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Video card question for HTPC build

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September 23, 2012 10:26:19 PM

Currently compiling components for an HTPC build and unsure if I need a video card.

My optical is a Blu-Ray, and I want to connect the PC to my TV via HDMI. If my motherboard has an HDMI ouput, and I get a video card that does not have an HDMI output, can I just connect the HDMI through the motherboard?

Or, if I do NOT get a video card and my motherboard has an HDMI port, must the CPU I purchase have some sort of special HD capability?
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 194 U Graphics card
a c 109 V Motherboard
September 24, 2012 1:28:16 AM

Not sure why someone with 3 threads hasn't been helped yet. Anyways, there is no such thing as special hd capability. Pretty much any cpu in the last 5 years is powerful enough to play hd. To use the mobo output you would need integrated graphics and a discrete card is not necessary.

From reading your other threads, this is what I came up with. http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ilyZ I did include a decent video card because the igpu is too weak for civ 5 but you could go with something lower as this will play it maxed. I chose a lower end case which only has usb2 on the front so you can change it to the TJ08-E and still fit within your budget.

For location, CA you meant California or Canada? We get quite a bit of international traffic here. If it is cali, you have to pay sales on newegg and pretty much any other online site does not.
September 24, 2012 1:55:14 AM

k1114 said:
Not sure why someone with 3 threads hasn't been helped yet. Anyways, there is no such thing as special hd capability. Pretty much any cpu in the last 5 years is powerful enough to play hd. To use the mobo output you would need integrated graphics and a discrete card is not necessary.

From reading your other threads, this is what I came up with. http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ilyZ I did include a decent video card because the igpu is too weak for civ 5 but you could go with something lower as this will play it maxed. I chose a lower end case which only has usb2 on the front so you can change it to the TJ08-E and still fit within your budget.

For location, CA you meant California or Canada? We get quite a bit of international traffic here. If it is cali, you have to pay sales on newegg and pretty much any other online site does not.


California, so sales tax will apply, and may push my budget above its (flexible) upper bound. I'll live.

Thank you very much for the reply, and for taking the time to compile a build. It looks pretty good.

As for the integrated GPU being a little too weak to handle even a game like Civ V: is that true of all a integrated GPUs? I've read in my research that AMD Llanos are pretty respectable, but perhaps that's when the workload is limited to movies and basic computing. If AMD integrated graphics can handle it though, I may opt for:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Other than that, I've looked further into PSUs and there are sites out there that calculate the wattage required for a given system. According to one of these calculators, a system like the one I intend on compiling would require 500+ watts. Being a novice, I may be giving weight to something totally wrong, but I err on the side of caution. And I may end up adding onto the system marginally in the future, so a buffer seems like a good idea. Opinion?

Again, your help is very appreciated.
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September 24, 2012 3:38:14 AM

I'm not sure if you would need a GPU. The best way is to check that the program you'll be using to play your HD videos supports GPU accelerated video, and options for multi threaded decoding and such.
September 24, 2012 4:14:45 AM

k1114 said:
To use the mobo output you would need integrated graphics and a discrete card is not necessary.


If this is the case, then I am confused as to why there are motherboards with HDMI outputs that do not have integrate GPUs. What's the point if you need a GPU anyway? If am going to buy a GPU, wouldn't it behoove me to get one with HDMI output and not worry whether or not the motherboard has an HDMI output?
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 194 U Graphics card
a c 109 V Motherboard
September 24, 2012 5:47:32 AM

That apu's igpu is better than the i3's igpu and can play civ 5. I couldn't find a 1080p benchmark but it won't be too far off from this.

You have a budget for a video card but your uses don't need one. Igpu's are on the cpu not the mobo unless you are looking at old hardware. There are cpus with no igpu that will work on a mobo with video outputs but the outputs wouldn't be usable. I have an igpu (i5 2500k's hd 3000) and 560ti, for multi monitors and I can always fall back on the igpu if my card dies. There's not really a cost difference of the mobo to have or not have video outputs so it doesn't hurt to have it. In fact, probably every mobo we are looking at will have them anyways. Not sure what you are adding up to get 500+ watts but that's the power for ~$1000 rig. A 500w wouldn't hurt and is plenty of room for future upgrade. More info about what else you are adding would be helpful.
September 24, 2012 5:51:54 AM

