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I've been a pretty die-hard Athlon XP fan since they came out. When planning my new HTPC I figured an Athlon XP2500+ would give me the best bang for the buck. I was surprised to find that a Celeron 2.0ghz oc'd to 3.0ghz celeron beat, even a P4 2.4 when it came to encoding (MP3,Divx etc) most of the sites I looked into this issue further at bore out this conclusion. While the cpu lagged behind even an Athlon XP1600+ at 3d stuff (games) and other programs, it seems that in this one small area, it's ideally suited becaue a)it runs very cool normally b) it's easily overclocked c) it's cheap. I just found a 2.3 celeron mobo combo for $99, just a tad bit over what an XP will run me. Unfortunately XP's aren't very OCable (I barely got an extra 50-103MHZ outta my 1900+) and speed seems to be an important issue when it comes to encoding. Since my HTPC will only be carrying out encoding/decoding issues, I think that a celeron might be an ideal cpu. (the article was found at tomshardware.com/cpu/20021016/celeron-07.html....now my only question is will this processor be able to do the other tasks I want my HTPC to do...namely

Deinterlacing/scaqling

Divx/DVD/MPG playback

PVR duties (timeshifting/recording etc.)

and int eh future doing HDTV decoding (I'm getting a HDTV monitor but right now an HDTV card is a bit too expensive)


SO while it may be an ideal cpu for encoding, I need it to do other jobs as well, will it be up to the tasks? (though if I were just buiulding a Divx encoding machine, I think it would be a steal)...I have a lot of experiance OC'ing so I'm not too worried about that...even keeping it cool and quiet won't be too hard a task....
 

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I've been using a Celeron 2.0 for a while now. I run mine overclocked at 2.66 GHz without any stability problem (and that is with the stock cooler, and a fanmate to drive the fan with 5.0V only).


With it I can use Dscaler or do software HDTV decoding (with the Fusion Card). It struggles with full res software HD decoding (but the recommended configuration for this includes, IIRC an AGP 8x card and at least a 2.8G processor with 800MHz bus... and I don't have any of these).


I do use FFdshow for DVDplayback (I don't use the resize filter for now, as this is a little bit too much, but the other filters work fine).


I can play the T2 WMV HD demonstration with only one small glitch: the transition to a scene with a lot of flames at the end of the trailer is not smooth (I haven't seen it played on faster systems, so I don't know if the glitch I see would go away, or what it takes for it to be gone... in my experience flames or rainy scenese are prone to MPEG artefacts)


The way around all of the above limitations is to pair a celeron with a good video card which has MPEG2 hardware decode assist (most Radeon cards are a good choice, even the low end ones).


In summary, while I would love a 3.2G 800Mhz bus system, a Celeron 2.0 is a pretty good HTPC CPU at below $100
 

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Celeron 2.x is perfect for overclockin and audio/video encoding/decoding.

Enc/Dec uses pretty much the very same pieces of code during the process, so 128K cache is good enough.


It is no good whatsoever for 3D and games.


I have one machine with it, and it is amazingly fast compared to full-blown Intel CPU's of 1.6-1.9 Ghz. It is overclocked to 2.88Ghz and it is 40% faster during MPEG2 encoding than Intel 1.7Ghz.
 

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If you plan to get into HD playback like WMP9 files or get into more advanced post processing where it's mostly done in the processor you want to get the processor with as fast of a front side bus and the most cache you can afford. I would suggest given costs that the Athlon 2500+ with the Barton core for the money is still a better buy. Intel P4 and Celeron (essentially a kneecapped P4) processors will always win in encoding type situations but for most other situations you can typically find a cheaper Athlon to do the job.


Don't forget you should be able to overclock that Barton 2500+ too to help gain a bit more poop.
 

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I went with a b-core athlon XP at 1.47Ghz overclocked to 2.4Ghz. The best $50 I have ever spent. It plays 1080p WMV without a problem.
 

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I got a 2500+ barton Athlon XP. I OCed it to 2.2ghz very easily. Some of the newer 2500+ chips from newegg.com are getting up to 2.3 - 2.4ghz. But with OCing it comes down to the luck of the draw.

I would go with a Volcano 12+ with an air duct kit from http://www.casecooler.com/suovairdu.html it gets cool outside air to CPU. It also cuts down noise!


I would also consider the 2700+ XP for a $124. Those seem to overclock very well too.
 
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