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Old 03-10-2012, 02:03 PM   #1
Charlie98
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Default AMD Llano APU good enough for HTPC?

I'm investigating parts for a future HTPC build and was thinking about running it with an AMD A6-3500 APU because of the integrated GPU. For simplicity sake, I'd like to use the onboard graphics in lieu of a dedicated GPU... less cost, less power, less heat.

How capable are the AMD APU's? It will be doing basic video streaming to my 42" Visio 120Hz through the mobo HDMI outlet... ripped video, BD, Netflix. The TV will probably be replaced in a few years with something in the 50+" range, so I would like to upgrade-proof it. No gaming on the TV.

So far, this is what I have:

AMD A6-3500

Gigabyte GA-A75-D3H FM1

G.Skill 2x 4GB RAM

Seasonic 520w PSU

Silverstone GD04B

I know I'm going to need other goodies, but this is the basic build I'm looking at. As I say, I'm just trying to determine if the A6 is going to be able to handle the video duty.

Any other suggestions are welcome...
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Old 03-10-2012, 02:55 PM   #2
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FWIW, you don't need a PSU that size unless you're considering upgrading the graphics later.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:07 PM   #3
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SHould do just fine. I'm having a hard time tracking down a quick benchmark to prove it, but it seems like the Llano GPU does really well compared to INtel 3000, but it won't always beat out some of the inexpensive discrete cards.

If you prefer an on-chip solution, Llano should do just fine.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:59 PM   #4
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The A6 should work fine.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSF View Post
FWIW, you don't need a PSU that size unless you're considering upgrading the graphics later.
Quote:
SHould do just fine. I'm having a hard time tracking down a quick benchmark to prove it, but it seems like the Llano GPU does really well compared to INtel 3000, but it won't always beat out some of the inexpensive discrete cards.

If you prefer an on-chip solution, Llano should do just fine.
Using the Llano, a few HDD's, how big of a PSU do I need? 400-450w... or even lower?

From what I've heard, the AMD APU's run circles around the Intel 3000 (which I'm actually using right now on my PC until I get a GPU. It does very well for what it is, but I think it would struggle with bigger graphic loads) which is why I'm spec'ing it.

In lieu of the APU, what would be a comparable CPU/GPU combination, aiming towards low noise/power consumption?
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie98 View Post
Using the Llano, a few HDD's, how big of a PSU do I need? 400-450w... or even lower?
A lot of tiny (ITX) HTPC cases have ~200-250W PSUs. That's all you need for one HDD. How many HDDs are we talking? (SSDs are so low-power as to not even count them.)

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In lieu of the APU, what would be a comparable CPU/GPU combination, aiming towards low noise/power consumption?
G620T/Radeon 6570 passive.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:56 PM   #7
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You shouldn't need anything more than 300w max.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:00 PM   #8
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A lot of tiny (ITX) HTPC cases have ~200-250W PSUs. That's all you need for one HDD. How many HDDs are we talking? (SSDs are so low-power as to not even count them.)

G620T/Radeon 6570 passive.
I just realized my case is mATX and the board is ATX...

2 maybe 3 HHD's. I may use my 60GB Agility3 for the OS drive, but, as you said, the power draw is so low I didn't even count it.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:39 PM   #9
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Are you going to be playing any games? While the Llano GPU is faster than the Intel HD2000/3000, it hardly matters for normal multimedia tasks. A Pentium G620 along with an ASRock H61M/U3S3 will cost less, use less power at idle, and will feel a lot snappier in general usage due to the higher clock speed.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:20 PM   #10
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Are you going to be playing any games? While the Llano GPU is faster than the Intel HD2000/3000, it hardly matters for normal multimedia tasks. A Pentium G620 along with an ASRock H61M/U3S3 will cost less, use less power at idle, and will feel a lot snappier in general usage due to the higher clock speed.
The difference is hardly if at all noticeable between the two for general usage. But I agree, as long as there are no games, the G620 is adequate. It's worth noting though the the igp in the 620 is slower than the HD2000.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:24 AM   #11
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The Pentium has even worse graphics than a HD2000?! Jesus Christ!

