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john albrich Feb 04, 2011, 01:59pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 20, 2011, 04:54pm EST

Replies: 12 - Views: 4697

Previous Subject/Title: "Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps"

I know most of you couldn't give a flip about the Sempron140 AM3 "single" core CPU, but I'm experimenting with extreme low-budget yet decent performance system builds.

The "single" core AMD AM3 Sempron140 sells for about US$38, and
has a second core that can be unlocked. Apparently the probability of being able to do so successfully is quite high for this CPU.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/amd/sempron_140/2.html

Unlocking the 2nd core upgrades the CPU from a:
Sempron 140 'Sargas' 45nm single-core CPU 45W@2.7GHz
(HWmonitor reported value=40Watts)

into a
Athlon II X2 4400e 'Regor' 45nm dual-core CPU (tbdW@2.7GHz)
http://imgur.com/ANx8A

I didn't adjust any voltage or timing parameters.


Now for the interesting part...

When you unlock the 2nd core, the system can no longer "see" the CPU temperature...and that includes BIOS. This is an apparently well-known issue.

Speedfan System Monitoring Tool to the rescue.
However, I found that speedfan not only provides the core temperature, it provides the INDIVIDUAL core temperatures...which I verified using multiple CPU tests and "freeze" spray judiciously applied while the CPU was running.

There was yet a third temperature (not shown here) provided that was consistently ~5C higher than either of the reported 2 CPU core temps. So, when I get things all set up I plan to configure Speedfan to add a +5C offset to both CPU1 and CPU2 readings to assume worst case. Since temperature readings are notoriously unreliable regardless of which program you use to report them, this +5C offset will give an added margin of safety
http://imgur.com/VRUsT

I ran UBCD CPU and RAM stress tests on both cores simultaneously for over 24 hours without any problems. These tests maxed-out each core at 100%. Maximum temp reported was 52C (room ambient=22C) @ CPU Fan 2900 RPM (barely audible in quiet room) using the stock AMD heatsink/fan that came with the CPU for a total of $37 (free shipping).

Testing Under Windows
Ran Prime95, both cores (two workers) @100% for 8 hours. No errors.
Ran KMplayer playing DVD on core1 while running Prime95 on core2 for 3 hours. No errors.

47C = the maximum Core temperature of either core at room ambient 20C. The stock Sempron 140 cooler fan maxed-out at 2500rpms (the max fan speed is 3050rpm).



edit: Changed title
(let me know if you think there's a better title, or if I shouldn't have even changed it)
from: "Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps"
to: Home-Brew Budget HTPC Prices/Configs/Considerations

It should be noted that although the intent is more toward finding the lowest-cost decent HTPC, this system should also be acceptable for most users for basic schoolwork, browsing, and email.

edit:
added more test info to check stability under Windows OS
updated price $38


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Meats_Of_Evil Feb 04, 2011, 02:41pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps
I didn't even know they kept making Semprons! Hah. Though I'm curious how cheap can you build a PC these days. I bet a Home Theater box costs less than a PS3 and probably even more powerful.

Time to hit Newegg for fun.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Everything I write is Sarcasm.
Dublin_Gunner Feb 04, 2011, 03:22pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps
1 into 2 cores is good. But I'd argue 2 into 4 is better:


You can get Phenom II x2 545 3Ghz which should unlock into a fullt flsdged Phenom II x4 for about $75.

Much better deal IMO.

Sure the Sempron is cheap, but for $35, you may as well spend another~$20 and get a fully fledged Athlon II x2 255.

It is an intersting idea building the fastest, cheapest PC. There are plenty of dirt-cheap motherboards that are plenty capable, and ram is rock bottom at the moment. So much so a cheap ass AM3 based build with DDR3 is cheaper than a DDR2 based system.

