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Old 12-10-2017, 05:02 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,512 posts, read 16,536,277 times
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Basically anything with an i3 and integrated graphics will be fine. Mostly you'd be looking for something small, not stupid looking, and quiet. If you want to tinker with SOC and want 4K, either Asus Tinker Box or Pine Rock64. Those involve more tinkering but the cost cannot be beat. Raspberry Pi won't do 4K but the Rock64 of Tinker Box will. The thing that's massively CPU intensive is if you need to transcode a stream in Plex. To transcode a single 4K stream you'd need at least an i7-7700 or i5-8400. But then most people don't do a lot of transcoding. You won't need to locally as long as the client can play the file directly. If using your phone or laptop remotely via Internet you would absolutely have to transcode. No way your home Internet can upload a 4K stream. Either encode it beforehand and store more compressed, lower quality copy for streaming or have a very fast processor.

Last edited by Malloric; 12-10-2017 at 05:15 PM..
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Old 12-10-2017, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Brackenwood
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From what I understand you need about 15mbps to stream 4K content; that's well within my home connection's throughput speed.

Is there a significant cost difference between a processor/graphics card/whatever needed to process 4K vs 1080? Because if there is, it's not worth it considering how little true 4K content is out there for now and considering my eyesight isn't keen enough to pick up the difference except at close range. Maybe when 4K becomes more ubiquitous a hardware upgrade would be in order but if it's a big cost difference then I can forgo that requirement for now.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:02 PM
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Location: Ohio
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I just put a refurb 2014 Mac Mini on my UHD TV. Actually had to lower the resolution to 1080P to be able to read the screen from 10' away. For under $600, it's been great.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:10 PM
 
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Lock in your budget, and try to attach a hard ceiling to it. Once you know your price, go online and build some computers. See what's out there. Focus on the video card and memory, a 1TB drive minimum IMO. I have a 2TB HD 65% full which includes 70k songs, 5k pictures, and 1k+ of videos and clips. Build it online, and don't forget to include a decent monitor. It will help you focus your search, well at least it works for me.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,512 posts, read 16,536,277 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitey View Post
From what I understand you need about 15mbps to stream 4K content; that's well within my home connection's throughput speed.

Is there a significant cost difference between a processor/graphics card/whatever needed to process 4K vs 1080? Because if there is, it's not worth it considering how little true 4K content is out there for now and considering my eyesight isn't keen enough to pick up the difference except at close range. Maybe when 4K becomes more ubiquitous a hardware upgrade would be in order but if it's a big cost difference then I can forgo that requirement for now.
Netflix recommends at least 25 Mbp/s down, uses about 15. But that's at 24 frames per second. Must 4K Blurays are at 40-60 frames per second. If you took a straight rip you'd need closer to 30 Mbp/s. And that's up. Comcast's "400 Mbps" Internet is only 10 Mbps up... theoretically. You wont' actually get it. Even Comcasts standard gigabit Ethernet is only 35 Mbps up. Might be enough to stream 4K at 24 FPS.

There's not much processing to just play 4K. What's intensive is transcoding it if you have to. For example if you were using a Raspberry Pi as a the client (say on a upstairs bedroom TV) for Plex and wanted to play a 4K video, your Plex server would need to transcode that video as it streams it to the Raspberry Pi into something the Raspberry Pi can handle. If you were using a Rock64 as the client, it would not. Smart TVs, generally even non-4K smart TVs, can handle a 4K input and would not need any transcoding. The other issue you might run into is where the client doesn't support a codec. But generally you won't be transcoding things on a Plex server so an i3 would be fine. For a single stream something like a Rock64 or Raspberry Pi (for 1080p) is fine. For multiple streams they're not enough. If you're going to be watching a movie in the living room while your kids are upstairs streaming things to tablets, computers, or their TV you need something beefier like an i3. An i3 Plex server will handle multiple 4K streams, it just isn't capable of transcoding them.

Basically destkop home entertainment system can mean completely different things for different people. One person might just want something simple that can either connect to a NAS or external HDD so they can play content on one TV. Someone else wants a functional computer they can connect a wireless keyboard and mouse. Someone else wants to do the above but wants to also use it as a plex server so they can stream their 4K bluray content to their phone or laptop while in a hotel room across the country. Someone else wants all of the above plus they want to be able to game on it and use it for VR. Living rooms often end up where VR systems live as it's one of the few places that has enough space to do VR unless you have an empty bedroom for that. Anything form a $35 Raspberry Pi to a $2,200 prebuilt system like the Corsair One are good desktop home entertainment systems. Just depends what you want to do with it.

Last edited by Malloric; 12-10-2017 at 06:53 PM..
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Brackenwood
3,889 posts, read 1,525,185 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metalmancpa View Post
Lock in your budget, and try to attach a hard ceiling to it. Once you know your price, go online and build some computers. See what's out there. Focus on the video card and memory, a 1TB drive minimum IMO. I have a 2TB HD 65% full which includes 70k songs, 5k pictures, and 1k+ of videos and clips. Build it online, and don't forget to include a decent monitor. It will help you focus your search, well at least it works for me.
I'm not sure why I'd need a monitor if the whole point is to jack it into my TV.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Netflix recommends at least 25 Mbp/s down, uses about 15. But that's at 24 frames per second. Must 4K Blurays are at 40-60 frames per second. If you took a straight rip you'd need closer to 30 Mbp/s. And that's up. Comcast's "400 Mbps" Internet is only 10 Mbps up... theoretically. You wont' actually get it. Even Comcasts standard gigabit Ethernet is only 35 Mbps up. Might be enough to stream 4K at 24 FPS.

