AMD Upgraded HTPC Nettop

AMD Upgraded HTPC Nettop
Component Product Name Price
CPU + Mobo ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe (AMD E-350) $204
Memory Patriot 4GB (2x2GB) PSD34G1333K $40
Case + PSU Lian Li PC-Q09B + 110W PSU $150
Storage Samsung SpinPoint MT2 HM100UI 1TB 5400RPM $94
Optical Drive Sony Optiarc BC-5500H-01 BR-ROM/DVD-ROM $90
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $100
Extra Software CyberLink PowerDVD 11 Ultra $100
Total Price $778

Our final nettop build is the AMD HTPC setup, which adds quite a few extra features into the mix. We’ve also upgraded the case to a more expensive option, so you can easily skip that if you prefer to keep costs down. Starting with the motherboard and APU, once again we’re using the AMD E-350, but this time we’ve selected the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe. This is the most feature-rich Zacate mini-ITX board currently available. It features USB3 ports, an eSATA port, onboard wireless-N networking, DVI and HDMI ports, and an S/PDIF out jack. It’s also passively cooled by a massive heatsink, so it generates no fan noise. Unfortunately, all those extra features bump the price of the motherboard + APU up to $204, nearly $100 more than the ASRock E-350 board! We’ve used the same 4GB memory kit as the Intel system on the previous page, though E-350 is fast enough that the extra memory might prove more useful.

The case is another area where we’ve spent a large chunk of the budget. Lian Li builds beautiful cases, and the PC-Q09B is no exception. It’s well built and durable, but it’s also quite expensive. This specific case is attractive because it includes an external power brick, excellent ventilation, an anti-vibration kit for the hard drive, and comes with a slim optical drive adapter if you want to include a slim optical drive. We’ll be using a Blu-ray drive, so that’s a nice extra. Unlike the Antec cases, the Lian Li only supports a single 2.5” storage drive.

Since we’re building an HTPC, capacity wins out over performance this time, and we’ve selected the Samsung SpinPoint MT2 1TB drive. You can rip and save hundreds of hours of video to the drive, and this AMD solution has more than sufficient muscle to play all of your HD videos smoothly, so why not? Note that this is a non-standard 2.5” disk that’s 12.5mm thick, so it won’t fit in many laptops, but it works fine in mini-ITX cases. It was on sale at Newegg for just $80 a couple weeks ago, but now the cheapest price we can find is $94. If you’re willing to sacrifice capacity for speed, the largest 7200RPM 2.5” hard drives weigh in at 750GB, and you can currently find the Seagate ST9750420AS on sale for $90. Rounding out the package, we’ve again got the Sony BD-ROM and CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra adding $190 to the total cost.

This is obviously not a nettop designed around keeping costs down, but it’s more a statement of style and added features. At a total price of $778, many of you are probably already laughing, but keep in mind all the features you’re getting. This system provides plenty of storage and near-silent operation, two key elements of a good HTPC. If you want to go with the same case and components as the ION setup, you can get the cost down to $674, or you can skip WiFi and USB3 and just use the ASRock E-350 board. Then you’re looking at $580, or $390 without Blu-ray support—except we’ve already covered that option.

Intel Upgraded HTPC Nettop One Final Option and Closing Thoughts
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  • Chloiber - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    You made a small mistake in the table of the AMD Upgraded HTPC Nettop (look at Case/PSU & Storage ;) Reply
  • hnzw rui - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Perhaps you should have actually tested these systems prior to making your conclusion. While TDP of the i3-2100T is 35W, actual power consumption particularly at idle is very low. Depending on the specific motherboard used, assuming all other parts are equal, it's possible to get even lower idle power consumption from i3-2100T/H67 than a Zacate E-350 or Intel Atom/NM10. Frankly, even a regular i3-2100's power consumption wouldn't be too far off from Zacate and Atom. Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    I have actually tested these systems... Perhaps you missed this, "we instead chose the lower power i3-2100T that runs at 2.5GHz. Either can frankly run circles around the fastest of the other CPUs we’ve looked at, and while 35W is twice the TDP of the E-350, idle and lower load power shouldn’t be too much more."

    I have not been able to find a motherboard that idles as low as an E-350 setup with an i3-2100T (all other components being). That said, they do idle at only a few watts more (as the article clearly states). Under load, however, the 2100T systems I've assembled start pulling 10+ more watts from the wall. Obviously this is a small absolute amount of electricity, but it does represent a ~25% relative increase in power consumption. If you're aware of a mini-ITX board that paired with an i3-2100T idles at less than a Zacate mini-ITX board, I'd love to hear what it is!
    Reply
  • hnzw rui - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core-...
    http://www.missingremote.com/review/intel-core-i3-...

    As for the i3-2100, at load (Linpack), it only consumes 5W more than the i3-2100T.

    In fairness, the Gigabyte board probably has higher power consumption compared to other E-350 motherboards.
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    There's no probably about it - the Gigabyte board they used in their comparison is one of the most power-hungry Zacate boards I've used. The MSI IS board uses 5-8W less at idle IIRC, dropping it below the 2100T's system idle consumption. Unfortunately, the 2100T by itself costs more than the less expensive Zacate board + APU combos. Reply
  • BforByron - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Hey could you guys throw some of the results for the i3-2100T on your bench list. I'm gonna make an HTPC and i want to compare the i3-2100 to the i3-2100T with and without a discreet GPU. I'm thinking of adding a 5770 to it and want to see the overall idle and load power draw as well as some game marks Reply
  • Roland00 - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Currently nvidia is making a newer version of their hybrid graphics that will use intel motherboards with nvidia graphic cards (H67 or Z68). The rumored name is "Synergy" and rumor has it will only need a h67 or z68 motherboard and a bios update.

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Nvidia-Works-on-Its...

    Lucid also is making its own virtu technology. Which anandtech has talked about in the past. Supposedly you can get a beta of this software for free somewhere.

    If these technologies work as planned your cpu can use the intel graphics for normal desktop use and keep your gpu in idle, and crank up the gpu to full blast when you throw in a computer game.
    Reply
  • Out of Box Experience - Friday, April 22, 2011 - link

    Sandy's 35 Watt may indeed idle at a watt or 2 more than the other platforms but given the same battery in a mobile setup, wouldn't the Sandy get a lot more work done with that same battery?

    If so, then it would be more efficient than a lower powered system

    This would be a great RealWorld test for these Low power Sandy Bridge systems

    How much work can you get done on the same battery by booting up and running the workload after idling for 20 minutes or so

    Seems Realworld to me
    Reply
  • ET - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    I don't think it's a matter of efficiency as much as a matter of usage. If you're playing videos, the E-350 should be just as good as the i3. If you're doing video conversion, the E-350 isn't even in the running.

    Still, if you're just looking at idle power than the two setups achieve the same amount of work (i.e., zero work), so I'm a little baffled why you started your comment with a comparison of idle power.
    Reply
  • Out of Box Experience - Saturday, April 23, 2011 - link

    Quote:
    "I'm a little baffled why you started your comment with a comparison of idle power."

    Me Too!
    Where the heck is that Edit function?

    I'd still like to see a "Fair" comparison of how much work you can do with a given amount of power

    But what would be "Fair" ?
    Reply

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