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Professional Opinion: Gaming On Integrated Graphics, Cont.

Gaming At 1920x1080: AMD's Trinity Takes On Intel HD Graphics
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Tom's Hardware: Noise is clearly critical in HTPCs. Are there some general strategies that you employ most often when trying to dampen the decibels?

Jon Bach: Keep the noisy parts away from the front of the chassis. If you can mount the hard drive further back, do it. Make sure you need all of the fans. Many times, there are fans blowing to a region of the chassis that does no good. If that’s the case, turn down (or off) that fan—just be careful! This is especially important for fans near the front of the chassis.

The nice thing about HTPCs is they sit back into a recess in your cabinet, which helps deaden the sounds coming from the rear of the unit. If you can, mount any mechanical disk drives horizontally. Vertically-mounted drives will transfer their vibration down into the shelving, which will amplify the sound like the head of a drum. Depending on the joints in your shelving, it can also cause a noisy buzz. Run an SSD for your operating system drive if possible, for this same reason. Consider running a utility to limit the speed of your optical drive to keep noise down while watching a movie.

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Tom's Hardware: Excellent point about cabinet cooling. What are a couple of your most common approaches to handling this?

Jon Bach: Often, it just needs an opening—one at the top and one at the bottom—to let fresh air convect through. Sometimes an active fan needs to be installed. We can provide a Molex connector on the rear of our PCs, allowing the fan to be powered by the PC, and only run when the PC is on. Most often though, it just means we take care to use low-wattage CPUs and video cards, keeping heat generation down in the first place.

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Tom's Hardware: Some of us have long been fans of Creative’s X-Fi line, finding integrated audio lackluster in comparison. With that said, we haven’t delved much into integrated audio over the last few years. Especially in this article’s gaming context, what are your thoughts about integrated audio for small HTPC platforms?

Jon Bach: I’d say 95% or more of our HTPC customers use the integrated audio. Part of it is that it is so easy to just run one HDMI cable. For those using a separate audio receiver, the optical audio out integrated into the motherboard is commonly used. Since Windows 7 and the widespread use of digital audio, we see less and less demand for discrete sound cards every day. There’s still a quality edge there, but even with our enthusiast clients, we haven’t seen a demand.

Tom's Hardware: You’ve probably done some “celebrity-class” HTPC deployments. Any chance you could name drop a couple and maybe comment on what the budget-friendly HTPCs of today might have in common with those high-profile systems?

Jon Bach: The best ones are covered by NDA agreements, but boy do I wish I could talk about them! I can at least speak generally. There is one client to which we have deployed literally hundreds of home theater-oriented PCs over the last seven years. What impresses me most is how much the technology has changed over that time. In the beginning, we had to use PCs that cost over $3000. Their builds started without GPU acceleration, then moved into a time when very specific Nvidia cards were required for GPU acceleration. We were constantly watching CPU and GPU loads, making sure that we had the headroom necessary for consistent, smooth playback. Today, we don't even have to think about it. These PCs are playing 1080p content with almost no perceptible CPU load, using GPU acceleration found right there on the CPU. It’s amazing how easy modern technology has made what seven years ago was a huge challenge.

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Top Comments
  • 30 Hide
    luciferano , September 27, 2012 5:31 AM
    They both have graphics that have HD in their name, but AMD's HD graphics are more *HD*, lol.
  • 26 Hide
    esrever , September 27, 2012 7:39 AM
    Personally I would rather run games at 720p with medium settings than at 1080p with low.
  • 26 Hide
    digiex , September 27, 2012 6:27 AM
    This would do it, I don't play at 1920x1080 since my monitor is only at 1366x768.

    AMD really deliver stinging jabs at Intel with its APU's. I hope the pricing would be OK.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    confish21 , September 27, 2012 5:05 AM
    120 GB memory for an HPTC? outside of that good write up!
  • 9 Hide
    confish21 , September 27, 2012 5:08 AM
    HD...

  • 24 Hide
    azathoth , September 27, 2012 5:31 AM
    Seems like a perfect combination for a Casual PC gamer, I'm just curious as to the price of the Trinity APU's.
  • 30 Hide
    luciferano , September 27, 2012 5:31 AM
    They both have graphics that have HD in their name, but AMD's HD graphics are more *HD*, lol.
  • 14 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , September 27, 2012 5:39 AM
    Consoles set the bar for game developers. These iGPU's are comparable to the consoles and thats why games will run smooth here.

    With next gen consoles coming out next year, game devs will target them. Hence the minimum standard for games will rise, making the next gen games much slower on the iGPU's. So both AMD and Intel will have to increase performance much more in the next 1-2 years.

    tl;dr : next gen games will run poorly on these igpu's as next gen consoles will set the minimum performance standard.
  • 14 Hide
    mousseng , September 27, 2012 5:50 AM
    Quote:
    tl;dr : next gen games will run poorly on these igpu's as next gen consoles will set the minimum performance standard.

