AMD A8 Llano Socket FM1 Or Socket AM3+? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 03-15-2012, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking for opinions on whether to purchase an AMD A8 Llano Socket FM1 Or Socket AM3+ CPU and motherboard for my HTPC.

My PC developed an issue months ago, where it freezes when either: Rebooting, resuming from sleep or hibernation, or simply being turned on after being off for several hours. I have to leave it running 24/7, otherwise it's a PITA to boot it successfully.

After months of troubleshooting, I (along with ZT systems, the builder) have come to the conclusion there is a problem with either the MB or the CPU. I have been advised that I should replace both, since if I were to replace only one I could guess wrong and still have the problem. Also, I am un-able to find a MB with a socket for my AM2+ CPU anyway.

I used to always build my PC's myself, but I decided to buy this one since it was such a good deal (or so I thought. Two years and already I have to replace parts. All my home builds lasted far longer!).

Anyway, It has been 3 or 4 years since I last built one, and I am no longer familiar with current CPU's and motherboards. I plan to stick with AMD since I have more experience with them and money is always an issue.
My PC has a Phenom II X4 945 3Ghz CPU (quad core). The MB is an ASUS with an AM2+ socket.

The AM2+ form has been replaced by the AM3+, but I see there is something called the AMD A8 Llano Socket FM1 CPU that AMD is currently pushing.
Reviews for the A8 on Newegg are mostly very favorable, and overall the price of Socket FM1 CPU's and MB's is significantly lower than AM3+ one's.

This make me wonder if these new CPU's are actually "better" than the older, and generally costlier AM3+ CPU's.
Either way, I'll have to toss my 8 gigs of DDR2 RAM, as either form factor uses DDR3.

I use my PC for every day computing, video editing, and it's also my Windows 7 Media Center PVR. I also have an HDHR Prime for my tuner.
My main concern is stability and reliability, since I depend on it to record all my shows. If it uses less power, that would be a bonus (however, being able to hibernate again will save a LOT of electricity!).

I do NOT use it for games, so I don't care about that. I am aware that the FM1's have discrete graphics, but this rig had issues with the 29/59 bug when using an ATI card, so I'm not planning to use that capability.

A related question: Does anyone have experience with ASRock motherboards? The last time I built a PC I don't think this brand was around, I've never heard of them. Are they any good?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 01:06 AM
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The new CPU = the older CPU. There is little difference between them.
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post #3 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 06:49 AM
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No... the sockets have progressed... AM2 then AM2+ (via BIOS update) then AM3 and finally we're at AM3+. Your CPU is most likely AM3 which AMD made them backwards compatible so eventhough you had an older AM2+ mobo, the AM3 CPU would work. Given your CPU is still in the $140-160 range I'd suggest looking at an inexpensive AM3 mobo (you didn't mention your video solution on your current system) and see how that goes... reusing the CPU may be a cost saver and you know its performance level. And if that's not it you're not out much!

On the other hand, the Llamo is an integrated CPU/iGPU which is mainly used for HTPC. My gut feel is it would be less CPU capable than your Phenon II... also I'd look at the A6 - reviews also give it high HTPC marks!
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post #4 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.

Windows reports the CPU as an AM2+. Yes, I did read that the AM3 would work in a MB with an AM2+ socket. It seems that were I to purchase an AM3 CPU, and it turns out I still need to replace the MB, I would have to get an AM3+ MB, which would require new RAM. At that point, I believe the cost would then be as much (or more) than getting an FM1 based CPU/MB combo.

I guess it boils down to a gamble, and I HATE gambling!

Anyway, at least I now know the FM1's are good choices for a HTPC.

Btw, I'm currently using an Nvidia HDMI video card (I'm at work and don't remember the model off hand). It completely solved my 29/59 frame rate issue. I can get a MB with on-board HDMI and try it out, and if it has the 29/59 issue, put in the Nvidia card.
So I'm not too interested in the on-board video capabilities of the FM1's. But it looks like there's no money to be saved by going with an AM3+.

For video editing I'm using Pinnicle Studio 13, but like I said, my most important concern for this box is WMC.
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post #5 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 11:53 AM
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If you can hold out until June or July then I'd wait for the new Socket FM2 Trinity/Virgo motherboards coming out then. What you'll get with the Trinity APUs is better video performance with lower power consumption and perfectly capable of serving as great HTPC without a dedicated video card. The A8 versions should have equal or beter computing power as your current Phenom. There should also be a slightly improved feature set with the new boards too. Buy now and you may kick yourself for not waiting but that's the way it always is with the new stuff just over the horizon.

