Living Room PC - HDMI 2.0 vs Skull Canyon NUC - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 20 Old 05-11-2016, 04:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Living Room PC - HDMI 2.0 vs Skull Canyon NUC

I'm looking to build something that can replace my Mac Mini. Here, that means:

1. HDMI 2.0 to 4k TV
2. smallish form factor (needs to fit in an AV cabinet, so horizontal orientation)
3. reasonably silent, preferably fanless
4. Enough performance to scale any streaming video to a 4k display
5. Bluetooth for keyboard/mouse.
6. Roughly ~512GB of storage is plenty.
7. 16GB of RAM
8. Run office-type apps.
9. Gigabit ethernet. Wifi is for laptops only.

It does not need:
1. To run OS X
2. To play demanding games
3. DVR capability
4. A media center interface. So maybe really just call it a living room PC?

Nice to haves:
1. Optical drive

What I'm wondering is if I could build something to significantly undercut the price of the Skull Canyon NUC.

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post #2 of 20 Old 05-11-2016, 06:27 AM
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What you want will be available next year. We're going to see many mini-STX systems being built - or available from OEMs/builders - for HTPC use and they should meet all of your needs. There might be a small roll-out of those after Computex this year, but nothing has been made known apart from some companies dabbling in initial designs.
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post #3 of 20 Old 05-11-2016, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
What you want will be available next year. We're going to see many mini-STX systems being built - or available from OEMs/builders - for HTPC use and they should meet all of your needs. There might be a small roll-out of those after Computex this year, but nothing has been made known apart from some companies dabbling in initial designs.
I'm more than willing to build my own, but it seems like #1 combined with #2 is the real sticky wicket.

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post #4 of 20 Old 05-12-2016, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
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This is the best I could come up with. Pricing it out I got $690 or so. it's still about $200 more than I want to spend right now.
GTX 950 - $140
H110 Mini-ITX Mobo - $70
SFX PSU - $90
16 GB RAM - $60
i3-6100 - $124
512 GB SATA SSD - $130
Silverstone Milo M-ITX case - $70

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post #5 of 20 Old 05-25-2016, 05:28 AM
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I'm looking for the same thing, but i guess it's just to early.

The NUC6i7KYK comes close. But the i7 is overkill, price is to high and the hdmi 2.0 implementation sounds like a hack.
GB-BXi5G3-760 brix, to expensive.
GeForce GTX 950 makes a build expensive.

I hope that intel releases a new NUC version in 7 months with hmdi 2.
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post #6 of 20 Old 05-26-2016, 07:40 AM
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What PC content app needs HDMI 2.0? I have an EVGA GTX 750ti superclockedand it does 4K nicely on my Samsung 78JS8600. You could probably find one cheap as a stopgap measure until there is specific need for HDMI 2.0.
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post #7 of 20 Old 05-27-2016, 04:55 AM
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@gtgray We have no love for 1.4 , when you buy a 4k TV, why would you still invest in 1.4 hardware.

Cheaper solution is a displayport 1.2 to hdmi 2.0, with intel nuc6i3.
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post #8 of 20 Old 05-27-2016, 07:54 AM
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I'm looking for a solution to this also. AFAIK there are no low profile video cards with HDMI 2.0, so we need a full-sized card, but then that ruins the ability to have a HTPC-sized case. The Skull Canyon NUC looks like the best option ATM, but the HDMI 2.0 implementation looks like a hack, and I'm not sure how well it works, especially in any alternative OS.
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post #9 of 20 Old 05-27-2016, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesJones View Post
@gtgray We have no love for 1.4 , when you buy a 4k TV, why would you still invest in 1.4 hardware.

Cheaper solution is a displayport 1.2 to hdmi 2.0, with intel nuc6i3.
Sorry for my enthusiasm for the 750 ti. I had one laying around and plugged it in and it worked. I just bought a Samsung 78J8600 and a Denon over the last couple of weeks so you could say I am invested in HDMI 2.0. But 4K60 at a 750 ti price point is a good stopgap while the technology sorts itself out. Anyways just suggesting a lower cost option.
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post #10 of 20 Old 05-30-2016, 07:46 PM
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The 750 Ti worked just fine but I needed a backup for my workstation so I picked up a GTX 950 and gave it a shot. Because it is faster, transitions are faster and smoother. Overall it does a great job.

A 750 Ti will get the job done for scaling up live tv to 4k but the 950 produces a great image and is clearly the right tool for demanding users. I am impressed with results.

I could have gone with a 960 but since I intend only to use it for WMC anything beyond the GTX 950 would be overkill for my use. I have a Shield and for Netflix and Amazon I will use the TV's apps.
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post #11 of 20 Old 05-31-2016, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Progress report:
I just tried my (work-in-progress) work computer on my HDMI 2.0 TV over the weekend. Somewhat different than what I want to build for the TV room, but notable. I tested the OS and GPU I'd intend to use.