k1114 said:
That apu's igpu is better than the i3's igpu and can play civ 5. I couldn't find a 1080p benchmark but it won't be too far off from this.
http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph4476/39379.png
You have a budget for a video card but your uses don't need one. Igpu's are on the cpu not the mobo unless you are looking at old hardware. There are cpus with no igpu that will work on a mobo with video outputs but the outputs wouldn't be usable. I have an igpu (i5 2500k's hd 3000) and 560ti, for multi monitors and I can always fall back on the igpu if my card dies. There's not really a cost difference of the mobo to have or not have video outputs so it doesn't hurt to have it. In fact, probably every mobo we are looking at will have them anyways. Not sure what you are adding up to get 500+ watts but that's the power for ~$1000 rig. A 500w wouldn't hurt and is plenty of room for future upgrade. More info about what else you are adding would be helpful.


What you have here is gaming screen resolutions.
How does it relate to video playback?
From what I know, most video players don't even use the GPU in any way.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 194 U Graphics card
a c 109 V Motherboard
September 24, 2012 5:56:59 AM

In his other thread he states he wants it to be able to play civ 5. FYI I use a my 5 year old laptop which has a 1.8ghz turion x2 to play 1080p movies off the hdmi to my tv. The graphics are also much lower than todays integrated but most video players are cpu decoded anyways. Movies really don't need much.
September 24, 2012 6:01:17 AM

k1114 said:
In his other thread he states he wants it to be able to play civ 5. FYI I use a my 5 year old laptop which has a 1.8ghz turion x2 to play 1080p movies off the hdmi to my tv. The graphics are also much lower than todays integrated but most video players a cpu decoded anyways. Movies really doesn't need much.


Ok, then I agree.
But regarding video, its untouched HD thats always the issue. My 4 yr old laptop(1.8GHz Core 2 Duo) can play compressed 1080p videos, but give it an untouched blu ray rip, and I start to see block artifacts.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 194 U Graphics card
a c 109 V Motherboard
September 24, 2012 6:10:45 AM

Both of the cpus stated are much more powerful so isn't an issue here. These could even play 3D.
September 24, 2012 4:49:04 PM

You two are fantastic. Many thanks.

k1114 said:
There are cpus with no igpu that will work on a mobo with video outputs but the outputs wouldn't be usable.


Okay cool. The build you recommended has a motherboard with HDMI output, but also a discrete GPU, so I didn't know if I could connect HDMI via the motherboard and still make use of a discrete GPU without HDMI ouput. I assume this motherboard is a particularly good one if it would have this superfluous feature (HDMI ouput) if I attach a discrete GPU.

RE PSU: I went back to the calculator site and discovered that I misread how to count CPUs. I thought it said to count a quad-core as 4 CPUs, but I was supposed to count it as 1. That, not surprisingly, made a huge difference. Here is the site in case you are curious and can inform me if it is either way off or a decent guideline.
http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine
Looks like 300-400 will be plenty for me, and I can just edge closer to the upper bound to be safe in case I decide to upgrade anything later.

I'm still weighing whether or not I want an iGPU. I've used AMD in the past and was pleased, but that doesn't mean I am partial to them. Intel makes quality products. Given my research and your help so far, I have gathered that my options are:
1 - AMD with integrated HD GPU and motherboard with HDMI output, or;
2 - Intel with discrete GPU that has its own HDMI output and whatever compatible motherboard I want.

Option 1 is less expensive, and doesn't seem like it would sacrifice much in terms of picture quality for either Blu-ray movies or the very light gaming I plan on doing.

Option 2 would cost me a bit more, but *might* give me better graphics, even if only marginally. It may also leave me with greater flexibility for upgrading in the future should I choose to do so.

Do you two think I understand the tradeoffs correctly?

Not to go on and on, but I'm grateful for the help. It saves me the time of having to comb through a lot of barely related google searches to find the right answers.
September 24, 2012 6:55:43 PM

I compiled an AMD build viewable at:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ipFN

It subtotals at just under my $600 budget, so tax will nudge it up to ~$700. I could save by opting for a less expensive HD and PSU. The modular 400W modular PSU I went with was costlier than those over 500W, but it appears that my selection will be a good, quiet PSU, so I'm good with that.

