In the last couple of years the market of consumer graphics cards began to get considerably more diverse than it used to be. Due to different requirements for power, cooling and space, graphics accelerators for gaming, graphics cards for HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer) and basic multimedia tasks are completely different in terms of performance, form-factor and other qualities nowadays.
It is almost impossible to install longer graphics cards – such as ATI Radeon HD 5800 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 400/200 – into computer cases that resemble consumer electronics appliances like Blu-ray/DVD players. On the other hand, graphics cards that seem to be perfect for HTPCs cannot run modern games with all the eye-candy enabled in 1920x1080 resolution. In addition, such graphics cards come equipped with rather loud cooling systems that are not welcomed guests of living rooms.
As a result of these trends, this review does not include evaluation of high-end graphics boards, which were not designed for home-theater computers. Instead, we decided to concentrate on evaluation of quality of HD video playback using HQV 2.0 tools recently released by IDT. In addition, we will check out power consumption of modern graphics cards that can be plugged into HTPCs, CPU load during Blu-ray disc playback and some other factors.