Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

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Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #1 by VLoo » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:44 am

VLoo wrote:Was thinking about getting a Mac Mini to run as an HTPC. Technically I could probably build one for cheaper, but I have no fucking clue how and I'd rather just have one set and ready to go. Anyone have any other rec's I should look into for a mini pc/htpc type thing?
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Post #2 by JLHockeyKnight » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:03 pm

[quote="VLoo"][/QUOTE]

I built my own, but to help out, I used an HDHomerun Prime to get a tuner working. Basically need a CableCard (like what you put into a Tivo) from your cable provider, then hook it up to your router, set it up, and it'll broadcast over your network.

Then I use a PC I built with Windows Media Center (Windows 7) to watch and record TV.

http://www.amazon.com/SiliconDust-HDHomeRun-Compatible-Streaming-HDHR3-CC/dp/B004HKIB6E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1433728990&sr=8-2&keywords=HDHomerun&pebp=1433728990408&perid=045RQKECNXEN86ZHV42D

I can try to help out with what I use in my setup if you need additional help. Let me know. Just can't guarantee a timely response...been busy lately.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #3 by WTF » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:57 pm

Currently, I'm using an HP Stream Mini for this purpose. Once my home theatre area is setup and ready to go, I'll be using it in conjunction with my projector.

My media is stored on my NAS, which doubled as my Plex server and also the MariaDB server for the shared database that my various Kodi deployments connect to.

I've installed and tweaked Kodi on the Stream Mini so it allows me to launch Steam and Netflix from within it and as it's running Win 8.1, driver support for the remote and my wireless XBOX 360 controller work without any issues.

Before this, I was using a Zotac ZBOX with an Atom processor and ION2 GPU as my primary HTPC. That's still running on Linux Mint 17.1 and I'll likely keep it hooked up to my bedroom TV. Steam in-home streaming for the Steam Linux client works in most cases. I haven't tried Linux XBOX 360 controller support though.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #4 by VLoo » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:09 pm

I was hoping to set up my netflix, plex server and library on the mini pc, and I'm just hoping these things will work fine. Sometimes with transcoding on plex it can be a bit of a strain, do you think the HP would hold up to that or no?
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #5 by WTF » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:12 pm

VLoo wrote:I was hoping to set up my netflix, plex server and library on the mini pc, and I'm just hoping these things will work fine. Sometimes with transcoding on plex it can be a bit of a strain, do you think the HP would hold up to that or no?


Honestly? I probably wouldn't use it as a Plex server as it only has a dual core Celeron processor. It does just fine as a Plex client though, especially with Quick Sync. As it stands, even my NAS isn't ideal as Plex server if transcoding or remuxing is required but that's why I try to use client machines which can support a wide range of codecs. If it ever came down to it, my desktop would probably be the best bet for transcoding/remuxing but that sucker is going to draw a lot more power than my NAS or my mini PCs, primarily because of the GTX 770 in it.

My main requirements this particular go-around were Steam in-home streaming at an acceptable level (so mainly fast H.264 decoding and XBOX 360 controller support for games where it's a better option), Kodi (ideally, due to the level of customization available through the wide variety of XBMC/Kodi addons) and/or Plex (as a fallback) availability, and Netflix (via Kodi). My old ZBOX covers most of the those bases but it's not ideal as a Steam in-home streaming client.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #6 by Craig » Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:16 pm

A while back I was looking to do the same thing. This was a cipher of years ago now, do the boxes were generally pretty weak. I ended up getting an Intel NUC box, which is basically a laptop in a little box. I had to put done parts together myself, but that was just plugging things in. Super easy. I don't regret the decision at all, that thing has seen a ton of use and never had any issues. A little pricier than some options though.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #7 by WTF » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:49 pm

Craig wrote:A while back I was looking to do the same thing. This was a cipher of years ago now, do the boxes were generally pretty weak. I ended up getting an Intel NUC box, which is basically a laptop in a little box. I had to put done parts together myself, but that was just plugging things in. Super easy. I don't regret the decision at all, that thing has seen a ton of use and never had any issues. A little pricier than some options though.


