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Help deciding AMD Athlon Dual Core CPU for HTPC Build

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September 20, 2008 8:42:57 AM

Hi folks,

I'm buying components for my first HTPC build and I can't decide which CPU to buy.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/productlist.php?groupid=7...

It's going to be an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core but I can't decide which speed to get. If you have any opinions I'd appreciate it.

Thanks
Glen
September 20, 2008 9:08:57 AM

I recently built my HTPC and used the AMD Athlon 64 X2 4850e.
Overclockers do not stock it, but I found it for a song over at e-buyer.

It is 2.5 GHZ at stock, and what is special about it is that it's a low power version of the chips that you linked to before. Therefore it runs cooler, and requires less in the way of active cooling to keep temperatures stable.

I have a quiet zalman fan running on it, and its all but silent. However I have heard reports that you can use a scythe mini-ninja to passivly cool it whithout the fan, and as long as you have a 120mm exhaust fan, it should clear the heat effectivly. This combo should fit in most small HTPC cases too!

Anyway, that is my recommedation. Hope it helps.
September 20, 2008 9:53:07 AM

Yea I would recommend getting a 4850e, but if your thinking of playing games on the HTPC I would recommend getting a X2 5800. it runs at 3.0 ghz but uses more power (89W)
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September 20, 2008 10:15:39 AM

Thanks very much for your advice.

I won't be playing games, only using it for movies, music, recording tv and internet.

I'll check out the 4850e, thanks again.
September 20, 2008 10:19:10 AM

One other thing please...

Would the 4850e CPU be ok for watching HD-DVD and Blu-Ray?

Thanks
September 20, 2008 11:38:24 AM

Yep, totally. It works fine for me. I have it with an AMD 780G chipset. The integrated graphics are designed specifically for the playing of such video. This takes the load off of the cpu and frees it up so it can decode the movie.

Incidently I bought the gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB...(Socket%20AM2)%20PCI-Express%20DDR2%20Motherboard
And this board allows for a 90% Overclock on the integrated graphics core straight out of the box! (Just hit ctrl+F1 in the bios and it unlocks a secret menu, you can set the graphics core at 900!)
September 20, 2008 11:53:11 AM

That was the motherboard that I had picked out! :) 

Thanks for the advice, I feel more confident about buying it now. :) 

Cheers
September 20, 2008 12:13:49 PM

I have exact the same motherboard for my HTPC ;)  and it's fitted in a Antec Fusion case, and it is quiet!!!! i have 2 120mm fans spinning on low and a scythe ninja mini cpu cooler + fan , and it stays at 30 degrees idle! and I can't hear anything. Only a very very soft low breeze.

Processor is x2 5000+ be, and it's a good bang for the buck. And will handle everything nicely, the onboard video, is enough to play at 1920x1200 resolution. (videos that is)

September 20, 2008 12:31:18 PM

Second the x2 5000 Black Edition. You can set the multiplier to 15 and bump it up to 3.01 Ghz withou having to change anything else.
September 20, 2008 1:23:12 PM

dreadhead said:
Yep, totally. It works fine for me. I have it with an AMD 780G chipset. The integrated graphics are designed specifically for the playing of such video. This takes the load off of the cpu and frees it up so it can decode the movie.

Incidently I bought the gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB...(Socket%20AM2)%20PCI-Express%20DDR2%20Motherboard
And this board allows for a 90% Overclock on the integrated graphics core straight out of the box! (Just hit ctrl+F1 in the bios and it unlocks a secret menu, you can set the graphics core at 900!)


I've been looking at that motherboad and getting for a media center in a few days.
Apparently the sb700 i think it was can get rather hot on the V1.0 of the board, the later released 1.1 has a larger heatsink on it.
September 20, 2008 4:20:29 PM

The 4850e is a good choice. But the Phenom 9100e is a better one. Im using my PC HTPC/Gaming. Dual core is nice, but once you keep hanging processes on him it will chug a bit. I quite the "power user" and i always had my machines over burden, but honestly....

Go for the Quad. And get a fast hdd. Really fast.
September 21, 2008 6:44:16 AM

HDD Fast as the Samsung Spinpoint F1. That's a fast hdd even faster than the seagate 7200.11 in most cases, and its cool, the samsung goes up to 32ºC while most hdds are hotter, like 40~45ºC, I've seen several hdd roundups and the spinpoing F1 seems really great.

I've found my Phenom quite faster clock for clock against my Athlon X2 in my applications, so I think its ok, but looking at the price, the 4850e is a great choice anyway.
September 21, 2008 9:02:13 PM

Thanks for all your advice guys, much appreciated!
September 22, 2008 5:17:44 AM

There is a different in a couple of Gigabyte models. One has a P in the name and that's the model with the SidePort memory. If you don't get that one, then you'll need a video card instead of relying on the video from your motherboard.

The reason is because on-board video uses system RAM which is slower than the RAM on video cards unless you have SidePort memory.

I bought an Asus M3A78-EM and decided to buy a video card (HD 4670) partly because I noticed some microscopic lag in 1080p without a video card and also because I noticed my new machine which was only built as a test machine was more powerful than my main rig which means it's now going to be my gaming/HD movie PC.

The HD 4000 series video cards still have better clarity than the HD 3000 series anyway.
September 22, 2008 6:44:05 AM

The minimum Athlon X2 for Blu-ray is a 3800+ (2.0 gigahertz), but I'd recommend a triple or quad, especially if you plan to do light gaming or encoding.

