Factual & Unbiased HTPC HDMI HD Audio + Video Roundup Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 328 Old 12-07-2008, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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LAST UPDATE 9:40 AM EST 8/13/2009Added the ASUS Slimline card because it is widely available now. The rule is that a card will be added when it is available for immediate purchase at a B&M retailer or online distributor that is widely regarded as “reputable” but not before then.

The intent of this thread is to provide up to date information on what the CURRENT status of HDMI in an HTPC is. This first post will not attempt to rate or promote any particular solution. Instead it will list many of the features that are related to HDMI output and what solutions will provide or not provide those features. It will be up to the reader to determine what features are most important to them.

Please Note: That this thread is in a constant state of update. If you don't see an item listed or a feature listed please post a comment. The point of the thread is that no one person could test every card and every feature. It is up to the community to provide all of the information.

Windows XP and Vista with current drivers
Feature IGP Intel G35 IGP Intel G45 IGP ATI 3200 ATI 4XXX series ATI 3XXX series ATI 2XXX series IGP nVidia 8200/8300 IGP nVidia 9300/9400 Asus Xonar HDAV Audio Card Asus Xonar HDAV Deluxe Audio Card Asus Xonar Slimline Card All Nvidia Based Graphics cards
Slot Type IGP IGP IGP PCI-E PCI-E PCI-E IGP IGP PCI-E PCI-E PCI PCI-E
Blu-ray DTS-MA Bitstreaming X X X X X X X X !(1) !(1) !(1) X
Blu-ray DD True-HD Bitstreaming X X X X X X X X !(1) !(1) !(1) X
Blu-ray DTS-HD Bitstreaming X X X X X X X X !(1) !(1) !(1) X
Blu-ray DD+ Bitstreaming X X X X X X X X !(1) !(1) !(1) X
Blu-ray 7.1 Lossless un-downconverted PCM X X X X X X X X *(1) *(1) *(1) X
Blu-ray 5.1 Lossless un-downconverted PCM X X X X X X X X *(1) *(1) *(1) X
HD-DVD Bitstreaming(All HD formats) X X X X X X X X *(9) *(9) *(9) X
48 Khz 16 Bit Down Converted 7.1 Channel PCM Y Y X !(2) X X Y Y !(3) !(3) !(3) X
48 Khz 16 Bit Down Converted 5.1 Channel PCM Y Y X !(2) X X U Y !(3) !(3) !(3) X
Supports bit perfect 192 Khz 24 Bit FLAC with 7.1 Channel PCM Y Y X Y X X Y Y Y Y Y X
DD HDMI Bitstreaming Y Y Y !(2) !(2) Y Y Y Y Y Y *(5)
DTS HDMI Bitstreaming Y Y Y !(2) !(2) Y Y Y Y Y Y *(5)
7.1 Un-downconverted Analog Output X X X X X X X X X *(8) X X
24FPS Support !(4) !(4) !(4) Y Y Y Y Y !(6) !(6) Y Y
Hardware Video Acceleration X Y Y Y Y Y Y Y X X X *(7)
Supports PowerDVD versions 7,8,9 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Supports ArcSoft TMT V2 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Supports ArcSoft TMT V3(Currently TMT is the only software that can bitstream HD-Audio) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Supports ASUS version of Arcsoft's TMT(Currently TMT is the only software that can bitstream HD-Audio) X X X X X X X X Y Y Y X
Supports WinDVD9 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y  
Dual digital monitor output Support X X X Y Y Y X X X X X Y
Current Average Street Price U U U $65-$200 $30-$200 U U U $180-$215 $215-$248 $150 U

Key:
Y - Works Perfectly
! – Works Inconsistently (See note number below)
& - Works but disables other features (See note number below)
* - Limited Functionality (See note number below)
X – Does not Work
U - Unknown
- Card does not exist yet

(1) The HD Formats can now be bitstreamed in the ASUS version of TMT and in ArcSoft's TMT 3. The ASUS version of TMT comes with the Asus HDAV 1.3 and TMT 3 currently can be purchased at a discount from the ArcSoft website. There are reports that bitstreaming is inconsistent with Windows Vista.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showp...&postcount=255

(2) The ATI cards do not support audio over HDMI for some HDMI inputs of some receivers. See this thread for a work around. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...2#post15202002 The latest 9.1 ATI Drivers have also resolved this issue for Yamaha receivers.

