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  • Hardcore69 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    A lot of that GPU accelerated DirectX 11.1 stuff is used way more in the Modern UI than the deskto. And where were the power figures for the desktop version of the apps? Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Which apps are you talking about in particular?

    The Netflix app is the only 'Metro-specific' app that we installed. For comparison, we have power figures for Silverlight and Windows 8 too (if that is what you mean by desktop version of the Netflix app).

    Everything else was the desktop version.
    Reply
  • mavere - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Is it possible to analyze where the Windows 8 power savings are coming from? In a couple tests, the benefits were equal to the entire TDP of some systems, and you'd think Microsoft would have advertised that aspect of Win8 more.

    I think I speak for most enthusiasts here when I say that the why and how is often more interesting than the what. :D
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I think a lot of that has to do with avoiding CPU loading (Silverlight), fully functional GPU accelerated decoding (again, not through Slverlight) and possibly DRM is handled through specialized CPU instructions instead of as a Silverlight component.

    The power differences seem to be non-existent in older systems as per other commenters, but, on modern CPUs / GPUs, it is very evident. So, I suspect a lot has to do with the updates made in the CPUs and GPUs in the last couple of years
    Reply
  • Midgetsaw - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    This all very well and good but for me a htpc isn't any good without a tv tuner and windows 8 doesnt actually have media center. you have to contact ms to acquire it which is bs, all you have built is a glorified yt player, which you could have probably done with linux. Reply
  • lotharamious - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Do you have Windows 8 Pro? I'd bet you do.

    Free upgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center until January 31.

    Go here:
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/featu...

    Give them a valid email address and enter the key they give you. Done. Windows 8 with Media Center.

    So difficult to "contact ms", my ass. You just want an excuse to hate. I understand, many are like you.
    Reply
  • Cygni - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Ah yes, finally I can pay to upgrade my OS to a less usable HTPC version, then either jump through hoops (if its the next week and a half )or PAY EXTRA to restore completely un-upgraded functionality that came free with the version I upgraded from.

    Oh thank you Microsoft, you're truly a gleaming light.
    Reply
  • euler007 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I guess free isn't good enough for you. Should they e-mail you a check to earn your anonumous forum support? Reply
  • Golgatha - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    My time spent "upgrading" isn't free. Nor do I wish to experiment with Windows 8 further after already being maddened by it's ridiculous (for the desktop anyway) UI. I did try it for a few days and then I imaged back to my Win7 install. I like it better and all my programs work with it without issue. Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    There are a great many of us who feel your pain. I gave The Consumer Preview a shot and I kinda warmed up to it. The Release Preview ruined that warmth. And and fairness, I gave the retail release a solid month before washing my hands of it. I work for one of the few remaining brick and mortar tech shops in my area and we had a meeting with the owners a couple weeks ago. We were all prepared to tell them that we were unwilling to sell or support Windows 8 any further. To our joy they gave us those very instructions. You should have seen the smiles spreading around the room. And we are not the only ones snubbing 8. Three other shops in this area are doing the same. It was left to me to inform the MS reps of the news. Funny thing, when I did they weren't at all surprised. They didn't argue or try to talk us out of it. They simply said they'd be happy to continue supplying us with 7. I asked one of them why they didn't put up more of an objection. He answer said it all; "You're not the only company to take this position. We know that 8 is not well received or liked". When Microsoft's own reps are talking like that you just KNOW something's wrong. I think I'll leave it at that. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I have no issues with Win8. The desktop experience is virtually no different than the Win7 experience for me, I have no had any program or driver issues and the few things that are changed are for the better (the copy dialogue being the one I love the most).
    I'm not saying you have to like Win8, but I don't see the downsides personally. :)
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    So... you're KNOWINGLY refusing business. I would instantly walk out and never use you or your services again.

    When you're out of a job please return here.
    Reply
  • johnsmith9875 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    As a network admin I was horrified to find out that Server 2012 shares the Window 8 interface.

    As an IT professional I have better things to do than be forced to re-learn how to use Windows Server because they decided to slap the goofy Win8 UI on their server products.
    Reply
  • nikon133 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Having to learn new things is part of MS experience. Refreshing exams and all that.

    All our senior engineers are excited with Server 2012. We do a lot of Hyper-V, and improvements in management, switching between core and GUI (among other things) are considered worth the change.

    It would be great if once learned stuff in IT can serve for whole professional life, but with dynamics IT have, that expectation is a bit optimistic. Being an IT professional means learning one's whole life.
    Reply
  • lotharamious - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    And there it is. People get in to IT because they love using computers, most likely playing games on Windows. I know that's how I got into computers. But decided on a diffferent career path.

    But then you IT guys say to yourself "I already know how Windows works". So when it changes, man are you guys pissed because heaven forbid you actually learn something new.

    I don't buy this "I used it for a few days, hated it, and reinstalled 7" crap. If you seriously can't figure out the Start Screen after a few hours, you can't adapt at all, or (more likely) never tried it and decided to h8 because that's what your buddies do.

    Sure the current metro apps are bad, but the paradigm is solid. Even with mishmashed desktop, it's no different that Windows 7.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    It has nothing to do with "figuring it out". I figured it out, and found that on the desktop, it's a big step backwards in usability.

    In my daily job, I run a dozen apps at once, and switch back and forth rapidly between them. Four web browser windows with ten tabs each. Word. Excel. Outlook. Notepad++. Call handling software. A password safe. Remote support software. A terminal app. And so on.

    Windows 8 doesn't multitask well (as a UI, not the core OS) for what I do, and its multi-monitor setup is lousy. If the interface was an IMPROVEMENT, then I'd be more than willing to see it. While I skipped Vista as an OS, I migrated my whole house to Windows 7 within a month of its release. There is a difference between Win7 and Win8, and after running all of the release previews, I haven't upgraded, even though I have the licensing to do so.
    Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - link

    So long as Win+R is still there I'll manage somehow.
    It's all about the CLI or launching .msc files anyway.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    After using Server 2012 Essentials, I can honestly say it's not the huge deal like Win8 is.

    How often are you using Server as a multitasking OS, that is, running multiple apps on dual monitors, etc.? Server 2012 Essentials starts at the desktop, and stays there unless you click for the start screen; since you probably only have a dozen apps you use tops, you can have them pinned to the Taskbar or on the desktop and never worry about it again.

    I dislike Win8 on the desktop, but Server 2012 works fine, and I haven't found the UI to be a pain as usage is different.
    Reply
  • dobdo99 - Saturday, June 14, 2014 - link

    Ah, sane old Microsoft arguments, the exact same issues I commented on for windows 3 and 3.1 and 3.11. Corps don't change, or very rarely, best to suck it up and stick to an OS that works "Linux", its supported way better than windoze anyhow. stop beating yourselves up. Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Quote "You just want an excuse to hate."

    Nope you got it wrong. Windows 7 is like XP, almost universally loved. I don't know anyone who doesn't like or respect 7. However, I only know ONE person who like 8. 8 Offers few REAL advantages to 7. But it does offer a lot of headaches, annoyances and inconveniences. Not to mention it's ugly as hell to look at. Windows 8 is a fail for oh so many reasons.

