AMD Fusion E-350 HTPC with XBMC

After playing around with my Netgear NTV-550, I wanted something more user friendly, more powerful and more beautiful. So I decided to build an HTPC (Home Theater PC) based on AMD’s new Fusion E-350 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). The E-350 APU offers low power usage, integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics and slightly better performance than ION-based systems. My goal was to build an HTPC that is small, silent and able to play full-HD content on my network. I am using XBMC with the Aeon MQ2skin which allows the device to play every popular media format, be user friendly and look stunningly beautiful (screenshots ahead).

HTPC banner xbmc aeon screenshot mixed v2 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

A little promotional banner I've made from the XBMC logo and an Aeon MQ2-screenshot I took

The hardware parts list

First some things about the hardware. I accidentally chose the wrong memory. The Corsair CMV4GX3M2A1333C9is officially tested by Gigabyte, but you can’t use the two modules at the same time: only one works. Yes, Gigabyte has mentioned that you can only use one at a time in the Approved Memory List, but it’s not very clear.

Quantity Part Cost
1 Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 motherboard € 130
1 Corsair CMV4GX3M2A1333C9 memory € 40
1 Intel 320 40GB SSD € 80
1 Antec ISK 300-65 case € 72,50
1 Noctua NF-R8-1800 80mm fan € 17
Total: € 339,50

I chose the Gigabyte motherboard because of the USB 3.0-ports, but you could also get an Asus or MSI motherboard that’s based on the AMD Fusion APU. In order to save some money you could use an USB-stick running XBMC Live or buy only 2GB of memory, which is enough (in fact I’m using only one 2GB memory module right now). Because the Antec fan included was not very silent (even in the lowest speed it generated an annoying tone) I replaced it with an 80mm Noctua NF-R8-1800 fan.

IMG 20110411 194731 580x435 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

The Antec ISK 300-65 case

IMG 20110411 195515 580x435 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Hardware boxes...

Clearer.
IMG 20110411 194946 580x435 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Back view.

IMG 20110411 195004 580x435 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Front view

Clearer.

XBMC Remote

I’m using the XBMC Remote Android app, which works great! I can use it as a remote control or simply scroll through all of the covers and select the media I would like to play. It even has a feature that automatically pauses the video and shows a caller photo + name when you receive a phone call while playing media with XBMC. It’s available in the Android Market, more information at the XBMC website. XBMC Remote for Android promotional teaser (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

XBMC Aeon screenshots

Now it’s time to show the beauty of XBMC and the Aeon skin! Aeon supports many beautiful views (cover flow style, wall of covers, big list and many more) for movies, tv shows and music views. The second screenshot shows the ‘Poster’ view, but I’m currently using the ‘multiplex wall’ view because I find it more clear.

screenshot000 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Main screen - movies

screenshot002 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Movies screen (poster view)

screenshot014 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Playing a movie (small movie info)

screenshot016 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Playing a movie (media controls)

screenshot019 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Movie info

TV shows screenshots

XBMC categorizes TV shows in seasons, but I forgot to make a screenshot of the seasons view.

screenshot000 2 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Main menu: TV shows

screenshot001 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

TV show banners

screenshot002 2 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

TV show episodes list

Music screenshots

screenshot008 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Main screen: music (now playing)

screenshot006 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Music overview (cover flow style)

screenshot007 2 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

Music album songs list

Settings screen screenshots

The Aeon skin is very easy to customize. You can change the location of on-screen objects, set backgrounds (rotating fan art is a great feature) and much more.

screenshot023 654x367 (AMD Fusion E 350 HTPC with XBMC)

XBMC + Aeon settings screen

Audio over HDMI problem

The Gigabyte motherboard has an HDMI-out port which I connected to my tv. I did not manage to get anything better than stereo sound through the HDMI-out port (so that the TV can pass it through to an home cinema set), not even after trying different drivers. I eventually gave up and connected the S/PDIF-port directly to the cinema set, works great. The problem was that the tv ‘said’ to the htpc that it only has two speakers on-board, and the audio drivers then limit the audio output to stereo. You might of might not have the same problem with your tv. Everything else works perfectly out-of-the-box. XBMC fully supports DTS and AC3 and other audio formats. My HTPC perfectly plays 1080p content.

Operating system

I’m using Windows 7. You could also use XBMC Live, or XBMC under Linux, but it’s not fully supported. If you want to use Linux you have to patch XBMC (or compile your own version) to support VAAPI (video hardware acceleration for Linux), see http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=99487.

  • http://profiles.google.com/gwm2005 G.W. Mensink

    Ziet er wel awsome uit bro :D

  • Marc

    Hi,
    which OS do you use?
    Thanks, Marc

    • http://www.jacobras.nl Jacob Ras

      Oops, forgot to mention… I’m using Windows 7. You could also use XBMC Live, or XBMC under Linux, but I’m not sure if it’s fully supported. If you want to use Linux it looks like you have to patch XBMC (or compile your own version) to support VAAPI (video hardware acceleration for Linux), see http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?t=99487 .

  • Cmos999

    which version of XBMC you are using? 10.1 or upper?

    • http://www.jacobras.nl Jacob Ras

      @febd45ddbb2414c7eaf5e5aa767563b5:disqus I’m currently using XBMC 10.1 (Dharma). It’s the newest stable release as far as I know.

