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Implications of Clarkdales for HTPCs

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January 20, 2010 1:46:11 AM

I've recently been doing some research into possibly building an HTPC with one of the new Ceton CableCard Tuners coming out this March, and trying to figure out what other components to use. I've also been reading up on the new Clarkdale series of processors, and I'm a little intrigued as to whether or not I might be able to design a somewhat low-budget system (ceton's projected at $400 lol) without using a discrete video card. Right now I'm looking at this mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168..., and I'd pair it with the i3 530.

I guess my question is whether this will be able to handle everything I'd envision myself doing with an HTPC? Obviously I wouldn't really be able to game on it, but are there any other applications I might end up kicking myself over not being able to do? Could this sort of system feed a 1080p signal to an HDTV via the built in HDMI port in the mobo? Lastly, would using a clarkdale actually make a better HTPC than a core 2 duo or am I overreacting here?


a c 127 à CPUs
January 20, 2010 3:19:02 AM

From what I have seen a Core i3 530 is able to handle full 1080P HD video encoding and decoding without a problem as well as some mobos made just for it will have HDMI as well as Display Port.

I personally prefer a discrete low end GPU for it such as a HD4K series due to its higher amount of SP units as well as well its discrete.

Clarksdale itself compared to Core 2 Duo though in terms of price/performance though, the Core i3 wins hands down. The C2D E7500 is near the same price and the 530 will win in most everything.

If you go the Core i3 route, you will have a nice HTPC.
a b à CPUs
January 20, 2010 4:05:17 AM

But at a much lower price point you could have a low end X2 on a G690 mobo and have a better HTTP system overall ... as the graphics are superior in all respects.

Intel make (and will continue to make) horrible graphics products.

But to answer your question ... yes.
January 20, 2010 9:16:07 PM

Well another consideration is that the clarkdales are more energy efficient than a lot of other chips (at least they appeared to be from my cursory perusal of the tom's hardware article). For an HTPC that's going to be running 24/7, I think that I might want to compromise on the video capabilities in order to keep my energy costs low. Having a discrete video card would also boost that number, so skipping it might be a good idea.
a b à CPUs
January 20, 2010 9:28:25 PM

Reynod said:
But at a much lower price point you could have a low end X2 on a G690 mobo and have a better HTTP system overall ... as the graphics are superior in all respects.

Intel make (and will continue to make) horrible graphics products.

But to answer your question ... yes.



690G?????

I dont think so.
January 20, 2010 9:54:08 PM

An Athlon x3 and a 785G would perform better for less.
a c 131 à CPUs
January 20, 2010 9:59:24 PM

Personally if I were you I would buy an AM3 motherboard with integrated 4200 graphics. Along with that, An Athlon IIx2 240 2.8GHz. I would undervolt this processor until just before it becomes unstable. That should reduce the temperatures nicely. The DDR3 ram is of course lower powered than the DDR2 ram that the 775 motherboards support. If you are not comfortable with the whole overclocking/underclocking/undervolting then AMD's Athlon IIx2 240e has had the voltage reduced in factory.
Check this out:
http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2459&p...
http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2459&p...

And consider that the Athlon II will perform slightly better than the E6600
If you are into the undervolting, you could either do it in the bios or use a program called K10stat.

G690? better the intel HD4500. And intel graphics do suck but seriously their best is better than the x1250
a b à CPUs
January 20, 2010 10:29:23 PM

I wasnt referring to you, but your choice would not be better.
January 20, 2010 10:31:08 PM

BadTrip said:
I wasnt referring to you, but your choice would not be better.


Yeah, but I didn't notice the audio part, so oops.
a c 131 à CPUs
January 20, 2010 10:36:26 PM

BadTrip said:
What you AMD fanbois fail to realize is Intel has the only IGP that support Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA bitstreaming over HDMI.

http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=370...


But really for an HTPC with a 1080p monitor and surroundsound, why would I need that? Not a rhetorical question, I'd actually like someone to try and convince me to pay$70 more for that and sacrifice low power and heat?

I'm glad to see the argument is between intel and ATI though, without mention of Nvidia's horrible IGPs.
a b à CPUs
January 20, 2010 10:51:20 PM

yannifb said:
An Athlon x3 and a 785G would perform better for less.


I agree.

The 690 is a bit dated now BadTrip.

Look at the 780G / GX and better ... the 785G then.

"The 780G had been equipped with a Radeon HD 3200 which was clocked at 500MHz, while the 790GX had a HD 3300, which was essentially just a HD 3200 with a higher 700MHz core clock. The new 785G is equipped with a Radeon HD 4200 which is clocked at 500MHz.While the HD 4200 carries the same default clock as the older Radeon HD 3200 IGP, it offers a host of new features"

http://hothardware.com/Articles/AMD-785G-Chipset-Launch...
a b à CPUs
January 20, 2010 10:53:33 PM

enzo matrix said:
But really for an HTPC with a 1080p monitor and surroundsound, why would I need that? Not a rhetorical question, I'd actually like someone to try and convince me to pay$70 more for that and sacrifice low power and heat?

I'm glad to see the argument is between intel and ATI though, without mention of Nvidia's horrible IGPs.



where are you sacrificing low power and heat?

