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Is Intel Sandy Bridge GPU (HD2000) good enough for HD htpc use?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 19, 2011 7:19:14 PM

I'm seeking to build a HTPC, but this is my first build; while technically capable, I have no experience of specifying individual components in a machine having, up until this time, bought pre-built systems. While I'm able to get a general idea of the overall performance of a machine (having kept myself up-to-date on the latest hardware releases via Tom's Hardware for the last few years) I've no idea whether individual components are capable of what I need them to do, or whether they are just overkill.

As previously mentioned, I'm intending to built a HTPC; however, all it really has to do is be a media server. In the short term I have almost 700 DVDs that need to be stored on hard drive for easy access; in the future I will probably replace these DVDs with Blu-ray versions, so I might end up pushing the storage much higher.

My intention is to connect it directly to a HD TV and home theatre amp / receiver, running Ubuntu linux 64 bit; using XBMC as the media software. I don't need to receive / record live TV; I'll probably use Chrome to watch online TV if I can't get it thought XBMC. Really all it's got to do initially is access and play back DVD .iso images from a locally-connected hard drive.

I was originally thinking I'd use a discrete GPU - somewhere around the HD 5670 / 6670 level - but then I realised that, as I'm using Ubuntu linux, I'm not intending to game on it at all. It will only be used to display (up to) HD audio / video stream to a connected HD TV. I know that the Intel is pretty low-powered in comparison with AMD or nVidia GPUs, but my needs are really quite modest - just accelerating the playback of DVDs (from the beginning) and Blu-rays (in the future).

So my novice question is, are the Sandy Bridge GPUs (HD 2000) good enough for this task; or is it better to spend a little more and use a k-series CPU and get a HD3000 GPU, or wait until next year and get an Ivy Bridge processor (which are supposed to have a better GPU) or use something completely different (i.e., AMD APU or discrete GPU from AMD or nVidia)?

Any help or advice for a novice builder would be gratefully received!
a b U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 7:25:31 PM

For an HTPC and AMD APU is even better with those apus there is hdmi 1.4 which supports 7.1 and 3D. but I am not sure if intel gpu on die supports the same.
a b U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 7:31:39 PM

You don't need K series to get the HD 3000. There are two lower end Sandy bridge processors with the HD 3000. the i3 2105 and the i3 2125 have the HD 3000.
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September 19, 2011 7:34:48 PM

_Pez_ said:
For an HTPC and AMD APU is even better with those apus there is hdmi 1.4 which supports 7.1 and 3D. but I am not sure if intel gpu on die supports the same.

Thanks for your reply _pez_. I realise that the AMD APUs have far better graphics that Intel's. I've got another question posted on the CPU forum asking the same question about required processor power so, depending on what people think about that, it will influence my choice of GPU (either, Intel, AMD, or discrete).
September 19, 2011 7:37:19 PM

pacioli said:
You don't need K series to get the HD 3000. There are two lower end Sandy bridge processors with the HD 3000. the i3 2105 and the i3 2125 have the HD 3000.

Thanks for setting me straight, pacioli! I'd read earlier that only K series CPUs had the HD3000 - at least I thought I had!
a c 376 U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 7:41:43 PM

The HD2000/3000 should be able to play HD video just fine.
September 19, 2011 8:44:05 PM

jyjjy said:
The HD2000/3000 should be able to play HD video just fine.

Thanks for the info, jyjjy!
a b U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 8:46:05 PM

spaceman_spiff said:
Thanks pacioli. I'd read earlier that only K series CPUs had the HD3000, but I see that the 2105 / 2125 also have hyperthreading which the 2100 doesn't have.


The 2100, 2105, and 2125 are all hyperthreaded. they have 4 threads but the 2100 only has the HD 2000 GPU, while the others have the HD3000
September 19, 2011 9:00:29 PM

pacioli said:
The 2100, 2105, and 2125 are all hyperthreaded. they have 4 threads but the 2100 only has the HD 2000 GPU, while the others have the HD3000

Thanks for setting me straight pacioli! I was getting confused and thought that because the i3s didn't have turbo boost that they also lacked HT. A quick look on Wikipedia then on Intel's site made me realise that I was wrong in thinking that!
!