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Thread: How should I fill my last PCI slot after I pull cheap USB?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    Ok, I have my Powermac 8600/200, with a VST Ultratek/66 card in the first slot, a 3dfx Voodoo 5 in the third slot, and a cheap $13 USB card in the second slot. I have been barely using anything off of the USB card, so I am going to pull it. Shall I fill that slot with....
    a. USB/Firewire combo card to get firewire stuff
    b. Creative Labs Soundblaster Live for gaming (although I hear some bad driver issues)
    c. Formac ProTV stereo, so I can watch TV on the Mac
    So what do you think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    My take on the whole TV thing is this: If you have RCA A/V input, use a VCR to input a TV signal. Then you can watch movies on your Mac and snag clips off of TV and tape. Dedicating a precious PCI slot for TV is best left to machines with more slots. The older Macs lack too much of the current technologies that the new ones have....and with only 3 PCI slots to comabt the aging process, I would seriously reconsider that option.

    Do you plan on using FW? If so, then look into either a FW or FW/USB card. As long as you buy quality items, you should have pretty good luck with them. Then you could also use an external FW-based "studio" box for A/V in and out. Most of them have a TV tuner built-in.

    I don't know enough about the SoundBlaster to make any statements. If gaming is your thing, then you might want to consider a processor upgrade, since that 200 Mhz (assuming it is stock) isn't gonna cut it too much longer in the gaming world. I am forgetting...do you already have an upgrade in there?

    Wow. This didn't help you out much. Sorry for that.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2001
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    Forgot to mention I have a XLR8 CarrierZIF and a 500Mhz IBM G3 ZIF that will go into the 8600 on Monday. Before I had a Powerlogix 450Mhz G4 that was just plain trouble so I sent it back.

    I do have the built in A/V, and have hooked up a VCR, but the video quality isn't too impressive, and generally looks fuzzy or blurred, and I can't really adjust the window of the Apple Video program. Also, captured video seems horribly slow, nothing like playing video off of the VCR. Would the Formac ProTV improve my video capture at all? or can the slowness be fixed by the 500Mhz G3 I am putting in?

    Firewire, it looks good, but if I need storage, I can just use ATA drives internally, and if I get a burner, it will be internal also. I do some video work on here, mostly off of Sony video cameras which only use A/V, I haven't stepped up to the Firewire DV cams that generally cost more $$$. So, I really don't need the Firewire, but it would just seem neat to have.

    I have heard good and bad about the Soundblaster card, some people rave how great it is and others say it is aweful.

  4. #4
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    With one slot left, let it stew for a bit. Don't fill it just to fill it. Resist the urge, man!!!!! Since I took out the other SCSI card from my PCI slot in my Mac, I have left it empty. When I feel the absolute need for something there, I will populate it. Video input should be pretty good. Capture should be equally fine. Not as good as watching it on TV, but still more than tolerable. Maybe there is another issue gnawing at it? 50 Mhz won't really improve anything that much. I think Mag would have some words for you on the TV options. Some others here may have used them and have some experience to share. I seriously only use the video in to watch a little TV or get a few neat clips of sound or video. When a VCR dies, it makes a perfect tuner for a Mac.

    So, the new-and-improved advice is to run the machine til you feel the need. Not just the craving. Maybe you should get a Magma PCI chassis to fill the other slot and then you can have so many more slots to fill. Don't wake me up, I must be dreaming!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
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    Northbrook, IL, USA
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    Just a guess here. Do you have the motherboard maxed out on VRAM? I've read elsewhere here that 2MB of the 4MB max is for the monitor and 2MB is for the video out. I'm not sure if that would affect the video in, but it might be something to investigate.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2001
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    Yep, the motherboard VRAM is maxed out at 4MB

  7. #7
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    The mobo VRAM maxing out at 4MB enables the system to display the maximum bit depth on the built-in display while also allowing the second-stream video out to work as a separate display. It's a bit tricky. Without 4 MB, the video out being enabled results in the built-in monitor output being blacked out. With the full 4MB, both video outputs (the monitor and the RCA) function as independent streams. This holds true for the 85 and 8600. I am unsure as to how the mobo allows 2 displays to run thousands or better (essentially) with only 4MB VRAM, but it works. I believe it has something to do with the custom DENC or the Sixty6 convolver present on the 85 and 8600 boards. I never was able to find enough tech info to satisfy me on that point, but I do know it works fine. I have an 8500 that displays and captures video inputs fine. There is a chart somewhere that outlines how much VRAM is needed for each bit-depth on each resolution.

    Off to find it now!

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