The PC-DVD Guide -> Getting the right Computer Hardware

Pocket calculator or Super Computer ?

Since there are two kinds of DVD Video decoders for the PC, the hardware or the software kind (see Some Important Terms for more information on the different kinds of decoders), the machines required for either of these setups is quite different. To put it simply, a hardware DVD decoder requires much less computing horsepower than a software DVD decoder because most of the work is done on the hardware decoder. The information contained in the next few pages will help you determine what kind of computer you need for DVD playback (note that most computers sold today are more than capable of playing DVDs) :

If you have a hardware decoder, you'll probably need a Pentium (classic) 166 MMX. If you want to use a software decoder, you'll need at a minimum a Celeron 300A processor. If you have a graphics card that supports DVD hardware acceleration (see below - graphics cards), then you can do with using only a PII/Celeron 266 to do the decoding, as the rest of the work will be done by your graphics card.

DVD-ROM drive
You'll of course need a DVD-ROM drive to be able to do ANYTHING with DVDs. Please refer to Chapter 2 for more information.


It is always good to have at least 64MBs of RAM, for Windows 95/98 to play around with. RAM isn't really an important part of DVD decoding, but having 128MBs of RAM makes things alot easier for your system. The same applies to Hard Disk Drive size, as it won't be needed much during decoding.

If you use a software decoder, you will at least need a graphics card that support DirectX's overlay mixers (see the summary of this chapter to see which graphics card supports this feature). You'll also need a minimum 8MB AGP version of the card, as this is required by some soft-decoders. There are also a kind of graphics cards that employ Motion Compensation (MC) or Inverse Discrete Cosine Transformation (iDCT). These cards are said to have DVD hardware acceleration and will speed up decoding quite nicely (see the summary of this chapter to see which graphics card supports this feature). If you have a hardware decoder card, most graphics cards that works in Windows 95/98 will do.

Continued ... Sound Card

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