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Linux HDMI audio/video cards ?

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 16:11


Googling isn't helping me much with this question. Pretty soon I'm going to want to buy a video card that can output Full HD HDMI video with audio integrated, all from Linux. This card should be noiseless, so fanless. Do cards like that exist yet ?


  1. There are some fanless ATI Radeon HD 2600 series cards that will do audio through HDMI with the included dongle if your version of alsa is new enough (last I heard, ALSA had issues, but this was early 2008, I would hope they’ve been fixed by now).

    Comment by Robert Deaton — 2010-05-24 @ 16:32

  2. Hi,

    One of these would fit your needs if top-notch performance is not what you need:

    If you want to play hi-def content smoothly, right now, vdpau and Nvidia (using propietary drivers, of course) is the way to go.
    PD: Consider buying an ION equiped computer/motherboard. I built an HTPC using one and works like a charm.

    Comment by Marc — 2010-05-24 @ 16:38

  3. I have an Acer Aspire Revo that has a Nvidia 9400M (ION) in it. It’s not completely noiseless but it’s pretty close. You have to be very close to it to notice anything.

    Audio (inc Digital Dolby, DTS but analogue too) works over HDMI just fine. And you get vdpau, allowing it to handle 1080p HD with full surround on a tiny little CPU like the Atom in the Acer Revo. And enough 3D power to handle compiz with everything sane turned on.

    You can get fan-less PCI-E cards if you’re not looking for the full system and they come in at about £30. Bargain. The whole Revo is only another £120 on top of that so that might be something to bare in mind if you’re looking for a neat all-in-one box to stick behind the telly (it even comes with a VESA mounting bracket so you can hide it behind the screen).

    Comment by Oli Warner — 2010-05-24 @ 16:45

  4. I have a Western Digital WDTV which is uses a Sigma SMP8635LF chip which is fanless and can output Full HD over HDMI. Not sure if there’s hardware & drivers available so it can be used on a normal PC.

    Comment by Johan Dahlin — 2010-05-24 @ 16:47

  5. something like this ?


    Comment by sxpert — 2010-05-24 @ 16:50

  6. On the Nvidia side… the Geforce 210 is possibly the least noisy dedicated card that support HDMI audio without passthrough cables and giant fans:


    If you are building an HTPC then you should probably consider an Atom+ION system (I use a Zotac MAG for that purpose).

    A somewhat radical option which may fit your needs is to change motherboard instead… something like the Nforce 730. It has a Geforce 9300 integrated GPU with HDMI output with audio support, according to NVIDIA (I also own one, but I’ve never tested the HDMI audio).

    Comment by rveguilla — 2010-05-24 @ 17:48

  7. Yeah, there’s plenty! A Radeon 4XXX is probably the best choice. Though you need bleeding edge software for HDMI audio of course. :-)
    This site is in Swedish but I think you get the idea:

    Comment by Ernst — 2010-05-24 @ 17:58

  8. I would suggest to check the NVidia G210 Cards, there are a few passive cooled versions out there.

    If you can live with NVidias closed driver, they are IMHO the best solution for your intended usage. (If you are using a VDPAU-capable Media-Player, the whole video decoding for almoast every popular video format will be done on the GPU, which means that the CPU should show a usage of less than 10% while playing Full-HD (1080p) videos.)

    Audio works fine over HDMI since kernel 2.6.33. (2.6.33 needed some additional options for the snd-hda-intel kernel module (enable_msi=0 probe_mask=0xfff2) to detect the audio-part of the card fine, i guess this is already fixed in 2.6.34.)


    Comment by Thomas Schmidt — 2010-05-24 @ 18:20

  9. I am using a Sapphire ultimate ATI HD4670 that is fanless. Desktop effects are working both Gnome and KDE, and it has HDMI audio. It appears as a sound card, so pulseaudio can use it. Although I couldn’t test it, because my screen does not have speakers.

