on August 10, 2013
This is really the small HTPC I've been waiting for. It's inexpensive, runs quietly, and yet runs XBMC in a spectacular fashion. I stream all of my local media from a Synology NAS so this simply acts as a media client using XBMC (running via OpenELEC)---which it does quite well.
All NUCs, even this Celeron 847 unit, support hardware decoding of H.264/VC1/MPEG2 video codecs and will bitstream HD Audio. As an example, during video playback the CPU cores never rise above 15% while streaming 1080p video with HD Audio to a Yamaha AVR. If I have the NUC decode the HD Audio and out multi-channel LPCM it can occasionally rise to 18%. I was worried about not getting the i3 NUC due to the faster processor (and faster GPU) but even the add-on Aeon Nox skin for XBMC runs very smoothly. For running a HTPC under Windows more horsepower may be desirable but this thing screams under OpenELEC.
Speaking of OpenELEC, without the overhead of Windows this unit runs XBMC just fine using a 2GB memory stick (Crucial 2GB Single DDR3 1333 MT/s (PC3-10600) CL9 SODIMM 204-Pin 1.35V/1.5V Notebook Memory Module CT25664BF1339) and a 8GB USB thumb drive (SanDisk Cruzer Fit SDCZ33-008G-B35 8 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive - Black) for the system.
OpenELEC is installed, and boots from, the USB thumb drive and I don't have (or need) a hard drive of any type although one could install OpenELEC (or Windows) on a mSATA SSD if desired. I also realized that I already had an identical stick of RAM so I installed both (4GB total) but it doesn't really have any advantage since the system reports >3GB of RAM available during HD streaming (and this is with the GPU assigned MAX MEMORY in BIOS). OpenELEC boots from the USB and resides in RAM but since the whole thing, including XBMC, is so small (<200MB) it really demonstrates how bloated many modern operating systems really are for a HTPC.
FWIW, I already had a HP Media Center IR receiver (HP Infrared Receiver for HP Media Center 5188-1667) and a Harmony 900 remote that both work automagically with OpenELEC. The key to setting up the Harmony is to select a device of "Media Center PC" ==> Microsoft ==> MCE-1039. This will map 99% of the buttons on the Harmony. I had to manually assign the skip button but the command was already in the Harmony database so it was a snap. Also, the Harmony will wake the unit and put it to sleep. Just make sure the XBMC power setting for "shutdown" is set to standby.
EDIT: I forgot to add---the NUC includes an external power supply but you must supply your own "mickey mouse" power cable for your own locality. I used a Belkin 6ft / 3 Prong Notebook Power Cord since I could get Amazon Prime shipping with the rest of my order but there are many choices on Amazon.
EDIT #2: I also hooked it up to a Kill-a-Watt device to check out the power consumption.
As baseline, the NUC had 4GB of RAM (2x2GB) installed with a 8GB thumb drive and an IR receiver installed in the rear USB ports. No mSATA drive was installed nor was a Wifi/Bluetooth module. OpenELEC was installed on the 8GB flash drive.
During playback of a 1080p MKV (H.264/DTS-HD) being streamed via a wired network the draw varied between 17.6W and 18.4W. In standby (S3) it draws a flat 1.0W. Lower power (S4/S5) standby are supported by the NUC but I am unable to use them with my remote to wake the device.
on July 23, 2013
I bought this little guy strictly to replace the laptop I had sitting under my wall-mounted TV. The laptop's job was to stream movies to it from our 'closet PC' that has all our digital movies on it. I realize that there is an i3 version of this box, but was looking to spend as little as possible for a super-slick package -- so I went with the Celeron.
My initial tests were performed with some Simpsons episodes that are probably less than 480p in quality. Those were definitely not a problem for this little guy. I moved on to some fairly high bitrate 720p videos. No issues. Then the master test of 1080p. Also... no problems. The video I played was ~10gb in size. No stuttering at all through XBMC.
This thing was a beast to get to show up on my TV. In the beginning, it would show the loading screen of Windows 8 (also a success story on this little guy) and when it came time to login, there was nothing there. Very frustrating. I ended up plugging it into a monitor with HDMI at the same time as the TV (it showed up on the monitor) -- and in the settings on the monitor, told it to output only to the TV (done in Intel display properties). This showed a picture on the TV. I unplugged the monitor, restarted, and then the display was on the TV. Probably my TV's fault for being stupid. Who knows.
