HTPC Advice Needed / Current State of the HTPC

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs & Equipment' started by Nevalite, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    Hi Everyone,

    I have been contemplating building an HTPC for a while now and with the Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Boxing Day season upon us I figured now was time to snag some deals and build one. All my media is stored on a local server so I don't need any storage in the HTPC, I am planning on using Windows 10 and Kodi.

    Objective: Build a small, quiet, future proof HTPC for ~400$.

    TV: 4k VIZIO D50u-d1, one 4k @ 60Hz HDMI port (4:2:0 only)

    HTPC Part List:

    CPU: Intel Core i3-6100 3.7GHz Dual-Core Processor ($104.99 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard ($124.99@ Newegg with MIR)
    Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($39.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Crucial MX300 275GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($67.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Antec ISK 300-150 Mini ITX Desktop Case w/150W Power Supply ($74.99 @ Jet)
    Total: $412.92


    My concerns/questions:

    1. Skylake does not support 10 bit HEVC so I will not be able to stream 4k Netflix/other streaming services off the HTPC. My VIZIO has the netflix app built in which can play in 4k (not sure if this does 30Hz or 60Hz). Is it worth waiting for Kaby Lake just to get this feature on the HTPC? Would Kaby Lake bring any other real benefits?

    2. The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac seemed to be the only mini itx mobo with the ability to do 4k @ 60Hz however I read a lot of people having trouble getting 4k @ 60Hz from that HDMI port, is it a true HDMI 2.0 port? The other option is the Club3D adapter for the Display port which seems to be working out for most people.

    3. My TV can only display 4k @ 60Hz with 4:2:0 chroma, will I be able to set this in the intel settings?

    What do you guys think, is now the time to build this HTPC or should I wait for Kaby Lake and the 200 series mobos which will likely have many more HDMI 2.0 options?

    Thanks!!
     
  2. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    If you're going into this for true 4k versatility PLUS small case, I'd wait. The cheapest cards with HDMI 2.0b are a hundred bucks, and a low-profile version was just announced last week. Who knows when it will be available?

    You could use a third party hdmi 2 solution, but that will never support PlayReady 3 DRM. without that, you'll get zero support for 4k from commercial applications. But Kaby has been approved.

    The ISK is a nice little case, I used it for my i3 2100T build back in 2011. Be aware that if you want to swap the stock 80mm fan, you have to remove the motherboard to do it. So I'd make sure you can tolerate the fan noise before you install the rest of the system :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
  3. bobzdar

    bobzdar [H]ard|Gawd

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    I use the slightly larger stereo component style cases so there are less room contraints while still fitting in nicely. Discrete cards that can handle 4k are not too bad price wise and you won't have to worry about a low profile card - I crammed a GTX480 in mine with some slight mods to the top of the case. Mine is similar to this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...49&cm_re=htpc_case-_-9SIAA5W3RS8449-_-Product

    I also game on mine (and why wouldn't you if you're going 4k?) so a discrete card wasn't optional.
     
  4. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Yeah, I went with the Node 304 for my living room HTPC, just so I had plenty of room for TV recordings and a full-sized graphics card.

    The Core 500 is a much cheaper and much nicer revision of the Node 304. Still twice as tall as the ISK, but more versatile. Do give it some thought if you're going to be gaming at all - the integrated graphics on KAby can handle the 4k desktop, but not even casual gaming at 4k.

    It can only casual game at 1080p.

    If all you're looking for is a web browser and video player, you should be okay.
     
  5. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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  6. Schro

    Schro [H]ardness Supreme

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    What exactly do you plan on doing with the HTPC? Just media playback? Or do you have other things in mind?

    If you're looking at just media playback, something like a Roku would do well and use Plex on the server to get your local media to it...
     
  7. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    No. The ISK has a half-height single slot for expansion. This is why it is so short to the ground, that's the entire height of the expansion card. See red box on this image:

    [​IMG]

    That Zotac card requires a full-height expansion slot. That Zotac card cooler is also two slots deep. Your ISK only has room for one slot-deep coolers, because there's almost no room between the side of the case and the video card.

    If you're going to get into the world of tiny HTPCs, you need to learn the nomenclature.

    [​IMG]

    This is an expansion card that's a single slot deep, with half-height and full-height adapters. You can see how slim the PCB is, so it can fit in that half-height slot!

    Left side of the image is half-height, single-slot size.
    Right side of the image is the full-height, single-slot size.

    Now see the Zotac card. You can clearly see the card is full-height card. But you'll see something else: the COOLER extends beyond the slot! This makes the card TWO SLOTS DEEP. That FOUR TIMES the space you have TO FIT a card in the ISK 300.

