AMD Maui: Ultimate HTPC Integration

Complete|Mobile Systems
Viewing page 5 of 9 pages. Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Next

TEST RESULTS

Test Results: AMD Maui
Test State
Mean
CPU Use
Peak
CPU Use
System Power
Off
N/A
1W
Sleep
N/A
3W
Idle
N/A
86W
Rush Hour
(H.264)
40%
55%
~100W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
29%
53%
~98W
Drag Race
(VC-1)
41%
59%
~104W
Disturbia
(Blu-ray)
32%
58%
~100W
CPUBurn x 2
100%
121W
CPUBurn x 4
100%
154W
CPUBurn x 4
+ FurMark
100%
173W

The overall power consumption of the system was a lot higher than we're used to seeing. The system is equipped with various extra components: a TV tuner, amplifier, and IR remote, all of which require extra juice. The system idles at 86W, though with Media Center open, it jumps between 92 and 96W. Power draw during video playback was in the 100W range.

When all four cores of the CPU were stressed, power consumption increased by 68W compared to idle, which is close to the 9350e's 65W TDP rating. Video playback, with an advanced IGP and a quad core processor was not an issue, of course, it's a more than competent media player.

Keep in mind that this PC can replace an external amplifier or AV receiver, a PVR, external DVD or Blu-ray player, a cable/STB or Tivo box, and any TV tuners installed in the flat panel TVs — the power draw is more than offset by the power of components you can eliminate from around the entertainment center.

Benchmarks Comparison
System
AMD Maui
Dell Studio Hybrid
CPU / RAM
Phenom X4 2.0Ghz / 2GB
Core 2 Duo T5850
2.13GHz / 3GB
Boot-up Time
90 sec
59 sec
PCMark05
5169
4176
3DMark05
1561
953
3DMark06
3369
444
NOD32
382 sec
~95W
301 sec
~40W
WinRAR
377 sec
~95W
274 sec
~45W
iTunes
584 sec
~96W
312 sec
~43W
TMPGEnc
289 sec
~122W
468 sec
~52W
*Boot-up Time - start button to when the desktop appears

Performance on the whole was surprisingly poor if you don't take into account its media functionality and treat it purely as a standard PC. The Dell Studio Hybrid, a simple, efficient system using notebook components, defeated the Maui system in many of our real-world benchmarks including NOD32, WinRAR and iTunes, despite only sporting a dual core CPU. A Core 2 Duo is more powerful than a Phenom processor at similar clock speeds in many applications — those that can take advantage of more than two cores (like TMPGEnc) are the exception. The Dell Studio Hybrid's less-than-extreme Intel graphics is a severe detriment when it comes to 3D video performance, though, while the Maui's 780M graphics are quite strong. This helps the Maui on the PCMark and 3DMark benchmarks, which are probably more relevant for HTPC apps.

Is quad core a good choice for a HTPC? The most demanding function for a media PC is probably to record and playback video/audio at the same time, so in our view, a quad core is not the best choice... unless recorded content is encoded on the fly with a threaded application that can utilize the potential of all four cores. One point AMD makes is that the use of a Phenom allows for HT3.0 speeds, which offers better de-interlacing performance for broadcast and other interlaced content. We never did spend any time with the tuner, so no comment there.

A higher-clocked, cheaper, 45W AMD X2 processor (like the 2.6 GHz Athlon 64 X2 5050e) would bring general performance closer to that of an a Core 2 Duo, and at the same time, lower overall system power draw substantially, at idle as well as at full load. For a box that many users will want left on 24/7 (for timed TV recording, instant access to TV or music on demand, etc.), the reduced power draw at idle would be most welcome.

Despite the quad core processor, the system felt a bit sluggish at times, especially on boot-up. The system loads several applications into the system tray and Media Center also fires up after boot-up. The system took 90 seconds to get to the Vista desktop, but an additional 43 seconds passed before Media Center finished loading. It's a rather clunky startup procedure, so it was best to keep this system in Sleep until we were ready to use it.



Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Next

Complete|Mobile Systems - Article Index
Help support this site, buy the MSI Media Live DIVA 5.1 Motherboard from one of our affiliate retailers!