Time to upgrade - HTPC your thoughts?

I haven't posted in over a year. I hope the forums are still as reliable as they used to be. Good to be back!

--Goal = Get rid of the cable company and go with Netflix to steam TV shows/movies, and watch Blu Ray DVDs using my HTPC as they come through the door. I just dont feel that we watch enough TV any more or that its worth the cost. Commercials are the antichrist.
--Current build = check the sig. Everything is still listed there as when I first built this bastard.
--Budget = flexible, but I'm more interested in best value for the money. Probably < $700.
--PC use = hard core gaming, movies via TV.
--Current PC screen = 24 incher, 1920X1200 2ms.
--Current TV = really old tube TV , 27", making a permanent high pitched sounded, fail.

1) Get a new vcard = did some preliminary research and think that the ATI 4870 looks like the best bang for my buck, $160 at Newegg. Anandtech quote, "A 1GB 4870 will continue to be a better choice until the price difference between one of those on sale and a 5770 drops below $10-$15, at which point we could justify rolling the dice and paying a bit more for the 5770."

2) Get a TV = we sit close to it, 6ft away from the screen. Cabinet has space for a 32" to fit snug, and maybe push for a 37" hanging over the edges but it could work. I dont want to spend a lot of money on this TV. It's the spare room TV where my PC is, and will be our main TV for about 1-2 years until I can get my 52". The Vizio 32" 1080p at $480 from Dell looks good, model VOJ320.

3) Get a Blu Ray player = LG UH08LS10K BR, DVD burner combo etc. My current DVD drive is messed, tray doesnt open. Need a new one anyway so need the combo drive. $99 at Newegg.

1) Is the card compatible with my current system (PSU, P5W DH Deluxe, Antec P180 fit)?
2) Will it bottleneck (one PCE-e X16 slot)?
3) Is the card the right choice for a value play or could I do better?
4) Will it stream the audio to the TV over the HDMI cable?
5) If the HDMI audio gets streamed, does it hijack the sound and disable the rest of the PC's sound (cause that would suck)?

6) Go with 720p or is 1080p worth it at 6ft with a 32 incher?
7) Should I go with a 37"?
8) Whats the best, cheapest 32" LCD on the market today?

9) Will my system handle Blu Ray or will the CPU be running overtime? I plan to work while my wife watches shows.
10) Is there a cheaper/better drive I should look at?

Hey thanks a lot guys. Any thoughts are much appreciated. I will continue to do research and update this post for the benefit of the community.
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More about time upgrade htpc thoughts
  1. According to Tom's charts, Sum of FPS Benchmarks 1920x1200 with anti aliasing, 8AA (High Quality), http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-cards-charts-2009-high-quality/Sum-of-FPS-Benchmarks-1920x1200,1538.html, the MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC pawns at $195.

    Anyone confirm? For $35 more this looks like a better option.
  2. Bump :(
  3. Bump again? Did THG die while I was away?
  4. shouldn bottleneck too badly but what brand is your psu, i've found sharp and toshiba to make good value lcd screens,you can run audio through an hmdi cable
  5. PSU = Antec Neo 550. Can I actually run a PCIe 2.0 card on a x16 mobo and not lose any performance? When you say "not too badly", what % performance loss are we talking about?
  6. pci 2.0 s backwards compatible, you looking at max 25% loss on the pci x16 slot with a 4890 roughly
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