Looking for a low budget HTPC MB with optical out


I will be building a bunch of identical HTPC boxes for my family and friends. The HTPC will be connected to an AV receiver in all cases. However, not all of them have AV receiver that can take HDMI. So now I have two different setups:
1. HTPC -->HDMI->AV Receiver-->TV
2. HTPC --> HDMI -> TV
--> S/PDIF to AV Receiver

Our media needs: 1080p, HDMI 1.4a, DTS, AC3

After reading various posts, it seems Radeon 6850 will be adequate for our needs. It also supports DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD (on HDMI). However, I haven't seen any 6850 card that also supports S/PDIF output.

I would appreciate your help in identifying a low-budget motherboard that has S/PDIF out.

I am thinking core i3-2300 should be enough for HTPC. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Please share any thoughts/ideas that you may have.

Thank you in advance for your help


PS: I already built one system using Llano processor. However, the quality of the integrated GPU is not as good as a discrete video card.
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  1. If you're going S/PDIF on some of these boxes then it won't be coming from the video card. Any motherboard that fits your budget that has S/PDIF from Asus, Gigabyte, or ASRock will be a good choice... with the latter usually being the cheapest option.

    Edit- not sure you'll be happy with the 6850 video if you didn't like the Llano picture. It should look the same. Maybe something wasn't configured correctly? If you go i3, maybe try out the Intel video before committing to discreet card.
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