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Win Intel HTPCs/NUCs & Kodi-native 3D MVC Playback
Moved my review of DN2820 here from the dev thread, which is a bit of a mess up to point when it was merged (and now doesn't belong there anyway)...

Intel NUC DN2820FYKH 3D MVC Review, by hdmkv on March 19, 2016 (updated April 21)

Please refer to this master stickied thread on relevant Kodi 3D-capable media players and HTPC options.

Verdict: A; based on afedchin's March 25 April 20 Kodi 17 MVC Windows build
  • PQ = A++ (As others have reported, 3D looks just amazing on Intel h/w, with excellent depth, details)
  • AQ = A- (All formats bitstream, but Dolby Digital Plus is broken, and there's lip-sync error with some 3D ISO's)
  • User Experience = A- (as a home theater box using Windows 10)
  • Ease of set-up = B+ (some effort necessary, so not a plug-and-play media player; but, hey, this is a Kodi forum Smile)

Overview:

3D MVC natively via Intel/Windows has been a game-changer for 3D fans! We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kodi developer @afedchin. Thank you sir!

Getting a snappy all-in-one, integrated Kodi box with great PQ, full HD audio bitstreaming and perfect framerates has been elusive. Raspberry Pi2 almost was that box, but incapable of bitstreaming HD audio, and not quite as fast as we'd like. The recently released Pi3 is faster, but still can't bitstream HD audio. Kodi dev @afedchin came to the rescue with a solution under Intel hardware/graphics and Windows! While OpenELEC may have been ideal, using the Launcher4Kodi app gives your 3D MVC HTPC that OpenELEC-like set-top box feel to boot.

So, this is about as awesome an all-in-one Kodi box we've got until Intel NUC's with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2 and HDR support arrive, likely with Kaby Lake in late 2016, succesor to Skylake. Or, if nVidia listens to many of us asking for 3D MVC and finally adds that capability to its Shield TV (not holding my breath for it however).

I didn't evaluate any 4K on this NUC, because as for present state-of-things, Shield TV and HiMedia Q10 Pro are both better suited for that.

My NUC Build Details ($133) & Home Theater Set-Up:
  • Intel NUC DN2820FYKH with Intel Celeron N2820 w/2.5" HDD support ($82 shipped, off eBay, but looks almost new!)
  • ADATA SP600 2.5" 64 GB SATA III SSD ($36 off Amazon)
  • Crucial 4GB Single DDR3 (PC3-12800) SODIMM 204-Pin 1.35V/1.5V Memory Module CT51264BF160B ($15 off Amazon)
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Used Intel's driver check utility and their website to install the latest BIOS, graphics and audio drivers specific to my DN2820FYKH NUC
  • See the dev thread for Intel and Kodi settings; also my screenshots below
  • See my signature below for my HT gear and set-up (basis for this evaluation)

Photo Gallery:

watch gallery


Performance:

This NUC (even under Windows 10) is as snappy as the ASUS Chromebox I used to have (both Celeron HTPC's). My NUC/Windows install is minimal, with only Kodi, Launcher4Kodi, CCleaner and Google Chrome installed. Nothing else, other than background Windows processes, running or installed. Kodi is very fluid, responsibe, without any lags.

