GeCube X1300 PROfessional
The GeCube X1300 PROfessional Slim Edition is the first card in our HTPC GPU review. It's a feature-packed little bundle, guaranteed to fit straight in to your Digital Lounge.
It's a PCI-Express card, powered by an ATI RADEON X1300 VPU, sports 256MB DDR2 graphics memory (512MB HyperMemory) and is Crossfire compatible. There are three video interfaces - RBG, S-Video/HDTV-out/S/PDIF-in and HDMI. The card is natively HDMI-compliant, so the HDMI interface supports both video and audio. It also supports HDCP for Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and HDTV up to 1080i, as well as high-definition gaming up to 1080p.
Being a Slim Edition card, the X1300 PROfessional is a low-rise card. By default it uses a standard bracket but you can unplug the RGB interface, leaving you with a low-rise card with S-Video and HDMI interfaces. Unfortunately, the card bundle doesn't come with a low-rise bracket to suit this configuration - a glaring oversight under the circumstances - so you'd have to source it.
The card itself is nice and compact, with an unobtrusive cooling unit, and no extra power requirements beyond what the bus interface provides. The card bundle includes a HDTV cable, S/PDIF-in adaptor, S-Video-S-Video/Video cable, HDMI-HDMI cable, manual and driver CD. It's also supposed to contain a HDMI-DVI dongle, but the box we received was missing this piece.
To enable HDMI audio, you have to pass through the computer's S/PDIF audio through the card. To achieve this you can use the S/PDIF-in adaptor in the S-Video interface (which means that you can't use the S-Video interface, of course) and plug the computer's external S/PDIF-out port into the adaptor, or you can use an internal S/PDIF cable from an S/PDIF-out port on the motherboard (if supported) to the onboard S/PDIF-in jack on the card. The latter is obviously a much neater arrangement.
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