any suggestions on good cheap used HTPCs from eBay? - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:02 PM
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Discuss the topic and not each other. Thanks.

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post #32 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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actually I'm totally fine with software.
I do light programming and any kind of software manipulation is ok with me (even fun).

I just don't like to deal with screws and hands-on stuff.
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post #33 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you gentlemen for the lively discussion and the suggestions.

So far the NUC option sounds appealing and that 199 dollar optiplex is pretty compelling as well.
As far as building it with individual components (case + power supply + etc), that seems like a huge hassle.
Not only do I have to buy individual things online, they could all have individual problems... returns... then I have to assemble, which if it takes hours I really don't want to do at all.
This is the main reason why I don't have an HTPC yet-- because I don't like the hassle.

As far as SSD, I have an SSD Macbook pro and an iMac so I understand the benefits.
But will it matter on a HTPC?
Won't the HTPC be sleeping most of the time? So the startup time won't matter too much.
Another thing is I have bulk company license for Windows so I can get windows 7 without cost for the computer if I need to.

Once again, DIY HARDWARE (not software) is really not my thing and I really despise dealing with screws so I would really like to avoid as much manual labor as possible unless it takes less than 30 minutes total.
Software setup is not an issue.
I can learn new software and fiddle with setups.

Opensource software is not an option for me as the OS has to have asian language support.
Windows is the only option really.
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post #34 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:43 PM
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When you have a large library of movies you will also have a large library of image files for your front end. Each movie will have at least one poster/box cover and a large background. I have numerous backgrounds saved for each movie and they rotate every few seconds.

Take this tv show example. The Miami Vice box set includes over 100 episodes, so I have them all saved here along with images and a synopsis for each one. The SSD helps cycle through them very quickly.

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post #35 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post
When you have a large library of movies you will also have a large library of image files for your front end. Each movie will have at least one poster/box cover and a large background. I have numerous backgrounds saved for each movie and they rotate every few seconds.

Take this tv show example. The Miami Vice box set includes over 100 episodes, so I have them all saved here along with images and a synopsis for each one. The SSD helps cycle through them very quickly.

ah I see.
I didn't think of that being an advantage.
Perhaps I should get an SSD after all.

What's a good size of SSD for a purely movies only HTPC experience?
128GB?
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post #36 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:47 PM
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I think 120/128gb is the right size. 60/64gb is theoretically possible, but you are going to be right at the storage limit. I think my recovery image is 83gb.
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post #37 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 01:58 PM
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Niveus stuff was super high end. Was. The cases and build quality are obviously still outstanding, but its all Vista era stuff. The hardware can't do some of the things that a modern $150 NUC can.

I bought a Niveus Vail (sans hard drive) for $75 on ebay about a year ago. Thats about what the CPU, RAM, and GPU are worth.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
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post #38 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 02:01 PM
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FWIW, I run a 60GB SSD with less than 30GB used. Admittedly, I run it pretty lean. It has the OS of course, plus a few other media related programs. I think it was about $40 on sale. Only took a couple of minutes to clone my old HDD and was back in business.
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post #39 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 02:18 PM
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For someone starting with a HTPC, that is a dam good starting point for specs (I would bet the video card from the FACTORY in that could run 1080p with out a problem).


Just by the numbers and specs for the dollar, You could not build that for less with the Windows License. And if you were thinking about basing the home theater around Windows Media Center, W 7 pro comes with it preinstalled.


Would love to see the insides of it, if it's a standard ATX motherboard, then you could pick out ANY home theater PC and just transplant it...


And you could do a home theater PC with less specs but, a nice starting point, no question. I might add a 2tb drive if you want a little movie/music storage (as 500gb wont go far) and maybe a tuner or 2 (if your doing live/DVR) and you should be off and running..


I have built about 75 custom home theater PCs based on windows media center can cable card tuners....cool stuff.

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post #40 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidinCT View Post
For someone starting with a HTPC, that is a dam good starting point for specs (I would bet the video card from the FACTORY in that could run 1080p with out a problem).


Just by the numbers and specs for the dollar, You could not build that for less with the Windows License. And if you were thinking about basing the home theater around Windows Media Center, W 7 pro comes with it preinstalled.


Would love to see the insides of it, if it's a standard ATX motherboard, then you could pick out ANY home theater PC and just transplant it...


And you could do a home theater PC with less specs but, a nice starting point, no question. I might add a 2tb drive if you want a little movie/music storage (as 500gb wont go far) and maybe a tuner or 2 (if your doing live/DVR) and you should be off and running..


I have built about 75 custom home theater PCs based on windows media center can cable card tuners....cool stuff.
Yeah, it should handle 1080p video with out any trouble. I'm fairly certain it uses a proprietary motherboard, but that's fairly common for the large OEM's especially with SFF PCs. It's a trade off, with the downside being limited replacement parts, but on the upside, you generally get better cooling solutions and a tool-less case. Even if you ignore the windows license, and add an SSD, you'd be hard pressed to find a better value on an equivalent PC.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #41 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
Yeah, it should handle 1080p video with out any trouble. I'm fairly certain it uses a proprietary motherboard, but that's fairly common for the large OEM's especially with SFF PCs. It's a trade off, with the downside being limited replacement parts, but on the upside, you generally get better cooling solutions and a tool-less case. Even if you ignore the windows license, and add an SSD, you'd be hard pressed to find a better value on an equivalent PC.

Not sure on the exact motherboard it uses but, this looks like it could be it...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Dell-Opt...item19f0608526


If it is, that pretty much looks like a ATX standard board....


The OP said he was looking to spend a 1G, This is $200, If the seller does not know how to work on/upgrade PCs, this would be a great starting point. The Motherboard only has 4 SATA ports and 2 would be used by the system (HD and DVD drive). A little flexibility but, not a lot


And it looks like it's only got VGA out, no DVI or HDMI. So a Video card upgrade might be in order (a quick pop in and install a few drivers to get HDMI).


Crap, I still have a NVIDIA 9600GT 1gb card in my home theater PC and it runs everything I can dump into it, including full uncompressed Blu-ray discs..


Even if the buyer didn't buy a SSD, I bet it would run fine. I would dump a nice 2tb drive for media storage (You don't need a SSD for that). It could be a reasonable price for a kick but HDPC, tilt it on it's side and it's not the worst looking HTPC I have seen.


Let's see, $200 for the system, $120 for a 2-4tb drive(7200rpm, maybe Newegg), $100-125 for a NVIDIA midline card that has HDMI out. Before tuners based of Windows 7 (Windows Media center ?). Your at less than 1/2 what the OP wanted to spend...


Upgrade the video card to the $200 range and now you can play top end PC games on your TV


HTPC out the door for under $500....seems like a smoking deal to me, OP I would jump at this. It really is not hard to upgrade PCs hardware wise, you could find everything you need (upgrade video card, install a hard drive) on youtube.... Really easy stuff..

-Dave

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post #42 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DavidinCT View Post
Not sure on the exact motherboard it uses but, this looks like it could be it...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Dell-Opt...item19f0608526


If it is, that pretty much looks like a ATX standard board....


The OP said he was looking to spend a 1G, This is $200, If the seller does not know how to work on/upgrade PCs, this would be a great starting point. The Motherboard only has 4 SATA ports and 2 would be used by the system (HD and DVD drive). A little flexibility but, not a lot


And it looks like it's only got VGA out, no DVI or HDMI. So a Video card upgrade might be in order (a quick pop in and install a few drivers to get HDMI).


Crap, I still have a NVIDIA 9600GT 1gb card in my home theater PC and it runs everything I can dump into it, including full uncompressed Blu-ray discs..


Even if the buyer didn't buy a SSD, I bet it would run fine. I would dump a nice 2tb drive for media storage (You don't need a SSD for that). It could be a reasonable price for a kick but HDPC, tilt it on it's side and it's not the worst looking HTPC I have seen.


Let's see, $200 for the system, $120 for a 2-4tb drive(7200rpm, maybe Newegg), $100-125 for a NVIDIA midline card that has HDMI out. Before tuners based of Windows 7 (Windows Media center ?). Your at less than 1/2 what the OP wanted to spend...


Upgrade the video card to the $200 range and now you can play top end PC games on your TV


HTPC out the door for under $500....seems like a smoking deal to me, OP I would jump at this. It really is not hard to upgrade PCs hardware wise, you could find everything you need (upgrade video card, install a hard drive) on youtube.... Really easy stuff..
okay i will buy it then.

Just to clarify though, I was hoping to stay significantly under 500 rather than spend 500.
I am hoping just this computer will be enough without any upgrades at all.
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post #43 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 05:56 PM
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okay i will buy it then.

Just to clarify though, I was hoping to stay significantly under 500 rather than spend 500.
I am hoping just this computer will be enough without any upgrades at all.
Don't get too excited just yet. These are going for a lot more than $199 by the time the bidding is over. If it doesn't work out, just keep an eye on slickdeals. The longer you wait, the better/cheaper box you'll get anyway.
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post #44 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Don't get too excited just yet. These are going for a lot more than $199 by the time the bidding is over. If it doesn't work out, just keep an eye on slickdeals. The longer you wait, the better/cheaper box you'll get anyway.
so I should look for optiplex?
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post #45 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 06:46 PM
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so I should look for optiplex?
Optiplex would be my recommendation (I've worked with several models over the years and outside of the Capacitor Plague that effected some of our GX2x0 machines, they've been rock solid.)

If you're looking for something that is ready to go without upgrades, then I'd suggest looking for something with Core i3 (or higher) 4GB of ram (or higher) and HDMI for video.

The one I posted a link to previously I found by searching for "Optiplex i3" and then looked at the specs. If you aren't using Windows, or have access to a copy through work, then there are some others that are similarly priced that don't include OS, that you could consider (I skipped over those in my initial search.)

If you're impatient and don't want to wait to bargain hunt, you should still be able to find something to suit your needs for $300 with a "Buy Now" option.
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post #46 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 07:16 PM
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I have an off-lease optiplex 990 that I got for free minus the HDD or license. It uses displayport, but it still makes a great openelec box (just had to buy a displayport->hdmi cable)

So are you using a translation engine to post in this forum? I've never realized the terminal looks so foreign to someone unfamiliar with the english alphabet, but now that you mentioned it I can see how obvious that is. Do you need international shipping for the htpc as well?

I'm not sure how much of XBMC is offered in various languages, though I know that skins are available in translation (which takes care of >90% of what you'd need). While openelec is not available in translations (afaik) if you have enough command of english to set it up once then you are pretty much done. You really don't need any linux knowledge to operate it. When it boots, restarts, shuts down, updates, etc the only thing you really see by default is XBMC. It's akin to running XBMC as your bare metal OS (and if you want to continue out that metaphor, it uses the linux kernel as a hardware abstraction layer without any x environment)

I didn't get to see any of the cross talk before it was deleted, but a large majority of advice givers amongst this forum still haven't used openelec. They also don't use XBMC, so their knowledge and know-how is built from windows up. Nothing wrong with that, but they are probably mistaken about the maintenance and operations required to run openelec just for the sake of having no first hand experience with it. Essentially if you can download and unzip a tar.gz, run a batch file to create an install stick, boot to the install stick and install the OS, then everything from then on would just be running XBMC. All the translations provided by transifex (skins, add-ons, core components, etc) would be applied like any other add-on can be within XBMC. It makes very little sense to run windows if you want to use XBMC, since it has a hefty additional overhead . . . i.e. if you go with windows you have to let it apply updates on a schedule, use 4GB instead of 2GB of RAM, really need an SSD for the boot drive. Lots of trade-offs to get to the point where you point your browser to xbmc.org and download the windows version vs just starting with XBMC from the get-go

I could see how setting up windows from boot is much easier if you need translations. I guess the first thing it asks you is your language, that is something big companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple do very well
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post #47 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I have an off-lease optiplex 990 that I got for free minus the HDD or license. It uses displayport, but it still makes a great openelec box (just had to buy a displayport->hdmi cable)

So are you using a translation engine to post in this forum? I've never realized the terminal looks so foreign to someone unfamiliar with the english alphabet, but now that you mentioned it I can see how obvious that is. Do you need international shipping for the htpc as well?

I'm not sure how much of XBMC is offered in various languages, though I know that skins are available in translation (which takes care of >90% of what you'd need). While openelec is not available in translations (afaik) if you have enough command of english to set it up once then you are pretty much done. You really don't need any linux knowledge to operate it. When it boots, restarts, shuts down, updates, etc the only thing you really see by default is XBMC. It's akin to running XBMC as your bare metal OS (and if you want to continue out that metaphor, it uses the linux kernel as a hardware abstraction layer without any x environment)

