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Advice on cpu for HTPC

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November 12, 2009 5:36:25 PM

Hello,

I have been planning a budget HTPC for a long time. The only think I am relatively firm on is a 785g motherboard, most likely a DDR3 Gigabyte. This is for the integrated HD graphics and optical audio. Originally I had been considering a relatively high-end Phenom II X4 cpu, but last night I have read in a number of sites that these processors run really hot and the cooler fan can get really noisy under load. I already have a PCH A-110 for movies, so likely this computer will be used primarily for ordinary web browsing or for viewing movies that might not play on the PCH including home video and audio which are slow and/or problematic with the Popcorn Hour. When blu ray disks get cheaper I will add a BD Rom. I like a computer that is fast, though, and I do not want to rule out gaming altogether. My last idea was the 705e because it's only 65 watts, but the cooler looks really cheap. Any suggestions on the fastest AMD cpu that can easily be made to run cool and quiet in a low profile case would be much appreciated. I am also worried about those horror stories of power supplies burning out and taking out the cpu and mobo with them.

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November 12, 2009 5:49:23 PM

The Athlon II X2 chips make great HTPC chips. They are rated at 65W and offer plenty of power for a HTPC. There are currently three Athlon II X2 chips available, the 240, 245, and 250.
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November 12, 2009 5:54:28 PM

Yeah, the new 45nm AMD chips will work fine for you.

BTW, don't take TDP rating to = heat output necessarily. For example, I just swapped out a 65nm Brisbane 5200+ rated at 65W for a 45nm Phenom II X4 905e 65W in my HTPC. Same TDP rating and using the same cooler. The brisbane would get up to 65°C on load while the Phenom only peaks at 49°C.

Of course, the VID for the brisbane is 1.35V and 1.15V for the Phenom. But this just gives you an example of how efficient AMD chips have become.

You'll do just fine with an Athlon II 240, 245, or 250.
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November 12, 2009 6:48:50 PM

Thanks for the replies. I see that two of you agree on the 240, 245, or 250. I will check for their availability and price as well as benchmarks, etc. I had pretty much settled on the 620 propus a few days ago, but one expert review discouraged me. I had hoped to be able to use something faster to increase general responsiveness. Other replies/opinions are more than welcome.
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November 12, 2009 7:26:17 PM

If you plan to specifically use multi-threaded applications, such as video encoding/transcoding, then a quad core is justified. I do a lot of h264 video conversion and that's why I went with a quad Phenom. You may even be able to undervolt an Athlon X4 to keep temps down (or try to get a 45W Athlon II X4 605e, if you can find one).

For only web browsing and media playback, a higher clocked X2 is good enough.

The X3 705e that you were originally interested in would be a good compromise in case you may need more cores later on, and some can even be unlocked to equal the 905e.

Do you have a budget that you are trying to stay within?
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November 12, 2009 7:28:35 PM

The 620 is a lot faster at a Passmark of 2.9 for $113 compared to the 250 which scores only 1.7 but for only around $70. but it may be difficult to keep the fan noise of the 620 down to say 20db. The 705e is significantly slower than the 250 and costs $30 more while scoring 2.5. I don't know how those stock coolers perform. My son in law's computer is generally silent, but, every now and then, a fan cuts in like a jet aircraft preparing for flight. I'm presuming it's the cpu fan, but could be the dvd writer, I suppose That kind of noise would definitely be disconcerting if it happened in the middle of a blu-ray movie. My present computer, a P4, 3.4 GHZ, has an imperceptible increase in cpu fan sound. The fan speed generally increases from around 1400 to 1600 (Everest) as the temp rises from around 40 to 50 degrees C. On one occasion I saw the cpu fan speed go over 2000 as the temp approached 60, but even then I couldn't detect a difference in the sound of the stock cooler fan. The main problem with this system is that it can't play most 1080p video. In any case, I wanted another computer to connect directly to my 50" plasma.
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November 12, 2009 7:40:26 PM

I do a lot of video conversion now, but mainly because my popcorn hour won't play video taken with any home video cameras. With HD cameras the problem is usually with the audio not playing. This is usually corrected by using an HD conversion program to convert to MP4. With less expensive video cameras the video doesn't work on the PCH at all, so I have to use a program like Magic Video Converter to convert to mpeg2. If I had a computer that was connected directly to my tv I would not need to do any of those conversions as they would generally play with the codecs that I would already have. The 605e is currently out of stock at the two stores listed by http://www.shopbot.ca/default.asp?kw=amd+605e&position=.... I will keep looking. It is currently listed on back oder at $30 or $40 more than the 705e
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November 12, 2009 7:42:47 PM

hi
i would recommend use :
asus m4a785g
and 2gb crusial ram ddr2

you do not need a Very powerful hardware
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November 12, 2009 7:51:32 PM

Yes, I had hoped to stay within $500, but I can see now that I'm probably going to be closer to $1000 by the time I get all the gizmo's that I need for it. I may postpone some options for now, e.g. bd rom and wireless keyboard. I may even install the components in an old case for the time being I may borrow some of the components (hard drive/dvd reader) from this machine. I have presumed that DDR3 memory is the way to go. The prices of DDR2 and DDR3 seem to be getting closer and closer these days. I could borrow 2gb of DDR2 667 from this system. What are the advantages of the Asus M4A785G over the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AMD785G?
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November 12, 2009 8:33:59 PM

For some reason, Asus has gone with a VIA audio chip while Gigabyte uses the Realtek ALC889. I've seen mixed reviews on the VIA audio, but the realtek is supposedly better according to HTPC circles. The Gigabyte GMT doesn't have sideport memory, but he GPMT does have it if that matters to you.
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November 12, 2009 9:10:45 PM

