[Advice] for a Low Power 720P HTPC/Fileserver

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Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:46 pm
Location: Nebraska

[Advice] for a Low Power 720P HTPC/Fileserver

Post by andyy32 » Wed Mar 12, 2008 12:43 pm

I am at a loss as to what to get here. Mostly need a recommendation on a low power CPU.

I'm running SUSE linux and have the following requirements:

-HDMI output
-SATA connectors (biggest reason I'm switching from my current PII 333)
-DDR2 ( I realize that this is probably a moot req.)
-Linux support (obvious if you read above)
-Gigabit Ethernet would be nice
-Micro ATX
-Low power consumption

I was looking at this or this for a motherboard. I heard the new 780G chipset from AMD is pretty efficient, is this true? Will I see much difference in power consumption between boards?

My biggest need is a recommendation for a CPU, I want something that has very low power consumption but is capable of 720p but I don't want to pay for extra power that I don't need. Intel or AMD is fine but cost is an issue. I would like to keep the cost of cpu and mobo at $150 or less. I've been reading other recommendations and am lost as to what is efficient and cheap, talk of Brisbane, X2 BE-series, low power Celeron socket 775...

I have
-2 x 1GB of OCZ ddr2-800 ram
-Seasonic 80plus psu that I will use for now
-320gb SATA drive

I will probably get another data drive probably a Western Digital GP drive. I was also considering installing my OS to a flash card in order to save a few watts. Any comments there?

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Post by frostedflakes » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:58 pm

780G has full HD decode acceleration, whereas 7050 only has partial acceleration (on par with the GeForce 7 series GPUs, I believe). Even so, the 7050 board could probably handle current HD content with a decent CPU, but 780G would be the ideal choice. And future HD content encoded at higher bitrates may choke the 7050 board (I think most current BD movies are encoded at about 20Mbps, whereas the standard allows for bitrates as high as 40Mbps).

I'd recommend a 780G board and low-end Athlon64 X2 Brisbane. Don't bother with the low-voltage CPUs, a Brisbane can be undervolted and underclocked to achieve the power envelope you'd like. My 3600+ Brisbane, for example, can undervolt to 0.975V at 1.9GHz (and this is not a special chip or anything, based on what I've read about 1V seems to be the norm for these). IMO the low-power AMDs aren't worth the price premium, generally the regular chips will undervolt very well.

EDIT: You might want to look into HD acceleration in Linux, though. IIRC it took nVidia quite a few months to add support for their PureVideo 2 engine (full HD decode acceleration) in Windows XP drivers, and I don't know if the Linux drivers even support this yet. Considering ATi has traditionally had poorer Linux support than nVidia, I wouldn't be surprised if their drivers didn't support this either. And then you have to find software that supports the driver accelerated decoding as well.

Like I said I haven't been keeping up with all this stuff, maybe there are drivers and software available in Linux. But it is something you should definitely look into before buying, unless you're willing to install XP or Vista if it ends up not working.
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Post by andyy32 » Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:02 pm

I certainly don't want to do Windows on my server and as such will probably look a little closer at the 780G chipset. I wasn't really sure about Brisbane so that is good to know. Thanks for the helpful info. Anyone else want to throw in their $0.02?

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