One of the most interesting parts of the Asus stand was the new Xonar HDAV Audio/Video card. The Xonar has indeed made a serious impact on quite a stagnant audio market, and the HDAV further adds to this by making a HTPC specific card for “High-Definition enthusiasts” according to Asus. With one internal HDMI socket (we assume an input) and two HDMI outputs, RCA S/PDIF and stereo outputs along with what looks to be a headphone socket.

Asus claims up to 118dB SNR using the same Burr-Brown and NEC components as the current Xonar. The AV200 audio processor is currently the same too, as is the PCI-Express x1 interface, however it still requires a 5V source but the floppy power connector has been changed to a far more accessible Molex.

It's not only an audio processing card though – it does video enhancements from the "Asus Splendid Hardware" as well. If it's anything like the "Asus Splendid" on the Intel G35 P5E-VM HDMI you'll likely avoid it – it was a contrast ratio changing/sharpening feature that was useful for the VGA out before. The thing here is that this is a digital interface, so surely you just want the picture left alone? Unless it does some specific de-interlacing or bitstream processing? We'll be sure to find out.

CeBIT 2008: The Best of the Rest Asus CeBIT 2008: The Best of the Rest Asus

On the description the Xonar HDAV claims to upgrade a legacy graphics card to a certified HDMI/HDCP interface, but that still leaves potentially the core video processing in a HDCP hole. Seeing as DRM is a spotty mess at the best of times, HDCP on a PC being the worst of it all, we're not sure how exactly Asus works with it to satisfy everyone (or not, in the case of the audio loopback). What might be interesting is the potential to strip full quality HD sound out of BD/HD disks by using the internal analogue loopback, if it's available – we will wait and see how many angry lawyers’ nests Asus is prepared poke with a stick.

Asus makes a full Republic of Gamer System

Asus is also leveraging its brand very heavily this year and after the success of its Republic of Gamer motherboard range, Asus is set to launch an entire gaming PC to take on the likes of Voodoo, Alienware and Dell with its new CG6150.

Wait a second… the CG6150? It’s a shame the Republic of Gamers name convention hasn’t made it outside the case.

CeBIT 2008: The Best of the Rest Asus CeBIT 2008: The Best of the Rest Asus

Inside, it’s no surprise that almost all of the products featured are from Asus, considering the company makes virtually everything. It includes an Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU, Asus Striker II Formula motherboard, 3-way SLI Nvidia GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics (although we expect this to change to Quad-SLI with the introduction of the new Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2), up to 8GB of DDR2, a Blu-ray drive, and a Logitech designed keyboard and mouse.

Instead of the usual Asus heatsinks this thing is watercooled, but we don’t know why Asus feels the need for a 2,000W power supply – overkill is an understatement.

Like the Foxconn concept case, this retail one is a chunky behemoth made partly from Carbon Fibre. Whether you like it or not is purely subjective – it’s not exactly a LAN case, that’s for sure, but it will certainly turn heads. Personally, I think it’s somewhere between ugly Alienware and sexy Voodoo.
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