New HTPC server options, Intel Quick Sync and venting

Discussion in 'Home Theater PC (HTPC) & Media Servers' started by BoredSysAdmin, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    So Plex server [preview only available to Plex Pass customers] supports Intel QuickSync video transcoding It's MUCH faster and doing in CPU alone. Emby HTPC servers does the same, but in stable/regular version.
    Many had reported Intel Celeron J1900 on systems similar like this one are able to transcode HD video on the fly for 2 or even more streams. Quite a feat I must say.
    Here's good wiki page on features and difference in QC between various CPU generations
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Quick_Sync_Video#Linux
    Obviously Intel latest and greatest architecture named Kirby Lake offers most progressive features and widest currently available featureset in relation to video codecs .

    Now, This is what is currently available for person looking to build Kaby Lake based htpc server with possible 4k support (be careful to make sure it has real HDMI 2 port with HDCP 2.2) (with external/nas storage) few options:
    Now, to the venting part:
    So If a barebone pc, which includes case (+fans if needed), motherboard, wifi/bt, cpu, power supply cost starts from about $270, then How come one could purchase COMPLETE laptop with same processor/platform which in addition also includes all of these:
    1) 4-6gb memory
    2) 15.6" LCD FHD display
    3) 6 cell 2800mAh Battery
    4) 1Tb hard drive
    5) Windows 10 Home license
    6) Backlit keyboard with touchpad
    7) Optical drive
    8) 720p Webcam


    Care to guess the price for such [new] laptop from known brand? Is it $600? $500? Maybe even crazy low $400?
    Nope - https://www.amazon.com/Acer-E5-575-...8&qid=1500218563&sr=1-1&keywords=7100U+laptop
    Freaking and Unbelievable - $350!!!
    Just Swap the slow HD to cheap (well under $100) ssd and you'd get perfect office machine.

    Now I understand economies of scale and all that, but it just hurts me (mentally) to know that items 1-8 [sum] MUST absolutely cost more than $70, even in any wholesale prices. This is just tells me the barebone has much larger profit margin.

    I'll be waiting till such barebones will be priced at $200 or below or wait for similar to current priced mini pcs , but which do include windows, memory and storage.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  2. NINaudio Audioholic

    NINaudio
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    As far as pricing goes, you're comparing a small form factor pc to a larger notebook. Notebook pricing trends in general show similarly equipped models with smaller screen sizes costing more than one with a larger screen size.

    I've always equated that cost to having to make sure you can get all the electronics working well together in a smaller space without issue.
  3. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    I see your point, but let's agree to disagree. This laptop, thou it's larger than I'd generally like, is possibly even MORE cramped than the SFF pc options I've linked to. 6 cell battery is massive and it also has massive optical drive. between these two, not much space left and you'd still need to cool it somehow
    [​IMG]
  4. slipperybidness Audioholic Spartan

    slipperybidness
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    @BoredSysAdmin
    Have you used many Acer products?

    They just always seem to be one of those cheap products to me, I don't think I've ever really used anything of theirs for an extended time.
  5. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    Few jobs ago I bought tons of Acer ventiron desktops and they there much better engineered product than dell or hp.
    they used to be cheap and crappy, but they are on path of making premium high quality products for a while now.
  6. jinjuku Moderator

    jinjuku
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    Intel makes a release called Kaby Lake. Never heard of Kirby Lake.
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  7. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    thank for spelling error catch, but you have no other comments about it?
  8. jinjuku Moderator

    jinjuku
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    Sure, you can get a Dell Inspiron with 6GB RAM, Windows 10 Home X64, 1TB HD for $280 shipped.

    Spend $55 on a 60GB SSD, another $12 on USB3.0 2.5" drive enclosure you and you have a rocking Media PC.

    The Acer is a nice everyday price also.

    Does Plex support OpenCL?
  9. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    Linky please. I assume you picked the same i3-7 series cpu.
    Nah, Plus from what I gather no other GPU acceleration is nearly as helpful of Quick Sync. With Nvidia card (good one) benefits from video encoding are marginal (15% or so) but 700-800% more with QC.
  10. slipperybidness Audioholic Spartan

    slipperybidness
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  11. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    Hmm, not my style. I prefer much smaller boxes. that size (even in mini-ITX form factor) were popular a while a ago. My first DIY HTPC was a mini-ITX and that was 10 years ago.
    Now days you could get away with much smaller htpc like ones I've linked to earlier.

    Besides case size, I'd like to point that despite AMD cpu have stronger video part for games and such, they are not on par with video features support quite yet (AFAIK) and software support for some of advanced video features are not as good as Nvidia or simply put - AMD/ATI linux drivers suck (and windows aren't that great either).
    Also on general compute front (ie simply cpu performance) the chip Ben used is
    AMD Athlon 5350 APU - it's performance is good, but not great:
    https://cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=AMD+Athlon+5350+APU&id=2195
    Here's performance of Kiby Lake i3 7100u: https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i3-7100U+@+2.40GHz
    Hint: it's massive difference.

