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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All, :)


I have recently put a post asking about motherboards for my soon-to-be-bought HTPC, which I will be using for DVD playback and possibly TV recording.


I was given some superb information by AVS Forum member, Bon, about Intel motherboards I could use for a micro-atx case.


However, I was wondering if some forum members can give me some reasons for why an Intel or AMD cpu would produce better results in a system with the following components:


Inwin D500 Micro-ATX case or Lian Li PC-42 Micro-ATX case

Fortissimo II sound card

DVD Drive

ATI radeon 7200 with TV out and DVI

Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 20-40GB HDD

Windows XP Home


PLUS


Intel or AMD CPU

Intel or AMD Motherboard


Thanks to any input.


Brett.
 

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You have all good choices there, including the Fortissimo II sound card and ATI card.


AMD CPU's aren't bad. The problem is the chipset makers they partner with. There are documented problems with PCI bus bandwidth on the VIA chipset boards, and that makes a big difference if you ever want to do video capture or use dScaler. If all you want to do is watch DVD's, either will do fine. However, if you start getting into some more esoteric cards, like off brand TV tuners, or the HiPIX, or an SDI card, it may be safer to stay with Intel. Plus, with Intel you can usually keep a case cooler and therefore quieter - always a plus with an HTPC.


The prices are pretty close these days if you aren't getting the top of the line 2.4Ghz CPU or something crazy. So just get an Intel.


Recommendations on a PIII mobo:

ASUS TUSL2-C or Gigabyte GA-6OXT


Recommendations on PIV mobo:

ASUS P4B266-C or wait for the new 533FSB mobos coming out starting today. Get the i845E chipset, not the i850E.


Robert
 

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For what its worth, there still is a price difference between the two platforms.


If you don't have the money to go with intel the AMD KT266A platform is the way to go.


I'm using the Shuttle AK31A and an AMD 1.4Ghz Thunderbird. (no via patches) (WinXP, Radeon AIW and el-cheapo SB Live! 5.1)


During about 5 months of use I have only experienced 2 crashes/lockups. These crashes were not attributed to the CPU but to a software conflict in dscaler's cable tuning (BSOD).


The system is very stable, my fiance loves playing Unreal Tournament on the big screen and she has not yet had a lockup.


Indeed this system is worthy of being a HTPC. I've almost come to expect a hard lock on my systems after years of AMD use. I'm continually amazed at the stability of the new chipset and will continue to root for the underdog.


Obsidience
 

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What does it use for a southbridge?


I was formerly a very happy AMD/VIA customer. But after upgrading a few components I'm seeing just how nasty the 686B bug is.


I have an AIW Radeon and a MX400 secondary card and the bus simply cannot handle these two cards. I replaced an AIW128 and a generic PCI board because I got digital flat panel monitors that use DVI connections. Ever since then I see data corruption on the hard drive and frequent system lock-ups. I got it reasonably stable by installing the latency patches and moving my HD off of the VIA controller, but it's far from perfect.


On my other system, I cannot do full 640x480 capturing without black lines running through the image because the bus can't handle the bandwidth. I get micro-drop-outs in my Dolby Digital audio (something system bus related again.. both video capture and my DD audio gets messed up if I just move a USB mouse ... A ps/2 mouse is OK).


If these issues were truly resolved I'd be very happy to hear about it. Then I could just buy a replacement board and be done with it. But I'm so gun shy with VIA now that I'm not sure if I should just save up for a solid Intel system.


Both of these systems would be beautiful for everyday, ordinary stuff.


-- Rob
 

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It sounds like you are running a KT133A...


Do yourself a favor and drive a stake into its heart and burn the remains while chanting "good riddance you pos"


I had a KT7A before and feel your pain.


The KT233A's are nothing like its predacessors(sp?). I suggest buying a Shuttle AK31A from pricewatch. They can be had for about $65 now.


Best regards,


Obsidience
 

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Although I have absolutely no experience with microATX cases, an AMD AthlonXP will be harder to cool versus an Intel Northwood. Maybe thoroughbred will change that. Not sure if noise and heat are an issue with your case, but something to consider.
 

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I purchased the Asus P4S533 mobo and I think it's great. I own two Asus athlon boards, as well as a MSI athlon board, and I won't go that route again. I've had nothing but problems with video capture, I was re-installed the 4in1 drivers every other week, and my computer room sounds like a jet engine because of all the cooling on them. The room itself is a nice 87F (rest of the house is about 72F) I started Intel, and I strayed once because the prices were so good on Athlons, I realize now that was a mistake. I picked up the mobo for $110 shipped, and I got a P4 2.0ghz for $200 :)


Dizzy
 

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I have 2 AMD and are happy, in fact they replaced the intell stuff and run faster. Tere has been past problmes with AMD and manfactures putting the chips on crap boards but I think most of that is resolved now. As long as it is a name brand board it is an awesome chipset and cheeper than the intel by a long shot.
 

