WIP Building a Kodi HTPC - need some help
#1
Hello guys,

I'm planning on building a new HTPC and I would like some additional information for which I am having a hard time finding online.

Some background on me, years ago I chipped the original Xbox and installed XBMC, I've used that for years until the hardware became obsolete due to lack of HD support.
I've used other stuff over the years since then but never had any setup which was as good as XBMC (loved the Xbox controller as remote!), and so I've decided to get Kodi.

Currently I am using a Vu Duo, which is basicly a sattelite receiver, with some linuxOS on it.
The benefits for me are that I can just FTP to the box, upload what I want to see and I'm good to go.
But it lacks features, does not have a gbit port, and it's kinda slow (for example when loading subtitles).

So time to upgrade!

Streaming vs locally stored media hardware requirement.

First question, everybody on forums and articles I've read over the past few days is talking about "streaming".

If I understand correctly, when talking about streaming we are talking about i.e.: Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc...
But also having downloaded or selfripped media stored on a seperate device, be it a NAS, some desktop computer in the same network, a Plex server etc ...

What I would like to do is, basically what I'm doing today, I want to store the media on the box which will play it, by means of uploading the media via FTP.

Here's my question:

When talking about streaming from a NAS or other seperate device, is that the same as transcoding?
Which setup requires the most performant hardware, streaming from a seperate device or playing media stored locally on the kodibox?


Buildlist

Depending on the feedback I get on the above questions, this is what I am currently looking at.

My requirements:

- One device to play media and store media
- Futureproof
- Silent
- Instant on
- 4K (locally stored 2160p media + streaming(i.e. Netflix)
- No keyboard/mouse but remote support
- small
- Gbit LAN

Here's my question:

My first requirement, one device to play media and store media, shortens the list dramatically I think, no USB sticks, no Android boxes etc ...
I only see two options:

- x86 hardware, selfbuild, in for example a Silverstone VT02 case
or
- Intel NUC Kaby lake

Is this correct?


Thank you for taking the time to read my post and helping me out!
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#2
I just upgraded my old Pentium 630T + nvidia GT630 HTPC with a Asrock J3455-ITX (Apollo Lake). I just have a single "silent" branded 80mm fan on the side of my HTPC, mainly because i have two older 3.5" 4TB HDD's in it. If you can work with a 2.5" SSD or HDD, a decent case should also work fully passive, since the J3455 just draws ~10-15w, while playing 1080p, i have no 4k TV so cant say anything on this front.

So to answer your question, yes you want some decent x86 hardware with the latest iGPU hardware playback features (10bit h265 + VP9 for youtube). As vendors Intel NUC's and www.zotac.com have many options to pick from. Just make sure you grab the latest intel iGPU generation that has 10bit h265 support, even if Kodi does not fully support this yet. As a reference the J3455, can full decode 1080p H264/H265 10bit movies in CPU only (no iGPU acceleration) @40% CPU usage. So i suspect 4k in full CPU mode "might" be possible, so any better CPU >2016 should also work, but won't be fully passive cooled. Just check the hardware forum for the system you are interested in and see if there are any problems. There seem to-be some problems with 4k/3d/hd-audio you need to check on a case by case and firmware basis.


PS: Streaming depends on the context, but i would assume is mainly discussed here as network share filesystem (samba/SMB/NFS/ftp/ssh) or DLNA as streaming without transcoding.
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#3
(2017-05-18, 11:38)zenwanabe Wrote: My requirements:

- One device to play media and store media
- Silent
I'm pretty sure that's an either / or right there unless you're storing media on flash drives / ssd's.
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#4
Stuff like 4K Amazon, Netflix, YouTube etc are far better handled by a Android Apps on an Android device, either an external Netflix certified media player or a Smart TV. This is what Android is good at.

Simply because these Apps are much much easier to use with a nicely integrated Voice search capable Wireless remote. I'm not sure how Netflix is used with a remote in say its Windows 10 App.

Kodi will run better on Windows or Linux/LibreELEC based Hardware, especially for 4K - because you get proper Auto Resolution switching - so your 4K TV can upscale 720/1080p video content properly using its superior hardware and then switch to 4K when actually playing 4K content.

At this present point in time, you will need to run Windows 10 on a Intel Kaby Lake NUC if you want HD Audio passthrough. There are issues with the DVI > HDMI 2.0 drivers & HD Audio Passthrough if using Linux/LibreELEC at the moment - unless recently fixed. See the Intel Apollo / Kaby Lake threads.

What does work out of the box are the cheap AMLogic S905 boxes, running LibreELEC Kodi that will Hardware decode everything, inc 4K (non HDR), but will not do 1080p Netflix, just yet. Some even come with Wireless Integrated remotes.

