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The Llano APUs come in 2, 3 and 4 core variants. The table below lists all the retail SKUs available, along with current pricing. Note that the A4-3420 (which was initially OEM only, and was later supposed to debut in a retail model), A6-3600, A6-3620, A8-3800, and the A8-3820 don't seem to be available with any of the first-tier retailers, so we've left them out of the charts.

AMD Llano APU Lineup (Desktop)
APU Cores Frequency
(Turbo)
GPU GPU Config
(Shaders:TMU:ROP
@ Frequency)
Memory
Support
TDP Pricing
A4-3300 2 2.5GHz 6410D 160:8:4 @ 443MHz DDR3-1600 65W $60
A4-3400 2 2.7GHz 6410D 160:8:4 @ 600MHz DDR3-1600 65W $66
A6-3500 3 2.1GHz
(2.4GHz)
6530D 320:16:8 @ 443MHz DDR3-1866 65W $80
A6-3650 4 2.6GHz 6530D 320:16:8 @ 443MHz DDR3-1866 100W $85
A6-3670K 4 2.7GHz 6530D 320:16:8 @ 443MHz (Unlocked) DDR3-1866 100W $105
A8-3850 4 2.9GHz 6550D 400:20:8 @ 600MHz DDR3-1866 100W $110
A8-3870K 4 3.0GHz 6550D 400:20:8 @ 600MHz (Unlocked) DDR3-1866 100W $119

With the choice of available APUs out of the way, it is now time to take a look at the two Fusion Controller Hubs (FCHs) available for Lynx, the Llano desktop platform:

AMD Fusion Controller Hubs for Lynx (Desktop Llano)
Chipset Code Name Unified Media Interface SATA USB 3/2/1.1 TDP
A55 Hudson-D2 x4 Gen 2 + Display Port 6 x 3Gbps 0/14/2 7.6W
A75 Hudson-D3 x4 Gen 2 + Display Port 6 x 6Gbps 4/10/2 7.8W

The three main motherboard form factors of interest to us are (in order of size):

  1. mini-ITX (17cm x 17cm)
  2. micro-ATX (24.4cm x 24.4cm)
  3. ATX (30.5cm x 24.4cm)

Scenarios which don't involve high quality gaming/complex TV tuner systems can make do with mini-ITX motherboards (only one expansion slot). On the other hand, for moderate gaming and/or the installation of capture cards/internal TV tuners, multiple expansion slots such as those in the micro-ATX motherboards might be required. For high end HTPCs that also double up as gaming rigs with cards in CrossFire and/or network DVRs with custom capture cards, ATX motherboards (which have up to seven expansion slots) are necessary.

We're not going to recommend any specific board for each size as being "best", as what qualifies as such will vary from person to person. However, it is worth nothing that the motherboard choice can have wide ranging effects on the overall stability and functionality of a system. If you buy an inexpensive board, it may or may not work with all memory modules, it might lack fine-grained fan control, overclocking features may not be present, and there's even a potential for incompatibilities with certain peripherals and/or SSDs. If any of those items are of particular importance to you, we'd suggest reading up on some of the motherboard reviews to see how the various boards compare. All of the boards listed below should work for a basic HTPC setup, but some are going to be better than others.

The following table gives you an idea of the various mini-ITX motherboards currently available. All boards have a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 expansion slot, 4x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2, and are based on the A75 chipset. All of these are targeted towards small form factor systems suitable for use as HTPCs, as they have both HDMI output as well as optical SPDIF for multi-channel audio.

HTPC Oriented mini-ITX Motherboards for Lynx (Desktop Llano)
Vendor Board Name Memory Slots Misc. Notes Price
ASRock A75M-ITX 2x DDR3 2400+ GbE + 4x USB 3.0 $90
Asus F1A75-I DELUXE 2x DDR3 1866 GbE + 2x USB 3.0 + 1x USB 3.0 Internal Header $140
AzureWave Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
Mini-Remote/Keypad
Gigabyte GA-A75N-USB3 2x DDR3 2000+ RealtekGbE $74
Zotac A75ITX-A-E 2x DDR3 1866 DualGbE $133
802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
6x USB 3.0

Moving on to the micro-ATX configurations, we have a large number of choices. All options have HDMI output with audio. However, not all HTPC setups have a receiver capable of parsing audio over HDMI. In order to experience multi-channel audio in such a scenario, it is necessary to take advantage of the SPDIF output. The table below lists the six boards which satisfy this criteria. If optical SPDIF is not needed, we have many more choices.