September 22, 2008 6:52:57 AM

bobbarker said:
There is a different in a couple of Gigabyte models. One has a P in the name and that's the model with the SidePort memory. If you don't get that one, then you'll need a video card instead of relying on the video from your motherboard.

The reason is because on-board video uses system RAM which is slower than the RAM on video cards unless you have SidePort memory.


The GIGABYTE GA-MA78GPM-DS2H has the sideport memory:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I already had the graphics card, so I got a different model myself, but if I move the triple core and mobo to an HTPC after Deneb comes out, I'll go for a 4670 too.


September 22, 2008 1:02:34 PM

What am I like lol...

I'm now looking at the AMD Phenom X4 9350e for CPU. I want to build for the future so don't want the CPU getting outdated and the 4850e is already quite old.

Would this be a better option? Thanks for all the replies, you guys have really helped me out! :) 
September 23, 2008 3:34:14 PM

Get a 6500+!!!!

en.expreview.com/2008/09/23/amds-best-dual-core-ever-athlon-6500-kuma-review/3/

quote:
With default voltage, the Kuma CPU can easily hit 3GHz. Raise volt to 1.4375V and core clock can reach 3.3GHz and passed SP2004 easily. Increasing voltage to 1.45V and 6500 can oc to 3.4GHz, but can not pass SP2004. Please this is only on air. Looks Kuma have outstanding OCbility.
unquote.
September 23, 2008 3:52:23 PM

glennybee said:
What am I like lol...

I'm now looking at the AMD Phenom X4 9350e for CPU. I want to build for the future so don't want the CPU getting outdated and the 4850e is already quite old.

Would this be a better option? Thanks for all the replies, you guys have really helped me out! :) 


65 Watt quad-core, hell yeah, that'd be nice.
September 23, 2008 5:06:22 PM

glennybee said:
What am I like lol...

I'm now looking at the AMD Phenom X4 9350e for CPU. I want to build for the future so don't want the CPU getting outdated and the 4850e is already quite old.

Would this be a better option? Thanks for all the replies, you guys have really helped me out! :) 


That is a fine example of what i was talking about. a quad on a 65w power envelope. You would chug that dual pretty fast, because, well, it is not the fastest CPU around (albeit with a excellent watt/performance ratio) and once you get started, you wont have only high-def movies playing.

Better choice i guess.
a b à CPUs
September 24, 2008 12:06:01 PM

glennybee said:
What am I like lol...

I'm now looking at the AMD Phenom X4 9350e for CPU. I want to build for the future so don't want the CPU getting outdated and the 4850e is already quite old.

Would this be a better option? Thanks for all the replies, you guys have really helped me out! :) 


What do you intend to do with the HTPC?

If its just watch movies and other low-cpu stuff, the 4850e will be better value. However once you get into encoding, chose the Phenom.

chaohsiangchen said:
Get a 6500+!!!!

en.expreview.com/2008/09/23/amds-best-dual-core-ever-athlon-6500-kuma-review/3/

quote:
With default voltage, the Kuma CPU can easily hit 3GHz. Raise volt to 1.4375V and core clock can reach 3.3GHz and passed SP2004 easily. Increasing voltage to 1.45V and 6500 can oc to 3.4GHz, but can not pass SP2004. Please this is only on air. Looks Kuma have outstanding OCbility.
unquote.


The problem is the high voltages, if they're this high, its not gonna be good for stability.
a b à CPUs
September 24, 2008 12:22:04 PM

A AMD Phenom X4 9550 is a good alternative to the Phenom X4 9350e.
Although its TDP is higher at 95 watts the 9550 is much less expensive and has similar performance.
September 24, 2008 12:54:21 PM

amdfangirl said:
The problem is the high voltages, if they're this high, its not gonna be good for stability.


3.4GHz is a bit over the top, but, according to the review, it can do 3GHz on default voltage by changing the multiplier. The review didn't specify which board were used, and I think it was a 790GX board.
a b à CPUs
September 24, 2008 1:28:58 PM

jj463rd said:
A AMD Phenom X4 9550 is a good alternative to the Phenom X4 9350e.
Although its TDP is higher at 95 watts the 9550 is much less expensive and has similar performance.


:)  Underclock and undervolt :) 

That's how AMD got the chip :p 
September 24, 2008 2:07:54 PM

amdfangirl said:
:)  Underclock and undervolt :) 

That's how AMD got the chip :p 


And for a HTPC, with a small case, that must be the quieter possible, it is the choice. A Quad with a very low power envelope. For me a HTPC has to do the several services:

  • File Server
  • Print Server
  • HD playback
  • Video Encoding
  • Light gaming (WoW, or multi-player games)
  • Game server (COD server , or another standalone servers. I play Freelancer up to this day in the same server, that is in my parents house, so does my brothers and some of my friends. The ping isn't great, but we have fun)
  • FTP server
  • Video server (Video over lan if necessary)
  • Other services over lan. (Backups for example. I hate having duplicate information everywhere)

    When i think HTPC i think all those services hanging there. Due to the fact it will have a good looking wife approved case, must be silent (wife demand) and easy to use. And with all those services hanging, i think of a Big Ass Disk, 3-4 Gigs of ram, a decent IGP and a low power envelope quad.

    And that is just utilities i think on top of my head. Obvious things like web surfing, i didn't include on that list. But yeah, if i ever mount a HTPC system, he would do at least whats on that list.
    October 3, 2008 4:35:57 PM

    you could get any dual core you like from x2 5000 and above.
    i wouldnt recommend a black edition since it will require to buy a heatsink/fan unless you like the power efficiency and unlocked multipliers of the x2 5000 BE.
    !