Silent & Fast Mini-HTPC OpenELEC Build for Living Room
#1
Hi everybody,

having built this box now pretty much a year ago, I figured I might post my HTPC in case others are looking for something similar.

Where I came from:
I originally had a Popcorn Hour A-110 media player back in 2008. After upgrading my TV to a new SONY flatscreen last year, I wanted something better and more convenient for media playback. The Popcorn Hour was really starting to annoy me with the crappy text-based interface and outdated software. For a short while I was looking into a newer model from the Popcorn Hour player range, but the more I researched online and read through forums, people mentioned that building your own HTPC running Kodi would be the best solution and much better than any of the Popcorn Hour media players.

The last time I built a PC from scratch was years ago, consequently I wanted to keep the process of building my own HTPC simple. Wink

What I wanted:
Since I wanted to avoid setting up a new PC completely from scratch with every single component, I was looking for a compact barebone PC which I just needed to equip with CPU, RAM and a harddisk. This box needed to be small (should be placed on top of my Bluray player next to the TV in the living room), super silent (no annoying fan noise during movies), consume very little power and I wanted it to be super snappy and fast. Plus, I wanted to control everything from my couch with a wireless keyboard.

Hardware setup:
For the PC itself, I picked the Shuttle XPC slim Barebone XH97V which has support for the Intel H97 Chipset. All ports are hidden under a front tray, it' super slim and looks great - fantastic barebone in my opinion for a HTPC: http://www.shuttle.eu/products/slim/xh97v/overview/

I didn't need much CPU power, but yet I wanted something fast enough with low power consumption, so I bought an Intel Core i3-4130T @2.90GHz with some Arctic MX-4 cooling paste. The Intel Core i3 has more than enough power for playback of even huge Bluray rips or decoding HEVC/H.265 based files - I specifically picked the 4130T model which has extra low power consumption.

I added 8GB of Transcend DDR3 1333MHz RAM, since RAM is cheap and this DIMM model was listed as compatible/tested with the XH97V.

As I wanted the whole box very silent and responsive, I decided to use a SSD and I didn't need or wanted a separate NAS or stream my movies from any other external source. During last years xmas, there was a massive sale on Amazon where I picked up a SanDisk Extreme Pro SDSSDXPS-480G-G25 with 480GB. Probably a cheaper SSD would have also done the job, but it was a great deal for the money that time. 480GB is also way enough for all my media.

For remote control, I picked the Logitech K400 which was recommended in other threads as well, plus it works right out of the box with Linux/OpenELEC. Tip: try to get an older K400 and not the K400r, as the "r" model has some flaws running with Linux, in case you want to use a Linux based Kodi. Hence I bought a 2nd hand K400 from eBay, since the K400 is discontinued by Logitech. It's one of the best, simple wireless keyboards for a HTPC!

Software Setup:
I didn't want to fiddle with any OS installation and just run Kodi in my living room, so the obvious choice was OpenELEC. I am still amazed how quickly OpenELEC can be set up. Right now, I'm still running OpenELEC 5 with Kodi 14.2 on this machine, as I am too lazy for a major version update right now. Wink I will probably do my next update with Kodi 17 once RetroGamer has been merged, since I am an avid gamer.

As of today, I am super happy. On this box, Kodi boots up in literally 3 seconds, navigation is lightning quick and the fan is silent all the time, even when watching huge Bluray rips. You don't hear a thing - exactly what I wanted. The only thing I do not like is the blue power LED of the box which can get a little annoying during a movie if the living room is dark in the evening. Maybe there is hack to dim it somehow to make it less bright, but I haven't figured it out yet.

Here you can see all parts which I bought:

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Ready to put everything together:

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Finished assembling:

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All parts are tidy in place:

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Ready to install OpenELEC:

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As you can see, OpenELEC is extremely low on power resources, first boot-up:

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HTPC looks great next to my Pioneer Bluray player and HDMI switch:

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Kodi running like a dream, as you can see I LOVE Aeon Nox:

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#2
Clean and black, LOVE IT!
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#3
Nice sized "big" computer and looks great with your other gear.
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#4
That's a nice system. How much you out lay for all that?
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#5
Hi spinmaster,

Are you 100% positive you build a Shuttle XH170V with an Intel Core i3-4130T processor...Huh

The reason I'm asking this is because the Intel Core i3-4130T has an LGA 1150 socket and the Shuttle XH170V only supports 6th generation SkyLake processors with LGA 1151 sockets.
The Intel Core i3-4130T is a 4th Generation Haswell processor.
Your fourth picture clearly has Shuttle type XH61V marked on the heatpipe, which is very strange as well, because this Shuttle type only supports 3rd generation Ivy Bridge LGA 1155 processors.
I just don't get it...Undecided!

Yesterday I orded a Shuttle XH170V with 6th generation SkyLake Intel Pentium G4500 LGA 1151 processor.
I was curious as if anyone already had some experience with Intel SkyLake processors together with Kodi / OpenELEC based on Intel H170 chipset...?!

The only result which came up when searching for query 'XH170V' so far was this post.
So I was hoping you could tell me something about your experiences so far, but then again you probably don't own a Intel H170 chipset system anyway.
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#6
(2016-01-17, 17:06)M.J.Pappot Wrote: I was curious as if anyone already had some experience with Intel SkyLake processors together with Kodi / OpenELEC based on Intel H170 chipset...?!

