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Topic: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out (Read 818 times) previous topic - next topic
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HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

HTPC, NUC vs. laptop ?
Using Denon 3600 avr

Trying to make a choice for audio hardware to output via hdmi...

Output for most formats
Multi-channel Flac

Would also like 4k resolution capability..

 

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #1
Not sure what the question is? It's HDMI, just check the spec outputs what you want.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #2
Not sure what the question is? It's HDMI, just check the spec outputs what you want.
I guess the question is is a NUC I-5 or i-7 the same operability in performance as a laptop?

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #3
I guess the question is is a NUC I-5 or i-7 the same operability in performance as a laptop?
Yup. Laptop has the advantage of having a screen, keyboard, and mousepad when you need them.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #4
Have you considered a NAS? I use one with a tablet to stream to my AVR, run Pi-hole, backups, etc.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #5
If you can wait until the end of the year I'd wait until Intel graphics have HDMI 2.1 support and VRR, which can bring QMS for media, though as of now that's not supported by Windows or any player that I know (MPC can use G-Sync but when I tried it it didn't work very well).

If you want to keep the refresh rate an integer multiple of the videos' fps, then the next best thing for HTPC is to have a 4k 120Hz refresh rate (and 100 Hz) to minimize the screen blackouts when switching between 24, 30, 50 and 60 fps content. Hell maybe you'll find use for 100 and 120 fps content as well if you have a camera that can capture it. Also the smoother UI is just pleasant to use.

As for laptop vs NUC, for HTPC I'd say NUC (or small form factor PC) all the way. I'd choose the strongest graphics possible for video processing and it's nice to have some power headroom, and also one with a good quiet cooling solution. Laptops will turn on the noisy fans at some point. Also laptops lack ports and at some point you might wanna start adding USB hard drives.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #6
If you can wait until the end of the year I'd wait until Intel graphics have HDMI 2.1 support and VRR, which can bring QMS for media, though as of now that's not supported by Windows or any player that I know (MPC can use G-Sync but when I tried it it didn't work very well).

If you want to keep the refresh rate an integer multiple of the videos' fps, then the next best thing for HTPC is to have a 4k 120Hz refresh rate (and 100 Hz) to minimize the screen blackouts when switching between 24, 30, 50 and 60 fps content. Hell maybe you'll find use for 100 and 120 fps content as well if you have a camera that can capture it. Also the smoother UI is just pleasant to use.

As for laptop vs NUC, for HTPC I'd say NUC (or small form factor PC) all the way. I'd choose the strongest graphics possible for video processing and it's nice to have some power headroom, and also one with a good quiet cooling solution. Laptops will turn on the noisy fans at some point. Also laptops lack ports and at some point you might wanna start adding USB hard drives.
thank you

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #7
As for laptop vs NUC, for HTPC I'd say NUC (or small form factor PC) all the way. I'd choose the strongest graphics possible for video processing and it's nice to have some power headroom, and also one with a good quiet cooling solution. Laptops will turn on the noisy fans at some point. Also laptops lack ports and at some point you might wanna start adding USB hard drives.

The last laptop I bought, I specifically searched for certain models for the best performance/size/noise/port combo.

I found a slightly older Thinkpad x260.  12x8 inch footprint, all black.  Full-size HDMI port, mini DisplayPort, and 3 regular USB 3.0 ports.  CPU is 15w TDP, so I hardly ever hear the fan.  It also has 2 batteries, in case of random power outages.  The integrated HD520 does ok with the 4K YT videos I've watched, but I haven't tried a 4K movie yet.  I run Linux, so I can't comment on performance under Windows. 

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #8
For HTPC I would always select the latest possible CPU/GPU though, cause they keep adding hardware decoding for newer codecs/profiles, plus newer features like HDMI 2.1 (not yet as of now on Intel). Also, DRM restrictions. When my Razer Blade Stealth came out, its brand new Kaby Lake CPU just barely didn't make the cut to be able to output 4k over HDMI, while revisions of the same architecture, same gen, which came only months after, could.

