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HTPC build/compatibility

dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
I'm looking to build a machine that I can hookup to my receiver/projector in my basement via an HDMI cable. My sound setup in the basement is a 5.1 setup. I was looking at the following components but I'm not sure if it'll be strong enough for what I'm wanting to do (or if it's all compatible with each other)

Needs: I want to be able to browse and I want to be able to store/play my BR rips (I always rip my blu-ray movies when I buy them so I can put the discs away. This way my kids can't destroy them).

Case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811163174
PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139050
Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813157450
CPU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819116946
Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231314
Hard Drive:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148834
Plus I have a 60 gig SSD laying here I could use for the OS
Wireless adapter:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833166082

Any ideas would be appreciated

TIA!

EDIT (08/04):

Well I finally bit the bullet. Ended up getting the following:

Motherboard:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I6DLK3O/
CPU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116946
Case:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GGUAUE/
PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256060
Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186
Hard drive:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005T3GRLY/
Plus I have my 60 gig SSD drive
Bluray player:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVTBM2W/
Wifi card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166082
keyboard/mouse:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002H0BOBA/

Hopefully everything fits together well (and is compatible too lol). It's been 4-5 years since I last built a machine.

thanks again all for all the information/help. It's much appreciated!
 
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poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
I will be honest, I don't like it.

If you are going to use an Intel GPU no reason to go Mini ITX. If you were going to throw in a discrete GPU in it I would understand, but as it is the only benefit over a NUC is the full sized HD. Even if at first you start with a NUC with an external hanging off it, at least you are buying hardware that can go towards the optimal NUC+ NAS configuration.

Which brings me to the other reason I don't like it: optimally your media storage should never be in your HTPC. Best case is you have some sort of small HTPC (again like a NUC) that connects via your network to a NAS filled with hard drives. Because to cool hard drives properly you need loud fans, and for any optimal setup you don't want loud fans in your mediaroom.

I mean, 2TB will hold less than 50 Blu Rays. Maybe that is all you ever expect to want to have, but to me that is a pretty small library. Even if you DO only plan to hold a maximum of 50-ish Blu Rays alltime, that drive is a poor choice. Never never put a 7200 RPM drive (especially a Seagate) in a NAS. Look at a green drive, or better yet an external so you can buy a NUC so you aren't screwed when you do it right with a NAS one day.

I am Mr. Mini ITX, but that is because I want the performance boost of a dedicated GPU. Unless you are crazy like me, you are crazy not to look at something like this instead:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856102057

That, plus some ram, plus your SSD, plus a 5GHZ N USB wireless adaptor and you have a primary HTPC that can grow with you. Add something like a 3TB external to it and you have enough space for over 50 Blu Rays to start with.

I mean, everything is strong enough. Heck a Chromebox is strong enough for what you want. The real issue is thinking long-term: "how many Blu Rays will I EVER want to store, and how can I build towards that future?"
 
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dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
I will be honest, I don't like it.

If you are going to use an Intel GPU no reason to go Mini ITX. If you were going to throw in a discrete GPU in it I would understand, but as it is the only benefit over a NUC is the full sized HD. Even if at first you start with a NUC with an external hanging off it, at least you are buying hardware that can go towards the optimal NUC+ NAS configuration.
Personally I'm not hell bent on going Intel. If the AMD setup would be cheaper, I'll gladly go with AMD. I was looking at the NUC but I wasn't sure what kind of audio out I'd get with the HDMI out on that.

Which brings me to the other reason I don't like it: optimally your media storage should never be in your HTPC. Best case is you have some sort of small HTPC (again like a NUC) that connects via your network to a NAS filled with hard drives. Because to cool hard drives properly you need loud fans, and for any optimal setup you don't want loud fans in your mediaroom.

I mean, 2TB will hold less than 50 Blu Rays. Maybe that is all you ever expect to want to have, but to me that is a pretty small library. Even if you DO only plan to hold a maximum of 50-ish Blu Rays alltime, that drive is a poor choice. Never never put a 7200 RPM drive (especially a Seagate) in a NAS. Look at a green drive, or better yet an external so you can buy a NUC so you aren't screwed when you do it right with a NAS one day.
I left out some key information. I have a 4tb NAS setup which I use to store my movies. Unfortunately, what I have is to slow to stream off of which is why I'm trying to setup a PC. I'd probably keep 10-20 movies on the HTPC at any given time and switch em out as needed

I am Mr. Mini ITX, but that is because I want the performance boost of a dedicated GPU. Unless you are crazy like me, you are crazy not to look at something like this instead:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856102057

That, plus some ram, plus your SSD, plus a 5GHZ N USB wireless adaptor and you have a primary HTPC that can grow with you. Add something like a 3TB external to it and you have enough space for over 50 Blu Rays to start with.

