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Hello,

I am building a new HTPC and was trying to determine whether I should go with an i3 or i5 (or another CPU even). The reason I am even thinking of a more powerful CPU, is because it will also be a media server and domain controller. While videos may be streaming, I may also be working on it via a second session such using programs such as Photoshop or MKVmerge. I don't want what my administrative work affecting the media. I'm just not sure the necessary power for those tasks. Does anyone have any input?
 

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Photoshop requires a lot of memory and a decent CPU. I don't use MKVmerge, but in general ripping requires a decent chunk of memory and a lot of I/O but isn't a big CPU hog. Basic file serving doesn't need much CPU. Transcoding, either upfront via Handbrake or in real time via Plex requires a lot of CPU.

I regard the Core i3 as a good general purpose server or PC CPU. Move up to the Core i5 if you plan to stress the box with multi-processing or transcoding or just want headroom. Go all the way up to a Core i7 or Xeon if you really plan to hammer it with multiple applications or CPU intensive tasks.

In your case it's hard to tell since you don't describe your media players and transcoding needs. Don't skimp on memory, though, and consider at least an i5 since it seems like you want a lot of flexibility from the box.
 

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Photoshop requires a lot of memory and a decent CPU. I don't use MKVmerge, but in general ripping requires a decent chunk of memory and a lot of I/O but isn't a big CPU hog. Basic file serving doesn't need much CPU. Transcoding, either upfront via Handbrake or in real time via Plex requires a lot of CPU.

I regard the Core i3 as a good general purpose server or PC CPU. Move up to the Core i5 if you plan to stress the box with multi-processing or transcoding or just want headroom. Go all the way up to a Core i7 or Xeon if you really plan to hammer it with multiple applications or CPU intensive tasks.

In your case it's hard to tell since you don't describe your media players and transcoding needs. Don't skimp on memory, though, and consider at least an i5 since it seems like you want a lot of flexibility from the box.
Just get an 8 core AMD cpu and be done with it. AMD always gets a bad rap, but dollar for dollar their your best bet from a money stand point. Way cheaper than an intel chip. Been using AMD chips for years since im not JOE MILLIONAIRE lol.
 

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Photoshop requires a lot of memory and a decent CPU. I don't use MKVmerge, but in general ripping requires a decent chunk of memory and a lot of I/O but isn't a big CPU hog. Basic file serving doesn't need much CPU. Transcoding, either upfront via Handbrake or in real time via Plex requires a lot of CPU.

I regard the Core i3 as a good general purpose server or PC CPU. Move up to the Core i5 if you plan to stress the box with multi-processing or transcoding or just want headroom. Go all the way up to a Core i7 or Xeon if you really plan to hammer it with multiple applications or CPU intensive tasks.

In your case it's hard to tell since you don't describe your media players and transcoding needs. Don't skimp on memory, though, and consider at least an i5 since it seems like you want a lot of flexibility from the box.
Thank you. I will be installing NUCs running KODI throughout my house. Probably about 4-5 max, plus the server itself will be running KODI. Much of my media is true 1080p 5.1 video files. Transcoding will mostly consist of removing additional audio and subtitles from video files with an occasional splitting a video file. I will rarely use Photoshop and if need be, I could use another PC to do so. Right now, based on your opinion (and mine), I am leaning toward an i5.
 

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Just get an 8 core AMD cpu and be done with it. AMD always gets a bad rap, but dollar for dollar their your best bet from a money stand point. Way cheaper than an intel chip. Been using AMD chips for years since im not JOE MILLIONAIRE lol.
That's not really true today. IPCPC for current desktop AMD CPUs v. current desktop Intel CPUs is at a 35% or greater disadvantage. They also pale in comparison in the area of power efficiency. Actual performance for typical users, per dollar, is not served any better by AMD. However you can get more cores for your dollar with AMD. So, if you're doing things that are highly threaded/multi-thread dependent then yeah AMD might make sense.


For example a current i3 (dual-core + HT) will indeed have lesser performance than a current AMD quad-core in doing things like video encoding, but in overall performance an i3 holds it's own against the same CPU, despite being down two cores to the AMD. Plus it's using much less power. Compare the same number of cores (i.e. an i5) and it's game over for AMD before it even started. And, because of HT, comparing a CPU with HT vs AMD (e.g. DC + HT (i3) v. DC AMD or QC + HT (i7) v. QC AMD), Intel still wins handily. AMD CPUs aren't that cheap either.


OTOH if the main use is going to be multi-threading then AMD starts to make a little more sense. That and their APUs have good built-in graphics (though even then it can be argued that for gaming a Pentium + mid level GPU will be similar cost and greater gaming performance). In this particular case it does sound like OP would be well served (pardon the pun) by something like an octo-core AMD. However saying AMD is "better bang for the buck", for the typical PC user, just doesn't hold much water.
 