Gigabit LAN and a NAS will be just fine for up to 4K local streaming, so long as the Video Player Client hardware can handle all content you are throwing at it.
There is no transcoding needed in this case.
If you have read about transcoding and Plex, its usually for streaming to Tablets / Phones & TV's, that lack full Hardware decoding capabilities.

Future developments for DRM streaming using Kodi can be read about over here:
https://kodi.tv/article/dev-journal-kodi-and-drm

What other future proofing are we talking about ?

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#5
(2017-05-18, 12:12)trogggy Wrote:
(2017-05-18, 11:38)zenwanabe Wrote: My requirements:

- One device to play media and store media
- Silent
I'm pretty sure that's an either / or right there unless you're storing media on flash drives / ssd's.

There are at least a few 2.5" HDD's that are very quiet, to the point that i have problems telling if my external disk is on/off, even if i put my ear directly over the external case (Hitachi 0J22413 Travelstar 5K1000 1TB). Going by www.silentpcreview.com the 2.5" WD blue's are also very quiet.
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#6
Thanks for the feedback guys.

@Andy2222 Thx, regarding the clarification of streaming transcoding, network shares are exactly what I am trying to avoid.
Also much clearer what features to look out for on the iGPU in order to "futureproof" regarding 4k.

@trogggy, with silent I refer mainly to potential cooling fans. I wont use a HDD, I have a spare 512GB m.2 drive laying here, so noise from HD will not be an issue.

@wrxtasy My requirements might not make sense you are right, I was thinking mainly of 4k when writing futureproof. 4k is the main "futureproof" point i'm looking at, as I do not own a 4k tv yet, and content is too limited to upgrade my perfectly working tv at the moment.
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#7
@zenwanabe, if 4k or more specific (HVEC 10bit) is the main "futureproof" you seek, than only Kaby Lake or Apollo Lake iGPU have HW acceleration for it atm. There still is the option to skip the iGPU decoding, by picking any decent quad-core intel/zen CPU. I guess other than Apollo Lake, the Pentium G4620 is a very interesting HTPC CPU, since its low powered and has two cores + hyperthreading. The new GeForce GT-1030 is also available as low profile, passive cooled version (Asus GT1030-SL-2G-BRK) and has full HVEC/10bit support, but makes more sense if you just want a easy to install upgrade or need more raw gpu power for things like MadVR.
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#8
Well I'm currently looking at the NUC's from 2017. The most powerfull iGPU seems to be Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650. Which would be the choice for 4k towards the future I guess.
Although an i7 cpu might be overkill, even for 4k?

I'm just afraid that it would generate too much noice.

The Zotac zbox's have a C series, which are all fanless, looks pretty amazing aswell, and they upgraded to Kabylake, the best one has Intel graphics 620.

If I understand correctly, they should all play 2160p contect perfectly?
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#9
@zenwanabe, if the intel iGPU supports 4K/HVEC/10bit and the player/decoder can actually utilize it (special Kodi versions only atm) than any intel iGPU will work, as is shown here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjXbAPXf_Vo

The J3455 is the version with the lowest performing iGPU, yet can already play 4K/HVEC/10bit @ 60FPS. The main decision to make is if you want to spend extra money on a CPU that can potentially decode any new codec or "strangely" encoded files (looking at you 10bit Anime) just in CPU mode. I don't see any reason to-do this at this point, since HVEC-10bit is what will be used for quite some time and you have some decent hardware choices.
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#10
(2017-05-18, 13:09)Andy2222 Wrote: @zenwanabe, if 4k or more specific (HVEC 10bit) is the main "futureproof" you seek, than only Kaby Lake or Apollo Lake iGPU have HW acceleration for it atm. There still is the option to skip the iGPU decoding, by picking any decent quad-core intel/zen CPU. I guess other than Apollo Lake, the Pentium G4620 is a very interesting HTPC CPU, since its low powered and has two cores + hyperthreading. The new GeForce GT-1030 is also available as low profile, passive cooled version (Asus GT1030-SL-2G-BRK) and has full HVEC/10bit support, but makes more sense if you just want a easy to install upgrade or need more raw gpu power for things like MadVR.

If using madVR there is a risk of buffer shortages when processing 4K video by 2GB Vram cards, it's recommended 3-4GB Vram on the madVR forum.
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#11
(2017-05-18, 12:41)zenwanabe Wrote: Thanks for the feedback guys.

@Andy2222 Thx, regarding the clarification of streaming transcoding, network shares are exactly what I am trying to avoid.

I'm not sure why you would want to avoid network shares, especially when it comes to future proofing, makes it incredible simple to add additional TVs. Have one device for storing all your media (doesn't have to be silent or lower power since it can be hidden away), then you can have a smaller low power silent device at the TV(s).
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