    I think this sentiment sums it up for many; Why should we PAY to downgrade our OS to something as loathsome as Windows 8? Why should we PAY to make our computing experience more difficult and less enjoyable? Eh? Why?
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    It's hardly difficult to use Windows 8! Heck a few of the ladies in work purchased laptops for their kids over xmas with Windows 8 and they're having no issues.... WHy are you??? Makes no sense at all Reply
  • lotharamious - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    No real useful advantages. But, it's $40. Oh yeah, and new task manager, new file copy dialog, storage spaces, data deduplication, WAY less naggy updates, fast boot (way faster than 7), extra dimension in your start menu for more stuff.

    Nothing at all.
    Reply
  • ol1bit - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    My Win 7 HTPC works just fine with my network streaming Silcon Dust dual tuner.

    I rebuilt by gaming PC with Windows 8 and after a week I couldn't take it anymore, re-installed Win7-64bit.

    -Stupid UI
    -Dumbed down for Grandpa and Grandma
    - Stupid colors in office (aka none per se)
    - COD4 and older games don't work.

    Win7 has none of these issues, so if the only benefit I get is a netflix app that uses a tad less power, and a crappy UI forget it.
    Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - link

    "Fast boot" is fast because it changes normal shutdown to "hibernate".

    If you force the OS to do a proper reboot, there's no improvement over 7.
    Reply
  • justniz - Monday, February 11, 2013 - link

    Actually you can do a lot more with Linux than just surf YT. Check out MythTV. It is a VERY capable PVR/HTPC suite.
    In my opinion, much better than any product available for windows, and free too.
    Reply
  • SantaAna12 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Aii yii yii!

    No I dont have Windows Pro 8.....pay up!
    Reply
  • a2f - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Is there any way we could get a look at how you have configured the various settings for the LAV filters and madVR for our own personal testing? Reply
  • Mangix - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    in regards to the refresh rate issue, which i am not too familiar with, have you tried modifying the EDID in the registry to help fix it?

    link: http://www.monitortests.com/forum/Thread-Custom-Re...
    Reply
  • dubya911 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    How do the final capabilities of this compare to the plethora of android mini PCs floating around? Things like the MK802, G-Box etc seem to have a beta version of XBMC with network storage support now. Or if you want to move upscale a bit googleTV, Roku etc?

    Other than the fun of putting it together is there an upside? My napkin math puts this build north of $600. That is a lot of delta to make up.
    Reply
  • edlee - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    You are absolutely right.

    I have a set up One Raid -5 Xeon E2-1235 file server with a bunch of different DLNA servers programs to work with different client devices.

    for example:

    PS3 media server for my PS3
    Servio for my Sony blu-ray players and smart tv devices
    Plex for my roku
    Qloud Media server for my android clients

    This way I dont have to setup an expensive HTPC in every watching location, and the Xeon e2-1235 is comparable to i7-2600 so it has all the processing power to handle video transcoding in software, until these apps update their encode engine to take advantage of quick sync.
    Reply
  • BReal - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    In every test I still wonder about how Linux/Ubuntu (insert random distro) will preform these task...how would a linux setup do it's job? :) Reply
  • Gigaplex - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    It's usually pretty good with the proprietary NVIDIA drivers. Other platforms, not so much, you're generally better off with Windows in terms of performance. Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Pretty good with the Intel Mesa drivers too, VA-API is quite well supported now, especially in XBMC. Reply
  • Fx1 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Home Theatre PC? LOL

    My Panasonic GT50 will play MKV ripped full 45gb Blu rays right off a HDD without problem

    i have netflix and a ton of other video stuff right on the TV.

    I fail to see why you would spend any money on a HTPC any more.
    Reply
  • Bob Todd - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Your Plasma TV has built in CableCard tuners and terabytes of storage for DVR duty? CableCard leases are usually ~$2 a month vs. ~$10-20 a month for DVRs from your cable company. It's easy to have 8+ HD tuners with basically limitless storage with WMC. HTPCs can be a lot more than glorified media streamers, and your TV doesn't come anywhere close to fulfilling all of the use cases a HTPC can. Reply
  • Fx1 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    For a start the UK doesnt suffer your cable company issues. We have 2 providers that are not that expensive and include DVR for FREE. Plus you can connect a 2TB HDD to the TV and play Blu ray rips and record like a DVR on the same drive. God knows why you would want to store all those TV shows anyway they are pretty much on every torrent website anyway. Quite frankly a HTPC in this era just isnt worth the money. No matter how you spin it Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Problems start cropping up when the decoder in your GT50 refuses to play the MKV off the torrent site.

    I bet your GT50 doesn't do HD audio bitstreaming, and I am pretty sure the online experience (quick check up of something on the browser or automatic metadata downloading) doesn't work out to be the same as that of a HTPC.

    Even without using tuners, I would recommend going the HTPC route if you can afford it.
    Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I just recently ran into the problem where my Samsung TV would play some, but not all MKVs I've downloaded. Plus, the interface for playing video files on a NAS is terrible on all devices. Pretty much any app is better. UI, metadata, and remembering how much of a video you played is just as important as being able to watch a video. Reply
  • Bob Todd - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    DVRs usually aren't really "free", they just increase the package price to compensate. My HTPC has already paid for itself and is now saving me money every single month. That isn't "spin", it's just a fact. And your entire post is ludicrous considering you are pointing out geographical differences and that your situation doesn't match everyone else's, then turn around and say nobody has a reason to have a HTPC. Your provider gives as many DVRs as you want for free? Here some providers include one "for free" but the package is really another ~$20 a month vs. leasing a CableCard. And every 2nd/3rd/4th DVR or STB you need is more money out the window every single month. It cracks me up how myopic people like you can be and how you think your single use case applies to everyone on the planet. Reply
  • Fx1 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Our 1TB DVR is free and quite honestly not that much of a big deal. There must be some weird American obsession with recording tv shows that the rest of the world doesn't share. To build a pc for the sole purpose is pretty extreme.

    Also I have yet to have an mkv that won't play on the Panasonic tv. I was surprised myself but really this review just shows how a htpc is just an excuse to build a pc
    Reply
  • philipma1957 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    WELL I don't think that I am obsessed.
    I record Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon , Craig Ferguson and I record Saturday Night Live. That is about 21.5 hours of tv a week. Now Sometimes they are repeats and sometimes they are lousy . So I don't watch 21.5 hours each week. They also run at 1130 pm to 130 am and they compete for time.

    The bottom line is I need 2 tuners and 2 dvrs to do this. Why is that> I use 100 percent free tv with an antenna. So my cost is that of a pair of mac minis and a pair of eyetv tuners.