    Comment by Rob — 2010-05-24 @ 18:30

  10. I forget exactly which video card I bought for an old media center machines I built a year ago or so, but I know it was an 8600 series NVIDIA card and it pushed full 1080p under linux very nicely. I think most modern NVIDIA cards out there now-a-days are going to push 1080p fine.

    Here’s a search I did to narrow down the cards to where I’d start looking. There are some low-profile ones on there, too, in case you’re putting it into a small case.


    Right now I use a little Acer Revo (NVIDIA Ion) and ouput audio/video out over HDMI perfectly fine using a stripped down ubuntu+xbmc.

    I only mention NVIDIA here because that’s all I have experience with. With VDPAU maturing these last couple years, they work very well for high-def output.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Sean Stoops — 2010-05-24 @ 18:34

  11. I have a Radeon HD 4350 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002EECNPA) and once I got to know all of its tricks it has been serving me well.

    You do need a bleeding-edge kernel, x.org radeon driver and mesa. By tricks I mean audio only works if the HDMI display is set as “primary” in Xrandr and such. Also don’t expect much in the way of 3D acceleration. Supertuxcart is just barely playable for instance.

    See also this post: http://www.tablix.org/~avian/blog/archives/2010/04/on_ati_radeon_documentation/

    Comment by Tomaž — 2010-05-24 @ 18:43

  12. Hello,

    If you want to play videos, I would recommend NVIDIA cards and their evil binary blob.

    Those cards have VDPAU, hardware decoding of the streams, but more importantly great deinterlacing and upscaling, on par with the best TVs on the market.

    The latest range have a built-in audio codec for LDPCM, going beyond what can be done with simple S/PDIF patching and providing the bandwidth needed for 7.1 “HD” streams.

    A GT220 will have enough guts for the best deinterlacers on 1080i and have the advanced upscaler.

    You should find a fanless model, but beware, they still produce heat, and that heat will need to be dissipated/moved somehow. Your case will need proper ventilation. On one of my systems the fanless card I was using transmitted its heat through the motherboard to the CPU; the CPU fan went on overdrve; I had to add a case fan…


    Comment by Nico — 2010-05-24 @ 18:55

  13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radeon_R700

    Comment by Raphael — 2010-05-24 @ 18:55

  14. http://www.ldlc.com/fiche/PB00096858.html
    PNY GeForce GT 220 Silent Edition – 1 Go DVI/HDMI – PCI Express (NVIDIA GeForce avec CUDA GT 220)

    Comment by Nico — 2010-05-24 @ 18:57

  15. See the “Radeon Feature Matrix” on x.org. Pick an entry with HDMI Audio (read WIP == best available on Linux ATM), a number of people have reported this working OK…


    Otherwise, you’re probably going to need to buy closed-source NVidia



    Comment by DDD — 2010-05-24 @ 19:31

  16. I have a Radeon HD 4650 that does this.

    Comment by Daniel — 2010-05-24 @ 20:11

  17. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127458

    I recently picked up one of the ATI Radeon HD4550 cards for $25 USD It’s very low profile, and the 1gb of ram is very nice. I haven’t tried the HDMI, but from everything that I’ve read, it should work with 2.6.33+ kernels.

    Comment by Chris Szikszoy — 2010-05-24 @ 21:10

  18. […] is the original post: thomas.apestaart.org » Linux HDMI audio/video cards ?   News […]

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  19. You also have core i3/i5 with the appropriate intel chipsets (H55/57) that have HDMI output, and intel’s driver
    just works with linux .. (but this isn’t just a video card )

    Comment by Flal — 2010-05-26 @ 07:57

  20. Thomas,

    How about Blackmagic Intensity Pro ?

    As you know we have developed the Gstreamer Source Plugin for Blackmagic, if you need we can even do the same for a Blackmagic gstreamer sink plugin.
    Please visit us @ http://mediamagictechnologies.com/products.html

    Comment by Kapil Agrawal — 2010-05-28 @ 17:38

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