Another issue with laptops that I ran into with my Razer Blade Stealth and my HP one is that as silly as it sounds, they might be hard to turn on when they are closed. Many laptops have the power button on the inside, and even though my HP Spectre x360 has it on the outside, it doesn't work if the laptop is closed. Overall, getting a laptop if it's going to be permanently connected to an external monitor, especially a TV (so not on a desk near you) is more hassle than it's worth, more expensive than it has to be, and has fewer relevant features.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #9
I once had a PC I built for a HTPC.  It was made out of mostly older components.  This was before 4k was really available.  Wasn't a high end machine.  Dual core AMD CPU with an Nvidia 9800GT.  Played all the media I threw at it, including all of my Blu-ray rips (not re-encoded).  I had no problem decoding video codecs, audio was simply passed to the receiver for decoding.  I mostly used mkv container to hold multiple audio and subtitle formats.

Laptops are definitely a YMMV deal.  My x260 does it's job well enough for my current needs.  Much of my family seems to prefer streaming services and YouTube.  For that reason, my PS4 has been an adequately serving the HTPC role.  I haven't yet made the jump to 4K, so when that times comes, it's new everything: TV, receiver, PS5, etc...  The cost of the laptop seems small compared to the rest.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #10
If you already have the parts or the laptop, or you want to use the laptop as both a laptop and HTPC which requires frequent connect/disconnect then sure, but if I was buying new only for HTPC I would not consider a laptop, there's too many compromises, price is not the main one.

If you have a desktop you have more leeway to choose components and can use a bigger cooler on the CPU which will make it quieter if your GPU doesn't support the codecs in hardware, but NUCs and laptops don't have this option, so choosing a GPU that can play the latest codecs/profiles is a good idea. Also I'm not sure if even fairly modern quad core CPUs can software-decode something like AV1 4K 60fps for instance, and it's a lot more power efficient to do it in hardware as well.

I recently built a gaming/HTPC with a Ryzen 9 5900x and RTX 3070FE and put them in a very quiet case with 200mm fans at 500RPM. Even with a massive Noctua NH-D15S on the 5900x I can hear its fan when I enable software decoding in most videos. This is a 12-core 24-thread CPU, but the decoders don't use many threads so only a couple cores spike in temp and makes the fan ramp up. (It's still very quiet but goes from inaudible -> audible.) With hardware decoding, the fans on the 3070 don't even turn on until more than 15 minutes, and even then remain at the lowest possible RPM which lowers the temps very quickly, and is still inaudible. The other thing is that this rig consumes 60W at idle, whereas a NUC would probably do something like 5W or even less.


Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #12
I modded a CoolerMaster H500 a bit by cutting out the metal flaps that block the 200mm fans like this guy did. I also drilled holes so I could switch the fans to 200mm Noctua ones, dunno if the fans would make a lot of difference though. Then I also moved the fans from outside the case and screwed them on the inside in order to leave more breathing room in the front mesh.

I kept it at positive pressure and my airflow goes front to back, I didn't need the 120mm fan at the back so I took it out. I also blocked the big vent at the top of the case so all the air flows through to the back. From many stress tests, case airflow doesn't seem to be a problem in the least, but I'm not overclocking anything besides AMD's own default auto turbo on their CPUs.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #13
I specifically bought the laptop to serve the one purpose.  Small profile, quiet, and idles at 6.5W with 2 USB powered HDDs attached.  Never moves from it's spot.  Software decoding 4K is most likely a no go with that setup, but it only cost me $200.  My only 4K content at the moment is video ripped from YouTube.  I use it as a file server more than anything.

The last PC I built was a overclocked 4790K with the NH-D15 cooler.  Fractal case with 140mm fans.  Decently quiet.  Probably idled similar to yours in wattage.   It gave off a lot of heat though, even just idling.

With the new AMD chips out, I've almost been tempted to do a mini-itx build.  I've built plenty of towers, but nothing compact.

Re: HTPC,NUC vs Laptop : foobar HDMI out

Reply #14
So I went digging a bit cause of this thread and found out that some NUCs actually have HDMI-CEC, which controls basic functions like power and volume, sometimes even playback, of different components of a home theater. Most TVs and AVRs include it nowadays, but for PCs it's very rare. For the generation 11 NUCs, it seems only the "pro" (Tiger Canyon) tier includes it. I don't know if the PC can process commands besides turning off/on though, playback would be great, but a Bluetooth or IR remote should work as well. It's probably included in the pro tiers so they can be turned off when commercial displays are turned off.

 
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