Playing HDvideo off a computer

Hi all.
Ok, so here’s is my problem, any help appreciated:
I want to use a computer to play DVDs (Bluray eventually), AVI and similar files off my NAS, as well as some Youtube and similar stuff on the internet. I have a graphics card with a HDMI port. ( I’m at work now, so can’t check exactly what model it is)
I want to use my projector to watch it.

Now for my questions:

  1. I want to eventually have surround (5.1) sound. This means I need to have a 5.1 capable audio card, right? Or can the HDMI port/cable on my video card handle that?

  2. I want to connect my Wii and possibly Xbox 360 to the projector / sound system as well, I assume the easiest way to do that would be to buy some box that has several inputs, and that then lets me chose which input to use. I am having some problems googling for such a gadget, anyone know of something that might work?

  3. Some other solution besides a PC might work, but it has to be able to use subtitle files (.srt / .sub)
    Thanks in advance.

The truth is, it really depends. There’s no real standard for audio output over HDMI, so different video cards use different solutions. ATI cards have had a built-in 7.1 audio decoder chip from the Radeon HD 4770 upwards I believe, but I’m not sure if that’s been included in the newer low-end models.

Nvidia cards on the other hand are a bit of a mess when it comes to audio output and most of them will only support 2-channel SPDIF passthrough from the motherboard, which is a decidedly inferior solution. Nvidia makes great cards for gaming and generally have better driver support, but for this reason I had to go with ATI graphics for my HTPC. It works a treat though, so other than the audio it’s mostly a matter of personal preference.

  1. Easiest (IMO) is to have a 5.1 capable audio chip and skip HDMI. The one that was built-in my motherboard works fine. It doesn’t really decode anything, it just passes the 5.1 bit stream to a TOS (optical) port that then goes to my A/V receiver. The receiver does the decoding.

  2. Sounds like you need an A/V receiver with HDMI switching abilities.

On the inputs, it sounds like you just need an HDMI switch, if you just have one input for the video display you want to use, but multiple devices you want to use with it. I got one from NewEgg for 3 devices to use on one TV. You can get anywhere from 2 to 5 ports, some automatically switch, and some come with a remote.

Thank you for your replies. I have some stuff to google now. :slight_smile: