What speed CPU should i BUY??

sussexhifi

Active Member
Hi guys , im building a media centre ,

i will be using it to play movies and audio to my plasma,

i ripped a bluray movie to hard drive got it to about 4.5gig , tried to play it on my other pc, played bad, stuttered etc..

thats with 2gb ram , 3.2ghz p4 chip

i reralise i need a core2 or possibly quad processor,

whats the best option to go for so i dont buy one and find out its not quick enough

socket 775 board i have the media centre ready to go just need chip


thanks
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
how much are you looking to spend?? a quad core might be a little over kill but you can pick up a q6600 for about £140 from scan or something like a dual core E8400 for about £130
what speed fsb can your motherboard take? 1066? 1333? if you can only support 800Mhz fsb then go for something like an E4600
 

sussexhifi

Active Member
hi , mobo goes upto 1066fsb , ram i have is 2 x 2gb xms ddr2-800 ,



ill spend as much as i need to make sure i can play video smoothly to tv ,

currently using a pentium d 3.2ghz
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
1066 right then the q6600 would be a good choise for about £140. overclock it a bit if you want to they overclock well even with stock cooling. i have used gigabyte motherboards for some time and have always had good luck with them. you would be hard pushed to get a faster processor for less money than the Q6600 plus with 4 cores it would be better for watching something while simultaniously recording something else.
 

sussexhifi

Active Member
my mistake the board supports the following

CPU
  1. Support for an Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme processor/Intel® Core™ 2 Quad processor/Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor/ Intel® Pentium® processor Extreme Edition/ Intel® Pentium® D processor/ Intel® Pentium® 4 processor Extreme Edition/ Intel® Pentium® 4processor/Intel® Celeron® processor in the LGA 775 package
**L2 cache varies with CPUFront Side Bus1333/1066/800 MHz FSB


opens nearly all options really
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
oh so it can do 1333 yeah that does open alot more options up but i think the best price performance chip will still be the q6600 that should provide you with ample power to watch HD movies and also do other things at the same time like maybe record one channel while watching another simultaniously. i dont have much experience with pure media pc's as i build gaming pc's and occationaly run media on them but there more than powerful enough to do the job but to powerfull for a media pc. but the q6600 would be a nice option alternatively you could go for something like a E8200 or E8400 which would more than do the job at the same price bracket maybe alittle less but they dont ahve 4 cores only 2
 

pjclark1

Novice Member
The CPU don't really matter (all that much), it's the graphics card that counts
ati 2400, 2600, 3650
will all do the job with most CPUs (I like the lesser C2Ds as they are cheap as chips)

My fav. combo at the moment is the E2140 @2.66GHz with ASROCK mobo bundle for £80 from ebuyer.
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/131868
Sadly many people giving advice on media centre PCs on this forum have little expertise in the area.
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
what graphics card are you gonna be using in this system?? and what card where you using with the p4 system you had???
 

sussexhifi

Active Member
i was planning on using the onboard video chipset , as i only have one slot on my case , so that will be used by the tv card ,


thanks
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
i admit im not an expert about media systems but i wouldnt use the onboard video either the ati hd2400 and 2600 cards are really cheep and should be ok or if you want something a little more up market the 3650 and 3850's will do a brilliant job and there quite cheep too.
 

sussexhifi

Active Member
dont have many other options, i have been asured playback is fine from the place where im buying the board from, and seen it playing on a 50" plasma using the onboard video via hdmi ,

playing a 1080p signal

fingers crossed i guess
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
if your using onboard video then i would get a beefier cpu. what cpu was this 50inch 1080p onboard combo using??
 

CP-PC

Novice Member
not sure, think it was a core 2 , 3ghz
yeah that is quite a beefy CPU. personaly for my own piece of mind i wouldnt want a core 2 slower than 2Ghz in my system, preferably something like 2.5-3Ghz but at the end of the day if a core 2 at 1.8Ghz with onboard graphics will do the job then that will do but im not sure it will. do you see yourself watching something while recording something else at the same time??
 

sibeer

Well-known Member
What motherboard have you bought / is being suggested? The best current combo for a cheap all in one HTPC solution is to get one of these two motherboards:

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/142347

or

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/132274

The Asus has a lower power usage, but the Gigbyte has a little more power and features.