Inaudible. Which is nice. Also, it does get warm, but the heat is dissipated through the case enclosure. In sleep mode, this thing is ICE cold, with a power consumption of nearly nothing (I have a kill-a-watt device for measuring). Was really excited to see that the power consumption on this is very little. I'm sure it would go down even further if a Haswell chip was put inside of one of these NUC units.
Because of the mSata drive you have to drop inside, this thing is very fast.
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I love this unit, and it is so SMALL! (4" x 4" x 2")
Since it was frequently requested in the comments, I have supplied some simplistic facts regarding the Wattage used during activity (measured from a Kill-A-Watt appliance):
720P VIDEO: ~17W
1080P VIDEO: ~18W
It's tiny! For the state I live in (Idaho) and the cost of electricity, the Kill-A-Watt says it costs (during IDLE) about $0.98 per month to keep on, and if I had it on for 24/7 for 365 days of the year, it would run about $12.
ALSO: The kit supplies you with the body, the motherboard, and the processor (and half a power cord; the 'brick'). The items you'll have to get second are: RAM (there are two slots), mSATA Solid State Drive, a "mickey mouse" power cord (like those found on half a laptop cable) and a way to get wireless internet if you don't want it wired. The suggested wireless cards on their website for this unit were fairly cheap (also suggested below the product in the "other customers bought" section).
Hope this helps!
on October 25, 2013
Review of Intel NUC Model DCCP847DYE
I thought I would post a review of this unit that might help someone else in their selection. My intended use for this device was to attempt to use it as either a Ubuntu linux based XBMC box or as a Windows 7 Media Center if it has the juice to make it. I read numerous reviews, most were positive with respect to the box making it as a media center but there were a few that said "no way". So I had a fair bit of angst regarding my decision and none of the reviewers that I recall provided any specific information about what they were asking the box to do beyond a general XBMC or HTPC function.
So let me start by providing details about my infrastructure and the configuration of this unit. I purchased a single 4 GB DDR3 1333 memory module (it was a Crucial brand, about $43 here on Amazon), I also have a 64 GB ADATA SX300 SSD (about $75 at Newegg). I didn't bother with any WiFi/Bluetooth module. In my experience WiFi just isn't a substitute for a wired network when it comes to video and if your serious about trying to get "good" performance from this box then a wired network is really the only way to go, everything in my house that can be wired is (of course laptops and smartphones are wireless), and all of it is gigabit ethernet, although 100 megabit should be fine. The unit also has a "flirc" (see [...] serving as the IR receiver, it is a bit pricey, about $23, but it is fully programmable and allows you to utilize an existing remote. If there is one thing that bugs me it is having multiple remotes needed to do anything, so with this really neat device I am able to use the regular TV remote (it is a multi-function remote) and so we now have 1 remote for the Apple TV and 1 remote that covers the TV and the HTPC. I also had a Logitech bluetooth keyboard (a di Novo mini) around the house that I use ONLY when I must have a keyboard/mouse such as system maintenance. Aside from that the unit runs without keyboard/mouse using only the TV remote.
The video source is a Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Prime (with a cable card, about $140 on Amazon), this allows the addition of a cable company provided m-card which supports 3 tuners. Our cable company, Comcast, now scrambles everything even local programming. A plus with this is it can support reception and recording of premium content (HBO, Starz, etc...) as well. By "can" support I mean that the HDHomeRun supports it when the receiver is DTCP-IP (copy protection) capable. So in the case of Windows media center playback and recording of premium content is supported. One of the reasons for this unit is we have a number of TV's in the house and the HDHomeRun supports UPnP/DLNA so I can have some device at each TV which can go to the networked tuner and display channels on that TV. Somewhat off topic but I also hate having a cable company provided device attached to each TV, even the little boxes that are digital converters (Comcast charges $2 a month for each box) only support SD and you cannot get HD without using the more expensive boxes ($10 a month). Ok, lets get back on topic. That is a quick summary of the "video" and it is networked to the tuners so I could place the gear anywhere I can connect to the network using a wired connection. Lastly I'm using a 1.5 TB USB 2.0 disk for recording of content, I had it around the house and ended up taking apart an old Maxtor One Touch external USB 2.0 disk and replacing the old 500 GB disk with the 1.5 TB one.
