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Old 06-05-2013, 03:24 AM   #1
tigerflag
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Building a new system, need graphics recommendations


I've read all the threads I could find about AMD and Intel graphics drivers and support, but just get more confused about what to actually buy. With vendors pulling back on support for Linux, graphics choices have gotten really complicated!

Without writing a long story, my four year-old system is giving me a lot of trouble lately with harddrives and motherboard, or perhaps the motherboard is causing the problems with the harddrives. BIOS is having trouble booting devices and I'm now reduced to running on a live CD. I'm tired of trying to figure it out. It's time for a new processor, mobo, RAM and maybe a discrete GPU.

My current build is practically silent and runs very cool. Low noise and low power consumption is important to me. Typical use is Internet, email, documents, GIMP, writing HTML in a text editor, ripping and playing music, watching movies and Flash videos on Youtube... The only 3D gaming I ever did was a few minutes of Tux Racer (it made me tense so I stopped). Iagno and Pysol are more my speed ;-) Basically light use, but it's on all the time.

I've always used AMD. The AMD Trinity APU looks great in reviews, but I worry about lack of graphics support for Linux and problems getting Catalyst working. Would I even need Catalyst?

Intel's graphics seem to be supported a little better. I've never used Intel and they're expensive, but I'm open to it if they offer a better solution than AMD. Some people suggest buying a low-cost Intel CPU without integrated graphics and a discrete video card, but even the lowliest Pentiums have integrated graphics. They're basically Core i3 without hyperthreading. Then I read to avoid NVIDIA GPUs because they're dropping support for x86 or somesuch, but that doesn't leave me much choice, does it?

Specifically, what GPUs- integrated or discrete- are good choices? Would an AMD Trinity APU using open source drivers work well enough for 2D and videos? Or can someone give me some examples of specific Intel chips + video cards? Or would a Core i3 be adequate?

I just want something that works without a lot of stress and isn't too expensive. Something that is reasonably future-proof. Is that even possible anymore?

Last edited by tigerflag; 06-14-2013 at 10:49 PM.
 
Old 06-05-2013, 06:19 AM   #2
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First of all, there are no plans from Nvidia to drop x86 support.

To your question, both, AMD and Intel have solutions that would work fine for you. The APUs work fine in Linux, if you use the Catalyst driver. The free radeon driver still has serious problems with power-savings (which also has to be switched manually between the different states) and the UVD video decoding engine is only supported from the latest versions of the driver, that currently no distro uses by default. If you don't run bleeding edge distributions like Arch Linux there shouldn't be a problem with the Catalyst driver. I run it in Slackware -current and only have a problem with one Flash game (Zombie Lane) in fullscreen mode, anything else works without a problem.

Basically, which CPU manufacturer you use comes down to personal preference. In general, the integrated video units in the AMD chips are faster than the Intel ones, but that seems to be not relevant for you, so you can choose what you can get cheap.
 
Old 06-05-2013, 10:25 AM   #3
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Thanks, Tobi. I guess I read so many posts about people having horrible problems with drivers, it made me nervous. I don't want to build a system and get a black screen, or have to rebuild the kernel in order to make it work. Not that I have anything against rebuilding kernels, but I doubt that I could. 11 years running Linux and I'm still daunted by commandline. When people talk about making Linux easy for non-techie users, they mean me.

Using Nvidia cards, installing the Nvidia driver makes my system better, but I still have a working system without it. I'd like to keep that level of reliability, if possible.
 
Old 06-06-2013, 05:44 PM   #4
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I decided on the Core i3-3225. It's the only i3 using HD 4000 graphics, which seems to make a big difference in performance. This benchmark comparison of Trinity -vs- Ivy Bridge did a bang-up job evaluating most of the processors I've been considering. The i3-3225 looks to be the best match for my needs.

And this post clinched it:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...-a-4175452456/

Now to pick out a motherboard...
 
