INTERACT FORUM

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Windows HTPC Specs?  (Read 5821 times)

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Windows HTPC Specs?
« on: January 05, 2021, 11:09:07 pm »

I use MC to manage a fairly large collection of mostly video along with a smaller collection of music and photos. Im very happy with the performance and customizability of MC and would like to be able to play my media on my home theater system in its native form without any transcoding.

I have all my media on my main server. Based on my research, Im planning on building a small HTPC, running MC on Win10,  to do the following:
   Mostly to watch video from the server on my media room TV via MC
   Watch video from streaming services via the HTPC browser
   Display photos from the server via MC
   Play music from the server via MC

The HTPC will be connected to the following:
   AVR: Sony STR-DN1080
   TV: Sony XBR-75X900E
   Gigabit connection to main server

Q1: It seems like a Win10 based HTPC running MC would be the best solution for my requirements. Is there something Im missing?

Q2: Is the gigabit network fast enough to play the video with no quality lost between server and renderer? MC should not have to transcode, correct?

I found this thread: https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php/topic,126065.msg873605.html#msg873605 with a great recommendation from @zybex for an HTPC.

Looking at this configuration based on the rec from @zybex:
GB-BLCE-4105 ($160): https://www.amazon.com/GIGABYTE-Compact-Graphics-Component-GB-BLCE-4105/dp/B07DMM7Z7N/ref=nav_signin?crid=27NNIRSJRDKZU&dchild=1&keywords=gb-blce-4105&qid=1609903692&sprefix=GB-BLCE-4105+%2Caps%2C261&sr=8-1&
8GB RAM ($38): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019FRD3SE/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
240GB M.2 2280 ($38): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078WYS5K6/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=A2MTOVD9D32HYQ&psc=1
Win10 License ($100-130)

Total cost: $336-366

Q3: Is 8GB of RAM enough for my requirements? Will 16GB make much difference?

Q4: Is a 240GB enough storage for the boot drive given that all my media will remain on the server?

Thanks in advance for the help,
Ed
Logged

wer

  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2021, 11:16:28 pm »

1. Yes. (Windows 7 works fine too)
2. Yes, much faster than necessary.
3. Get 16GB
4. Yes. It should be an SSD, and take nightly snapshot backups with Macrium Reflect (free version is fine)

Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2021, 04:35:01 am »

My HTPC Win10 install plus some apps, user profile, appdata, swapfile, etc, takes about 80GB. Plenty of space left.

8 GB RAM is enough, but get 16GB if you can afford it. New apps and OS tend to bloat over time, so in a few years you may be constrained by 8GB. Alternatively, you can get just 1x8GB (instead of 2x4GB) and later on buy the second 8GB module. There's a small performance penalty with 1 stick, but it's not relevant.

The M.2 SSD you pointed has SATA interface which limits performance to 545MB/sec read, 465MB/sec write. You should instead select an M.2 with PCIe interface which is MUCH faster. For instance, The WD Blue SN550 has 2400 MB/sec read and 950 MB/sec write speeds, for $45:
https://www.amazon.com/Blue-SN550-250GB-NVMe-Internal/dp/B07YFF8879

Wer suggested backups, which is always good to have. However if this is just a player with no important data, and you're OK with the occasional reinstall when things go wrong... you can relax the strategy a bit. Make sure the Server database is backed up though.
Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2021, 04:44:42 am »

Gigabit is more than enough too - a BluRay HD video has a maximum bitrate of 56 Mbps which is much less than Gigabit (1000 Mbps). The limit will be your server/NAS disks, not the network.

The Brix has Wifi integrated, but you should use the Gigabit LAN instead (of course). Just disable the Wifi card.

Another nice piece of kit for the living room is a small wireless keyboard with keypad integrated. I have a K400:
https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Internet-Connected-Certified-Refurbished/dp/B01E0BUPW2

That one says "refurbished", see what you can find (if you need it). It would be nice to have an iluminated version like the K830, but those are expensive.