Lancool PC K62
Phenom II x3 @ 3.5Ghz
4GB DDR2-800
ASUS GTX570 DirectCU II
john albrich Feb 04, 2011, 05:04pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 11, 2011, 08:26am EST

 
>> Re: Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps

It wasn't the intent to start a thread on building the cheapest+fastest HTPC system, but here's one start.

The system will provide for satisfactory HTPC 1080p display and 5.1 (or greater) audio and control of DVD or Blu-Ray movies. The final price is for the CORE system only*.

I will be experimenting with OCing a simple system but obviously it's dependent on the CPU, RAM, mobo, and cooling as well. So it will be more of a feasibility thing using the cheapest parts...not the best parts for OCing.

$63 GIGABYTE AM3 GA-880GM-D2H, HD4250 HDMI, analog 6channels
(price with sale+rebate 20110204 newegg, normally $85)
(price now ~$78 with sale+rebate as of 20110211)

$37 Sempron 140 2.7GHz CPU + stock heatsink/fan
(unlocks to dual-core Athlon II X2 4400e, stock heatsink+fan STILL suitable)

$20 1X 2GB DDR3-1333 RAM, no sale, no rebate
(although I recently got DDR3-1600 Corsair sale+rebate at $20@1X 2GB)
(note: I also just bought 2X 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM sticks $55 = $28@1X 4GB)

$30 HDD

$15 DVD drive
(add $25 for Blu-Ray read-only drive)

$35 decent PSU
(e.g. OCZ stealthXtreme on sale + rebate, although please note that based on personal experiences I no longer specifically recommend OCZ PSUs)

$25 case for MATX mobo
(on sale OR rebate negates shipping cost)
---------------
$225 DVD HTPC HD 1080p video and 5.1(minimum) audio
or
$250 BluRay HTPC HD 1080p video and 5.1(minimum) audio



* You can usually find mobos for $10 off displayed price either via promo/sale or rebate. Sometimes you can get even a bit more off.

Excludes display as people will have many different preferences for 'satisfactory' displays/TVs
Excludes keyboard, mouse, IR receiver + IR remote control, again as there are a lot of different preferences here although a quick check verified one can obtain basic function versions of all 4 items for about $50 total.
Excludes OS

Prices are with free shipping (which you can usually obtain at some point in time for just about any item)

Dublin_Gunner Feb 04, 2011, 05:15pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps
Not bad.

FOr a machine that you could store all your movies / music on and play DVD/Blu ray, 250 is damn good for a media centre

Lancool PC K62
Phenom II x3 @ 3.5Ghz
4GB DDR2-800
ASUS GTX570 DirectCU II
kOrny Feb 04, 2011, 05:42pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps
I bought one of those Semprons for my uncle's friends' PC I built for her. Its fairly zippy for the $35 price. I did not unlock the 2nd core as I think you need a certain board to do it (I went with a cheap $30 biostar).

I did however unlock all 4 cores on my AMD Phenom II X2 550 that turned it into an AMD Phenom II X4 B50. I noticed performance boosts right away. The CPU was $99 about a year or 2 ago.

I also sold my old HTPC on eBay last month for about $150. You can build really cheap HTPCs these days now that the newer onboard video and audio chipsets support high definition. No need for a sound/video card (saves some power too).

john albrich Feb 05, 2011, 02:52am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 05, 2011, 02:56am EST

 
>> Re: Budget CPU Sempron140: Unlock 2nd Core and Temps
kOrny said:
I bought one of those Semprons for my uncle's friends' PC I built for her. Its fairly zippy for the $35 price. I did not unlock the 2nd core as I think you need a certain board to do it (I went with a cheap $30 biostar)....


That's why I'm looking at a Sempron build. Hoping to come up with a formulaic cheap HTPC approach that's actually usable. A number of my friends and relatives have systems that are 5+ years old!

The "pure" AM3 boards that support HD4000-series also provide HDMI and seem to mostly support easily unlocking CPU cores. I think the cheapest I found found while looking was US$60 (after sales+rebates). Although you may find cheaper if you're willing to use the less desirable DDR2 RAM on an AM3/AM2 mobo. It's important to realize that just because a mobo takes an AM3 CPU does NOT mean it takes DDR3 RAM.

