AMD Llano HTPC Builders Guideby Ganesh T S on June 5, 2012 8:02 AM EST
In this buyer's guide, we have taken a look at the options available to readers setting out to build a Llano based HTPC. At AnandTech, we recognize that our readers have varied requirements when looking at a buyer's guide. We've tried to provide several options built around the Llano platform to satisfy those needs.
Personally, all of my media is streamed off a NAS and I have a Smart TV. My requirements from a HTPC would just be a low power front-end to play files off my NAS using XBMC, JRiver Media Center 17, or some other similar software. I could build a system fitting my requirements by selecting components from those presented in the previous pages and present the total cost to the readers, but that is bound to invite comments from irate readers who have other requirements. Hence, we will just leave it to readers to pick and choose components from those listed throughout the article. I have also not discussed general HTPC add-ons such as capture cards and TV tuners, which are not required by all HTPC builders.
Before concluding the piece, I would like to link to our review of Llano from a HTPC perspective. The good news is that many of the issues cited have been fixed. However, the integrated GPU is still not powerful enough for 1080p60 H.264 decoding. If your usage scenario involves playback of such files, it is strongly suggested that one of the quad core APUs be picked up so that you have enough oomph for multi-threaded software decode. High quality madVR rendering is not possible with the integrated GPU, nor is possible with the Intel Sandy Bridge HD 2000/HD 3000 series. You'll need a more potent discrete GPU to help with such scenarios.
Ultimately, it is important for any HTPC system builder to be fully aware of the capabilities--and limitations--of Llano APUs before embarking on this sort of build. In this buyer's guide, I have not touched upon the usage of APUs complementary to the Llano such as the E-350 (Zacate). They make very good platforms for low power NAS systems and media storage servers, but they struggle with the more demanding (and esoteric) video formats. Depending on reader interest, we may cover such platforms at a later date. In the meantime, readers are invited to use the comments section to discuss their existing or planned HTPC builds.