I recently converted my desktop to an HTPC. It's located in the office next to the theater, in a full tower case with a 750w power supply, so quiet and independent power are of no real value in my case.
I needed HDMI and bitstreaming audio so I upgraded the video card last week from an 8800GTS to a GT 630..
This is the actual card I bought: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130808
The MOBO is EVGA 780i, CPU C2D E6600 @ 3.2ghz., 4gb DDR2 RAM at 800mhz.
Reading this thread, though, I'm wondering if I was a little too cheap on the GPU though. I'm still under 30 days, so I could still return it. I paid $60 for the card. I could upgrade to the GTX 650 relatively painlessly.
Do you think it's worth the trouble/additional expense to go to a GTX 650? I'm watching on a JVC RS45 on a 130" diagonal 2.40:1 screen from about 10-12' away. Most of the video that we watch is in 1080p and compressed to 10gb or so. If I"m not going to notice a difference in 1080p audio/video playback, then I think it's probably not worth it for me to upgrade again. I will say, however, that I seem to think I suffered a hit in overall picture quality going from streaming through my PS3 with Universal Media Server to the HTPC/video card/HDMI cable route. Subtle, but it seems like I lost some contrast or something, even though the AVS test disc calibrates roughly the same.
I'm looking mainly at this GTX 650: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4501123
And this one with dual full-size HDMI outs that would come in handy: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4368604&CatId=7387
Currently using Mediabrowser and LAV splitter with WMC. Thanks for your input, and I hope this is the proper forum for asking. Zac.Edited by zacjones - 12/27/12 at 4:59am