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I had been using Intel-based systems since 1983, so getting my first Athlon was a bit scary considering stability is my main concern and I had heard horror stories about chipset issues and crashes. Now, 1.5 years later, I've got 3 AMD systems (my old 1.2GHz Athlon, a 1 GHz Duron, and an XP1700), and I've been very happy with all of them. My motherboards are an Asus A7M266 (AMD760 chipset), an ECS K7S5A (SIS735 chipset), and a Soltek SL75DRV4 (Via KT266A chipset. The Soltek board is a marvel of stability, and won't crash with even the most aggressive RAM timings.


Having said all that, I got AMD because they're better price-performance processors for my day-to-day business applications, none of which involve video capture or anything remotely fun. Now that P4s have come down in price, and use DDR RAM, and considering that there's (finally) many really solid P4 boards, my new HTPC will have a P4 in it. They don't need the jet-engine cooling fans, and their failure rate is microscopic. AMD builds a very good chip, but I think Intel's are better for HTPCs.
 

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I currently have 4 AMD based systems (1 Iwill KK266-R w/ Duron 1gig, 1 ECS K7S5A w/ XP1800, 1 ECS K7S5A w/ Duron 1gig, 1 Abit NV7m w/ Duron 1 gig -> HTPC) and I'm very happy with the results.


My HTPC rig is the NV7m Duron combo, with an ATI Radeon 7500, Zoltrix Nightengale soundcard, 256meg 2700DDR, ~160gig HD space (2 drives), AccessDTV and it works great. I have this system in a mATX case, this one

http://directron.com/a102b.html


and I don't have any issues with cooling, sound, or power (only a 200W PSU).


Cheers!


Rich
 

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Hmm...call me boykster or something.


I've got an 1.2Ghz Athlon running on a KK266-R (KT133A) for over a year now and it hasn't given me any problems. I do video capturing and haven't noticed many problems. The only problem I ever heard of with these is that the SB Live didn't work in SOME cases. I had one for a year and it worked fine. Hardly ever crashes.


My HTPC is an Athlon as well (Abit NV7m, nvidia based) and besides running hot in a small, confined case, it works fine too. I've got it in the same case as the above, but direct from the manufacture, Yeong Yang. I got the upgraded PSU @ 230w though.
 

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Namlemez,


Nice setups :p


I actually had ordered my case/mobo before I read your posts re: the board / case combo you built....funny eh?


I love my KK266-R with one exception...I never could get it stable with my XP1800 cpu. I tried all sorts of things (short of "unlocking" the cpu...didn't want to risk surgery on my new cpu) and couldn't get it stable. It would post, run fine, then all of a sudden it would freeze. The cpu runs great in my ECS board, and the KK266 runs great with a Duron, so I just gave up and swapped them :p


On my KK board (with a 1.2 Tbird) I did vid capture, Mpeg2 encoding, Divx encoding, etc with no problems. On my ECS/XP1800+ system now, I do the same stuff (albeit much faster) with not lockups or data loss issues. Very stable in both cases.


Cheers,


Rich
 

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You can argue performance and reliability 'till the cows come home, but one things for sure - AMD Athlon's run hotter than Pentium III's and IV's and so require a more powerful CPU fan. More powerful fan = noisier fan, so if you're interested in the quietest PC possible Intel's definitely the way to go.


AMD is a bargain but aint nothing for free - in the last say two years more people have had compatibility issues with AMD-based chipsets than have had compatibility issues with Intel-based chipsets - there's no denying that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hello again :D


My thanks to everyone for their comments on this debatable topic.


From what I understand, in general, Intel CPUs run much cooler (thus quieter), crash less often and are more compatible with a range of hardware. Also, I gather that AMD is excellent value for money, but if I want to go TV capture in the future, I might have crashing/compatibility issues.


I just have one more question for anyone knowledgeable:


I was told by a friend (and this is paraphrased, because I can't remember the exact technological terms he used) that Intel has one "stream" through which to pass information, while AMD has 2 "streams". Apparently, if the intel CPU experiences a difficulty in an active program, it has to return to the beginning of the stream and start the process again. Conversely, with 2 streams, in the same event of a difficulty, AMD's second stream can continue on from where the first stream failed thereby compensating for the difficulty.


Assuming I were running a DVD and there was a problem, considering the above, wouldn't I get LESS DVD stutter from an AMD CPU than an Intel one, or am I way off the mark, considering that most software DVD players use very little CPU anyway?


Hope someone understands what I just said.


Thanks alot, :)


Brett.