Plus, you can find AM3 HD3000-series mobos for about $50 and one of those I think supported HDMI. I would bet the cheaper boards that only support HD via DVI probably don't support HDCP

(note: all prices are based on my experience that you can usually find mobos for $10 off usual price either via promo/sale or rebate. Sometimes you can get even a bit more off.)

john albrich Feb 11, 2011, 08:16am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 11, 2011, 02:58pm EST

 
>> Updated for new 10% lower total price--changed HDMI motherboard
.
Updated for new lower total price by using a different but similar HDMI motherboard. Reduces cost of base HTPC by 10%.

This could be an interesting part of the experiment as well:
Using this integrated HDMI HD4250 AM3 motherboard would take another $23 off the cost for what could be a decent budget HTPC. I don't know anything about BIOSTAR quality, customer service, or OC capabilities.

The $40 BIOSTAR is very similar to the $63 GIGABYTE AM3 GA-880GM-D2H.
(note: the Biostar had been selling at $60 on Newegg so the $63 Gigabyte was IMO the much better board for the ~same money. but things have changed...as they always do.)
(note: the Gigabyte mobo is now back up to about $78 with sale and rebate)


$40 (after rebate as of 20110211)
BIOSTAR A880G+ AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Radeon HD4250, DDR3-1333MHz (up to 8GB) Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
5.1 ch audio, 4 SATA (3Gb/s), DVI/VGA/HDMI, handled up to 125W CPU (e.g. Phenom II X6)
Claims "AMD overdrive and ACC" (Advanced Clock Calibration) which I assume is some sort of OC capability.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138283

$37 Sempron 140 2.7GHz CPU + stock heatsink/fan
(unlocks to dual-core Athlon II X2 4400e, stock heatsink+fan STILL suitable)

$20 1X 2GB DDR3-1333 RAM, no sale, no rebate
(although I recently got DDR3-1600 Corsair sale+rebate at $20@1X 2GB~$10/GB)
(note: I also just bought 2X 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM sticks $55 = $28@1X 4GB~$7/GB)
(also PNY XLR8 6GB DDR3-1600 w/ rebate+promo $40@3X 2GB~$6.60/GB 20110211)

$30 HDD

$15 DVD drive
(add $25 for Blu-Ray read-only drive)

$35 decent PSU
(e.g. OCZ stealthXtreme on sale + rebate, although please note I no longer specifically recommend OCZ PSUs)

$25 case for MATX mobo
(on sale OR rebate negates shipping cost)
---------------
$202 DVD HTPC HD 1080p video and 5.1(minimum) audio
or
$227 BluRay HTPC HD 1080p video and 5.1(minimum) audio

john albrich Feb 20, 2011, 04:05pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 20, 2011, 09:35pm EST

 
>> I am really on the meds today. Re-posting and then editing already provided info

So...I've edited the original post to include test results under Windows, and to indicate I didn't have to change anything else to make it stable.


edit to add:
It was said this also affected the latest satellite and cable TV set top boxes. If the show was encoded with the newer advanced HD audio codecs, then the only thing your HDCP 5+.1 amplifier would render was 2.1 stereo. Of course, most of these "synthesize" a "surround" sound but it is most definitely not the same thing.

Reason   Feb 20, 2011, 08:34pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 20, 2011, 08:35pm EST

 
>> Re: Home-Brew Budget HTPC Prices/Configs/Considerations
Pretty good and very tempting. I just got a cool rackmount case that will look suitably industrial in my entertainment center for $20; this is pretty tempting, esp. since I have 3 GB of DDR2 lying around.

Have you tried any Linux variations? Isn't Mythbuntu geared towards this type of application?

Edit to add: were you ever able to answer your question about bluray playback? Something along the lines of, if you get a barebones BDROM, can you get freeware to play it back, IIRC.

