Intel NUC my impressions, comming from RPI, ouya and ATV520

charliebrown

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So i´ve been spunging alot of info off this forum, time to contribute a little.

Been on xmbc since the xbox period on and off. And most recently raspberry, atv520 then ouya and now a i3 nuc.

Coming from raspberry to ouya was amazing, everything was faster and i could use alot of skins that the rpi couldn’t even touch. The ouya is a little unstable at times but all in all a well worth upgrade from the RPI.

I purchased a i3 intel nuc last week and installed openelec on a 64gb msata drive and wow!
If going from rpi to ouya was 200% better then going from ouya to this is 800% better.

Theres no comparing the nuc with openelec to anything else i´ve used. everything is FAST! no more loading pages, my remotes works as they should no more rooting or hacks to get it to work the way i want. When streaming movies from 1ch, Ic*f*lms, project free tv, youtube etc, they more or less start at an instant. I always thought that it was the server hosting the files was the hold up and never realising that the platform you got at home had a big part in it to, and it has! The menus and everything else is like butter, no waiting everything happens in an instant. And booting up the nuc to xbmc takes about 7-8sec. I use Amber as my main skin so thats what im comparing it with.

Im pretty much done with the android boxes for a xbmc setup, except for maybe in the bedroom where my ouya now stands. It is a price difference between these systems, but its well wort the extra bucks! I´ve been looking for an xbmc setup like this since i started more or less, it silky smooth, and have no regrets!

So if your in the market for a new mediacenter then 200bucks in total for the nuc configured is well spent money!

I did purchase the i3 version, but as i read around the cheapest nuc that has a celeron processor in it, is suppost to work just a good as the i3 with openelec.

Gigabyte has a unit called “brix” wich i heard some real nice things about to.

This is in no way a slander to any other system, but i figured there might be other people interested in this.
 

jokster

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i have been looking at these wee puppies myself.
how does it handle skins like aeon nox?

this is where i show myself to be daft - what is the difference between msata and ssd?
can the nuc take either or is it just msata?
 

charliebrown

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Hey, havent tried aeon nox, im a amber skin user since release, and since everyone that uses the NUC knows amber i dont dare to change it ;) so when i setup this as the livingroom main piece, i just installed amber directly.

I dont know the specifics but SSD is like a 2.5mm hardrive version in formfactor while msata looks like a mini pci card with memory chip exposed on the card ( more bare ) i dont think theres any difference in speed, booth is lightning fast compared to a ordinary HDD.
 

chalo_kool

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Is there anyway you could possibly post all the specific parts you used for the NUC build? I work as a diesel(bus) mechanic, but I know a thing or two about computers. A few months back I built my very first computer. An Intel Core i3-3225 Mini-ITX HTPC built purely for XBMC. So I've been checking out those tiny boxes as well, both the NUC and the BRIX. Since I currently don't own neither a laptop nor desktop, I've been thinking about turning my HTPC into my main desktop for other purposes such as video and photo editing. But of course I gotta have XBMC in my living room so I've been thinking about one of those two options, and after reading your post on the NUC, well there's not much to think about. I like the design on the BRIX better, but the NUC is not bad at all. I'm definitely looking for a small form factor. I really like the design of the Mac Mini, but it's pricey and I'm just not a big fan of Apple products.
Anyhow, I'd appreciate if you can lost a list of parts you used. Thanks in advance.
 

oso

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Nice review, Im sure like myself a lot of people have been thinking about using these boxes, I am going to order the fastest celeron on just for review purposes and will post results here. as Chalo stated, if you could post what exactly you used in your set up, memory, hdd etc that would be great.
 

charliebrown

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Hi, I used an intel msata 525 for the harddrive, and a 4gig stick kingston memory module, im in no way a hardcore pc-builder (my daily computer is a mac) but you cant fail with the installation its so simple! and the openelec installs from a usb stick with a nice menu to guide you trough the installation. One thing to keep in mind if your going to buy the new haswell nuc´s ( i got last years i3 in mine) is that it only takes low powered ram ( 1.35 i think it is) other than that its easy as 1 2 3.

The msata 525 is a nice disk you just gotta decide on the size =) http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/solid-state-drives/solid-state-drives-525-series.html

intel also got a little "approved list for the nucs" http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/CS-033763.htm

im using the DC3217BY modell so that list apply to me. What modells are you guys looking at?
 
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jokster

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i was looking at the same model as yours mate :)
i was considering bluetooth as well for the old ps3 remote.

mind you getting all this past the missus might be a different story lol
 

charliebrown

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i was looking at the same model as yours mate :)
i was considering bluetooth as well for the old ps3 remote.

mind you getting all this past the missus might be a different story lol

Beg and pleed mate, the only way to get approval for it ;)

Yeah this modell is a bargain at current pricepoint! I got the bluetooth/network card from intel, but ended up using apple thunderbolt gigabit ethernet adapter instead, i had one laying around and the nuc is side by side my router so i figured might as well hook it up :)

Yeah i was on the ps3/mele f10 pro route for a while, just bought a flirc and hooked up my apple remote and it works flawless. Flirc is the way to go, i f....ing hate editing textfiles for hours to get it setup just right. Flirc is a dream come through when it comes to making remotes just work they way you want it.
 
