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Gerbil XP
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Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Wed May 23, 2012 10:49 am

I recently upgraded my HTPC from a crappy PC speaker setup to a full 7.1 receiver + decent speakers. Unfortunately the GTX 260 can't do HDMI audio directly; it has to go though SPDIF... So to get the best quality audio that's getting replaced... In my gaming system, I have a GTX 580, which does do HDMI audio correctly. So, as I see it, I have three options:

1: Upgrade the gaming system with a 670 or the ATI equivalent (?), then put the 580 in the HTPC.

2: Upgrade the HTPC with a cheap card that can still do accelerated video & full audio over HDMI; I haven't looked at the low end in a while, so I don't really know what’s good there...

3: Wait. GK110 or a new southern island card may make a gaming system upgrade more worthwhile?

What would you do?
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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Wed May 23, 2012 11:06 am

I would just go with toslink audio and call it a day. See as you're coming from stereo the benefit is probably not going to be that much. What media do you consume on the HTPC versus a stand-alone blu-ray player?
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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Wed May 23, 2012 1:27 pm

If keeping the HTPC fan noise quiet is important to you, don't put the GTX580 in there.

There are loads of quieter, cooler-running options but for single-screen 1080p gaming you'll probably find something like the vapor-x 6850's more than adequate.
I'm yet to upgrade my GTX460 on the HTPC because it's giving me fluid gameplay at some fairly high detail levels, but even that old card passes audio over HDMI.

As for issues with HDMI audio, I've not encountered them, but it might be partly because my TV and surround sound system use HDMI-CEC passthrough and are working well together, so the 5.1 audio device is detected by windows.
Every other HDMI audio solution I've encoutered just works, but I've never gone as far as checking surround sound capabilities, since it has almost always been TV's rubbish little stereo speakers.
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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Wed May 23, 2012 1:36 pm

Unless you're gaming on the HTPC, I'd go with option 2. You won't need anything powerful for accelerated video, and it will probably draw quite a lot less power, thus generate less heat and noise.

Or, if there's a SPDIF_Header on the motherboard, use that.
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Gerbil XP
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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Wed May 23, 2012 2:29 pm

I'm looking at this over the integrated toslink/spdif because the HTPC is my blu-ray player. My 580's been pretty quiet; but I'm hesitant to upgrade that because there's really no need, performance wise, to do so (at least on the games I play).

I guess I'll hook up the spdif to the new receiver and see how it sounds. Problem is I'll feel like I'm missing out on the system's potential. Hmm, the new system guide has an HD 7770 in the econobox; I'll look at that & the vapor-x 6850 as a low cost/noise option.

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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:25 am

Wouldn't a GT520 and GT640 be better-suited for your needs?

FrogWard wrote:
In my opinion I would go with optical toslink audio. I have it installed myself at home and it works perfect for me. And on the plus side it's Cheap :D

The only caveat is that Dolby True-HD and DTS-HD don't work over Toslink. They required HDMI and DP connections.
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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:20 pm

All you need is a 6570 or GT430 for HTPC use. Nothing more is required unless you're gaming. If you insist on the latest generation of GPUs just get a 7750, but thats still overkill.
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Re: Upgrading for HDMI audio...

Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:14 pm

Unless you are going to make regular use of BluRay with Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, HDMI won't really get you anything over toslink as far as I know. That said, I've been using HDMI audio to a Denon Receiver from an HD 4850 for the last 3.5 years without problems, both with PCM and Dolby Digital/DTS passthrough (though I mostly use Media Player Classic HC in Windows 7 for 5.1 media consumption - but I don't see why it wouldn't work well with other programs).

If you are looking for an excuse to upgrade the GTX 580 in your gaming PC, then you have your answer. If you want the best value proposition, stick with toslink for a while. If you are into getting the least compressed digital formats from BluRay, etc, and are happy with the GTX 580 in the main PC, go for something like an HD 7750/7770 or wait for a lower priced Nvidia 6 series equivalent (around $120 range) for the HTPC.

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