We Build Four HDMI-Based HTPCs

Two Sets Of Builds, Two Sets Of Hardware

While we kept the peripherals and ancillary equipment the same across both sets of builds - one for Intel Core 2 Duo processors, the other for AM2 X2 dual core processors - we had to use different motherboards, CPUs and coolers for each manufacturer's products. On the Intel side, we tested with T7200 (2.0 GHz) and T7600 (2.33 GHz) CPUs; on the AMD side, we tested with 4800+ (2.5 GHz) and 6000+ (3.0 GHz) CPUs.

Interestingly, this put us in the position of testing chips from AMD that ran faster clocks and consumed more power than Intel chips of comparable power and capability for the first time. On the AMD side, however, total power consumption idled at around 122.4 W with peaks seldom exceeding 130 W, where the Intel idled at around 122.5 W with peaks generally under 128 W, despite posted peak power consumption (TDP) of 125 W for the 6000+ and 34 W for the T7600. We have to wonder if using the same power supply throughout (the Zalman ZM460 PSU) didn't account for such striking similarities, because we didn't measure power consumption for individual components inside each test build, only at the wall socket. Because the builds with low-power CPUs consumed more or less the same amount of wattage as their high-power counterparts, the power supply is the obvious common denominator.

Hardware Common To All Builds

The items in the following table were kept constant across all builds we benchmarked for this story.

Common Computer Components
Case Silverstone Technology LaScala 14
HD-DVD drive Toshiba TS-L802A HD-DVD drive
Blu-ray drive Pioneer BDR-101A Blu-ray drive
Hard Drive Hitachi Deskstar HDS725050KLA360, Firmware K2AOAB0AACCB, 500 GB, 7,200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA/300
Graphics Card Asus EN7600GT, P/N: EN7600GT/HTD/256M/A Nvidia GeForce 7600GT - 256 MB
Power Supply Zalman ZM460-APS Silent Power Supply - 460W
RAM Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8500C5D
2x 1024 MB DDR2-1066 (CL 5.0-5-5-15)
Wireless keyboard XGene 2.4 GHz wireless keyboard
DVD software CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra handles conventional DVDs, HD-DVD, and Blu-ray media
Windows MCE 2005
SDTV card
Buy the PC Alchemy MCE bundle: includes the OS, plus a Hauppauge WinTV-PVR150-MCE and a Microsoft MCE remote and IR transceiver
HDTV card AVerMedia AverTV HD MCE A180 HDTV tuner card
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