A/V Tests:
  • [Audio] DD5.1 (640Kbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DD+ 5.1 = fail (no audio; disable DD+ under passthrough for now to get multichannel output)
  • [Audio] DD+ 7.1 = fail (no audio; disable DD+ under passthrough for now to get multichannel output)
  • [Audio] TrueHD 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] TrueHD 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] ATMOS = pass (to TrueHD 7.1 as my AVR doesn't support ATMOS, but confirmed by users w/ATMOS AVR's)
  • [Audio] DTS (1.5Mbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS:X = pass (to MA 7.1 as my AVR doesn't support X, but confirmed by users w/X AVR's)
  • [Audio] AAC 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] FLAC 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] LPCM 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] LPCM 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] 96kHz, 192kHz and 96kHz/24-bit = all three pass
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 (VOB from a DVD rip) = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:0 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:2 = plays, but with some stutter; audio perfect (most media players, including HiMedia Q10 Pro and nVidia Shield exhibit green-pixellated mess or no picture at all with this)
  • [Video] 59.940 MPEG2 720p = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper '23.97' framerate (as my projector indicates)
  • [Video] 24.000 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970/60.000 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 25.000/50.000 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p VC-1 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 1080i VC-1 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate (this is excellent as many players struggle with this)
  • [3D MVC] 23.976 3D ISO = pass, perfect playback (my PJ shows '23.94' oddly (vs. '23.97', but didn't notice any frame skips or microstutters)
  • [3D MVC] 23.976 3D MVC = pass, perfect playback (same as above)
  • [3D MVC] Left/right eye swap = pass
  • [Forced subtitles] SRT, PGS forced subs supported in MKV and ISO
  • [Bitrates] Birds clips up to 90Mbps = no sweat, perfect playback
  • [Bitrates] Jellyfish clips up to 255Mbps = no sweat, perfect playback (didn't even have any higher saved to test, and unnecessary anyway for real world use, 4K or not)
So, other than DD+, this NUC with this Kodi build really delivers! With that difficult 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:2, an i3/i5 NUC may just provide that extra juice for perfect playback.

Audio lip sync error (with audio .5 secs behind video) is occasionally an issue for some, myself included. But, it's hard to replicate, and seems random. It affects only 3D ISO's, with MVC MKV's of the same w/o issues. Also, a quick FF or skip back gets A/V back in sync. Only reason I've awarded this NUC an 'A-', as otherwise it would be a solid 'A'. Other than lip-sync error, no issues with playback (video and audio) like stutters, or even microstutters, judders, or any such artifacts. I watched a pendelum test clip, FPS test clips, and rolling credit sequences to assess.

Update April 21: No more lip-sync errors. Use April 20 build and make settings as instructed in post #1.

Extras:
  • HD steaming of Netflix, Amazon, etc. (either via Windows store apps or simply via Google Chrome) as added value, making this a great all-in-one box!
  • For Logitech Harmony remote control users, adding DN2820FYKH is a snap. No MCE or FLIRC dongles needed, as DN2820 has front IR. Just add the NUC via MyHarmony app.

Support:

A+. This thread and afedchin's developmental thread.

PQ Shootout:

This is very subjective, but having just compared HiMedia Q10 (with Imprex engine 2.0 enabled), RPi3 and the Intel NUC in this review, my 2D and 3D PQ assessments are as follows:
  • Intel NUC PQ = A++ (Don't know why it is, but others have been wow'd by Intel PQ as well)
  • RPi2 and RPi3 PQ = A
  • HiMedia Q10 Pro PQ = A- (Detailed review here) (Pre-production unit, pre-release firmware, so PQ eventually should be a solid 'A')

Wrap-Up:

My Intel NUC with Windows 10 (for this review), or any compatible Intel h/w and @afedchin's MVC Kodi 17 build, is now what I'd consider the #1 all-in-one media player for the dedicated home theater enthusiast! While I still like HiMedia Q10 Pro for 3D + first-rate 4K, and nVidia Shield as that versatile all-in-one (just sans-3D), the PQ on my new Intel NUC bests them both. The only slightly nagging issue with this NUC is lip-sync error with some 3D ISO's. Also, while not quite a full 4K solution for now, this does everything else great in one box! Intel's PQ is great, even compared to HiMedia's Imprex Engine 2.0! Not by a huge margin (maybe splitting hairs), but Intel's PQ is so natural, sharp, detailed, and vibrant (even with PQ enhancements disabled in Intel's graphics' properties).

Bottom line is for 3D MVC (ISO and MKV), and all the other functionality we home theater enthusiasts demand, an Intel NUC or compatible HTPC w/afedchin's Kodi build (which will hopefully go mainline soon) is the best bang for the buck (as my buddy movie78 PM'd me to exclaim!). Once we get full-range 4K with upcoming Intel NUC's, and DD+ issue is resolved, we'll truly have that A+ 'holy grail' all-in-one box! So close, that I and I'm sure other enthusiasts reading this can taste it! Exciting times indeed!
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
Beelink BT3 Intel Atom X5-Z8300 3D MVC Review, by hdmkv on April 6, 2016 (updated April 8)

