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Which Video Card For An Htpc


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I'm about to start building an HTPC to use mainly for recording & playback of terrestrial HD (via a Divico dual HD card) and connecting it to my ALiS 1024x1024 plasma via DVI (or HDMI).

I'm having great difficulty selecting a suitable video card. I've decided to go for one of the "silent" cards with heat pipes and/or huge heatsinks.

I'd basically decided on the Gigabyte RX16P256DE-RH X1600PRO, but after scouring the online reviews I switched to the Gigabyte NX76G256D-RH 7600GS, which seemed to be a bit more powerful.

Then, I've found further reviews that seem to say ATI's Avivo processing produces better image quality than nVidia's PureVideo. And further to that, it seems like I need a 7600GT to get the best inverse telecine processing - not that I really understand that (but it sounds like better de-interlacing of 24fps material).

And then there's HDCP to consider. It doesn't seem like any of the lower end cards have this enabled, I realise it's not really required yet - but, after seeing that the XBox360 HD-DVD drive actually works with a PC, I like to leave that option open for the future (so I'll need HDCP won't I?)

So, what do I do? I'm thinking perhaps I should just go for a cheaper option now, and upgrade to an HDCP enabled card later (when they're cheaper).

Also, anyone have opinions on the Gainward 7600GT SilentFX?

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24fps deinterlacing (3:2 pulldown) is a doddle for a PC and even the most basic of DVD playback software has been able to do it perfectly since DVD was first introduced. It's usually not applicable to broadcasts anyway. A much harder task is converting interlaced video-based material to progressive. That's where there's some quality differences between various software/hardware deinterlacing.

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So, what do I do? I'm thinking perhaps I should just go for a cheaper option now, and upgrade to an HDCP enabled card later (when they're cheaper).

That's what I've done.

X1600Pro cards are dirt cheap atm, so unless you're going to play HD-DVD moves imported from overseas, I wouldn't bother with HDCP. I don't think that the $10 HDCP chip is worth $100 premium HDCP enabled cards carry.

Just wait until HD content becomes widely available and then upgrade to HD-DVD drive and HDCP video card.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I recently upgraded my AGP ATI 9600XT to an AGP ATI HIS X1650 Pro IceQ.

Why did I buy an AGP now???

I did this because it has HDTV output, 720p and 1080i AND the included fan is basically an Arctic Silencer so it is very quiet. It also meant that I could do away with using Powerstrip. Using Powerstrip I lost the top and bottom of the picture; with this new card I don't lose anything :-) Also occasionally Powerstrip would "lose" my videocard and I'd be forced to set it up again which was a pain in the butt because I'd need to pull out my HTPC from the entertainment unit and reconnect my monitor to set it up for my Sony WEGA Widescreen.

My HTPC was built using last-gen hardware (ASUS P4C800 Deluxe, Intel P4C Northwood, 2x512 Corsair PC3200) which is more than adequate for a HTPC so an AGP GPU was really a no-brainer.

Bottom line: Ensure that any card you buy has at least HDTV outputs.

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Bottom line: Ensure that any card you buy has at least HDTV outputs.

Yes, the cards I've been looking at do have HDTV output (which seems to be a dongle that has component connectors), but I was going to be using DVI anyway, so I wouldnt' be using the HDTV output capability anyway.

I'm now having trouble finding a suitable mATX motherboard. I'd like one which can take a Core 2 Duo, has dual channel DDR2 ram slots, 300GBs SATA, and at least two onboard fan connectors (so make sure the case fans actually go off when the machine is in standby. Built-in wi-fi would be good as well.

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I'm now having trouble finding a suitable mATX motherboard. I'd like one which can take a Core 2 Duo, has dual channel DDR2 ram slots, 300GBs SATA, and at least two onboard fan connectors (so make sure the case fans actually go off when the machine is in standby. Built-in wi-fi would be good as well.

Have you read this review of mATX motherboards?

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