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Intel tells us why Core i5 chips are a good fit for HTPCs

by Tarinder Sandhu on 15 January 2010, 10:20

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Intel launched a range of Core i3 and Core i5 chips at the turn of the year for both desktop and mobile machines. Differentiated from previous chips by having the graphics component on the same package as the CPU, they are the harbingers of future designs. AMD will follow this kind of CPU-and-GPU integration approach in 2011.

The graphics portion of the new chips is more than just an afterthought, however, as Intel has beefed up the HD Graphics' multimedia feature-set, which now includes bitstream audio support and an eclectic range of display outputs.

Showing off the new multimedia capabilities that make the new chips a decent fit for HTPCs, Intel demonstrated a Core i5 CPU powering a high-end media center PC from Niveus Media. Take a look at the video for yourself.  

The point here is that Intel finally feels comfortable in pushing its chips as all-in-one solutions for HTPCs. There's no reason why you couldn't obtain very similar functionality with an AMD system based on the 785G chipset, of course, and installing any decent discrete graphics card, space permitting, will also give you a good experience.

The downsides are that Intel chips with HD Graphics start at around £95 and that they're still rather power-hungry when running at full tilt, intimating that OEMs need to design chassis and cooling around the 73W TDP. Have you been swayed by the new Core i3 and Core i5s and contemplated your next HTPC build around them? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the HEXUS.community.

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HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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too expensive for a htpc
Yeah I'm a bit confused there. Playing 1080p .mkv content is hardly the norm for an HTPC, and an i3 would be perfect for that anyway.

The only thing I like to have a quad for is video encoding and very demanding games. What either of those have in common with an HTPC… I don't know.
HEXUS
The downsides are that Intel chips with HD Graphics start at around £95 and that they're still rather power-hungry

Price is one thing, but over at SilentPC review they had the i5-661 (iirc) running at a very low figure. I seem to recall it was something silly like 30w for the entire system. The CPU may have a higher TDP, but that may be just intel playing safe and of course the tdp includes the IGP as well now.

EDIT - just had a quick look - the silent pc figures say DC, so presumably don't include PSU inefficiency. But they do state they are system power figures, and the figures range from 30-45w whilst playing various HD video clips. The idle system figure they give is 18w!!

At full CPU and GPU load on turbo, the system figure does goes up to 70w. Still not what i'd class as power hungry though
I have been considering building a HTPC based on Gigabyte's GA-MA785GMT-UD2H but have been unsure whether to go for the Phenom II X3 705e or Phenom II X2 550

I would pay the extra for the lower wattage of the X3 but these new Intel chips have a TDP which falls midway between my two choices

Has anyone any experience of whether a few watts makes that much of a difference so long as I choose an efficient cooler ?

I would be wary of spending the extra for an i5 chip and (probably) more expensive board if there is not a huge difference in performance required to output 1080p