Old 06-07-2013, 08:12 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
Typical use is Internet, email, documents, GIMP, writing HTML in a text editor, ripping and playing music, watching movies and Flash videos on Youtube... The only 3D gaming I ever did was a few minutes of Tux Racer (it made me tense so I stopped). Iagno and Pysol are more my speed ;-) Basically light use, but it's on all the time.
If you dont play 3D games, the difference between Intel HD, HD 200, HD 2500, HD 3000 and HD 4000 doesnt matter (some differences in the video decoding capability, not that you'd notice)

I wouldnt get a trinty system unless it was for budget gaming.

Considered a FX 4XXX or 6XXX CPU (or even Athlon II X4 or Phenom II X4/X6), AM3+ motherboard and a cheap 'entry level' AMD or nVidia card?

For myself, I'd probably get a cheap nVidia or AMD card even if you got a intel CPU with the GPU on the CPU. That way video isnt using of main system RAM, or using RAM I/Os for the video.

Last edited by cascade9; 06-07-2013 at 08:14 AM.
 
Old 06-07-2013, 11:46 AM   #6
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Thanks, cascade9. I was hoping you'd chime in here.

I hadn't considered those processors. How cool do they run, i.e. how many watts do they pull? The thing I love about my current CPU is it's only 45 watts and can be cooled with a silent fan.

Already have a decent video card, a Gigabyte GeForce 9600GT Silent Cell (uses a copper pipe heatsink instead of fans) with 1 GB GDDR3. It uses a smaller die than the original 9600GT, thus allowing passive cooling. Still though, from what I've read it idles at about 97 watts.
 
Old 06-11-2013, 12:16 AM   #7
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The AM3/AM3+ CPUs I mentioned above are all 95 watt TDP CPU (125watts for the fastest Phenom IIs). They wont run as cool as an i3, if you are the sort of person who watches CPU temps.

Even 125watt TDP CPUs can still be very quiet, or even 'silent' with the right heatsink/fan setup.

The 9600GT Silent Cell is actually a 9600GT 'Green Edition'- a downvolted, slightly downclocked version of the G94B chip in 55nm (normal 9600GTs use G94A or G92B, in 65nm or 55nm).

9600GT- 95 watt TDP
9600GT Green Edition- 59 watt TDP.

No way is it ilding at 97watts, it cant use that much power, PCIe x16 slots have a maximum of 75watts without external power connectors. It would would idle at more like 25 watts, with max draw at 60 watts or slightly under. Not that bad for an 'entry level gaming' card, but a lot of power compared to newer cards (eg GT520, GT530, GT610, GT620 which are all rated at 30watts TDP).
 
Old 06-11-2013, 01:46 AM   #8
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Whenever I build a system I usually buy a cutting edge 5 years ago graphics card, around 50-60 dollar range, and I've never had a problem with support for the card. I'm partial to NVIDIA cards because I remember how terrible ATI support was back in the day (though could probably go either way.

Since this system is still pretty new (apx 11 months), the GeForce 210 works pretty darn decent.
 
Old 06-12-2013, 12:16 PM   #9
tigerflag
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In general I agree with buying older components. They're cheaper and the bugs have been worked out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9 View Post
The AM3/AM3+ CPUs I mentioned above are all 95 watt TDP CPU (125watts for the fastest Phenom IIs). They wont run as cool as an i3, if you are the sort of person who watches CPU temps.

Even 125watt TDP CPUs can still be very quiet, or even 'silent' with the right heatsink/fan setup.

The 9600GT Silent Cell is actually a 9600GT 'Green Edition'- a downvolted, slightly downclocked version of the G94B chip in 55nm (normal 9600GTs use G94A or G92B, in 65nm or 55nm).

9600GT- 95 watt TDP
9600GT Green Edition- 59 watt TDP.

No way is it ilding at 97watts, it cant use that much power, PCIe x16 slots have a maximum of 75watts without external power connectors. It would would idle at more like 25 watts, with max draw at 60 watts or slightly under. Not that bad for an 'entry level gaming' card, but a lot of power compared to newer cards (eg GT520, GT530, GT610, GT620 which are all rated at 30watts TDP).
This is really interesting! I'm very curious about underclocking and undervolting. I've never done it but would like to get a processor and mobo that will allow me to learn.

