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Discussion Starter #1
Im a newby to 4k (and AV for that matter) so thanks in advance for any replies with detail & for bearing with me while I try to figure all this out. I'm working towards a new HTPC build and never dreamed it would be so convoluted.

My HTPC is really showing it's age now that I picked up a modern 75" UHD/HDR capable display for the living room (a 2021 Vizio 75QX-h1). IMHO, it's decent upper mid-range LED unit with lots of brightness (maybe too much for a darker enviro), great contrast, but fairly sensitive to motion & viewing angle. Since I first have to get my HTPC hardware out of the 2000's before being image critical, it'll do just fine while I'm working twoards making all the new hardware play nice together and figuring out all the new standards.

My uses are of course to stream 4k video, but I' d also like to play UHD Bluray disks. I barely have the spare time to watch a movie here and there, so gaming requirements aren't a consideration. Currently, I don't have a receiver to drive a Dolby Atmos setup, but I do have a nice set of M-audio 5.1 Studiophile LX4 speakers that can be happily driven by an audio card. That'll due for now.

Reviewing the current standards:
1) UHD Bluray disks (4k) support 3840x2160 resolution with frame rates up to 60 F/ps.
2) 4k streaming providers require an absolute minimum download speed of 25 Mbps. (presuming the video stream is the only connection). Advanced audio feeds (read Dolby Pro Logic IIx, IIz, AC4, & Atmos ) combined with high frame rate (HFR) content with higher refresh rates can require double this to avoid buffering.
3) HDMI 1.4 supports 4k, but at a refresh rate of 30 Hz and a maximum bandwidth of 8 Gbit/s
4) HDMI 2.0 increases bandwidth to 18 Gbit/s. And among other things increases refresh rate to 60 Hz, supports Rec 2020 wide color gamut, and 4.2.0 chroma sub-sampling.
3) HDMI 2.0a adds maximum bandwidth of 18 Gb/s, adds static HDR, & permits viewing baseline HFR content (with refresh rates up to 60Hz),
4) HDMI 2.1 bumps maximum bandwidth to 48 Gb/s and adds a handful of other features like dynamic HDR, HFR (with up to 120Hz refresh rates) at 10k rez, adds Dolby Atmos & DTSx, adds HDR+, 4.2.2 chroma sub-sampling, and more.

So for my use on a PC:
1) Output using HDMI 2.0a is a minimum requirement with 2.1 preferred.
2) Until the ISP in my area upgrades their connection, the ability to play UHD Bluray disks will still typically provide a more consistent content experience than a streaming experience.

From here it starts to become a hot mess.

Of course, to play a UHD BD disk, everything needs HDCP compliant. But it also seems that to do it using an internal UHD bluray drive, you're forced to use on board Intel graphics with a CPU that utilizes SGX (read a q1 2017 or newer gen7 Intel chip). For desktop mobo's, that means being stuck with HD 630 graphics . Surprisingly even now in 2021, Intel hasn't licensed SGX to any of the graphic card manu's.

So here is the first Issue: The SGX compliant Intel gen7 - gen9 CPU's only refresh at 24 Ghz. Intel's gen10 can only muster 30 Ghz. So unless I use a stand alone UHD-BD player, there will be no HFR.

Second issue: Most of the mobo manufacturers are stuck in 2011. Boards that do have HDMI still use 1.4 and many of those are not SGX compliant. I could only find 4 SGX compliant boards actually using HDMI 2.0 and I'm still searching for one that runs gen10 just to get the 30 Ghz refresh rate. No graphics cards are SGX compliant (presumably meaning UHD playback with streaming but not with disks). And just as bad, none of the HDMI 2.1 features.

I'm also finding the mobo manu's aren't super clear about what is and isn't supported (2.0, 2.0a, HDCP, etc). So to play disks, it may be easier to simply get a stand alone UHD BD player. That would leave me using a gen7 + CPU w/SGX to assure HDCP compliance. Then I'd only need to verify if the board of choice is HDCP compliant. The same would go for a HDMI 2.1 video card.

Anyone care to comment on their build experiences, hardware that's overcome all these issues, or let me know if I'm off target on any of this?
 

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Get a disc player for discs and get a streaming player for streaming is the best. The htpc would be underutilized for both and unless you plan on ripping discs it won't get much use otherwise.

For disc use, you can use intel graphics or AMD cards, but I don't think nvidia works. You also need a UHD drive, of which there are a few models, but are nowhere near as easy to get as a Blu-Ray optical disc drive. And then you need PowerDVD which will cost you $99 and upgrade it at least every couple of years as it runs out support and fails to play discs.

For streaming the only 4k service that works on PC is netflix via the app. Microsoft edge might still work but only if it's he old version and not the new chrome based one. Services like AppleTV+ and Disney+ do not support browser viewing, while others often only support 1080p and stereo audio (no surround on PC).

Also, for HDR, the only supported format is hdr10. There is no support for Dolby vision or other HDR formats.

However if you wish to rip UHD discs to your server, you can use commonly available Blu-rays drives and many programs to play it back. Or if you have a bunch of 1080p content and plan on using madVR for upscaling. Or you want to be a masochist and do everything the unnecessarily harder way.
 

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Agreed if your going to buy and play UHD disc get a UHDBR player. Pared with even a cheap streamer like a FireTV4K beats streaming on a PC hands down. You can get it all for well under $200.
 

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No, just rip to get around the weird DRM restrictions.

Especially on SD content or anything compressed.

Put a new GPU in it and be done with it. Anything relatively modern on the GPU side will be able to handle all this.

But to get tehre you have to rip (maybe there is some software that will let you get around it with no rip)

You can even run netflix through something like mad vr.


Or again just rip the netflix content too.
 

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If your current HTPC hardware still works fine then the only thing you really need to upgrade is the graphics card with the latest HDMI and HDCP specs. I rip all of my Blu-Rays to mkv format and they play nicely using just about any of the freeware players like Kodi, MPC-BE, or VLC Media Player. I personally use JRiver Media Center as it is optimized for audio and I have a vast collection of ripped CDs. It also supports madVR for video playback. All you need is a BD drive for your PC and a free copy of MakeMKV to rip the main movie from the disk. You can rip just the main movie or all of the other video tracks and extras from the disc as separate mkv files. The one caveat is that mkv files don't support Dolby Vision if I have my facts straight. You may wish to confirm that rather than taking my word for it. Other than that, they make playback as easy as double-clicking the file, assuming you have associated mkv files with the playback app of your choosing.

For streaming, get a Nvidia Shield or a Roku box, but there are other boxes that will do the job too. PCs are mediocre for streaming.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies, as mentioned in the OP, my hardware is long in the tooth. I'm using a z68 board which really isnt friendly with w10.

I'm not so big on the idea of using something like Roku to run everything. Two reasons. I really dont want to add another subscription service to the already growing list of providers but what I really hate is using the up and down arrows on a remote to pick programming (I got spoiled by my mini logitech keyboard). Is there an option to using a remote for choosing programming?

I also found this this link on the cyberlink website that outlines their setup recommendations for cyberlink 19 that also provides the hardware requirements for most 4k/8k platforms.

Is anyone else unable to stream Disney+ on their computer? Asking as even my old hardware will do it no issue.

Also curious, what makes a PC mediocre for streaming compared to the other options mentioned on this thread (besides of course the additional cost)?
 
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