Building a Home Cinema PC, suggestions on Sound & Graphics Card, Processor welcome.


Active Member
Brief background.

I'm looking to add a networked PC to my Home cinema to play mp3 files (jukebox style) and VCD files from the home server while enabling Progressive Scan DVD playback via a plasma at a future date.

The PC will not be used for any gaming, nor will I be burning CD's etc.

The PC will initailly be connected to a TV via an S-Video cable but I will be adding a Plasma Screen in the next 12 months and as such would like this option on the graphics card. I will be using the PC as a progressive scan DVD player with the Plasma screen. Again, as the PC will not be used for gaming, a top of the range card is not essential. Ideally, a fanless card would be preferred.

Though I would need a digital output on the sound card to connect to my Amp for MiniDisc recording of mp3's and DD playback of DVD's, I would like the option to make use of the Pro Logic II option in Power DVD 4 (my amp , a Denon AVC-A10SE, is great but a little too old to have PLII). Hence a sound card which has a 6 channel (5.1) output via phono sockets or at a push 3.5mm headphone sockets would be nice. High quality sound is a must. The minimum though would have to be Digital Audio (either optical or co-axial) output. I am willing to spend a fair amount on the soundcard for good quality stereo sound via it's own DAC's but as mp3's already suffer from compression, it has to be sensible.

Thirdly, to keep costs down, what would be the minimum (but capable) processor speed to play mp3's, Mpeg and DVD's only.

I already have the case lined up It can only handle one PCI and one AGP card or two PCI cards but does have 2xUSB 1.1 so that option for a sound card may be an idea.

Yes I know it is expensive which is why I want to keep processor costs down. The main selling point is that it is very quiet and would not look out of place in my AV rack.

So, any advice on the following would be great.

A fanless (or very quiet) graphics card which has S-Video output and that can handle progressive scan (NTSC and PAL) to a plasma screen.

A sound card with Digital output (either optical or co-ax), good quality sound and 5.1 (via phono if possible) outputs would be nice.

A processor that can handle playback of mp3's and Mpeg's over an ethernet network and DVD playback via DVD-Rom Drive.



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