When considering system components, I think about what's the most powerful system I can make ('cause I don't know what I might want to do in the future) that's also cool, quiet and conserves energy? The Core i3 3225 at 55-W seemed like my best option.

But the list of AMD processors on Wikipedia shows AMD actually made several 65-W and 45-W processors. My current X2 5050e at 45-W is one, but there are more. Getting hard to find though, and some of them are fetching a premium on ebay now. For those prices I'd be better off with the Core i3 3225.

Here's one that might do:

AMD Athlon II X2 270 Regor 3.4GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor

65-W is hotter than what I have now, but it's faster so it would probably save on energy in the long run, or at least be roughly net neutral. I could pair it with an AM3+ mobo and DDR3 1333 RAM. I like my discontinued heatsink-fan so much that I bought a spare, so that would work, and I already have my video card.

Compared to a Core i3 3225 system:

Pros: the AMD build would cost about $100 less than a Core i3 3225 system.

I know how to build AMD systems and like my small, silent HSF. (why are the Intel HSFs so HUGE?)

Cons: Not as fast or energy efficient as the 55-W Core i3 using on-chip graphics.

My SATA 6Gb/s SSD (I have one lying around that I wanted to use) won't get full speed on the AM3+ mobo, which only goes up to SATA 3Gb/s.

The AMD build components are getting old; if a part dies in a couple of years it'll be expensive or impossible to replace. Whereas the Ivy Bridge build should be easy and cheap to upgrade or repair for quite a few years.

Your thoughts?
 
Old 06-12-2013, 01:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
I know how to build AMD systems and like my small, silent HSF. (why are the Intel HSFs so HUGE?)
Usually larger HSFs with larger fans are more silent than smaller HSFs with smaller fans, because the fan can run slower.

Quote:
Here's one that might do:

AMD Athlon II X2 270 Regor 3.4GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor
I wouldn't go for the old Athlons. I rather would use the FX4100, which has a much better design, but uses also more power (95W) and costs abot 45 $ more. The Athlon would for me only be an option if money really is a concern.

Quote:
My SATA 6Gb/s SSD (I have one lying around that I wanted to use) won't get full speed on the AM3+ mobo, which only goes up to SATA 3Gb/s.
Any modern AMD chipset (read AMD9xx chipset) has at east six ports that are SATA3 (aka 6Gb) capable, so this is not a problem at all.
On Intel boards you usually get only 2 ports with that capability.

Quote:
The AMD build components are getting old; if a part dies in a couple of years it'll be expensive or impossible to replace. Whereas the Ivy Bridge build should be easy and cheap to upgrade or repair for quite a few years.
With the newer 4xxx series from Intel (codename Haswell) Intel repaced the socket LGA1155 with socket LGA1150. In a few years you will have the same problem to get LGA1155 hardware as you would have with socket AM3(+) hardware.
 
Old 06-12-2013, 05:46 PM   #11
tigerflag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
Usually larger HSFs with larger fans are more silent than smaller HSFs with smaller fans, because the fan can run slower.
I know, and that's the wierd thing. Compared to what I'm used to, these Intel HSFs are ginormous. Been reading tons of cooler roundups and reviews, and just about every one of them- except for the really expensive ones- has some people saying they're noisy. With huge fans and heatpipes and the like you'd think they'd be silent, but apparently not.

Quote:
I wouldn't go for the old Athlons. I rather would use the FX4100, which has a much better design, but uses also more power (95W) and costs abot 45 $ more. The Athlon would for me only be an option if money really is a concern.
Going from a 45W processor to 95W, that's going backwards from an energy conservation perspective. I'll just stick to my original plan of the i3 3225 with an MSI H77 mATX mobo.

Any suggestions for a quiet, moderately priced, not-too-complicated HSF for a 55W Ivy Bridge processor?

