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New build advice please: i3-3225 or A10-5800K?

16to9

Established Member
Can I ask for some advice please? My current MCE PC is on its way out; it's given me good service but it's 5 years old and the SATA ports are failing.

I've been reading around but you can't beat experience, so should I go for the i3-3225 or an A10-5800? Both cost about £100.

I will be mainly watching video - the only graphics-intensive gaming I'll be doing is Flight Sim X or X-Plane so I am hoping to do away with a dedicated graphics card.

My main concern is low-wattage components.

(My current system is an Athlon 64 x2 4800+ with a Radeon HD4600 - I'm guessing either of the new options are significantly faster?)

Cheers

Mark
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
Certainly the A10 will be fine. Here's another alternative though, depending how important the price is - I've just ordered this for myself:

A8-3870K - 3 GHz - 4 MB L2 Cache - FM1 Socket (AD3870WNGXBOX) - WAE+

It's FM1 socket, and they are really cutting the prices now. £64 for four cores plus effectively a built-in £50 graphics card is pretty amazing. The graphics will overclock to 900MHz no problem, the CPU should go up to 3.4-ish. You'd get a decent MB for another £40-£50. Even without overclocking this would easily handle your flight sim.

I'm currently running an A6-3650 (that cost £37), and that's incredible. It's my first no-graphics-card desktop and I'm extremely impressed. It handles Euro Truck Simulator 2 at High graphic levels, but the frame rate gets a bit low when it rains (in the game!). The £64 upgrade was too hard to resist, and it should be over double the GPU power - from 444 to 900MHz, from 320 to 400 cores.

I don't know about the i3 though - I've stopped looking at Intel since I found these things. Others will know more though.
 

16to9

Established Member
I'm currently running an A6-3650 (that cost £37), and that's incredible.

I think I will go with an FM2, but am now wondering whether to go for an A10-5700 as it might be more suitable for a quiet HTPC. But then again that 5800 will presumably only do so when I push it. I'm very unlikely to overclock the 5800.

Decisions decisions...
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
I have read, on here and elsewhere, that the FM2's do suffer from the same stutt-t-t-t-tter as some ATI/AMD video cards. Obviously do your own research though, but be careful before ordering.

Let us know what you choose, and also what you find out about the FM2's. I want to be corrected if I'm wrong - I've never looked in detail at the FM2's, as I saw the price of the FM1's and didn't go any further!
 

16to9

Established Member
Ok, will do.

I've never had a problem with the Radeon I have in the HTPC machine at the moment. I can't remember why I went for an AMD CPU back in 2006 (cost probably) but it's been more than adequate. It's managed the change to HD and even survived a brief skirmish with Win 8!

It's outlasted one motherboard, and as I said above, a second one now appears to be on its way out. I'm not doing any CPU-intensive work, and any that does need doing (the odd video encode) is something I can leave running - shaving a few mins off here or there isn't important.

What is important is it's cool, quiet and reliable. On that basis it might be the 5700. But that 5800 is only two pounds more expensive and presumably won't run any hotter unless I task it to.
 

16to9

Established Member
Actually one thing someone here might know: is it worth going for 8 gigs of RAM, or is 4 adequate in a 64-bit system? I'm aware that the RAM is going to be shared with the GPU. I've got 4 now but that's all system.
 

DavidT

Prominent Member
Actually one thing someone here might know: is it worth going for 8 gigs of RAM, or is 4 adequate in a 64-bit system? I'm aware that the RAM is going to be shared with the GPU. I've got 4 now but that's all system.

4gb is plenty but 8 gb is cheap so why not.

The 5800 is a 100watt TDP CPU whereas the 5700 is 65watts. It is unlikely the CPU in an htpc will draw Max power but AMD are known to be optimistic with their power ratings and have been tested at much higher wattages. Intel seem to be the opposite and generally run with less wattage and therefore cooler.

