• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."
  • Community Question: What makes a good motherboard?

Completely Re-think the HTPC

MaxDepth

Diamond Member
Jun 12, 2001
8,758
43
91
When you watch or listen to things delivered by the HTPC, how are you doing so? Through a visual interface like HULU, KODI, or Plex?

You know those interfaces are essentially a web browser in kiosk mode? You are not really using an application on the system but viewing it remotely with the essential computational power being devoted to audio and visual drivers.

Does that really mean you really just need a system that is a NIC+GPU configuration?

Here is my supporting evidence to my thesis:
  • Computational power to open, run the browser container is negligible
  • All modern web browsers (oops, except IE 11 and below) contain W3/Apache standards for:
    • Audio recording and speech comprehension
    • Computerized Speech
    • Load drivers (mouse, keyboard, scanner, etc) to the system through JSON, as needed/required by JavaScript
    • IFTTT-like scripting, contained in resident memory
    • time shift caching (like being able to store a video in cache memory)
  • Computational requirements are on the server system and then delivered to client
  • Client computations are for screen (redraw, paint, move within the browser boundary) and audio processing
So it sounds more like a Chrome system, right? But it is not, because really the only things stored on the client end is the browser and links to applications hosted externally. So if all I'm doing is installing one application (web browser) and being more concerned about connectivity and enough video umph to driver the browser window actions.

So basically, the best HTPC system should look something like a Raspberry Pi with a nVidia GTX 1080 and an Gigabit Ethernet (or best wireless) card.


What do y'all think?
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
22,497
820
126
So your solution is to go from one basic computer to a server computer + client device + connections (such as ethernet) in between. I don't see that as really rethinking it. You are just moving the CPU from one place to another.

The way that I use my HTPC is one giant hard drive (with all my photos, music, and every TV show/movie that I ever want to see) in a tiny box with a wire to my TV. No internet needed, but I use internet on occasion on my HTPC, so it is a nice option to have.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
Missing a piece of the puzzle... Most people who use HTPC for "content consumption" have multiple uses for their hardware. Your suppositions are accurate for a portion of what HTPC's are used for, but not all. I know that many have a need for DRM compliant playback that has a lot more involved requirements than just those you have enumerated.

(Protected Path requirements can be a real bear depending upon the gory details)
 

alcoholbob

Diamond Member
May 24, 2005
6,164
270
126
Some people use their HTPCs to play emulators too. Those are basically the definition of a CPU limited activity, with fairly limited GPU computation.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,515
939
126
Missing a piece of the puzzle... Most people who use HTPC for "content consumption" have multiple uses for their hardware. Your suppositions are accurate for a portion of what HTPC's are used for, but not all. I know that many have a need for DRM compliant playback that has a lot more involved requirements than just those you have enumerated.

(Protected Path requirements can be a real bear depending upon the gory details)
That seems to be "it" within a nutshell. I had trouble wrapping my brain around the OP's idea.

If you took a sample of PC chassis-models that are aluminum desktop boxes similar to a moderately pricey AVR, then sample that sample for people who exclusively used the HTPC for HT purposes -- maybe photo-viewing or some convenient function built in to something "like" WMC, you'll find a larger percentage of people as compared to a sample limited to folks with tower ATX-midtower or fulltower cases.

I always dabbled in PC "TV" since my first tuner card from the late 1990s. Even as it is my main workstation and gaming system, HDTV at least for 1080p is a low-level amount of CPU-usage. Most of the time less than 5%. But this is a Skylake i7 - K. I could add home security and surveillance to this system and probably run both the HT and security software simultaneously, while playing a game.

And then -- with all that -- do all the other things but for gaming. Gaming requires 100% user involvement. Can't do my taxes and run a game simultaneously, unless one program is minimized to the task bar.
 

MaxDepth

Diamond Member
Jun 12, 2001
8,758
43
91
You are all right.
  • Gaming is a big function within many homes. However, how much is of the computational need is GPU or CPU nowadays? GPU gets the most, right?

    I do play games on my HTPC usingRetroArch + the Kodi app, "Internet Archive ROM" so I'm still using a single container.