Think I could cool it passively with just a copper heatsink, case fan and the power supply exhaust fan?
 
Old 06-14-2013, 04:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
I know how to build AMD systems and like my small, silent HSF. (why are the Intel HSFs so HUGE?)
Umm....you've got to be kidding. I take it you havent seen a retail intel CPU heatsink for a long time. They are tiny in most cases.

Maybe you've been looking at the 'wrong' reviews. I have head of intel sending huge heatsinks made for the i7-990X (and similar) 130 watts TDP CPUs with i5s and lower model i7s. Mainly because it makes the test temps look good, and lets any overclocking get to higher MHz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
My SATA 6Gb/s SSD (I have one lying around that I wanted to use) won't get full speed on the AM3+ mobo, which only goes up to SATA 3Gb/s.
Either you've been misled by something, or your doing your shopping with the 'lets get the cheapest AM3+ motherboard possible' method (some 'AM3+' boards use 7XX or 8XX chipsets with SB7XX southbridges with SATAII only. Avoid! If you go AM3+, get a proper 9XX chipset).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
When considering system components, I think about what's the most powerful system I can make ('cause I don't know what I might want to do in the future) that's also cool, quiet and conserves energy? The Core i3 3225 at 55-W seemed like my best option.

But the list of AMD processors on Wikipedia shows AMD actually made several 65-W and 45-W processors. My current X2 5050e at 45-W is one, but there are more. Getting hard to find though, and some of them are fetching a premium on ebay now. For those prices I'd be better off with the Core i3 3225.
I think you are placing way to much emphasis on the TDP of the CPU.

Higher TDP CPUs can use more power, but at idle the differences are lower, almost zero-

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu...0_8.html#sect0

BTW, that review also shows that the AMD CPUs do use more power for any given amoutn of work. IMO its not as bad as some internet reviews/forum posts state, btu still, if you really want the best power/performance you would be better off with intel (unless of course you want to build a machine for 24hr a day use, then the AMD fusion systems are better than intel atom)

I'd also suggest have a good look at this test-

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1202-page1.html

Check the differwence between the i3-2100 (65 watts TDP), i3-2120 (95 watts TDP) i3-2100T (35 watts TDP), i5-2400 (95 watts TDP), i5-2400S (65 watts TDP) and undervolted i5-2400.

The higher TDP CPUS also get more work done, so while peak power use will be higher, the CPU will drop back to lower power usage faster than a lower TDP, lower processing power CPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
This is really interesting! I'm very curious about underclocking and undervolting. I've never done it but would like to get a processor and mobo that will allow me to learn.
Its like overclocking but backward. If you really want to push it to any length, get a motherboard with good overclockign opions, and an 'unlocked' CPU.

with everything you're said, I'd go for a i5-3570K. More cores, more cache, very little impact on power consumption, unlocked so you can play with underclocking if you wish. While youncould get a i5-XXXX'S' (low power) version, they arent worth the minor difference IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
I know, and that's the wierd thing. Compared to what I'm used to, these Intel HSFs are ginormous. Been reading tons of cooler roundups and reviews, and just about every one of them- except for the really expensive ones- has some people saying they're noisy. With huge fans and heatpipes and the like you'd think they'd be silent, but apparently not.
I'd like a link to where you've seen these big intel heatsinks.

Yep, many heatsink fans are noisy. It goes back tot eh reason why intel has been know to send 'oversize' heatsinks to soem testers, there is a lot of 'lets do it off the numbers' part selection goign on. When heatsink 'A' costs $50 and cools CPU 'Z' to 40C and heatsink 'B' cools to 35C, heatsink 'B' looks better. But if heatsink 'B' is using a 3000RPM 35db 120mm fan and heatsink 'A' uses a 1200RPM 25db fan, heatsink 'A' is much quiter. But most testers dont include info like this.

frostytech is one of teh few sites that does, and has pretty big list of tested heatsinks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
Going from a 45W processor to 95W, that's going backwards from an energy conservation perspective.
It might not be, dont get hung up on TDPs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
I'll just stick to my original plan of the i3 3225 with an MSI H77 mATX mobo.
If you want to uderclock, dont get a H77. They have limited or no overclocking/underclocking abilities. Get Z77 or Z75.