If you do intend to do anything vaguely graphics heavy (even light gaming), I might recommend the i3-2125. It's the only dual-core part available with the HD3000 graphics (which despite the name have twice the performance of their HD2000 counterpart). It also has a higher clock rate than that Pentium, and has Hyperthreading (which would be useful for thread heavy tasks, like if you want to transcode your video).

EDIT: Sorry, my bad, there's also an i3-2105 with the HD3000 if you want to save fifteen bucks.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:57 AM   #12
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I would still consider a 400-520W PS, allowing for some degradation of internal components.
I would consider a lower wattage unit as long as the PC would be run behind a good quality AVR UPS.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie98 View Post
How capable are the AMD APU's? It will be doing basic video streaming to my 42" Visio 120Hz through the mobo HDMI outlet... ripped video, BD, Netflix. The TV will probably be replaced in a few years with something in the 50+" range, so I would like to upgrade-proof it. No gaming on the TV.
Only media streaming/playback and no gaming? The A-series APUs will work just fine. Heck, so will any of the Intel dual core socket 1155.

For PSU, you'd need a maximum of 15W per hard drive, and that's if you go with high performance models. If you go with 5400 "Green" drives for mass data storage like most of us do, you only need to budget 10W per HDD (and that's probably overkill). CPU is 65W TDP, meaning it will idle much below that, and fully loaded (if you get off on torture testing) will probably take a bit more. 3x HDDs and an SSD? Can probably work just fine with a halfway decent 150W PSU.

For even more power savings you can always go with a low end dual core Intel socket 1155 platform.

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The Pentium has even worse graphics than a HD2000?!
Not really. AFAIK it is the same, just missing Quicksync. Also, as long as the CPU can do the video playback, you don't need GPU power at all. See this thread, and there's been many others. Sure, Flash these days automatically uses your GPU for HD video, and some (but not all) software players can use GPU decoding for some (but not all) video files, but otherwise the CPU still does all the heavy lifting. Netflix (which uses Silverlight and not Flash) is probably the worst offender right now. AFAIK it does not use GPU power at all.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:10 AM   #14
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I have my new desktop for gaming... so no gaming on the HTPC.

As I said, I'm currently using Intel 3000 graphics on my desktop and it's pretty capable, even for gaming (MW2,) but what I don't want is to get my HTPC up and running and have mediocre video because I got cheap on the CPU/GPU.

I did consider the i3 2125, but it's twice the cost (but with half again more power, which would be handy when ripping DVD's I could get more CPU power by going to the A6-3650, etc (but using more power.)

Quote:
I would still consider a 400-520W PS, allowing for some degradation of internal components.
I would consider a lower wattage unit as long as the PC would be run behind a good quality AVR UPS.
I have a Monster Power unit that does that already (but without battery backup.) I don't think I would want to go any lower than a 430w PSU.
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:15 AM   #15
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Not really. AFAIK it is the same, just missing Quicksync. Also, as long as the CPU can do the video playback, you don't need GPU power at all. See this thread, and there's been many others. Sure, Flash these days automatically uses your GPU for HD video, and some (but not all) software players can use GPU decoding for some (but not all) video files, but otherwise the CPU still does all the heavy lifting. Netflix (which uses Silverlight and not Flash) is probably the worst offender right now. AFAIK it does not use GPU power at all.
That's interesting... we don't even have cable. Netflix is all we use from an online source and, at the moment, is about 75% of what we watch. My old Dell single-core laptop (which we had hooked to the TV for a while until we got a capable BD player) struggled with Netflix... and now I know why.
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:09 PM   #16
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I have a Monster Power unit that does that already (but without battery backup.) I don't think I would want to go any lower than a 430w PSU.
Depending on its age and the reliability of your local electrical utility, the Monster unit may be nothing more than a glorified power strip by this time.
Without a battery how does the Monster unit provide AVR service? Does it use storage capacitors to boost voltage?
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Old 03-11-2012, 02:16 PM   #17
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Depending on its age and the reliability of your local electrical utility, the Monster unit may be nothing more than a glorified power strip by this time.
Without a battery how does the Monster unit provide AVR service? Does it use storage capacitors to boost voltage?
Actually, where I'm at it's pretty good... I've tested other circuits around town (when I'm servicing pool equipment) and I've seen some pretty crappy voltages at the equipment. And we very rarely lose power at all.

