I was searching for a graphic card to replace my 2yo 7600GT, 256MB. I’m definitely not on videogames, but I’d like some decent 3D capabilities and over all a MPEG4 AVC hardware decoding. And, most important point, it *MUST* be fanless! I hate that buzzing noise.
There are several “0dB” cards on the maket, built from both nVidia and ATi. From what I understood the latter ones, from series HD2x00 and HD3x00, have an onboard audio decoder that can directly be used as an audio output. That is nice because I plan to use as a second monitor a 32″ LCD TV linked via DVI (with a DVI–>HDMI cable). So that DVI/HDMI cable can be used also to transmit the “sound” avoiding me to use another 3,5″ jack only for this. Then I read some benchmark comparison from an HD3400 and a nVidia 8600GT… uhm better to stay with nVidia!
Even if the nVidia counterpart has not this onboard sound decoder, some card manufacturers that don’t use the reference nVidia PCB design had implemented an S/PDIF pass-through connector. Bacause, trust me, the audio signal that can be transmitted on a HDMI cable is the good ol’ stereo S/PDIF! (yes left/right only, no 5.1 dolby, LOL).
So I was searching for fanless, nVidia and with S/PDIF pass-through. The GPU for my budget was a 8600GT 512MB class.
My first, unlucky bought was a MSI NX8600GT-TD512EZ/D2.
This card is clocked at stock 540Mhz, with 512MB of cheaper 800MHz DDR2 memory (on a 128 bit interface). It’s a nice card with good temperatures due to his big heatsink, copper based.
But it simply won’t fit on my Coolermaster Cavalier 2 HTPC case, with these two heatpipes being too high in the case profile.