    Watching these via the net results in poor quality video due to my net connection . No matter what I would pay for a net connection the best is that of optimum online 15 down 2 up speed . Now if I buy the cheapest cablevision for tv my 50 dollar net fee bundles with cable tv basic . I go to 64 plus 6 for each box is 76 plus 6 for each dvd is 88. So to be able to time manage my tv via cable it is 38 a month. vs 0 I have had some type of dvd/vcr for 20 years do the math. more then 9000 saved.
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You're describing a media server there mate, not an HTPC. We're about at the point now where an HTPC needs to be nothing but a cheap networked ARM box. Reply
  • truprecht - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Raspberry Pi? Not quite there yet... maybe next gen. Reply
  • The12pAc - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Was SOOO close to getting on last weekend, just to mess around with..... Cool idea. Reply
  • Golgatha - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Not to mention Cinavia will eventually make your ripped media streaming life a living hell Fx1. Enjoy not being able to tinker with the hardware and software. Also, good luck getting updates for all those apps once Panasonic exits the market. Microsoft and open source programs; not going out of the market anytime soon. Reply
  • Fx1 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    No Cinavia on Panasonic. I am literally playing Blu rays off a HDD. Reply
  • dcaxax - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    A) The scaling capabilities of your TV are what they are. I'm sure they're quite OK and I'm sure they don't come close to MadVR, but of course if youre happy that's all that counts.\

    B) Your TV doesn't manage and play all your media including your m4a's, Flac CD Rips etc, and if it does I'm sure the quality is awful unless iof it bitstreams which is unlikely.

    C) It also doesn't play any non-typical audio/video formats. Maybe you don't care about that but others do.

    D) Your TV may or may not show you your photos or give you skype or any bunch of other things that an HTPC does.

    E) Others have made the point about DVR capabilities better.

    F) Regardless of any of the above the UI on your TV doesn't come close to XBMC which itself doesn't come close to MediaBrowser (WMC plug-in)

    HTPC's were never about playing pirated content. They are intended to provide a single hub for all digital content.
    The fact that you are happy with your TV doing that for you, means that you have no need not bother with articles like this. Or indeed post on them.
    Reply
  • Fx1 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    The TV has a dual core ARM CPU which seems to get the job done and the best 2D image money can buy. I really only try and use HD content.

    When i download my content i have enough choice between x264 Divx and other popular formats. If i really need to use an odd format any Phone or laptop or PC can stream directly to the TV via DNLA and realtime encode.

    Skype, Youtube Netflix and other stuff is baked right into the TV with even a store to buy games.

    My Galaxy S3 can use an app to share video pictures and Web pages direct to the TV and the TV can use these features without the phone too. I can play a HD movie directly off my phone in 2 clicks with the picture being perfectly good as i had used the HDD.

    Im sure you can find stuff that i cant do that you can do on a HTPC but lets face it the costs are adding up and for what?
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Kind of agree with you there. I used to know quite a few folks that ran HTPC boxes but over the past few years they have all got rid of them and just switched to off the shelf options instead.

    I even had a go back in the day but more trouble than it was worth.

    This is UK based too.
    Reply
  • WeaselITB - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    How do you watch independent or third-party shows on websites NOT on YouTube or Netflix? PBS documentaries, indy web-original content, etc.

    You state that you use a phone/laptop/PC to stream via DNLA ... well, then what's the point of your super-TV when you can have a dumb TV and an HTPC and accomplish everything without needing to stream off another box? If a vast majority of the online content you watch is via Netflix/YouTube, then sure, I'll bet that the super-TV works great. If it isn't (as is my case), then a separate HTPC is the better bet.

    -Weasel
    Reply
  • dcaxax - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Also, not everyone has a super smart TV. I have a 55" Sony series 9 (hx923). It's one of the best TVs money can buy (especially for may visual tastes), but it's smart platform sucks.

    I don't like to depend on a dumb machine which is what I consider TV's for things I can do 10 times better on a PC. and I've not seen a single "smart tv" platform that didn't suck monkey balls as far as usability, speed and interface design...
    Reply
  • Fx1 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I can watch any kind of video i like. Even embedded videos in a web browser. Easy way is to go to the website on my phone and then hit one button and within 2 seconds its playing on the TV. I download All the TV i want to watch from torrents. with Netflix and Sky TV im pretty much covered Reply
  • Touche - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    First of all, it's a fully functional PC vs extremely limited TV/small media player. That right there is difference enough. Media, gaming, productivity, limitless customization...

    As for media capabilities, there is no match for things HTPC players, renderers, filters, codecs...provide regarding compatibility, picture quality, filtering, smoothness, per file refresh matching/switching, library organization, future proofing...
    Reply
  • Fx1 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    The only real difference is price. You pay serious money for stuff thats actually not relevant. Im playing blu ray quality 50gb movies with DTS HD sound in 1080p. You cant get any better than that!. Upscaling is a joke. you cant polish a turd. Its still crap quality video and its always going to look crap. You dont need a PC to work that out. Also upscaling is as good as it gets on a panasonic TV. Your PC might have good software but it wont beat the dedicated hardware built into a TV. Its a bit stupid to build a PC to watch standard Def. its like a 4k gaming PC to play diablo 2.

    Quite honestly my Macbook Pro would be more capable and powerful than any of your HTPC's and i can take the Mac out the house when i need to. Dedicated HTPC really is just a hobby and excuse to build a PC.
    Reply
  • Touche - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Yes, you can. Chroma upsampling, per source refresh matching, playback-refresh perfect sync... LOL on the TV hardware vs PC software.

    Tell the majority of the world how improving SD as much as possible is stupid.

    I don't get the Macbook joke. At least I hope it's a joke.

    I'll get back to PC gaming on my living room tv now. I guess Macbook and Panasonic can do that better too.
    Reply
  • Fx1 - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    Sorry you lost all credibility when you told me that you play games with a PC on your TV.

    This is 2013 and Standard def has no place in my home or even my PHONE!.

    You do realise that a Macbook Pro has a i7 CPU and a 650M GT GPU inside? You can also install Windows and basically you dont need a separate box to do the things you claim you need to do.

    How long do you think its going to be until there is wireless display tech? then your HTPC is doomed. Because people can just use their normal PC or Laptop to do basically what you spent all that money building a dedicated device for.
    Reply
  • Touche - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    Thank you captain obvious, I would never have realized that things will be somewhat different once wireless display tech gets improved.

    You do realize that your Macbook essentially becomes a HTPC when you hook it up to the TV? The very same thing you're dissing, though more expensive and limited.

    Also, it is nice of you to selectively disregard advantages even your limited usage scenario would see, and concentrate on dissing anything not of use to you or not up to your "2013" standard (what a lousy teenage girl thing to say, btw).

    I hope you can grasp the idea that many people have usage scenarios you don't, and have a great need and benefit from HTPC.
    Reply
  • Touche - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    Oh, and as for the Macbook, it needs Windows to be as useful and capable as HTPC, at which point you're better of with a much cheaper laptop. And even then, as many HTPCs are doing something 24/7, or while you're away etc., it makes no sense to use a laptop. Hence the joke.

    Yes, yes, YOU don't need anything that doesn't come with MacOS, and YOU don't use anything HTPC related, or use it more than X hours a week, and YOU don't...so it's all just useless and nobody should have it.
    Reply
  • Fx1 - Thursday, January 24, 2013 - link

    First of all a HTPC is basically an underpowered limited use box sitting under your TV. This is the point. Just about every other device now does what a HTPC does without actually having to have a separate PC. A Laptop a home desktop a phone, tablet or smart TV will do 95% a dedicated HTPC will do 95% as good. They really are going to go the way of the dodo. Extinct Reply
  • eXces - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    i would definitely pick Mediaportal over XBMC or jriver Reply
  • clarkn0va - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Mediaportal (I hadn't heard of it until your post) seems to really play up the fact that it's "free" and "open source" on their web site, and yet it only runs on a non-free OS. XBMC, meanwhile, runs great on Linux.

