What Card Is A Good Match For Old System becoming HTPC

Hey gang,
I am awaiting my new machine... And am getting ready to make my old system into an HTPC so I can finally bypass my xbox as an extender. I think the only component in my old system that I will be changing as I set it up as an HTPC is going to be the video card; but, I'm having trouble choosing one that is appropriate for both my intentions AND my current components.

Here's my current specs for this machine:
Intel Pentium D 930 3.0GHz
MSI MS-7248R Motherboard
2GB DDR2 266.5 RAM
Nvidia GeForce 7300LE (To Be Replaced)
Windows 7 Ultimate x86 w/ Media Center & MediaBrowser

I would very much like to get a card that will use HDMI for both video and sound. Initially, this machine will be connected to my bedroom's 40" Vizio LCD TV which is 720P; however, I would like to support 1080P for when I replace this TV with a new LED.

I was trying to get a feel for where I should be from reading the latest "Best Graphics Cards For The Money' and the corresponding Hierarchy Chart; but that seemed to make things easy for if I was shopping for a card for a new build, but not so much choosing one for a dated system.

I definitely want to make sure the card I choose doesn't draw too much power for my PSU to handle. And, Is it silly to be looking at a graphics card that uses DDR5 when my system only uses DDR2??? And even though I'm not gaming, doesn't it make sense to get DX11 versus buying a card made before DX11 came out?

Here's some cards that I've been looking at a lot the past few days:
Radeon HD 5670 1GB
Radeon HD 5450 512MB/1GB (only because it's dirt cheap)
Radeon HD 3870 512MB
Radeon HD 4670 1GB
GeForce GT 430 1GB
Your Suggestion Here

I know that mini list makes me look very biased towards ATI cards, but they just seem like a better value most of the time, even though I'm guessing many of you will prefer GeForce (just like it seems Windows WEI index does)... But again, we're going for a best bang for your buck HTPC Media Center Set Up, No Gaming...Just Lots of HD Movies!

Definitely would like to stay under $100 - I'm considering used/refurbished if it gets me a better card and a lower cost (unless you guys say that's a bad idea) thinking I'd be safe doing so with Amazon since they would back me if the used card was not working correctly.

Lets hear it.... narrow me down to my best three cards for my system!!!
8 answers Last reply
More about what card good match system htpc
  1. definitely HD 5670
    I use my tower for office and multimedia
    and I chose the HD 5670
    can handle light gaming also
    but really shines as a multimedia card
    doesnt need an external power connector
    draws 64watts at max load according to AMD specs
    has universal video decoder (UVD) for video playback
    also has BluRay support
    great deal under $75
  2. BTW 1gb is wasted on a HD 5670
    the card wont use the extra memory
    stay with the 512mb
  3. good look... thanks for your input... im gonna explore the 5670 some more now (makes me feel good that the one you suggested was the one from the top of my list in the op).

    question about the 'universal video decoder'... is that just used in playback, or does it also affect for example, running an mkv .h264 hd movie through an app like xilisoft converter or handbrake to output an mp4 iphone version??? would be nice if the gpu was lightening the load of the cpu on tasks like that.
  4. AMD has ATI Stream
    that offloads encoding on the GPU
    it only works with a limited number of programs
    Cyberlink Power Director
    Cyberlink Media Show Expresso
    are really the only two that come to mind
    DVD Fab is supposed to be adding Stream in newer version
    AMD supplies a media converter as part of its free downloads
    it works really well
    just a little limited in settings and formats

    also AMD supports OpenCL and DirectComputer which are other
    GPGPU standards

    it will become a bigger part of home computing
    just right now Nvidia has more support for CUDA which is their version

    UVD is just for playback
  5. so it sounds like that's not going to benefit me since I have an intel processor.
    oh well, i have all those media files on a networked drive, so i'll just run my converters on my core i-3 machine. (duh- not supposed to be running apps on the htpc were card shopping for anyways).

    Do you see much advantage to the 5670 versus the 5450, which is way cheaper?
  6. ATI Stream is part of ATI AMD video cards

    either the HD 5450 or HD 5670 would have ATI Stream
    I use it with my HD 5670 and my core2duo no problem

    for a dedicated HTPC a HD 5450 is fine

    the HD 5670 would give more power for 3d graphics but as far as media streaming the HD 5450 would fine
    cheaper and uses a little less power also
  7. Bought it! HD 5450 from amazon, using a giftcard I had.... 35.00 purchase, free shipping, cost me nothing (cause of gift card) and I also will get 15 back from a rebate!
  8. This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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