Yeah, I was considering the NUC route at one point too but they're barebones kits. Factor in the price of a RAM, SSD, and OS (unless you have a spare licence or are going with a Linux distro, maybe OpenELEC for a dedicated HTPC) and it adds up quickly. I do like the fact that they have an i3 option and I think they come with a built-in IR receiver too.

I was considering one of the newer ZBOX models at one point as well: the ZBOX BI320. There's a version of it that comes with Win 8.1 w/ Bing (which I didn't care about either way) but it also came with a small SSD and RAM at a pretty reasonable price when it was on sale. Unfortunately, it never hit that sale price again while I was waiting and watching so I started researching alternatives. That's when I started reading about the upcoming (at the time) HP Stream Mini. Haswell Celeron 2957U so it's not the most powerful machine around but power consumption is low and it's still faster than the Atom D525-powered ZBOX it's replacing. Only 2GB DDR3 out of the box but adding more RAM is cheap and easy and I think they're limited to 4GB at most as an OEM if they want to include a Win 8.1 w/ Bing licence. 32GB M.2 SSD w/ Win 8.1 w/ Bing so at least driver support for some of the peripherals I use is there. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n built-in. GbE port so that's nice too.

Overall, I still need to turn on my desktop if I want to do any heavy duty computing but simply remoting to my work desktop and quickly doing whatever I need to do is fine on the Stream Mini. Browsing is nice too with the RAM upgrade.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #8 by Craig » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:52 pm

Yes. I definitely paid for my copy of Windows.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #9 by VLoo » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:01 pm

WTF wrote:
VLoo wrote:I was hoping to set up my netflix, plex server and library on the mini pc, and I'm just hoping these things will work fine. Sometimes with transcoding on plex it can be a bit of a strain, do you think the HP would hold up to that or no?


Honestly? I probably wouldn't use it as a Plex server as it only has a dual core Celeron processor. It does just fine as a Plex client though, especially with Quick Sync. As it stands, even my NAS isn't ideal as Plex server if transcoding or remuxing is required but that's why I try to use client machines which can support a wide range of codecs. If it ever came down to it, my desktop would probably be the best bet for transcoding/remuxing but that sucker is going to draw a lot more power than my NAS or my mini PCs, primarily because of the GTX 770 in it.

My main requirements this particular go-around were Steam in-home streaming at an acceptable level (so mainly fast H.264 decoding and XBOX 360 controller support for games where it's a better option), Kodi (ideally, due to the level of customization available through the wide variety of XBMC/Kodi addons) and/or Plex (as a fallback) availability, and Netflix (via Kodi). My old ZBOX covers most of the those bases but it's not ideal as a Steam in-home streaming client.



Mac Mini comes with 4GB RAM and a dual core i5, do you think that would hold up well enough as a server? Hell, I've considered just buying a laptop and settng it up as my permanent server. I really just want a better way to set up my external HDs so I can have them uploaded on my Plex. I only have a MacBook Pro which I bring everywhere with me, so I don't have a desktop or anything to have a server constantly running with all my media attached to it. Plus the mini PCs have the bonus of hooking up to my TV so I can stream American Netflix off of Hola and so I can directly stream NFL Gamepass on my TV without Airplay(always seem to lose quality of picture over it for whatever reason.) and a small footprint for set up in my room.

I'm open to ideas as to how to better get a set up like that for my TV, but a decent mini PC seemed like the most straightforward and not extremely expensive.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #10 by WTF » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:10 pm

VLoo wrote:
WTF wrote:
VLoo wrote:I was hoping to set up my netflix, plex server and library on the mini pc, and I'm just hoping these things will work fine. Sometimes with transcoding on plex it can be a bit of a strain, do you think the HP would hold up to that or no?


