If you love your 9800gt so much they make 9800gt's with HDMI output now, if you wanted to get another one and SLI with them.
You could go with a Radeon 5550 which has DX11 and a HDMI port for around $60,i'm sure you can find them for cheaper but that's the first one i thought of.
There are lots of issues getting computers to work with HDTV's, especially desktops. My dad has a laptop and the HDMI output works quite nicely. To watch a movie (BluRay rips), I press FUNC + F4 to toggle my screen to the HDTV then start my video (WMPC and K-Lite). Boxee software has potential too.
One main problem with HDMI via a desktop is that most have no option for full audio output. For example, you can likely get Dolby Digital from a movie but NOT the advanced codecs (no big deal), however you likely won't get Windows sounds or game sounds. To get both you likely need to plug the HDMI and Digital audio cables into a Receiver.
I highly recommend a dedicated media box. There are several choices:
1) Boxee Box.
$200. Great remote. should play just about anything. x86 coding friendly will get updates. plays ISO dvd images with menus. PROBABLY will play BluRay ISO's and from USB DVD/BD in the future (not yet)
2) Western Digital TV Live/Live Plus.
$130 for Live Plus. similar to Boxee Box but not as fancy interface.
3) Western Digital TV Live HUB.
$220 at Best Buy. fancier interface than Live/Plus. Has a 1TB hard drive (930GB of space or about 130 DVD's). Plays ISO images.
4) Logitech Revue (right name?) Google TV. No ISO support listed.
I bought the Western Digital TV Live HUB for $230 for my sister. It will play all her kids DVD's copied to the hard drive. It may play all my MKV's though I've heard of a few issues that can be solved by recoding to a supported format or likely through a future update. If most of my content plays on this I may buy for myself. My sister also does not have an HDTV; this box supports the older TV through Component or Composite but can also output to HDMI. Obviously it can't downscale HD to an older TV.
The Boxee Box sounds very interesting. It has no internal hard drive, but it has a dual-core Intel CPU so software is x86 (likely Linux). I think we'll see a lot of support from this company in trying to provide a box that plays any format.
I'd love to see a Boxee Box + hard drive + BluRay/DVD combo.
*You really want a box that lets you easily find and play your media.
I had looked at getting an HD Media Player but decided it wasn't worth it because I can't stream 1080p files wirelessly.
The TV i am connecting to will be in a room 20-30 feet away so I am going to run a long HDMI cable. Don't see much of a point in running long cable to a media box and then a short one to TV, or am I wrong?
Im trying hard not to upgrade my rig since don't really have cash for it. Would it be worth it to maybe get a Fermi 460 for like $160 and put it in my P35-DS3L? Not sure its cost effective to put a big card into some old crappy technology.
That seems like way to big of a card if your not using it for gaming purposes,you might have another problem with power supply with those types of cards.Look around the $100 range, great cards for what you need them to do.
Radeon 5670 $120=$95 after MIR,this card will do everything you need it to do and a little more without being bottlenecked by your CPU.
There are several issues with your plan which I think will disappoint you very much:
1) Graphics cards only provide some audio (such as Dolby Digital) using hardware audio decoders on the graphics card. you'll get no gaming or Windows sounds and not even all audio formats for videos.
2) Your system won't be nearly as quiet as a media player
3) You may find booting and navigating a lot harder than a dedicated media player.
4) You can buy a Western Digital TV Live Plus for $130 (CDN) which has no hard drive. The $200 (USD) WD TV Live HUB has a 1TB (930GB) hard drive and can store up to 130 DVD-Video's (or BluRay rips or tonnes of other video)
Most video cards provide adequate video playback. The differences are pretty minimal. If you absolutely HAVE to get one you need HDMI output and preferably a way to connect to your audio card to play all audio using an SPIDF connection (which also requires tweaking your software to get this working).
I can only recommend using a PC as a Media Player in two cases:
1) a dedicated Netbook/Laptop which you have or need already with a remote control
2) a custom-built HTPC (maybe Digital Tuners) built by someone with knowledge
*I'm an Electronics Technician who has been investigating a good way to play back media content for years. This is the very first year that I've seen promising dedicated media players such.
**The WD TV Live HUB and the Boxee Box can both play ripped DVD's in ISO format (full menus). Both these and other boxes are so new that full reviews are not yet available.
The new ATI Radeon HD series can fully gurantee that they playback 1080p audio and video,all the card is doing for audio is acting like a bridge from your mobo/soundcard through the card and sending it out in the HDMI cable