Have an older computer that you want to hook up to an HDTV, but the video card just won't cut it? Even though the AGP interface is on the way out, there are still options that will allow you to get more use from your home theater PC.
If you have a computer that is more than 4 or 5 years old, there's a good chance that it uses the AGP interface. AGP, which stands for Accelerated Graphics Port, was was the most widespread video card interface before the introduction of PCI-express in 2004. PCI-express has since made the AGP interface obsolete, and nearly all new video cards are made for the newer slot. Fortunately, video card manufacturers still release the occasional AGP card, and it is still a viable option for a PC that you want to connect to an HDTV.
Best Video Playback AGP Card
If you plan to use your computer as a Home Theater PC, just to playback HD movies and television on your HDTV, you don't really need a beefy video card like you would for gaming. What you want to look for in an HTPC video card are good video playback features (such as the ability to playback high definition content without strain on the CPU) and a silent heatsinkmake. Also, make sure that the card is HDCP compliant.
The Radeon HD 3450 fits this bill perfectly, with great video acceleration features and an HDMI output. Some versions of this card also come with a fanless heatsink, which eliminates any noise that the card might otherwise produce. You can find the HD 3450 for as low as $40-50 at online retailers such as Newegg.
Best Gaming AGP Card
If you want to play games on your high definition TV, you'll need a video card capable of running games at a 720p resolution at least. There aren't that many high-end video cards available for the AGP interface, so you can't expect to play every game at max settings, but there are cards available that will play any game if you're willing to turn down some details.
The Radeon HD 4650 is a mid-range video card recently released for the AGP interface that will be a great upgrade to nearly any AGP system. This card is faster than nearly any other AGP video card, excluding the Radeon HD 3850. In addition to the capability to play games, the HD 4650 also has great video playback features if you plan on watching HD movies as well. Most HD 4650s come with an HDMI output to easily connect to HDTVs, and can be found for around $100 online.
Either of the cards in this article are great upgrades for users with an AGP system that want to hook it up to an HDTV. They are both HDCP ready, feature HDMI outputs to easily connect with new HDTV, and both can output sound over the HDMI interface.