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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to replace my rather large desktop PC that's sitting in my living room running Windows 8 + Plex Home Theater. I built it over 5 years ago, so with all the innovation in smaller PC form factors, I'm looking for something more compact.


I've done a ton of reading, but over the past year there seems to be a lot of new recommendations and components so it's hard to understand if a thread from 6 months ago recommending a certain configuration is still the best recommendation.
  • Must be able to run Plex Home Threater (client only, server is running on a different machine in my house).
  • For plex, I want it to support direct play (no transcoding).
  • Price all in for PC, memory, gigabit lan (or wireless) and HD needs to be
 

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Everything you stated made me think NUC . I know it can be daunting with all the different NUC's out there, but so long as it's an i3 with proper outputs it should fall nicely within your budget.


From what I've read they are mostly silent, some reported hearing some fan noise within 2 feet of the unit, but that won't be the case in real use.


Cubox seems pretty cool, but like you said not supported by the use you most want it for.
 

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You'd be fine with the original Celeron NUC I have for $150. I did have a problem with fan noise for a while and then I found out it was only an issue with the first system assemblies that shipped (001 and 002 I think). And if you get one of those early versions (probably unlikely at this point) you could always just do a warranty exchange through Intel. Besides that, even before I swapped mine out you would never hear the fan while you're actually playing a video, only while navigating around. So I wouldn't overstate how bad the fan was even in the original SAs. And of course now with the newer one I barely notice the fan at all anymore. BTW I control mine with a Harmony remote. Just buy any cheap remote with a USB IR dongle to put that in the NUC's front USB port and it works fine. Only thing it doesnt' have that you've mentioned is digital optical out. It has 2x HDMI out instead but if you really want digital optical too just get a USB adapter.
 

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BTW if you're ok w/the celeron NUC I would actually go with the newer bay trail version if you can find it anywhere. There's a thread here on it if you want to search for it w/some mixed reviews there (intel not having all the drivers yet for Win 7, etc). But supposedly it runs Win8 fine plus it has built in IR receiver, wifi and space for a full size SSD instead of just mSATA SSD like mine, plus better graphics, all at the same price. One of the posters on that thread even mentioned they were able to get smooth 3D playback with it which you would normally have to step up to an i3 for (although I'd take that w/a grain of salt until I saw it confirmed elsewhere).
 

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Sorry to hijack this thread, but I also had a similar situation as the OP and was also considering the NUC. I want to be able to send DTS-HD MA, TRuHD to my AVR from Plex HT. Do you know if the drivers intel provides for the NUC are sufficient to play nicely with plexHT to avoid the 3fps slowdown that happens when PlexHT doesnt like your computer (when you set it to output digital audio over HDMI using WASAPI)? I've had mixed success getting DTS-HD MA to work over my current computers (works on my mac mini running windows 7, and my dell latitude laptop but not my sony vaio, even though the audio config shows 8 channel capability and all the supported audio formats are listed) and PlexHT, so that's a real critical issue for me.
 

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OK... I'll take a stab and recommend something awesome (and less boring) that I like more than a NUC (seems like I am the only one that does not prefer NUC ? )




CPU $80:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116949


4GB DDR3: $36
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104261


Motherboard: $48
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157450R


Silverstone HTPC case: $74
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163239


Samsung SSD: $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147247


380watt PSU $ 29.99 (+ $5 off w/ promo code EMCPGWG32, ends 3/19)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033



There you go.


It would be faster than the laptop grade NUC parts, Many don't understand they are less powerful and only see the moniker "i3" or "i5" and think it's the same as buying a real i3 or i5 in a real HTPC. It's not.


Intel NUC with "i3" uses the i3 3217U like this one which is weaker than a Pentium like I listed by a noticeable amount.


Check it out:





Not to mention you have more upgrade options with the HTPC build and also it's a lot sexier looking (my opinion, I like that case)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I spent a little more than I was planning, but figured it was reasonable.
  • Intel NUC Kit D34010WYK
  • 8GB (2x4GB) G.SKILL Ripjaws memory (DDR3 1600 PC 1.35V)
  • Crucial M500 120GB mSATA SSD
  • Intel 7260HMW 802.11AC mini PCIe wireless card


There were a few coupons that dropped it down to $35 off. I have a copy of Windows 8.1 already so covered there license wise. I have a USB IR receiver if the built-in one doesn't work with my remote.


Cart: https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.aspx?ID=29989727


Depending on fan noise, I'll upgrade to the Akasa Newton H fanless case, and use 2 external antennas with U.FL Mini PCI to RP-SMA pigtails .
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450#post_24503619


I spent a little more than I was planning, but figured it was reasonable.
  • Intel NUC Kit D34010WYK
  • 8GB (2x4GB) G.SKILL Ripjaws memory (DDR3 1600 PC 1.35V)
  • Crucial M500 120GB mSATA SSD
  • Intel 7260HMW 802.11AC mini PCIe wireless card


There were a few coupons that dropped it down to $35 off. I have a copy of Windows 8.1 already so covered there license wise. I have a USB IR receiver if the built-in one doesn't work with my remote.