    Of course not everyone cares about software freedom, but some of us certainly do, which is why I'm sticking with XBMC for now.
    Reply
  • guidryp - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    " I would strongly suggest HTPC users relying on WMC (irrespective of the OS) to move on to other platforms."

    What other platforms.

    The only reason anyone I know uses WMC is for recording with a Tuner. I have an HTPC and I use it for this reason alone.

    There really is no free alternative for EPG based Tuner recording.

    I see ZERO reason to consider Windows8. Win7 Home Premium comes with WMC and if you actually need WMC this is the sane choice while it is available.
    Reply
  • Bob Todd - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Very true about zero competition for people who use this for TV/DVR purposes (including me). It's probably worth posting this again even though someone else already brought it up.

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/featu...

    If anyone thinks they may ever want to run a HTPC on Windows 8 you can get yourself a free WMC key until the end of the month. Doesn't hurt to grab one and stash it away just in case.
    Reply
  • guidryp - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    It is not free.

    First you need Windows 8, if you are not already there.

    You also need Win8 PRO, which is more expensive than Win7 Home Premium.

    Stick with win7.
    Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I bought windows 8 pro over the weekend for $39.99.

    Yes it is windows 8 pro not just windows 8.
    Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I bought it from Microsoft site, no special deal, no discount site, no special coupon.
    Just bought it from Microsoft official site for $39.99 with no tax.
    Reply
  • guidryp - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    But that is an Upgrade price.

    So you are paying the price of Windows 7 + $40.

    So obviously it is $40 more than Windows 7.
    Reply
  • lummoz - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    As mentioned before MediaPortal is a free (open source) alternative that allows for EPG based TV tuner recording while being a lot more flexible than WMC. It was originally forked from XBMC so it looks pretty fantastic as well.

    http://www.team-mediaportal.com/
    Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Doesn't support CableCard. Reply
  • guidryp - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I tried MediaPortal and it's TV-Tuner recording is a MESS.

    I had better luck getting MythTV working under Linux. Pulling EPG from the DVB info worked in MythTV, but never really got it working in MediaPortal. Not that it is all that useful for guide recording anyway.

    So I still maintain there is no credible EPG-Tuner recording software to WMC.
    Reply
  • HighTech4US - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Agree, I see no other overall complete platform that would be better (or even equal) for a 4-OTA Tuner DVR with unlimited storage (only limited by disk size) with free EPG that Windows 7 Media Center provides.

    And by tricking out 7MC with MediaBrowser, MediaControl, SHARK007 Codecs I have a complete on demand system that can play any type of media.

    I use MediaCenterMaster to get program meta information, backdrops and thumbnails for MediaBrowser.

    I also use MakeMKV to rip my DVD's and VideoReDo TVSuite h.264 to edit recorded TV shows and convert them to H.264 MKV's.

    Oh and 7MC can show your digital pictures as a slide show on your big screen with background music.

    I also love the screen saver where it shows random pictures from your picture library then zooms to one (or more) from a folder. When I first got this enabled the wife spent 45 minutes just watching the screen saver.
    Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Agreed, WMC is only EPG based Tuner app that can correctly use Freeview HD DVB-T2 Tuners in the UK, there are no other usable HTPC alternatives. Reply
  • psuedonymous - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Question: why was the obsolete 2-pass method used instead of the faster (and more common) CRF? Was the encoding benchmark intended as an artificial CPU-stressing benchmark rather than a 'real world' encoding benchmark? Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Hmm.. that is what Graysky's benchmark does, and it keeps the setting consistent across different systems when you want to see how much better or worse your system is, when compared to someone else's.

    FWIW, pass 1 stresses the memory subsystem, while pass 2 stresses the CPU.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the info. I was looking at the FAQ hosted by TechARP here: http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=442&... ;

    Also, look at Ian's test with various memory speeds here using the same processor (last section on this page):

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6372/memory-performa...

    There is definitely an impact on pass 1 performance using different memory speeds and the impact is more than on pass 2.
    Reply
  • Iketh - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Why is Prime95 v25.9 used? That is grossly outdated. The latest official 27.7 is needed to tax Ivy Bridge with AVX instructions. All those temps and watts you got will increase significantly. Please revise your Prime95. An oversight like this is unacceptable.

    Not to mention the latest Intel compilers have been implementing AVX instructions for like 6+ months now even if the programmer didn't specifically write for it. AND Handbrake has been using AVX in about that same timeframe and is only increasing.....
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    I will definitely do some experiments with the new Prime95 and report back. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I repeated the CPU loading with the latest Prime95 (v27.7):

    http://i.imgur.com/lK0zqjR.png

    The readings didn't go up significantly, but, yes, there is an increase. The power consumption at the wall increased from 58.25 to 62.56 W.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, and we will make sure future reviews use the updated Prime95.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Oh, but, with full GPU and CPU loading (using Furmark 1.10.3 - latest), the power at the wall is only 89.77 W (compared to 88.75 W earlier). The ~40 W / ~15W TDP distribution between the CPU and the GPU still remains the same.

    http://i.imgur.com/soCGAyk.jpg

    I don't expect the steady state temperatures to be that different because the power increase at the wall is only 1 W.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Yes, the scaling algorithms affect the performance a lot.

    That is why I mentioned that we used the default settings: Bicubic with sharpness 75 for chroma (no anti-ringing filter), Lanczos 3-tap for image upscaling / Catmull-Rom for image downscaling (no anti-ringing filter or linear light scaling),

    We will look at other scaling algorithms and their performance on the HD 4000 / GT 640 / AMD 7750 in the third part of the HTPC series.

    Also, a note that if you are using HD 4000 (or any other Intel HD Graphics), I would strongly suggest looking at DXVA Scaling. Users might be surprised at the quality delivered without taxing the GPU too much.
    Reply
  • zlandar - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    This is a ridiculous amount of hardware to play Blu-Ray and stream Youtube and Netflix. The Core2Duo system posted by another Anandtech writer would be more than adequate to handle any of the listed activities:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6670/dragging-core2d...

    "I would strongly suggest HTPC users relying on WMC (irrespective of the OS) to move on to other platforms."

    As other posters have already remarked how the hell are you supposed to watch cable programming through a Ceton or Prime using a Cablecard without WMC? What other "alternatives" support tuners utilizing a cablecard to watch encrypted programming?

    I suggest you actually list activities that require a HTPC. Like watching and recording shows through a TV tuner. Different types of storage options for handling all the HD recorded shows. How your build can handle commercial skipping of recorded programming.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Different people have different definitions for HTPCs.

    At the minimum, a HTPC should be able to play back videos in different codecs in a power efficient manner and should have a good network connection (both to the Internet and to the local network). Beyond this, people might want to use CableCard tuners (in the US) or OTA tuners (elsewhere and also in the US). But, these are strictly optional.