I also got an "air mouse" which are fun and practical, but take some getting used to - it's fine for quick control, but doesn't entirely replace a full Keyboard like the K400:
https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Wireless-Keyboard-Connection-Projector/dp/B07WRZNW6X
Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2021, 05:11:22 am »

Last tip: you can buy a Win10 Home/Pro license for less than $25 online. Use a reputable site like G2A or Kinguin. KeysOff.com seems even cheaper, according to the articles below.

These keys are legit, not counterfeit (or they wouldn't activate), and many sites have them. Not everyone is comfortable with these keys though. They're bulk licenses that are being resold by companies that don't need them. They're usually of the OEM variety, meaning that they will be tied to your Brix after installation - you can't take the license to a new PC, you'll have to buy another one if you change the HTPC.
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/get-windows-10-free-or-cheap,5717.html
https://www.pcworld.com/article/3400840/how-to-get-windows-10-cheap-or-even-for-free.html
Logged

arcspin

  • Galactic Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 391
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2021, 05:59:28 am »

I have had great success using a USB FLIRC to control JRiver from a programmable remote.
https://flirc.tv/more/flirc-usb

https://flirc.gitbooks.io/flirc-instructions/content/title-page.html
http://forum.flirc.tv/index.php

Logged
Hardware: Intel Core i5-8600K 16GB RAM, ASUS GeForce RTX 2080 8GB DUAL OC
Software: Windows 10 Home 64-bit, version 2004, JRiver MC 29, MadVr 0.92.17 (Beta 113), NVIDIA driver 457.09
Projector: JVC DLA-I X5500 (RS420, X570R) -
Screen: DNP Supernova 08-85
Processor: Anthem AVM 70
Power amp: XTZ A2-400 for Front & Center - XTZ A2-300 for Surround & Height channels
Speakers: Arendal 1723 S Monitor for Front & Center, Linn Unik for Front Height, Rear Height, Surround & Surround back. Elipson Planet M for Top Middle.
Sub: Arendal 1723 1S

wer

  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2021, 12:52:02 pm »

Wer suggested backups, which is always good to have. However if this is just a player with no important data, and you're OK with the occasional reinstall when things go wrong... you can relax the strategy a bit.

The MC configuration is important data. Even if you overwrite the backup every couple of days, the ability to roll back to a working snapshot in a couple of minutes is invaluable. Don't like an upgrade? Roll it back. Screwed something up and don't know how? Roll it back. Want to try a new video driver, but it turns out to be worse? Roll it back.  Trust me, it's good.
Logged

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2021, 03:55:50 pm »

Thanks for all the tips! Its always better to tap the hive mind!

I will definitely backup the HTPC! Ill probably use SW I already have called Genie Timeline. It does continuous backups and I already use it on my 3 other Win10 PCs.

Also, I plan to manage the HTPC by remoting in using AnyDesk. I also use it with my other Win10 machines.

Ill do some research on your suggestions and Ill come back with a proposed HTPC.

My 1st challenge is to get the HTPC and the rendering process working.

Remotes
The next thing I was going to ask about was the remote.

In my experience, a physical remote is way better for selecting and fast forwarding/rewinding shows than a soft remote. Its hard for me to keep my fingers over the soft buttons while looking at the screen. Soft remotes are handy for many things, but much less so for controlling video. Im used to the TiVo remote and its one of the best Ive used.

@arcspin mentioned the FLIRC, but that looks like it still needs a physical remote to actually control things. Ill look into the FLIRC device, but are there any recommendations on physical remotes?

MC TV
After getting the rendering working, Im going to look at getting MC TV to work and eventually augmenting or replacing my TiVos. I have yet to start my research on this.

Knowing that I would like to implement MC TV, would that change any of the advice yall have given me so far?

Server Updates
One more thing: Im also looking to upgrade/update my existing server. What config/HW should I look into? What is more important? Processor? Memory? Graphics card? Other?

Thanks again for all your help!