Cart: https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.aspx?ID=29989727


Depending on fan noise, I'll upgrade to the Akasa Newton H fanless case, and use 2 external antennas with U.FL Mini PCI to RP-SMA pigtails .

very interested in how your build and set up goes. Any reason you chose the i3 over the i5,? did you consider the NUC's that accommodate a 2.5" drive? Are you running it into an AVR first? do you have any DTS-HD MA content?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ou8thisSN  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450#post_24503129


Sorry to hijack this thread, but I also had a similar situation as the OP and was also considering the NUC. I want to be able to send DTS-HD MA, TRuHD to my AVR from Plex HT. Do you know if the drivers intel provides for the NUC are sufficient to play nicely with plexHT to avoid the 3fps slowdown that happens when PlexHT doesnt like your computer (when you set it to output digital audio over HDMI using WASAPI)? I've had mixed success getting DTS-HD MA to work over my current computers (works on my mac mini running windows 7, and my dell latitude laptop but not my sony vaio, even though the audio config shows 8 channel capability and all the supported audio formats are listed) and PlexHT, so that's a real critical issue for me.

All of the NUCs can stream 1080p w/HD audio no problem. I can't say how any of them play w/Plex specifically since I've only run openelec on my celeron version but if you run into any problems w/that using Plex then the issue is not with the NUC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ou8thisSN  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450#post_24504105


very interested in how your build and set up goes. Any reason you chose the i3 over the i5,? did you consider the NUC's that accommodate a 2.5" drive? Are you running it into an AVR first? do you have any DTS-HD MA content?

The i3 was more than sufficient for 1080p content from what I read, so no reason to spend the money to get the i5. I considered the NUC's that supported a 2.5" drive, but wasn't worth the increase in size, etc, since this thing is just going to have Windows on it, and stream media from my NAS (aka mSATA was sufficient). I'll be running it through my AVR (an Onkyo via HDMI).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450#post_24503318


OK... I'll take a stab and recommend something awesome (and less boring) that I like more than a NUC (seems like I am the only one that does not prefer NUC ? )

Well, he did say he was looking for something compact and then mentioned the NUC and Cubox specifically, so it was pretty clear what he had in mind. That said, I like your build list and probably would have gone that direction myself if I was shooting at the higher end of his budget where he wound up. Not the ultra small FF like the NUC but the A/V component style case blends in nicely and there's an upgrade path. Plus the fun of building it in the first place.



Also good of you to point out that the mobile i3/i5s, etc in the NUCs are not equivalent to the desktop versions. Although even the i3 should be plenty for most people's HTPC usage (and more than enough for what the OP wanted) I'm not sure a lot of people realize that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElJimador  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450/0_100#post_24506817


Well, he did say he was looking for something compact and then mentioned the NUC and Cubox specifically, so it was pretty clear what he had in mind. That said, I like your build list and probably would have gone that direction myself if I was shooting at the higher end of his budget where he wound up. Not the ultra small FF like the NUC but the A/V component style case blends in nicely and there's an upgrade path. Plus the fun of building it in the first place.



Also good of you to point out that the mobile i3/i5s, etc in the NUCs are not equivalent to the desktop versions. Although even the i3 should be plenty for most people's HTPC usage (and more than enough for what the OP wanted) I'm not sure a lot of people realize that.

I agree. I did not realize the size constraint was as serious as it was. I think that's the largest benefit of the NUC is you get the ultra small size. You won't get the performance, or the value, or the upgrade path of an HTPC build- but you get the form factor and the performance is enough for what many want to do with it. NUC definitely has it's place.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_t1  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450#post_24506101


The i3 was more than sufficient for 1080p content from what I read, so no reason to spend the money to get the i5. I considered the NUC's that supported a 2.5" drive, but wasn't worth the increase in size, etc, since this thing is just going to have Windows on it, and stream media from my NAS (aka mSATA was sufficient). I'll be running it through my AVR (an Onkyo via HDMI).

Ah okay, that's exactly what my set up is currently as well. I have a NAS running PMS and a computer that needs to go into a pioneer AVR via HDMI. The reason I was asking is because my TV has a 'dual core cpu' and can supposedly handle DLNA, but it chokes on blu-ray level high bitrate 1080p mkvs streamed from Plex. It does fine on lower bitrate stuff, so I have to run a computer intermediate to get it to work, and all my computers have an i5 or i7. This is why I was asking how critical the i3 was, or if it was just a poor implementation of Panasonic's software on my tv.


Anyway, does the cpu matter for 3D? I have a external samsung blu-ray drive that I wanted to use with powerDVD for movies like Gravity in 3D. do you know if 3D itself taxes the CPU anymore than 1080p? it would be really cool if i could get away with an i3, with the lower cost, heat and power consumption.


I guess a better way to say it is who needs the i5? people who're tryign to do real actual work with the NUC and not use it for HTPC, is what im gathering, is that correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ou8thisSN  /t/1523245/recommendations-htpc-for-plex-client-450#post_24508448


Anyway, does the cpu matter for 3D? I have a external samsung blu-ray drive that I wanted to use with powerDVD for movies like Gravity in 3D. do you know if 3D itself taxes the CPU anymore than 1080p? it would be really cool if i could get away with an i3, with the lower cost, heat and power consumption.


I guess a better way to say it is who needs the i5? people who're tryign to do real actual work with the NUC and not use it for HTPC, is what im gathering, is that correct?

I've read the i5 is what you need for 3D.
 
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