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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My first foray into connecting a "HTPC" to my 65" Sony HDTV has met with some not-unexpected problems. I will be using the HTPC for feature film videos only (SD VOB's, as well as 720p and 1080p HD formats), not at all for gaming. Initially, I would have preferred using the new HTPC's, ASRock A780GMH HDMI output, but have failed miserably to get my Sony to even recognize the signal from the HTPC, over the HDMI connection. The VGA output, on the other hand, is working flawlessly, at 1980 x 1080, into this Sony's VGA input.


I soon plan to purchase a dedicated graphics card, to offload much of the signal processing from my CPU, and to enhance video performance with the "shader" capability that video cards offer. I may also add a Blu-ray, read-only optical drive, so the graphics card I select will need to handle full 1080p signals without a hiccup. After hours of research, I have to admit, though, that I'm more confused than ever about "audio over HDMI". Are there any cards which natively embed the audio in the HDMI signal, as Blu-ray players, and devices like the Popcorn Hour A-110 do, or is it necessary to fuss with a S/PDIF connection to the mobo, or some such, in order to enable the HDMI audio?


As a secondary concern, I plan to address my failure to even get HDMI to work with my Sony, in an extensive Sony forum, specific to this model HDTV (it's a short throw, rear projection type, not LCD or Plasma, if that matters). But, in the "worst case scenario" category, should I continue to fail, with a new graphics card's HDMI connector, are there any material, picture quality differences among the 1920 x 1080 VGA signals that HD capable graphics cards produce? Are all VGA outputs "created equal", or do some cards output a better picture at the higher resolutions, over VGA?


I'm looking for something in the $100 to $125 range. Advice... suggestions, please...
 

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if you are looking for a decent preforming HDMI video card with integrated HDMI audio, look no further than the ATI 4550, as a start. from my understanding all 4xxx series ATI cards can output audio over their HDMI.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, zryder, I've looked at the ATI 4550 engine, and both it's pricing and fanless (no noise) design are appealing.


It isn't just a question of whether it can output sound thru it's HDMI connection, but whether it can do so without forcing you to jump thru hoops, hooking the card up to the mobo with additional cables, such as a S/PDIF connection?


Also, I'm still curious as to whether there are substantive differences, as in "you get what you pay for", relative to the card's overall performance and the quality picture that it's VGA connector will produce? ... and, as an afterthought, will a card's "shader" capabilities work the same thru it's VGA connector, as they will thru it's HDMI connection?
 

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For an HTPC that you're not using for gaming, you don't need a high-end GPU. I've been using a 2600XT (fanless) for 3 years recording and editing HDTV and it works flawlessly (even handles Nero Vision which extremely sucks up resources). It does audio (5.1) through HDMI. I have an Nvidia 8600GT (fanless) in another HTPC which works just as well except I have issues with getting it to format properly through component and it doesn't output audio through the HDMI. In my main system which I onjly use occasionally for recording, but often for editing, I have a 3870 which handles any video easily. The newest ATI drivers I'm using are 8.12 and won't change unless absolutely necessary.


I haven't had any heat problems with either of the fanless cards and they really help making a quiet system.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by terenz /forum/post/16948392


I've got a Sapphire Ultimate 4670 card (fanless) that's putting 7.1 digital audio through the HDMI port. Plugged into a Toshiba LCD though.

He has a 780G chipset which will only output 5.1 audio. The 780G supports 7.1 but not through HDMI. You apparently have a different chipset.
 

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Mumm...,

What model number is the Sony? Most HDTVs made prior to this year will not accept either 1080p/60 or 1080p/24 over HDMI or DVI and I am not even sure if all of the 2009 models do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
walford, I'm going to reveal my ignorance here, in that I'm not familiar with the 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 distinctions. Certainly, the Sony KDS-60A3000 that I have (which is about three years old now) can accept 1080p signals over it's HDMI inputs. Are those latter numbers you refer to, refresh rates or frame rates? Are those numbers only characteristic of PC's and not most HD media players, such as Blu-ray disc players? One highly sought after feature of this model, is it's 120 HZ refresh rate. Is that likely to render it inoperable with the 1080p HDMI signals that PC motherboards and dedicated graphics cards produce? Concurrent with this posting, I should have posted a similar question in an enormous forum thread (155+ pages of postings, covering over two years), that Sony's web site hosts. I will do that shortly, and report back my findings.


Against the possibility that my own experience, and your remarks, prove to be the case, and if I wish to output a 1080p signal from my HTPC, I'm also asking about graphics cards VGA performance. I hadn't thought to ask, until it came to mind in my last posting here, whether "shaders" are enabled with the use of the VGA port? Or, is that just an HDMI and/or DVI digital capability?


To the others posting their comments, it is gratifying to be assured that there are a number of low end cards that handle HTPC duties just fine; that it's when one wishes to enjoy gaming at it's finest, when you need to invest more heavily... in some cases, much more heavily!
 

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1080p/60 is 1920x1080 progressive at 60 frames a second. 1080p/24 is 24 frames per second. Your TV model will accept either one.

Apparently your graphics card and driver is having trouble generating either one over HDMI. I do not have ATI graohics so can not advise you in any way about them especially when they are embedded on the MOBO.

Almost all/if not all movie based BlueRay disks are encoded in 1080p/24.

In the case of a 120Hz TVs in the US both refresh rate and the frame rate are 120Hz and you can disable input 60Hz content from being interpolated and therefore just displaying each each 60Hz frame twice by disabling motion flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Then are most, if not all of the graphics cards being recommended here, capable of outputting either, or both, 1080/60 and 1080p/24?


I'd dig into my manual, for my ASRock A780GMH mobo, to at least satisfy my curiosity about it's place in my problem, but I'm resolved to add a graphics card, and circumvent the ASRock's graphics functions, so I'll save my research time and energy for what a new graphics card can do, not what the ASROCK can't do (or, what I've been too uninformed to instruct it to do). :)
 

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I am not reccomending any specific graphic cards. However, It appears that only current generation models costing about $75 or higher will provide both the performance and interface functionality you will need now iand in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
All things considered, I have for the moment settled upon the ASUS EN9600GSO/DI/512MD3/V2 GeForce 9600 GSO 512MB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card.


In addition to having "Native HDMI onboard", it has DirectX 10.0 support, as well as Shader 4.0 support. At a $55 starting point (NewEgg) it looks like a darn nice card. Better, though, is the fact that ASUS is offering rebates, throughout August, on many of their graphics cards, with a very handsome $20 rebate on this card, dropping the final price to $35, plus shipping. I doubt if I could top that deal anywhere, for a card with these specs...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Would it be "kosher" to also ask, in this thread, if there are any overriding reasons why using a 64 bit version of Windows XP, rather than my present 32 bit version, would offer any video performance advantages? Similarly, although Vista is generally thought to be more of a resource hog that XP, would running Vista 64 bit be useful in the hardware environment of this HTPC, with its ASRock mobo, and prospective, ASUS graphics card?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I believe that ASUS card does support audio over HDMI, as long as your mobo has a S/PDIF connector ( which I hoped to avoid fussing with). Since I remain unconvinced that I'll be successful at getting my Sony HDTV to play nice with ANY HDMI connection, even from a new graphics card, I won't be deterred from buying the ASUS card even if it doesn't carry audio over HDMI. VGA from my ASRock mobo is working fine, and I'm hopeful that a dedicated graphics card, with Shader support, will improve upon that, if I have to use that card's VGA port.


If I can get HDMI to at least produce a picture, I do have the option of running an audio line from the ASRock's speaker plug to an HDMI "audio in" plug on the Sony... although that means more unsightly cables.
 
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