    [​IMG]




    You should definitely consider these cases instead. They both come with a full-height dual-slot expansion bay.

    The card you just linked is DESIGNED to fit in cases like the Core 500 without issue. You CAN stuff larger cards into those cases, but it's not so simple.

    The cards you can fit into a single half-height slot ISK (also known as "low-profile") tend to be under-powered, and you won't find an HDMI 2.0 slot among them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
    J Macker and Nevalite like this.
  8. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    Thank you for the detailed reply! I did not even realize the ISK was a half-height slot :/

    I have decided to go with the Core 500 instead of the ISK, it seems perfect for me.

    As for the use of the HTPC, that's a good question which I have also been considering. To be honest I will use it mostly for media streaming, in which case a roku would probably be sufficient and cheaper...The truth is I like the idea of building it myself and also being able to upgrade it when the time comes. I am considering the idea of putting a GPU in for some light gaming and possibly some retro emulators.


    Now my dilemma: Skylake + GTX 1050 for HMDI 2.0 or Kaby Lake + 200 series mobo with HDMI 2.0? Only major difference would be 10 bit HEVC correct?
     
  9. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    You mean this support?

    http://www.pcmag.com/news/349792/4k-netflix-on-windows-10-requires-kaby-lake-chip-and-microso

    GTX 1050 supports all the same stuff as Kaby Lake. It's probably just a matter of Intel paying cash to be the "first" exclusive platform supporting Netflix 4k. I mean, Microsoft had to get in their press release about support in Edge, even though the Windows native app offers the same support.

    This whole thing SCREAMS press release to get people like you to get jazzed about Kaby.

    I'm sure it will happen soon. Much like HBO Go was an Apple TV exclusive for a few months, that didn't last long.

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/14/apples-exclusive-hbo-deal-isnt-so-exclusive.aspx

    In addition to the GTX 1050 supporting all the same decode modes, and same PlayReady 3.0 DRM as Kaby, it can also play casual game competently at 4k, a thing Kaby Lake can only dream of.

    See here:

    http://techfrag.com/2016/05/23/nvidia-gtx-1080-hdr-ready-4k-streaming-via-playready-3-0/
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
  10. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  11. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    I guess I was quite jazzed by it all :p

    I was trying to avoid putting a GPU in there mainly due to noise reasons, not to mention the ISK PSU could not handle it nor fit it. If there was a passive version of the GTX 1050, that would be an ideal card!

    Now that I am switching for the Core 500 I guess I could either do Skylake + GTX 1050 or Kaby Lake with no GPU (no real gaming capability, but quiet)...

    All my Kaby Lake thoughts have been combined with the assumption that we will have new motherboards with HDMI 2.0...Are any such boards confirmed yet? Would these be using the 200 series chipset?
     
  12. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    None announced that I've heard about.

    Also, you can get SILENT GTX 1050 Ti cards, that turn off their fan at idle. They're not cheap, but they are available. This ASUS Strix 1050 Ti model is under 10 inches, so it should fit okay in the Core 500 if you use a non-modular PSU.

    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ASUS/GTX_1050_Ti_Strix_OC/28.html

    My STRIX GTX 960 has similar noise levels, (same site reviewed both cards) and even overclocked to the max I can't hear it in my silent desktop PC.

    I'm not as picky about silence on my HTPC, as it sits eight feet away from me., so it has a 7200 RPM HDD and a noisy GTX 750 Ti, and stock intel cooler. But my desktop is two feet away, and I can hear it, so I'm a stickler for noise.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  13. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Here's a detailed build with your case and a very long video card.

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1479-page4.html

    The PSU is right behind the video card pictured there. It's a tight fit, so modular PSUs (typically larger than non-modular) have a tighter fit.

    [​IMG]

    See the black webbing in the right hand corner? That's the PSU cables.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  14. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    That's a great looking card, you're right though it seems a bit pricey for a GTX 1050...I guess I just need to decide whether I want to do any gaming off this machine or not. I'm leaning towards no heavy gaming, just perhaps some emulators and then media streaming so I think a GTX 1050 would be overkill. The only real reason I would get the card at this point would be to get the true HDMI 2.0, which seems a bit silly.

    Considering what I want to do with this machine I think I would be better off waiting for some new mini ITX boards with HDMI 2.0 on them, I would imagine all will be announced at CES in January?
     
  15. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Yeah, probably January. That's what I keep hearing. But don't be surprised if the Core i3 takes another month or two to become available, Skylake quad cores launched at early August last year, but Core i3 wasn't available until October.