I'd avoid MSI as well, maybe thats just me.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
Any suggestions for a quiet, moderately priced, not-too-complicated HSF for a 55W Ivy Bridge processor?
Noctua NH-U12P (really you'd get the updated 'SE2' model, I've just linked to the frosty tech review of the older model)

http://www.frostytech.com/articlevie...articleID=2199

Sure, its not really 'cheap' but you get a good heatisnk and a great quiet fan 'out of the box', no need to worry about if its a decent fan, etc.. Noctua is also avaible almost everywhwere, so its a easy suggestion.

You could probably get 75-99% of the performance of it with any old tower heatpipe heatsink and a quiet 120mm fan, and you might save a few bucks, but that will take a lot more research and there is always more of risk of gettign soemthing wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigerflag View Post
Think I could cool it passively with just a copper heatsink, case fan and the power supply exhaust fan?
Yes. But I probably wouldnt. A good 120mm fan at 5v near the 'centre' of the case is silent, or near enough. Better to not cook your CPU.

Last edited by cascade9; 06-14-2013 at 04:29 AM.
 
Old 06-14-2013, 11:57 AM   #13
tigerflag
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Thanks again, cascade9. Unfortunately I pulled the trigger on my order about an hour before you made your very thoughtful post. What I got is pretty much entirely different from what you suggest, but hopefully it will be OK. Your suggestions are ideal but cost almost $200 more than what I ended up spending. I'm not so broke that I need a bottom-of-the-barrel system, but I'm not rich, either. An extra $200 would cancel out any savings that underclocking/undervolting would give me on the electricity bill. Here's what I got:

Core i3 3225 - has decent HD-4000 graphics for futureproofing and only cost ~$15 more than similar processors with HD-2500 or less. Only 55W. Idling without my graphics card will trim off about 25 watts.

MSI H77MA-G43 mATX motherboard - it has military-grade components which might be just hype, but hopefully means it isn't garbage. This benchmark comparison showed it has decently low power consumption. Having Directron test it before shipping it.

2-4GB Mushkin Enhanced Blackline DDR3 1600 - I like Mushkin, and like that it's made in the USA.

Here's the iffy part:

MASSCOOL 8W2002F1M4 90mm HSF - from what I read, the stock cooler only gets loud at full-load high temps. I don't usually do anything that would cause that. This is pretty much a drop-in replacement for the stock cooler, but with a copper core so it should be more efficient.

It's a downdraft design like my current cooler, which also has a copper core and is dead silent. It's larger than my current cooler but not too large. Widely spaced fins don't have as much surface area as a lot of thin fins closely spaced, but it gets really dusty here and wide-spaced fins work better between cleanings. If it turns out to be noisy, it's cheap enough that I won't cry about replacing it.

Quote:
Umm....you've got to be kidding. I take it you havent seen a retail intel CPU heatsink for a long time. They are tiny in most cases.
I meant aftermarket Intel coolers. Haven't looked at heatsink/fans in years, and was surprised to see all the tall, wide, complicated designs.

I really appreciate your help! Hopefully my choices haven't been too stupid.
 
Old 06-14-2013, 02:33 PM   #14
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AMD recently is in talks with Valve for developing a Steam Box that is supposed to run some Linux variant (akin to xbox or PS4 probably) and they stepped up their Linux driver support (just look up how many betas are around in the recent months) - even their OSS driver is coming of age, it already has HW decoding done (ironically it works via nvidia's vdpau interface) and proper thermal throttling written and in the pipes (i mean hell, aka legal review).
Nvidia always had good support for Linux and noone said it will go away. They still make their living out of GPUs for PCs mainly AFAIK.
Intel historically had BAD (capital letters) Linux support until recently when they started to ramp up their efforts for the hd 2000 and newer series IGPs. Now they have decent drivers, but the supported features can differ greatly between kernels and libraries used by various distros. So, its a throw of dice, but newer kernels and newer libmesa are better usually since the biggest advancements are in recent mesa and kernels - meaning they are not in mainline kernels and not in standard distros. This is ESPECIALLY true for more recent models.

