When Intel gambled by packaging its graphics processing unit (GPU) with the central processing unit (CPU) in last year’s Clarkdale the home theater PC (HTPC) niche benefited immensely from the power saving, performance gain and features like HD audio bit streaming provided by the new platform. The bet obviously paid off, because this year’s Sandy Bridge melds the GPU and CPU on the same die promising significant performance improvements for both units, dedicated transcode hardware, further reductions in TDP and frame sequential 3D Blu-ray (BD)/HDMI 1.4 support. As good as Clarkdale was it was not perfect however, with issues in the level of refresh rate precision used to playback video content - most notably using 24Hz instead of 23.976Hz to handle 24p. Today we are fortunate to have an Intel Core i5-2500K CPU/GPU and BH67BL motherboard on hand to find out if Sandy Bridge is a worthy successor and viable competitor to the last twelve months of progress in our marketplace.
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