CPU

Jun 01 2013

Review - Intel Core i7-4770K (Haswell) / Intel DZ87KLT-75K and Intel DH87RL Motherboard - First Look

For home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts, the 4th generation Intel Core “Haswell” family of processors has been greatly anticipated. Expectations have been set both for its GPU performance, and that the long-standing issue with refresh rate accuracy will finally be put to rest. Unfortunately time with the new integrated processor graphics (IPG) was limited to just a few hours, but a significant amount of information was gleaned in the available window, with the high-end Intel Core i7-4770K and two Intel motherboards, the DZ87KLT-75K and DH87RL, provided for testing. Of course, because this is a desktop IPG “high-end” speaks only to the CPU half of the chip. Unlike previous generations, Intel’s GPU breakdown is much more complex this time around with the high-end “Iris” graphics not available on the i7-4770K; it provides only Intel HD 4600 graphics. This will limit our ability to truly examine how far 4th generation graphics have come, hopefully something that can be addressed at a later point as the lineup widens. Now let’s get into our first look.

Jan 02 2013

Review - Intel Core i3-3220 v. Intel Core i3-3225

Intel Core i3As interesting as the third generation of Intel Core integrated processor graphics (IPG) were when they arrived in April, as home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts it was disappointing that the more applicable two core/four thread models were not available. We gleaned what we could about the minor processing improvements and major changes to the graphic processing unit (GPU) from the Core i7-3770K / Core i7-3770S, but as those were overkill for this space there are still many unanswered questions around how the six execution unit (EU) HD 2500 compares to sixteen EU HD 4000 and, perhaps more importantly, how 22nm Ivy Bridge (IVB) CPUs compare against the previous generation of Sandy Bridge (SNB) IPG with similar power requirements. To achieve these goals two 3.3 GHz, 55W Core i3s were tested; with only the GPU separating them – at least on the specifications sheet – let’s dig into the Intel Core i3-3220 and Intel Core i3-3225 and find out which is the better option for your next HTPC.

Apr 23 2012

Review - Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge CPU and DZ77GA-70K Motherboard

Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge CPU and DZ77GA-70 MotherboardLast year Intel’s Sandy Bridge “TOCK” married the graphics processing unit (GPU) and CPU on the same die, making it a first class citizen in the system and introduced a true integrated processor graphics (IPG) solution. With HD audio bit steaming introduced in the previous generation, full hardware acceleration of VC-1, AVC (H.264), MPEG2 as well as 3D Blu-ray (MVC) and reasonable refresh rate accuracy already offered; Ivy Bridge’s 22nm die-shrinking “TICK” could have easily rested only on improved process technology for frequency gains or power efficiency, but instead promises a little bit of raw performance with significant reductions in consumption. Most importantly for the home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiast significant improvements to the GPU are also included - offering greater flexibility in playback software selection as well as improvements to the existing media consumption experience.

Jul 11 2011

Review - Intel DH61AG Media Series Mini-ITX Motherboard and Core i5-2390T

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Not that long ago it was a significant challenge to build a small and quiet home theater PC (HTPC).  Mini-ITX was an option, but case selection was limited and more importantly the form factor was held back by the lack of decent integrated video performance and the power/heat dissipation requirements of the processor (CPU) and graphics (GPU).  With both of those concerns addressed with Intel’s Sandy Bridge (SNB) architecture the next, natural evolution turned toward the mainboard.  Intel responded again with a thin PC standard and today we have a chance to look at the first full featured implementation – the Intel DH61AG Media Series motherboard.  In our first look several features were outlined besides the slim physique that make it especially interesting to the HTPC crowd; including a built in 19V DC power connector, mSATA support, eight channel analog line level audio and the brand new “HTPC” header which, with the right hardware can enable affordable HDMI CEC on the PC; today we couple it with a 2.7GHz 35 watt Core i5-2390T to find out if DH61AG makes good on the initial promise.

Feb 28 2011

Review - Intel Core i5-2400S and DH67GD Micro-ATX Motherboard

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Having previously examined both the 95 and 35 watt extremes in the Sandy Bridge CPU lineup, we now turn our focus to the 65 watt 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400S and Media Series DH67GD micro-ATX motherboard with built in IEEE 1394a (FireWire) support.  With the basic capability questions already answered, let’s find out if by providing four physical cores with lower power consumption this CPU and motherboard combo can find the right balance between outright performance and efficiency in a full featured home theater PC (HTPC).

Jan 02 2011

Review - Intel Sandy Bridge: Core i5-2500K and DH67BL Motherboard

Intel Sandy Bridge: Core i5-2500K and DH67BL Motherboard

When Intel gambled by packaging its graphics processing unit (GPU) with the central processing unit (CPU) in last year’s Clarkdale the home theater PC (HTPC) niche benefited immensely from the power saving, performance gain and features like HD audio bit streaming provided by the new platform.  The bet obviously paid off, because this year’s Sandy Bridge melds the GPU and CPU on the same die promising significant performance improvements for both units, dedicated transcode hardware, further reductions in TDP and frame sequential 3D Blu-ray (BD)/HDMI 1.4 support.  As good as Clarkdale was it was not perfect however, with issues in the level of refresh rate precision used to playback video content - most notably using 24Hz instead of 23.976Hz to handle 24p.  Today we are fortunate to have an Intel Core i5-2500K CPU/GPU and DH67BL motherboard on hand to find out if Sandy Bridge is a worthy successor and viable competitor to the last twelve months of progress in our marketplace.

Mar 07 2010

Review - Intel DH57JG and Core i3-530

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Intel DH57JG and Core i3-530 Review

With more mini-ITX options than ever it’s a great time for small form factor (SFF) PCs.  Enthusiasts are finding more ways to get the most out of these tiny boxes both in the A/V stack and backing it.  Take a look with us at the soon to be released Intel DH57JG motherboard paired with a Core i3-530 to find out if the tiniest member of Intel’s Clarkdale offering can bring a full featured HTPC to the SFF world.

Jan 04 2010

Review - Intel's DH55TC and Core i5-661 - Clarkdale

 

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Intel DH55TC & Core i5-661 (Clarkdale) Review

The family of processors code-named "Clarkdale" has sparked a great deal of interest since its existence and some basic performance information spread out across the web in late September.  Teasing home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts with incredibly low power usage and built in HD codec bit streaming all packaged together with enough performance to tempt those in need of a full featured HTPC. 

Given Intel’s somewhat troubled history with integrated graphics there has been a lot of skepticism on how well (and if) Intel can deliver a serious contender for space in your A/V stack.

 

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