    Sometimes, users might have a cable TV connection and feel there is nothing wrong in sourcing content off questionable sources online. From content provider / the cable company's viewpoint, there is no monetary loss when people do that or actually record shows and do commercial skipping (but, for the law, that is not quite right). This is a tangential discussion.

    I also strongly suggest people who ask me for HTPC building advice to do their TV show recording / place Internet downloads on a NAS rather than one of the HTPC drives itself. Personally, I have seen quite a few setups where a iSCSI drive is mapped for 'local storage' on a HTPC.
    Reply
  • Booty - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Ethics of grabbing TV rips from "questionable sources" aside, there are shows that just flat-out aren't available... I DVR a variety of such shows, from DIY stuff on HGTV to live music on Palladia. I need CableCard support. If all I wanted was to stream online content I'd get a Roku or Boxee box.

    Also - you complain about WMC being a $10 add-on in Windows 8, yet suggest a $50 piece of software (JRiver) as a potential replacement?

    Finally - network storage is not for everyone. Personally, I have a file server... but I have built HTPCs for a number of friends and relatives, and for them it's not a practical solution.

    I was excited to see a new HTPC related article posted... and am extremely disappointed with the content. Sorry, but reading the article was a complete waste of my time.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I agree totally with ganeshts but can understand why some people do not see the point of an HTPC.

    I have built an HTPC recently which I use most days. It had to look part of my AV equipment (most streamers do not), I have a large collection of movies on a NAS (which is a total pain to work with W8 - allegedly this is a design security feature as opposed to MS not understanding how people work), I use Lovefilm regularly (Netflixs has not got a big enough same library in UK) even though the streaming is inconsistent (and I have a very fast braodband) particularly for HD films.

    I have moved to W8 Pro and WMC (but with My Movies add on). W8 makes more sense than w7 on an HTPC as the UI works well from the Sofa. But WMC is a tired application whose only advantages are that it is (a) free until 31 Jan (b) has an EPG and therefore does well for TV recording (but I use the cable st top box for that) (c) if I stick a blu ray into the optical drive PowerDVD will play within WMC.

    I would like to move to XBMC but... (a) TV front end is not mature and has no UK EPG (b) working with files on a NAS is even more painful than W8 (c) with my luck I would no doubt find that all the movies will filed in the wrong format for XBMC! (d) XBMC cannot play blu-rays natively and there is no program (yet) which links seamlessly to XBMC to handle that.
    Reply
  • cjb110 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I was running XBMC on my Win7/Fusion and I'm just trialling the OpenElec distro (very nice so far).

    90% of my content is on my Infrant ReadyNas, only BluRay/HDDVD rips are local. I've had no issues with XBMC and this setup, just add the source and tell it the type.

    I think XBMC prefers the Movies\Movie Name [Year] structure over everything else, but it seems to be fairly flexible.

    I'm also using meta<browser> to auto-sort the TV shows and manage the metadata for everything.

    I think the latest Frodo release improves the blu-ray compatibility a bit, supports HD Audio at least, but agreed its not there yet. Though using Windows its fairly easy to setup XBMC to use a third-party blu-ray software.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    @cjs150, XBMC works perfectly with NAS, and has no file format issues.. actually most active forum visitors use it like this. Works flawlessly. Also with the latest XBMC release the TV frontend is mature. No idea if it works for your specific need in the UK. And with the new version, there is native bluray support.. although I never missed it.. prefer to download to good rip instead of working with optical discs. Unfortunately its impossible to buy hq bluray rips...... Reply
  • babgvant - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I don't agree with the point around recording to a NAS device. It can work, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't intimately familiar with designing a solid network and server infrastructure. Unless your NAS has a good CPU and NIC (most don't) this is an invitation for problems. You'd be surprised by how many HTPC can't even using muti-tuner network setups reliably (i.e. anything with Realtek integrated NICs).

    Obviously there are benefits (less noise & heat in the HTPC), but you take on risk by adding additional points of failure to the system. Also, if you're doing anything interesting with the files (e.g. commercial scanning) the NIC takes a lot of unnecessary load shuttling significant amounts of data around - only aggravated by the use of network tuners.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    thats a very specific need, 1 type of card necessary to watch specific content.. never even heard about it. With tv subscriptions available via DVB-T, DVB-C, DVB-S and now much, much more popular IPTV (unfortunately encrypted by all providers except 1), it's impossible to interpret generic recommendations from a reviewer for very specific needs..

    I lost the need to use a tv tuner since the necessary dvb hardware is too expensive, not much options and way to difficult to setup. Since tv broadcasts really suck in my country.. I dont need to record it or anything. XBMC fulflls all needs and the tiny IPTV box from my provider is more then sufficient for the rest. But thats just my specific situation ;)
    Reply
  • nevcairiel - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    "This is because there is currently no support in the open source native DXVA2 decoders for interlaced VC-1, and hence, it is done in software."

    This is wrong. LAV Video supports DXVA2 of interlaced VC-1 just fine - just not on Intel.
    The problem here is Intel. They don't support the "standard" VC-1 DXVA as specified by Microsoft, and instead use a proprietary interface, which they don't document, and only expose through the Media SDK (which the QuickSync decoder uses)

    This is also not limited to interlaced, but all VC-1
    Reply
  • nevcairiel - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    And while i'm on the topic of DXVA:

    madVR supports Native DXVA2 in recent versions now.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Hendrik,

    Thanks for chiming in with the necessary corrections.

    I will make a note of DXVA support for VC-1 on other platforms when I put out the third part of the HTPC series.

    Btw, how does Native DXVA2 work in conjunction with madVR? Wouldn't it mean that the decoded frames need to get copied back to memory (and in that case, wouldn't it be same as DXVA2 Copy-Back?) Maybe, I will carry this discussion offline.
    Reply
  • dcaxax - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Without meaning to be negative I found this article a bit lacking in depth. In the spirit of constructive criticism, I have the following comments:

    First, we did not see detailed settings for the software which is not only relevant but also useful to beginners who look to articles like this to learn.

    Second, there was no real discussion of Windows 8 vs Win 7. As far as HTPC users' needs go, my opinion is that you get nothing over Win 7. Quick boot is not important considering S3 sleep works fine on Win 7 and the loss of WMC has to be a major negative even if you don't use it now. Why would you choose to not have it for an HTPC?

    Many people also use plug-ins for WMC like Mediabrowser which has all the advantages of the XBMC UI with the DVR capabilities of WMC. Its free, takes 5 minutes to configure and works out of the box with external players if needed (with the MS media remote automatically configured).

    XBMC on the other hand, despite massive progress is still a bit awkward to set up properly. I am testing v12 RC3 right now and as soon as I needed to step beyond the basics, I had to edit a configuration text file. I do see it as a genuine alternative in the future but it still has a way to go.

    Before suggesting XBMC and JRiver as the only solution, it would be appropriate to least list other alternatives, especially ones that work with WMC. In fact a review of the interfaces would be nice for a future article.

    The differences in rendering quality should also be clearly stated - I find the rendering capabilities in XBMC inferior to both MadVR, as well as plain old ffdshow filters, even on a high end system. It's not that visible on BluRay quality content, but there's a lot of SD video out there and will be for many years.