    Keep in mind, though, that that's exactly what's going to allow AMD and Intel to advance their hardware faster than games will, as they were discussing in the article (first page of the interview). Look how far Fusion and HD Graphics have come over the past 3 years, and look how long the previous console generation lasted - if that trend is anything to go by, I'm sure integrated graphics could easily become a viable budget gaming option in the next few years.
  • -7 Hide
    falchard , September 27, 2012 5:52 AM
    Since when as AMD or nVidia actually taken on Intel graphics? Thats a bit insulting considering the disproportionate results time and time again.
  • 13 Hide
    dudewitbow , September 27, 2012 5:52 AM
    I'm actually liking the progression the igpu gets on the apu based chips.
  • 3 Hide
    luciferano , September 27, 2012 5:54 AM
    mayankleoboy1Consoles set the bar for game developers. These iGPU's are comparable to the consoles and thats why games will run smooth here.With next gen consoles coming out next year, game devs will target them. Hence the minimum standard for games will rise, making the next gen games much slower on the iGPU's. So both AMD and Intel will have to increase performance much more in the next 1-2 years.tl;dr : next gen games will run poorly on these igpu's as next gen consoles will set the minimum performance standard.


    Actually, the A10 and A8 have somewhat superior graphics compared to current consoles. Current consoles can't even play in 720p as well as these AMD IGPs played 1080p despite being a more optimized platform, so that this is true is kinda obvious IMO. Also, new games would simply mean dropping resolution for these APUs. They wouldn't be unable to play new games, just probably at 1080p and 16xx by 900/10xx resolutions too.


    Intel probably isn't very motivated by gaming performance for their IGPs and they're supposedly making roughly 100% performance gains per generation with their top-end IGPs anyway, so they're working on growing IGP performance. AMD also gets to use GCN in their next APU and I don't think that I need to explain the implications there, especially if they go the extra mile with using their high-density library tech too.
  • 10 Hide
    e56imfg , September 27, 2012 6:10 AM
    What about Intel i3's / APUs with the 6570 or any other hybrid compatible card?
    How about one more article with Ivy Bridge i3s and the 6570 on both setups. I want to see how much better gamin performance will be with AMD's hybrid cards.
  • 26 Hide
    digiex , September 27, 2012 6:27 AM
    This would do it, I don't play at 1920x1080 since my monitor is only at 1366x768.

    AMD really deliver stinging jabs at Intel with its APU's. I hope the pricing would be OK.
  • 16 Hide
    gondor , September 27, 2012 6:40 AM
    Can you run a memory-scaling test to see how Trinity responds to more bandwidth ? Llano was considerably faster when paired with faster RAM.
  • 0 Hide
    Menigmand , September 27, 2012 6:45 AM
    If intel/amd can convince most mainstream buyers that this is "good enough", and the next generation of consoles will run for 10+ years, could this be the end of dedicated graphics?

    With market share going down, there could be less economy of scale and less investment, leading to stagnation and very high prices.

    For some time, you will still be able to buy a dedicated GPU, but it will be a niche product that costs you an arm and a leg, and soon hardware support will dwindle as producers move to smaller form factors.
  • -1 Hide
    EzioAs , September 27, 2012 6:53 AM
    I like the performance improvement in graphics, but I wish it was a little better. Maybe 20% more, but hey, at least it's improving
  • 22 Hide
    jijibu , September 27, 2012 6:55 AM
    DDR3 1600 could limit AMD's performance. It would be better to see benchmarks with 1866 MHz and higher frequency kits and overclocking results, because they depend on RAM frequencies...
  • 4 Hide
    army_ant7 , September 27, 2012 6:57 AM
    Quote:
    Consoles set the bar for game developers. These iGPU's are comparable to the consoles and thats why games will run smooth here.

    With next gen consoles coming out next year, game devs will target them. Hence the minimum standard for games will rise, making the next gen games much slower on the iGPU's. So both AMD and Intel will have to increase performance much more in the next 1-2 years.

    tl;dr : next gen games will run poorly on these igpu's as next gen consoles will set the minimum performance standard.

    I'm not sure it's accurate to say that consoles play on a game's absolute minimum settings, disregarding resolution. With that in mind, the PC versions would still have graphics options to tune down compared to the what the console versions would have their settings configured, I would think. :) 


    I do wonder how good these Trinity APU's could typically overclock, and how they'd perform there, along with their RAM overclocked to a reasonable level to compensate for the more graphics processing power.
    More so, I'm wondering if the PSCheck method where you manipulate core P-states would have a substantial affect with mainly dual-threaded titles.
    Also maybe I'd like to see if Dual-graphics performs better (scaling) and has a wider compatibility range than Llano's.
  • 6 Hide
    luciferano , September 27, 2012 7:03 AM
    EzioAsI like the performance improvement in graphics, but I wish it was a little better. Maybe 20% more, but hey, at least it's improving


    They did what they could on their 32nm process node that they had to stick to. Kaveri, assuming that it is true that it has GCN, will make undoubtedly some much more huge improvements over Trinity than Trinity did over Llano.
  • 26 Hide
    esrever , September 27, 2012 7:39 AM
    Personally I would rather run games at 720p with medium settings than at 1080p with low.
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