I mean, everything is strong enough. Heck a Chromebox is strong enough for what you want. The real issue is thinking long-term: "how many Blu Rays will I EVER want to store, and how can I build towards that future?"
so the NUC would replace the motherboard/CPU/case/PSU that I have in my "wishlist"? Can I stick a regular hard drive inside this guy?
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Personally I'm not hell bent on going Intel. If the AMD setup would be cheaper, I'll gladly go with AMD. I was looking at the NUC but I wasn't sure what kind of audio out I'd get with the HDMI out on that.
Intel, AMD and Nvidia solutions will all give you fully bitstreaming HD audio in 2014. All the stuff we are talking about can do it as well as the best GPU sold. I really think an Intel NUC would work best for you, they have the best NUC tech.

I left out some key information. I have a 4tb NAS setup which I use to store my movies. Unfortunately, what I have is to slow to stream off of which is why I'm trying to setup a PC. I'd probably keep 10-20 movies on the HTPC at any given time and switch em out as needed
Slow to stream off of? Most NASes can handle streaming a single Blu Ray at a time easily. I would assume the problem is the wireless, and that is where 5GHz N is pretty much a necessity.

My main living room HTPC is connected via 5GHz N and I stream Blu Rays all day.

so the NUC would replace the motherboard/CPU/case/PSU that I have in my "wishlist"?
Yup, for like a 5th the size and half the power usage.

Can I stick a regular hard drive inside this guy?
The one I linked can take a 2.5 inch drive. It even got a review on the front page:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/8028/intel-d54250wykh-haswell-nuc-kit-with-25-drive-slot-minireview

That is why I was recommending it.

The Gigabyte NUC you linked cannot use a 2.5inch drive.
 
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dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
hmmmm ok I think I'm sold. So I'm looking @:



with my 60GB ssd. I'll probably grab the next external hdd deal I see but I'll try setting up the streaming again from my NAS.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
No problem. I enjoy helping with HTPCs.

One thing to note is that some reviews for that NUC say the cables for Wifi/Bluetooth were labeled backwards so if it doesn't work after install try switching them.

Honestly that wifi card so so awesome that it should EASILY be able to stream Blu Rays in 5GHZ mode.

Please report back with your progress and any pictures!!!
 

dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
Will do, I plan on ordering it all tonight. If the streaming works smoothly from the NAS, I won't bother buying an external drive. Thanks again!
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,210
38
91
I don't really agree with Poofys spin on this... I think your original parts list is pretty solid. Question: How often are you going to rip DVD/BDs? Even my Pentium powered HTPC struggles with encoding, the i3 you picked would be a better processor for that. I think the NUC would be a disaster for encoding...

I do agree with Poofy on storage, however. I started with a 2TB HDD, and I've already had to upgrade to 3TB's... and I only have a handful of BD rips in my library. I don't really see why you can't have local storage, most HTPC's are set up this way; I have 2 3TB HDDs (and actually a spare 2TB that is idle at the moment...) and I don't have problems with cooling. (True, they aren't packed in a HTPC case, either, but there is no reason you have to have a tornado running through an HTPC case to cool the hard drives.... )

EDIT: I now see your comment about your NAS. :)

I actually used that ASRock mobo in a budget build last year, it's a pretty solid board but you may have an issue with the 24-pin plug with the Corsair PSU and that mobo... several of us have.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,570
466
126
Which operating system are you planning on using? Be aware that there's currently an issue with the NUC and operating as a headless system. The issue is that if the display is off and you attempt to remote into the software (using Splashtop, LogMeIn, etc.), all you get is a black screen. The one saving grace is that it doesn't appear to occur if there's an AVR in your chain, but unfortunately, my Kitchen HTPC doesn't have one. :(

There's a pretty long thread on Intel's forums about the issue, which they still haven't been able to solve regardless of the work from Intel's driver team:
https://communities.intel.com/thread/46788?start=0&tstart=0

That wireless card is wrong. You need Mini PCI Express, not regular PCI Express. I would personally buy this wireless card:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833106190

That is basically best one for that NUC. Antennas are build in.
I have that Wi-Fi adapter in two of my NUCs, and honestly... it's garbage. Even with a high-end 802.11ac router, my NUCs can't maintain a consistent connection regardless of how little distance is between them and said router. In fact, the card just ends up malfunctioning and dropping to sub-10Mbps. The real kicker is that it actually isn't even working as it just drops packets while doing this.

