I just posted this same question in the Video card forum but (being a TGforumz n00b) i just realized this question fits in this category better.
I finally ordered my Panasonic 65" Plasma today and now it's time to build my HTPC that will be my TiVO, DVD player and music player (along with living-room PC).
Now my question is what video card would you guys suggest would work best for video capture (I'm interested in HDTV capture but it's not a must). I'd prefer to stick to an AGP setup since I have a MSI K8T NEO2-FIR mobo handy. Of course, if the benefits of moving up to a PCI-Express card is worth it then I'll woulding mind shelling out the extra 200ish for the mobo.
Also, while we're at it, would you guys suggest a creative x-fi sound card or is there anything else potentially more benefiting for a HTPC setup?
Unless you plan on playing a lot of 3D games, don’t bother looking at the top cards, they would be a waist of money. Cards in ATI’s X1X00 class are better suited to your needs than the 800’s and Nvidia’s 6600GT with VIVO is another good card. Many people like ATI’s All-In-Wonder series because it comes with a tuner. However, if you do not plan on using it as a tuner it would be a waist since a VIVO card costs 30 – 50 percent less and can still record live TV. So, long story short, just about any mid-line video card with VIVO will do the job – I personally use a GigaByte 6600GT with VIVO ($150) as my HTPC and the quality is remarkable on a regular Sony projection HDTV. Oh, the reason I went with that card is it has no fan and noise is the bane of most HTPCs.
Oh, forgot about sound card... I use an Audigy 4 because it is just a passthrough to a H/K reciever. If you use it as simply a passthrough then any mid-class card will do as long as it has a digital out. If you want a card to decode on the fly then look into somthing better than a SB.