  • John

    Very similar to my own setup with an AsRock E-350 motherboard, 2GB ram and a 3,5 inch 2TB hdd. I have included a bluray-player in a spire powercube case. I also run Dharma on windows 7. I am curious what your movie settings are since I notice a little stuttering at some 1080p movies. Alls 720p content plays perfectly, and I think that the stuttering with some 1080p content is due to incorrect settings and not because the little system lacks ‘power’.

    • http://www.jacobras.nl Jacob Ras

      Wrong refresh rate settings might cause stuttering. Since I enabled XBMC’s “auto refresh rate” option I don’t see any stuttering anymore. You can find it in the settings menu under Playback -> Adjust display refresh rate to match video.

      • bwfan

        I am using a Sapphire E350 AMD Fusion 1.6Ghz setup, 8GB memory, 60GB SSD, on board HDMI video, on Windows 7 Ultimate. I found with my Samsung 50″ that this required a reconfiguration of the video calibration over scan settings on my XBMC as the screen was not full width. Once done all video is smooth (480 avi, 720p mkv, 1080p mkv).

  • Guest

    hi, how much watts do your system need?

    • http://www.jacobras.nl Jacob Ras

      The Antec ISK 300-65 case I’m using has a 65 Watt power supply, but that’s the maximum. AnandTech tested a similar E350 system in this review ( http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-amds-e350-supplants-ion-for-miniitx/7 ), they measured that the system uses 33,4 Watt on average under load.

  • Stealthx

    Could you please tell me how it works with different types of 1080p films? We can have 8GB; 16GB or 50GB FULL HD film rip only with diferent bitrate. What is your experience?

    • http://www.jacobras.nl Jacob Ras

      The max. movie size I tested was almost 16GB, worked perfect.

  • Guest

    Re Audio over HDMI problem
    Glad to see you sorted this out.  I’d suggest that because your HDMI cable was directly connected to a stereo device (your TV) then this is why you had the problem.  What follows is my experience which may be of benefit to others:
    I have a HTPC with a Radeon HD5450 card providing the HDMI audio.  I recently purchased a 7.1 surround Yamaha system.  So I now have a HDMI cable going from the HD5450 to the AV receiver and another HDMI cable from the AV receiver to the TV.  I don’t have to turn the AV receiver on to get sound.  In ‘sleep’ mode it will pass video and audio through to the TV so that I can still get sound from the TV’s stereo speakers.  I can then turn the AV receiver on if I want sound from the surround speakers rather than the TV.  However, what I have discovered is that UNLESS THE RECEIVER IS TURNED ON FIRST (i.e. before I boot the HTPC) then the HD5450 will have only detected the two channels from the TV. which is then all that will be available for output.  To check this in Win7 go to Control Panel –> Sound –> AMD HDMI Output (listed as a playback device) –> Supported Formats and check the available channels.  So if I turn the AV receiver on AFTER booting the HTPC, output from the HD5450 will remain at two channels.
    I also use XBMC and audio encoded with discrete 5.1 channels plays perfect (once I got the above sequence sorted out!).

  • Bram

    How well does MQ2 run on the e-350? Is it usually smooth or do you get a lot of laggs? I’m planning on building a htpc myself, and I’m trying to figure out if the e-350 has enough CPU power to run XBMC fluidly.

    • http://www.jacobras.nl Jacob Ras

      It runs smooth enough to give you a fluid media center experience. Aeon MQ3 runs even smoother!

      I do notice some delay between selecting ‘movies’ and actually seeing the movies on the screen. It’s not annoying though, so I think the e-350 is a great choice for XBMC + Aeon MQ3.

  • Topsub

    Have you done a write up on the configuation on XBMC and the setup of the  backend of getting your movies / tv shows?

  • Mail2me4info

    Wel done jacob looks great.
    I also going to build a htpc with amd fusion A6-3500.
    So i installaled xmbc and tweaked it to my needs.
    Everything is workingfine except one thing.
    Subs that play with dvd are yeloww/cyaan and i cant get it to change.
    Do you know of this problem and do you now a fix for this?

  • guest

    Re: Audio over HDMI
    The following instructions are for an ION (they worked perfectly for mine) but they can probably be modified slightly for the AMD:
    http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=HOW-TO:Setup_audio_over_HDMI_on_nVidia_GeForce/nForce_controller 

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  • SteDolphin

    Hi, I have the same processor, on a different MB, Asrock, and as you mentioned the stock fan is very noisy. How did you manage to install an 80mm fan ? The original one is a 40mm (am I right ?)

    Thanks a lot

    Is it working like a charm, I have installed Ubuntu 12.04 64bit

    Steve

  • dexter2111 gg

    it work with a 5.1 analag audio sistem , connected to the main board jacks, ?

    can play dts ( 5.1 analag audio sistem , connected to the main board jacks) in this configuration ?

  • Ikem Krueger

    I own an HP Pavilion dm1 that is build around the AMD Fusion E-350 platform.

    I use Linux Mint Debian on it, and I have hardware accelerated video.

    Just install vaapi packages and that’s it:

    sudo apt-get install xvba-va-driver libva-glx1 vainfo