intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

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jrw
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:22 am

intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by jrw » Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:29 am

So I thought I had better ask the experts!

I have a bit of a question re hardware as I am a bit torn. Let me tell you a bit of a story!

I currently have 2 pc's and 3 laptops for a family of 5:

My wife has her laptop which is the only computer she uses. (AMD A4, 4 gb ram)
My eldest son has a gaming laptop which is all he uses (AMD A10 w/ dual 7850m gpu, 8gb ram)
I have my flight sim rig (intel i5 4670k / 16gb ram / AMD R9 290)
I also have a laptop, which the kids can use (AMD A6 w/ R5 230m, 8gb ram)
There is also a kids pc, which one of the kids use (intel core2duo e6300 / 3gb ram / Nv GTX 260) but it is pretty SLOOOOOOOOW

I happen to know that over the next 6 months to a year the other 2 kids that do not have a personal laptop will be getting a laptop of their own for them to use (and I will buy them something capable of gaming so that is not an issue).

so my question:
I have $250aud to spend for my birthday. initially I thought i would get a NAS to hang off our router, but then I looked at the kids computer and figured I should upgrade that - it will give them a faster computer for the next 6 months, as well as give me a file server / NAS / HTPC (which is something I have wanted to do for years). I might also put steam big picture on it and use it for some simple gaming on the tv, but that wont be a priority for it at all.

I already have HDD, windows 7, dvd/bluray, case and power supply, keyboard, mouse, monitor, and I intend to leave them with the GTX 260 gpu for now, so really just need motherboard, cpu and ram. I have narrowed it down to 4 options:

1.
intel h87m or h97m chipset motherboard like this http://www.umart.com.au/umart1/pro/Prod ... sid=192576 (so I can have raid functions later, plus I want it to have optical out), celeron G1820 cpu, and 8gb 1600 ddr3 ram.
Pro:
in 1-2 years as I upgrade my computer I can put my i5 cpu into the HTPC, which will be a great cpu for a HTPC if paired with a discrete gpu
cheap cpu means I can afford more ram in it now (8gb)
Con: weak CPU for now

2.
AMD motherboard (a88x or 78) like this http://www.gamedude.com.au/prod_show.ph ... 88xi_ac_v2 with a A6-7400K dual core APU and 4gb 1600 ram
Pro:
itx motherboard with wifi and all the boxes ticked
Con:
weak CPU, and may not cut it as a HTPC / NAS later on.
only 4gb ram

3.
AMD motherboard (a88x or 78) with a A8-7600 or A8-7650K quad core cpu and steal 4gb of ddr 1866 from the flight sim rig leaving me with 12gb.
Pro:
Good motherboard and cpu, with the possibility of running it using the iGPU later, or even running it with a cheap AMD graphics card in dual graphics mode.

4.
1151 motherboard, pentium G4400 cpu dual core, 4-8gb ddr4 mem
Pro:
latest chipset / socket
decent cpu for gaming for now, and possibly will do fine for htpc with a discrete graphics card
Con: no easy upgrade path

Considerations:
I could just rely on software raid rather than intel raid (eg I could use windows mirroring for hte file server?
An spdif header on a motherboard means just a $12 spend if and when I need to connect into spdif. or I could just use HDMI anyway.
^^ if the above two hold true, I could buy a cheaper 1150 motherboard, 8gb of memory and put a better cpu in it (eg a dual core pentium instead of celeron) and have some change left over.

Finally, I have to admit I am a bit of an AMD fan. In this case my heart says AMD apu, but my head says intel.

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by washu » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:06 pm

It's not clear, but are you intending to game on this HTPC, or just watch video? If you are not gaming then drop the GTX260, it's not a good card for video decoding as it is missing some full offload for some codecs. It also does not support bitstreaming higher end audio codecs or multi-channel LPCM.

For many tasks even the celeron will beat either of the AMD options. It's still a full haswell chip and has far higher single core performance. It will wipe the floor with the A6-7400K and keep up with the A8-7600 or A8-7650K in anything that isn't perfectly multi threaded.

Don't steal 4 GB from your main system, you'll drop it to single channel mode. However 4 GB is lots for a video only HTPC.

The skylake pentium is an interesting option for future proofing as it supports some HVEC decoding which is likely going to be the standard for 4K.

Windows software RAID is fine for RAID1/mirroring. Do not use it for RAID5, use the Intel RAID if you want that. Do not use storage spaces for anything if you upgrade Windows past 7.

Yes, you can use the SPDIF header to connect to a receiver that supports it. If it is a coax (RCA) connector instead of optical you can just hack a pin header onto an RCA cable. Ugly, but works.

My suggestion is the haswell celeron/pentium for a cheap system or the skylake pentium for future proofing.

jrw
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:22 am

Re: intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by jrw » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:19 pm

Thanks for the reply.
The kids will still be using it for 6 months before I convert it to htpc duties, so the 260 will stay in it till then. It wont be going into that job with the 260 as i will put in a low power/noise card.
When it is a htpc I doubt it will game much if at all but the option would be nice.

I think I want it to be a quad core in the future so it wont have issues being a htpc and transferring files simultaneously. I don't want to buy new parts to make that happen, so mh two real options are and quad or 1150 dual core (and drop my i5 in later).

Abula
Posts: 3628
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Location: Guatemala

Re: intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by Abula » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:21 pm

I would recommend either of two paths

1) Intel Mobo H97 based + Pentium G3258 that you can overclock if you wish, most reach 4.0ghz easily, its a good value cpu.

2) Intel Mobo H170 + Pentium G4500, comes with the latest intel iGPU, still not wont game that great, but if its for HTPC it should do fine. If you are not interested on the iGPU, then go with G4400.

If you want to game i would get a GTX750Ti, its cheap and for popular games does fine.

jrw
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:22 am

Re: intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by jrw » Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:07 am

Thanks for the help. I have decided to go the z97/z87 path with one of the pentium chips (hopefully the 58 if I can fit that in the budget). Upgrading to my i5 at no real cost is just too good an opportunity in the future... maybe I will even downclock my r9 290 so it runs quietly and put that in there. should make a pretty decent living room pc.

EDIT:
Passmark scores compared:
775 e6300 1124 (one being upgraded)
amd 4400m 1627 (wife's laptop)
amd 6310 apu 2372 (my laptop)
amd 5757m 3074 (son's laptop)
1150 4670k 7625 (flightsim rig)

1150 g1820 2836
1150 p3260 3274
1151 g4400 3699
1150 p3258 3993
fm2+ a8-7600 5210
fm2+ x4 860k 5606

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by washu » Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:29 am

jrw wrote:I think I want it to be a quad core in the future so it wont have issues being a htpc and transferring files simultaneously.
Not sure what you are worried about. A file transfer is basically unnoticeable compared to the rest of an HTPCs duties. A dual core won't care at all even during playback.
jrw wrote:r9 290
If you are not gaming why bother with this? It can't decode video any better than the celeron and is actually worse than the Skylake CPUs. It doesn't support HVEC at all.

jrw
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:22 am

Re: intel or amd for htpc upgrade path

Post by jrw » Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:17 pm

If that was in there it would be for gaming (not playback)!

I was simply speculating. The more likely option is a silent gpu, or a near silent one.

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