There's not much processing to just play 4K. What's intensive is transcoding it if you have to. For example if you were using a Raspberry Pi as a the client (say on a upstairs bedroom TV) for Plex and wanted to play a 4K video, your Plex server would need to transcode that video as it streams it to the Raspberry Pi into something the Raspberry Pi can handle. If you were using a Rock64 as the client, it would not. The other issue you might run into is where the client doesn't support a codec. But generally you won't be transcoding things on a Plex server so an i3 would be fine. For a single stream something like a Rock64 or Raspberry Pi (for 1080p) is fine. For multiple streams they're not enough. If you're going to be watching a movie in the living room while your kids are upstairs streaming things to tablets, computers, or their TV you need something beefier like an i3. An i3 Plex server will handle multiple 4K streams, it just isn't capable of transcoding them.
I don't understand why Blu-Rays would be 40-60fps when the native frame rate is 24fps for movie productions and 30fps for television productions. Or is my information about frame rates outdated? Also, why do I need to be concerned about about the Blu-Ray frame rate if I'd be playing Blu-Rays locally from my machine?

Finally, why do you need that much upload speed to stream 4K? And what the hell is a "Raspberry pi?" (BTW we don't have a bedroom computer and we're not looking to move stuff to multiple devices. We just want something more reliable for our main TV than the casting devices like Roku/Chromecast/etc. have been.)

Last edited by Bitey; 12-10-2017 at 06:39 PM..
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Old 12-10-2017, 11:27 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,512 posts, read 16,536,277 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitey View Post
I don't understand why Blu-Rays would be 40-60fps when the native frame rate is 24fps for movie productions and 30fps for television productions. Or is my information about frame rates outdated? Also, why do I need to be concerned about about the Blu-Ray frame rate if I'd be playing Blu-Rays locally from my machine?
Sorry, wasn't really clear. 24 FPS is still the standard but most things are now shot at 48 FPS. HFR (high refresh rate) is one of those things that discs are adopting to stay relevant. Not so much with Hollywood yet though. It's more about future proofing but in terms of streaming 4K @ 48 FPS from Netflix, it won't happen due to the bandwidth. Doesn't mean you can't stream it locally from a ripped 4K Blu-ray though, if and when HFR becomes more widely available. I don't really see the point of having a media center if you're primarily going to play physical discs. Just use a Blu-ray player. The best bang for the buck 4K blu-ray player is an xBox One S. Under $200, which is about as cheap as you can get one, and it comes with an included 500 GB HD and xBox for free. Just adding a 4K/UHD drive to a PC is only $40 cheaper, and you need a PC.

Quote:
Finally, why do you need that much upload speed to stream 4K? And what the hell is a "Raspberry pi?" (BTW we don't have a bedroom computer and we're not looking to move stuff to multiple devices. We just want something more reliable for our main TV than the casting devices like Roku/Chromecast/etc. have been.)
Raspberry Pi is a very popular credit card sized system on a chip (SOC) popular with hobbyists. One of the things driving its popularity is that they make very inexpensive intermediary devices between a TV and some form of attached storage, either a NAS (network attached storage, benefit being it doesn't need to be in your living room cluttering things up) or external HD. They're popular with LibreELEC and Kodi. LibreELEC is a streamlined Linux distribution specifically branched for use with Kodi. Kodi is, most would say, the best media center originally developed for the xBox. It runs on almost any hardware and almost any operating system and basically turns a regular dumb TV into a smart TV on steroids. Basic entire setup, Pi, case, charger, and a 32 GB micro SD card runs about $50.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C6EQNNK..._t2_B01C6Q2GSY

Load up an OS (like LibreELEC) and some form of media center front end (Kodi) and plug it into your TV. Attach some storage to put your media files on (external HD or NAS) or stream them from another computer either using Kodi or Plex or similar. Walla. $50 DVR/home media PC. Configurable to work with Amazon and Netflix. Running Android for Google Play is a bit work in progress so not really recommended. Aside from 4K it will do everything a basic Windows home media center will do for a fraction of the cost. But it's not as simple to set up.

An Intel NUC is more powerful but much more expensive. It's a fully functional mini-PC in a tiny box. Need to add RAM and m.2 SSD storage where as Raspberry or similar use a Micro SD card for storage. A cheaper option especially if you have parts lying around is an STX build. Larger than a NUC although you can definitely go smaller if you eschew the option of having mechanical hard drives. Great for a system that won't work hard but the heat is an issue with Intel NUC or very small STX builds with faster processors and heavy loads.
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...82E16856158048
Case and board. Cannibalize an LGA 1151 processor, get a slim fan if you want to mount regular hard drives or use a stock cooler, cannibalize RAM. I don't have anything to cannibalize as my newest computer is LGA 1150 unfortunately.

Past that your into more standard computers. If you don't mind one hanging out in your living room by all means. It really doesn't sound like you need anything that an i3 NUC or STX build can't do though. If you don't mind tinkering with Linux, a $50-70 SOC (Raspberry Pi or Rock64) will likely do everything you need as well. Personally, I generally recommend Chromecast or Fire TV most of the time. It's what I have set up at most of my relatives houses as it's easy to use.

Last edited by Malloric; 12-10-2017 at 11:45 PM..
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