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Old December 22, 2013, 09:08 PM
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Default A new HTPC... Opinions and suggestions

So the situation is that I'm looking to build a new HTPC to replace cable AND my WDTV Live. I want to get a US VPN, and sign up for an American Netflix and Hulu Plus account. Then I'll drop Telus like a bad hat, and stick entirely to streamed or downloaded content.

I'm thinking about an APU build with no discreet graphics. This will be used for streaming content ONLY. Any local content I will be running will be on a NAS unit, so I'll likely build it with a 32 or 64GB SSD. I'm just wondering if anyone has opinions on what APU to go with for HD content, as I've never worked with one. I'd also like to know what I need to look at for cooling. I want to get creative with the case, but I need to know if it's a heat/power hog? Can I run iTX in a tiny case with minimal power and passive cooling?

Finally, I'm looking at software options. I'm pretty sure XBMC is going to be my best option, but I'm considering other options. Whatever option I choose, I'd like it to be something that opens my up to alternative input options. If I can get away with a Windows Media remote or other input options other than keyboard and mouse, I'd be really happy.

Thoughts?
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Old December 22, 2013, 09:31 PM
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You can go with an Intel Core i3 just fine, I would say with a Haswell i3, it is not a power hog at max 54W. You can also go with an IB i3. The HD4600 and even 2500/4000 are fine for HD content play. I am not a big fan of remotes, we are using wireless KB and mouse. VLC streams fine over the Ethernet connection. The newegg reviews for the Haswell Pentium G3220 states that even that one can play HD movies in 1080P with Dolby Digital and DTS.
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Old December 23, 2013, 06:01 AM
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Unified Remote + https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...bbleupnp&hl=en is what I've been using on an android device for basic playback.

Depending on how small of a case you want to go with, an APU might not be for you. I tried to run an APU in a M350 case ( http://products.ncix.com/detail/ncix...k-8f-69470.htm ) and found it would lock up under full load. Removing the cover seemed to resolve the issue so it's more than likely a heat issue (lack of airflow) or possibly higher heat being produced by components because the system is drawing too much power for the Pico PSU.

Now that I've moved that hardware over to a larger case I'm now waiting for Christmas day because I have a sneaking suspicion (ok... I ordered the bloody thing myself... :) ) that I've got one of these under the tree..... http://products.ncix.com/detail/giga...d-4a-89871.htm . Much lower power consumption so I'm hoping that it will be fine inside the M350. My usage is going to be audio files so I'm not overly concerned about playback over HDMI, but I believe this is supposed to be able to do it fine.
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Old December 23, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Hmmm... that Gigabyte might do the trick. Keep me posted once you get it set up. And if you could attempt HD content through it, I'd appreciate it.

Good to know about the APU. I'm tossing up what I want to do for a case. One thought is to make an NES box since I might use it as an emulator anyway. But since that's been done a LOT, I've also considered building it in to an old Intellivision shell which allows for a lot more room to play. Final thought would be to build it in to a custom built R2. But you get the idea...

I like the remote, but my wife and I have iPhones. This is one of the reasons I've actually been considering the Boxee software, since I can download the Boxee remote.
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Old December 23, 2013, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caldezar View Post
Hmmm... that Gigabyte might do the trick. Keep me posted once you get it set up. And if you could attempt HD content through it, I'd appreciate it.

Good to know about the APU. I'm tossing up what I want to do for a case. One thought is to make an NES box since I might use it as an emulator anyway. But since that's been done a LOT, I've also considered building it in to an old Intellivision shell which allows for a lot more room to play. Final thought would be to build it in to a custom built R2. But you get the idea...

I like the remote, but my wife and I have iPhones. This is one of the reasons I've actually been considering the Boxee software, since I can download the Boxee remote.
There's nothing stopping you from grabbing a cheap paygo android phone for strictly in-home wifi connectivity. I've now got two smartphones one of which is strictly for in home wifi use as a remote and/or mp3 player, and the other will probably never see data other than over wifi.

edit: as far as HD playback goes... I'll have to do some research to come up with an appropriate file to test with. :)
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Old December 23, 2013, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
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There's nothing stopping you from grabbing a cheap paygo android phone for strictly in-home wifi connectivity.
Smart. That never even occurred to me. I guess that's why you get the big bucks. ;)
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Old December 23, 2013, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
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Smart. That never even occurred to me. I guess that's why you get the big bucks. ;)
I'm getting the big bucks???? Hrmmmm.... I'm gonna have to talk to my wife and find out where it's all going. :)

I hadn't really thought of it either until I was looking for windows remotes earlier this fall and ended up buying a used Galaxy SII from 3.0Charlie as an android remote, and then a cheap bell Huawei paygo phone that was on sale at FS for $50 when I managed to convince my wife that we might ditch our old motorolla flip phone in favour of the Samsung, :)

$50 phone + $20 32G microSD card = the best android remote / mp3 player / light browsing device you'll ever find for sub $100.
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Old December 23, 2013, 10:33 AM
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GAH! What the hell am I thinking? I keep forgetting that I just bought a Nexus 7 (2) recently. So I've got the Android covered haha.
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Old December 23, 2013, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caldezar View Post
GAH! What the hell am I thinking? I keep forgetting that I just bought a Nexus 7 (2) recently. So I've got the Android covered haha.
Heh... yeah, that will do it, however you may find the 7" tablet a bit unwieldy for remote use. (That's how I ended up with an android phone as I already had a nexus7 as well... ;) ).

Another thing to keep in mind is that home theater amps are now typically networked which allows your android device to control that as well (my onkyo works great for this).

Not sure where I read it, but there was a recent article suggesting that we probably won't see any more new ipod models, and that MP3 players are pretty much going to go the way of the dodo... again... WTH would you pay $100+ for a dedicated mp3 player when you can get a wifi enabled android phone w/ 32G for $70.
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Old December 26, 2013, 03:02 PM
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So... 1080P appears to be a no-go. It played fine on my 1680X1050 monitor, but on my 1080p TV it's stop action.... :) Not sure if there's a setting I could play with to get it to work better, and I'll try it on my 720p TV, but for now full 1080p HD is out of the question.

That said.... if you're willing to sacrifice the case size a bit in order to allow for better airflow, maybe an APU is going to be the way to go.
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