  • DRM (or, aka AACS 2.0) - is a pain in the butt, no doubt. Since Windows 7, there has not been a Windows product to play DVDs, let alone 4K. With Leawo (This what happened to SlySoft?), you can. If I remember correctly, I had to have the GPU, the player and TV confirm that they are compliant. SlySoft used to interject itself into the handshaking to ensure everything was compliant. I used it when DRM would barf, saying my TV was not compliant (and yet it was).
And for machines that are doing multiple duty, may I ask why? I used to have one computer do all the work with my laptops, tablets just connecting like clients, and my gaming/programming rig stand alone. My HTPC stored all the TV shows and music that I wanted to keep, TiVo-like processing so I record TV for later and all my cams storing video and played DVDs from the attached DVD drive. I wrapped all that with XBMC as my viewer.

Now I am using my HTPC as just the XBMC, er, KODI interface. I have a separate DVD player (which could connect to the Internet if I let it). My recorded shows and music are now stored on a NAS, which also acts as my house server. I may separate that out into two different boxes as FreeNAS/Server and FreeNAS/Storage. The former I want to program more for the IoT side as command and control and the later as straight up storage.

As anyone played one of the more recent games in a VM or remote terminal session? I wonder what the penalties are... if they aren't bad, then I'm back to having the one container again. I think one of the former TechReport guys works for AMD now, maybe someone can pass him my question.
 

DesiPower

Lifer
Nov 22, 2008
15,368
740
126
I need a full blown PC for DVR trans coding commercial removal etc. Also I use PowerDVD for BDR playback (have ISOs on PC) it feeds into AVR through a decent video card (GTX 970), I like the setup, I have tried Intel's 530 IGPU and in my personal, non-scientific, emotional opinion, there was a significant difference.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
...it feeds into AVR through a decent video card (GTX 970), I like the setup, I have tried Intel's 530 IGPU and in my personal, non-scientific, emotional opinion, there was a significant difference.
In what manner?
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,515
939
126
You are all right.
  • Gaming is a big function within many homes. However, how much is of the computational need is GPU or CPU nowadays? GPU gets the most, right?

    I do play games on my HTPC usingRetroArch + the Kodi app, "Internet Archive ROM" so I'm still using a single container.

  • DRM (or, aka AACS 2.0) - is a pain in the butt, no doubt. Since Windows 7, there has not been a Windows product to play DVDs, let alone 4K. With Leawo (This what happened to SlySoft?), you can. If I remember correctly, I had to have the GPU, the player and TV confirm that they are compliant. SlySoft used to interject itself into the handshaking to ensure everything was compliant. I used it when DRM would barf, saying my TV was not compliant (and yet it was).
And for machines that are doing multiple duty, may I ask why? I used to have one computer do all the work with my laptops, tablets just connecting like clients, and my gaming/programming rig stand alone. My HTPC stored all the TV shows and music that I wanted to keep, TiVo-like processing so I record TV for later and all my cams storing video and played DVDs from the attached DVD drive. I wrapped all that with XBMC as my viewer.

Now I am using my HTPC as just the XBMC, er, KODI interface. I have a separate DVD player (which could connect to the Internet if I let it). My recorded shows and music are now stored on a NAS, which also acts as my house server. I may separate that out into two different boxes as FreeNAS/Server and FreeNAS/Storage. The former I want to program more for the IoT side as command and control and the later as straight up storage.

As anyone played one of the more recent games in a VM or remote terminal session? I wonder what the penalties are... if they aren't bad, then I'm back to having the one container again. I think one of the former TechReport guys works for AMD now, maybe someone can pass him my question.
Why NOT?! Oh, I can think of some answers there. But the one most relevant drawback for me is also related to my habit of having a 24/7/365 TV feed. I've got an LG 42" LCD-LED HDTV I purchased in late 2011 that has been running pretty much non-stop since I bought it. It has a power-saving feature that turns off the screen without turning off anything that would drop the feed from the TV -- even if audio is fed through my AVR (a WMC-switchable option for me), the audio continues with no picture as if the LG were turned off.

I just came to the view of "multi-purpose" because these processors, like my i7-6700K or even an old i7-2700K, are really powerful. TV maybe throws up between 3% and 9% CPU usage. With the desktop monitor and the HDTV connected, I can play a game simultaneously watching TV without missing a lick.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY