EAH5550 Silent: Perfect for a Home Theatre

August 21st, 2010 in .Blogs .Home Entertainment .Products .Tech
Nick Holland
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If you hadn’t already guessed, I love home theatre PCs. It’s just something different than the usual “gaming” PC that equates to the staple meat and veg diet of most online discussions.

Home theatre PCs (or, HTPCs) offer a new challenge: you have to make the PC simultaneously only as fast as is needed, while minimising power use and all while aiming towards true silence.

Why? Because you don’t want to notice the PC when you’re enjoying your film. The last thing anyone wants is a noisy, space heater that constantly skips frames or whirs away in the corner – that’s a fail. Getting it right is not that difficult, but getting perfect is a true challenge.

ASUS EAH5550 Silent

ASUS EAH5550 Silent

While the variety of motherboards to use has ever been increasing – we’re blessed with some very capable mini-ITX and micro-ATX boards, such as the ASUS AT5IONT-I Deluxe and M4A88TD-M/USB3 respectively, as well as quite a few choices of small form factor, desktop and slimline cases from the likes of Silverstone, Lian Li and Antec, it’s often difficult to find the right graphics card to fit the bill.

Onboard graphics might suffice for basic video playback, but the latest graphics cards offer a full set of Blu-ray tools including HDMI 1.3 that will pass through the high-definition audio in its true form.

ASUS EAH5550 Low Profile

ASUS EAH5550 Low Profile

Finding a card to fit not only the case you have but keep the power use and noise as low as possible is yet another challenge, although, now, there are some choices: the ASUS EAH5550 and its EAH5550 Silent cousin.

Both these use the latest Radeon HD 5500-series core that features the latest UVD2 video accelerator that’ll output all the awesome Blu-ray gubbins and doesn’t even require the additional power connector graphics cards often require.

That’s not to say these cards won’t game – they will compete as well as any other Radeon HD 5000 series card in gaming, and still enjoy the full support of ATI’s monthly driver updates. Our mate Suds previously covered the more techy ins-and-outs of gaming on the EAH5550 in that respect.

For HTPCs though, the two cards they will fit either low profile cases (with the EAH5550) – a notoriously difficult factor – or in a slightly bigger chassis it do-away with the cooling fan entirely (with the EAH5550 Silent) – no fan equals zero noise. Between them, they continue to aim towards that perfect home theatre!

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