Here are some great sites to find the ideal hardware/software and test DVD's for your new HTPC:
Hardware Recommendations for Building a High-Definition HTPC
The Official 100% HDCP ready video card list
Videocards - drivers
Nvidia 8800GTS vs ATI X1900XTX - PCI Express 16x
CPU, Video cards and hard drive performance charts
HD Video Playback: H.264 Blu-ray on the PC
Recommendations Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 for use in a system designed to play HD content. The E6400 may work well enough, but not even the 8800 GTX can guarantee zero dropped frames on the E6300. ATI owners will want to lean more towards an E6700 processor, but can get away with the E6600 in a pinch.
Free killer apps for your HTPC.....
HOW-TO: Calibrating Display to Match HTPC Output
HDTV Buyer's Guide
Logitech® Harmony® 1000 - Advanced Universal Remote
HQV Benchmark DVD tool - $30
Picture quality testing tool for your Plasma, LCD, RPTV, Front projector and DVD player.
Digital Video Essentials - HD DVD
HIP - remote control software
LM Remote KeyMap
LM Remote KeyMap for Streamzap, Firefly or Firefly Mini PC Remote is a software replacement for your Streamzap, Firefly or Firefly Mini PC Remote. With our software you'll be able to choose what each button of your Streamzap / Firefly PC Remote do.
Beyond TV and Beyond Media
"The bottom line is that Beyond TV is, hands down, the best PVR software we've test for the PC" - MAXIMUM PC - October 2006
Beyond Media with plugin's
Democracy Player - Internet TV
Home Theater Computers
Blu-ray and HD DVD: Is Your PC Ready?
HD-DVD Buyers' Guide
HD DVD Screen Capture
How to get the Xbox HD DVD addon player working on your PC in 5 minutes flat
To see if your current hardware supports Blu-ray or HD DVD download this software and test your PC:
CyberLink BD / HD Advisor
Here is a test of my system:
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Thanks a whole bunch for this info. Great timing, Joe. Thx
Making it a sticky.
I am going to build a HTPC in the next two months and I need some help. Is it possible to link up the Creative X-Fi sound card to an HDMI-capable video card so I can transfer the audio/video over one connection to my receiver?
If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
You should have posted this in a new thread. Mods please split and re-post?
Most of what I've heard about the cards with HDMI out is bad. They say they work with the internal SPDIF headers on most sound cards but in practice that's not always been the case. I would assume a Creative Labs card would be supported but nobody makes any guarantees so you go that route at your own risk. Perhaps by Q4 this year we'll see more sound HD support from video cards.
Really the best way to go is to get a good dual-head, dual-link DVI video card that supports HDCP. There are lots out there now (PCI-E but since you're building new that shouldn't be an issue) so you have the freedom to choose a cheap one for simple home theater playback (passive heatsink even better for a dedicated HTPC) or a more expensive one to allow you to game with your HTPC. A lot of HDTVs support HDCP DVI. The audio can always be piped seperately via coaxial or optical digital connections, both of which are going to be plenty for DVD, HD-DVD, or BRD audio. Is having that second cable that big an issue?
I must be old-fashioned. To me audio should go to the receiver and from there to the speakers. The video should go to the TV. All these expensive receivers with loads of video I/O seem silly to me. Some say it's to allow switching from one point but any decent universal remote can take care of that. I just think that running your audio first through your TV or running your video first through your receiver is just one more step that can easily be eliminated. Simpler is usually better, or so William of Ockham though "lex parsimoniae"FB-DIMM are the real cause of global warming