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
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Messages In This Thread
RE: Intel-specific HTPC/NUC Selection w/reliable MVC 3D ISO - by hdmkv - 2016-04-06, 21:22
What about xvYCC / x.v.Color - by ma9ick - 2016-04-15, 14:01
June 30 download link broken? - by CooperCGN - 2016-08-02, 08:18