Can't talk about the H170 chipset as I have the Z170 chipset. But Kodi works like a charm with my i5 6600K. On Windows though, as I use the mediacenter pc for gaming as well. Therefore the i5...
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#7
(2016-01-03, 15:16)kepners Wrote: That's a nice system. How much you out lay for all that?

Around January 2015 I paid this approx.:

Barebone PC: 190€
CPU: 75€
RAM: 85€
SSD: 180€
Keyboard: 20€
--
Total: 550€

(2016-01-17, 17:06)M.J.Pappot Wrote: Are you 100% positive you build a Shuttle XH170V with an Intel Core i3-4130T processor...Huh

The reason I'm asking this is because the Intel Core i3-4130T has an LGA 1150 socket and the Shuttle XH170V only supports 6th generation SkyLake processors with LGA 1151 sockets.
The Intel Core i3-4130T is a 4th Generation Haswell processor.
Your fourth picture clearly has Shuttle type XH61V marked on the heatpipe, which is very strange as well, because this Shuttle type only supports 3rd generation Ivy Bridge LGA 1155 processors.
I just don't get it...Undecided!

OK - I made a little mistake when I wrote the original post. Angel The barebone I have is not the XH170V, I own the XH97V. They look identical on the Shuttle website, so I accidentally used the wrong link (I corrected the original post). The board used in the XH97V has an Intel H97 Chipset, so yes, the Core i3-4130T is the one I use for sure (you can see it in the photo from the OpenELEC hardware screen). Sorry for the confusion!

The XH170V you picked looks great too! Good choice. If the Pentium you picked is compatible with the board in your XH170V, you should be good with running Kodi. What are you worried about? Stability? Performance? Are you running OpenELEC?

Adding to my first post, my complete "media corner" consists of:

SONY KDL50W805B 50" Flat Screen TV
SONY HT-XT1 Soundbar
SONY PS4 & PS3, Nintendo WiiU, GameCube and XBOX 360
Pioneer BDP-450 3D Bluray Player
Kodi box Wink

All gaming consoles, Bluray Player and the Kodi box are connected via a KanaaN 5x1 HDMI Switch with the TV:

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I'm still looking for a way to dim the blue power LED from the Shuttle PC, which I find too bright during movie playback when the room is a little darker:

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Other than that, everything runs pretty great!
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#8
Awesome build, I really like what you did there.

(2016-01-18, 22:16)spinmaster Wrote: I'm still looking for a way to dim the blue power LED from the Shuttle PC, which I find too bright during movie playback when the room is a little darker:

Right way: Solder in a resistor inline with the LED
Ghetto way: Put a piece of electrical tape over it. Cool It will help. Had to do that with a DAC of mine that had a ridiculous LED in it.
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#9
I'm confused. You store all your movies on a 480gb ssd? Or do you have a nas?
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#10
(2016-01-19, 18:59)danejaho Wrote: Awesome build, I really like what you did there.

(2016-01-18, 22:16)spinmaster Wrote: I'm still looking for a way to dim the blue power LED from the Shuttle PC, which I find too bright during movie playback when the room is a little darker:

Right way: Solder in a resistor inline with the LED
Ghetto way: Put a piece of electrical tape over it. Cool It will help. Had to do that with a DAC of mine that had a ridiculous LED in it.

Thanks for that hint - I guess I prefer the "right" way. I used the ghetto method for my HDMI switch already, where I put a tiny piece of black duct tape over the red power LED since the switch cannot be turned off. Sad

I have no experience with soldering, but I might try this out! If you have any more hints and/or links on how to do this for the LED, I would appreciate a PM. Wink

(2016-01-19, 20:36)Oath Wrote: I'm confused. You store all your movies on a 480gb ssd? Or do you have a nas?

Why are you confused? Yes, I put my files on the SSD (I transfer them over the network from my main PC to the Kodi box, which is accessible over the LAN). I watch my media files once and delete them afterwards. Not everybody needs or wants a NAS solution - plus, most of my files are currently still older DVDrips (<2GB) with only some bigger Bluray rips, so 480GB is more than enough for me. My goal with this build was to keep everything super compact and silent, I did not want a separate device (like a NAS) to stream or load files to Kodi.

The only downside is that the SSD is not backupped in any form. But for now, I can happily live with that risk, so this works OK for me.
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#11
8 gigs of RAM for an openelec build? Is it really required?
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#12
4 GB of RAM is more than enough.
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#13
2 GB of RAM is more than enough.
 
  • Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH ~ Crucial DDR3L SO-DIMM 4GB ~ SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB SSD ~ Microsoft MCE model 1039 RC6 remote
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#14
be brave and use the tmpfs -> https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Tmpfs

as mentioned in the wiki, I have mounted /tmp, /var/lock and /var/run to the tmpfs. Also kodi temp folder is a link to /tmp.
now 8GB for an openelec build could have more sense! Your SSD will thank you also.
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#15
There is indeed a hack for the bright blue led's, a piece of paper taped over it Smile

I'm also curious given OE's low hw requirements, if this HTPC will be faster than a Chromebox, which also has an SSD.
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