Verdict: A-; based on afedchin's March 25 Kodi 17 MVC Windows build
  • PQ = A++ (As with pretty much all MVC compatible Intel h/w and as others have reported, 3D looks just amazing, with excellent depth, details)
  • AQ = A- (BT3 does not bitstream HD audio, but like RPi, it passes all 5.1 to 7.1 formats as lossless PCM multichannel)
  • User Experience = A- (as a home theater box using Windows 10)
  • Ease of set-up = A- (Nothing to assemble like NUC's or DIY HTPC's; just update drivers, install Kodi MVC build, configure settings, and enjoy Smile)
  • Value = A- (As on 'limited sale' now for $124 shipped)

Overview:

Beelink's BT3 relies on Intel's Atom X5-Z8300 chip. It comes with Windows 10 32-bit preinstalled, 2GB RAM, gigabit LAN, 40GB user disk partition, with 20GB OS-partitioned.

My thanks to Everbuying for sending me a review sample.

Photo Gallery:

watch gallery


Performance:

Beelink's BT3 is fairly snappy, but don't expect i3 (or even Celeron N2820) level performance. For Kodi use, along with Chrome browser, virus scanner, CCleaner and Windows processes running, it does the job well. Boot-up takes about 32 seconds from pressing power button to Windows desktop (not bad, but for comparison my Dell Micro 3050 is 23 seconds; it also has a faster Celeron however). Also, BT3 relies on 32-bit Windows, but for Kodi not an issue as it too is 32-bit.

BT3 feels a bit more like a set-top box or media player as its form factor is like the many other Amazon Fire TV-like Android boxes on the market. Install Launcher4Kodi and boot straight into Kodi. As I've been using Windows 10 far more for home theater use than I ever did since Windows 7 days, the more I'm warming up to it. Why deal with Android's shortcomings when you can have full 3D, HD audio (lossless PCM in this case), plus HD Netflix/Amazon? Get an air-mouse for times you're in Windows 10 and use tablet mode with tiles so you get more of that media player feel.

Set-Up:
  • Graphics and audio drivers. I had some trouble with these initially, causing sluggishness or freeze-ups within Kodi and audio break-ups. First test Kodi w/pre-installed drivers, but if you have issues, what worked for me may work for you, which was to update via Device Manager (and not Intel's website or Driver Utility). See screenshots in photo gallery above.
  • For Kodi, choose settings options as detailed in @afedchin's dev thread here. For audio, you can enable passthrough and choose DIRECTSOUND option to get regular DD/DTS bitstreamed and HD audio formats passed as LPCM.

A/V Tests:

As noted already, BT3 does NOT bitstream TrueHD/ATMOS and DTS-MA/X. It does decode these formats to lossless multichannel. Also, @wesk05 had suggested I check if BT3/X5-Z8300 does correct channel mapping for below, and I'm happy to confirm, yes to all, and LPCM output sounds great...
  • [Audio] DD5.1 (640Kbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DD+ 5.1/7.1 = passed to multichannel 5.1/7.1 fine (but, should be able to bitstream DD+ based on audio driver properties, so will check)
  • [Audio] TrueHD 5.1/7.1 and ATMOS = passed to multichannel 5.1/7.1 fine
  • [Audio] DTS (1.5Mbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 5.1/7.1 = passed to multichannel 5.1/7.1 fine
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 5.1/7.1 and X = passed to multichannel 5.1/7.1 fine
  • [Audio] AAC 5.1 = passed to multichannel 5.1 fine
  • [Audio] FLAC 5.1 = passed to multichannel 5.1 fine
  • [Audio] LPCM 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] LPCM 7.1 = pass
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 (VOB from a DVD rip) = pass, playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:0 = pass, playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:2 = some stutters, but not bad at all considering even nVidia Shield and HiMedia Q10 Pro can't handle this type
  • [Video] 59.940 MPEG2 720p = pass, playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p H.264 = pass, playback at proper '23.97' framerate (as my projector indicates)
  • [Video] 24.000 1080p H.264 = pass, playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970/60.000 1080p H.264 = pass, playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 25.000/50.000 1080p H.264 = pass, playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p VC-1 = perfect playback
  • [Video] 29.970 1080i VC-1 = perfect playback; wasn't expecting this; nice
  • [3D MVC] 23.976 3D ISO = pass, solid playback (didn't notice any frame skips or microstutters)
  • [3D MVC] 23.976 3D MVC = pass, solid playback (same as above)
  • [3D MVC] Left/right eye swap = pass, automatic w/latest Kodi MVC builds
  • [2D MKV] Pass, no issues with straight MakeMKV rips w/HD audio
  • [Forced subtitles] Supported
  • [Bitrates] Birds clips up to 90Mbps = no sweat, perfect playback
  • [Bitrates] Jellyfish: Birds up to 255Mbps, perfect playback. Wasn't expecting this out of Intel ATOM; impressive
    (I don't test hgher than 255Mbps as there's no point; no existing or upcoming 4K is expected to go higher than 128Mbps)

