In this guide we will discuss the different types of processors available today from AMD and Intel, exploring which are best suited for particular applications and usage scenarios.
A HTPC can be many different things; a movie player, a web browser, a games console, a work PC, a TV streamer, a file server and much much more. You may only want your HTPC to carry out 1 of these tasks, or you may want an all in one system that can do everything, the key is in choosing the right type of processor.
As there are so many different processors to choose from this guide has been broken down into 3 sections covering the main types of HTPC’s, click the links below for more information:
Processor Guide - SMALL SILENT HTPCs
Multimedia System – 3D Bluray, video streaming and web browsing
Processor Guide - HIGH PERFORMANCE HTPCs
Powerful multitasking – 4K multimedia, video editing and light 3D gaming
Processor Guide - GAMING HTPCs
PC gaming on your HDTV – Fast processors with powerful dedicated Graphics Cards
SMALL SILENT HTPCs
If you are looking for a small and silent HTPC then your best option would be a low power CPU with integrated graphics, otherwise known as APUs or SOCs.
Less energy consumption results in less heat, meaning low energy processors can be cooled using fanless heatsinks or low rpm (silent) CPU coolers. When fitted into a good quality and ventilated case with an external power adapter you can build a great Full HD or even UltraHD (4k) Media PC that is completely silent and small enough to sit on a shelf.
Intel and AMD have a range of energy efficient processors which offer similar system performance to those found in modern laptops. When combined with an SSD drive the overall system performance will feel no different than a full size desktop PC for everyday tasks such as surfing the web and watching videos.
The chart below shows a comparison of the different low energy HTPC processors available with silent cooling:
As you can see from these Benchmarks the AMD Athlon 5350 offers the best CPU performance in both single core and multi-core scores, but the 5350 draws more than double the power of the Intel J1900 and N3150 processors at 25W compared to 10W and 6W respectively.
The older Intel Bay-Trail J1000 processors outperform the newer Braswell N3000 based processors in terms of pure CPU performance, but Intel have chosen to sacrifice CPU performance in favour of greatly improved GPU performance of the N3000 processor series, as can be seen below:
As you can see Intel’s new Braswell N3000 range have much improved graphics performance over their former Bay-Trail predecessors more than doubling their score and even out-performing the Radeon R3 in AMD’s mighty Athlon 5350.
Intel Celeron J1900
If you are looking for a system capable of great 1080p video capability (including 3D Bluray) with fast all round system performance then the Intel J1900 processor is a good choice offering great value for responsive everyday computing.
Intel Celeron N3150
If you are looking for a HTPC that will be used purely for playing/streaming videos then the Intel N3000 processors is your best choice, offering the lowest power consumption but the most advanced video playback performance and features, including support for 4K video (UltraHD, 2160p) with on-board hardware acceleration for the latest HEVC/H.265 formats.
AMD Athlon 5350
If you want the best overall system performance then the Athlon 5350 is one of the best available, with great multimedia capabilities (up to 1080p) and support for light 3D gaming thanks to best in class CPU performance along with its strong Radeon R3 Graphics.
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HIGH PERFORMANCE HTPCs
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Multi-core and Single-core performance comparison Chart:
Integrated Graphics performance comparison:
Processor value for money comparison (overall performance per £)
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** COMING SOON **
Processor single-core performance comparison, with cost:
Processor value for money comparison with multi-core performance:
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