    Lastly (my pet peeve), I felt the extreme focus on power consumption, overshadowed issues of picture quality. I would have liked to see more on frame rates/frame drops and processing time, and less on exact temp measurements on a particular box that few will actually buy.

    I'd argue that scaling quality and GPU postprocessing are more important, than a 10% reduction in power consumption. If we were talking about 50%, that would be something else.
    In fact, people who care more about low power than PQ, are now best served by a decent media player for ~ $100.

    The above is not intended as a rant, but rather as a differing viewpoint to inform future articles and I hope it's seen as such. I do enjoy all the HTPC articles here on Anand and appreciate all the hard work that goes into writing them. Thanks!
    Reply
  • Activate: AMD - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I couldn't agree more. Why are we "highly recommending" Windows 8 here again? A 15w reduction in power consumption while using the Netflix app? SERIOUSLY?! Maybe if we were talking about video playback on a laptop or something, but on a desktop where power consumption is often a secondary concern to flexibility and/or performance, basing the conclusion about Windows 8 on power is ridiculous.

    This article completely failed to answer the most basic of questions about upgrading to Windows 8. Does it offer anything whatsoever from an HTPC perspective that is significantly improved from Windows 7? If you're telling me a 10% power reduction in a single task, and 1-2W better in a few others is it, then Windows 8 is completely pointless. None of the plugins that make WMC so usable were considered, there was no discussion about TV recording (OTA or CC).. just netflix power consumption tests. what a joke

    I also agree that this article lacked any of the necessary depth with regards to the MadVR and EVR-CP benchmarks. There just simply isn't enough context for those who are not familiar with the details.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    wow 15w is huge for a HTPC thats on most of the time.. I actually considered a 18w system.. that alone would make me choose win8 for sure.

    the only thing an OS needs to do is be a platform for software and be as light in resources and power consumption as possible. 15w less means win7 is burning 15w for nothing, absolutely nothing. Because what ever version of Windows I use, I will be working with XBMC only.. so all HTPC benefits come from XBMC features (or alternatives like Mediaportal).

    also very suprised there is still a big group of people using WMC. But that must have to do with tv tuners.
    Reply
  • dcaxax - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    TV tuners are not the only reason for WMC. I find it easy to use, it gets out of the way and works out of the box.
    The mediabrowser plugin Makes it look better than xbmc, and is much easier to set up. Using it SI an external player is also seamless and easy. Zero configuration required.
    Why would I choose something that gives me less but asks for more (time, effort etc)?

    As for the 15w, I really don't get this. Why is an HTPC on all the time? Are you watching movies all day long?
    I mean if you are, assuming you can support yourself doing that, you should probably get out and go for a walk ;-)
    Sorry, just kidding, but seriously, no HTPC needs to stay on all day. 1st , sleep works fne on modern PC's - I have mine on 45 mins of inactivity. Second, just because it's on, doesn't mean it's working full power. PCs shift to low duty cycles when idle.
    Third, but most important, if you care about power consumption, don't worry about the PC, but about the TV which I assume is also on all day (otherwise whst's the point of the pc being on?). A large LCD/LED uses between 100-300w all the time, and has no power mgmt. Comparatively a pc will uses between 30-50 when idle.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Its mostly on because its also my downloadserver... downloading tv show eps when they become available. And it contains all my music, so that I can listen to it while @ the office (we have airtunes systems in the office, now I can stream music from home and play it in the room).

    15w is big deal for me since my previous HTPC only used 30w under load. I dont get why people say it only matters in laptops... thats just being ignorant. also, if I would have access to Netflix and watch a movie or couple of tv eps, I would be wasting 15w for a while. Can you explain why you would want to do that? And in my experience win8 is a smaller and more efficient os with a lot of legacy shit removed (finally). So I will definitely not stick with win7. No benefits there.
    Reply
  • Activate: AMD - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Don't get me wrong, I prefer an HTPC system that runs cool and quiet, my current system is an E350 setup that uses a miniscule amount of power. That said, you completely missed the part where the 15w difference was only 1 or 2 active tasks that are clearly outliers that could easily be the result of Netflix's poor app coding. In pretty much all other cases (including idle) the difference was 1-2w . Thats less than $0.01 every day on your electric bill, if the difference is even statistically significant. I'll let you figure out how long its going to take to pay back the Win 8 + WMC fees by saving a penny every other day.

    You say no benefits to windows 8.. I still see NONE for HTPC use in this article. If someone has their Win 7 WMC setup the way the like it with all the plugins working, Windows 8 doesn't make a great case for tearing it all down and setting up again.

    Oh, and maybe the reason a big group of people use WMC is because we actually pay for our content (CableCARD)
    Reply
  • BuddyRich - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Though results seem to be mixed, Silverlight can not GPU decode PlayReady DRM content, or the CPU overhead used by it is too great for a Nettop like device such as an Atom ION or E450 setup to play smoothly. An i3 or i5 could obviously handle it but used more CPU in the process. Metro app uses HTML5 and the "appliance" streams that are for the PS3/ATV (hence being 1080p).

    http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback...

    or

    http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/silv...
    Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Odd, I have pretty much the same system, and my Win8 WEI scores are much higher (DDR3@1600 also) :-

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/3023/captureqvl...
    Reply
  • gibber33 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You used XBMC for eye candy but did not like the lack of customization. Mediaportal is an excellent alternative with:
    a) built-in PVR functionality
    b) pretty good eye candy / gui
    c) Ability to specify codecs and renderer in the setup menus
    d) Ability to automatically change refresh rate to match source
    Reply
  • lockdown571 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Did you guys mention anywhere that most of the Metro apps included Netflix can't be controlled with a remote control and are thus unsuitable for most HTPC users? I realize the focus of this article was on performance, but what's the point if you can't actually control the application. Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Is the high price of a Core i3 HTPC (expensive CPU, mobo and fanless case) worth the benefits? I am considering to build my new HTPC. It will most likely be a AMD Brazos e2 1800 (zotac ad12).

    An Intel Core i3 55w/HD4000 is much pricier.. and I would need an expensive case. As HTPC the only benefit of an Intel Core i3 is it can work with MADVR while still being supersilent/fanless.

    But if you just use XBMC, Youtube, Netflix, and don't care for MADVR, a much, much cheaper system is more then enough right? Plus you don't have framerate issues with the cheapy Brazos.

    I do like this article, I have made 3 shopping lists, one for the Brazos/Zotac, one for exactly this setup (Core i3 2225/55W/HD4000) but different mobo and much cheaper case with a very silent fan and one for AMD but it lacks a motherboard since there are no FM2 mITX out there that i like.

    I especially like the Intel setup because mobo's with mSATA are available, and its cool to be able to experiment with 8GB/dual channel and play with MADVR.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Strongly suggest avoiding the Brazos because many tasks end up being CPU bound. You will have no luck playing 1080p60 material (becoming more and more common because of cheap cameras like the new GoPros) with that GPU.

    Go for the i3-3225 if you don't care about accurate refresh rate. You can go for a cheaper case and mobo, no issues. Main point of using passive chassis from Streacom is because it was built and described in the first part of the HTPC series.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Actually my dad has a Brazos E-450 and one of those small cams.. I thought it was 1080p60 because the htpc played it perfectly... must have been 1080p60.