I didn't get to see any of the cross talk before it was deleted, but a large majority of advice givers amongst this forum still haven't used openelec. They also don't use XBMC, so their knowledge and know-how is built from windows up. Nothing wrong with that, but they are probably mistaken about the maintenance and operations required to run openelec just for the sake of having no first hand experience with it. Essentially if you can download and unzip a tar.gz, run a batch file to create an install stick, boot to the install stick and install the OS, then everything from then on would just be running XBMC. All the translations provided by transifex (skins, add-ons, core components, etc) would be applied like any other add-on can be within XBMC. It makes very little sense to run windows if you want to use XBMC, since it has a hefty additional overhead . . . i.e. if you go with windows you have to let it apply updates on a schedule, use 4GB instead of 2GB of RAM, really need an SSD for the boot drive. Lots of trade-offs to get to the point where you point your browser to xbmc.org and download the windows version vs just starting with XBMC from the get-go

I could see how setting up windows from boot is much easier if you need translations. I guess the first thing it asks you is your language, that is something big companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple do very well
The reason for an Asian language Windows is because my family has international watching habits and need to be able to use certain websites and applications which broadcast international programming.
Without an Asian OS, these applications and websites often do not work because of the unicode mumbo jumbo, which I don't really understand.

For those reasons, Windows is essential. Any other OS will be unacceptable for my use.

I speak/read/write English so no translation will be necessary.

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post #48 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:27 PM
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The reason for an Asian language Windows is because my family has international watching habits and need to be able to use certain websites and applications which broadcast international programming.
Without an Asian OS, these applications and websites often do not work because of the unicode mumbo jumbo, which I don't really understand.

For those reasons, Windows is essential. Any other OS will be unacceptable for my use
I don't mean to bog your thread down with questions or alternative suggestions

I do find that fascinating, and I didn't realize that. I always thought geolocation was part of a dns handshake, and something like chrome (which runs on every platform I know of) takes care of applicable website restructuring in the background

In any case, some people use their frontend only (xbmc, mb3, plex, etc) and some look into getting an htpc primarily because they want access to all the streaming shows. When you fall into the latter, the best bet is usually just to make sure and get a good wireless keyboard mouse. There are often addons that make use of the streaming site's different metadata and pull in their info into an organized looking collection then ghost-launch a browser window to show you what you selected (like most all xbmc video streaming add-ons). However, it sounds like in your case you'll just want people to be able to grab the keyboard and mouse every once in a while

Windows and chrome is definitely your best bet. Check this out when you get things setup and purchased http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=170965
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post #49 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't mean to bog your thread down with questions or alternative suggestions



I do find that fascinating, and I didn't realize that. I always thought geolocation was part of a dns handshake, and something like chrome (which runs on every platform I know of) takes care of applicable website restructuring in the background



In any case, some people use their frontend only (xbmc, mb3, plex, etc) and some look into getting an htpc primarily because they want access to all the streaming shows. When you fall into the latter, the best bet is usually just to make sure and get a good wireless keyboard mouse. There are often addons that make use of the streaming site's different metadata and pull in their info into an organized looking collection then ghost-launch a browser window to show you what you selected (like most all xbmc video streaming add-ons). However, it sounds like in your case you'll just want people to be able to grab the keyboard and mouse every once in a while



Windows and chrome is definitely your best bet. Check this out when you get things setup and purchased http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=170965

Thanks for the suggestion.
I appreciate any input in the thread.
The more opinions the better
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post #50 of 57 Old 07-17-2014, 02:04 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion.
I appreciate any input in the thread.
The more opinions the better
Here is the technical guidebook for the Dell 3010. http://www.dell.com/downloads/global..._guidebook.pdf
It seems to have quite a bit of info regarding the components, including motherboard, used in the system so hopefully someone here might be able to figure out what kind of motherboard is used in it.


Additionally, I would like to suggest this Acer to the OP http://www.ebay.com/itm/Acer-Intel-i...p2047675.l2557
Its a refurbished VESA mountable (hardware incl for mounting) ultra-small form factor PC. Unlike the Dell, it does not have PCI-e expansion slots etc to add video cards but for most (if not all) XBMC uses, it should be fine.
The motherboard also includes a CIR header - here's a video showing how to install an IR receiver that can be used to turn the PC on/off and control it with a remote:
The user also has a write-up and link to photos for the process here: http://www.avforums.com/threads/fitt...-rl70.1818619/


Most of the listings on ebay for this PC are lot more higher than the price offered by Acer. So I had created an "Interest I follow" in ebay with the appropriate criteria (e.g. "Acer RL80 UR22" with a price less than $300). That way, anytime Acer gets one of these in stock and lists them on ebay, I see it on the front page of "My Feed". If you need more info on how to setup feeds etc let me know and I'll be happy to help.


