One of the critical features of any decent home theatre PC is its ability to integrate into the existing home theatre environment. Most people don't construct their home entertainment layout around a single component, except perhaps the TV, so there's little point in introducing a new piece of equipment which isn't flexible enough to slot right in.
Most HTPC's do a pretty good job in most aspects of home theatre integration, especially in the audio stakes. But that's because PC audio technology has followed AV technology almost exactly - stereo audio, coaxial and S/PDIF.
Video technology hasn't been quite as in parallel, however. True AV hardware has been using high-definition component and HDMI technology for some time, while the best that HTPC's could manage was S-Video. So the options have been to either get a TV which could take RBG/DVI inputs, or put up with a lower quality video signal.
Luckily, graphics card manufacturers have addressed this imbalance, with new units hitting the market which support high-definition HDMI standards.
We got our hands on three such cards - a RADEON X1300 Pro and X1600 Pro from GeCube, and another X1600 Pro from Sapphire and ran them through their paces. Read on to see how they stacked up.