Hi Kyrill and Joe Q.:
___Kyrill: I do not have direct experience with the Game Theater myself but Namlemez (I hope I got his nick right this time around â€¦) and a few other HTPCâ€™ers do and I believe they have reported AC-3 pass-thru under Windows 2000. I read about this cards AC-3 pass-thru capability maybe 2 months ago in the Creative newsgroups and it was only a matter of time before some of the HTPCâ€™ers began to use this card as well. I have read that the drivers are a bit buggy but it works and has a decent AC97 sound output under Win98 SE and Millennium as well as Windows 2000. We are not speaking of a 44.1 KHz output but an upconverted 48 KHz for MP3â€™s and CD-Audio as is the case for all AC97 cards. If you are a gamer and want a HQ dual-purpose card, the XP Gamer can be had for ~ $125.00. If you are a hard Gamer/hard HTPCâ€™er, the M-Audio cards for HTPC use as well as a cheap Live Value II for your gaming needs will suffice as well. If you are a true HTPCâ€™er only, you just cannot beat the M-Audio cards capabilities and at < $160.00, you cannot go wrong with that choice.
___Joe Q.: Those Aureal cards and the very outdated drivers are supposedly not capable of AC-3 pass-thru under any of the Windows 2000 configurations including Pro std., SP1, SP2 beta, and SP2 final. I sold my Aureal SQ 2500 about a year ago so I cannot give you a definitive answer on this either way. I have read that this is a no go but than again, SP2 final was only made available the other day. I do not remember reading of a single success under SP2 beta whereas the M-Audio was a slam-dunk after SP2 beta and the M-Audio WDM betaâ€™s were released. January time frame if I remember correctly. The cheapest in spec S/PDIF AC-3 pass-thru card under Windows 2000 that I use is the Creative Live Value II with the AC-3 hack for PowerDVD 3.0.xxxx. This was made available to us ~ 2 or 3 months ago. It still does not compete against the M-Audio DiO 2496/AP2496 using PowerDVD 2.55.0620 or WinDVD 2000 ver. 2.x.x by any means under Windows 2000 in particular for true HTPC use but is one heck of a nice cheap gaming card in the VIA and Intel chipset boards that I have built.
___Good Luck to the both of you
___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
New E-Mail address for the time being ... firstname.lastname@example.org
[This message has been edited by xcel (edited 05-21-2001).]