Gigabyte's H971 Home Theater PC
For the past couple of years, we were told by the industry to expect plenty of options for PC based home entertainment systems for the lounge room but it didn't really happen. Both Intel and AMD pushed their respective Viiv and Live! platforms but neither really made any type of major impression. With the release of Windows Vista only weeks away now, many companies are seeing it as an OS which could really drive their sales. It seems like 2007 could actually be the year where we start to see more home theater computers (HTPCs) hitting the scene. We are suddenly starting to see more and more HTPC type systems and cases released from a bunch of companies and that's great news for anyone interested in this subject.
It was only recently that we tested the H663 home theater PC from Gigabyte and it was one of the best HTPC systems we have ever reviewed which oozed a great detail of style. It provided a great basis for providing all of your lounge room entertainment needs but did lack some features such as HDCP support, which is require for next-generation HD content playback such as HD-DVD and Blu-ray. When the folks at Gigabyte contacted us and let us know that were about to launch a brand new Viiv supported HTPC system, we couldn't wait to get our hands on it. They teased us with lots of product previews but we've finally be given a complete system from Gigabyte to try for ourselves and that's what we're going to be talking about here today.
The newest HTPC design to come out of Gigabyte is the "H971" and it improves on the now somewhat outdated H663, in quite a few ways. The new version is a little bigger and implements a new style which is modern and subtly sophisticated, brings support for Core 2 Duo through the use of the Intel G965 chipset, adds in HDMI and HDCP support by means of a GeForce 7600GS graphics card and generally just brings it more up-to-date with the technology you'd expect this year.
Strap yourself in - if you've been looking to build or buy a stylish HTPC system for your lounge room that will last you for many years to come, read on. We'll take a close look at the Gigabyte H971, what's inside the system, how it looks on the outside and how it actually works as a home entertainment system along with what it is capable of doing - such as, if it can playback HD-DVD movies.
Let's get this show on the road!