(3) Users have experienced a DTS Bomb like noise when selecting 7.1 or 5.1 in the Asus version of TMT instead of the HDMI option. Warning it is so loud it can easily damage your speakers! http://vip.asus.com/forum/view.aspx?...age=1&count=11 Look at the very last post on page 1. The latest drivers and TMT software claim to have resolved this issue. I have not experienced it since I have upgraded.

(4) There are some reports of 24p stuttering http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post15249118

(5) Some Nvidia video cards(ie: GTX 280) support SPDIF(Standard Dolby Digital, DTS, and 2 channel PCM) pass through over HDMI.

(6) All 2008 ASUS HDAV cards do not support 24 FPS. However, all 2009 cards do support 24 FPS. See the link below for details on how to tell what card you have. If you have a 2008 card you can RMA it for a 2009 card through your local ASUS supplier.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...9#post15741239

(7) Supported on all 8 series and later GPUs, except for the Geforce 8800 Ultra, 8800 GTX, 8800 GTS (320/640MB). These cards do not support hardware AVC (h264) decoding.

(8) Supports un-downconverted 7.1 analog output only in the ASUS version of TMT.

(9) Supports Dobly Digital True-HD, DTS-MA, and DTS-HD bitstreaming with the HDMI option in ArcSoft's TMT V3. DD+ titles will not play any audio with the HDMI audio selected in TMT V3. However, they will play standard DD from DD+ tracks if the SPDIF option is selected. myAV has stated that it is unlikely that ArcSoft will ever fully support HD-DVD bitstreaming for all codecs. Cyberlink has stated that PowerDVD 9 will not support HD-DVD playback.
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post #2 of 328 Old 12-07-2008, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
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If you see a Purple "U" in the table above it means I don't have enough information to know if that feature works or not. Please update me anytime you see a "U" above.
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post #3 of 328 Old 12-07-2008, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
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post #4 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 06:44 AM
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Well, we know for sure that at the present time the G45 does not bitstream anything and it most likely never will. We do know it will output 7.1 channel LPCM although I think your use of the term 'bitstreaming' for any LPCM output might be a bit confusing to many as we tend to refer to bitstreaming of undecoded DD and DTS formats as bitstreaming and leave the term off for LPCM.

Of course the G45 will also do standard DD and DTS bitstreaming.

I am not going to bother listing my equipment as in this case it really adds nothing. The points I made are simply standard statements about the capabilities of the G45.

I might add that given how many people want 24p you should have some reference to it and you might comment on other factors like overall compatiblity with various AVRs and so on.

I further assume that you left off any mention of Nvidia graphics cards due to their complete lack of any multichannal LPCM support? It might pay to mention this as there are no doubt people that will wonder about that. Even though the answer is negative, it might be a good idea to put it somewhere in there.

Another thought might be to add player software support to the matrix or build another matrix. I realize you have width issues so perhaps another matrix will be best. The idea is that since the soundcards at present only tend to support a single player that is a decision point for some.

ALong those lines I will comment that I use my G45 with WinDVD 9 at the present time and have had mixed results. I have gotten what I assume is 16/48 LPCM from some disks but not all. I think that Dolby TrueHD will produce multichannel LPCM but DTS-MA only seems to output DTS. I have been trying to confirm this but we all know how reliable Corel's customer service is...

Otherwise I think it is a good idea. We need a straightforward summary with no editorial opinion mixed throughout it and without weighting based upon the (very personal) opinion of the author. Opinions are fine but do not belong in the body of the summary.

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post #5 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 07:48 AM
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I appreciate the summary. One thing you can decide to add or not add is HD-DVD support. I realize some people don't care, but a lot of us do. Reading the chart someone might think that HDAV1.3 supports TrueHD no matter what as an example, but that's not the case anymore
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post #6 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 09:00 AM
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Aren't we mixing up the functionality of the software players and limitations of the chipset when it comes to down converting LPCM? At least with the G45 anyway?

The software players are down converting the 16bit 48Khz it's not a hardware limitation on the G45.

Example: Blu-Ray or HD-DVDs soundtracks that are converted to flac and decoded to lpcm via madflac play at the proper native resolution.

