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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 4-year-old HTPC has a single-core Athlon 64, 2 GB RAM, NVidia 7300GT. It's sufficient for upconverting DVDs and playing music, but now there is so much free and rental/purchase/subscription content out there in 1080p that I want to access but this hardware is not up to that level. And I'm considering adding a Blu-Ray drive next year.


I'm hoping the sole hardware change of a CPU upgrade to a sufficiently fast Athlon 64x2 will be sufficient to make it capable of handling Blu-Ray and other 1080p content. If I need to upgrade the whole enchilada with a new motherboard + faster CPU + new video card, I'll postpone the upgrade another 6-12 months and buy a whole 'nother PC.


The motherboard has socket AM2 and supports up to 6400+ in the AMD Athlon 64x2 line of dual core processors, but I'd prefer to keep it at 5200+ or 5600+ which are 65 watts instead of 89W or 125W for the faster processors.


So, what do you think... would the 5200+ or 5600+ be enough if that's the only hardware change?
 

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I'm still running a dual-core Athlon 5400+ 65w in one HTPC but I've got a silent GF GT240. I've yet to come across something it doesn't handle with ease, upgraded from a 8600GTS to play 3D BDs for the kids.


While your video card should be fine for DVDs, once you step up to BDs you might want to consider upgrading it. Something that can help accelerate/decode the HD content like the GT430 , so it doesn't tax the CPU as much and you should be fine with the Athlon 64x2.
 

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+1 for GT430 or HD5450. GPU decoding is the best and most efficient method for decoding HD content atm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So it looks like the CPU upgrade alone should be good enough for downloaded or streaming 1080p content, but I'll need a better video card for high-bitrate 1080p stuff like Blu-Ray?


If I get a new video card, it would have to be really cheap, otherwise the total cost of CPU + video card + Blu-Ray drive approaches the point where I'd rather just buy or build a whole new machine.


But since I'm not getting the Blu-Ray drive right now, I'll also forget about the video card for now. By the time I'm ready for it, both the drive and video card would be cheaper.
 

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CPU decoding is almighty in that you don't have to worry that DXVA is working. A dual-core > 2.4GHz should be enough for every kind of HD video including Blu-ray Disc. For example, Athlon II X2 240 or higher .


(Well, an exception is Blu-ray 3D, for which you would want a triple-core if GPU does not support MVC decoding.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/19552720


CPU decoding is almighty in that you don't have to worry that DXVA is working. A dual-core > 2.4GHz should be enough for every kind of HD video including Blu-ray Disc. For example, Athlon II X2 240 or higher .

This motherboard doesn't support Athlon II, but the 64x2 5600+ isn't terribly behind the Athlon II X2 240, according to these benchmarks: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/mid_range_cpus.html
 

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You can get a HD5550 for under $30 this weekend. I was wondering where you'd buy an old AM2-based CPU and thought it might be worth your looking into a BIOS upgrade as well... I have an old mobo and one of the last BIOS they published allowed it to read AM2+ CPUs which (according to the AMD spec) would allow you to use an AM3-based CPU as they are backward compatible with AM2+... like I said, it might be worth mentioning...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
 Motherboard with CPU options


I wonder what the N/A really means for the lists of AM2+ and AM3 CPUs. Does that mean it simply doesn't work, or is it that it works but the mfr. won't support it (just like overclocking works but isn't officially supported)? At the end of the page they seem to suggest that AM3/AM2+ CPUs would work with the motherboard.
 

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Consider that the upgrade cost of a CPU + GPU at the moment will be around a $100 or less with so many deals around. Since you didn't mention a budget and if that seems too much, I don't know what to tell you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/19553978


N/A = not supported.

Yes I saw that, but the question is whether "not supported" really means "it doesn't work" or just "it probably works but you're on your own if anything goes wrong".


Similarly, many hardware items are "not supported" under Linux or Windows 2000 according to the manufacturer, even though they actually work with those operating systems.


Nevertheless, I won't be buying and trying any of those "not supported" CPUs unless I see enough evidence of them actually working with this motherboard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by zzyckz /forum/post/19554990


Consider that the upgrade cost of a CPU + GPU at the moment will be around a $100 or less with so many deals around. Since you didn't mention a budget and if that seems too much, I don't know what to tell you.

$100 would be about what I'm willing to spend for the CPU + GPU.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
How do I know which NVidia cards are capable of sending audio through HDMI? I don't need bitstreaming of HD Audio formats; 16-bit 48KHz 8-channel PCM is fine, but I can't find a list of HDMI-audio-capable cards or chipsets on NVidia's web site or elsewhere, nor does it say it in the specs for each card on vendor's sites.

EDIT: I eventually found this page which has a list of all series of GeForce cards, and then each link brings up a detail page for each chipset which includes the HDMI audio capability. So while there is no master list of HDMI-audible cards, at least I can find out about each card one by one.
 

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All of the Nvidia cards since the 8xxx series pass LPCM audio thru HDMI. Until this new release of the GXT460 and below are able to bitstream HD Audio.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdmi4ever /forum/post/19555060


Yes I saw that, but the question is whether "not supported" really means "it doesn't work" or just "it probably works but you're on your own if anything goes wrong".

"N/A" in this case means that it won't work.

I once installed an unsupported AM2 processor onto an ASUS motherboard, and it would not complete POST. Had to put back the X2 3800+.


Your mobo probably only has a 1000MHz HyperTransport. AM3 and the proper mobo can double or triple that bandwidth. I wouldn't (and don't) spend too money on upgrading a system that is bandwidth limited (compared to more current products).

Regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by zzyckz /forum/post/19560141


All of the Nvidia cards since the 8xxx series pass LPCM audio thru HDMI.

Stereo LPCM, or 8-channel LPCM? The detail pages for the 8000 and 9000 series cards only show "SPDIF", so I figured they can't do any better than stereo LPCM (i.e. the same type of PCM that can be sent over a Toslink or coax SPDIF connector).
 
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