    Also meeting the "magical" $400 price is not hard. Just use Asus sff from above (second link)
    this ssd and this memory and you have fairly powerful $400 htpc.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  12. slipperybidness Audioholic Spartan

    slipperybidness
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    Thanks for the feedback. Regardless, I want to watch this when I have time.
  13. jinjuku Moderator

    jinjuku
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    Looks like the price went back up by $70. I just keep hitting dealnews if I'm starting to look.

    Yep its the Kaby Lake i3.
  14. panteragstk Audioholic General

    panteragstk
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    Too bad my server doesn't support quicksync, that'd be handy to have for plex transcoding.

    Have you messed with 4k HDR on Windows 10 yet? I have and it's a huge pain right now since plex, kodi, and most other players I've found don't natively support HDR yet. MPC-HC can with mad-vr, but with Windows 10 HDR it's either on or off (which is odd and very irritating).

    It seems that the native Windows 10 media player will support HDR switching, but won't play the test files I have. Power DVD 10000 (or whatever version it is) doesn't work either.

    My Android TV boxes will play this stuff just fine using plex or kodi (spmc) so I know the players are capable, just windows doesn't switch to HDR mode.

    I digress, if you end up getting 4k HDR to work I'd like to know what your findings are.

    As far as the CPU is concerned the new offerings by Intel are fantastic, but I do see your frustration at the cost of the mini pc vs a laptop. Only thing I can think of is that more laptops are sold than mini pcs.

    I personally would spend extra on the SFF pc you posted in the OP. Those are very nice and should last a lot longer than a laptop generally would. I have a Foxconn amd E-450 that is still alive and kicking, but has no job. Great SFF PC when I got it, but it's showing it's age.
  15. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    I have two separate wants.
    My family room htpc is old atom/ion 2 based , running libreelec/kodi and still perfectly sufficient for most of 1080p content, including HD audio pass through. I said most since hevc and hevc 10bit starting to become more commonplace and unfortunately that box is Ill suited for these codecs.
    Yeah, I know shield is probably what I need.

    Another matter all together and actually closer to reason for this thread is my Plex server is now older version and no longer supported to be easily updated in it's current state. Then I figured that if I go with more manual setup while I'll have latest Plex server, but It'll have to slightly annoying procces to manually update it with each release. Second issue is Plex server is missing gracenote integration with it's freebsd version. And finally I want to bump up my Plex server transcoding pawah, without spending small fortune on it.
    Need to figure out how to get my hands on a PC with recent CPU which I could mess with.
  16. panteragstk Audioholic General

    panteragstk
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    Well, plex doesn't need a TON of horsepower to transcode to mobile, but if you are say wanting to go from HEVC 10 bit to h.264 that is another ball game.

    I'm guessing you are going to move the server to windows/linux instead of BSD? This guy may work for you, but you're still pushing $400 and the sale is over in 8hrs.

    It's stupid that the only device capable of proper HDR playback with HD audio pass-through is the shield TV. There is no reason why a windows 10 PC can't do the same. Annoying.
  17. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

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    Yeah, 4k and HDR are still very new. I still don't have a 4k tv so I'm not terribly worried about it.
    I was using 3rd party Plex plugin for Kodi and I guess it reported (incorrectly) to Plex that my I-20 htpc could natively play h265 10bit. Well it did play, but with auful fps and studdering.
    I have couple of client give away a couple of hp desktops with core i7 2600 CPUs. I expand ram to 16gb each. They pack decent punch. I might move the Plex from freenas to Ubuntu vm with 8 cores.
    I probably should have bought shield TV on Amazon prime day for $180.
  18. panteragstk Audioholic General

    panteragstk
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    Which Kodi adding were you using? Plexbmc or Plex kodi connect? The official Plex one sucks imho.

    Your 2600 has quicksync doesn't it? If so then I agree with trying on the Ubuntu vm. I use unraid and Dockers are fantastic. I think there is an official Plex docker, but if not there are plenty of good ones that are well maintained.
  19. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Overlord

    BoredSysAdmin
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    PlexBMC
    It would be quite a serious trick to expose QuickSync to a VM since if I understand correctly one would have to do DirectI/O ie passthrou the "video card". It's fairly easy with AMD cards, a bit trickier with Nvidia, but I've never heard anyone done it with built-in intel video.
    Secondary, Sandy Bridge era QuickSync was not so great video quality wise. Haswell and later did noticeably improved it, according to internet. I might install plex on bare hardware, but it would be a bit of shame since I've already built this neat 2 host home lab with vmware vsphere.
  20. panteragstk Audioholic General

    panteragstk
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    Yeah, that would be tricky. I had used PlexBMC in the past and always seemed to have issues with it. Plex Kodi Connect works the same way the Emby plugin does. It pretty much takes over the built in Kodi library.
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