Good luck,
-Topper
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post #51 of 57 Old 07-20-2014, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I lost out on the eBay deal
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post #52 of 57 Old 07-21-2014, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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What do you guys think of this deal?

http://www.frys.com/product/8120015

Dell i3646-1000BLK Desktop PC with Intel Celeron J1800 Processor,4GB Memory,500GB Hard Drive,Windows 8.1 with Bing Microsoft Start Engine

Processor Inspiron 3646, Intel Celeron Processor J1800
Operating System [81N6EB] Win8.1 w Bing 64-Bit Eng
Memory 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3L 1600MHz Memory
Video Graphics Intel® HD Graphics
Hard Drive 500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive with Native Command Queuing
Multimedia Drive Tray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes to DVD/CD)
Media Card Reader 8-in-1 Media Card Reader and USB 3.0
Bluetooth Bluetooth® tied to wireless card
Display No Monitor
Fax/Data Modem HDMI - Yes
Wireless Connectivity Dell Wireless-N 1705 802.11bgn, 1x1, 2.4GHz + Bluetooth 4.0
Audio HD Audio with Waves MaxxAudio®
Keyboard Dell USB Entry Keyboard - English
Pointing Device Dell USB Optical Mouse (Wired)
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post #53 of 57 Old 07-21-2014, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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post #54 of 57 Old 07-22-2014, 10:54 AM
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I have noticed the Acer Revo i3's showing up every few days for past several weeks. If you haven't yet purchased anything, I will post here to give you a heads up next time one is listed by Acer and pops into my ebay feed.





The Dell uses an older/(slighltly inferior?) processor than the one used in the Acer J1900 based PC from newegg in your last link. Depending on your needs, the Acer J1900 based computer might work well for you. Few differences between the two Acer units - (J1900 and RL80 Ur22):
  • The J1900 is obviously not as powerful as the i3 but depending on your needs, it might work well enough. Having said that, as I understand, the J1900 is more than powerful enough for most (if not all) HTPC duties. Search for a thread by Dougie Fresh (aka stardogchampion here?) over on the XBMC forums - I have found his threads and inputs from him as well as others in those threads to have invaluable information during my own research (hats off to him and everyone else contributing to those threads). Here's a thread on avsforums itself with lot of good input on the BayTrail processors: Anyone used the new Bay Trail-D chips as a Windows Media Center box?
  • The J1900 based computer is not mountable behind a TV, AFAIK. I needed this feature, you may not.
  • The J1900 includes a DVD drive, the RL80 does not. I stream most of my stuff so don't need a drive. Plus, unless a USB drive would suffice, I have an external BluRay drive that is connected to computers as needed.
The refurb RL80 UR22 sold by Acer on ebay is a great price compared to what it sells for elsewhere and for what is included (I believe just the processor, memory and windows license would be over $200 if purchased separately). Having said that, if the J1900 was available, in Vesa mountable form factor, when I made my purchase, I might have seriously considered it over the UR22 - especially since J1900 is QuickSync enabled (which I need also) and for the price (~$150) that it is selling for.


Hope this input helps you and hopefully one of the more experienced guys might chime in with any additional info.


Good Luck,
-Topper
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post #55 of 57 Old 07-22-2014, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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ok i will buy it then.
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post #56 of 57 Old 07-22-2014, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shnxx View Post
ok i will buy it then.
Reading through the other thread linked in my previous post, there seems to be a windows driver issue with Baytrail (or maybe just J1900/N28xx?) processors that prevents it from bitstreaming Dolby-TrueHD etc formats. These formats seem to work on Linux so it seems a driver update should fix it on windows as well? DD 5.1 reportedly works fine on Windows though.


Just thought I'd pass it along once I read about it in that other thread in case that matters with your setup.
-Topper
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post #57 of 57 Old 07-22-2014, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topperdude View Post
Reading through the other thread linked in my previous post, there seems to be a windows driver issue with Baytrail (or maybe just J1900/N28xx?) processors that prevents it from bitstreaming Dolby-TrueHD etc formats. These formats seem to work on Linux so it seems a driver update should fix it on windows as well? DD 5.1 reportedly works fine on Windows though.


Just thought I'd pass it along once I read about it in that other thread in case that matters with your setup.
-Topper
Yes I saw that too.
I hope it's a fixed issue.

I'm planning to install Win7 pro on it because I prefer Win7 and I need the pro version for multi-language support.
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