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.

Power Supply and Chassis
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  • BPB - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    I was hoping to see mention of the newer AMD APU's. As for me I am going to mount the Foxconn unit below to my TV and use it for my HTPC. It's $175 and for not much more I can plop memory, HDD, and OS in it.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • geniekid - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    I built a Llano-based HTPC about 8 months ago using many of the parts listed in this guide. One thing I will point out is I ended up buying a third party CPU cooler since the retail fan was a bit loud for me. Other than that, the Seasonic SS-400FL is fanless so the only other source of noise for me was the case fans that came with the Grandia 05, which were good enough for me. Reply
  • lurker22 - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    The problem is AMD's Llano can't run Netflix HD well because Silverlight doesn't have GPU acceleration enabled for the chip. It's a shame, as otherwise it's a GREAT CPU for HTPCs and cheap! Until MS either gets GPU acceleration working, or Netflix moves from Silverlight one still needs a more powerful CPU to be able to do everything with their HTPC Reply
  • BPB - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    This is a good point. As a matter of fact, it has me reconsidering getting the little system I mentioned above. Of course I can do Netflix HD via my TV's app, but still, do I want to get an APU that can't even run Netflix? Hmmm.... Reply
  • lurker22 - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    I was about to purchase an e-350 based system, until I saw the lack of Netflix HD acceleration. No point buying something new which doesn't cover all the usage needs when my old HTPC can... Reply
  • burntham77 - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    I have the exact same hardware, and Netflix in WMC stutters with HD video. If I set my Netflix account quality settings to the middle or low setting, it works fine, but obviously things don't look as nice.

    Luckily I have a PS3 and 360 hooked up to the same TV, but it is a shame that Microsoft dropped the ball on Silverlight in this regard.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    THe problem isn't the LIano, any other pentium, celeron i3 ULV or wathever (even latest macs) will have an issue, it's just the Silverlight piece of crap. BTW it's only HD streaming that provides issues.

    many have already reported that it run's better in different browsers (chrome-safari)
    Reply
  • lurker22 - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    Yes, and those CPUs have the power to run Netflix HD without the GPU acceleration :) Reply
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, June 06, 2012 - link

    nope, on forums they report the same issues with that type of cpu i mentioned. Reply
  • knutjb - Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - link

    I have an A8-3850 w/hardware acceleration set. I have not experienced any issues with Netflix. Does someone have a current list of gpu support in Silverlight 5? I couldn't find any list in a quick search.

    I have had no problems. Sits next to my reveiver behind pictures with audio through toslink, 1080 video through HDMI. All fans connected to MB, cannot hear from couch when set to 100% with sound off. Plays music too set @ 24bit 96k. Surprisingly good sound from older Denon receiver. Can hear the difference between 16 & 24 bit with better recordings.

    Caught sales for everything.

    Lian Li PC-351 with side vent holes taped off to force air through power supply.
    G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB 1866 oc'd in bios.
    GIGABYTE GA-A75M-UD2H
    SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC064D
    Seasonic SS-460FL
    Seagate 1TB HD
    Reply

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