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post #7 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Flowerday View Post

Aren't we mixing up the functionality of the software players and limitations of the chipset when it comes to down converting LPCM? At least with the G45 anyway?

The software players are down converting the 16bit 48Khz it's not a hardware limitation on the G45.

Example: Blu-Ray or HD-DVDs soundtracks that are converted to flac and decoded to lpcm via madflac play at the proper native resolution.

Yes you are right that the player actually downsamples. However, it is a hardware limitation that causes that requirement. Without PAP(Protected Audio Path) the player is not allowed to output native Audio resolution. Therefore, if the device doesn't have PAP it can not output full resolution audio from a Blu-ray.

As far as Flac goes, yes sure the same card can output full resolution audio. However, you have basically circumvented the Blu-ray copy protection to get that to work. That does not satisfy the "Blu-ray 7.1 Lossless un-downconverted PCM" criteria because it is no longer a Blu-ray movie. It is now just simply an mkv file.

I could add .mkv full definition audio support to the list. However, I am not aware of any of the solutions that can do multi channel PCM that would not satisfy that criteria.
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post #8 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpgxsvcd View Post

Yes you are right that the player actually downsamples. However, it is a hardware limitation that causes that requirement. Without PAP(Protected Audio Path) the player is not allowed to output native Audio resolution. Therefore, if the device doesn't have PAP it can not output full resolution audio from a Blu-ray.

As far as Flac goes, yes sure the same card can output full resolution audio. However, you have basically circumvented the Blu-ray copy protection to get that to work. That does not satisfy the "Blu-ray 7.1 Lossless un-downconverted PCM" criteria because it is no longer a Blu-ray movie. It is now just simply an mkv file.

I could add .mkv full definition audio support to the list. However, I am not aware of any of the solutions that can do multi channel PCM that would not satisfy that criteria.

I see where you are coming from.

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post #9 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 10:04 AM
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Which leads me to my next question:

Have and software vendors actually implemented the capability to bitstream the HD codecs and or convert to LPCM @ native resultion? Just in case the day actually arises that a hardware vendor implements PAP and appropriate drivers.

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post #10 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Flowerday View Post

Which leads me to my next question:

Have and software vendors actually implemented the capability to bitstream the HD codecs and or convert to LPCM @ native resultion? Just in case the day actually arises that a hardware vendor implements PAP and appropriate drivers.

Check the table above. All the necessary information is there.

I can give you the quick answer though. Currently, the "Only" lossless bitstreaming Blu-ray solution is the ASUS HDAV HDMI 1.3 audio card. And it will only bitstream with the special ASUS version of Arcsoft's TMT that comes free with the ASUS HDAV.
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post #11 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 01:30 PM
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I think the row for "Hardware Video Acceleration" is way too generic. Some solutions may support acceleration for some video formats but not others. You should clarify with you're trying to show. Either have it say "Hardware Video Acceleration for all BluRay codec's" or break it out into the individual video types.
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post #12 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 02:09 PM
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mpgxsvcd,

Thanks for the thread. This should get stickied. I agree that subjective opinions should stay out of threads like this. If it works, it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't. Whether it's overpriced, company sucks etc is up to the person to decide on their own.
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post #13 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EskimoPie View Post

I think the row for "Hardware Video Acceleration" is way too generic. Some solutions may support acceleration for some video formats but not others. You should clarify with you're trying to show. Either have it say "Hardware Video Acceleration for all BluRay codec's" or break it out into the individual video types.

SpHeRe31459 at missingremote.com wrote an almost complete list of GPU HD decoding features.

- A Basic Overview of GPU HD Video Processing
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post #14 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 05:13 PM
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"48 Khz 16 Bit Down Converted 7.1 or 5.1 Channel PCM" could (and should) be split into two:

- 24bit 96kHz 5.1 or 7.1 LPCM
- Protected audio path

All (?) the multichannel solutions support 24bit 96kHz (or higher) multichannel LPCM and many people are enjoying it by creating their own mkv files with FLAC.
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post #15 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 05:22 PM
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I have an HD 3200 based system so can provide more data.

