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Contemplating the direction for an HTPC - Need listener input!

Guest no-control

Llano or keep the i3/H55?  

6 members have voted

  1. 1. Which one do you think would be a better fit?

    • Go Llano for the GPU performance
    • Keep the i3/H55 for the superior CPU performance the GPU is fine
    • Drop in a discreet GPU (GT430 / 6570) into the i3/H55

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Guest no-control

I presented this idea on BYOB Episode 56. I thought the listeners out there could weigh in with your opinions & comments for where I should this build.


I currently have an i3-530 / H55 HTPC (see it here) that I use as my primary HTPC for view my movie catalog (both BD & DVD), recording OTA TV, Boxee, Hulu, Netflix. This unit doesn't handle rip, encode, transcode at all right now. But I recently moved and a few things became apparent.

  1. I would like to add light gaming functionality to this machine.
  2. I'm going to use 360's in several rooms as extenders of this machine.
  3. I've had a few scares with my Virtual Machine beast as it contains my personal data, business data, school projects, and test platforms. So I'm going to move the personal data out of the WHS2011 VM and into a dedicated WHS2011 box. Allowing me to put tighter security and additional functionality onto the VM rig. Possibly using the i3/H55 from this HTPC.


I'm strongly considering going with an AMD Llano APU & Mobo to replace the current components in the HTPC. This would give me quite a bit more GPU power without going to a full blown GPU and the heat gain from a discreet card. While I know the Llano APU runs hotter than the i3, is it more than a discreet GPU? Is the CPU power loss going from the i3 to the APU worth it?


Lets get some discussion going!

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Blu-ray frame rate is a 50/50 decision between onboard or discret video but, if you are going to game at all; go with a card.

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...and remember that blu-rays can't be streamed through the xbox unless you reduce the bit rate on them. I think the xbox is cappd around 15,000 bps.

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Define "light gaming." To me, light gaming is a RTS or Warcraft (neither of which I enjoy.) To some, light gaming is a flash game or Facebook. As you know, the 530 is probably sufficient for either of those applications. But at least that way you have CPU and can add GPU power as desired.

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Guest no-control



Light Gaming = Previous generation gaming with lower eye candy DirectX 9. Or casual games. Stuff you play with an XBOX controller on the couch. 360 games, XBLA, MAME, emulators for NES/SNES etc....


BD playback is only required for the HTPC not the extenders. Extenders are for DVD/TV only.

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I'd say go with the discreet card.


I put a 5770 in my HTPC when I built it, to do some gaming on the 55", and it runs pretty well any game I through at it at 1920 x 1080.


According to AMD, the 5770 uses just 18w of power when Idle.

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I'll stick with my first opinion and vote: i3 + GPU as needed. If I'm getting a new laptop, I'm strongly considering Llano, since it will have the APU power I need for some games and enough x86 power for the kind of stuff I do on a laptop. But ina desktop, I don't need to have a semi-decent APU when I can have a good CPU and good (or as good as I want) GPU. You can always upgrade the GPU of course, but you can't do much to help the Llano's weaker X86 performance.

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Despite the extra heat, I would still go with a discreet GPU. I personally would probably not do gaming on an HTPC at all but, if I were to do it, I would want a little better GPU than Llano.

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