4" x 4" x 2" Intel i3 mini computer with dual HDMI or Thunderbolt - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Am I the only one who thinks this thing is the perfect fit for a HTPC? $300 and it should handle everything save for a tuner. Throw in a cheap SSD and 8gb of memory for a box I can tape to the back of my TV.

Dual HDMI:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856102002&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&AID=10440897&PID=3332167&SID=u00000687

Thunderbolt:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856102001&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&AID=10440897&PID=3332167&SID=u00000687
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post #2 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 12:10 PM
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No. Horrible. Laptop RAM, soldered CPU, limited upgradeability. If the motherboard goes, you are screwed. I'd much prefer a mini-ITX build for an extra $200 with more slots and ports.
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post #3 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 12:18 PM
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I think it would make a great secondary media extender. Kind of a do-it-all-better Set Top Box replacement. Maybe a bit overpriced for that, but the form factor is also a consideration.
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post #4 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 01:01 PM
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]I have one. It's great! I'm not sure why someone would be so debbie-downer on a new form-factor from Intel? What happens when everyone starts licensing this spec? It could mean some sweet new gear.

When you open it, there's a slot for mini wireless card with antenna leads and a msata SSD slot on top of that. The memory is an off-set double-stacked type configuration. I'm assuming you can put in two 8gb SO-DIMMs should you desire. I dropped in 4gb and a 120gb SSD from Mushkin. ($99 newegg).

Windows 8 friggen flies on this thing and it doesn't get all that warm with a full load. I rolled it back to Win 7 due to software requirements around here.

FWIW - The box even dings the Intel chimes when you open it. Pretty funny.

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post #5 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 01:02 PM
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I think it is a decent deal. To round it out with RAM, SSD and OS it comes to $500 or so, though.

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post #6 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I think it is a decent deal. To round it out with RAM, SSD and OS it comes to $500 or so, though.

If you use XBMC instead of WMC, you could get a stick of 2 GB ram, a USB flash drive instead of an SSD, and a free copy of OpenELEC. That would hardly add to the cost at all.
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post #7 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 03:51 PM
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Unless you want to stream Live/Recorded TV with a copy protected flag on it from a network tuner and have a decent EPG.

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post #8 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Unless you want to stream Live/Recorded TV with a copy protected flag on it from a network tuner and have a decent EPG.

Not everyone on this forum needs live TV on their HTPC smile.gif

Plus for basic live TV without copy once content XBMC isn't that bad.
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post #9 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 04:22 PM
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I guess that is true but I am giving more complete information.

For me, I'd just use a streamer if it weren't for getting Live/Recorded TV through it, but that is not what everybody needs.

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post #10 of 53 Old 12-12-2012, 05:05 PM
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It makes a great Linux box for video playback and net surfing but isn't all that great for Windows once you factor in the expenses and performance for the money compared to other products you can throw together for the same price.
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post #11 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 04:30 AM
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I'm assuming this has some kind of fan for the i3. The last smaller-than-mini-itx computer that I bought (Giada N3) had a very small and very loud fan, with no way to control it. Can someone who has one of these comment on the fan and noise level.
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post #12 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 05:46 AM
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According to reviews, you can barely hear it in a quiet room if you are close to it. The noise measurements were less than a single decibel.
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post #13 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 08:14 AM
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Thinking of one of these for my bedroom. I would love to know what it can do with High Bitrate content, and also 3d.

How is the 24p support on it.
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post #14 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 08:46 AM
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Intel HD4000 graphics. It should do just fine.

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post #15 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 08:51 AM
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hmm... very tempting for something low cost for my bedroom and my home theater.
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post #16 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 08:55 AM
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http://techreport.com/news/23944/intel-nuc-nicked-by-nic-heat-quirk

Not sure if Intel has fixed the heat issue.
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post #17 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 09:02 AM
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^^ That's a good point. It shouldn't run hot at all.. Warm maybe but not hot. It shouldn't need anything but passive cooling IMHO.

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post #18 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 09:19 AM
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They said it doesn't effect the gigabit one. Also its mainly for the wireless card possibly heating up the SSD, so I am guessing if you are not using the wireless card at all it will not matter.
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post #19 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flipper59 View Post

http://techreport.com/news/23944/intel-nuc-nicked-by-nic-heat-quirk
Not sure if Intel has fixed the heat issue.

Legit Reviews seems to have traced the issue to (1) the Thunderbolt model specifically (SKU DC3217BY), and (2) the Wireless card (Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 wireless card):

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/2083/4/

I have the Dual HDMI model and a third-party Wifi card, but I'm curious if the root cause is a conflict with the 6235 Wifi card on the Thunderbolt model, i.e. if a third-party Wifi card on the Thunderbolt model would resolve the issue.
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post #20 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 09:24 AM
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I have a resource thread for the Intel NUC over on the Anandtech forum:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2289083

So far it looks like it has Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8 support (as well as full unofficial OSX support, if you're into that), and it can handle playback of 1080p MKV Bluray rips, complete with 7.1 surround-sound. Current max upgrades are a 240GB mSATA drive (480GB due out next month for $99) and 16 gigs of RAM (runs around $70 online). So fully-spec'd out, you're looking at around $650 (Dual HDMI NUC, 240GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Wifi card, C5 power cable, tax, shipping), which isn't bad considering it's so tiny and only uses around 31w max (2.5w sleep, 8w idle, 20w normal operation from reviews). Mine gets very warm but not hot. The mSATA SSD definitely gets hot inside. You can argue that the Mac Mini is a better buy in the $599+ pricerange, but you only get 4 gigs of RAM and a mechanical hard drive, plus a higher 85-watt max power rating, vs. a 20w-normal system with an SSD inside.