David
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
I wouldn't take too much notice of AMD's TDP numbers. As pointed out by DavidT, two almost identical CPUs have 35W difference according to their specs. The reality is that they are classed as either <65W or <100W. They don't state the actual measurement. Presumably one is a little under 65W, and the other is slightly over. There might be 2W actual difference between them.

I doubt there'd be any point in having more than 4GB, unless your games might make use of it. I doubt anything else would touch the upper 4GB. The graphics (on FM1 chips at least) can take a maximum of 512MB (selectable in the BIOS).
 

16to9

Established Member
Thanks both, I am now wondering whether to go for an i3 and a discrete graphics card. Lowering power consumption was always my main concern and at least with a graphics card I can decide what to get and upgrade it if ever needed. I'll do a bit more research...
 

16to9

Established Member
Well I went for the A10-5800 in the end. It's almost built at the moment, just a few (!) more Windows updates to bring down.

Something is wrong with the AHCI settings however. The SATA interface isn't running at full speed. When I booted the last installation (ie old processor/mobo config) off the SSD it booted like a flash... faster than I've ever seen, under 10 seconds.

But now it's a fresh install it's slow, file copies are only at about 30Mb/s, and it's not performing as I'd expect. I don't want to have to do another install but looks like it might be needed. Anyone experienced this? All the correct drivers appear to be installed
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
There is an AMD driver, at least there is for RAID on an FM1 (like mine). Mine was running slowly for a while until I found it.

The screenshot is from my PC. This may or may not be relevant - I have two SSDs in a RAID 0 array as I'm greedy (yum yum). Mine's an FM1 socket with the A75 chipset.
 

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16to9

Established Member
Finally I have a working system but it's not without issues.

Considering that I am using mostly the same components - drives, PSU, TV tuners, case (admittedly having changed the CPU and motherboard) it's been far far from a pain-free upgrade.

The first problem I found: Asus have put the SATA connectors on the very edge of the board, facing outwards not upwards. It's not their fault, but I had to cut away one of the internal walls in my Antec case to be able to get the SATA cables in. It seems a bit daft making a board that is MATX in size but which will have cables projecting about an inch from the sides.

And with the connectors being so tightly packed, they keep releasing themselves by pressing against each others' release mechanisms, so drives keep disconnecting! I will have to buy some new SATA cables - a pain.

For some reason the Catalyst drivers repeatedly refused to show me the video options properly under "video quality": I've had to re-install them twice to get all the deinterlace options to be visible.

Three times today it's crashed and become unresponsive with the CPU running very hot. I've just disabled hibernation from powercfg, in case it's crashing while trying to hibernate (even though I'd disabled it in power settings.)

Last night the tuners disappeared after a reboot, requiring a power-down to make them come back.

But most annoyingly I am getting stuttering every 10 minutes or so when watching recorded TV. I need more time to diagnose this but it's doing it on HD and SD and it's not a problem on the recording.

Nothing is overclocked, most of everything is set to default settings, and I have a minimal software installation.

On a positive note, power usage is down, by about 40W.

But the issues are really disappointing: for 8 years, across 3 systems and 3 versions, MCE has been virtually bullet-proof for me. This system at only a few days old is far from that. I can really only point a finger at the motherboard and its drivers. As anyone reading this will know, diagnosing and fixing those kind of issues is not fun, so I'm tempted to buy a different board full stop. A reinstall is possible but I am going to have to find a more up-to-date Win 7 disk somewhere. The updates took hours to download and install.

My old system has gone to my parents (they had a my previous, creaking older MCE system) and it's running great, as it always has.

My problem system:
Asus F2A85-M, AMD A10-5800, 8GB RAM
System drive: OCZ Agility 3
Other drives: 2TB Seagate, 3TB WD
Tuners: Pinnacle 3010ix DVB-T & TBS 8922 DVB-S
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
I'd hope it's not a fundamental issue with the FM2s. The A85 chipset is the newest. Hopefully it's just a case of waiting for AMD's driver support to catch up.