1. It bitstreams DD5.1 and DTS5.1, as well as PCM 2.0, over HDMI. Effectively you get the same audio as can be carried on SPDIF. No multichannel PCM. Confirmed with an Onkyo SR606 and Sony 40W4000 TV.

2. It has full hardware decoding for H264, VC-1 and MPEG2.

3. It will output 24p.

It doesn't have great de-interlacing or SD post-processing in hardware, and there are reports of some 24p stuttering.
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post #16 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EskimoPie View Post

I think the row for "Hardware Video Acceleration" is way too generic. Some solutions may support acceleration for some video formats but not others. You should clarify with you're trying to show. Either have it say "Hardware Video Acceleration for all BluRay codec's" or break it out into the individual video types.

Can you give me examples of how you think it should be broken down?
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post #17 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

SpHeRe31459 at missingremote.com wrote an almost complete list of GPU HD decoding features.

- A Basic Overview of GPU HD Video Processing

Lots of great info in that post. I will incorporate it into my next update of the table.
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post #18 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

"48 Khz 16 Bit Down Converted 7.1 or 5.1 Channel PCM" could (and should) be split into two:

- 24bit 96kHz 5.1 or 7.1 LPCM
- Protected audio path

All (?) the multichannel solutions support 24bit 96kHz (or higher) multichannel LPCM and many people are enjoying it by creating their own mkv files with FLAC.

Like I said before, right now there is bitstreaming a "BLU-RAY" and there is down converting "BLU-RAYS", nothing else. Playing an .mkv file at 96 Khz 24 Bit is a great feature. However, it has nothing to do with Blu-ray Discs.

Would you like me to add a feature like "Supports upto 192 Khz 24 Bit 7.1 Flac playback". If so, can you name a multi-channel PCM solution that does NOT support that? If everything supports that feature then I am not sure why we should list it.
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post #19 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 06:57 PM
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I agree that it is important to show that the G45, ATI 3xxx and 4xxx and the Nvidia 8200/8300 and 9300/9400 can output 24/96 8-channel LPCM irrespective of the status of PAP for those solutions. I agree with your position regarding Blu-Ray but it still important to some of us that these products do output LPCM for other sources. I for instance have purchased Dark Side of the Moon from MusicGiants and it plays in 5.1 channel LPCM.

Oh, and be aware that no good deed goes unpunished. I greatly appreciate your efforts here however... you took on one hell of a responsibility for which I appreciate your efforts even more!

As for support for FLAC I see that as irrelevent since it is not a characteristic of the hardware. Just stating that there is support for 8-channel LPCM is sufficient without regard to source. You might comment that it is only good for unprotected content if you feel particularly anal about it.

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post #20 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpgxsvcd View Post

Like I said before, right now there is bitstreaming a "BLU-RAY" and there is down converting "BLU-RAYS", nothing else. Playing an .mkv file at 96 Khz 24 Bit is a great feature. However, it has nothing to do with Blu-ray Discs.

Would you like me to add a feature like "Supports upto 192 Khz 24 Bit 7.1 Flac playback". If so, can you name a multi-channel PCM solution that does NOT support that? If everything supports that feature then I am not sure why we should list it.

So this thread is "BLU-RAY Disc" only? Then you'd better add it to the thread title and state it clearly in op. The term "HDMI HD Audio + Video" surely includes MKV solution. IMO using the general term "HDMI audio" just to imply "HDMI audio for Blu-ray" is biased in particular considering growing popularity (?) of MKV solution.

My point is not FLAC. It's close to Jeff Flowerday's (don't mix hardware and software). More logical classification would be:

- LPCM (supporting number of channels): stereo only, 5.1, and or 7.1?
- LPCM (supporting bit depth/sample rate): e.g. HD 3xxx is limited to stereo/16/48.
- Support for PAP: yes or no
- If yes, which player works with it

Basically these four will automatically imply everthing about LPCM (Blu-ray or not). But if you are a "Blu-ray Only" person, forget about it, your classification might be straighforward and easier to understand (in particular for novices).
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post #21 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xgecko View Post

I agree that it is important to show that the G45, ATI 3xxx and 4xxx and the Nvidia 8200/8300 and 9300/9400 can output 24/96 8-channel LPCM irrespective of the status of PAP for those solutions. I agree with your position regarding Blu-Ray but it still important to some of us that these products do output LPCM for other sources. I for instance have purchased Dark Side of the Moon from MusicGiants and it plays in 5.1 channel LPCM.

