If you've read through the entire review, our thoughts should be obvious by now - the Gigabyte H971 home entertainment HTPC system rocks our socks!
It's an extremely capable of HTPC system using the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and it's even powerful enough for some basic gaming. It's loaded with stacks of different ports and connectors for your home entertainment needs - you are covered no matter if you have a TV that is 15 years old or a TV that is only months old. Audio connectors are taken full care of with a full range of analog and digital outputs and the sound quality from onboard chips these days such as the Intel High Definition Audio with support for 7.1 channels is very good. You've got a 7-in-1 media card reader which allows you to do things like quickly slip a memory card into the front of the system with ease and then setup a slideshow and show your family or friends photos from your holiday.
One of the biggest bonuses with the Gigabyte H971 system is that it includes HDMI support through the use of the GeForce 7600GS graphics card. If you are thinking about buying or building a HTPC which will last you for at least a few years, HDMI and HDCP is a must if you intend on watching next-generation movie content or some paid HDTV services. We tried playing HD-DVD movies on the H971 system and it worked very well and without any issues - no skipping was experience and everything was smooth and image quality was as good as any other computer or device we have used for HD playback.
When it comes to looks, the H971 ain't an ugly duckling. As we've demonstrated continuously throughout this review, the unit is very stylish and looks great sitting next to our new Sony Bravia HDTV. As we said before, it's not overly impressive in the sense that it is mind-blowingly brilliant but at the same time it has just the right mix of styling and design that makes it attractive and very pleasing to the eye.
Gigabyte has done a tremendous job fitting so much inside the unit and most importantly, keeping everything operating as cool as possible. They have really paid attention to this aspect of the design and it shows with stacks of cooling vents and intelligent internal design using the nanoBTX form factor.
If you're looking at improving your home entertainment experience and your lounge room needs some spicing up, the Gigabyte H971 comes highly recommended and it will be my very own HTPC for some time to come. Not only will it take care of all your HTPC requirements such as movie and music playback but since it's quite powerful, you'll be able to perform other tasks which are more common to a regular PC. Don't be deceived by the size - it looks like an over-sized VCR player but it's able to do a lot more than one of those and good very stylish while doing it and not sounding like a jet either. It will cost you around $1,300 USD depending on how the system is configured but all considered, it is money well spent.
Very stylish and will look good in any lounge room
HDMI and HDCP supported
Plenty of video and audio connectors
7-in-1 media card reader
Lots of USB 2.0 ports
Made of high quality metal and plastics
Supports Intel Core 2 Duo
Intelligent design provides very good cooling
Not cheap but not over-priced either
No HD-DVD or Blu-ray drive but they are too expensive right now
Possibility of making you waste too much time in front of TV!
Rating - 9 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editor's Choice Award!