To be honest I got pretty confused about what I needed to install when I set mine up. I got an all-in-one driver off the CD with the motherboard, installed it then asked it to check for updates and it said it was up to date. Then I got something loads newer off the web elsewhere. I think I went straight to AMD, not to the motherboard maker. I could be wrong though, I wasn't making notes. Whatever, have a good rummage around - just because there are no yellow icons in Device Manager that doesn't mean that everything's installed.

I have an "AMD VISION Engine Control Center" on the Start menu.

Go here...

AMD Graphics Drivers & Software

Select Desktop Graphics >> APU.

And yes, those SATA sockets look ridiculous. I've never seen them like that before. To be honest that would have been useful for mine though, as I have space in front of the board but a drive cage hanging over it.

My A75-based FM1 HTPC in the lounge is boringly reliable. I don't think I've restarted it since about January. This IS our TV - we don't watch TV any other way. So it's busy every evening, recording up to 6 channels at once, live and recorded HDTV and there's an Xbox extender connected to it.

So don't lose hope!
 

16to9

Established Member
First off, thanks for the very constructive feedback Artisan. I did look for an AHCI driver btw - whatever I have installed is the latest.

I did a few things after writing last night. I disabled hibernation; removed the Asus bloat utilities; turned of all the video enhancements except for de-interlace; and unplugged the unnecessary hard drives.

I thought late last night I might have fixed it, so I scheduled lots of little recordings overnight with enough time for it to power down between each one.

I've just got to it now to find it's crashed, unresponsive, fan spinning, heatsink hot, watt-meter showing 117W. For reference now it's rebooted, it's using 49W. I can't be having an unattended HTPC crashing, getting hot, using that much power.

Plus as I'm writing this a pop-up message says "a recording did not start -a tuner has been disconnected." No it hasn't!! A quick check in devices shows me that the TBS tuner is listed and the Pinnacle isn't.

Thanks for the driver link. I'd already been there! I did originally write the following in my previous post but cut it out. It's back now:

"It could be me but I think the driver situation is a right mess. Between the drivers on the mobo CD, Asus' website, Windows Update, and AMD's Catalyst site, the versions and updates are all over the place. I now have the latest versions (as far as I can tell) but it's not been easy. Maybe Intel boards are easier. I'd like to think I know what I'm doing when it comes to building an HTPC - I might be a a bit rusty but it shouldn't have been as testing as it has!"

This is all very frustrating. I may have to try a rebuild - I have at least downloaded a slipstreamed Win 7 SP1 so hopefully that will take some of the pain away.

I might contact the retailer (Scan) and see what options I have. They've been brilliant in the past and whatever they say to me now are fully recommended. I don't want to spend days/weeks chasing AMD and Asus for fixes - this should be mature enough technology and should just work. I really am not trying anything exotic.
 
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16to9

Established Member
And just to add, it takes a full power-down to bring the lost tuner back. A reset isn't enough. I'm speculating but that seems to suggest it's quite a fundamental, almost BIOS-level problem.
 

sinistro

Established Member
My A75-based FM1 HTPC in the lounge is boringly reliable. I don't think I've restarted it since about January. This IS our TV - we don't watch TV any other way. So it's busy every evening, recording up to 6 channels at once, live and recorded HDTV and there's an Xbox extender connected to it.

So don't lose hope!


Could you write down what setup you got? I am at this moment looking to build me one and I am in the same position between a intel i3 or a amd.
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
Processor
Motherboard
Memory
SSD
DVD Drive

Some of the prices linked to are not the best, as almost everything has gone up a lot since I bought, e.g. the memory was £21! Well worth a shop around.

That motherboard is actually what I've put in my new HTPC-like desktop, the lounge one actually has a Biostar A75MH. This was cheap, and it generally works, but the CPU fan speed control doesn't. This makes it too noisy for a lounge. I'm currently chasing ebuyer to return it, as Biostar haven't even replied to my support enquiry. For that reason, I'd say avoid Biostar. I did have a similar issue with my Asrock, but their support was outstanding. They wrote a new BIOS and sent it to me within days.
 

sinistro

Established Member
I just come back to get a quote on a few setups and I thinking of this one:

ASUS - F2A55-M
Amd A10 x4 5800k
4gb ddr3 1600 kingston
500 gb hd ( got a 1.5tb and 2tb ext hd )
case,power supply, fans, wifi, etc all will come to 450 euro ( 384 pounds )

opinion?
 

