Discreet GPU vs APU - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-22-2012, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Just got rid of my WD Live and I am looking to build a box to stream 1080p mkvs. I'm a little confused as to whether a discreet GPU is required to do this or is an APU sufficient? I know I read on Anandtech they don't recommend the APU for decoding HD video as it's not up to the task. My Blu Ray collection is archived in mkv. HD audio retention is also paramount.

I just want more control over what is offered with an off the shelf media streamer.

Thanks for the insights.
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-22-2012, 10:42 AM
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A Sandy Bridge i3 or Pentium, or a Llano A6 are certainly up to the task.

There are an awful lot of people here doing what you want to do.

And if for some reason you're unhappy, you can always add a discrete GPU later in about 10 minutes.
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-22-2012, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by av30 View Post

I know I read on Anandtech they don't recommend the APU for decoding HD video as it's not up to the task.

APUs are meant to decode HD video. Unless you are a very picky viewer, APU is more than enough. If you want a box-size box like the WD Live, APU is the best way to go.
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 05:58 AM
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Agree. I know about AMD APUs...so...they have a HW UVD (universal video decoder) for decode, and a pretty big graphics engine to process and display the pixels. These blocks take little power to do the work. If your video playback SW uses the UVD and GPU, even a small 18w E-350/450 part will play full screen HD just fine, and a bigger Llano is killer. If however your SW is pushing pixels through the CPU, you will always need a bigger, hotter, noisier system. This is partly because that kind of SW will always be moving pixels back and forth between the frame buffer and CPU memory, wasting time and power. In addition the parallel nature of a GPU is designed for processing lots of pixels, whereas pushing pixels one at a time through a CPU means cranking up the clocks. If you're writing SW, look at OpenCL - cross platform GPU/CPU support for parallel pixel processing.

Here's what I do at work - building small AMD APU HTPCs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTz_76z813E
That 65w Llano HTPC is decoding 2 videos (1 stream, 1 BD) and playing a game, all on a 120w supply. And the 18w E-350 computer is built inside a heatsink(!)
Yes, APUs can do the job.
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 02:05 PM
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While not marketed as an "APU" is the fashion of AMD Llano, the Intel Sandy/Ivy Bridge CPUs also have integrated GPUs that will handle 1080p HD video without issue. Like the Llano, they also have the CPU muscle that if GPU acceleration isn't available it can be done in software. You'll find a lot of HTPC success stories here with everything from Intel G530/G620 to A6-3500 to i3-2100 to i5-3570K and beyond.

When it comes to Atom (ION/D2700)/Zacate the complaints you see are when the GPU acceleration isn't working or for other tasks that are CPU dependent not related to video like running Windows or media software.

 

 

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post #6 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

While not marketed as an "APU" is the fashion of AMD Llano, the Intel Sandy/Ivy Bridge CPUs also have integrated GPUs that will handle 1080p HD video without issue. Like the Llano, they also have the CPU muscle that if GPU acceleration isn't available it can be done in software. You'll find a lot of HTPC success stories here with everything from Intel G530/G620 to A6-3500 to i3-2100 to i5-3570K and beyond.
When it comes to Atom (ION/D2700)/Zacate the complaints you see are when the GPU acceleration isn't working or for other tasks that are CPU dependent not related to video like running Windows or media software.

That is sort of where I am stuck. I'm a bit of a videophile and have been playing around with the whole 24fps issue. I know this has been discussed ad nausea on here and other outlets. Do you have a custom refresh rate set on your Llano build?
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by av30 View Post

That is sort of where I am stuck. I'm a bit of a videophile and have been playing around with the whole 24fps issue. I know this has been discussed ad nausea on here and other outlets. Do you have a custom refresh rate set on your Llano build?

I have i3 (Intel HD2000), G620 (Intel HD), G530+HD5450 dGPU, A6-3500 (AMD HD6530) and Zacate (AMD HD6310) HTPCs, none of which I have custom refresh rates for. Whatever the 24p bug is, apparently I am not susceptible to it.

 

 

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post #8 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 04:16 PM
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I'm curious about the use of an HD5450 with the G530 but not with the G620.

I ask because I recently built a G620 HTPC & the OTA HD content seems OK to me. However I've seen some jittering or skipping in some older recorded OTA programs, but I'm guessing it's due to the older source material. But it does make me wonder if a basic video card would make any difference. If the G530 & G620 use the same integrated graphics, what kind of improvements are noticed from using the HD5450?
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I'm curious about the use of an HD5450 with the G530 but not with the G620.
I ask because I recently built a G620 HTPC & the OTA HD content seems OK to me. However I've seen some jittering or skipping in some older recorded OTA programs, but I'm guessing it's due to the older source material. But it does make me wonder if a basic video card would make any difference. If the G530 & G620 use the same integrated graphics, what kind of improvements are noticed from using the HD5450?

First I had an i3-2100 in my downstairs HTPC. I was getting some weird motion artifacts in 1080i sports programming. I assumed it was a deinterlacing issue with the Intel HD graphics so I put in an HD5670 I already had and that cleared it up. I then decided to try the G530 and HD5450 I had from a mini-ITX system test I was doing and it did fine also. I then made the i3-2100 into my office PC and kept the G530+HD5450 as the downstairs PC. I'll probably put the HD5670 back in since the downstairs system is the only micro-ATX system I have. Everything else is mini-ITX and I need the HD5450 for testing again.

end of long winded story.