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However saying AMD is "better bang for the buck", for the typical PC user, just doesn't hold much water.
A gaming system isn't what a typical PC user is going to be using... in fact yo mama is so lame she's a typical PC user. For a typical PC user all they want is something that's cheap yet can do basic functions including web browsing and video streaming, which makes AMD better bang for the buck. Except for the niche markets of Gaming, high-end servers, or ultra-power efficient CPUs there's nothing that Intel really offers a PC user that AMD can't offer cheaper. The typical user isn't overly worried about any of those. And, from what I can tell, neither is the OP. Which makes AMD a good budget choice for him.
 

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If you are going to have multiple htpc clients, why not just do that and have a central file server just for that purpose? I subscribe to the school of A Specific Tool for a Specific Task, that way you don't have to be worry about overpowering something or under power it. In the audio world, this is buying separate components rather than putting all the pressure on one-box-does-all. Buying decisions become easier.
 

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A gaming system isn't what a typical PC user is going to be using... in fact yo mama is so lame she's a typical PC user.
Who was talking about gaming primarily? (Funny part is though, light/lower-res gaming is one of the few legitimate reasons for going with an AMD APU, as mentioned.)

For a typical PC user all they want is something that's cheap yet can do basic functions including web browsing and video streaming, which makes AMD better bang for the buck.
You're living in 5-6 years ago, at best. I'm not going to bother arguing, all this info is out there on every hardware review site you can think of. AMD does not offer better bang for the buck for typical application use anymore. Heck even look on AVS Forum itself. No one recommends AMD anymore, for the most part. Why? Because there is no "bang for the buck" factor anymore. That argument might have held some water in the C2 days, but not anymore. AMD is still using ages-old architecture/design and they had better hope they come up with something new and competitive because Skylake is coming soon with some allegedly remarkable new features.


Except for the niche markets of Gaming, high-end servers, or ultra-power efficient CPUs there's nothing that Intel really offers a PC user that AMD can't offer cheaper. The typical user isn't overly worried about any of those. And, from what I can tell, neither is the OP. Which makes AMD a good budget choice for him.
As they say, ignorance is bliss. The only thing that is not making this bad advice for the OP is that the OP's intent here is not typical use, and multi-core AMD may actually serve him well.
 

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For a typical PC user all they want is something that's cheap yet can do basic functions including web browsing and video streaming, which makes AMD better bang for the buck
nope

You're living in 5-6 years ago, at best. I'm not going to bother arguing, all this info is out there on every hardware review site you can think of. AMD does not offer better bang for the buck for typical application use anymore. Heck even look on AVS Forum itself. No one recommends AMD anymore, for the most part. Why? Because there is no "bang for the buck" factor anymore. That argument might have held some water in the C2 days, but not anymore. AMD is still using ages-old architecture/design and they had better hope they come up with something new and competitive because Skylake is coming soon with some allegedly remarkable new features
+1

The only time people still confusedly assume amd may be better bang for the buck outside of the small niche "light-gaming-on-an-apu" area is when they don't know how low to spec the intel chip they are comparing it with price wise

Basic function only HTPC is still j1900 all day long IMO. AMD can't touch it on idle power/fanless/performance/price combo for basic tasks. AMDs only market where they are relevant right now is desktop GPUs for madvr and coin mining since a couple specific features they include excel in those two areas
 

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The only time people still confusedly assume amd may be better bang for the buck outside of the small niche "light-gaming-on-an-apu" area is when they don't know how low to spec the intel chip they are comparing it with price wise

Basic function only HTPC is still j1900 all day long IMO. AMD can't touch it on idle power/fanless/performance/price combo for basic tasks. AMDs only market where they are relevant right now is desktop GPUs for madvr and coin mining since a couple specific features they include excel in those two areas
Sad thing here is even a lowly J1900 can more or less match dual-core A4 performance. Celeron Ivy Bridge or newer? Good luck with the equivalently priced AMD option. Aside from outliers running heavily multi-threaded applications, the typical user is better off with Intel for general performance.

To be honest, even for light gaming you get better bang for the buck with a Celeron or Pentium Haswell paired with low end discrete GPU than a similarly priced AMD APU platform. Besides, given power and heat considerations, it's not like you can cram them into ultra-SFF builds anyway.
 

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Sad thing here is even a lowly J1900 can more or less match dual-core A4 performance. Celeron Ivy Bridge or newer? Good luck with the equivalently priced AMD option. Aside from outliers running heavily multi-threaded applications, the typical user is better off with Intel for general performance.
Well I mean J1900 is still Atom. I don't think it'll have near the raw compute performance of a dual-core modern AMD CPU. It does have four cores and has QuickSync and takes nearly no power though, so that's definitely a plus. For specific uses (particularly HTPC/video uses) the J1900 will do the job just fine, at low cost, and low power consumption. An A4 on the other hand...it doesn't have much marketing stance/positioning. It's not powerful enough to do be competitive in "real" modern day computing, and it's not cheap enough or power-efficient enough to do the stuff J1900s do perfectly fine.


