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Best entry-level CPU for WMC/XBMC "Smoothness"?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm new to the HTPC scene, but am super excited to build one to get rid of my stupid cable STB!! This cheap build is meant strictly to replace the Cablebox. I do not rip movies and already have a PS3 for blu-ray capabilities.

With that said, I am looking to build a cheap one based off of the following CPU/GPU's listed below. I tried Googling my questions but the information is too scattered.
  • Pentium 4 G620 (GPU: Intel HD2000)
  • AMD Llano A-3400 (GPU: Radeon 6410D)

Question 1: When it comes to navigating Windows Media Center, XBMC or MediaBrowser, should I be concerned with "menu smoothness" at all if I were to choose one of these CPU's? I know having an SSD makes a huge difference when navigating through WMC/XBMC, but am wondering if the GPU in either scenario will deter this navigation quality.

Question 2: If I go with the Ceton InfiniTV 4, is either CPU going to make the cut? I keep hearing the rule of thumb that for each Tuner, you need a Core. So 4 tuners = Quad-Core?

Question 3: Is there a way to "upscale" Cable TV feeds through Windows Media Center? My provider (Cablevision) provides feeds at 720p/1080i, but would like to explore any potential to upscale the image to 1080p. Frankly, the image is pretty compressed (very pixelated/blocky) so it would be nice to get at least a bump in quality, if possible.

Question 4: I have the wildly popular Panasonic GT25. Is there anything that I should know with regards to deinterlacing or the 23.9/29.9 framerate bugs? Would one CPU's GPU be better for Picture Quality? Perhaps going the Discrete Card route would be best?

P.S. I want to thank Assassin for his HTPC guide! That thing is like the Bible for n00bs!!
post #2 of 11
1)No. Both of those are more then enough with a mechanical hard drive and unless you're running other cpu intensive operations, are quite sufficient for the needs you describe.
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

I'm new to the HTPC scene, but am super excited to build one to get rid of my stupid cable STB!! This cheap build is meant strictly to replace the Cablebox. I do not rip movies and already have a PS3 for blu-ray capabilities.

With that said, I am looking to build a cheap one based off of the following CPU/GPU's listed below. I tried Googling my questions but the information is too scattered.
  • Pentium 4 G620 (GPU: Intel HD2000)
  • AMD Llano A-3400 (GPU: Radeon 6410D)

Question 1: When it comes to navigating Windows Media Center, XBMC or MediaBrowser, should I be concerned with "menu smoothness" at all if I were to choose one of these CPU's? I know having an SSD makes a huge difference when navigating through WMC/XBMC, but am wondering if the GPU in either scenario will deter this navigation quality.

Question 2: If I go with the Ceton InfiniTV 4, is either CPU going to make the cut? I keep hearing the rule of thumb that for each Tuner, you need a Core. So 4 tuners = Quad-Core?

Question 3: Is there a way to "upscale" Cable TV feeds through Windows Media Center? My provider (Cablevision) provides feeds at 720p/1080i, but would like to explore any potential to upscale the image to 1080p. Frankly, the image is pretty compressed (very pixelated/blocky) so it would be nice to get at least a bump in quality, if possible.

Question 4: I have the wildly popular Panasonic GT25. Is there anything that I should know with regards to deinterlacing or the 23.9/29.9 framerate bugs? Would one CPU's GPU be better for Picture Quality? Perhaps going the Discrete Card route would be best?

P.S. I want to thank Assassin for his HTPC guide! That thing is like the Bible for n00bs!!

You are welcome. Glad you like my guides.

1. For menu "Smoothness" I would consider getting a SSD for the OS and XBMC. For the CPU I would recommend the AMD A6 3500, G620 or G530 depending on your budget.

2. If in doubt go with the stronger CPU. From the options above its the G620. Should be able to handle those tuners just fine.

3/4. NVidia has the closest 23.976 right now. I would try the integrated GPU first and add a card if you find anything at all that isn't up to your standards.
post #4 of 11
I have a 5 year old cpu that runs xbmc very smoothly. You will be alright with whatever you pick.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post


Question 2: If I go with the Ceton InfiniTV 4, is either CPU going to make the cut? I keep hearing the rule of thumb that for each Tuner, you need a Core. So 4 tuners = Quad-Core?

I've never seen that rule of thumb & did some searching but could not find anything about it. I looked at AVerMedia's website and found the following.

