HTPC – CPU, Motherboard & RAM Upgrades

With the new Sandybridge series of CPUs Intel has introduced some 35W parts in its Core i3 line. When I saw how inexpensive these parts were I decided to upgrade my HTPC with the following:

The motherboard I found is a perfect drop-in upgrade for my old unit since it has all the SATA ports I require as well as onboard SPDIF headers.


Here’s an informal comparison between this build (bold) and the previous one (in parenthesis):

  • Time to import 227MB, 128kbps MP3 into Audacity – 2:16 (3:54)
  • Time to re-compress 227MB, 128kbps MP3 at 64kbps with Audacity – 10:08 (18:09)
  • FLAC to MP3 music track compression time – 0:07 (0:13)

For these compression specific tasks the new build is almost twice as fast as my old system, not a bad improvement at all.

Power Usage

The reason to go through with this upgrade was not only to get better performance, but also keep my power usage as low as possible since this machine is on 24/7.

  • Original Build – 44W
  • Original + Video Card – 54W
  • New Build – 53W

While not as much of a decrease as I had hoped, it is still a move in the right direction and the system is substantially more powerful than it used to be.

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