To be honest, even for light gaming you get better bang for the buck with a Celeron or Pentium Haswell paired with low end discrete GPU than a similarly priced AMD APU platform. Besides, given power and heat considerations, it's not like you can cram them into ultra-SFF builds anyway.
This is the other thing I was talking about. Core-based (not Atom-based) Pentium or Celeron + something like R7 260 or GTX 750 is going to be better than higher-end AMD FM2+ processors, for not much more/similar money. AMD APUs just become a "simpler" solution but at the same time you need DDR3-2133 or higher to really get the proper performance out of the GPU side.


All that said, I'm glad there's others here that are living in 2015 and not 2008, lol. :D


I'm not the kind of person to say, "Hey don't buy AMD CPUs, they are teh suck!" but at the same time the truth is the truth. AMD CPUs just aren't that attractive for most users. AMD's idea has been, for a while, to "just throw in more cores" instead of doing anything to try to compete with Intel's CPUs. This is only of use in some specific instances and does nothing for the overall picture. And even in those "specific instances" it's only outdoing Intel CPUs with half as many cores, while taking more electrical power to do so.


8-core 4Ghz Vishera may cost around $200 with 125W TDP, but when a 4-core 3Ghz Haswell with 84W TDP for not much more offers better overall performance...what's the point? Plus with AMD, where you gonna go from there on the same board/platform? With an mid-range i5 you've got higher clocks and i7 ahead, while AMD's already maxed out. And Vishera is years-old now, unsurprisingly. The irony of some AMD codenames too, lol. They're not Bulldozing, Piledriving, or Steamrolling anything. They probably should have used these names in the Manchester and Toledo days!


It's a sad situation really and I'm really not too happy about it ither. That's exactly why i7s are around $400 and up! i5s in the $250-300 range. If AMD were competitive, these CPUs would be half the price! Unfortunately not the case.
 

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Well I mean J1900 is still Atom. I don't think it'll have near the raw compute performance of a dual-core modern AMD CPU. It does have four cores and has QuickSync and takes nearly no power though, so that's definitely a plus. For specific uses (particularly HTPC/video uses) the J1900 will do the job just fine, at low cost, and low power consumption. An A4 on the other hand...it doesn't have much marketing stance/positioning. It's not powerful enough to do be competitive in "real" modern day computing, and it's not cheap enough or power-efficient enough to do the stuff J1900s do perfectly fine.
Hmm, you're right. I was using AnandTech's Bench tool to make comparisons and I mistakenly assumed the A6-5200 was Trinity. Didn't realize it was Kabini (which actually is comparable to Bay Trail). And here I thought Intel's nomenclature was confusing... :rolleyes:

Unfortunately, it's hard to find reviews/benches for low end parts. Still, I remember at one point, the use of modules in APUs meant a dual-core A4 was slower compared to an older generation Athlon II X2 or Phenom II X2 running at the same clock speed except for some multi-threaded tasks.

PassMark shows the following scores:

Multi-Threaded
J1900 2.0GHz 1928
A4-7300 3.8GHz 2202
G1820 2.7GHz 2872

Single Threaded
J1900 2.0GHz 533
A4-7300 3.8GHz 1379
G1820 2.7GHz 1582

Mind, I do find it disappointing that if not for the A4-7300's high clock speed, Bay Trail actually gets fairly close to Kaveri core for core.

I hear you on the lack of competition. I was expecting to see $100 quad-core i3s and $200 hexa-core i5s at this point in time. And add socketed Kabini to the stuff that don't make sense for desktops. I mean really, performance just edges out Bay Trail by a little bit and that's already with the highest CPU available while total platform cost is similar to H81/B85+Celeron G1820. At least with the latter LGA-1150, you can go all the way up to i7. With AM1 Kabini, you're pretty much stuck at that performance so really, someone explain to me the point of having replaceable CPUs ranging from slow, slower and slowest. :rolleyes:
 

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Thank you. I will be installing NUCs running KODI throughout my house. Probably about 4-5 max, plus the server itself will be running KODI. Much of my media is true 1080p 5.1 video files. Transcoding will mostly consist of removing additional audio and subtitles from video files with an occasional splitting a video file. I will rarely use Photoshop and if need be, I could use another PC to do so. Right now, based on your opinion (and mine), I am leaning toward an i5.
That does not sound like transcoding to me. Transcoding normally refers to converting a digital file on the fly for a client that can only handle limited codecs or bit rates, like a iPad or Plex. There is no need to transcode for a NUC running Kodi. What you are describing sounds like permanent conversion/re-encode. CPU power is very important for transcoding since a underpowered box cannot keep up with real time but for re-encoding is just a question of how much you are willing to pay for how long it will take.
 
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