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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  • Marlin1975 - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Later, when you hace access, can you do the same test with the lower end dual core 65watt Trinity?

    I think that would be the best HTPC Trinity if it also keeps up.

    But looks good for a HTPC/Light gaming rig.
    Reply
  • coder543 - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    gotta agree. The A10 would not be my choice of processor for an HTPC. I would go with something lower cost and lower wattage... but maybe other people enjoy transcoding videos on their HTPCs. Reply
  • ddrum2000 - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    I partially disagree (personal preference). I'd like to the 65W A10-5700 reviewed as opposed to the A10-5800K since a 65W part makes much more sense for an HTPC then a 100W part. By extention, the A8-5500 would be interesting as well though I'm curious how much of a difference the number of Radeon cores makes in terms of HTPC usage. Reply
  • coder543 - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    that's what we said. how do you disagree? Reply
  • Silent Rage - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    You said, "The A10 would not be my choice of processor for an HTPC."

    He said, "I'd like to the 65W A10-5700 reviewed as opposed to the A10-5800K since a 65W part makes much more sense for an HTPC then a 100W", hence the partial disagreement.
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    I transcode on my HTPC, but I just use Quicksync on my i3 with HD 3000 graphics. I use Arcsoft media converter 7 and rip HD TV recordings down to a manageable size to play on my Iconia tablet. Considering the fact that it only takes 20-30 minutes to take a 1080p show down to 720p at 1/6 the original file size, I can't complain about the results. Intel offers an HD 4000 i3, and that would be my HTPC CPU of choice if I had to buy today. Reply
  • Arbie - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    The features you are testing are never obvious from a spec sheet, so a targeted hands-on review like this is very important. At least it is to me, because my next laptop choice will be based on its capabilities for media viewing and gaming. And battery life, followed by weight.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • coder543 - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    this was a desktop review. The Trinity mobile reviews happened months ago.. Reply
  • stimudent - Sunday, September 30, 2012 - link

    I'm glad that Anandtech has explained to us that this is a staged released and has offered its review based around that by looking to past performance. This is better reporting. Not the immature biased reporting being done by Tech Report.
    If Intel did this, it's almost a sure thing TechReport.com would not have said a thing about a staged release and gone ahead with its review the same way Anantech did here.
    Reply
  • ChronoReverse - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - link

    Isn't giving you 23.977 what you'd actually want over 23Hz? I can't think of when you'd want 23Hz (whereas 24Hz, 25Hz and 30Hz are all useful) whereas 23.976 is what you'd want from telecined material. Reply

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