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Need Concept Help in Building "Higher-end Appliance" HTPC - Hardware, Software, and OS

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi, I have spent many hours reading through this site and others but need some help validating which concept to go with for my HTPC build in terms of hardware/software/OS.

Must Haves:
1. be able to play high-resolution flac files (24/96 5.1)
2. be able to play full bit-rate BD files (ISO or MKV, etc) with Oppo BD-93 level quality
3. be able to play full bit-rate DVD files and upscale to 1080i with Oppo BD-93-level quality
4. controllable by my URC remote, IR window is acceptable but would prefer line-in IR receiver
5. quiet
6. this HTPC would run via HDMI to my Denon 4810 and then to my Mits 1080i CRT. Therefore, the HTPC must be able to stream HD audio formats and output 1080i.

Wants:
1. would prefer this to be more of an "appliance" and as such, am leaning more towards an XBMC/Openelec type of software/OS

Hardware Concepts:

A. Intel higher-end IVB chip with HD 2500/4000

OR

B. Intel IVB low-end with discrete Nvidia card

The choice between A and B will drive my case selection which will also drive whether I use local storage or NAS.

Software Concepts:


As mentioned above, leaning towards XBMC but if there are other attractive and easy-to-use software that hits my must haves, I am open minded.

OS:

Leaning towards Openelec, but this would obviously demand a) XBMC and b) Hardware concept B.

What I'm looking for is general feedback and validation on these concepts. Comments? Thoughts? TIA
post #2 of 12
If you actually want to play bluray discs and use their menus, extra features, and 3D then Linux is out. You need Power DVD, Win DVD, or Total Media Theater.

You will also get varied opinions on whether it is even possible for a 24fps movie to be played back properly on a PC. It's kind of an exercise in mental gymnastics.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
No, I don't need to actually play BD discs, I have an Oppo BD-93. I want the convenience of disc-less access to all of my media without giving up audio or video quality from the BD-93.

Is this even possible? I keep seeing a couple of HTPC experts saying that an IB with HD2500/4000 is all you need to do everything I'm looking for but then I see several dissenting opinions, particularly on video quality. If so, I would love to slap an IB chip on an ITX board and call it a day.
post #4 of 12
post #5 of 12
MadVR's Jinc + AR upscaling algorithm is (or looks to me) even better than Marvell Qdeo. It's beyond the "appliance" by Intel / XBMC / Openelec combo, of course (XBMC's internal algorithm is not so good in this regard).
Edited by renethx - 4/19/13 at 12:38am
post #6 of 12
Try XBMCBuntu Frodo 12.1 using any NVIDIA 520 or 620 cheapo card and you're done...

The image quality is completely at par with MadVR's IMO... and, you can bitstream HD audio...

Just for your info, there is no HTPC running on windows anymore (3 in total) in my household...

NAS is built with CentOS running ZFS and all HTPCs are XBMCBuntu.

XBMC controlled via iPhone and iPad using XBMC constellation...

iMon soundgraph remotes work almost out of the box...
post #7 of 12
XMBC's best scaling algorithm is Lanczos. The difference between Lanczos and Jinc is obvious. Jinc is just a wonder. So-called "1080p" people won't notice it of course. wink.gif
post #8 of 12
hold up. does your 1080i tv have an hdmi port?
If not, I think this is gonna be more complicated than you think, as I assume the denon can only pass along an hdmi video signal, not convert it to component.
post #9 of 12
Lanczos:

http://madshi.net/MiniLanczos4.png

Jinc:

http://madshi.net/MiniJinc4.png

Jinc + AR Filter:

http://madshi.net/MiniJinc4AR.png

Open each pic in a tab and change between them.

Original: http://madshi.net/MiniOrg.png
Edited by HDWorld - 4/19/13 at 6:29am
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

MadVR's Jinc + AR upscaling algorithm is (or looks to me) even better than Marvell Qdeo. It's beyond the "appliance" by Intel / XBMC / Openelec combo, of course (XBMC's internal algorithm is not so good in this regard).

So you're telling me I need to run Windows and use an external player to XBMC. Good to know. Am I better off with a quad-core IVB or should I do something low cost/power (IVB Pentium) with a discrete card like a GT 640?

Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

XMBC's best scaling algorithm is Lanczos. The difference between Lanczos and Jinc is obvious. Jinc is just a wonder. So-called "1080p" people won't notice it of course. wink.gif

I think I'm missing an in-joke here. Or are you saying that if I was just watching 1080p source on a 1080p display, then any system would work?
Quote:
Originally Posted by MlNDBOMB View Post

hold up. does your 1080i tv have an hdmi port?
If not, I think this is gonna be more complicated than you think, as I assume the denon can only pass along an hdmi video signal, not convert it to component.

DVI port, no such component issues to worry about.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HDWorld View Post

Lanczos:

Well, those are test patterns rather than real material in motion but that is a pretty eye-opening comparison for sure. Thanks!
post #11 of 12
As I said, the best upscaling algorithm with XBMC is Lanczos without anti-ringing filter, or if you select DXVA in "Video scaling method", it uses the graphics driver's algorithm:

AMD: Bilinear
NVIDIA: Lanczos+AR
Intel: Lanczos+AR

More in this post. So an external player+madVR with Jinc algorithm is a better choice. CPU is less important, a decent dual-core processor is enough (Celeron / Pentium IVB or AMD A6-5400K Trinity, for example), unless you do

- transcode multiple videos for multiple devices simultaneously
- encode video as quickly as possible
- decode 4K in future,

for which Core i5/i7 IVB is recommended. Graphics card is far more important for madVR because it uses shader units via DirectX 9 to run its complex algorithms. If you are interested only in movies (24/25fps), AMD A8/A10 Trinity (integrated GPU), Radeon HD 6570 or GeForce 630 is enough for Jinc. For videos (50/60fps), Radeon HD 7770 (or overclocked HD 7750) or GeForce GTX 650 Ti is minimum.

As for full HD (1920x1080) contents, you can go with any graphics (madVR's Jinc chroma upscaling and RGB converson is still the best, but it's a bit harder to notice the difference in real-world examples). Note that Intel graphics has a few problems such as a dropped frame every 4 min when playing back a movie @23Hz, no full-range RGB output. NVIDIA requires a custom refresh rate (otherwise it is worse than Intel) or use smooth motion FRC of madVR. AMD works right out of the box.
Edited by renethx - 4/21/13 at 7:30am
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much for the feedback! This is just the type of information I needed to make some high-level decisions on the direction of this build.
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