    You should still go with the Core 500 build, just to give you a valid upgrade path if you end up needing it. That's the way I went with my HTPC, I got by on HD 4000 for about two years before I bit on the GTX 750 Ti.
     
  16. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    I noticed that as well, a lot of the Kaby Lake lists I've seen don't include the i3 and it has me worried they won't come out with them at the same time...~January I can wait for, ~March might be pushing it!

    I will go for the Core 500 regardless because like you said, I may want to add the GPU at a later date.

    This raises a new question for me though, which PSU should I get for the Core 500? The ISK had a PSU built in (also limited form factor) so I was not worrying about it. Any advice on the PSU? Preferable something that doesn't make too much noise.
     
  17. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Seasonic is pretty low noise.

    I'm currently using an Antec Earthwatts 550w in my Node 304 case without issues.

    The Core 500 and Node 304 are unique in that the PSU is completely contained inside the case. The feed comes from the bottom of the case, so it's quieter than most MiniITX box cases. Most of those other box cases put the PSU feed on top in the rear, where it can be heard.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  18. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    What do you think of the Seasonic S12II 520? or the EVGA 500 B1?
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  19. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  20. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    Looks to me like the S12II 520 is about 10db louder in both the 300W and 500W test no? I must admit with no GPU my HTPC will only be seeing around 100W in which case you're right they are both around 28-30db.

    EVGA has a 3 year warranty, Seasonic 5 year...know anything about the quality of the capacitors used in both units?
     
  21. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    Apollo lake boards are out, they are dirt cheap, fanless, and do 10bit HEVC with HDR.

    Won't run madvr at 4K, but neither will a 1050.
     
  22. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    Never even considered those, just saw the ASRock J3455 ITX, seems ideal for an HTPC
     
  23. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    I have one, works great. Just waiting on source material now.

    Nuc coming out soon as well with the same specs.
     
  24. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Does it officially work with Netflix 4k, or is that just Kaby for now?
     
  25. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    Haven't tested, who knows. It has the same acceleration and drm so I would figure maybe, but you never know.
     
  26. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    Well, let us know when you've tested. This should be universal, but obviously Intel has paid to be first. They might lock that video feature down to just Kaby, much like they initially did with QuickSync.
     
  27. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'm waiting for the KL release to upgrade my htpc, I like these but I want something that won't choke playing lego games.
     
  28. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    There's definitely a chance, but i watch 4k netflix on my firetv. I just bought one because it's much faster than my old kabini, fanless, and when they crack UHD's and i can rip them to a nas this will play them. Still can't believe cyberlink is coming out with uhd software... will they never learn LOL.
     
  29. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    If yoou have Windows 10 installed on it, here's nothing stopping you from testing Netflix 4k
     
  30. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    My computer can play Netflix 4K fine on win 10 I'm not worried.
     
  31. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'd have to go hook it up to my 4k tv in living room. Projector with htpc is only 1080p hdmi 1.3 :(
     
  32. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    I forgot, this is softOCP

    You have the necessary components to verify if all Intel's latest low-end support Netflix 4k, but won't :(
     
  33. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I have already tested it, not low end. I'm not going to get bare minimum because my kids will lay the lego games on my HTPC and I'm not going to get something that may turn a very low requirements game into a choppy mess.
     
  34. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    I probably deserve that

    I'll try after work
     
  35. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    So i tried in Edge, because it specifically said in the press release that kabylake + edge would get you 4k. Tried, failed. Checked their website and it said you had to have kaby lake + their stupid app. So i download the app and try to launch it. Fail... fail... fail... fail... I keep getting server errors. After 10 minutes of clocking, i finally get a video to load:

    [​IMG]


    No, let me say this, the audio was choppy and it stuttered a bit. Is it my internet? Is it their junk-ass servers? Is it their junk-ass app(internet and netflix seemed fine in edge)?? Is it the board? Bad drivers? Not sure. But apparently the DRM is sufficient, and my cpu was only around 70% during playback at 4k so it appears it's possible. Just might need some updates first.
     
  36. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    yes i realize that's freaking updside down.. fail!
     
  37. whateverer

    whateverer AMD Owns Techreport

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    thanks dude, at least it's possible!
     
  38. Nevalite

    Nevalite Limp Gawd

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    Back when I made this thread I decided not to build the htpc since there were no mini itx mobos with hdmi 2.0...

    Almost two years have passed, where do we stand? Any Mini itx boards out there supporting hdmi 2.0?

    Looks like the GIGABYTE H370N WIFI may do the job.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018