    I would prefer an AMD based system build by myself instead of Zotac, but AMD lacks good mITX FM2 mobos and I would have to buy a 65w APU (A10-5700) and underclock it a lot to make sure my system is still absolutely quiet in my small living room during load. So it's Brazos, wich leads me to Zotac or Intel (I don't like the Arctic barebones using AMD mobile APUs, way too expensive and they have stuff I would never use like tv card).

    About the i3-3225, I really dont need >3GHz if I just have Win8, XBMC, uTorrent and a browser right? would be a nice follow up test (!) to see how far you can underclock the i3-3225 and still be able to playback 1080p60 using dxva (not necessarily via MadVR)
    If the i3 would work fine with a cheap but neat LC-Power LC-1320mi case and stay cool enough with a Scyte Kozuti cooler.. it might be supersilent..

    but still, if you compare prices:
    - Zotac AD12 + Crucial M4 SSD + 1x4GB = €313 (I live in Netherlands).
    - i3 3225, Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI, Crucial 2x2GB 1,35volt DDR3-1600, Crucial m4 msata, LC Power LC-1320mi case and Scythe Kozuti cooler = €370
    and 2x4GB DDR3 would make it €390.

    It's 80 bucks more expensive and only adds 1080p60?? it will most likely not be able to support 4K.. if I spend this much money I still want to use it in 4 years..

    I'll wait till the final part of this review for the 4K results.. Hurry up Ganesh :) if you have time, would a very short chapter about underclocking be possible?
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    -edit first sentence, the camera was 1080i30 someting, not 1080p60. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    The only cheap 1080p60 action cam is the GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition, and it is around ~$400 here in the US. Everybody else is on 1080p30 or 720p60.

    720p60 is more stressful for madVR when displaying on to a 1080p screen.

    What OS are you going to use? If it is Win 7, then, please spend the extra 80 bucks. (Not sure if Netflix is available yet in Netherlands, but the Win 7 version uses Silverlight and it is CPU intensive. Also, YouTube HD using Adone Flash is CPU intensive too). Unless you want to be on leading edge, I guess 4K will not be a concern at least for the next 2 - 3 years. 4K decode is possible on the Ivy Bridge, but output is not possible with most motherboards.

    If you are going to run XBMC with other programs in the background, you will appreciate the extra CPU headroom provided by the i3.

    As for underclocking - I think it is more trouble than it is worth. The CPU adjusts its clock frequency based on the load, and it only goes up to 3.3 GHz when we run Prime 95 or those sorts of loads. I will include a section on detailed CPU usage (including operating frequencies) in the next piece.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You actually convinced me. The Zotac/E2-1800 solution is definitely not futureproof. I was planning to buy the Gigabyte H77N-WIFI wich has dual-HDMI so perhaps, if the drivers can make use of it, it might be possible to experiment with 4K in the future. It also has WiDi, so already advantages over Zotac. Would be possible to create an 'office' room or office corner with a wireless touch display and keyboard. No more need for 2nd computer.

    Unfortunately Netflix is not working in NL, thats why torrents via rss or newsgroups are very, very popular;)

    I sold my 780G based system including Silverstone ML02 case last weekend (still got €170!) cos I planned to buy the Zotac this week.. but I will wait and save some more... at least I will have plenty to watch on the macbook or when I get the i3 system :)

    I planned on using win7 or win8. Also thinking about Ubuntu but no linux experience and I do want a fully working firefox browser and torrentclient with good rss support (utorrent) so I probably stick with Win8 because its just easy and fast.

    A section about operating freqs would be nice. I am used to AMD Athlon X2 and had to use RMClock to get the CPU silent, Cool'n'Quiet didn't do that.
    Reply
  • nellieboy - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    ive recently upgraded my htpc .hfx classic case fanless silverstone psu already had. same processor as in this article but with asus p8z77-m and 8 gig samsung green ram .all works extremely well scary quiet.but the tv card i want blackgold 3600 is out of stock at the moment.while browsing the blackgold website it seems there is a problem starting this year with the epg not working in windows media center.turns out microsoft have not renewed the license for the epg .i dont know if they have plans to renew but it seems in europe at least were stuffed .microsoft will phase out wmc or at least no longer develop it . just something to think about shame really because that was the best part of wmc.heres the link http://shop.blackgold.tv/Support. this is only for terrestrial tv i think dont know about satellite Reply
  • tyvoyde - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    my 3225 on a gigabyte h77n gets a wpi of 5.7 and 6.4.... obviously your 4.7 and 6.2 wpi are not the 'best' Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    My point also, I get 6.5/6.5 for graphics/gaming graphics :-

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/3023/captureqvl...

    Though I am running the Haswell 15.31 2885 Beta drivers.
    Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I've run many tests doing the 8 VS 7 comparisons. Not only have you left out many of the comparing scores for 7, but your power usage numbers don't seem right.

    I have a Kill-A-Watt power usage adapter that plugs right into the wall, which measures total power running through it. Last night I ran tests using Netflix and 8 vs 7 on two different notebooks. The first is a Gateway P-7811FX[P9700 2.8 ghz C2D, GF 9800m GTS] and the second a Toshiba L655-S5150[i5-480m 2.66ghz, Intel HD]. The numbers for the Gateway were 67.3[8], 64.4[8 app] and 66.1[7]. The Toshiba's numbers were a bit better, 50.9[8], 47.1[8 app] and 50.8[7].

    Now I could go one for days about game benchmarks and compatibility between 7 & 8. But real issue here is the your power numbers don't seem realistic. The Netflix app does have a small advantage, but nothing as dramatic as what you are showing. The difference between 8 VS 7 numbers are statistically insignificant. I ran battery tests as well. And those numbers are also statistically insignificant.

    I'm not willing to accept your results as valid and quantifiable, unless you declare the testing equipment used and OS config setup.
    Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    And before anyone states the obvious, yes the CPU's in each of those notebook were upgraded from their factory offerings. Both have 4GB of ram. The gateway has a WD 500gb 7200rpm HDD and the Toshiba has a Seagate 320GB 7200rpm. But remember these notebooks were not compared to each other, only themselves using one OS vs the other. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I stand by my numbers, and the tests were repeated multiple times to confirm this. Our configuration of the testbed itself is described in the first page of the review.

    For power measurement, we use the UFO Power Center from Visible Energy with a custom power measurement script described here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6413/visible-energy-...