HTPC Oriented micro-ATX Motherboards for Lynx (Desktop Llano)
Vendor Board Name Memory Slots PCI Configuration Misc. Notes Price
Asus F1A55-M/CSM 4x DDR3 2250+ 2x PCI-E x16 (x16, x4), 1x PCI-E x1, 1x PCI 6x SATA 3Gbps, 2x USB 3.0 $78
ASRock A75M 2x DDR3 2400+ 1x PCI-E x16, 1x PCI-E x1, 2x PCI 5x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $75
ASRock A75 PRO4-M 4x DDR3 2400+ 2x PCI-E x16 (x16, x4), 2x PCI 5x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $84
Asus F1A75-M PRO 4x DDR3 1866 2x PCI-E x16 (x16, x4), 1x PCI-E x1, 1x PCI 6x SATA 6Gbps $105
ECS A75F-M 4x DDR3 1866 1x PCI-E x16, 1x PCI-E x1, 2x PCI 6x SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0 Headers $80
Gigabyte GA-A75M-D2H 2x DDR3 2400+ 2x PCI-E x16 (x16, x4), 1x PCI-E x1, 1x PCI 6x SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0 Headers $70

For most readers looking to build a Llano-based HTPC, one of the above motherboards should suffice. However, as we mentioned in the last section, users might also want to use their HTPC as a gaming rig; others might want PCI-E/PCI slots for multiple capture cards. A selection of full-sized ATX motherboards for such purposes is provided in the table below. Note that several of the boards also have anywhere from $10 to $30 main-in rebates, and very likely we'll see prices continue to drop as the Q3 launch of Trinity gets closer.

HTPC Oriented ATX Motherboards for Lynx (Desktop Llano)
Vendor Board Name Memory Slots PCI Configuration Misc. Notes Price
ASRock A55 PRO3 4x DDR3 2400+ 2x PCI-E x16, 1x PCI-E x1, 3x PCI 5x SATA 3Gbps, 2x SATA 6Gbps, 2x USB 3.0 $75
ASRock A75 PRO4 4x DDR3 2400+ 2x PCI-E x16 (x16,x4), 2x PCI-E x1, 3x PCI 5x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $80
ASRock A75 Extreme6 4x DDR3 2400+ 3x PCI-E x16(x16/x0 or x8/x8, x4), 1x PCI-E x1, 3x PCI 8x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $95
Asus F1A75-V PRO 4x DDR3 1866 2x PCI-E x16 (x16,x4), 2x PCI-E x1, 3x PCI 7x SATA 6Gbps, 1xeSATA2, 1x DP $116
Asus F1A75-V EVO 4x DDR3 1866 3x PCI-E x16(x16/x0 or x8/x8, x4), 2x PCI-E x1, 2x PCI 7x SATA 6Gbps, 1xeSATA2, 1x DP $130
ECS A75F-A 4xDDR3 2600+ 2x PCI-E x16 (x16,x4), 2x PCI-E x1, 3x PCI 5x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $80
Gigabyte GA-A75-D3H 4x DDR3 1866 2x PCI-E x16 (x16,x4), 2x PCI-E x1, 3x PCI 5x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $90
Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H 4x DDR3 2400+ 2x PCI-E x16 (x16,x8), 3x PCI-E x1, 2x PCI 5x SATA 6Gbps, 1x eSATA2 $105

One thing to keep in mind is that Llano is basically a dead-end platform. AMD's Trinity will use socket FM2, so you won't be able to upgrade to anything faster than what we've currently listed. As noted above, we will also likely see prices drop further in the coming month or two. With the processor and motherboard chosen, let us move on to the other components of the build.