I anticipate an Intel build being ~$75 more expensive. I'm uncertain if the benefit of having a discrete GPU is worth that much given my computing needs.
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 194 U Graphics card
a c 109 V Motherboard
September 24, 2012 9:19:51 PM

Using the mobo output uses the igpu, using the card output uses the card. There is a program that can virtualize either gpu to use the discrete card through the mobo or even the igpu through the discrete card but I'm sure you don't fall under the category that needs this.

You shouldn't have any difference in picture quality with either build. The amd cpu is less performance with a more powerful igpu. While the intel cpu is more cpu power but less igpu power. But since the apu is a qaud core vs a dual core with HT, it should do better in multithreaded software as well as having the abilty to oc. Either option you can add a discrete card later and both are plenty powerful for your needs and can even play most games maxed with a capable gpu. However intel does have better cpu upgrade capability since you can get an i7. While amd fm1 is only meant for low end apus. The one you chose is currently the highest model and the socket is being replaced with fm2 in the next couple of months (not compatible with fm1). You may never need the power of an i7 so having the option is a moot point or you may never even upgrade the cpu before needing a whole new pc.

That build will definitely be near dead silent with that case and psu. IMO a normal pc is quiet enough but it is your choice.
September 24, 2012 10:28:57 PM

I agree that a typical PC is not that loud to be distractive during a movie. But I figure why not go quieter if I can so I can enjoy the silent scenes of movies a little more? :) 

I was already starting to lean a little more toward going with Intel because in addition to watching movies and playing Civ V, I'll be using this build to do some computional work (statistical analysis, optimizations, simulations). Now that I know that AMD is phasing the F1 out, I'm even more inclined to go this route. I compiled another build and can get everything from the previous except with an Intel-compatible motherboard and a modest GPU for $30 more. The only downside is that I have to sacrifice the quad core AMD and go with a dual core i3. To future proof the system a little more I think I'm going to exceed by budget so I can go with a quad-core i5. Instead of getting something functional for ~$620, I'll get something very strong (especially for my analytical work) for ~$700.

I'm pretty much set on everything except what kind of GPU to get. I'm uncertain between the fanless Asus Radeon HD 6450 1GB and the fan-cooled MSI-R6570-MD1G/LP. I'm more in favor of the Asus because I don't think temperature is going to be a concern with my system since I'm not going to run intensive applications, the TJ08-E appears to be a well-built case for ventilation, and Linux is so much more efficient than Windows. Not to mention the fanless Asus would be quieter.
September 25, 2012 1:10:20 AM

Since you're running linux, a word of advice.
You can download mplayer-vaapi and try to use hardware accelerated video playback.
Install smplayer, and you'll be able to choose the output driver and also the number of cores to use for decoding videos.

I tried it with my HD7850 the other day. Not sure if its a driver issue (I'm using ATI-Catalyst because the xf86-video-ati doesn't yet support my card) , but I got flickering video, although the frame rate was good enough. If you use the open source drivers its worth a try.
Also if you plan to use XBMC it can use this support.
September 25, 2012 2:00:07 AM

Thanks!
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 194 U Graphics card
a c 109 V Motherboard
September 25, 2012 2:08:46 AM

I originally went with the intel build because it is always better to get the most performance within your budget. It'll save in the long run by not having to upgrade sooner. Intel changes socket about every other year, which is going to be in about 6 months.

As for the gpu, you could always unplug the fan on a gpu. If you look at the picture, it is a normal 2 pin connection. They make it easy to replace dead fans, or in your case, go silent. I have a 6570 in an old c2d rig and the little fan on it is the only airflow it gets. Even playing games it only goes to ~50C and it's safe to about 80-90C so the fan isn't even necessary.

The driver issue is only with the 7000 series since it's new and they haven't gotten drivers for all the cards yet. Although I did make sure the 7770 in my orignal build was supported. The 6000 series is fine.
September 25, 2012 5:46:52 AM

k1114 said:

The driver issue is only with the 7000 series since it's new and they haven't gotten drivers for all the cards yet. Although I did make sure the 7770 in my orignal build was supported. The 6000 series is fine.


Yeah, the open source driver only works until the Northern Island chipsets, that is the upto HD7xxxM.

Anything after 7350 is not supported yet. Only ATI-Catalyst support as of now.


@sir mac
I think you don't need to get concerned with the fan issue. Your chasis has ample space, and a noise level of ~30dB is whisper quiet. IMO your CPU cooler will probably be noisier. Try to get the best graphics card you can get at your price point, *after* you've made the choice for the CPU.
!