In a recent Anandtech review, I noticed that Ganesh tested that wireless adapter with the same router as me (Netgear Nighthawk). I asked him how his testing went since he was able to post actual data, and he said that he had issues with it as well. Right now, I'm on the latest firmware for the router and the latest driver for the card, and we'll see if it lasts. The last time, I got a few days out of my W8 NUC before it flaked out, and my W7 NUC worked for a few minutes. Luckily, the latter is always attached to Ethernet -- I was just testing Steam streaming over Wi-Fi.

Although, it still does have a benefit as I use it for the Bluetooth capability, which works great (I use the default Windows drivers).
 

dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
Which operating system are you planning on using? Be aware that there's currently an issue with the NUC and operating as a headless system. The issue is that if the display is off and you attempt to remote into the software (using Splashtop, LogMeIn, etc.), all you get is a black screen. The one saving grace is that it doesn't appear to occur if there's an AVR in your chain, but unfortunately, my Kitchen HTPC doesn't have one. :(

There's a pretty long thread on Intel's forums about the issue, which they still haven't been able to solve regardless of the work from Intel's driver team:
https://communities.intel.com/thread/46788?start=0&tstart=0



I have that Wi-Fi adapter in two of my NUCs, and honestly... it's garbage. Even with a high-end 802.11ac router, my NUCs can't maintain a consistent connection regardless of how little distance is between them and said router. In fact, the card just ends up malfunctioning and dropping to sub-10Mbps. The real kicker is that it actually isn't even working as it just drops packets while doing this.

In a recent Anandtech review, I noticed that Ganesh tested that wireless adapter with the same router as me (Netgear Nighthawk). I asked him how his testing went since he was able to post actual data, and he said that he had issues with it as well. Right now, I'm on the latest firmware for the router and the latest driver for the card, and we'll see if it lasts. The last time, I got a few days out of my W8 NUC before it flaked out, and my W7 NUC worked for a few minutes. Luckily, the latter is always attached to Ethernet -- I was just testing Steam streaming over Wi-Fi.

Although, it still does have a benefit as I use it for the Bluetooth capability, which works great (I use the default Windows drivers).
I was planning on throwing my unused windows 7 install on there. The inability to remote in is a big deal for me since I didn't mention it previously but I also plan on remote connecting to this machine from work to xfer files from my work machine onto it on a frequent basis.

On a sidenote, I did try streaming from my dlink dns-323 nas to my ps3 yesterday and the quality was kinda meh. Small rips would stream OK but the high quality ones I made (hobbit etc) were choppy. Which is making me want to use local storage for the actual playing of the videos. Which would be another reason to be able to remote in so that I could setup xfers from my nas to the machine so it'd be ready at night
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Which operating system are you planning on using? Be aware that there's currently an issue with the NUC and operating as a headless system. The issue is that if the display is off and you attempt to remote into the software (using Splashtop, LogMeIn, etc.), all you get is a black screen.
Good to know. I would never have know that so thank you.

I have that Wi-Fi adapter in two of my NUCs, and honestly... it's garbage.
Also good to know, even if its sad. Normally Intel makes good wifi adaptors. I appreciate your feedback on that, as I only use WNHDE111's I have hoarded to connect my HTPCs.

Oh well, I am sure it is good enough for non-media playback use right (if OP stores the media locally)?
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,570
466
126
Oh well, I am sure it is good enough for non-media playback use right (if OP stores the media locally)?
That depends. Right now, I seem to be stuck at 144Mbps, which is a bit awkward since that's what my old laptop (with an 802.11n adapter) connects at. You may think, "maybe the NUC is connecting over 802.11n instead", and I considered that too. However, Windows 8 says it's connecting over 802.11ac. :\

The biggest issue is if he gets that same poor throughput issue that I've seen. The problem isn't really a reduction in speed, but rather that the card just doesn't seem to work properly at all. I did recently switch that machine back to Wi-Fi after updating the drivers. So, I'll keep an eye on how it works. I did use Wi-Fi at first, but after a week or two, the connection just kept acting up. So, I switched to Ethernet... via a really long cable. :p

I was planning on throwing my unused windows 7 install on there. The inability to remote in is a big deal for me since I didn't mention it previously but I also plan on remote connecting to this machine from work to xfer files from my work machine onto it on a frequent basis.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure if Windows 7 has the same issues as I only have two NUCs (one with W7, one with W8.1), and the Windows 7 NUC is hooked up through an AVR, which alleviates the issue. I could try disconnecting the Windows 7 NUC's HDMI cable and seeing what happens, but I'm not sure if that's a good way of testing it or not. I might have to hook it directly up to my TV to see what happens.

