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Need advice on the following HTPC configuration

pushthetempo

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I'm looking to set up an HTPC based on the Intel NUC kit. My uses for this box would be as follows:-

  • Kodi server
  • Plex
  • Basic gaming (emulator and old games)

Am not looking for 4K movie playback (currently). I may set up Plex at a later stage depending on the subscription options available. Following are the components I have shortlisted for this purpose:-


The total turns out to be around Rs 36K. I don't have a specific budget, but I would be happy if it turns out to be closer to 30K.

My specific queries are:-
1) Is the i5 overkill for Kodi? Two reasons I'm biased to i5 because of Plex (may have 2-3 streams transcoding during heavy usage). Also when 4K is mainstream, I want the box to be future proof.
2) If I have all my media on an external USB drive (USB3), will it be fast enough to serve movies for streaming on Kodi or Plex?
3) Any other suggestions?

Thanks for your consideration.
 
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amit.ksengupta

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1. Yes i5 is an overkill for Kodi. Esp if you install openelec implementation of kodi it would suffice to run it on a lower processor. But for multiple streams in Plex you will need the juice. If you are sure you will have that need go with i5. I run an i3 with Plex with max 2 streams and works without a sweat.
2. USB 3.0 can be used to steam up to 4k without a fuss. No issues there. Just make sure your network is also strong enough for your future multiple streams. And you can always add a NAS device in future if your data needs grow.
3. I was using kodi for ever, but have switched over to Plex and finally don't miss anything. The app purchase or subscription is a bummer but it works flawlessly. Also for all laptops I use html5 interface which is pretty great. Don't miss kodi.


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amit.ksengupta

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Although I run a similar setup as you are planning I would recommend you to look at some arm devices for the setup. There are some great and powerful arm devices out right now (raspberrypi, udoo, odorid c1+/c2) to name a few. They work great as lean clients running kodi all day all night without eating up ur electricity bill. For now you can hook up a USB drive and install kodi on the same machine. For future you can diy a NAS with a "good enough" processor to run Plex server. You can tune your arm device to then just run as a client.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
 

sam9s

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there is a major difference how you run PLEX and KODI, both work on different architecture and you have to decided what you want. PLEX works on server-client model. KODI is a stand alone media player. For PLEX you have to have a server running all the time.

Coming to the hardware if 4K is your concern, even if its for future....5th gen is the least you should get, Intel has released drivers for 4K playback for all 5th gen cpu with HD 6000 graphics .....so your choice of CPU should do. If you planning to run plex server on it, and also planning to do transcoding and simultaneous streams, this proc is just bare min to perform the activities. Transcoding is a pretty heavy duty task, with this processor I will not expect 1-2 1080p transcodes ....

If you want my "serious" suggestion ....with 30K in my hand I will definitely go for nvidia SHIELD, infact very soon I will be going for this. Its a powerfull media device, that will easily play all 4K content, has the best KODI implementation, can run PLEX server full glory, with easily do 2-3 1080p transcodes, best netflix app with full 1080p support and top of all ultimate android gaming and if you can get from US, its not going to cost you more than 22-23K (with remote) ....... seriously google read and consider ...
 
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pushthetempo

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1. Yes i5 is an overkill for Kodi. Esp if you install openelec implementation of kodi it would suffice to run it on a lower processor. But for multiple streams in Plex you will need the juice. If you are sure you will have that need go with i5. I run an i3 with Plex with max 2 streams and works without a sweat.
2. USB 3.0 can be used to steam up to 4k without a fuss. No issues there. Just make sure your network is also strong enough for your future multiple streams. And you can always add a NAS device in future if your data needs grow.
3. I was using kodi for ever, but have switched over to Plex and finally don't miss anything. The app purchase or subscription is a bummer but it works flawlessly. Also for all laptops I use html5 interface which is pretty great. Don't miss kodi.


Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
Thanks for your feedback. I would stick with the higher processing power - for the times when the entire family is at home, streaming their movies individually on their devices. Will probably install both kodi and plex.

Not a big fan of raspberry. Neither do I know much about them. So am probably biased against getting those.
 

pushthetempo

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there is a major difference how you run PLEX and KODI, both work on different architecture and you have to decided what you want. PLEX works on server-client model. KODI is a stand alone media player. For PLEX you have to have a server running all the time.

Coming to the hardware if 4K is your concern, even if its for future....5th gen is the least you should get, Intel has released drivers for 4K playback for all 5th gen cpu with HD 6000 graphics .....so your choice of CPU should do. If you planning to run plex server on it, and also planning to do transcoding and simultaneous streams, this proc is just bare min to perform the activities. Transcoding is a pretty heavy duty task, with this processor I will not expect 1-2 1080p transcodes ....

