How can I utilize the following ports to connect my laptop to 5.1 ?

My new Alienware m17x r3 comes with these ports:

DC-in Jack (Back of system)
2 x USB 2.0 ports
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 Combo ports
1 x eSATA + USB2.0 Combo port (with USB charge function Support)
3 x Auto-sensing jacks for Line-out (2 line out; 1x SPDIF/Headphone)
Microphone Input jack
1 x RJ-45 (10/100/1Gb IPv6)
1 x HDMI-1.4 port with Audio
1 x HDMI Input
1 x mini-Display Port
1 x VGA Port (DB-15)
9-in-1 Media card reader

What is the best way to connect to a 5.1 receiver? Apparently the onboard audio has Integrated Analog 5.1 Surround and Integrated Digital 7.1 Surround Audio Support

I am assuming just use the HDMI connection but I am not sure.
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  1. if you use the s/pdif output.. you will have more receivers to choose from.

    using a digital connection will bypass the digital to analog convertor chip on the laptop soundcard.
    that may or may not be desireable.. it depends on if the receiver has a better digital to analog convertor.
    one of them will sound better .. or maybe there wont be a difference in sound quality at all.

    digital connection requires one cable.
    and hdmi isnt available on all receivers.
    s/pdif is available on all receivers for the past 10 years approximately.

    you might find a better sounding amplifier that doesnt have hdmi
    and that amplifier might cost less to get it home.
  2. Your S/PDIF out is where one of your 5.1/7.1 option is. This is one way to connect to your receiver. Your other option is the HDMI. The HDMI 1.4 port supports audio return. I have just begun reading on this and it is relatively new to hardware, but very useful for reducing the wiring nightmares when setting up a home theater system.

    The S/PDIF is your best bet. This sends it out as a digital signal and eliminates any unneeded conversions.
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