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Phenom X2 550 BE vs Athlon x4 620 for media center

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March 20, 2010 8:01:51 PM

Hello everyone,
I've already got a computer setup for living room duty to watch ripped DVDs and internet content among other things. It also is on nearly 24/7 since it acts like a server to the rest of the computers in my house as well.
Right now it has an AMD Sempron 140 single core processor in the Gigabyte MA785GM-U2SH mobo and 2gigs of ram and Win 7. I figured this setup would be pretty energy efficient, but it isn't as good as I hoped at 82W idle. Recently I've been trying to catch up on some shows via the internet, and I can't watch the HD versions of the shows... even the low-res flash videos eat nearly all the processing power the 140 has to give. I would also like to start converting some of the DVD rips into smaller files I can put on my laptop and/or Ipod for when I travel. The slow single core 140 deffinately won't do that very efficiently. That means time for processor upgrade!

I know most people will say unlock the second core on the 140. Not an option... my second core is truely defective. It works just fine until I try to play a media file where the sound gets very corrupt, quickly followed by the video not working well. So, I have no plans to try to unlock the extra cores on the Phenom if I get it. If they unlock, great, but I don't hold hope for them.

Which one would you pick? Mostly idle time, but typically HD flash useage, some video conversion, some light gaming (my step daughter loves Sims and roller coaster tycoon, especially on the big screen. I would like to be able to do GRID: Race driver on occasion). Both processors are the same price at microcenter right now, so cost is not a concern.

Thanks in advance guys!
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March 20, 2010 8:06:50 PM

Well, it depends if you'll be using multi-threaded applications or not. If the applications are heavily multithreaded (and if you're using a modern OS like win7), then you'll benefit from the athlon x4. Otherwise get the Phenom and (at least try to) unlock the other cores.

Your case seems strange. Normally the cores work just fine, but then again, they were disabled for a reason.

Cheers.
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March 20, 2010 8:27:15 PM

My Sempron was a very early chip.
I know the flash videos just need something better than the 140. My C2D powered laptop with nvidia 9400m graphics and e8400 desktop with 9800GTX+ don't have issues with HD Flash, though the laptop is at it's limit with 720p. Both also run Win7.
I assume the video conversion software is multithreaded... I use DVDFab. It deffinatly maxes out every dual core chip I've thrown at it, but I don't have a quad core to test it on.
The gaming would take a very backseat to my other uses since the ATI4200 graphics built into the mobo isn't a great gaming setup, but it does just fine on the old games that get played. Not so good for GRID.

Idle power consumption appear to be my biggest concerns.
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March 20, 2010 8:30:49 PM

Yup, most encoding software is multithreaded, and DVDFab is no exception.

If I were you, I'd go for the Athlon then. There's not too big of a difference between the Phenom II x4s and Athlon II x4s, save the L3 cache.

If you go for the Phenom, you could probably unlock the other cores safely (since Phenoms are binned high and Semprons are the bottom of the barrel).

The Athlon is the safe bet though. 4 cores guaranteed, and at a good price too. :) 

Cheers.
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March 21, 2010 12:33:14 AM

Actually, I suggest the 630 since it's now the same price as the 620 on Newegg.
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a b à CPUs
March 21, 2010 3:59:09 AM

Hey, if the 630 is the same as the 620 (moneywise) go for it. xD
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a b à CPUs
March 21, 2010 2:52:53 PM

for a application such as urs... i'd prefer the 620 over the phenom.... multi threaded apps are a common thing in ur case and would benefit from the extra two cores that the athlon cpu has...
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