Honestly? I probably wouldn't use it as a Plex server as it only has a dual core Celeron processor. It does just fine as a Plex client though, especially with Quick Sync. As it stands, even my NAS isn't ideal as Plex server if transcoding or remuxing is required but that's why I try to use client machines which can support a wide range of codecs. If it ever came down to it, my desktop would probably be the best bet for transcoding/remuxing but that sucker is going to draw a lot more power than my NAS or my mini PCs, primarily because of the GTX 770 in it.

My main requirements this particular go-around were Steam in-home streaming at an acceptable level (so mainly fast H.264 decoding and XBOX 360 controller support for games where it's a better option), Kodi (ideally, due to the level of customization available through the wide variety of XBMC/Kodi addons) and/or Plex (as a fallback) availability, and Netflix (via Kodi). My old ZBOX covers most of the those bases but it's not ideal as a Steam in-home streaming client.



Mac Mini comes with 4GB RAM and a dual core i5, do you think that would hold up well enough as a server? Hell, I've considered just buying a laptop and settng it up as my permanent server. I really just want a better way to set up my external HDs so I can have them uploaded on my Plex. I only have a MacBook Pro which I bring everywhere with me, so I don't have a desktop or anything to have a server constantly running with all my media attached to it. Plus the mini PCs have the bonus of hooking up to my TV so I can stream American Netflix off of Hola and so I can directly stream NFL Gamepass on my TV without Airplay(always seem to lose quality of picture over it for whatever reason.) and a small footprint for set up in my room.

I'm open to ideas as to how to better get a set up like that for my TV, but a decent mini PC seemed like the most straightforward and not extremely expensive.


I think the Mac Mini could handle it but as the Plex page on the subject mentions, it really comes down to the content you're dealing with and how many clients are connecting concurrently and require transcoding and/or remuxing. I also found a thread about people using Mac Minis as their Plex server: https://forums.plex.tv/index.php/topic/132548-plex-server-choosing-a-mac-mini-model-based-on-transcoding-needs/ and overall the experiences appear to be positive ones.

I would also say that you shouldn't overlook your networking equipment either. If you're serious about it, either go with a wired connection or powerline. WiFI is nice and all but for streaming HD content, a wired connection will be preferable.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #11 by VLoo » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:18 pm

You've been a great help, appreciate it. Will be coming back to rep this when Craig gets his shit together.(Just kidding Greg, you're doing God's work 'round these parts <3)
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #12 by VLoo » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:29 pm

Also just realized that the Mac Mini has a better processor than my MacBook that I currently run the server off of with the same amount of RAM and it does more than an adequate job. The odd time it'll take up a good amount of memory if there's a few streams going, but other than that it runs great with a bunch of other shit I have going on here all the time.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #13 by WTF » Wed Jun 10, 2015 10:14 am

VLoo wrote:You've been a great help, appreciate it. Will be coming back to rep this when Craig gets his shit together.(Just kidding Greg, you're doing God's work 'round these parts <3)


No problem. This was a relaxing break from thinking about work and an on-going project. I like reading/hearing about what other people are doing as far as home theatre setups go as I find it interesting and it gives me ideas on things to tinker with in the future.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #14 by WTF » Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:04 am

onefatsurfer wrote:If you're just using it for streaming, any reason not to use an android mini pc?


Those are also a viable option, depending on your needs. They're not really upgradeable as far as the components are concerned but some of the newer ones do offer h.265 support for anyone who wants to plan ahead. Plex and Kodi are both available and I recall reading that Moonlight is available for streaming games but I never really looked into it.

For a purely streaming device, Android boxes aren't bad at all (assuming you go with something that has an Ethernet port rather than just WiFi).
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #15 by Craig » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:58 am

Why not WiFi? Those things steam HD just fine over WiFi.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of t

Post #16 by cawbber » Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:17 pm

VLoo wrote:You've been a great help, appreciate it. Will be coming back to rep this when Craig gets his shit together.(Just kidding Greg, you're doing God's work 'round these parts <3)


We'll likely be waiting a while for rep. The phpBB forum freaks are don't really have a viable solution as of yet, otherwise we'd be using it. Someone started developing something and then abandoned it.

