Build Your Own Silent HTPC – Blu-ray, HD DVD and HDTV Combined

Graphics Card – Sapphire Radeon HD 2400 XT HDMI

In keeping with our “silent” theme, we wanted a silent graphics card for the HTPC. That narrows down the field to a model with passive, fanless cooling and low power consumption. Additionally, it has to come with some form of HDMI output that is also compatible with HDCP copy protection in order to play Blu-ray and HD DVDs at all. Otherwise, player software will refuse to play back the material altogether if a digital output is involved. Additionally, the HDMI signal should contain the audio information as well as the video component. However, graphics cards that can handle audio are still quite rare.

Aiming for a low price, we felt that the ATI Radeon HD 2400 was very well suited to this task. However, snags lurk even here. In the end, most manufacturers use ATI’s reference design which only possesses a DVI connector. Attentive readers will notice that the following image gallery and the DIY video show a different model than we ended up recommending in our table. This was a last-minute change. Although we verified that the configuration using the MSI RX2400PRO-TD256EH worked flawlessly, there is one factor we feel we have to point out. The MSI card does not ship with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter which has to be ordered separately instead. ATI informed us that some resellers are offering improper adapters that don’t transmit the audio component. Luckily, we had the right adapter, but it’s impossible to tell which type of adapter you have from its outward appearance.

The Sapphire Radeon HD 2400XT comes bundled with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter  The Sapphire Radeon HD 2400XT comes bundled with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter Connecting the DVI-to-HDMI adapter. Our graphics card also support sound output via HDMI.Connecting the DVI-to-HDMI adapter. Our graphics card also support sound output via HDMI.

For this reason, we recommend the Sapphire Radeon HD 2400 XT instead, as it comes bundled with an HDMI adapter and costs around €70. You can be sure that its adapter also transmits the audio component to the HDMI connector. Nonetheless, we recommend checking with your retailer before ordering to make sure that the DVI-to-HDMI adapter is really included in the box. Tom’s Hardware repeated the entire gamut of tests with the Sapphire card, and we can say that the 2400 XT, too, is fully capable when it comes to HD playback.