And you are correct... my model MP unit (HTS2500) does NOT have AVR. I thought it did and that was one of the reasons I bought it. It does have circuit-specific filters but no AVR. I had planned on getting an AVR unit for the new desktop, I guess I'll have to get another for the AV equipment. Crap.
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Old 03-11-2012, 07:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie98 View Post
I have my new desktop for gaming... so no gaming on the HTPC.

As I said, I'm currently using Intel 3000 graphics on my desktop and it's pretty capable, even for gaming (MW2,) but what I don't want is to get my HTPC up and running and have mediocre video because I got cheap on the CPU/GPU.

I did consider the i3 2125, but it's twice the cost (but with half again more power, which would be handy when ripping DVD's I could get more CPU power by going to the A6-3650, etc (but using more power.)
So you're not doing anything that needs a GPU, but yet you want a faster IGP? Walk me through that one again please.

Also, check the benches before writing off the G620 as less powerful than the A6-3650. In reality, they are very close overall with the G620 being better at low thread count workloads (typical desktop stuff) and the A6-3650 being better at heavily threaded workloads like encoding.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:11 PM   #19
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So you're not doing anything that needs a GPU, but yet you want a faster IGP? Walk me through that one again please.

Also, check the benches before writing off the G620 as less powerful than the A6-3650. In reality, they are very close overall with the G620 being better at low thread count workloads (typical desktop stuff) and the A6-3650 being better at heavily threaded workloads like encoding.
...and that's why I'm asking questions... I don't know how demanding video is on a GPU/IGP... I figured the bigger the better (i.e. the A6 APU over Intel's 2000 or 3000HD.) I also read that referenced thread on the whole Netflix thing and was surprised at the high CPU demand Netflix has (which makes sense, now, in hindsight.) I had assumed video streaming was all GPU.

It looked to me like the A6-3500 would be a little round peg in a little round hole: a better IGP and a 3-core processor to handle encoding, all at 65w TDP...
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Old 03-11-2012, 11:34 PM   #20
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I use a G530 and it's perfectly fine for HTPC use, 1080P is buttery smooth.
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:38 AM   #21
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I did consider the i3 2125, but it's twice the cost (but with half again more power, which would be handy when ripping DVD's I could get more CPU power by going to the A6-3650, etc (but using more power.)
It's certainly not going to double the cost of the entire machine, though. When you include the cost of drives, case, PSU, RAM, OS and motherboard, that price increase will be a far smaller proportion- making the price/performance ratio far more favourable.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:18 PM   #22
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...and that's why I'm asking questions... I don't know how demanding video is on a GPU/IGP... I figured the bigger the better (i.e. the A6 APU over Intel's 2000 or 3000HD.) I also read that referenced thread on the whole Netflix thing and was surprised at the high CPU demand Netflix has (which makes sense, now, in hindsight.) I had assumed video streaming was all GPU.

It looked to me like the A6-3500 would be a little round peg in a little round hole: a better IGP and a 3-core processor to handle encoding, all at 65w TDP...
No problem, just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing anything. Basically, GPU acceleration of video content is nice, but you don't want to rely on it because it doesn't always work. The HD2000 is perfectly fine for decoding normal h.264 and Flash, and the CPU portion of the G620 has plenty of power to decode anything else.
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:07 PM   #23
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Basically, GPU acceleration of video content is nice, but you don't want to rely on it because it doesn't always work.
Put very succinctly.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:24 PM   #24
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What would be a reasonable Gigabyte mobo be to pair the G620 up to? I'm assuming Z68 is not necessary because I won't be overclocking...

Needs to have HDMI out...
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:08 PM   #25
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What would be a reasonable Gigabyte mobo be to pair the G620 up to? I'm assuming Z68 is not necessary because I won't be overclocking...

Needs to have HDMI out...
The GA-H61M-S2H is not a bad deal at $60 AR.
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