Ed
Logged

wer

  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2021, 04:09:30 pm »

Logitech Harmony remotes work well.  Or google for "HP rc6 MCE remote" as these are often available on ebay, still new.

Flirc will allow you to use any IR remote, like one from an old DVD player you threw out years ago.
Logged

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2021, 11:20:19 pm »

Questions on Memory:
I can afford 16GB, but Im not sure which option is best:
   1x16GB Dual Rank ($58): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019FRBHZ0?th=1
   2x8GB Dual Rank ($80): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019FRDAY6?th=1
   2x8GB Single Rank ($65): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BIWMWVS?th=1

If it doesnt make much difference, Ill go with the cheapest option.

Pending the answer to my memory options, here is the current configuration based on the rec from @zybex:
   GB-BLCE-4105 ($160): https://www.amazon.com/GIGABYTE-Compact-Graphics-Component-GB-BLCE-4105/dp/B07DMM7Z7N/ref=nav_signin?crid=27NNIRSJRDKZU&dchild=1&keywords=gb-blce-4105&qid=1609903692&sprefix=GB-BLCE-4105+%2Caps%2C261&sr=8-1&
   1x16GB Dual Rank ($58): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019FRBHZ0?th=1
   Western Digital 250GB WD Blue M.2 2280 ($45): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YFF8879/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_3?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
   Win10 License from KeysOff.com ($16.32): https://www.keysoff.com/windows-10-home-32-64-bit.html

Total cost: $280

@zybex - Thanks for the tips on the hardrive and Windows!

Thanks for all of the help!

I still need to research remotes/keyboards.
Logged

wer

  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2021, 11:57:49 pm »

Always use 2 memory modules, never a single module. Using a single module forces your memory to run in single channel mode, which significantly impairs performance.
Logged

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2021, 12:48:53 am »

Thanks @wer!

Does single or dual rank matter?
Logged

wer

  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2021, 01:20:00 am »

It matters, but you should consult your motherboard manufacturer (read the documentation) to determine what type of modules will provide optimal performance for (and indeed, be supported by) the chipset and motherboard you are using. You will need to do some research.
Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2021, 02:29:31 am »

I'd go for for the Crucial Single-Rank 2x8GB (CT8G4SFS824A) as it is listed on the official compatibility list for that board. Dual-Rank probably also works, but it's not worth it.

Dual-Rank (DR) is like having 2 single-rank (SR) modules in a single stick. This board has 2 channels with 1 slot each, so if you have just one DR stick on 1 slot, leaving the other slot empty, you're only using one channel which is slower than using both. Using 2 sticks of DR is the same as having 4 slots with SR RAM.

In terms of performance:
- populating both channels is faster than populating a single channel, regardless of DR vs SR - so pick a 2x8GB kit
- DR vs SR performance depends on the application. DR gives you a bit more bandwidth but latency is usually worse due to bank switching. So it then depends on the application that you're running - some are very sensitive to latency, so DR is worse than SR. In any case, we're talking about a 1 to 2% performance difference, which is kind of irrelevant.

Here's some gaming benchmarks:
https://www.guru3d.com/articles-pages/amd-ryzen-ram-scaling-effect-in-games,6.html
Logged

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2021, 05:37:17 pm »

Here is what I ordered:
   GB-BLCE-4105 ($160): https://www.amazon.com/GIGABYTE-Compact-Graphics-Component-GB-BLCE-4105/dp/B07DMM7Z7N/ref=nav_signin?crid=27NNIRSJRDKZU&dchild=1&keywords=gb-blce-4105&qid=1609903692&sprefix=GB-BLCE-4105+%2Caps%2C261&sr=8-1&
   2x8GB Single Rank ($65): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BIWMWVS?th=1
   Western Digital 250GB WD Blue M.2 2280 ($45): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YFF8879/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_3?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
   Win10 License from KeysOff.com ($16.32): https://www.keysoff.com/windows-10-home-32-64-bit.html

Total cost: $287

The memory is coming on a slow boat from China and won't be here for 2-3 weeks, so I will report back when I finish building.

