Before proceeding to the business end of the review, let us take a look at some power consumption numbers. The G.Skill RAM was set to DDR3 1600 during the measurements. We measured the average power drawn at the wall under different conditions. In the table below, the Blu-ray movie from the optical disk was played using CyberLink PowerDVD 12. The Prime95 + Furmark benchmark was run for 1 hour before any measurements were taken. The MKVs were played back from a NAS attached to the network. The testbed itself was connected to a GbE switch (as was the NAS). In all cases, a wireless keyboard and mouse were connected to the testbed.

Trinity HTPC Power Consumption
Idle 37.2 W
Prime95 + Furmark (Full loading) 172.1 W
Blu-ray from optical drive 93.1 W
Blu-ray ISO from NAS 62.3 W
1080p24 MKV Playback (MPC-HC + QuickSync + EVR-CP) 55.8 W
1080p24 MKV Playback (MPC-HC + QuickSync + madVR) 58.3 W

The Trinity platform ticks all the checkboxes for the mainstream HTPC user. Setting up MPC-HC with LAV Filters was a walk in the park. With good and stable support for DXVA2 APIs in the drivers, even software like XBMC can take advantage of the GPU's capabilities. Essential video processing steps such as chroma upsampling, cadence detection and deinterlacing work beautifully. For advanced users, the GPU is capable of supporting madVR for most usage scenarios even with DDR3-1600 memory in the system (provided DXVA is not used for decoding the video). Ivy Bridge wasn't a slam-dunk in this scenario even with software decode.

Does this signify the end of the road for the discrete HTPC GPU? Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Trinity platform is indeed much better than Llano, and can match / surpass even Ivy Bridge. However, it is not future proof. While AMD will end up pleasing a large HTPC audience with Trinity, there are still a number of areas which AMD seems to have overlooked:

  • Despite the rising popularity of 10-bit H.264 encodes, the GPU doesn't seem to support decoding them in hardware. That said, software decoding of 1080p 10-bit H.264 is not complex enough to overwhelm the A10-5800K (but that may not be true for the lower end CPUs).
  • Full hardware decode of MVC 3D videos is not available. 3D Blu-rays have a slightly greater power penalty as a result. However, 3D is fast becoming an 'also-ran' feature, and we don't really fault Trinity for not having full acceleration.
  • The video industry is pushing 4K and it makes more sense to a lot of people compared to the 3D push. 4K should see a much faster rate of adoption compared to 3D, but Trinity seems to have missed the boat here. AMD's Southern Islands as well as NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs support 4K output over HDMI, but Trinity doesn't have 4K video decode acceleration or 4K display output over HDMI.

Our overall conclusion is that discrete GPUs for HTPC use are only necessary if one has plans to upgrade to 4K in the near term, or the user is set upon using madVR for 1080i60 content. Otherwise, the Trinity platform has everything that a mainstream HTPC user would ever need.

Acceleration for Flash and Silverlight
POST A COMMENT

49 Comments

View All Comments

  • Beenthere - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    There is an appropriate CPU/APU model for every budget these days. Virtually any current model APU/CPU will perform just fine for 98% of consumers. Most consumers buy what fits their needs and budget, not the over priced, over hyped top-of-the-line models.

    AMDs new Trinity APUs and Vishera desktop FX processors offer more performance for less, which is good for consumers.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    We don't know about Vishera, not yet anyway. We don't know what the improvements over Bulldozer will yield as a whole, only what a couple of benchmarks showed in a brief Toms comparison between Trinity and Zambezi. There are plenty of scenarios to consider. Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Yes some of us do know the results... Comparing Trintiy to Vishera is incorrect. Vishera is to be compared to Zambezi.

    AMD has hit their projected 10-15% gains for Vishera compared to Zambezi. Some people already know the results but the NDA doesn't expire for a few weeks so they can't print them yet. Most folks will be happy with Vishera except the haters.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    I'd find it hard to believe you were personally under NDA (please prove me wrong). I also believe the gains were per clock, which should theoretically, given the assumption you stated, result in a slightly larger performance gap between the 8150 and the 8350 as the latter has a higher base clock and is more likely to hit max turbo speed.

    Like I said though, two benchmarks in the public domain aren't gospel, regardless of whether we're comparing Vishera OR Trinity to Zambezi. Remember that L3 cache doesn't always help, but when it does, the gains can be significant, meaning the A10-5800K could occasionally be outperformed by a similarly clocked 41x0 CPU, but the flip side is that it could occasionally perform on par with a similarly clocked 43x0 CPU.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    "AMD was a little late in getting to the CPU - GPU party. Their first endeavour, the Llano APU"
    Aren't Zacate and Ontario APUs? They were released in 01/2011, half a year before Llano. Or aren't you counting low power APUs? :)
    Thanks for the article!
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Mea culpa, didn't read the comments before posting my own. :) Disregard. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    What's the big deal with 4k at THIS moment? There are no 4k tv's out are there? By the time they're out, or by the time they're actually affordable by a decent amount of consumers, we would have several generations of new apu's. Reply
  • Denithor - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    http://www.lg.com/us/tvs/lg-84LM9600-led-tv Reply
  • Allio - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    These HTPC-perspective articles are consistently some of the most useful and interesting content that AT puts up. As far as I can tell, there really aren't any other tech sites that delve this deep into this kind of functionality - most reviews settle for playing a 1080p Bluray and posting a screenshot of the CPU usage in task manager. While it may only be a relatively small audience for who this stuff is relevant, we are a very interested audience, and I personally appreciate every detail and statistic included. Thanks Ganesh! Reply
  • wharris1 - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    At this point, it seems 4k is more marketing hype. I'll link this article: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57491766-221/...
    For the typical anandtech readers (probably much more technically gifted than me) I also recall reading a similar article/post on avsforums explaining that for any display size <~100 inches, the 4k standard is hard to justify. Also, while I know that future proofing is sound, there is very little content or ability to play back said content at that resolution. As a previous poster mentioned, by the time 4k becomes a standard, the current platforms will seem antiquated. Anyway, Anandtech is the best tech site around by far; read it every morning.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now