Oh, and be aware that no good deed goes unpunished. I greatly appreciate your efforts here however... you took on one hell of a responsibility for which I appreciate your efforts even more!

As for support for FLAC I see that as irrelevant since it is not a characteristic of the hardware. Just stating that there is support for 8-channel LPCM is sufficient without regard to source. You might comment that it is only good for unprotected content if you feel particularly anal about it.

I just needed clarification on your reasoning. I have added FLAC support to the list and we still have 48 Khz 16 Bit PCM support on their as well.
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post #22 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

So this thread is "BLU-RAY Disc" only? Then you'd better add it to the thread title and state it clearly in op. The term "HDMI HD Audio + Video" surely includes MKV solution.

My point is not FLAC. It's close to Jeff Flowerday's (don't mix hardware and software). More logical classification would be:

- LPCM: stereo only, 5.1, and or 7.1?
- Support for PAP: yes or no
- If yes, which player works with it

Basically these three will automatically imply everthing about LPCM (Blu-ray or not). But if you are a "Blu-ray Only" person, forget about it, your classification might be easier to see.

Look "SOME" of the features are specified for Blu-ray(ie: Bitstreaming, which will probably never work for anything else except maybe HD-DVD). However, I have listed 48 Khz 16 Bit PCM for everything that is required to be down converted and I listed up to 192 Khz 24 Bit FLAC for the ONLY format that is not required to be down converted.

That should make it clear as to what is down converted and what is not.
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post #23 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Come on guys there are still too many purple "U"s out there. I don't have any of the IGP solutions or the ATI 2XXX series cards. I need help with those the most. Well, and the NVIDIA video cards. Although, those are not as exciting.
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post #24 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 07:59 PM
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In regards to the 3200:

7.1 Analog Out: Not supported by the IGP itself but the onboard sound will most likely do it (dependent on motherboard and probably true of all the IGPs). I know that the MSI Diva 7.1 has the onboard D2 Audio chip that does. Most other boards with the listed IGPs will probably have the RealTek 888 or 889 and both of those do.

Multi Monitor support: Yes (I pretty sure all the 3200 based motherboards contain additional connectors. I know the MSI Diva does.)
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post #25 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 08:03 PM
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GeForce 8200/8300

- 5.1 LPCM: No (for BD, FLAC or whatever)
- 24FPS Support: Yes
- HA: Yes (full HA for all three HD codecs)
- Dual monitor: Yes, of course. Are there any solution that does not support dual monitor? For some people, digital+digital is important (not every supports it). Some solutions function badly under dual display mode (e.g. low-end HD 4xxx).
- VMC integration: Yes. What does this mean precisely? Playing back BD has nothing to do with VMC (as it does not support BD). DD/DTS bitsream from VMC? Or OEM TMT integration? (then it has nothing to do with hardware.)
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post #26 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 08:16 PM
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All Nvidia Based Graphics cards

- HA: 8400 GS supports full HA for all three codecs. The others support full HA for AVC and MPEG-2, but partial HA for VC-1.
- Stereo LPCM/DD/DTS bistream: a kind of supported (S/PDIF pass-through from the mb audio codec)
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post #27 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 08:18 PM
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The G35 and G45 now both support 24p. There have been some reports of less than smooth playback, so if you like add a disclaimer similar to !(4).

I do not speak officially in any sense for
Intel Corp., Technology Manufacturing Group
but I do work there.
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post #28 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 08:18 PM
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I would drop HD 2xxx and stay with the current solutions (useless for both new buyers and current owners).
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post #29 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 08:26 PM
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Hey.. .DD+ works with Xonar HDAV1.3 and HDAV1.3 Deluxe.
Please kindly update the table.
Thanks.

Lilo loves my HTPC ... ^_^
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post #30 of 328 Old 12-08-2008, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilohtpc View Post

Hey.. .DD+ works with Xonar HDAV1.3 and HDAV1.3 Deluxe.
Please kindly update the table.
Thanks.

I love to make that update. However, I need to verify what disc you tested it with. There are only a hand full of DD+ Blu-rays out there. Which one did you use?
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