Extras:
  • HD steaming of Netflix, Amazon, etc. (either via Windows store apps or simply via Google Chrome) as added value, making this a nice all-in-one box!
  • For Logitech Harmony remote control users, both MCE or FLIRC dongles work. I don't think BT3 has IR, but it does have Bluetooth, so it may be possible to pair Harmony Uttimate directly (but, I don't know how; need to research this).

Wrap-Up:

Who is the Beelink BT3 for? Those of us who don't need HD audio bitstreaming (are are fine with lossless multichannel output), but do need full 3D MVC. Also those of us who don't want to fuss with assembling own HTPC's or even a NUC's, but want a box with everything included, ready to use after just a little set-up effort. And, the benfit of not bitstreaming HD audio means no lip-sync error as with other budget Intel h/w options (namely N2820).
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
(2016-04-07, 00:00)hdmkv Wrote: Also, @wesk05 had suggested I check if BT3/X5-Z8300 does correct channel mapping for below, and I'm happy to confirm, yes to all, and LPCM output sounds great...
Graphics and audio drivers.For audio, you can enable passthrough and choose DIRECTSOUND option to get regular DD/DTS bitstreamed and HD audio formats passed as LPCM.
Good to know that there is no channel mapping error for 7.1 PCM.
What happens if you select WASAPI Audio device for passthrough?
Reply
Problems Smile ... audio starts to stutter and overall Kodi behavior gets wacky (for lack of better description). Also, I get no audio w/HD audio formats.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
(2016-04-07, 01:24)hdmkv Wrote: Problems Smile ... audio starts to stutter and overall Kodi behavior gets wacky (for lack of better description).
That's interesting... I don't think I had such problems on Minix Z64 which is Bay Trail Z3735F.
Reply
What happens if you use WASAPI on Minix Z64?
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
(2016-04-07, 01:54)hdmkv Wrote: What happens if you use WASAPI on Minix Z64?

can you try to manually "force" install these audio drivers ? they worked to get HD audio working on baytrail devices.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5N7WLD...ef=2&pli=1
Main System - HTPC - Intel I3 6300 - Asrock z170 - 16 GB DDR4 - 128gb SSD - 65" UHD HDR Sony Android TV - Pioneer VSX 1130-K - 7.2.2 speakers
Other devices currently in use - 55" 3D UHD LG TV - 2 Fire TV's - Nexus Player - MiniMX s905 - Voyo Vmac Mini
Ubuntu Server - 12 TB NAS - MYSQL - Torrent Box
Reply
That'd be sweet, assuming it works and w/o lip-sync error. Presently setting up D34010WYK NUC for testing, but will re-test Beelink BT3 w/driver you linked to tomorrow.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
(2016-04-07, 02:13)hdmkv Wrote: That'd be sweet, assuming it works and w/o lip-sync error. Presently setting up D34010WYK NUC for testing, but will re-test Beelink BT3 w/driver you linked to tomorrow.

Waiting for your review on the D34010WYK. I might bite base on your findings.
MY CURRENT MEDIA PLAYER | MY HOME THEATER
MINIX NEO U9-H LIBREELEC v18 Leia | EGREAT A5 | NVIDIA SHIELD
SAMSUNG QLED QN65Q7 | Sony 43 Android TV HDR
XBOX ONE X UHD BLU-RAY | PS4 PRO 4K w/PSVR
ONKYO SBT-A500 DTS X | ATMOS 3.2.1
Reply
(2016-04-07, 01:54)hdmkv Wrote: What happens if you use WASAPI on Minix Z64?
It works fine. No HD audio. I have deselected DTS-HD/Dolby Digital Plus/TrueHD capable receiver. Is it just me or is there no 8 channel decode option for DTS-HD on 3/25 build?