Next, I'll start researching keyboards and remotes. Thanks for the head start on my research!

Thanks for everything so far!
Logged

antenna

  • Galactic Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 423
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2021, 09:10:32 pm »

...
Another nice piece of kit for the living room is a small wireless keyboard with keypad integrated. I have a K400:
https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Internet-Connected-Certified-Refurbished/dp/B01E0BUPW2
...

I used the K400 for a while, but the touchpad was problematic for me. 

I replaced it with a Perixx PERIBOARD-706PLUS with a trackball instead of a touchpad, and I haven't looked back.  :P
https://www.newegg.com/perixx-10532-usb-rf-wireless/p/0GA-0038-00012

YMMV
Logged
=========
Vinyl: Shure V15VxMR, Shure VN5MR stylus, VPI Scout turntable
Shellac: Shure M91, Shure N75-3 stylus,  Dual 1218 turntable

Apt Holman preamp (updated), Benchmark Media ADC-1, Benchmark Media DAC-1, Carver TFM-45 power amp (updated), Original Acoustic Research AR-9 speakers (LF surrounds replaced), Sennheiser HD590 headphones

wer

  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2640
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2021, 09:22:40 pm »

I have the Logitech K400 as well. For me, trackballs are worse than touchpads, so I've kept it.

The only thing I would do differently now, is to get a backlit keyboard.  Being able to use the keyboard in the dark is very, very handy in a home theater environment.  I would definitely recommend a backlit keyboard.
Logged

mattkhan

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 4021
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2021, 03:54:43 am »

Agree with that, I had a Logitech k830 for a while and it is much more convenient than the k400 because of the backlight. Unfortunately it is also excessively priced for what it is and uses a usb socket for charging which is fundamentally flawed (much too easier to break as the socket is quite weakly attached to the board and quite impossible to repair).

I haven't seen many other backlit boards, any recommendations?
Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2021, 05:34:56 am »

There aren't many wireless backlit keyboards mainly due to battery life. They usually have USB charging instead of AAA batteries and need frequent recharging, while on the K400 I just need to change batteries every year or so.

There are some really FUGLY things out there:
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08KTF59F2

Here's a page with reviews for a bunch of them, some with backlight - the Rii K18 is an option, perhaps:
https://heavy.com/tech/2017/02/top-best-wireless-mini-keyboard-mouse-with-touchpad-combo/
Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2021, 05:44:10 am »

Btw, I absolutely LOVE Microsoft's MouseWithoutBorders: http://www.aka.ms/mm

I'm usually on my living room with my laptop open. Having the TV on the HTPC input, this small free tool allows me to simply move the mouse to the right and onto the TV/HTPC as if it were a second monitor on my laptop. The keyboard is also shifted automatically to the HTPC, so all I have to do is move the mouse and start clicking/typing on the TV.  It also syncs the clipboard so we can just CTRL+C something on the laptop and CTRL+V on the HTPC. Extremely cool and practical  8) I barely use the K400 and the Remote because of this.

To prevent accidentally moving the mouse onto the HTPC, there's an option to enable that only if CTRL is pressed. So, CTRL+mouse-right to go over to the HTPC, and CTRL+Mouse-Left to come back. Alternatively you can use CTRL+ALT+1 / CTRL+ALT+2 to toggle between machines.
Logged

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2021, 11:58:52 pm »

Update:
  • Got the Brix, RAM, and hard drive. The RAM came much sooner (2 weeks) than originally promised!  :)
  • Built the box and installed Windows
  • Connected to my AVR/TV
I still need to do a lot of setup and config, MC included, but the basics are working.

I ordered the Rii K18 keyboard ($25 after coupon and before taxes) tonight and will let you know what my experience is. Thanks for the tip @zybex!
Logged

zybex

  • MC Beta Team
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 2452
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2021, 03:07:24 am »

Great, enjoy :)
I like Ninite.com to quickly install the basics: 7zip, KLite, chrome, notepad++, python, Everything, and some others depending on needs.
Logged

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2022, 06:39:10 pm »

I'm trying to get my HTPC I built to the specs above to display 4k content and can't get it to work.

