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HTPC Mobo+CPU ~$150

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February 28, 2013 7:49:58 PM

Budget mini-ITX HTPC. Currently considering MSI FM2-A75IA-E53 ($90) or ASRock FM2A85X-ITX ($100). Will start with A4-5300 ($55).

Tasks include infrequent low-end gaming (e.g., Civ5), standard def ripping & mp4 encoding via DVDFab & Handbrake (speed not a concern), Netflix, free Hulu, interwebs, uploading to flickr, rotating videos in Windows movie editor.

Highest priority is low cost, hence not starting with i3 (-2105 ~$110) for integrated graphics. The money I save starting with Celeron G-series would go to a graphics card that would occupy the only PCIe slot eventually destined for a TV tuner or something. It appears AMD's integrated graphics are slightly better than intel's.

Second priority is affordable RAM & CPU upgrade flexibility, which this seems to accomplish.

I know A85X > A75, but for my needs they're essentially equivalent. The MSI is $10 cheaper on Newegg with WiFi+antenna, so the MSI is my current pick.

Any thoughts before I pull the trigger?

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February 28, 2013 10:18:45 PM

If you plan to use analog audio, the ASRock has a better audio chipset. For audio over HDMI that won't matter. I say go with the MSI since you are interested in bundling with WiFi and an adapter would only add more cost to the ASRock.

FYI, the MSI is available on Amazon for the same price as Newegg but with free shipping.
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February 28, 2013 10:50:53 PM

There are some pretty good bargains on lower end last-gen A6 quad core APUs.

For example, A6-3670K for $82. I think you could find a board for $70.

The newer FM2 A4 and A6 are pretty low end really, both in terms of graphics and CPU power. and then there is nothing in between until the $100 A8's. The A6-3670K would have almost twice the processing power of the A4 you were looking at, and probably 20% higher performing GPU.



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March 1, 2013 1:58:37 PM

rwpritchett said:
If you plan to use analog audio, the ASRock has a better audio chipset. For audio over HDMI that won't matter. I say go with the MSI since you are interested in bundling with WiFi and an adapter would only add more cost to the ASRock.

FYI, the MSI is available on Amazon for the same price as Newegg but with free shipping.


Thank you. I have a feeling I'm going to be frustrated by having so many cords around, especially with 2 grabby toddlers, and probably just go with the HDMI. Does the HDMI limit me to 2-channel stereo? For example, could I buy a new 5.1 speaker setup that plugs into the TV and essentially bridge the audio from PC to TV to speakers? I have a gut feeling I'd end up with stereo or mono.
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March 1, 2013 2:03:11 PM

HDMI can send full digital surround.
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March 1, 2013 2:06:46 PM

twelve25 said:
There are some pretty good bargains on lower end last-gen A6 quad core APUs.

For example, A6-3670K for $82. I think you could find a board for $70.

The newer FM2 A4 and A6 are pretty low end really, both in terms of graphics and CPU power. and then there is nothing in between until the $100 A8's. The A6-3670K would have almost twice the processing power of the A4 you were looking at, and probably 20% higher performing GPU.


Thank you for the info. But for my tasks, do you think the A4 is adequate? In other words, am I going to notice choppy Netflix/Hulu streaming or lag in web browsing? Mind you, I already have slow internet service that usually let's me watch 480 Youtube videos as it downloads, but not anything higher without pausing and letting it load up for a couple minutes. If it helps to compare, I'm using an Asus G73JH (i7 720QM, Mobility Radeon HD 5870) laptop right now.
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March 1, 2013 2:45:25 PM

The A4 will do any media playback without any issues.
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March 1, 2013 2:50:39 PM

Youtube just sucks. I can stream 9Mbit 1080p videos from Vudu, but 720p Youtube buffers out every 30 secs and even 480p has a hard time. I've got an overclocked i5 and a high end RAdeon, too. So don't use Youtube as a benchmark.

Compared to your laptop, that's a high end quad core from 3-4 years ago with high end graphics. The A4 are low end modern dual cores with decent graphics. I think you'll be able to play back videos just fine, but just comparing passmark scores as a very rough comparison, the A4 is about 2/3 CPU speed and 1/3 GPU speed vs your laptop. You did mention occasional ripping and converting which is why I though the Quad core might be of interest. The A6 I recommended has slightly more CPU juice than your laptop.

Honestly, your graphics card in your laptop is really high end (for a laptop). You'd be looking at a stand alone card like the Geforce GT 640 or Radeon 6670 DDR5 to match it in a desktop. Even the top end A10 APU is only about 2/3 as powerful.
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March 1, 2013 2:59:24 PM

Best answer selected by robbx213.
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March 1, 2013 3:02:18 PM

twelve25 said:
...Compared to your laptop, that's a high end quad core from 3-4 years ago with high end graphics. The A4 are low end modern dual cores with decent graphics. I think you'll be able to play back videos just fine, but just comparing passmark scores as a very rough comparison, the A4 is about 2/3 CPU speed and 1/3 GPU speed vs your laptop. You did mention occasional ripping and converting which is why I though the Quad core might be of interest. The A6 I recommended has slightly more CPU juice than your laptop.

Honestly, your graphics card in your laptop is really high end (for a laptop). You'd be looking at a stand alone card like the Geforce GT 640 or Radeon 6670 DDR5 to match it in a desktop. Even the top end A10 APU is only about 2/3 as powerful.


Very good points. I haven't been good at finding comparisons/benchmarks from laptop to desktop. I was using notebookcheck for the laptop CPUs... I don't mind the downgrade in GPU I think, but I think I want the comparable CPU as you mentioned for the ripping/converting, so you're probably right to start at the A6 level, which still leaves room for a future upgrade to the highest A10 in a couple years.

Again, many thanks.
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March 1, 2013 4:22:24 PM

Just to be clear, the FM2 A6 are still dual cores. They are identical to the A4 you were looking at but with a better GPU chip. The A6 quad cores I mentioned are socket FM1 - which do not allow an upgrade path to A10. And to make it more confusing there were also FM1 Triple Core A6's, so you have to look at exactly what you are buying.

The socket FM2 A8 quad cores have 95% of the CPU power of the A10, but less powerful graphics. They are $100, so you may not meet your budget perfectly.

So I guess the FM1 A6 Quad to meet your budget (but limited upgrade options) Or the new FM2 A8 Quad if you can stretch your budget another $25 or so and want upgrade options. There will be another gen of CPU for FM2, but no more for FM1.
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