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john albrich Feb 20, 2011, 09:27pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Feb 20, 2011, 10:46pm EST

 
>> New Development re: HD 5+.1 Audio on Blu-Rays?
.
I haven't looked at it again in 2011, and I'll keep my eyes open, but so far I still haven't seen any freeware that plays at full resolution (video and audio) on HDCP blu-rays.
http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/77061/

Although think I read on some forum there are supposedly rippers out there that will remove HDCP...but again, I don't know if those are freeware either. Not suitable for discussion on HWA anyway.

I have seen some hardware adapters that allow playing HDCP media video on non-HDCP HDMI video devices, but they were expensive. I don't know what they did with the audio content...probably nothing. Seems to me one might as well just get the HDCP software. The rest of your system of course still has to be HDCP hardware compliant.


New Development re: HD 5+.1 Audio on Blu-Rays?

And now, another thing I've heard about is "Dolby True HD" and other more advanced codecs being supplied on recent Blu-ray media, with no downward compatible 5.1 sound "tracks".

I recently read in an HD Receiver "user review", you can have a 5.1 Dolby Theatre sound system but if it doesn't support Dolby True HD and HD audio and some other HD codecs that new Blu-Ray discs are being produced with, then all you get is 2.1 channel stereo...the same as you get with non-HDCP compliant hardware.

In other words, according to the reviewer they stopped supplying any alternate "standard" Dolby or Logic Pro 5.1 audio "tracks" on the discs. Even though they have tons of space and could easily put such audio on the discs. This means even if you're all HDCP compliant... If you don't have the latest and greatest HD receiver/amplifer... You.Are.SCREWED!

Fargin' Bastiches!


edit to add:
Now I'm also wondering about even recent Blu-ray players that are out there. I would assume the player's digital output (where one is provided) just outputs whatever audio bitstream is available, not caring what HD codec it is? So as long as your audio system has the new decoders you'll be ok? In other words, it doesn't matter which Dolby or whatever 5+.1 sound channel it is on the disc, it will be delivered to the audio system? Then it's entirely up to the audio system to decode it properly. And of course IF it's HDCP protected the audio system must negotiate that with the player on top of the codec decoding.

john albrich Jun 09, 2011, 04:31pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Jun 09, 2011, 04:37pm EDT

 
>> Re: Home-Brew Budget HTPC Prices/Configs/Considerations

An update re: using a dirt-cheap processor for the HTPC on an AM3 motherboard

IF you get the Sempron 140's 2nd core unlocked you're better off with the Sempron 140 (even IF you can overclock the 5200+ to 2.7GHz)

But, I wanted to point out this decently priced 5200+ dual-core CPU. (OC might be possible)

Notes:
CPUmark higher is better
CPUrank lower is better

$45 at TigerDirect (Includes ~$5 assumed ShippingCharge)
I didn't find one at newegg
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5200+ (2.3GHz)
sku=A79-5201
PassmarkCPUmark= 1423
CPUrank= 470
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-detai...No=7283268

$38 at Newegg (free shipping)
AMD Sempron 140 (2.7GHz)
PassmarkCPUmark= 764
CPUrank=708
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103698

HOWEVER...
But, IF you can unlock the 2nd core and it's stable the Sempron 140 is the better deal and the better performer
AMD Athlon II X2 4400e (ID of an unlocked Sempron 140, 2.7GHz)
PassmarkCPUmark= 1711
CPUrank= 382

shameem 007 Apr 28, 2012, 10:34am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Home-Brew Budget HTPC Prices/Configs/Considerations
I have seen some hardware adapters that allow playing HDCP media video on non-HDCP HDMI video devices, but they were expensive. I don't know what they did with the audio content...probably nothing. Seems to me one might as well just get the HDCP software. The rest of your system of course still has to be HDCP hardware compliant.

http://decorativeironwallart.com/blog/

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