I really, really like it.
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post #21 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 09:38 AM
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For size reference, it's approximately the same size as a WDTV Live Streaming player: (WDTV on top, NUC underneath)

https://twitter.com/i/#!/weaksauce12/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2FFkzvxcEZ

It's a perfect match with my already-ridiculously-small 720p LED mini-projector: (Viewsonic PLED-W500)

http://i.imgur.com/qOkIo.jpg

It played back a 1080p h.264 file at about 30% CPU. With just Win7 & VLC running, it used just above a gig of RAM total:



Zero hiccups. I'm in wuv tongue.gif
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post #22 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

^^ That's a good point. It shouldn't run hot at all.. Warm maybe but not hot. It shouldn't need anything but passive cooling IMHO.

It runs pretty dang warm...not scalding hot, but very warm. It has a small maglev fan just under the the top cover, with an exhaust port:

https://twitter.com/i/#!/weaksauce12/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2Fi6NUKgFu

Even though the CPU is 22nm, it still gets pretty toasty!
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post #23 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post

It makes a great Linux box for video playback and net surfing but isn't all that great for Windows once you factor in the expenses and performance for the money compared to other products you can throw together for the same price.

The other factor to consider is power consumption...it has a 65-watt power brick, but it looks like it uses about 20 watts in normal operation. The highest I've seen it is around 31 - 32 watts. That's a significant power savings over a 60 to 200w Mini-ITX or 350w+ Micro/full-ATX system. Even on a Mini-ITX, your power bill is cut in half with a NUC (if not 1/3!), especially if you keep it running 24/7.
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post #24 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 10:31 AM
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I think the real question on our minds right now is when Haswell will pop into a NUC. A quad-core Haswell NUC with USB 3.0 would be a potent little box and an excellent value for both Linux and Windows users.
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post #25 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 11:14 AM
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Nice idea, but their overall implementation seems a bit lacking, especially for small HTPC uses. Zotac definitely did it first, considering their case and layout is so similar.

Also the thunderbolt model seems almost forced, out of place for this kind of machine.


At $300 for the barebones, its coming awful close to making a DIY version with better specs:
DQ77KB $140 (laptop 19V powersupply: $0~20, there is also DH61AG if you really need to penny pinch)
i3 3220T or 3225 $120~135 (both are much faster than the laptop cpu)
Various ITX cases from $30~100, there are some very slick aluminum ones. Sure it will be a bit larger, but not enough that it means anything. (plenty are still VESA mountable etc)

My personal version is for a router, and its in a completely silent fanless case, for the cpu/board/case I spent <$400.

And in a way when you consider adding ram/HDD/etc to final price its also competing with prebuilt SFF systems too, example:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883265049


I still think they should've gone fanless and not been afraid to put more metal in the case for cooling, especially using a 17W cpu!
Its like they went small just for the sake of being small, not because it was the best end result.
Also, going by the tray cpu price of $225 in 1000 unit orders, the case and board combined are only $75, but since they provide it all, guess they ate some of those profit margins smile.gif

Nearly dead silent HTPC ver 2.0: i3-4340 w/ Noctua NH-L9i on Z87E-itx inside CM130 elite, fanless PSU, SSD OS drive
SAN shares via 40GbE tunneled over 56Gb infiniband links
microcenter & ebay = severe risks to my wallet
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post #26 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 11:38 AM
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lol... a bit expensive and limited options.. but if you want small and turn key more than options and power- it's a good choice.

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #27 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aluminum View Post

Also the thunderbolt model seems almost forced, out of place for this kind of machine.

Well, to be fair - the original purpose of the NUC is as a kiosk/display PC, thus the Thunderbolt - for example, we use a 2560x1600 informational display at my workplace (Tbolt/MiniDisplayPort fits the bill nicely here), and the NUC would be a lot better than what we use now tongue.gif
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post #28 of 53 Old 12-13-2012, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post

According to reviews, you can barely hear it in a quiet room if you are close to it. The noise measurements were less than a single decibel.
Can you explain that statement? I've never heard it called 'a single decibel'.
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post #29 of 53 Old 12-14-2012, 05:13 AM
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I don't understand the negative feedback here.

For $400 shipped I got this and it works just fine. I can't describe how tiny it is (yes there are the specs).

The i3 should out perform most or all of the Atom and AMD offerings which are the next closest class and size. I don't think it is right to compare to full powered i3's, it is underpowered for a reason. But it is very capable and definitely noticeable vs Atom offerings.

I think it is a fantastic option if you want a tiny size, excellent build quality and components (things just work very smoothly), and very quiet. Perfect bedroom build.

You get what you pay for with this machine and the Intel components work together very well.

IMHO Intel did a great job here.
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post #30 of 53 Old 12-14-2012, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FantaXP7 View Post

I don't understand the negative feedback here.
For $400 shipped I got this and it works just fine. I can't describe how tiny it is (yes there are the specs).
The i3 should out perform most or all of the Atom and AMD offerings which are the next closest class and size. I don't think it is right to compare to full powered i3's, it is underpowered for a reason. But it is very capable and definitely noticeable vs Atom offerings.
I think it is a fantastic option if you want a tiny size, excellent build quality and components (things just work very smoothly), and very quiet. Perfect bedroom build.
You get what you pay for with this machine and the Intel components work together very well.
IMHO Intel did a great job here.

Yup, it should make an excellent streaming box. Its use is a little limited on other HTPC features because of its size limitations, its not ideal as a DVR, no blu-ray, etc. We are quickly going to a streaming format for home theater anyways, Redbox is even launching its own streaming service.
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