16to9

Established Member
What's your tuner? It's not one of those horrible PCI-USB fudges is it?

I don't think so - I know the type you mean, I remember the problems they caused years ago! It's a Pinnacle 3010ix.

I've done a rebuild today (hint to others - it's significantly quicker if you have an SP1 DVD rather than have to download the updates!) and I've left it recording away at home. I'll see if that's made it any more stable. On the rebuild however I again had the problem where the Catalyst video controls disappeared. They were there, then after a reboot they'd gone. It took an uninstall and re-install of that to bring it back. The attached screengrabs show what should be there, and what wasn't. (Right hand picture shows all the extra video settings.) Not too impressed at that failing on a clean build. Maybe it's worth trying some older Catalyst drivers as it seems they break things with each revision.

One thing I can't do is try the Pinnacle tuner in a different PCI slot (there ain't any others!) so if it's an interrupt issue I can't change that.
 

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16to9

Established Member
I just come back to get a quote on a few setups and I thinking of this one:

ASUS - F2A55-M
Amd A10 x4 5800k
4gb ddr3 1600 kingston
500 gb hd ( got a 1.5tb and 2tb ext hd )
case,power supply, fans, wifi, etc all will come to 450 euro ( 384 pounds )

opinion?

In theory this shouldn't be a problem; I have similar kit but am having a nightmare (see above!).

I can't believe it's a common fault, however. With 4 drives in mine consumes about 50W at the desktop and about 80W when playing video... when it works.
 

WheresMyArtisan

Established Member
I still don't understand putting an A10 in a box to watch and record telly on. It's like driving to the corner shop in a Ferrari.

Good luck with the setup 16to9. I don't have any gems of wisdom at the moment. Let us know how you go on...
 

sinistro

Established Member
I still don't understand putting an A10 in a box to watch and record telly on. It's like driving to the corner shop in a Ferrari.

I did not yet decide what to do tbh as I would like to play a game or two with it also if possible and as it will be connected to my 720p led projector (lg pa72g) it might work without an extra graphic card.
 

16to9

Established Member
I still don't understand putting an A10 in a box to watch and record telly on. It's like driving to the corner shop in a Ferrari.

Good luck with the setup 16to9. I don't have any gems of wisdom at the moment. Let us know how you go on...

re A10, you're probably right. In fact you are right - but I want a bit of headroom for FSX!

re the problem, I thought about it a bit. I've not seen dozens of other reports online about this issue, suggesting it's not common. So then I thought about the component I know to be problematic - the Pinnacle tuner. (When I got home last night, this clean build had once again crashed with the CPU at full pelt.)

So I physically removed the Pinnacle card last night and left the machine doing what I had the night before: recording short programmes with enough time for it to sleep between (using the TBS tuner). Previously, it had crashed doing this, with both tuners present.

This time it hasn't. So it's likely that the Pinnacle card is a problem. I'm not saying it's at fault because it worked in my previous machine for years. But it seems to conflict in this one.

I also hadn't considered that I can move it to a different PCI slot - I didn't realise that different PCI Express form factors are compatible.

So I've moved it from the x1 to a x16 slot, and as expected, it's now using a different IRQ. Resource conflicts could explain why it's been disappearing.

I'm going to leave it doing a recording test today and see if that's made any difference. If it has, great. If not, it's new tuner time.

Interestingly (well, ok, not...) as it rebooted with the tuner card in a different slot, I got exactly the same stuttering on the Windows audio ident as I had been getting watching TV on Sunday. That happened as it informed me it was installing drivers (for the card being in a different location). On that basis I suspect some kind of device or hardware interrogation was taking place every so often, causing media stutter.
 
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