People keep asking me for the specs of my XBMC boxes. Although I thought I'd done that here (old) and here (new). I've got them line by line now.
Compaq EVO D510 Small Desktop with Intel Pentium 4 2.8ghz processor. 512meg of Ram and 13gig ATA hardddrive. 5x speed creative (no-region) PC DVD drive and GeForce 6200 128meg AGP card (low profile card with DVI output). Came with 2 full PCI slots free and one low profile AGP slot, now have a Trust 7.1 sound card slotted in the PCI slots. Power usage is 185 watts sounds silent unless playing a disc.
Lenovo ThinkCentre M55p Small Desktop with Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86ghz processor. 2gig of Ram an 80gig SATA harddrive. 16X speed DVD-ROM and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3000 (onboard with VGA output). Came with 1 full PCI slot free and 1 weird (swear its not, some forums say its a ADD 2-R or PEG slot) PCI Express slot, now have a Trust 7.1 sound card slotted in the slots. Power usage is 225 watts but still also silent unless playing a disc.
Both machines are running Ubuntu 8.04.1 with Pulseaudio savaged to not run. The Lenovo has the latest beta of XBMC 2.2 while the Compaq is running the mainline 2.1. The main difference is in the CPU usage.
I ran the Lenovo through some of the most challenging trailers and films I own and it made mince meat of everything. The Sony Advert where the colour balls are bouncing down the streets of San Francisco, you know the one. Well I got that in sub 1080p (1440×1080) and on the old machine playback would drop to sometimes 12fps on intense scene changes. Even the audio would sometimes break up and you could see the CPU running at 100% through out. Now with the new machine its running the whole thing at 40% on one CPU! My ultimate test was the Spiderman 3 trailer which was not only the full 1080p but at a high bit rate only reserved for BluRay. The old box would give up playing this half way through, while the new one got stuck in and hit a CPU peak of 60% for both CPUs. Playback was flawless except 3 frames it had dropped the whole 2mins. On other stuff like my HD Back to the Future and Matrix collection, it was perfect, even with DTS sound. This is what Home entertainment should be like…