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Topic # 189458 30-Dec-2015 16:10
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Since I became able to stream on-line video, I have been working to improve the quality I can get. My RBI download speed is now up to at least 25 Mbps and it often reaches 50 Mbps. My main streaming computer is a Pipo X7, which caused me a lot of grief in the beginning but now usually works fairly well since I added heat sinks and a fan to it.

I want to replace the Pipo though. It just isn’t up to the job with only 2 GB of RAM and the fan I had to add is noisy. HD video is also sometimes choppy and blocky.
I think the cpu just can’t process it fast enough, even though it is quad-core.

Budget is a big problem for me. I just can’t afford the computer I would like to have, such as a NUC. I see a number of Chinese i5 mini-PCs on Aliexpress for around $400 or so with RAM and SSD. I could just manage that but naturally I wonder about the quality of these boxes. I also have no idea how any of the i5 processors would actually compare in practice to the Pipo’s Atom Baytrail, though I would hope for and expect a major improvement.

Can anyone help me with this? I can’t really afford to experiment so I need some certainty that one of these computers would actually be a step up. Here is a link to one I am considering, with 4 GB of RAM and the i5 5250U processor bundle:

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Fanless-i5-Mini-PC-Windows-Barebone-PC-Broadwell-Intell-Core-i5-5200U-2-7GHz-4K-HTPC/217312_32366202925.html?spm=2114.10010108.100007.7.BZdaiE




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  Reply # 1459114 30-Dec-2015 16:28
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interesting -  i've always thought fanless to be too much of a compromise with performance. 

i'm looking to buy the 6th gen nuc when it comes out (soon i think). 


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  Reply # 1459151 30-Dec-2015 17:06
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I have seen the ASRock BeeBox at PB for around your budget. Search Here. AnandTech here. Good video review here.

It apparently includes support for HEVC and can play 4k video. I think the one with 4gb is going to be the one to go for, but then you don't get an OS. Not a problem if you want to install your own or run linux. Looks like a good option although it is still atom based.






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  Reply # 1459153 30-Dec-2015 17:09
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Thanks for the tip but it looks too close to what I've already got. If I'm going to spend that kind of money, I want it to be for something significantly better.





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  Reply # 1459274 30-Dec-2015 21:07
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Small form factor, fanless, powerful, reliable & cheap is not a readily available equation, sadly.

If you can move on the 'cheap' bit by saving for a while, the i3 NUC's would fit the bill for the remainder (OK, they're not fanless, but it's inaudible on my 5i5RYK in my HTPC setup).



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  Reply # 1459277 30-Dec-2015 21:13
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I keep coming back to desktops and may end up going that way, but it's not my preferred choice.





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  Reply # 1459279 30-Dec-2015 21:15
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Even an i3 will whip the pipo, they are a cheap tablet CPU, not a powerful thing.

I have had more issues with video playback than anything with windows tho, its just a real pain. BBC Iplayer just gives me tearing even when I have the HDMI set to 25Hz or 50Hz, really ugly picture on the TV, even dropping the resolution down it still isnt smooth. Yet a dirt cheap android player will play it fine.




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  Reply # 1459428 31-Dec-2015 10:03
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richms: Even an i3 will whip the pipo, they are a cheap tablet CPU, not a powerful thing.


Yeah, I have noticed that. We learn from experience. When I bought it, I didn't know much and I just took the plunge because it was inexpensive. Not a bad thing, actually, because I have learned a lot from all the issues with it.

Anyway, I am trying to avoid a repeat of that experience now, which is why I started this thread. So what do you think of the box I linked to? It is a fanless i5. Would this be any better or am I just asking for trouble?
 




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  Reply # 1459471 31-Dec-2015 12:13
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I'm still happy with my Minix Neo Z64. Don't use it a massive amount, but it's a good back-up for when the Apple TV or PS3 don't have what I want. Have a look at some of the YouTube reviews - they say HD is fine, thigh I've not really tested it extensively.

Would a new Apple TV do what you want? It'll run Plex and Kodi plus has streaming for many content providers with new apps being added every week.




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Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5, AppleTV4, Minix Neo Z-64.




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  Reply # 1459518 31-Dec-2015 13:49
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littleheaven: 

Would a new Apple TV do what you want? It'll run Plex and Kodi plus has streaming for many content providers with new apps being added every week.


Good question. I don't know much about it but I suspect not. It would be nice to have a single, simple interface for streaming, but what I want is to be able to zap between many different web sites (just like changing channels) that all seem to have incompatible ways of doing things (like starting and stopping videos, switching to full screen, changing resolution settings, etc.). So far, the best solution I have found, though far from perfect, is just navigating with a browser using a remote keyboard and mouse combo. For sites I visit regularly I use URL shortcuts. I tried Plex once and hated it but I don't really feel a need for a media server. I have a USB drive attached to the Pipo that works well for recording and playing videos. A fast desktop in another room is set up for specialised downloading tasks and works well for that, though I don't use it a lot. Mainly I just stream stuff in the lounge and the Pipo would be fine for that if it worked better with HD.







I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1459562 31-Dec-2015 15:50
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Just pay attention to the for the video adaptor and how it performs with Flash based video. I can't use SD watchme.co.nz at full screen despite being able to happily decode bluray on my HTPC.

I took the approach of boycotting any site using flash video.










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  Reply # 1459572 31-Dec-2015 16:20
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I would love to be able to do that after all the hassle Flash has caused me but then I would lose half the sites I want to view. Until everybody starts boycotting them, or until they wake up and notice that Flash has had its day, people like me are still stuck with this.





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  Reply # 1459626 31-Dec-2015 19:29
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Question is why do you need an i5?

HTPC comes down to GPU and the BeeBox can handle in hardware all the modern codecs.




Generally known online as OpenMedia, now working for Red Hat New Zealand as a Solution Architect for all things Linux, Virtual and of course Cloud. Still playing with MythTV and digital media on the side.



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  Reply # 1459654 31-Dec-2015 21:16
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I'm nowhere near an expert so I have to go with what I'm sure will work. I don't want to have to go through this again for awhile so whatever I get needs to be able to handle HD, 4k and whatever else is likely to get thrown at it. I'm tired of buffering and dropped frames because the unit can't keep up. I know the connection is up to the job because of tests I have done with my desktop so I just need to be certain that the streaming computer won't cause any more problems. After my painful experiences with the Pipo I want to make sure I have plenty of margin.




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  Reply # 1459656 31-Dec-2015 21:20
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openmedia: Question is why do you need an i5?

HTPC comes down to GPU and the BeeBox can handle in hardware all the modern codecs.


Not once you have flash involved it doesnt, CPU is usually the problem with that, hardware acceleration or not.

Someone told me its down to how they build their player in flash, some ways of doing it can have the video data going between GPU and CPU multiple times which is why no hardware acceleration can be faster.




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