:why:
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #17 by WTF » Tue Jul 21, 2015 3:52 pm

Craig wrote:Why not WiFi? Those things steam HD just fine over WiFi.


Depends on the WiFi. You can probably get away with it if it's 5GHz. I haven't gotten around to trying out 802.11ac yet so I can't vouch for it personally. For the most part, I just prefer wired (or powerline) connections for streaming media due to the likelihood of encountering interference using 2.4GHz WiFi.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #18 by Craig » Tue Jul 21, 2015 4:33 pm

Wires are more reliable, but in my experience it's not so much a bandwidth issue as it is just connectivity. I have to restart my router all the time to fix the wifi, but the wired connections always work. The powerline cuts out every now and then too, but only for the wife so I don't really care.

So yeah, network cable is best, but I wouldn't call it a deal breaker. Usually it's fine though, because the router/modem is usually beside the TV anyway.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #19 by WTF » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:22 pm

Yeah, WiFi performance can definitely be "YMMV" in that there are many things that can interfere with the signal, including neighbouring WiFi networks which haven't been carefully thought out. If there's insufficient channel separation between a home network and neighbouring networks, that's when you usually see a lot more packet loss and disconnects.

With that said, I still like having WiFi around for the convenience factor. It's just that for streaming HD content (including games through Steam in-home streaming), I prefer some kind of wired solution. It really depends on the individual WiFi network and the proximity to any neighbouring ones. I figure apartments and condos must suck for that in terms of overlapping networks.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #20 by vf » Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:34 pm

Meh I think it's fine. My cable is all run through wifi and I never have any issues.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #21 by Craig » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:39 am

If you don't mind using wifi for everything, one of these might be an appealing option:

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/intel-comput ... 63919.html
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #22 by Craig » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:39 am

You'd need a bluetooth keyboard/mouse too, of course.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #23 by WTF » Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:24 pm

Craig wrote:If you don't mind using wifi for everything, one of these might be an appealing option:

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/intel-comput ... 63919.html


Yeah, I was considering that at one point. I occasionally check Liliputing as well for news related to mini PCs.

Ah, I found it. The Pipo X1 (I'm not sure when it's coming out) has similar specs to the Intel Compute Stick but it'll have another micro USB port. The Voyo V2 seems promising as well.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #24 by vonbonds » Sat Jul 25, 2015 11:13 pm

I just bought a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B tonight. My goal is to create a media center in my wife's SUV for our son. I'm tired of listening to kids movies and shit while we drive. I'll give him his entire library of shit that he can watch on a Kindle/iPad so we can listen to music on long drives.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #25 by vonbonds » Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:59 am

I'm sure setting it up will be easy, I'm more worried about a clean shutdown solution so it doesn't get corrupted from the abrupt frequent shutoffs it will take. I found a site that has a switch you can add that once pushed executes a shut down, I might go with that to start.
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Re: Looking into getting an htpc- not a build, just out of the box and ready to go.

Post #26 by R-66Y » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:18 pm

My parents are switching from cable to fios. Verizon is charging them $12/month per cable box (x2) and $10/month for their wireless router. I was wondering if you experts thought this plan was viable or not..

[url]http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018GWVOGC/ref=psdc_565098_t1_B00X4O6GRK
[/url]
Get 2x of these (or similar) to use as WMC clients (aka their set top boxes)

HDHomerun Prime for the cablecard access

NAS for storing dvr'ed shows (already have)

WMC remotes to control the wmc clients

I would set up the system, they would have to use it. They're not very tech savvy, but they're getting better. Currently, they use the dvr box from the cable company to record and watch shows.. is WMC much different? Will I need anything else to make this work the way I'm imagining it in my head?

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