If you want my "serious" suggestion ....with 30K in my hand I will definitely go for nvidia SHIELD, infact very soon I will be going for this. Its a powerfull media device, that will easily play all 4K content, has the best KODI implementation, can run PLEX server full glory, with easily do 2-3 1080p transcodes, best netflix app with full 1080p support and top of all ultimate android gaming and if you can get from US, its not going to cost you more than 22-23K (with remote) ....... seriously google read and consider ...
Thanks for your reply. I understand that both work differently. I would want Plex for the times that people coming over can stream content on their respective devices rather than messing around with pen drives and what not. Kodi would be perfect when the whole family is willing to watch something together. :D

Nvidia shield looks like a very good alternate for a windows based box. Searched this online. It markets itself as an Android TV. So will the games available on this be only those released on Android? Also found this news that possibly Reliance Jio may introduce Nvidia shield in India.

IMO, 4K is still a long way away in India. And hopefully I can save enough in the next 2-3 years to upgrade in case this box cannot handle 4K. As far as the box can handle 1080p, I'd be satisfied.

Will research a bit more on the possible alternates and maybe a faster processor (for Plex).
 

neoonwheels

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I am using AMD FX 6300 and Asus M5A78L-USB3 motherboard as my desktop but then when I used it with TV, realised that this can be a good HTPC config as well.

The motherboard has 7.1 analog output, 1 SPDIF out and 1 HDMI out. Also this CPU+MB combo would be cheaper as well.
 

sud98

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Would this be another option?

1. A low end cpu plus motherboard plus graphics card -15k
2. A NAS for 15k

Run everything using Kodi, no need of transcoding at the htpc, if needed do it at the NAS.
 

regeHA

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I have an NVIDIA Shield and its everything Sam says and more. It will work out excellent for all your needs.

However, if I'm doing the spending then I'd spend the most on a powerful PC or NAS for the source. Plex makes things very easy to view your content on multiple devices, just need the app - you can watch on TV, smartphones, tablets, etc. Its the best there is for on the fly transcoding so you can even stream out of home. Get a powerful PC/NAS for Plex and be done with it.

For the front end you can use the Plex app or any casting device like Roku, Chromecast, or even the mighty Raspberry Pi. I believe I'm using at least 15 devices in all to stream content to from a single NAS running Plex, DSM, MinimServer, BubbleUPnP Server, etc. The advantage with a powerful PC/NAS is you can run multiple servers on it and each streaming device/renderer/end point can make use of whatever it needs and based on the content i.e. audio, video, pics, etc.
 

sam9s

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I would want Plex for the times that people coming over can stream content on their respective devices rather than messing around with pen drives and what not.
Please do understand 2 things, in a scenario, when your friends/family will visit your home and would stream your media content,

1. To stream via plex server, people who visit your home can only do this with plex app installed on their mobile, there is no other way. If getting your content streamed to your friends mobile is your main concern, UPnP is the way to go. KODI acts as UPnP server, and people visiting can stream all your media on their mobile via BubbleUPnP app, with kodi acting as the UPnP server. Point is ::::: you dont need to invest so much in getting a plex server only for this approch.

2. People will have to join your home network to stream from plex and when you are in your LAN, no transcoding or down sampling is needed as LAN is fast enough to stream all content. PLEX does not transcode or down sample when content is played in your local lan (unless you delibrately instruct PLEX to do so)

Plex transcoding/down sampling works best or is required when you want to watch/stream a movie from outside your LAN, over 3G or from someone else network. In that scenario, your CPU will get hurt.

If media watching will be done mostly inside your home network, KODI is the best solution and work wonders.

So make sure you get your requirements right about plex before investing, just a geniune suggestion. Even I use both plex and KODI, but hardly use plex when I am home as kodi rocks in all local media playback.

I only use plex when I want to watch movies/series while I am travelling.

Nvidia shield looks like a very good alternate for a windows based box. Searched this online. It markets itself as an Android TV. So will the games available on this be only those released on Android?
Shield has its own game collection, it also has GRID, which is like Netflix for game or cloud gaming to be precise, it also can act as game streamer from your PC, so lot of things you can do with shield as a gaming console.
 
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pushthetempo

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Thanks sam9s for you genuinely helpful suggestions. I definitely won't be needing to stream outside my home network. So plex doesn't seem required. Kodi and dlna could work out quite decently.

On a related but separate question, how much is the performance wise difference between a 4th gen i5 and 5th gen i5?
 

sam9s

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On a related but separate question, how much is the performance wise difference between a 4th gen i5 and 5th gen i5?
Depends on what r u trying to use the machine for. Casual gaming, media watching, streaming, general stuff, even a 2nd gen i5(or i3 for that matter) will do. But heavy top of the line gaming, heavy video transcoding, downsampling, conversion. Heavy multitasking, Virtualization, 3D rendering,...etc etc ... get as fast CPU and more RAM as u can :)
 
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