Pentium 4 computer? If so, which PCI graphic card to get?51