You do realize that the igp is on the cpu. What power and heat gain, is not a gain just moves from motherboard to cpu.
a c 131 à CPUs
January 20, 2010 11:10:57 PM

BadTrip said:
where are you sacrificing low power and heat?

You do realize that the igp is on the cpu. What power and heat gain, is not a gain just moves from motherboard to cpu.


Athlon IIx2 240e
a b à CPUs
January 20, 2010 11:15:03 PM

ahh, ok

I understand that, but if i have 1080p and home theater then I want the best source regardless of a few watts.
January 21, 2010 12:03:07 AM

okay I've got a couple of questions (not an expert here):

1. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-clarkdale-cor...

This seems to say that the clarkdales ARE more efficient than even AMD's Athlon IIx2 240e. Plus, that's only the stats for the i5-661, not the i3-530, so I imagine the i3 would draw even less power. If I needed I could probably underclock the clarkdale, right?

2. I feel like I should know what Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA bitstreaming over HDMI are. What importance do these have for an HTPC that will be supplying up to 4 HD streams via the ceton quad tuner?

3. Do we have anything definitive about the IGS being crappy on these new H55 boards? Whatever intel's reputation is, I'd like to see some benchmarks telling the same story.

4.
Quote:
I personally prefer a discrete low end GPU for it such as a HD4K series due to its higher amount of SP units as well as well its discrete.


What does a higher amount of shader pixels do for an HTPC?


keep in mind, right now my mobo of choice if sticking with a clarkdale is this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... It's got an HDMI output, DDR3 standard, and is a microATX form factor.
a c 127 à CPUs
January 21, 2010 4:58:27 AM

1. Yes the Clarksdale is more energy efficient and as I said before the IGP with it on the CPU chip itself is fully capable of 1080P HD video encoding/decoding. Discrete is just my own personal opinion but if you want to utilize a more power efficient approach the IGP iss more than good enough.

2. Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA are basically just HD versions of Dolby and DTS. What bitstreaming over HDMI means is that it will be HDCP compliant and that means that not only will you be able to do HD video but also HD audio which is just great for combos.

3. The IGP is not on the H55 mobo. Its actually on the Core i3 530 that you are looking at. Here is a shot of the CPU package without the IHS (Integrated Heatsink):



The larger one is the GPU and the smaller on is the dual core CPU.

4. More SPs (Shader Pixels) means more powerful but also does mean it will use more power when under load. As I said before, its a personal preference I have had since I started building PCs way back in the Pentium days.

The link you provided did not show a mobo. Kinda weird. but here is what my choice would be:

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

A bit more expensive but I prefer Asus for the quality as well as great driver support and updates.

As for the IGP on the Core i3 530, it sucks when compared for say gaming. But in a HTPC enviroment a lot of programs can utlize the CPU as well out weighing the IGPs low gaming power.

BTW, nice avitar. Calvin and Hobbes FTW!!!!!!!!!!
January 21, 2010 7:40:03 PM

Wanted to let you guys in on 2 builds I just did.

Build #1:
CPU = Core i7 870
Motherboard = Intel DP55SB (Sharpsburg)
Memory = 4GB DDR3 1333 OCZ
Graphics = Gigabyte HD4350 Cost at Newegg $40

Build #2:
CPU = Core i5 661
Motherboard = Intel DH55TC (Tom Cove)
Memory = 4GB DDR3 1333 Corsair
Graphics = Intel HD running at 900MHz

After I built both systems and installed the latest drivers and Windows 7 x64 RTM updates. I ran the Windows Experience Index tool.

I wanted to compare the graphics parts between an basic entry level card that supports HDMI against the newest Intel IGD.

Graphics:
IGD = 5.1
HD4350 = 3.7

Gaming Graphics:
IGD = 4.6
HD4350 = 4.8

I was sorta surprised on the outcome of this testing.
January 21, 2010 8:07:43 PM

@jimmysmitty - wow that's really helpful. I was looking at the GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2H board - I've had good experiences with them, but I do also really like Asus. Thanks on the avatar props haha

@pausert20 - hmm those are somewhat surprising results. Makes me even more confident this will work.
a c 127 à CPUs
January 21, 2010 8:14:58 PM

Well the Core i3 661 has the ability to OC the GPU as well and is higher on stock GPU clocks but as I said, for a HTPC the Core i3 530 will be fine. In fact I was planning a HTPC with a 785G setup but am now looking at the Core i3 quite a bit.

Gigabyte is good as well. The mobo looks good too. Go with whichever fits you but either the Asus or Gigabyte will work great for it.

Any choice on memory? My preference is for Corsair but Patriot and OCZ is good too.
January 21, 2010 10:37:52 PM

Hi Jimmy, That is not correct statement about the Core i5 661 GPU. The dynamic overclocking or downclocking is only available on the Arrandale mobile processors.

January 22, 2010 1:14:52 AM

There are so many good reputable brands for memory, I pretty much go with whatever's cheapest out of G.Skill, Corsair, patriot, kingston, crucial, etc... I'm figuring on 2 x 2 gigs for a setup like this
!