My HTPC is connected to this receiver: https://www.sony.com/electronics/support/audio-components-receivers-amplifiers/str-dn1080/specifications

The receiver is connected to this Sony TV: https://www.sony.com/electronics/support/televisions-projectors-lcd-tvs-android-/xbr-75x900e/specifications

When the resolution is set to 1920x1080 everything works fine.

When I change the resolution in Windows Settings to 3840x2160 or in the Intel Display app, the screen goes blank and I have to reboot into recovery mode to change it back.

How can I troubleshoot this? What am I doing wrong?

TIA
Logged

jmone

  • Administrator
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 14323
  • I won! I won!
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2022, 06:56:23 pm »

I see on the Product Page for the amp that :

4K 60P 4:4:4 SUPPORT
Yes (except VIDEO1 input)

Are you using Video Input 1 by any chance?
Logged
JRiver CEO Elect

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2022, 01:31:34 am »

@jmone Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

After more research, I had to enable 4k content by individual HDMI ports on my receiver. Not sure why Sony made that a manual option.  :(

That got Netflix 4k working straight away through my TiVo.

It took more research to figure out I had to download Microsoft's HEVC Video Extensions (for $0.99) to get Netflix 4k to work on the PC.

After doing even more research it doesn't seem possible to stream 4k content on a Windows PC for Prime Video, Disney Plus, or Hulu either through their respective apps or through a browser. Is that your understanding as well?

My next question is regarding playing HDR on the PC:
In Windows Settings --> Display --> Windows HD Color settings --> Display Capabilities
Stream HDR Video = No
Use HDR = No
Use WCG Apps = No

I assume that means videos won't play in HDR? Can I get video to play in HDR?
Logged

jmone

  • Administrator
  • Citizen of the Universe
  • *****
  • Posts: 14323
  • I won! I won!
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2022, 01:45:43 am »

I'm in Australia so there may be regional difference but there are all sort of different limits to what the streamers allow on a PC (based on browsers, their own apps etc etc).... it's all over the place (best bet is to google as each have a page saying what they support).

There is no issue with playing HDR from MC29 however.  Go into "Tools --> Options --> Video" and make sure your Video Mode = JRVR.  Click on "... JRVR Settings" and make any config changes (eg do you want HDR Passthrough and if you want MC to "Enable OS HDR Support").  FWIW, I'm on Win11 and now leave HDR Mode on all the time (from the Windows Display options).  It tonemaps SDR content up to HDR so it looks more or less correct and there is no switching required when MC plays HDR content.

Logged
JRiver CEO Elect

elprice7345

  • World Citizen
  • ***
  • Posts: 240
Re: Windows HTPC Specs?
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2022, 01:33:15 am »

There is no issue with playing HDR from MC29 however.  Go into "Tools --> Options --> Video" and make sure your Video Mode = JRVR.  Click on "... JRVR Settings" and make any config changes (eg do you want HDR Passthrough and if you want MC to "Enable OS HDR Support").  FWIW, I'm on Win11 and now leave HDR Mode on all the time (from the Windows Display options).  It tonemaps SDR content up to HDR so it looks more or less correct and there is no switching required when MC plays HDR content.
With the following settings:
Video Mode = JRVR
HDR10 Passthrough is checked
Enable OS HDR support when playing HDR10 is checked

Windows 10 still says:
Stream HDR Video = No
Use HDR = No
Use WCG Apps = No

Does that matter? Is Windows "misinformed"?

Also, I'm trying to learn about the various video settings. Are there any resources you can point me to for me to learn?

More specifically, I'm trying to understand the diagnostic information that is displayed when I press CTRL-J.

Video often doesn't seem smooth when played.

When I look at this diagnostic info, I see quite few dropped and repeated frames. I'm assuming both dropped and repeated frames should be 0 or close to 0?
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up