Finally I succeeded in getting perfectly smooth BD playback and multichannel lossless HDMI audio at the same time without resorting to a discrete graphics
, unlike my previous attempt Any GeForce graphics card + GeForce 8200 HDMI audio work together perfectly!
(so you need only a single HDMI cable for audio and video
). The key point for the success turned out to be using the Phenom
processor. (That's the reason why Bahn Yuki was successful; he uses Phenom X4 9550).Why Phenom?
Phenom (K10) processor is the successor to the Athlon (K8) processor. So far it has not been so successful for various reasons, but there are at least two great advantages over K8 from the viewpoint of HTPC (apart from the increased number of cores):
- K10 processor supports HyperTransport 3.0
which nearly doubles the bandwidth between IGP and system memory. Because of this the performance of IGP greatly increases.
- K10 processor supports split power planes
for its cores and on-die memory controller for more effective power management, allowing the cores and the memory controller to scale power consumption up or down independently, called Enhanced PowerNow!
. That means no stuttering with Cool'n'Quiet on unlike a K8 processor (memory clock does not change suddenly, assuring continuous smooth video processing).Phenom X3 (three cores) vs. Phenom X4 (four cores)
As explained above, the number of cores is not essential. I found three cores are just enough to play back every kind of HD contents (and cheap of course). For example, the CPU usage of X3 2.1GHz was around 70%
when playing back Spider-Man 3 without
hardware acceleration under TotalMedia Theater (which offers the option of HA on/off unlike PowerDVD). Even the dual-core K10 processor (codenamed Kuma
) will be enough for HTPC (with HA on).Test Configuration
- Phenom X3 8450 2.1GHz, ~$150
- abit A-N78HD, $80-$90
- DDR2-800 1GB x 2
- GeForce 8200 integrated graphics
- GeForce driver 175.16
- LG BD drive + 1 x HDD
- Vista SP1 (32-bit or 64-bit, it doesn't matter at all)
- PowerDVD 8 Ultra (build 1622)
- Spider-Man 3, Dolby TrueHD sound trackResults-Video Performance
Video playback is perfectly smooth. The picture quality is equivalent to GeForce 9600 GT (excellent or bad depending on each user
). Hardware acceleration works fine. You don't need AnyDVD HD.
Multichannel LPCM HDMI audio is just excellent.
When playing back BD, the processor mostly runs at 1.05GHz
and 1.04V because of Cool'n'Quiet and hence very cool (~55°C with room temperature 25°C, passively cooled
with Scythe Ninja Mini). The CPU utilization is 30-60%
. All three cores are used effectively by PowerDVD.
- Idle: ~120W
- BD playback: ~150W
It consumes 10W-15W more power than the Low-End II MicroATX System (Intel) in my recommendations thread.Issues
There are a couple of problems yet:
- I don't know why Athlon X2 does not work with PowerDVD. It has enough processing power.
- Windows always sends 7.1 LPCM regardless of the source, hence, for example, Dolby PLIIx does not work in the AV receiver (a problem of the HDMI audio driver).
- Hybrid SLI (with my XFX GeForce 8500 GT card) does not work at least in the abit board. Maybe I should try the ASUS board to see what's going on. But the main purpose of Hybrid SLI in HTPC is to get perfect post-processing
. Using Phenom may negate the necessity of Hybrid SLI, just like AMD 780G chipset (test is needed).