There are no proprietary drivers for them like AMD and Nvidia has (used both and those drivers work really well) so you have to go with the driver that comes with your distro or recompile some essential graphics libraries which needs a certain level of expertise (mainly to recover stuff if you broke something, which can happen with a high degree of probability in this case).

Whereas you can install the full proprietary nvidia/AMD driver's latest version on virtually any modern distro, from a single package that can be downloaded from their respective sites without the need of messing around with critical graphics libs.
Really, i installed both drivers quite a number of times (both from packages from their site and from distro packages) and it was running 2 commands - install and set up xorg.conf then reboot. Nothing else.

These Intel drivers might or might not work as you would like and certainly DO NOT have neither the quality or performance of the Windows drivers (you have to look up Linux benchmarks specifically for your intended hardware, Windows benchmarks usually have very very different results compared to Linux since they use different graphics acceleration interfaces).
Intel driver support is ok for desktop web/film use on Linux, but it offers far less features than AMD or nvidias proprietary stuff. For any 3d (gaming) on Linux, still nvidia or AMD is the way to go if you want maximum compatibility.

I am AMD fan (although i built most recent office desktops with Intel cpus...) who used for years AMD CPUs and nvidia graphics until last Christmas when i got an AMD APU(A8-5500, 4 cores@ 3.2 GHz, up to 3.7 (theoretical)/3.6 (actual) Turbo speeds, 65w). Turns out the APUs (7xxx series IGP) are very stable with AMD's fglrx driver (or Catalyst). I was used to nvidia's famous drivers before, but AMD's runs just as stable (and actually noticeably FASTER on displaying unaccelerated stuff) with Xfce.

It has an embarassingly small (really, its tiny compared to Intel's stock cooler) cooler that, despite its size, its actually quiet (i have the open case on my desk at the right of my monitor but barely makes any noise really). It does let the CPU to warm up to 60 C (it becomes noisier, but not annoying), but it can hold that temp for the duration of heavy usage (compiling with 3-4 threads etc) without thermal throttling below its nominal speed (actually it can hold 100 or so extra MHz speeds via turbo core with all 4 threads capped for long time). Add the fact that this summer there are 26-28C ambient temps here in this room...
So, thermal and power-wise this APU is really good, actually from sensory information heat-wise (and has the same noise level) it behaves exactly my previous Athlon II 250 x2 3.00 GHz/65w, only has twice the threads, a very good IGP and a smaller heatsink.
Excellent for my needs, i have it run 24/7 so low power envelope is essential, but i also need more threads since i run VMs on it (1 permanently). I also happen to play TF2, urban terror etc sometimes, they run perfectly well also on the IGP so im happy camper.

Contrary of what was said before, AMDs APUs and newer gpus have actually working HW decoding with fglrx too (actual xvba - its really the equivalent of vdpau in terms of performance only with slightly lower codec support) if you use xbmc's FernetMenta branch (i compiled it and can confirm that it works - can play youtube 1080p or 1080p clips/movies without issues at ~20% CPU usage - ~10% is when xbmc is idling so the actual decoding is around ~10% or so). But you need to compile it if you dont run Ubuntu (they have precompiled packages for it) and it needs tons of dependent dev libs (+ a file copy for xvba support).

All the above means - if it doesnt works well, go buy a cheap nvidia or AMD card that sucks the least power. And AMDs APUs are really good even on Linux.

Last edited by gradinaruvasile; 06-14-2013 at 02:35 PM.
 
Old 06-15-2013, 12:03 AM   #15
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Thank you very much.
 
  


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