Either will happily play pretty much any HD video with a minimal spec AM2 processor. This is because both motherboards use onboard graphics solutions based on ATI cards which help the processing. I would really suggest a low power X2 chip as the best option:

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/134571

Just add a gigabyte of DDR2 ram and Vista Home Premium or XP Media Centre edition and you will be well away for butons :thumbsup:
 

sussexhifi

Active Member
if you look back through the thread i have added a link to the gigabyte website with the board i havem socket 775

thanks
 

sibeer

Well-known Member
Sorry, it said that was the one you were thinking of getting. Unfortunately that Mobo doesn't offer native processing of HD video. As such your best bet is definately an add on Graphics adapter as it will then play HD Video with your current CPU. Alternatively to just run it from the CPU I would go for:

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/143203

This should run most things without an overclock. If you find it doesn't then your motherboard should easily be able to ramp it up to 3Ghz which would be overkill.
 

sussexhifi

Active Member
it clearly states though on the gigabyte site that it will support 1080p hd output through the hdmi output??
 

sibeer

Well-known Member
It will support displaying the resolution, but it does not help the processing of the video. Video files are encoded in a range of codecs that compress them into a managable size and data rate. To make that into a picture on the screen the computer must then interpret these codecs and uncompress them into a colour for every pixel of the resolution. Some graphics cards (and the onboard graphics on the boards I suggested) have special chips designed just to do this efficiently for certain codecs. This makes the load on the processor much easier, hence is the recommended way to play high def content :thumbsup:
 

MikeK

Novice Member
it clearly states though on the gigabyte site that it will support 1080p hd output through the hdmi output??


It will - what it won't do is accelerate the decoding of some types of 1080i/p VC1 and H264 video by using the assistance of the onboard GPU - the CPU will have to do most or all of the decoding!

That said, the boards sporting the onboard ATI HD GPUs will accelerate some types of 1080i/p VC1 and H264 video, but they won't accelerate others.
Basically the encode being played back has to conform to certain profiles to be accelerated - if it doesn't, it'll either be only partly accelerated, leaving the bulk of the heavy crunching to the CPU, or else won't be accelerated at all, leaving the CPU to do all the the work!
And that can be a problem - if you select such a board and pair it up with a lower end AMD chip, everything will be fine for some types of video, but it will
struggle with other types.
Basically if your video conforms to Bluray/HDDVD encoding specs, you should be OK for acceleration - however certainly H264 has some more advanced encoding options that are not supported on Bluray/HDDVD.

For 720p it's not that big an issue, as just about any Core2Duo based chip will do the job without assistance from a GPU, and most of the AMD X2 chips will be fine too.
However, 1080i/p is another matter.

I did some experimenting with this on a desktop PC running an E2180 ( overclocked to 2.67GHz), XPsp3 and 2GB RAM, with an ATI HD2400PRO video card.
I demuxed the 1080p H264 video from the Spiderman3 Bluray, and played back the opening few minutes using Media Player Classic HC, Haali Media Splitter and CoreAVC 1.6 (which doesn't support acceleration).

Using Overlay Renderer

Core0 MIN 64% AVE 80% MAX 92%
Core1 MIN 78% AVE 88% MAX 100%

Using Haali's renderer

Core0 MIN 72% AVE 82% MAX 94%
Core1 MIN 90% AVE 95% MAX 100%


Although neither renderer appears to give any obvious frame dropping/stuttering, the CPU is running pretty close to flat out!
Haali's renderer appears to add a fair overhead (and that's similar with VMR9 and EVR too)

Switching from CoreAVC to the built in MPC video decoder (which does support acceleration)

Using Overlay Renderer

Core0 MIN 0% AVE 3% MAX 6%
Core1 MIN 5% AVE 11% MAX 40%

Using Haali's renderer (MPC states DXVA not in use - stuttering also quite evident)

Core0 MIN 10% AVE 18% MAX 40%
Core1 MIN 82% AVE 90% MAX 100%


Obviously video acceleration can have a big effect (if you can get it working properly), but the result with the MPC video decoder and Haali's renderer just goes to show that some config combinations appear to just not work very well (at least on this PC)


Bottom line
If you are going to go for a non-accelerated setup using just the CPU to do the decoding, I wouldn't consider anything less than a 2.66GHz Core2 CPU.

If you plan on adding a video card which supports full HD acceleration, then for the correct types of video encodes, it appears a very lowly CPU (by today's standards) will suffice - you'd just have accept that you couldn't play HD video which is non compliant with the card's acceleration requirements.
 

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