Clarkdale: The Perfect Home Theater PC

AMD was first to achieve it - the Radeon HD 5000 series support Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA bitstreaming over HDMI. With Clarkdale, Intel is the first to achieve the same with integrated graphics.

If you have a Clarkdale CPU and a H55, H57 or Q57 motherboard, you can bitstream Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-MA over HDMI. Outputting 8-channel LPCM over HDMI is also supported.

I’ve tested it and it just works. Using an Intel supplied build of PowerDVD 9 I had no problems bitstreaming either codec from a variety of BDs. My only complaints actually have to do with the PowerDVD software itself.

The PowerDVD Media Center interface for Windows 7 is much improved over the last time I used it. You can even select to bitstream the high definition audio codecs from within the interface:

The setting doesn’t remember itself unfortunately. There’s no way to always force/prefer the use of TrueHD/DTS-HD MA where available. You always need to select it manually.

It continues to be easier to play pirated/unencrypted Blu-ray content than legitimate content on the PC. While PowerDVD 9 has worked fine for me over the past few months, I have noticed strange behavior if you stop a movie in the middle of its playback and/or exit the MCE interface and attempt to later resume. Sometimes the software won’t recognize that you have a valid HDCP link between your PC and display and you’ll get a black screen instead of actual video output. The only way to recover in this situation is to reboot the whole machine.

Clarkdale is just perfect for an HTPC. You get the benefits of integrated graphics without sacrificing any features at all. It’s taken entirely too long but we now have the ability to have the same functionality from a PC as we get from a set-top Blu-ray player. Err, hooray?

Memory Performance - Not Very Nehalem Intel HD Graphics: A Lot Better
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  • rainman1986 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I'm puzzled by the results for this cpu, I'd have thought it would be close to the 920, but it was much slower than the i3 and i5.

    Did I miss something?
    Reply
  • rainman1986 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Sorry, not the 860, the 870 was slower (but the 860 would have been just a little slower than that!)

    Still, what gives?
    Reply
  • deruberhanyok - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Possible responses:

    "I had no idea it had a retro mode!"

    "So these processors can run Ultima IX acceptably then?"

    "My eyes! The goggles, they do nothing!"

    "Intel HD graphics: bringing extreme video quality to 2001's hottest titles!"

    And so on.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    The Clarkdale Unencrypted score is shown, could you also display the Lynnfield Unencrypted score.

    To use the unencrypted Clarkdale as the control for Lynnfield doesn't seem right since there are differences between the two procs. It would make more sense to compare
    [Lynnfield Encrypted Score]/[Lynnfield Unencrypted Score] to [Clarkdale Encrypted Score]/[Clarkdale Unencrypted Score]

    Thanks,
    vol7ron
    Reply
  • SydneyBlue120d - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Thanks a lot for the great review!

    When You'll be back from CES, I'd like to see a test of:

    - Pentium G9650 (the great absent for the corporate/office world);
    - Flash 10.1 and BR/MKV HTCP with integrated gfx;

    Thanks a lot :-)
    Reply
  • SydneyBlue120d - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Forgot to ask:

    Is the integrated gfx DX 10 or 10.1? Will it support Direct2D?

    Thanks
    Reply
  • ruetheday - Friday, January 08, 2010 - link

    yes to DX10 and Direct2D Reply
  • vol7ron - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Raja,

    Good article. I like how you re-addressed topics that you originally discussed on the opening page, with a more concise statement on the pages that followed. For instance, when talking about the memory on/off die. You gave a decent bit of info on page 1 and then a quick rememberance on page 2.

    --- More will come once I finish reading the artice :) ---

    vol7ron
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    Credit goes to Anand for this piece. I only chimed in on the OC side. :)

    regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I noticed something fishy when it said thanks to Raja for the Mobo suggestion. I guess the article's author threw me off :)

    Great collaboration, regardless.
    Reply

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