    I see that both the CPUs you used have old Intel HD Graphics (yes, Clarkdale and Arrandale were released when Intel HD Graphics wasn't that great). I think a lot of the advantage for the app version has to do with very good hardware decode acceleration (improved GPU and drivers).
    Reply
  • Gigaplex - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You're claiming that minimal power savings with old architecture CPUs on notebooks (were the batteries plugged in?) as measured by you invalidates Ganesh's measurements on a desktop platform? Just... no. Reply
  • Galatian - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Does the Windows 8 GUI actually bring something on the table for a couch potato like myself? I just retired my old gaming rig which now serves as a HTPC and I kinda tasted blood with Steam in Big Picture mode. I'm planning on running a power efficient yet graphically powerful HTPC once Haswell (or perhaps a new AMD A10) is out, but I would really like for Windows 8 to be completely controllable by an XBox controller? Has Microsoft actually included support for that or was their only new feature touch support? Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    You can control Windows 7 with a 360 controller? Didn't know that. Is this something natively supported? Or is it a hack? Wait... I'm on the net I'll look it up... Very cool if it works though. Reply
  • Galatian - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Never said it did...not sure were you red this in my post??? I was just curious because for me the tile based start menu of Windows 8 would seem to be a perfect fit for a XBox controller support, hence my question. At least this would be one place in my house were Windows 8 might be useful. If not I'll jus stick to Windows 7 Reply
  • Gigaplex - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    If your TV is 720p rather than 1080p, then absolutely not. "Metro" apps don't run at 1280x720, an error message pops up telling you to change the screen resolution whenever you try to launch one.

    And no, sadly an Xbox controller doesn't work with "Metro".
    Reply
  • coolhund - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    LOL seriously?
    I mean I know that the minimum is 1024x768, but hell, everyone knows 720p is often used and thus I thought they were smart enough to allow that resolution, even if its not quite as high in the vertical. The stupidity of MS never ceases to amaze me...
    Reply
  • powerarmour - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately the Metro/Modern UI is neither remote friendly, nor controller friendly.

    Waste of time for a HTPC tbh.
    Reply
  • iwayman1001 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I think most if not all commenters here are completely missing the point on Jriver. Jriver can be your DLNA server, your media cloud server located in your own house. I've tried most MC software, WMC, TotalMedia, NextPVR, BeyondTV, XBMC, etc... None of them can be set up easily as media server cloud so that you can watch your live/recorded TV, all your ripped TV shows, movies, songs, etc over the Internet, your Android phones, your iPhone. You can watch your US live TV, your own movies, recorded TV shows, songs while you'r in Europe provided you have Internet access in the hotel or your smart phone. It take 5 minutes in Jriver to set that up after you build your home Jriver's media library. You do not have to know about public IP/private IP address, etc. Tryi it and you will find out all other MC servers are just for in home, not roaming on the road like Jriver provides. Reply
  • Monkeysweat - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    were you using a RC candidate or last stable release (v.11)? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Frodo RC2

    However, I have seen the VC1 issue in previous stable builds too.
    Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I haven't been able to respond to a post on this site for a couple months now. Can only make a new thread. I'm using IE9. When trying to reply to someone, it hangs with the working GIF twirling forever. Probably is related to the fact that I can't stay logged in from 1 page to the next either... Reply
  • Laststop311 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Maybe I'm in the minority but I like an HTPC that can game as well. Yeah the htpc cases that can properly operate a full size high end gpu are bigger and louder. But with careful hardware choices and quality noctua fans you can make them nearly silent. You got to have a good furniture set up as well to make gaming with a wireless keyboard and mouse a reality. Proper high end gpu will give you better video playback in some situations as well.

    I can see a place for both. But I don't think ivy bridge is a good choice to jump in on the fanless htpc's. Haswell is perfectly suited for this application, power consumption lowered cpu performance and especially gpu performance increased greatly as this is a tock release which is always the best one. The Haswell version of this pc should run even cooler temps while providing better performance, especially on the gpu side (and intel better have fixed the 24hz bug)
    Reply
  • gamoniac - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Thanks Ganesh, for comparing Win7 and Win8, and Metro vs Silverlight video rendering. I am surprised that the Netflix Metro apps are so much more efficient. Having just switched to Win8 two days ago, after reading this article, I checked and am able to confirm that on Win8, Netflix Metro app uses only 2% of my 6-core AMD 1090T CPU (on SSD), compared to the 8% of desktop IE10 browser (Silverlight), which is still better than Win7.

    Furthermore, the Metro Netflix app better renders in HD than in Silverlight, which periodically fails to render in HD for certain movies. Thanks again.
    Reply
  • don_k - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I probably ask for this in just about every article in this, truly excellent, website so at the risk of becoming a broken record, could we please oh please have linux tests to go along with Windows on these things?

    HTPC, 'enterprise' product tests, file server type tests, all of these are simply incomplete without linux
    testing without going into the reasons why as it will likely result in yet another flame war :)

    I realise Linux isn't exactly your area of expertise but is it really that much more difficult to boot a linux based XBMC[1] live CD than it is to sit through yet another Windows installation?

    Please consider doing this, I would love nothing more than to see Linux tests in my favourite hardware/review website.

    http://mirrors.xbmc.org/releases/XBMCbuntu/xbmcbun...
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    We definitely do Linux testing in our NAS reviews (using a CentOS guest OS). Also, my primary workplace m/c is RHEL 6 :) Reply
  • don_k - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Glad to hear it! :)

    So, are you going to be testing HTPCs with linux based XBMC or..?
    Reply
  • coolhund - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Nice HTPC setup, but Windows 8? Really?
    How much did MS pay for that?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I wish :) But, to be honest, MS doesn't even provide keys to us (We have to use the eval period, unactivated)

    That said, I first set up Win 8 for a relative on a newly purchased notebook, and I seriously hated it. Even now, I am not used to the various new features available to interact with the OS. But, I have now come to realize that, technically, the OS has some very interesting improvements in terms of efficiency and multimedia support (at least). Give the eval version a try without activating, you might be pleasantly surprised :)
    Reply
  • glugglug - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    Replacing multiple DVRs is the primary use of my PC..

    I suppose you could have a Media Center w/CableCARD build separate from the HTPC you have here, but IMO, Media Center is **the** killer HTPC app.
    Reply
  • NikosD - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    4K decoding ? Why not benchmark at that resolution ?
    Ivy and VP5 are the only GPUs (VPUs) capable of HW accelerated H.264 4K decoding.
    Reply
  • CSMR - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - link

    Power consumption of around 40W is high for doing something as simple as media playback.
    With an Ivy Bridge chip you should be able to get sub 20W easily, and in fact sub 10W is achievable (http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php...
    For a fanless system, this is important and will improve reliability and difficulty of cooling.
    Reply
  • mr0000000000 - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    Lordy that thing is beautiful - is that just a rendering or does that actually exist? Reply
  • PokerGuy - Monday, February 04, 2013 - link

    From the article: "I would strongly suggest HTPC users relying on WMC (irrespective of the OS) to move on to other platforms."

    What other platform could I move to that would allow me to use cablecard? I have HD Homerun Prime and absolutely love it. I can watch any and everything on any PC in the house, including my HTPC for my main tv in the living room. I use XBMC as my library manager for all my movies and music, but I can't use it with cablecard, so I still need WMC for that purpose.

    Win 8 comes without WMC, unless you want to pay extra, so for me it's a step backwards from Win 7. Paying to downgrade in functionality doesn't seem like a good idea.
    Reply
  • connor2k - Friday, February 15, 2013 - link

    I have looked through most of the comments. Is it listed elsewhere? Reply
  • Deuge - Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - link

    Hi Ganesh, i notice the new haswell NUC with HD5000 is coming out. Will you be doing an HTPC review of it?? Seems like the perfect HTPC to me.

    http://www.legitreviews.com/intel-nuc-kit-d54250wy...
    Reply

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