Introduction Memory and Storage Options
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  • lwatcdr - Wednesday, June 06, 2012 - link

    Even if you are going to use your HTPC to record video why have a local harddrive? You just need an SSD to boot from and then you can stream the rest. Now some of those boards would aslo make a good NAS as well.
    For a mini ITX case might I suggest this one that you just reviewed. http://www.anandtech.com/show/5867/bitfenix-prodig...
    And for the CPU sound issue maybe a Corsair Hydro Series HD40 water cooling setup? Just some other options for people to look at. Frankly the new Pogoplug looks like it would do very nicely as a NAS box for not much money as well.
    Reply
  • djfourmoney - Thursday, June 07, 2012 - link

    I don't watch anything on Netflix.... Anyway my system never sees more than 20c and usually around 17c. I just built it so I haven't pushed it really, but I don't expect any problems.

    My external drives are louder than the stock HSF so I don't know what people are talking about. I also have full control over all the fan speeds inside the case, not just the HSF. Internal fans are running around 2000rpm.

    Paired with a SATA III SSD it screams, from pushed on to up and running in 45 second. Most of the delay comes from the start up screen.

    When I first put it together, I went to Can I Run This and found many games I would be interested to play will run on this no problems. Yes you can get a cheap Celeron Sandy Bridge and a $50-$70 video card to do the same thing, but I already has a HD4670. I put that in my mom's machine as I don't need it and it won't Hybrid Crossfire with it anyway. I may for sh*ts and giggles get a HD6670 but I will wait until the 7000 series cards come out so the price will drop.

    Once the HDD prices drop more and closer to 2011 pre-flood levels, I will get rid or at least re-assign my externals to the server and move all its data to another 2 or 3TB drive on my WHS 2011 build.

    I'm pleased with this and its an update of my v1.0 HTPC which was Athlon 64x2 5000+ BE which has some thermal issues now, can't even do video encoding on it without it going thermal and shutting down. Not sure what power draw is but I'm sure its less than that plus the video card with ran off bus power.

    Reply
  • BPB - Thursday, June 07, 2012 - link

    What is your build? Reply
  • Tujan - Friday, June 08, 2012 - link

    Both AMD and INTEL have their own implementation of utilizing the codecs involved with running content for a HTPC. If you look at some of the Anandtech.com benchmarks you'll notice that Intel systems typically render quicker in ''rendering-transcoding'' tests. However cross referencing a 'typical pc system',in that "good enough" scenario is difficult to access.
    Basically you want both "rendering AND transcoding" performance characteristics for your system. Intels system which utilizes the 'hyperthreading',typically in the benchmarks outperforms those in an AMD system.
    In the same situation over time based tests. Perhaps someone at Anandtech.com can elaborate on just how,and what is used between the two different proprietors.
    Believe that however 'good enough',is probably 'any 4 core cpu for either AMD,or Intel. Look at the benchmarks,and choose carefully,since a system will want more that 'doing videos'. The codecs,are for the most part- cpu intensive. While having 'good /fast graphics',is where the Intel juggernaut,differs from the AMD juggernaut.
    Use a fast SSD,4 core processor,with adaquete and implementable graphics - as well as adaquate and implementable 'rendering-transcoding'. Fast DDR3 1600 or better,64 bit operating system that can run the apps you want.

    'Good enough'' is actually a fairly thin range of equipment when your a DIY,and buying your own. As the benchmarks will show.

    Like that wooden case.
    Reply
  • didis - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    Trinity is better in every way Reply
  • drizzo4shizzo - Friday, June 15, 2012 - link

    This is kinda off topic but... maybe someone will chime in anyway and save me a bunch of time or money or both.

    Recently replaced my main desktop and looking to re-use the old one as an HTPC.

    What problems do you fore-see using an old dual core socket 939 Athlon2 3500+ with an NVidia 7600 GT, and a Pinnacle HD PCI capture card receiving over the air HDTV?

    All the components were high end at the time, should last a long time, so it's a shame if it sits idle (ie, Seasonic s12 power supply, asus a8n32 mobo, etc. I am not real worried about power consumption more about performance.

    Plan is to use Myth tv / Ubuntu. Hoping I don't need to shell out for an actual HTPC. This box would record the live TV streams and also sit next to my TV for viewing, and possibly serve the content to other myth boxes.
    Reply

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