And To shokunin,


Noise and heat is an issue for my system, which is why I'm going to start a new thread on Cases: Aluminium vs other Metals/properties.
 

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Your friend is referring to branch prediction. In order to achieve its high Ghz the P4 uses a very long pipeline (the part of the CPU that processes instructions), it has 20 stages. Each stage does a little work on processing an instruction and each piece of work moves onto the next stage with each tick of the CPU clock.

Modern processors use branch prediction to keep their pipelines full. What this means is the processor takes a guess as to what it thinks will happen next and starts work based on this guess. If it gets it wrong all that work has to be flushed out of the pipeline. With the P4 this means a big hit as the processor sits idle for many clock cycles while flushing the pipeline.


The Athlon has a much shorter pipeline (around half the length) meaning it takes less clock cycles to flush the pipeline when it guesses wrong.


Don´t forget the new .13 micron AMD chips are shipping next month (will run cooler), it may be worth waiting for the first reviews before you order.


Ian
 

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Quote:
in general, Intel CPUs run much cooler (thus quieter),
Something I forgot to mention in the other thread...


There are two types of Pentium 4 CPU's. The "Williamette" and the newer "Northwood." The Williamettes actually put out quite a bit of heat... but the cooler Intel provides is pretty quiet anyway, so if the heat doesn't bother you, a Williamette should be fine.


I'd still recommend going for a Northwood, however. Intel doesn't specifically label them as "Northwood," but you can identify them in either/both of the following ways:

(1) The Northwood's have 512kb L2 cache instead of 256kb.

(2) The low-end Northwoods have "A" on the end of their identifiers, i.e. 1.60A, 1.80A, 2.0A.


The 1.60A and 1.80A are the best-value P4's currently available, and that's what I'd suggest you get. The supply has dried up somewhat here in Australia (and perhaps elsewhere), so many stores will only have the standard (Williamette) 1.60 and 1.80's. However, the A's can still be obtained without too much difficulty.


The advantages are much cooler operation, mildly improved performance at standard clock speeds (due to the extra cache), and greatly improved performance if you overclock (as the Williamettes barely overclock at all).


So if you decide on Intel, try to get a Northwood if you can, but it's not essential (unless you plan to overclock).


-Bon
 

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what is the voltage going to be for the new athlons and will they be pin compatible with current generation chipset motherboards? Any idea at what temps they might run at?
 

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Actually, if anyone here just takes a glance at some of the hardware sites out there, like tomshardware.com, anandtech.com or sharkeyextreme.com, you'll see that really with the Athlon proc, there has been little to no compatibility issues with much of any hardware. There has been an issue about AMD and support for SSE, but that was rectified with the "morgan" core.


Actually you'll see that Intel has had to recall mobos with major probs, as well as a whole slew of CPU's from the P3 series I believe. In the last two years, Intel has had much bigger issues with their P4 and P3 then AMD has ever had with it's Athlon.


Yes they run hotter, but up until maybe a week ago, they were also the more powerful processor. Fullscreen DVD playback without the assisitance of hardware was one of the Athlon's claims to fame.


There are definately cheaply made boards out there, but is on both sides. The ECS K7S5A which uses the SIS chipset for the Athlon/Duron is phenomenally stable! Just check it out on tomshardware.com. I'm doing DVD playback and vidcapture and I have yet to have problems.


Honestly, AMD is still the way to go as far as your best bang for the buck.


There is still a big enough gap between pricing between the two that I would only use a P4 in work based system or company server. Otherwise there is absolutely no need to go with Intel for an HTPC.


There are many ways to silence the noisy fans on an AMD system, just do a search on the web.


Just for your info, this what I'm running in my HTPC/workhorse system:


ECS K7S5A Mobo

256 megs PC133

Hercules Fortissmo2 sound card (this is a great card, and no probs with digital pass through with DTS and DD 5.1)

MSI Gforce 2 mx 400 with tv out 64 megs

Duron 1ghz

Hitach DVD ROM

LG burner

ATI TV wonder for vid capture which is a stand alone capture card on the PCI bus with no probs using DScaler and PVR


I running Win2kPro


I've running this for about 2 weeks or so, no problems at all!


Previously I was running an AMD K62/3D and I experienced little trouble with that system, but it was not being used for HTPC.


I'm a network admin, and all we use is P3/P4 based systems (mostly of the Dell variety) and the only reason we don't use AMD based systems at work is because, my superiors believe there could be a compatibility base issue, even though they have never even ran one at my place of work!


So, if you're concerned about noise, I think it's a small issue, I mean, when I watch my movies, I have it loud enough that I can't hear the person next to me, so I'm not going to here the HTPC at the back of the room!


And issues with compatibility are on both sides of the AMD/Intel fence and it is not a one-sided issue.


My two cents, I don't profess to be an expert!
 
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