Ok here goes...
Your current gpu has hdmi which pushes the audio out using an internal spdif connector from your motherboard.
Spdif doesn't have enough bandwidth to transfer 7.1 lpcm audio and obviously can't bistream.
Current gpu's work around this by adding an onboard hd audio controller.
Also, your 8500GT only has 16 cuda cores and therefore won't be very good at VA deinterlacing 1080i content. It also draws around 40W from your psu.
If you aren't going to be playing 1080i content then the least expensive cards listed will still blister through 1080p content.
Going by Renethx's recommendations (which are THE ABSOLUTE best imho), you have some great choices.Nvidia
ASUS ENGT240/DI/512MD5/A GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 512MB, $100.
the GT240 which has more than adequate stream processors for VA deinterlacing 1080i content and allows for 7.1 lpcm.
This is only directx10 and cannot bitstream hd audio codecs if you decide to in the future.
It draws about 69W.ATI
Feb4-8th there are some new ATI gpu's being released. These are passively cooled cards that will be great in htpc's. I'm currently
holding out for a 5570/5550, so if you can wait a week and a half it would be good to see these new cards.
(The 5570/5550 performance is equivalent to HD 4670 per Renethx)
HIS H567Q512 Radeon HD 5670 GDDR5 512MB, $100. An alternative is Sapphire HD 5670 512GB GDDR5, $100.
Has enough stream processors to do VA deinterlacing of 1080i content.
Draws around 61W.
MSI R5450-MD512H Radeon HD 5450 GDDR3 512MB, $53. Not enough stream processors to do VA 1080i interlacing.
Draws less than 40W.
All Radeon HD5xxx cards support lpcm 7.1 audio and bitstreaming hd audio codecs should you decide to want this later.
Plus they are all directx11 with eyefinity support (up to 3 monitors).
We both sound to be in the same position. My 2 cents, wait for the 5570 to be released in the next 2 weeks. That way you get
directx11 support for the future, VA deinterlacing of 1080i content (granted if the card has 128bit memory with ddr2 400mhz or faster),
7.1 lpcm with the ability to bistream hd audio, a passively cooled and therefore silent card, and somewhere in the
$53-$100 price range.
Hope this helps!
The only thing you might want to look into is your amp. See if other people on the forum have it and if they need to do EDID overrides.
That could be the only missing piece of the puzzle.http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...9#post17984809