Here's a link to the Llano thread with a chart at post #824 on the new Trinity APUs.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...1#post21639241
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post #6 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Leave my computer running 24/7 for 3 1/2 months. Hmmm....
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post #7 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 12:34 PM
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Newegg and Wikipedia list Phenom II X4 945 as AM3. So getting an AM3 motherboard is an option.
Also, I see Newegg offers a few inexpensive, AM2/DDR2 motherboards.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813157204 has good reviews.
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post #8 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you. I didn't see that when I used their filters on the left side. In fact, AM2+ doesn't come up at all (for me). I will look it over.
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post #9 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 02:03 PM
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APU's will do 29/59

Trinity is better, but it will also cost more and its not compatible with FM1 boards. Which means when those come online you'll see FM1 and first gen APU's prices drop like a rock.

2 Core APU are between $60-$65 and the GPU is slightly worst than a HD5450. I would say 2 Core APU + HD6450 might be close to HD5570 in overall performance.

3 Core is $67 at Microcenter

65W TDP 4 Core is, ummm hard to find, you might as well look for a Unicorn. It seems they all (even the newest version) of these went to the OEM market and only a few fell into individual hands (for public testing and review).

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post #10 of 29 Old 03-16-2012, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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TDP?

Head, begin spinning here!
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post #11 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I'm swinging back and forth, like a pendelum, between taking a chance by swaping out the MB and hoping my CPU is OK, and just replacing both the MB and CPU and be done with it.

Based on my current CPU, would anyone mind recommending an upgrade to what I now have (Phenom II X4 945 3Ghz CPU quad core)? Something that might speed up video editing and file converting, but at the lowest practical power consumption.

Would the A8 Llano Socket FM1 CPU do the job? Or maybe something based on AM3+?
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post #12 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo View Post

Well, I'm swinging back and forth, like a pendelum, between taking a chance by swaping out the MB and hoping my CPU is OK, and just replacing both the MB and CPU and be done with it.

Based on my current CPU, would anyone mind recommending an upgrade to what I now have (Phenom II X4 945 3Ghz CPU quad core)? Something that might speed up video editing and file converting, but at the lowest practical power consumption.

Would the A8 Llano Socket FM1 CPU do the job? Or maybe something based on AM3+?

I would say a core i5 would probably be what you want if you do a lot of video editing/encoding.
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post #13 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

I would say a core i5 would probably be what you want if you do a lot of video editing/encoding.

OK, thanks. I will give those a look.

How are the i5's as far as power usage?
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post #14 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo View Post

OK, thanks. I will give those a look.

How are the i5's as far as power usage?

TDP is higher but for idle SB processors are all about the same. So if your system is idle the core i5 uses the same power as an i3. Idle system consumption is typically 30-40W.


Are you planning on encoding entire blue ray movies into a different format like mp4 or something, this is pretty much the only reason for the core i5? I might have misunderstood what your plans are.
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post #15 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I only occasionally re-encode Blue Ray.
Mostly Windows Media Center PVR recording and sometimes video editing (so real time effects processing).

I will occasionally re-encode a 35 GB Blue Ray to fit on a 25 GB disc, but not often.

Basically, if I decide to upgrade both the MB and CPU, I'd like to go at least 2 years without having to worry about upgrading again - assuming one or the other doesn't crap out on me like this time!

What is TDP?

Nevermind, looked it up. So I take it that has to do with cooling reqiuirements? I haven't noticed that listed when I look at various CPUs. I wonder if thats whats going on with my current system.
I replaced the fan with a Zalman months after I bought it because I wanted a quieter fan. I got the correct replacement, but I run it at it's lowest speed to keep it quiet.

Haven't had any issues with it shutting down or re-booting itself. Just the issue of waking or cold booting and then it freezes up.
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post #16 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo View Post

I only occasionally re-encode Blue Ray.
Mostly Windows Media Center PVR recording and sometimes video editing (so real time effects processing).

I will occasionally re-encode a 35 GB Blue Ray to fit on a 25 GB disc, but not often.

Basically, if I decide to upgrade both the MB and CPU, I'd like to go at least 2 years without having to worry about upgrading again - assuming one or the other doesn't crap out on me like this time!

What is TDP?

Nevermind, looked it up. So I take it that has to do with cooling reqiuirements? I haven't noticed that listed when I look at various CPUs. I wonder if thats whats going on with my current system.
I replaced the fan with a Zalman months after I bought it because I wanted a quieter fan. I got the correct replacement, but I run it at it's lowest speed to keep it quiet.

Haven't had any issues with it shutting down or re-booting itself. Just the issue of waking or cold booting and then it freezes up.

Almost everything we do with our HTPC has low demands on CPU's but I would think running a phenom II X4 at full bore such as video encoding could indeed cause a heat problem if your fan doesn't spool up.
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post #17 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Almost everything we do with our HTPC has low demands on CPU's but I would think running a phenom II X4 at full bore such as video encoding could indeed cause a heat problem if your fan doesn't spool up.

True, but I never get freeze ups while using this PC. It's only after resuming from sleep or if it's been left off for several hours. Both scenarios are when the CPU is cold. Obviously not heat related.