On a sidenote, I did try streaming from my dlink dns-323 nas to my ps3 yesterday and the quality was kinda meh. Small rips would stream OK but the high quality ones I made (hobbit etc) were choppy. Which is making me want to use local storage for the actual playing of the videos. Which would be another reason to be able to remote in so that I could setup xfers from my nas to the machine so it'd be ready at night
I'm not 100% sure of your setup or the media being played, but if you're forcing a weak device to transcode the source file, you may run into issues with high-quality files. The biggest thing is the container as I believe the best the PS3 supports natively would be MP4. The biggest thing about using a NUC is that it can handle so, so much more, and it shouldn't require transcoding.
 

dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
Yeah I'm thinking it's definitely the nas that's the bottleneck. Also while I was cleaning out my office closet last night, I found my old 2 sticks of 2gb DDR3 ram ( I replaced them with 2x4gb on my desktop last year). I'm kinda leaning towards my original machine now since I can knock off $85 since I won't have to buy ram if I re-use these sticks. Plus less worry about the quality of the streaming too (large local hdd.) Since I'm saving $85, I can spend a little bit more and get a bigger hdd.
 

dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
Well I finally bit the bullet. Ended up getting the following:

Motherboard:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I6DLK3O/
CPU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819116946
Case:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GGUAUE/
PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817256060
Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820233186
Hard drive:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005T3GRLY/
Plus I have my 60 gig SSD drive
Bluray player:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVTBM2W/
Wifi card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833166082
keyboard/mouse:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002H0BOBA/

Hopefully everything fits together well (and is compatible too lol). It's been 4-5 years since I last built a machine.

thanks again all for all the information/help. It's much appreciated!
 

dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
Will do :) I ended up getting that PSU cause I read issues with modular PSU's tending to be longer (at least that corsair one I picked originally was longer). Would have been a tight fit with the blu ray player
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
Good point. The big thing that stood out to me is 500w is too much, even if you do throw in something like a dedicated GPU one day. A PSU is most efficient at 50% load or better, so 400w is perfect.

I am really looking forward to your feedback!
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,570
466
126
For anyone that might read this, it's also worthwhile to note another NUC limitation: USB ports. I've considered using a NUC for my living room a few times, but I use far more USB devices on that machine. It has my UPS, wireless keyboard, G700 wireless mouse, Gyration remote, and XBOX 360 wireless adapter. There's a reason why I like to use a Wi-Fi card with Bluetooth on a NUC: it saves me a USB slot! :p
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,570
466
126
Any recommendations for some software to use as a GUI frontend for my media?
I use PLEX, but that'll require you to have a server somewhere to handle the media. PLEX is nice though since it can also transcode and stream to your mobile devices. XBMC or WMC + Media Browser are also decent options. The latter might be good if you also want to do live TV as you'll never have to leave WMC.

EDIT:

Oh, and I don't know if you use any iOS devices, but AirServer can allow your PC to act as an AirPlay or Mirroring device.
 
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dabuddha

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
19,579
16
81
I use PLEX, but that'll require you to have a server somewhere to handle the media. PLEX is nice though since it can also transcode and stream to your mobile devices. XBMC or WMC + Media Browser are also decent options. The latter might be good if you also want to do live TV as you'll never have to leave WMC.

EDIT:

Oh, and I don't know if you use any iOS devices, but AirServer can allow your PC to act as an AirPlay or Mirroring device.
hmmm Could I run the plex server on this machine I'm building or nay? XBMC looks pretty interesting too. I don't plan on ever doing any TV type stuff with this machine.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,570
466
126
hmmm Could I run the plex server on this machine I'm building or nay?
Sure. But you'd need to run the server and client on the same machine, which while possible, isn't usually done. To be clear, there's nothing wrong with it... it's just... odd. :p I would probably consider PLEX over XBMC if you ever want to stream to other devices as PLEX handles that pretty easily -- even off LAN. I think you could look at the two pieces of software as sort of being like iOS vs. Android (PLEX and XBMC respectively).

PLEX is a bit easier to setup, but doesn't always offer as much customization and freedom. Things such as scraping (metadata, art, etc.) are done for you, which can be great... if the scrapers are proficient. I've had a lot of trouble in the past with the TheTVDB scraper failing, which causes it to halt on the file. I ended up writing a piece of software the reads the log file, finds the error, and deletes the erroneous folder. :\

XBMC can provide a lot more freedom, but you normally have to do more work to get the same result. I used to use it along with Media Center Master to handle the scraping, which was utterly useless for most anime. Another example is that while PLEX has shared libraries across all devices out of the box, XBMC can do it too, but you need to setup a SQL server, migrate your library to it, and point all devices to that SQL server.
 

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