I am using a EL1300G-02W computer as a HTPC using MythTv.
It would play back 720p HD video just fine with the original processor, but couldn’t quite commercial flag new recordings in real-time while also watching a live feed. [This wasn’t a big issue, as I very rarely watch new recordings live.]
Even though it works working perfectly fine as a MythTV box with the original processor, I had been keeping an eye open on Ebay for a replacement X2 (dual core) processor for the AM2 socket.
I was limited to CPU’s that produced 45W or less of power, which basically means the “e” line ( 4450e, 5050e, 4850e, BE-2400, 3250e). These types of processors had been selling for $50-60, but then I lucked out and found an an AMD Athlon X2 BE-2400 2.3 GHz Processor which I was able to get cheaper than average ($32 w/ shipping!).
I decided that $32 (plus some thermal paste I already owned) was cheap enough to upgrade the CPU even though I didn’t really need the extra horsepower right now. The upgrade procedure was very painless. After removing four spring mounted screws that held the heat-sync and fan on top of the original processor, I lifted the ZIF socket lever, pulled out the old CPU, put in the new CPU, spread some new thermal paste on the heat-sync, and reversed my steps to put the fan and heat-sync back on. Total time: 5 minutes. When I powered the computer back on everything was recognized and working right off the bat, and I had plenty of extra CPU power for running simultaneous transcode and commercial flagging jobs.
The new CPU (Athlon X2 BE-2400) had the same sizes of L1 and L2 cache as the old one, (Athlon 2650e), but the memory throughput was higher (18GB/sec vs. 12GB/sec on the L1 and 3.5GB/sec vs. 2.4GB/sec on the L2). It was also able to access the 2GB of main memory at DDR 924 (462MHz – 2625 MB/sec) instead of DDR803 (401MHz – 2065MB/sec).
Power impact: The BE-2400 CPU takes more power (of course!) raising the idle power usage of the computer from 25 watts to 30 watts, and also significantly raises the maximum power usage (from 40 watts to 65 watts) when the CPU is running full tilt on both cores.
I don’t mind raising the maximum ceiling 15 watts, as I rarely run the CPU at maximum, and with the faster/dual cpu’s, it should finish jobs more quickly (possibly more efficiently overall). I have decided that a continuous 5 watt penalty (when sitting idle) isn’t a bad price to pay for having (around 3X) extra horsepower around should I need it. Being able to finish ripping a CD or DVD quickly, or commercial flag two recordings at once, although not a requirement, is a nice advantage.