It has been quite a while since I last went under the hood of my current Home Theater PC (HTPC), but judging by the gradual degrading performance that I was beginning to see when watching the latest movies, it was pretty clear that an upgrade was in order.
While 720p HD video content plays back relatively well, action-packed and even regular scenes in 1080p HD content struggle quite a lot - the GIGABYTE H971 Home Theater PC, which we reviewed back almost exactly two years ago (here), still impresses us 'till this day with completely rock solid stability. But when it comes to current day video and audio, it is now sadly dated. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly fine for DVD playback and DVD quality audio, but now with Blu-ray HD audio from Dolby and DTS tracks out and in truck loads on Blu-ray discs, this HTPC has seen its day when it comes to high-end HTPC features.
With way too much Intel chip action in this office, we decided it was time to get some AMD silicon in play around here. So, we contacted our friends at AMD to see if they would hook us up with a processor to use in our new HTPC build. They obliged rather nicely with not only one, but four of their latest processors to try out - ranging from dual-core all the way up to quad-core - we'll pick one today based on a range of tests.
We also have a bunch of other hardware to show you in this article, which go into building this AMD based HTPC. We searched long and hard for the right hardware for this Blu-ray playing beast and not only does it do it well, it does it probably better than any other HTPC that you have seen before. For one, it is able to output Blu-ray DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD as it were intended by the movie studios (using bitstreaming). It also does it in style.
Let's take a look here and see what we recommend for an AMD HTPC build in 2009 and then we'll put it to the test and see just what it can do and exactly how much power it is going to suck out of your wall, all while entertaining you in your lounge room.