It's running Xubuntu 16.04 w/ the following HW:
- MSI X99 motherboard
- Xeon 2603 v3 (6 non-multithreaded cores at a blistering 1.6GHz -> stopgap until I get a Haswell-E/Broadwell-E cpu)
- GeForce GTX 950 (open source drivers)
- 32 GB DDR4 @ 2400
- 75 mbit internet speed

Experience notes:
- Xfce doesn't appear to have a HiDPI mode. Would possibly have to investigate a different flavor of Ubuntu.
- internet speed didn't seem to be the limiting factor
- Youtube VP9 - didn't appear to be HW accelerated. Worked fine at 1440p and below. Stuttered at 4k. With the closed source drivers, that may be different? It seemed to use multithreading well, though.
- Netflix - worked fine. 4k is not available through the browser.
- Xfinity - worked fine, surprisingly. I guess a recent Chrome revision fixed up the issues on Linux. Previously I'd not been able to watch from Linux.

Conclusion:
- Performance-wise on Linux, it looks like a GTX 950 + a decent i3/i5 of Haswell or better should get me the performance I want. It might need less if the proprietary drivers are used.


Last edited by scardeal; 05-31-2016 at 11:03 AM. Reason: clarification
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post #12 of 20 Old 06-03-2016, 01:08 PM
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save some $$$ all you really need is DP 1.2 and skylake

A skylake NUC (regular) or similar cheap mini computer + $30 active DP 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 dongle is all you need for PC media playback and desktop use at 4k. The media decode support on skylake igpu is pretty powerful too.

BTW I would not worry about HDCP 2.2 or HDR (hdmi 2.0a etc), PC is not going to be getting full support across the entire hardware+software chain for DRM content anytime soon. Maybe never if the studios get their way...
All the HDR displays are "smart" anyways which covers the streaming providers, the 4k disc players are mostly "smart" as well.

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post #13 of 20 Old 06-06-2016, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Aluminum View Post
A skylake NUC (regular) or similar cheap mini computer + $30 active DP 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 dongle is all you need for PC media playback and desktop use at 4k. The media decode support on skylake igpu is pretty powerful too.

BTW I would not worry about HDCP 2.2 or HDR (hdmi 2.0a etc), PC is not going to be getting full support across the entire hardware+software chain for DRM content anytime soon. Maybe never if the studios get their way...
All the HDR displays are "smart" anyways which covers the streaming providers, the 4k disc players are mostly "smart" as well.
Just a few notes/observations:
1. In what I'm seeing, unless VP9 is hardware accelerated, an i5 is necessary to decode a 4k VP9 stream without dropping a significant number of frames.
2. The computer it's replacing is 7 years old. I'd hope to keep this a similar span of time.
3. I'd expect 4k content to continue expanding, even to Netflix/Amazon Prime as 4k monitors become more mainstream.
4. I would like to avoid converter dongles/boxes/etc. if it's not necessary. There are already HDMI 2.0 ports on video cards and a (expensive) motherboard or two.

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post #14 of 20 Old 06-06-2016, 07:18 AM
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VP9 even pushes a i5 to 100%
this site has a table:
nucblog.net/2016/01/skylake-i5-nuc-review-nuc6i5syh-nuc6i5syk-benchmarks
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post #15 of 20 Old 06-06-2016, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
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VP9 even pushes a i5 to 100%
this site has a table:
nucblog.net/2016/01/skylake-i5-nuc-review-nuc6i5syh-nuc6i5syk-benchmarks
That's starting to make the Skull Canyon NUC look more appealing.

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post #16 of 20 Old 06-06-2016, 12:10 PM
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That's starting to make the Skull Canyon NUC look more appealing.
Nobody in their right mind would buy the Skull Canyon NUC for HTPC. Kaby Lake NUCs and mini-STX options are right around the corner and have everything you want for media playback. mini-STX will bring a lot to the table with full desktop CPUs, optical drives, and expandable storage.
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post #17 of 20 Old 06-06-2016, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Nobody in their right mind would buy the Skull Canyon NUC for HTPC. Kaby Lake NUCs and mini-STX options are right around the corner and have everything you want for media playback. mini-STX will bring a lot to the table with full desktop CPUs, optical drives, and expandable storage.
I'm still not seeing any release dates for Kaby Lake yet other than a general "3rd Quarter." Plus, I'd imagine that driver support for Linux (what I'm leaning towards at the moment) might be lagging a few months after that.

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post #18 of 20 Old 06-06-2016, 04:19 PM
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I'm still not seeing any release dates for Kaby Lake yet other than a general "3rd Quarter." Plus, I'd imagine that driver support for Linux (what I'm leaning towards at the moment) might be lagging a few months after that.

Work on Kaby Lake is almost complete. Intel has been submitting code for it since last year. Graphics and audio have been functional for some time and are well on track for the rollout in the next 2-3 months.
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post #19 of 20 Old 06-07-2016, 05:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Work on Kaby Lake is almost complete. Intel has been submitting code for it since last year. Graphics and audio have been functional for some time and are well on track for the rollout in the next 2-3 months.
Is this in response to my concerns about Linux?

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post #20 of 20 Old 06-07-2016, 06:23 AM
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Is this in response to my concerns about Linux?

Yes. As I said, everything is looking good for the upcoming launch. Intel has a huge Linux development team and they also do significant work on kernel projects with other companies, because their hardware is the dominant brand for Linux workstations and has become the go-to choice for consumers who use Linux. Given that, they are on the ball for getting their hardware up and running on Linux during the testing phases, before AMD and certainly quicker than NVidia, who usually takes months to get hardware working on Linux after it's released for sale. Kaby Lake manufacturing begins in the next few weeks.
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