 

 

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post #10 of 17 Old 08-27-2012, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

While not marketed as an "APU" is the fashion of AMD Llano, the Intel Sandy/Ivy Bridge CPUs also have integrated GPUs that will handle 1080p HD video without issue. Like the Llano, they also have the CPU muscle that if GPU acceleration isn't available it can be done in software. You'll find a lot of HTPC success stories here with everything from Intel G530/G620 to A6-3500 to i3-2100 to i5-3570K and beyond.
When it comes to Atom (ION/D2700)/Zacate the complaints you see are when the GPU acceleration isn't working or for other tasks that are CPU dependent not related to video like running Windows or media software.

Quick note, you should avoid going higher than the A6-3500 Llano because the higher llano's produce to much heat. Can be fixed with an aftermarket heatsink/fan but it just makes more sense to go with the A6-3500.
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

First I had an i3-2100 in my downstairs HTPC. I was getting some weird motion artifacts in 1080i sports programming. I assumed it was a deinterlacing issue with the Intel HD graphics so I put in an HD5670 I already had and that cleared it up. I then decided to try the G530 and HD5450 I had from a mini-ITX system test I was doing and it did fine also. I then made the i3-2100 into my office PC and kept the G530+HD5450 as the downstairs PC. I'll probably put the HD5670 back in since the downstairs system is the only micro-ATX system I have. Everything else is mini-ITX and I need the HD5450 for testing again.
end of long winded story.

Thanks for the reply.

Using MPC-HD all the OTA material has essentially 2 frame rates. One lasts about 15 seconds & then changes to a slower rate for about 5 secs, & then the cycle repeats. However WMC7 shows only the one correct frame rate, except for some older programs. It could be the 59/29 bug I've read about since that appears to be the rates that are displayed. Again this is on older SD content & it's not critical. But it makes me wonder if a cheap video card would help. And maybe a video card would help MPC-HC display a more uniform rate.
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 07:49 AM
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Oh, and now I am building an A8-3800 (also 65W) HTPC to see how that goes. I'd like to have no discrete GPUs in my HTPCs. I was able to get an OEM A8-3800 for the same price as an A6-3500 so why not? smile.gif

 

 

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post #13 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

Thanks for the reply.
Using MPC-HD all the OTA material has essentially 2 frame rates. One lasts about 15 seconds & then changes to a slower rate for about 5 secs, & then the cycle repeats. However WMC7 shows only the one correct frame rate, except for some older programs. It could be the 59/29 bug I've read about since that appears to be the rates that are displayed. Again this is on older SD content & it's not critical. But it makes me wonder if a cheap video card would help. And maybe a video card would help MPC-HC display a more uniform rate.

This article seems to say that it can be solved with a cheap videocard: http://experts.windows.com/w/experts_wiki/71.aspx

Who knows, maybe that was the issue I was seeing with the NBC football broadcasts? I could never describe it correctly but it was very noticeable by all in the room, including me -- combing, weird stuttering but not all the time -- and it went completely away with the HD5670/HD5450.

 

 

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post #14 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

Oh, and now I am building an A8-3800 (also 65W) HTPC to see how that goes. I'd like to have no discrete GPUs in my HTPCs. I was able to get an OEM A8-3800 for the same price as an A6-3500 so why not? smile.gif

Huh, didnt know they A8 are down to 65W now.
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 09:57 AM
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The Llano in my build in post 4 above is also a 65w part. Used the stock fansink, and with normal video the fan runs quiet and slow. Only speeds up for really intense multiple tasks shown in the linked video.
If you have a case with more room, there's lots of Scythe (low profile) and Coolermaster (tall) fansinks with large diameter fans designed to cool 150w CPUs. Strapped on a 75w part that rarely gets to 75w, those large diameter fans run very slow and quiet, as well as keeping the APU temp really low.
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post #16 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm thinking that spending a hundred bucks on a GT 640 and getting an H77/Z77 mobo with an i3 3225 would not kill me budget wise. I'd then get the benefits of both worlds -strong hardware acceleration along with a better CPU than what is in the AMD.

The Core i3 3225 is set to launch on Sept. 3 for 135.00. That CPU also happens to have HD 4000 graphics and sips power (if I wasn't leaning towards high quality madvr rendering I'd forgo the discreet graphics). I've already bought a Silverstone Grandia GD08 enclosure so can put basically whatever size components I want in it. (I'm currently in the states so shipping on Amazon was free.)

Thoughts? Has anyone used Llano with hq madvr rendering? I'm also interested in how HD 4000 handles hardware acceleration.
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-28-2012, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by av30 View Post

I'm thinking that spending a hundred bucks on a GT 640 and getting an H77/Z77 mobo with an i3 3225 would not kill me budget wise. I'd then get the benefits of both worlds -strong hardware acceleration along with a better CPU than what is in the AMD.
The Core i3 3225 is set to launch on Sept. 3 for 135.00. That CPU also happens to have HD 4000 graphics and sips power (if I wasn't leaning towards high quality madvr rendering I'd forgo the discreet graphics). I've already bought a Silverstone Grandia GD08 enclosure so can put basically whatever size components I want in it. (I'm currently in the states so shipping on Amazon was free.)
Thoughts? Has anyone used Llano with hq madvr rendering? I'm also interested in how HD 4000 handles hardware acceleration.

You have already answered the question. That's the best of both worlds, expandable and upgradeable.


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