Ok, I know you guys have answered these questions time and time again. I can tell by just spending an hour looking at these forums. I have an idea of what I want but I am hoping to hear some feedback from the pro's. Here's what I got and what I'm looking to get. Please, anyone, let me know if this makes sense or make a suggestion for improvements.
Television - Toshiba TN50X81 HDTV 4:3
Computer - Dell Dimension 4300S
80gig 7200rpm (on order)
Logitech Cordless Freedom Optical Keyboard/Mouse (on order)
128mgs Memory (256mg PC133 on order)
Windows XP Pro (installed when drive arrives, can change if XP is not a good choice)
Audio Authority VGA/Component Video Adaptor
Ok, this is what I have, or I'm about to get. Just so you know, I'm not looking for DVD playback. I already have a Sony DVP-S7700 that I'm more than happy with. I'm also not looking for a gaming machine, I have a seperate computer for that. This is just going to be my web surfing, email, and MP3 server/jukebox machine. As far as graphics are concerned I'm really only interested in displaying some of the awesome visual plugins with winamp but nothing more. So, with that said I really only need to make two key decisions. What video card to buy and what sound card. With the sound card I'm only concerned with the best connection to my audio system. I'm looking for a card that I can pass a digital signal straight through to my receiver. (Sony STR-DA777ES) I'm looking at using either a Toslink or Coax Digital output. I've narrowed it down to the following cards.
Hercules Game Theater XP
Yes, this does seem to be geared toward the gamer but excellent reviews, awesome inputs and outputs, good driver support, and reasonable price make it a good choice.
M-Audio Delta DiO 2496
Well, what can I say, everyone says it's the best. It looks great, awesome inputs and outputs, and XP driver support make it a good choice also. The price is twice as much so I have to wonder if it's really worth it. Especially considering the fact that I will be connecting both in the digital domain. Oh, I did notice that most people talk about the Audiophile 2496 and not the Delta DiO. Not sure why, but for my purposes the DiO seems to fit better.
Ok, on to the video card. My choice here is really based upon what will function best with my Toshiba set. Of course I'm going to need custom settings for powerstrip but I'll save all of that for later. I've really narrowed it down to an ATI card. Everyone I've spoken to seems to think this will work best, but which one.
ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500DV
I've read in many places that this is an excellent card for HTPC. But, it comes with a hefty price tag as well. All the options sound great but do I really need them?
I could go with a lesser card like the 7500 or even the 8500(no DV). Do I need the expensive model? Will the 7500 give me the same results? Is ATI the right choice? Also, the Dell 4300S is a space saving design computer. I'm not even sure what will fit. It will only except the the shorter video cards. When I say shorter, not in length, but in height.
Alright, time to start bringing this to a close. Just wanted to mention a couple more things. I'm planning on putting a 32 or 40X burner inside for burning MP's. Well, I guess that was just one more thing.
Any input or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. (sorry for the novel)