What’s nice about the K7S5A is that it has onboard sound and a 10/100 card so that was two less purchases that need to be made. I’m planning on putting a DVD-ROM drive in there in the future and when that happens, I am going to invest in a sound card that outputs in 5.1 so I can enjoy the rich surround sound of DVD movies. Until then, I can deal with 2-channel stereo since this machine’s just going to be a PVR/MP3 station/MAME machine. The network connection is essential for grabbing the TV Guide from a website or to transfer files to and from the machine. And in some programs, you can even use your Internet browser to program the recording schedule from an off site location. Pretty handy when you’re sitting at the office and forget to set the PVR to record an afternoon baseball game or a soap for your significant other.
As for as TV cards go, I had an old WinTV PCI card lying around that was gathering dust. It’s not a high-end card, no stereo output, and doesn’t do anything fancy but in a pinch it’s an adequate card. There’s a few better ones out there from ATi, Hauppauge, and Avert to name a few but for now, I’ll stick this one in and get it working before I invest in a brand new one. Original purchase price was $35.
For my all purpose video card, I had a few lying around to choose from. Since I needed an output to my TV, I went with my old ASUS V3800 card. It’s a TNT2 with various inputs and outputs for video. It’s not the clearest output on the TV but for right now it’ll do. I’d like to upgrade this to a Matrox or ATi card in the future as I’ve read they produce a better TV out picture. I’ll say, roughly, $40 for a decent card with TV out and some 3D acceleration that you might want just for kicks like having that cool Aquarium screensaver from www.fish-byte.com.
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