Originally Posted by Stettin
Since everyone is bragging about hardware in here, I figure I'd chime in and look for a little advice.
I have the opportunity to get a i5-3570k for about $150 after taxes/shipping 2 ways (relative works for Intel). I have a hard time passing it up because it is such a great deal, but wonder if it is overkill for a HTPC. I currently have a core2duo e8400 with an ATI 5670 discreet video. The prob is the board is full ATX. I want to get to a small form factor purpose built case (yet to be determined) and possibly get by with integrated video. I need to bitstream HD audio through TMT5/MPC-HC, do bluray, DVD, MKV, etc, all of which I can do now.
Should I just go with a cheaper pentium or i3 sandy bridge chip, even though they are not much cheaper? Or just go for the big "discount" even though I might end up spending a bit more money? I'm also a bit concerned about heat as the i5 is 77w. I'm also interested in cpu fan recommendations since I hear the stock fan/thermal paste is pretty poor on the boxed processors.
Yes it's overkill, but because all of these tend to run fairly cool, it's not unsuitable other than for price. It's 77w, but that's at full power, and in most actual HTPC use, it won't draw much more than the i3. It does have the HD4000 graphics, but I haven't seen a review of what that actually provides in real world htpc use. The reality is that you will be paying more for likely no real discernable difference in an htpc over using an i3-2100 or i3-2125 (unless you try to transcode some video, and then you will notice a difference). But if the price difference isn't all that much, my natural inclination would be to cast logic aside and get the 3570K, but that's just me.
By the way, if you happen to live within distance of a Micro Center, you can actually get that CPU cheaper than that, because they sell it for $189 but give $50 off a Z77 motherboard if you buy them together, making the effective price $139. (And they're willing to bend those rules. They gave me $50 off an Intel DH77KC with my 3570K (for a desktop, not an HTPC). It cost me $260 for the cpu and motherboard.)
Also, the stock cooler on Sandy and Ivy bridge processors is just fine as long as you're not overclocking.
Actually, if you can wait a little, and assuming he can get comparable discounts on all chips, you might wait on the release of the i3-3225 which will be the HD4000 version of the i3 and will likely be the ideal htpc choice.