The dual tuner PCIe AVerTVHD Duet requires an Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz with HT (Hyper-Threading) or Equivalent AMD processor.

The single tuner USB AVerTV Hybrid Volar MAX needs an Intel® Pentium® 4 2.6GHz.

From that limited information it appears a thread or core might be needed for each tuner. Which means if I wanted to use a pair of dual tuner cards then at least an i3 with 4 threads would be needed.

However the Hauppauge website states their dual tuner PCIe WinTV-HVR-2250 requires only a 2.2 GHz P4 or equivalent.

And the single tuner USB WinTV-HVR-850 needs a 2.2 GHz Intel® P4 or 1.8 GHz Centrino or equivalent.

I was planning on using a pair of AverMedia Duet cards with a G620 but am now concerned. Has anyone every tried that configuration?
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

Question 2: If I go with the Ceton InfiniTV 4, is either CPU going to make the cut? I keep hearing the rule of thumb that for each Tuner, you need a Core. So 4 tuners = Quad-Core?

I don't have the Ceton Quad Tuner but there are lots of users on these forums who are using that tuner with a dual core processor. I have previously used a Hauppauge 2250 dual tuner with an E-350 (which is at most half as powerful as the CPUs you are considering) and I never had an issue. When recording HD content the CPU utilization was very low (<10-15%) Most modern tuners perform the encoding so there is very little overhead passed on the the CPU. I think that you'll have no problem using a quad tuner with any of the CPUs you mentioned.
post #7 of 11
I think he is talking about extenders.

Microsoft rec 1 CPU core and 1GB Ram per extender (although some use the i3 2100 just fine with hyperthreading on 3 or more extenders).
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I think he is talking about extenders.

Microsoft rec 1 CPU core and 1GB Ram per extender (although some use the i3 2100 just fine with hyperthreading on 3 or more extenders).

Oh, that did not come through to me in his post as he said it was meant to replace his cablebox (singluar) but you do have a valid point.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I think he is talking about extenders.

Microsoft rec 1 CPU core and 1GB Ram per extender (although some use the i3 2100 just fine with hyperthreading on 3 or more extenders).

Sounds like I need a Quad-Core processor since the Ceton InfiniTV has 4 tuners?
  • Intel i3-2100 (w/ HD2000) -- $125
  • AMD A6-3650 (w/ Radeon 6530D) -- $110
  • AMD A8-3850 (w/ Radeon 6550D) -- $130
Alternatively, since I don't intend to do crazy stuff with this HTPC (e.g. encode video files, etc.), would a cheapie CPU like the Celeron G530 suffice for use with the Ceton 4? It's even a tiny bit cheaper than the Pentium G620 and again, it's a Cable Box replacement.

I've also been reading about HQV Benchmarking & Video Quality. Does this impact viewing Cable TV feeds?

Also, if I decide to throw a Blu-Ray player into this setup, am I correct that HQV shouldn't really impact Blu-Ray picture quality? (And that it really only affects ripped video files?)
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comp625 View Post

Sounds like I need a Quad-Core processor since the Ceton InfiniTV has 4 tuners?
  • Intel i3-2100 (w/ HD2000) -- $125
  • AMD A6-3650 (w/ Radeon 6530D) -- $110
  • AMD A8-3850 (w/ Radeon 6550D) -- $130
Alternatively, since I don't intend to do crazy stuff with this HTPC (e.g. encode video files, etc.), would a cheapie CPU like the Celeron G530 suffice for use with the Ceton 4? It's even a tiny bit cheaper than the Pentium G620 and again, it's a Cable Box replacement.

I've also been reading about HQV Benchmarking & Video Quality. Does this impact viewing Cable TV feeds?

Also, if I decide to throw a Blu-Ray player into this setup, am I correct that HQV shouldn't really impact Blu-Ray picture quality? (And that it really only affects ripped video files?)

No. A tuner is not an extender.

You can use any of those CPUs and be fine.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

No. A tuner is not an extender.

You can use any of those CPUs and be fine.

Ah, I'm sorry. Let me rephrase - I will have 1 extender (either an Xbox 360 or Linksys DMA2100...leaning towards DMA2100 because of lower power usage and lower noise). Sounds like the basic Dual Core Celeron G530 or Pentium G620 would be more than adequate!!
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