GeForce 8200's graphics does not work very well yet (at least in my system). I am sure that the driver and player updates will fix the problems eventually. Meanwhile I tried another route: a discrete graphics with the onboard HDMI audio. The result turned out to be extremely well. We can use a GeForce graphics card for better graphics performance and the GeForce 8200 HDMI audio for the perfect multi-channel LPCM sounds at the same time!
This answers a question
asked a long time ago in this thread in the affirmative.Motivation
This approach has nothing to do with the current situation of not-so-good driver development. I don't think GeForce 8200 has enough post-processing
power. So either
- Hybrid SLI (precisely "GeForce Boost", like 8200+8500=8600)
- or a discrete GPU + onboard HDMI audio
- or possibly Phenom
is necessary for the perfect post-processing. Hybrid SLI is not available yet (afaik) and only two cards (8400/8500) support it, whence the second approach. The third approach could be effective, but there is no proof of that (afaik).Test Setup
- Athlon X2 4200+ 2.1GHz
- abit A-N78HD GeForce 8200 mATX motherboard
- DDR2-800 4GB
- ASUS GeForce 9600 GT graphics card (and the XFX GeForce 8500 GT card to make sure that the result is independent of a particular model)
- NVIDIA GeForce 175.16 driver
- NVIDIA nForce 780a/750a/730a/720a/710a/GeForce 8300/8200/8100 18.11 driver ("southbridge" driver)
- Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 32-bit
- PowerDVD 8 Ultra Build 1622 (and 7.3 Build 3730)
- Onkyo TX-SA606X receiverConnection
- GeForce 9600 GT -> display via a DVI-HDMI adapter and a HDMI cable
- GeForce 8200 HDMI port -> Onkyo TX-SA606X HDMI IN 1 via a HDMI cable
- TX-SA606X is connected to a 7.1 channel speaker system. No display is connected.
Of course you can connect other devices (a DVD player, VCR etc.) to the receiver and the receiver's HDMI OUT can be connected to the display's another HDMI port. See the diagram below. Switching audio/video can be done by a single operation if you use a universal remote control, so that there should be no inconvenience in this setup apart from one extra HDMI cable.
Now the receiver is recognized as "Monitor 3" by Windows and as the display device "TX-SA606X" by NVIDIA Control Panel. That means Windows actually sends video signal to the receiver (the second half of the extended desktop) multiplexed with HDMI audio.
In the receiver I selected the "Direct" listening mode.
7.1 Channel HDMI Audio
In this mode, audio from the input source is output directly with minimal processing, providing high-fidelity reproduction. All of the source’s audio channels are output as they are.
7.1 channel HDMI audio works perfectly in the Sound dialog box > Configure Speakers ... > Test. Each time clicking a speaker, sound comes from the corresponding speaker and the receiver's LCD indicates "PCM MULTI CH HDMI". Well, this test is enough to prove the capability of 7.1 channel HDMI audio. No other HDMI solution in the PC can do this except for some Intel chipsets. BTW the side and the rear are reversed in this test. It's only in this test.
Here is a problem: you can't choose "5.1 Surround" in the Speaker Setup. That means Windows always sends 7.1 channel LPCM to the receiver whatever the source is and when you play 5.1 channel movies, you can't use Dolby PLIIx in the receiver. This is a NVIDIA HDMI Audio driver problem.PowerDVD Configuration
In PowerDVD 8 > Configuration > Audio tab, I chose
- "Use HDMI" in Speaker environment
- "PCM output" in Output mode
I played Spider-Man 3 BD (Japanese edition) with PowerDVD 8 Ultra. The disc includes three audio tracks:
- LPCM 5.1 (English)
- Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) (a nice addition for S/PDIF users which the English version lacks)
- Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Japanese)
I selected Japanese as the audio language (i.e. the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track). Then the receiver indicated multichannel LPCM and I got perfect 5.1 channel sounds from the speakers (in Japanese, of course). I tested the movie with PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra and the result was the same (apart from that PowerDVD 8 gave noticeably better sounds). I haven't tested 7.1 channel movies, but I am pretty sure I will get 7.1 channel LPCM sounds as well. Of course the picture quality is perfect (in my eyes) because it's GeForce 9600 GT!This approach vs. Hybrid SLI (GeForce Boost)
Right now you can use only two cards (8400 GS, 8500 GT) for GeForce Boost, while you can use any GeForce card in this approach for better post-processing (and 3D performance). A downside is you have to use separate HDMI cables for video and audio.GeForce 8200 vs. G35/G45
Obviously being able to use a discrete graphics with GeForce 8200 is a great advantage over Intel G35/G45. Please read the article MultiMonitor Support and Windows Vista
to understand why a discrete graphics card does not work with G35 HDMI audio simultaneously.GeForce 8200 vs. ATI Radeon HD 4850
The upcoming HD 4850 is rumored to support multichannel LPCM HDMI audio
and possibly HDMI 1.3 (TrueHD/DTS-HD MA bitstream). If HD 4850 does not support HDMI 1.3, then GeForce 8200 with a discrete graphics (or Hybrid SLI) is a better solution in flexibility (and HD 4850 ~ $200 is overkill for HTPC). Otherwise go with HD 4850.