I understand that the sideport means that a small amount of RAM (128megs) is added to the board for the integrated video. Am I correct? I think for $10 more gigabyte offers the same feature in another board of the same series. For the information of all, here is my complete tentative order (the links do not work).
AMD Phenom II X3 705E Energy Efficient Triple Core Processor Socket AM3 2.5GHZ 65W Retail Box

G.SKILL F3-10666CL9D-4GBNQ PC3-10666 4GB 2X2GB DDR3-1333 CL9-9-9-24 240PIN Dual Channel Memory Kit

Western Digital SE16 500GB SATA2 7200RPM 16MB Cache 8.9MS NCQ Hard Drive OEM 3YR MFR Warranty

Silverstone Grandia GD04B Black HTPC mATX Desktop Case 1X5.25 2X3.5INT 1X2.5INT 3X120MM Fan No PS

Coolermaster Elite Power 460W ATX Power Supply 12V V2.3 20/24PIN 120MM Fan

Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AMD785G mATX AM3 PCI-E DDR3 Video Sound GLAN CrossFireX HDMI Motherboard


Western Digital WDTV HD Media Player HDMI USB 2.0 Composite A/V SPDIF Out MKV H.264 Xvid
Part Number: WDAVN00BN

Free Shipping!

Subtotal:
$509.36

The total being over $500 gives free shipping. Any further comments on this thread regarding possible incompatibilities, anticipated problems, etc., would be appreciated.

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November 12, 2009 9:15:14 PM

That Western Digital Part near the bottom should have read:

Western Digital SE16 500GB SATA2 7200RPM 16MB Cache 8.9MS NCQ Hard Drive OEM 3YR MFR Warranty at $52.10
BTW, price is $Can.
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a b à CPUs
November 12, 2009 10:08:13 PM

I would ditch the WD 500GB drive. It uses two 250GB platters. This Samsung drive uses a single 500GB platter which makes it faster. It's also $16 cheaper on www.newegg.ca. :) 

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $63.99

That CoolerMaster PSU isn't a quality unit. I would put the money saved on the HD toward a quality PSU like this one.

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail $59.99 - $10 MIR
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November 13, 2009 2:19:46 AM

Thanks again for this and the other suggestions. The last two will definitely be acted on. This was a purchase planned for Christmas, so certainly I have plenty of days left. I appreciate being pointed in the right directions.
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November 13, 2009 3:29:13 PM

Those are good deals at newegg.ca I will have to split my order, though, with the result that I won't qualify for free shipping at either Bestdirect or Newegg unless I increase my total purchase to approx $500 plus tax for Bestdirect plus $124 plus tax plus $14.52 shipping plus insur at Newegg. Grand Total (approx) $156 plus $570 = $726 and I still haven't bought a bdrom or decent wireless keyboard. The luxury becomes more difficult to justify. When the time comes I may recheck the price/availability at all the major online vendors. Can you see a better hd or psu at bestdirect.ca?
http://www.bestdirect.ca/search/?kw=500+gb+sata2&search...

http://www.bestdirect.ca/category/?minorcatid=1066



It may be that Newegg may offer a better overall deal that compensates for the $30 shipping that I don't pay with a $500 order at Bestdirect. Combo deals are often available at Newegg but seldom with the 785g mobo and the right cpu for an HTPC.
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November 13, 2009 3:57:38 PM

Dammmmn... Newegg.ca puts together some nice combo's. Did you happen to see this one for $594.48:


It comes with:

Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX - Retail
Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Kingston HyperX T1 Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KHX8500D2T1K2/4G - Retail
ASUS M4A785-M AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
LITE-ON Black BD-COMBO SATA Model ihes108-29 - OEM

Just need Windows 7 Home Premium, LP tuner, and a wireless keyboard and you have a very nice setup.
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November 13, 2009 5:18:31 PM

i would recommend use :

asus m4a785g htpc/rc
and 2gb ddr2 ram - (Crucial-corsair-adata)
and a phenom x2 -(425 or 435)

These prices are approximately $ 280


when the i play a blueray disk cpu usage is 8-15%
its very very good

This motherboard has an excellent sound card.

http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=vhi75jnBeZVzizh0&...

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November 13, 2009 6:01:16 PM

Wow! I love that combo deal that Newegg has put together! Do you think that 350watt psu is futureproof? I was thinking that there might (just might) come a time when I would want to use my htpc for gaming (mainly for grandkids) or more serious hd encoding and might consider adding a graphics card for crossfire. I don't know how much add-on capability the system would have with only a 350 watt psu. I definitly like the idea of the remote for Vista/Win7 and the inclusion of the BDROM. There seems to be some consensus on the Asus mobo over the Gigabyte. I should have discussed this with my wife before posting. She is definitely not in a disposition to talk about it today, although she had no problem with my paying $200 to upgrade the cpu in my present cpu. I got outbid on Q6600/Q6700 cpu's 3 or 4 times and finally came to believe that is better to put the $200 towards an HTPC. My wife does many nice things for me that the Home Theater doesn't and can't :-)
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November 13, 2009 6:09:00 PM

The Antec case in the combo only supports low profile cards, so if a gaming card is in order for the future you'll want to pass on the deal. The 'best' low-prof cards right now is a HD4650 or GT 220.
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November 14, 2009 6:46:57 PM

OK, but the Silverstone GD04 http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_spec.php?pno=g...
can accommodate gaming cards, can it? It says up to 11" long. I don't know about the max. height of the graphics cards any more than the case is 6 inches thick but the front half of the case accomodates the drives which are installed above the motherboard, optical on the left and hard drive on the right. I am told there is 70mm clearance for a cpu cooler below the bdrom. I have never read anything about the height of the graphics cards being limited in the GD04. Presumably the pci x16 slot is in the top right (back) part of the case and not below the bdrom.
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!