So are the FM1's better for video encoding than the AM3+'s?
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post #18 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 03:41 PM
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To help put this in perspective please take a look at this chart. I selected a A6-3650 VS a x2-265 but you can compare CPU's and look at the HD encode rate, FPS, and get a good idea of relative performance. I would lean towards the low end of the newer hardware but that is just my opinion...

Therefore, if you like AMD I would consider an AMD A4-3300 up to an A8-3850 depending on desired performance and cost sensitivity. If you would consider an Intel CPU look close at the G530, G620, up to an i3-2100.
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post #19 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
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I used the chart to compare an A8 with a Phenom II X4 940 (my current is a 945).

According to those benchmarks, my current CPU seems to have more "horse power" than a newer A8! I didn't do a cost comparison though.
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post #20 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winterescape View Post

To help put this in perspective please take a look at this chart. I selected a A6-3650 VS a x2-265 but you can compare CPU's and look at the HD encode rate, FPS, and get a good idea of relative performance. I would lean towards the low end of the newer hardware but that is just my opinion...

Therefore, if you like AMD I would consider an AMD A4-3300 up to an A8-3850 depending on desired performance and cost sensitivity. If you would consider an Intel CPU look close at the G530, G620, up to an i3-2100.

- A6-3650: quad-core 2.6GHz
- Athlon II X2 265: dual-core 3.3GHz

Comparing them does not make much sense. Basically

CPU part of Llano = Athlon II X4/X3/X2, architecturally (except for processing 32nm vs. 45nm), hence there is no big difference in performance between Lano quad-core/dual-core and Athlon II X4/X2 respectively.

Of course there is no reason to choose Athlon II X4/X3/X2 over A4/A6/A8 Llano APU now even if you don't use the integrated graphics.
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post #21 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 11:08 PM
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It sort of goes like this -

If you plan on doing more with your HTPC like play a few games and don't want to add a video card, get an A6 or A8 APU and fast memory (PNY XLR8 is the best budget 1600 speed memory that overclocks to 1866 with ease) and you can play BF3 on low settings and 720p no problem.

A4's can even handle Playstation 2 emulation, Dreamcast and Sega Model 3 should be possible as well, despite most people emulating Model 3 with hardcore gaming machines (older specs).

Any hard number crunching like encoding video/editing, get an i3 at the least.

I've seen an OC'ed A8-3850 Unlocked do pretty well vs i3, but if you're not interested in overclocking, then this is a moot point.

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post #22 of 29 Old 03-18-2012, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winterescape View Post

To help put this in perspective please take a look at this chart. I selected a A6-3650 VS a x2-265 but you can compare CPU's and look at the HD encode rate, FPS, and get a good idea of relative performance. I would lean towards the low end of the newer hardware but that is just my opinion...

Therefore, if you like AMD I would consider an AMD A4-3300 up to an A8-3850 depending on desired performance and cost sensitivity. If you would consider an Intel CPU look close at the G530, G620, up to an i3-2100.

I would agree, only...

A4-3300 is $60-$65
A4-3400 is $65-$69
A6-3500 is $67-$79

Fry's will price match internet ads. Microcenter had the A6-3500 Triple Core for $66.99 until the ad change this weekend, but its only $69.99 now. Where New Egg has its for $79.99 free ship (but I pay California Sales Tax) and Fry's sells it for $74.99.

PM to $69.99, save $5 get an extra CPU core and much better GPU core.

When it comes to FM1 boards, the one to get is an A75. Sure you can cheap out, still get HDMI and pay $55 for a AsRock A55 m-ATX broad. But for $59AR you can get a Elite Group A75 board. This is important for me because its full ATX which gives me legacy PCI slots for my 650HD and Cat's Eye 150 HD tuner.

I am trying to squeeze an SSD in there for the OS and keep it under $200AR, discounts and price matches.

This would be a fairly serious update of my HTPC, considering the current rig goes back to the Summer of 2007 after I returned from Europe. I added a HD4670 Winter 2008.

Still works great and I MAY just add a SSD to it only. But I would like to lower my usage and idle wattage a bit and take the discrete GPU out of the mix.

$1 per GB is available with Verbatim 256GB SSD but its also $270...

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post #23 of 29 Old 03-19-2012, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj4monie View Post


I am trying to squeeze an SSD in there for the OS and keep it under $200AR, discounts and price matches.
...

Do you mean under $200 for the SSD plus the MB AND APU???
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post #24 of 29 Old 03-19-2012, 03:13 PM
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Yes!

A6-3500 - $69.99 PM to Microcenter via Fry's Electronics
ECS A75F-A - $59.99AR TigerDirect ($25 MIR)
PNY Xlr8 1600 DDR3 - $26.99 (4GB) Amazon

Comes to $156.97 before taxes and shipping. TigerDirect and Amazon all offer free ground shipping for orders over $25. Both the memory and motherboard reach that threshold.

