I'm looking for a good HTPC/Mini-PC box to use for XBMC and Plex Media Server.
For PMS, I've one stream playback requirement only so a CPU ~> 2000 passmark would be enough but I would prefer a box with at least quad-core CPU.
I'm newbie when it comes to HTPC/Mini-PC use as I never had one before. I'm doing online research but don't know much about some good manufactures of such devices.
Any suggestions/comments are appreciated!
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A HTPC is just a regular PC that's mostly used for video/audio entertainment.
My HTPC is a Gigabit Micro ATX motherboard with a AMD A6-3500 APU in a desktop case . It runs Windows 7 Home version with 4GB RAM.
I do have a TV tuner installed to pick up the local OTA TV channels. I also have a Blu-Ray ROM drive so I can play back commercial BD discs and DVD discs.
I use AnyDVD HD in the background for decryption. For BD playback software, I have the freeware VSO Media player.
For playback of other videos and DVDs, I have Zoom Player, MPC-HC and VLC, and they can play about anything.
XBMC is good if you lack CPU power or have a weak video card. VLC takes a bit of CPU power for some formats.
All of them perform about the same job, it's just your own preference and your hardware.
My HTPC outputs both VGA to a PC monitor and HDMI to my video projector. The audio out is digital coaxial and that goes to my surround sound amplifier and sound system. If you have a newer LCD or plasma TV, the HDMI output works well. I split the audio to my surround sound system as most TVs don't have good sound.
Another alternative is to go the Microsoft route, then you would use Windows Media Center and a remote to access your video/audio files.
This works OK, but Media Center can be somewhat limiting for some formats like MKV, which is very popular these days.
What I'm really saying is a HTPC is just another computer. You can set it up however you like. It does need some CPU power and definitely some video
processing power in the form of the installed video card. But most any PC with decent specifications can be a HTPC.
Last edited by redwudz; 20th Oct 2014 at 21:05.
I'm guessing that you are not looking for a Mini Android Box because you want to run Plex as well as XBMC/Kodi. Maybe something from Intel's NUC series? They make a few quad-core bare-bones PCs. You add an OS, input devices (wireless keyboard, mouse or remote), memory, SSD, USB storage drives. This is one example: http://www.amazon.com/Intel-BOXD54250WYKH1-Core-i5-4250U-Graphics/dp/B00HZDLNWO
We use an i3 4130T in our HTPC (along with a 120 GB SSD boot drive and a 1 TB hard drive for recordings. It's used as a cable DVR along with a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime. The goal was to have a low power device that could play one HD channel while recording two others. It runs about 30 watts at idle, 35 watts playing 1080i.
It's all in a ATX case. I don't see any need to pay extra for Mini ITX components.
Thanks guys for your replies and time. I would prefer a Linux based/supported box.
I've been looking this one from Intel http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-d54250wyk.html
and this one from Zotac http://www.zotac.com/products/mini-pcs/zbox/intel/product/intel/detail/zbox-iq01-1/sor...amount/10.html
Zotac IQ01 seems powerful but I'm not sure about Linux support for it.
My research continues..
At the moment in the living room, I have an Asus revo running windows 7, this is used as my main HTPC as it's quiet, attached is a Dvb t2 usb stick which I use to record and watch TV using Nextpvr, I use XBMC, to watch TV, movies, and music, streamed from a nas drive which i keep in another room to keep the noise down. In the kitchen i have an intel nuc dn2820fykh, which i wasn't keen on at first but it does the job pretty well, again I'm running win 7 with XBMC, though I have used XBMC as a stand alone program and the Linux version, again all done the job well, I'd recomend one of the new intel nuc's now theres been a few software upgrades. In the bedroom I have a raspberry pi, again running XBMC, the Raspberry pi is the weakest link, but it plays everything you throw at it.
I chose XBMC because it worked well, and is controlled well by an android app, they all link together good.
So I'd recommend the intel nuc's, or even a raspberry pi, if you where on a budget
Thanks guys. I find the Zotoc Zbox EI750 box interesting.
I ended up buying Mac Mini.
I ended up buying three raspberry pi 2's, as they do everything brilliantly, I've got two Dvb t2 tuners attached to one dedicated tuner, then the others attached to tv