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AMD A10-7800 - over killing a media centre?

unicykle
  • 57 months ago

Hey there super computer wizards!

I'm in the final stages of planning my first build for my living room sound and entertainment needs and I’m a little stuck. (yes, that’s right, entertainment NEEDS!)… I’m kinda ‘umming and ‘ahhhing over the CPU though.. which is where you guys come in – please help me!

I’m currently ‘specing the AMD A10-7800 for low TDP and skimping on the graphics card since I’ll only be playing music, video and some really light gaming (maybe). I’ve already got a beautiful 2 channel stereo system that I’d like to utilise so a nice sound card has been added to keep this all in line. Add to this my SNES (yes, it’s still awesome) that I want to source in and it all starts getting a little hectic.

Am I over killing this build with the A10? Will Blu-ray/HD decoding and transcoding etc be ok? The other option is to go to an i3 I guess, build a server and a smaller HTPC and re-think the build entirely. I’m really looking for smoothness on Blu-ray (and above) quality playback, tight audio and a super quick operating system.

Any help, feedback and advice appreciated. :)

Build spec: http://au.pcpartpicker.com/p/rZd4Vn

Comments

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

you dont need an A10, but your light gaming may benefit from it. You can just as easily get away with an A6 or even an older generation A series or intel i series. What im saying is that your needs are very basic and dont require an extreme cost like the build you showed.

Also, your likely throwing money away on that sound card. Many motherboards offer sound quality easily on par with any non studio stand alone system, without the massive price or need to take up a slot. Look again at motherboards, but with the audio as a main feature, and you may find one you like that offers all you need in quality and connections for less than that stand alone card costs. If you are dealing with studio level equipment and are a complete audiophile though, then get the card lol.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Hmm noted. Looking at a few of the other builds, I'm a like pricey yeah. l'll look at the processor and maybe cut some costs. I'm afraid the sound card is about where I want it though, the SNR is crazy and probably a little overkill but it has RCA outs - which is essential for my system.

Thanks for the feedback.

  • 57 months ago
  • 0 points

Most motherboards have rca out. lol

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Most? Like proper most? More like some perhaps?

Thanks for the Insight.

[comment deleted]
  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I build my first HTPC media centre and AMD A6-7400K +apu is good enough to run. Keep in mind that, i only use it for streaming 1080p, live TV. etc... If you interested using intel build.. the 3258 cpu is good enough too.. I'm currently using Kodi..

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I was looking at running Kodi, looks pretty awesome. Are you using am iPad to control it? If so, any good?

A6 looks like a good bet for duties at approx $100 less..

Thanks

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I actually think you should stick with the A10 for the purposes of doing smoother transcode. I would, as elvenson said, consider downgrading the soundcard - unless you are a professional DAWer, there's probably no benefit you will see from going that big on the sound card - especially if your sound system is only 2 channel.

You could probably also get away with the A8-7600 or A8-7650K, which would allow you to go as low as 45W (configurable TDP) for some really crazy energy savings.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Blu-ray (and above) quality playback

AMD's fixed function video decoders are behind the times. Yes, they will do blue-ray, and slightly beyond, but they will not do 4K if that's what you hope to transition this build towards in the future.

I highly recommend the i3-41XX series for this build, as the HD4600's fixed function hardware decoding supports 4K decoding. (in fact, up to ~4096 X 4096 pixel surface limits, which is even more than what we call "4K," might even be enough to decode 2 X 4K streams simultaneously depending on certain factors).

If you use the A10 and try to transition the machine to 4K, it will have to use the CPU to perform software decoding, which will require about everything that CPU has to pull off, and might even come up short.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm hearing you, there's a lot of bench testing around pointing at the above - decoding is a CPU core function correct? Even with the FM2+ And the advertised 4k, performance is questionable. I would love to see someone rebuff this though!

You've almost sold an i3 setup to me I will admit.

Thanks for the feedback.

  • 57 months ago
  • 3 points

decoding is a CPU core function correct?

Only if you run software decoding mode.

If you use hardware accelerated decoding, then it's a GPU function, however, it's important to understand that the render pipeline we commonly associate as being "the GPU" is not traditionally used for decoding (though that may be changing). GPU's come with dedicated, fixed function hardware like you'd find in a DVR or Blu-ray player, specifically for decoding video. The video decoding hardware found on a GTX780 Ti is the same as the decoding hardware found on a GT520.

Point I'm making here, is that a more powerful GPU doesn't necessarily mean that it has a better video decoder. In fact, in some cases, a more powerful card has a far less powerful video decoder.

Intel has chosen to obfuscate details about the Pentium and Celeron series in terms of their actual video capabilities. On paper, they don't make any claims to them being 4K ready for decoding, but in reality, they seem to be using the exact same video decoder hardware as found in the Core series CPU's. They just aren't marketing or disclosing this similarity, likely a strategy to secure sales of more expensive core series CPU's. Or, perhaps the reason they don't officially support 4K decoding, is that the shader/render pipeline of the Pentium is about 70% smaller than found in the HD4600, which could be a limited factor for accelerated post processing.


To throw another monkey wrench into the equation we have the issue of H.265 adoption likely to occur sometime in the next decade in a more mainstream way. 4K can't really go mainstream until H265 is supported in devices.

While the Intel HD4600 can provide fixed function hardware decoding of up to ~4K X 4K surface limits in H.264, I don't believe it has support for H.265. At this time, only a select few Maxwell (nvidia) architecture GPU's support H.265 decoding.

As it stands currently, if you had to pick a the best value CPU to support H.265 4K decoding support for the long haul, it would probably be either an A8/A10 series APU, or Haswell Core series with AVX2 support, as it looks as though the "transition" to H.265 fixed function hardware, will probably be bridged by various heavily optimized software decoders leveraging modern instruction and protocols like openCL or AVX2. In other-words, it will be "software" decoding that may leverage the render/shader pipeline of the GPU to assist (openCL). This would be a reason to avoid Pentiums and Celerons for this build, as I believe they have their AVX support disabled and the weaker shader pipeline on the iGPU's probably won't cut the mustard for openCL based decoders.


In conclusion, if you want a CPU or APU that is going to be able to survive the transitions that takes place over the next few years, the best answer is still likely an i3 or better haswell, as that will support the H.264 4K decoding via fixed function hardware, h.265 decoding via openCL and/or AVX2/FMA3.

If I were building a HTPC without much price sensitivity, I'd probably be using an i7-4790S for it, as that would make it suitable for use as an encoding platform, while absolutely having enough compute grunt from several angles to deal with any method of decoding 4K in the coming years.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

To satisfy my own curiosity, I just downloaded some 4K H.265 videos to experiment with. Using software decoding the CPU usage isn't as intense as I thought it might be. ~12-20% on an FX-8350@4.7ghz. That's not too bad, and should work on i3/A8/A10 CPU's just fine.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Exellent! Real world results are far better than anything on paper. Thank you for that.

See, maybe I'm overthinking the video side here with all the stats and features loaded in to chips today. It's easy to get caught up in it all as per H.26x changes and software vs hardware aspects. Truth be told, I'm not even running a 4k monitor so it's future proofing before I come close to 'that' purchase.

I'll personally skip the i7 just on price point alone. The old 'no replacement for displacement' hurts my pocket for the functions - especially after the feedback on your results. If I go Intel, it'll be the i3 in some capacity, they seem to be good value and punch above where they're priced.

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