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TheLion

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I am interested in a silent computer but this one has no sound output, and by the time you buy the memory and a hard drive it starts to get up there in cost. Just to watch xbmc this costs way too much money IMHO.
 

jokster

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it never hurts to splash out a bit on the main htpc.
its good to plug something a bit beefy into the a/v unit.
a nice slick interface running butter smooth adds to the experiance and eycandy.
androids and consoles dont do it for me here, dont get wrong, they have their place.
 

stammie

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I am interested in a silent computer but this one has no sound output, and by the time you buy the memory and a hard drive it starts to get up there in cost. Just to watch xbmc this costs way too much money IMHO.
To use an analogy its a bit like comparing an Aston Martin to a Fiat 500, both will get you to where you want to go but the Aston will provide an experience so much smoother, slicker and faster.
As Jokster said all these cheap set top boxes have their place but once you experience XBMC on even just a cheap proper pc you will never want to go back to the Fiat 500 equivalent again
 

chalo_kool

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Since the whole idea of putting together a system like the NUC is to do nothing else but to run XBMC, I guess for my needs even the cheapest NUC with the Intel Celeron CPU will get the job done. Be mindful that this little guy has a five star rating on Amazon and most reviewers are using it for the very same purpose as I intend to, which is to run XBMC along with OpenELEC. They claim that it streams 1080p video flawlessly and it performs like a champ on XBMC and that's excatly what I'm looking for.
Now, I do have some questions and hopefully someone on here will be able to answer. My questions are mainly OpenELEC related since I've never used it before. I understand that it's a very small Linux based program designed to boot up directly into XBMC.
So my first question is....Do I really need to have a HD (mSATA) to be able to use OpenELEC on the NUC? The reason I ask is because I was watching this video on youtube where the guy appears to be installing OpenELEC without the use of any HD. I know HDD are mainly for storage, but that's the point exactly; I don't do any downloading off of XBMC. All I do is stream video which is pretty much the same thing as if you go to youtube and watch a video. Even if a HD is required, I guess I can just buy the cheapest mSATA like a 32GB or even smaller.
Has anyone come across a step by step how-to-video on installing OpenELEC on the NUC? If I make the decision of stepping up to the NUC i3, will it be worht it?
I was also checking out the Lenovo Ideacentre Q190 and for $299.00 I thought it could easily be another option for a USFF HTPC setup. It's small, but not as small as the NUC. It comes with an Intel Celeron CPU, Windows 8 64bit, 500GB HD, 4GB, Wireless card,..heck they threw in a wired keyboard and an optical mouse. Basically, you just need a monitor to have a fully operational PC.

Anyhow, I'm still interested on the NUC Celeron/OpenELEC option. So please any advice or suggestions will be highly appreciated!!!
 

jokster

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openelec is a gift mate.
there is an installer app on their site that creates a pen drive installer and it is very straightforward to use.
eg plug in the pen drive, boot to usb, point to the drive openelec is to be installed to, sit back and wait till its done, pull out pen drive, reboot, job done.

strictly speaking you dont need a hdd as it can be installed to a pen drive or sd card.
but a hdd is the most common and msata/ssd are damn fast thus shrinking the boot time.
nothing to fancy is needed either - i run it on an old revo 3600 in the bedroom and its grand, takes about 45 seconds to boot to xbmc.
if you are not intending to store movies or tv shows on the hdd then nearly anything will do.
hell my old xbox sat with a 10gb drive in it for years and that was plenty for xbmc. at the end of the day its just a few addons and some posters/fanart being stored.

:)
 

charliebrown

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as jokster said, its easy! go to openelec.tv and follow dirtsimple instructions. My nuc boots into openelec from whats considered a standard msata drive in under 10sec. and start scraping for new tv show real shortly after that. And the smallest msata you can find will be just fine 30gb is almost "to much" but it seems to be the smallest out there at a good price. if you are going to get a nuc, spend a couple of bucks on a msata, for convenience and also a cleaner look with nothing sticking out of the box =)

For me personally im not leaving this box for a couple of years, so the extra bucks for an i3 is nothing.
Its without any doubts the best experince i´ve ever had on xbmc.
 

chalo_kool

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Thanks for the info Jokster. I now have a better understanding on how the whole NUC+OpenELEC will work should I decide to build one out. As I stated previously, most reviewers agreed that even the Celeron NUC can stream 1080p video, but I'm wondering if they are talking about streaming over a network. I don't have anything to stream on my own network. What I'm really looking for is a USFF device like the NUC capable of streaming full HD content off XBMC's add-ons.

I agree on the SSD speed as compared to traditional HDD. I installed dual hard drives on my HTPC build. One SSD for the OS and one laptop hard drive for storage. my HTPC takes 21 seconds to boot up from a cold start.












Thanks for all the info guys. I now have a better understanding on how the NUC+ OpenELEC is put together.
 

jokster

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he he i got the go ahead from the missus :)
so i'm gathering the pieces now.

quick question does the nuc take the 1.8" form factor msata hdd?
i seen a plextor 128gb one for £78 - bargin!
just dont know if it fits :(

mind you its stata 3 compared to intels 525 series being sata 6
mmmm...

edit
going for a Kingston SSDNow instead
 
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charliebrown

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There you go! congrats, what modell did it land on? Kingston and samsung is suppost to be the best msata /ssd disks from waht i heard from people.