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
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  • Denithor - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Which explains 1600p on 30" monitors, right?

    Granted, most of us don't sit 3-4' from our TV but I know even on my 50" 1080p barely cuts it (text is hard to read sometimes, fuzzy if I zoom in enough to read easily).
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Meaning, setting it to 16-235 means to discard 0-15 and 236-255 and expand the remainder to full RGB.

    Obviously I don't have a Trinity setup so I'm just speculating, but on my HD6400 there is a different parameter on the display configuration section to tweak screen output range - which I set to RGB full range.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    I think you are referring to the pixel format output which is YCbCr 4:4:4 / YCbCr 4:2:2 / RGB Limited / RGB Full

    The dynamic range aspect is orthogonal to the pixel format output over HDMI.

    The screenshot posted is that of a video playing in the background. Sorry if that wasn't clear. I am not sure about AMD's terminology here, but any user setting the dynamic range to 16-235 would expect NOT to see values 0 - 15 and 236 - 255.
    Reply
  • OCedHrt - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Yes I was referring to pixel format output. I use RGB Full. I was under the impression that YCbCr cannot display the ranges 0-15 and 236-255 but I think I might be wrong on this one. It is YV12 / YUY2 colorspaces that lack these ranges.

    And what you're saying about dynamic range is exactly what I'm saying is happening. If you select 16-235, 0-15 and 236-255 from the video is filtered out and the remaining is expanded back to 0-255. Thus a video decoded to YV12 / YUY2 space played on a full range display would have a greyish black or white without selecing 16-235 range. Meaning, the wording on AMD's UI is correct, just the whole idea behind it is confusing.
    Reply
  • superccs - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    Have all of our expectations of their new hardware dropped considerably? I am an AMD fan as much as the rest of you, but it just seems like we are trying so hard to find their stuff useful. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, October 13, 2012 - link

    Good deal, another fanboy zombied out for years by the marketing hatred and hype useful idiots collective has shown a glimmer of light, hope that the slave mind can break free from the dirty chains.

    The new test is this: Would you put up with this crap from any other company or vendor ?

    Reply
  • Hardcore69 - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    - HTPC box: No point. A G540 + GTX 650 if you really want MadVR and 23.976.

    - Office box: No point. A G540 is enough for a basic everyday system

    - Gaming box: No point. A dedicated card is still the answer for 1080p High/Ultra gaming i.e. real PC gaming.

    Well? APU's are rather pointless. All this accelerated media crap, HD 1000 can do that too.
    Reply
  • Medallish - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    - HTPC Box: that's passively cooled: An A10-5700 would work great in there and be a nice upgrade!

    - Office/Workstation Box: GPU acceleration can make a lot of difference, not to mention people have different needs.

    - Gaming Box: For someone who wants to game but don't want to shell out the money needed to get 1080p Ultra graphics, or as I see it, a gaming starter kit.

    Well? APU's have plenty of point if you're not an out of touch Intel fanatic. Also did you even read the review? There was encoding and decoding that the APU did really well.

    btw. I have a passively cooled HTPC, and a Laptop I use for office work, both based on APU's(Currently Llano, the HTPC is getting a Trinity upgrade though.) and I wouldn't want them any other way.
    Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Monday, October 01, 2012 - link

    Passively cooling a 130W box? Really?

    I'd like to see AMD trying a bit harder to keep their power consumption down, because in the end the reason for me to choose an i5-3570K was that like AMD it offered 'enough' GPU power, but at a much lower max power. My computer runs at well under 10W idle and about 75W max (OCCT+Furmark), more like 45W in normal use. I wouldn't be able to get near that kind of power consumption with equally-featured Trinity parts (aside from the lower CPU performance, which isn't really a big deal tbh).

    (by the way, my 5.9W core i5-computer: http://ssj3gohan.tweakblogs.net/blog/8217/fluffy2-...
    Reply
  • Medallish - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    Yup, I've been working on my own little HTPC project(Although not as cool as yours :D). The Streacom FC5-OD is surprisingly good at cooling down even a 100W APU, right now I'm using a 3870k, I'm planning on getting the A10-5700 asap, and the final touch I plan on adding is the 6670, connect it to the opposite cooling ribs, however right now I'm running into a PSU limit, that I plan on countering by getting a slightly better PSU(250W CarPC PSU instead of a 150W picoPSU)

    But yeah despite the slightly higher load, the fact is on idle, and most likely average, AMD have really brought down power consumption with Trinity. But I like your setup, and will probably borrow a few ideas from there.
    Reply

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