Current sales tax makes the APU about $76 for about $162 total.

This is why finding out if a 32GB SSD is enough for W7 32-bit is important.

There's a separate thread on that and while it will fit, there seems to be some concern over running Mediabrowser running on a small boot drive, combined with all the security and other updates MS keeps adding.

That leaves $38 towards a boot drive... Now I am already using $84 of my travel budget, but I'll get back $25 of that. Net it would be $63. Buy.com has a OCZ Vertex 64GB for $70 ($69.99) which means spending $8-$9 more for that drive.

That doesn't sound like much, but it is....

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post #25 of 29 Old 03-21-2012, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Update: For some reason I started thinking about my power supply a couple of days ago. I can't remember what got me thinking about it. But anyway, I thought it might be an idea to replace it with my old PS just to see if it affected anything.

Two plus days and my system hasn't frozen once. I have been putting it to sleep at night, waking it in the morning, putting it back to sleep before I got to work.

I'm not going to breathe easy for another couple of days, but it's looking like my problem may have been the PS! I guess it makes sense: put the system to sleep or hibernate, and the PS shuts down too. Perhaps after waking the system the PS would spike or who knows?

I had changed it sometime last year with a higher capacity, low noise PS, but I didn't notice if that's when this issue started or not. Now I'm back to a noisy PS and also a noisy HDMI card (I had a passive cooled card, but it had the 29/59 issue).

Anyway, I'll update this weekend if all goes well (sooner if it was a fluke). Maybe this will help someone else some day. If nothing else I got up to speed on the current CPU/APU thing.
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post #26 of 29 Old 03-21-2012, 08:13 PM
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I thought that might have been your problem. It just hard to say without a checker and the PC physically being here (A+).

I got the A6-3500 today, total was $76.11 I should have jumped on this last week when it was $66 and PM@Fry's because that extra $3 would have left a bit more. I have less than $16 left on what was the BB Gift Card, now a Visa Gift Card.

So I am shopping for fast (1600Hz) memory now. PNY Xlr8 is very good and fairly cheap. Since I use Win 7 32-bit, I only need 4GB, WMC uses 1.5GB while running and that would leave plenty for 1GB buffer for the APU.

I'll have to pull the trigger on that board soon, with the rebate I have to have a purchase date before the end of the month. There some rebates on MSI and Asus boards but I think its only at Fry's.

Finally Fry's has a 32GB SSD for $60.... I can get 60GB for $9 more. We'll see...

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post #27 of 29 Old 03-22-2012, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Newegg has a 60GB SSD for $60, but that's after rebate. Also, I don't really know what to look for in SSD's, so I don't know if this is any good or not.

Were you aware you can schedule an alert for any keyword on Techbargains.com, and whenever something you're looking for gets listed, youi get an email. It's great if you're looking for an item and it's not an emergency.

http://www.techbargains.com/news_dis...ubSource=03/12
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post #28 of 29 Old 03-22-2012, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebo View Post

Newegg has a 60GB SSD for $60, but that's after rebate. Also, I don't really know what to look for in SSD's, so I don't know if this is any good or not.

Were you aware you can schedule an alert for any keyword on Techbargains.com, and whenever something you're looking for gets listed, youi get an email. It's great if you're looking for an item and it's not an emergency.

http://www.techbargains.com/news_dis...ubSource=03/12

Tom's Hardware had a comparison of smaller SSD's and it mainly has to do with controllers. Samsung makes its own, the majority of others use Sandforce.

But in most cases, SSD will perform the same at all times. In some cases however the more they are filled the slower they get. Those are usually the cheapest SSD's.

I don't see that as much of an issue however because smaller drives will be mainly used as boot drive. In the debate I have in the other thread, people are saying 32GB is too small like I'll automatically want to put a ton of programs on it. As I stated there, the HTPC is using a whopping 980MB of Programs.

So if W7 32-bit is about 16GB (Hibernation is not running on the HTPC) and my programs come up to about a Gig, then 17GB, maybe 18GB with SP1 means 32GB is plenty for my application.

However the $60-$70 threshold is full older technology 60-64GB drives, so its better to bigger since prices are roughly the same.

Besides I have a 640GB and two external drives (250 and 500GB) connected too it as well.

A. Thomas -
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post #29 of 29 Old 03-25-2012, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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So to all who may have been staying awake nights worrying about my sleep issues (ha ha), my system has not froze since I replaced my power supply with the original. Yesterday it even woke itself up to record a show, then put itself back to sleep!

It's a little noisy for my tastes, but I'll start researching quiet power supplys. Not an emergency.

Thank you to all who piped in with thoughts and suggestions. At least I'm more up to date on the current state of processors and sockets.
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