For the purpose of HTPC reviews (in particular, HQV benchmarking for discrete GPUs), we have set up a dedicated testbed with the following configuration. Considering that we will soon be having Sandy Bridge HTPCs, we have specifically tagged this as the Fall 2010 HTPC testbed.

Fall 2010 HTPC Benchmarking Testbed Setup
Processor Intel i5-680 CPU - 3.60GHz, 4MB Cache
Motherboard Asus P7H55D-M EVO
OS Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Drive Kingston SSDNow 128GB
Memory G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO CAS 7-7-7-21
Video Cards Various
Optical Drives ASUS 8X Blu-ray Drive Model BC-08B1ST
Case Antec VERIS Fusion Remote Max
Power Supply Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate x64
.

All the above components were chosen keeping extensibility in mind. The Clarkdale CPU allows us to test the Intel HD Graphics, and the PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slot can take in any HTPC oriented graphics card from ATI or nVidia. We got the fastest dual core Clarkdale processor and paired it with one of the well-reviewed LGA1156 motherboards from Asus. With USB 3.0 and eSATA support, transferring information to and from our SFF HTPCs such as the ASRock Vision 3D and Core 100 was a cinch. Keeping hard drive duties is the Seagate Barracuda XT, which strikes a fine balance between speed, power consumption and quietness. A SSD drive from Kingston was thrown in to enable us to use for some benchmarking programs we will cover in some future articles.

The G-Skill ECO series DDR3 modules fit in perfectly with the rest of the testbed. Low voltage requirements ensured that the DIMMs never heated up despite being fast and responsive. Asus was also kind enough to provide a Blu-Ray drive (internal module) which we used to play the HQV BR disc / test bitstreaming. A big chassis from Antec was chosen despite the testbed motherboard being micro-ATX. This was done in order to accommodate ATX motherboards in the future, if made necessary. The 550W Antec power supply also ensures that we can evaluate cards requiring external power connectors for HTPC purposes.

Each hardware configuration has an associated OS image which was created / restored as necessary using Clonezilla. This ensures that we do not end up with conflicting drivers while evaluating GPUs from different companies on the same base testbed. Our first evaluation using the above testbed setup was HQV benchmarking for the GT 430 and Radeon HD 5570. Read on for the results from our exercise.

Meet the Asus ENGT430 GT 430 For the HTPC: HQV Benchmarking
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  • n9ntje - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    Sad to see Nvidia doesn't live up to expectations, while they want us to believe that they have a perfect HTPC card, it isn't.

    To most people, image quality counts. 3D is still a niche.
    Reply
  • IceDread - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    Yeap, it's always best if the competition is even, gives us the best prices. Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    I am afraid market is too slow to react to nVidia having worse products, AMD has nowhere near market share that it deserves to have.

    We can't expect one player to dominate all the time. So when the underdog creates superior products, it should benefit from it. But this is not the case in GPU market, unfortunatelly, as nVidia still keeps much bigger market share, than AMD.
    Reply
  • dnd728 - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    I've tried quite a few ATI/AMD cards over the years, including the latest 5000 series, and to date not a single one of them worked right, i.e. without keep crashing Windows.
    It could be one reason.
    Reply
  • electroju - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    I agree and I have also used ATI and AMD graphics over the years. AMD graphics writes the worst software or drivers from a reputable company. I go with nVidia because I care for reliability and stability. I do not mind spending money on nVidia graphics because the money goes towards software development. The cost of AMD graphics is too low to provide enough for software development. Reply
  • Zoomer - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    I have personally found nvidia cards to have inferior hardware quality. This was very evident from the time when quality dacs for vga mattered, and nvidia cards absolutely sucked at that. Further suboptimal decisions made their cards meh.

    Software wise, I thought nvidia's software quality peaked around the time of the detonators.
    Reply
  • AmdInside - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    DACs depended on the maker of the card. Quadro NVS cards which were made by NVIDIA were regarding as having excellent 2D image quality over analog display. Sadly a lot of NVIDIA partners used cheap DACs on some of their cards. Reply
  • mentatstrategy - Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - link

    Nvidia Fanboi: I have used ati cards and they suck!
    ATI Fanboi: I have used nvidia cards and they suck!
    Reply
  • heflys - Monday, October 11, 2010 - link

    Hmmm....Haven't had a problem with ATi/AMD drivers thus far. Reply
  • duploxxx - Friday, October 15, 2010 - link

    perhaps you need to read a bit more and see how many 1000's have been recently been affected by this awesome nvidia reliability and stability when they all had to throw away there graphic cards and laptops. Reply

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