(2016-04-07, 02:05)dukester Wrote: can you try to manually "force" install these audio drivers ? they worked to get HD audio working on baytrail devices.
That driver is for Windows 64-bit. I can only install Windows 32-bit on Minix Z64 (like many other Bay Trail devices).
Reply
(2016-04-07, 02:48)movie78 Wrote: Waiting for your review on the D34010WYK. I might bite base on your findings.
Just spent 3+ hours w/D34010WYK and I am NOT recommending it, and not doing a review for it... here's why:
  • No matter what I tried, I got nasty video artifacts in the form of image shifts, blocky jags; hard to describe. Had to take photos in burst mode to capture this and this.
    - Issue was bad w/April 1 build, but not quite as bad w/March 25 build
    - Tried default graphics driver, and then one from Intel's website. Issue persisted. What was odd is Intel's Driver utility showing nothing available for this NUC, a first for me.
  • On the plus, no lip sync errors w/March 25 or April 1 builds, and HD audio passthrough works well.
  • Also on the plus, D34010WYK is very snappy and responsive.
Now that I've tried out 5 different Intel h/w, what I like most out of all is Dell Micro 3050, so I'll likely keep that and eBay off the rest. I'll do a review for Dell tomorrow...
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
(2016-04-06, 20:07)dukester Wrote: Its hard to believe its a hardware limitation when the cpu usage doesnt seem to be very high with those 2820 nucs, another thing to try would be increase the memory dedicated to the GPU to something higher like 512 or even 1024 in the bios, might not do anything but it cant hurt, and yet another thing to do would be to find the Min and Max freq for the CPU and set the MIN freq alot higher and closer to the max freq, this wont let the CPU slow down so much on idle, it will use a bit more power but should still be ok, this might help also.

which april 1st build are you running?

April 1st Build Test Intel DN2820

So i increase the Dedicated Video Memory as suggested by @dukester from 64MB to 512MB, I have 8GB RAM but the Bios only allow me 512MB Max.
Dedicated Video Memory upgrade requirement.
2GB RAM = 64GB Dedicated Video Memory
4GB RAM = 512MB Dedicated Video Memory
8GB RAM = 1024MB or more Dedicated Video Memory

ImageImage

3D ISO Audio Sync = Better
2D MKV/ISO Audio = Good (just a little bit off)

The Audio-sync is a little bit improve after Dedicated Video Memory upgrade.
MY CURRENT MEDIA PLAYER | MY HOME THEATER
MINIX NEO U9-H LIBREELEC v18 Leia | EGREAT A5 | NVIDIA SHIELD
SAMSUNG QLED QN65Q7 | Sony 43 Android TV HDR
XBOX ONE X UHD BLU-RAY | PS4 PRO 4K w/PSVR
ONKYO SBT-A500 DTS X | ATMOS 3.2.1
Reply
(2016-04-07, 04:17)hdmkv Wrote: - Tried default graphics driver, and then one from Intel's website. Issue persisted. What was odd is Intel's Driver utility showing nothing available for this NUC, a first for me.

I found this graphics driver : Intel HD Graphics Driver for Windows 10 for D34010WY/D54250WY

The version is 15.40.13.4331. Is this what is installed by default?
Reply
15.40.13.4331 is what I have installed. Do you have D34010WYK, and is it working w/o issues I'm having w/it? I know @woronczak reported it working fine, so I'd love to know what he did.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
(2016-04-07, 04:31)hdmkv Wrote: 15.40.13.4331 is what I have installed. Do you have D34010WYK, and is it working w/o issues I'm having w/it? I know @woronczak reported it working fine, so I'd love to know what he did.
No, I don't have it. I have fewer devices than you or movie78 Smile I did look at the Gigabyte BRIX s today, but was able to control myself and didn't buy it Wink
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Intel HTPCs/NUCs & Kodi-native 3D MVC Playback4.310