So if I went with a linux/XBMC setup the plan was for this unit to be able to play TV content obtained from the networked tuner on the "local" TV, a must have with this configuration would be support for a TV Guide function as well where I can start a stream directly from the guide. This was the fall back plan as paying about $300 to have the ability to play TV rather than use a cable company box is too pricey for me when considering the number of TV's. The "hoped" for solution was a Windows media server that supports recording and playback of TV content from the networked tuner. So I started out "going for the gold" and installed an old copy of Windows 7 Professional I had around that I really never used (we are a MAC/OS X household for the past 5 or so years). The various drivers needed for the unit were available from the Intel NUC support area. The only painful part was I had an upgrade edition of Windows 7 and ended up having to install Windows XP to make the Windows 7 install happy. That is a whole other issue, suffice it to say got Windows 7 installed. As I said this was an original copy purchased in July 2011. Needless to say it required some updates to be installed, over 200 and this "low end" processor took about 7 hours to finish all the updates. It took so long I was very concerned if I could even run Windows 7 on this box. But after having "paid my dues" and completed the updates I was pleasantly surprised from there on out. The box runs Windows 7 just fine (at least in my configuration). The only things I have installed are antivirus (Microsoft Security Essentials), the HDHomeRun Prime software, Windows 7 and Remote Potato. So running using the performance tab on the task manager I made a number of informal CPU utilization measurements. Playback of HD content results in a data stream that is about 15-19 Mbps for each stream, this is just not an issue for my gigabit network, not an issue for a 100 Mbps network either, even with 3 streams (2 record and 1 live) the box was using about 6% of the network bandwidth according to the task manager display. Viewing of Live TV HD content resulted in a CPU utilization that hovered around 5%. A recording of HD content resulted in about 20-25% utilization and this appeared to scale pretty well with about 45-55% utilization when recording 2 HD streams. Finally putting them all together with display of 1 live HD program and 2 HD recording simultaneously the CPU hovered at about 60-70% utilization, there were spikes to 100% when starting or stopping a recording but in general the average was lets say 70% for recording 2 HD streams and watching HD live tv. Bottom line the box looks pretty darn good in this area. Playback of a recorded program was also in the 5% neighborhood which is great, while I didn't try it that would indicate that I could record 3 HD programs while playing back a previously recorded program. I don't have any measurements on the USB/disk utilization but USB 2 is "supposed" to support about 480 mbps so even at 20 mbps per stream I should not be over taxing the USB interface, so I would assume that 3 recording and 1 playback all simultaneously should be no problem.
The "fly in the ointment" is remote playback. As I mentioned earlier I have installed a copy of Remote Potato a very nice piece of software that supports a browser interface to setup and manage recordings as well as providing remote playback. The setup and maintenance of recordings is no problem at all, works just fine. However the playback is a killer and to be fair I would have to call it unusable. The box runs at about 80-100% utilization, mostly in the 90+ area and video will play for a period then stop completely for maybe 20 seconds then resume again. Even the CPU loading on the playback machine (for this test I used a 2009 mac mini with a Core 2 Duo processor at 2 GHz) is very high running about 70-80%. Not sure exactly what is going on but playback to a remote machine in this configuration is just not workable, I suspect that it is the work involved with transcoding the content. When I was "playing" around with this I had the same software setup running on a virtual machine on a hackintosh with a core i7 processor and had no issue at all. I believe that it most likely is the Remote Potato server causing this since live TV and recorded playback on Windows media server is not CPU intensive. So if remote playback (using Remote Potato, probably any application) is important to you this is NOT the machine to buy. Let me say I have NOT done any investigation into what is going on, I think it is most likely Remote Potato causing the issue requesting the server in the Windows 7 machine do some heavy transcoding, I just don't know, but as mentioned earlier in this review playback on this box itself within Windows media center is NOT CPU intensive. I do know that whatever video resolution I selected in Remote Potato it had the same problem, from the lowest to the highest video resolution playback in a browser just doesn't make it, at least when using Remote Potato.
Hope this was helpful to someone.
on April 12, 2014
This computer includes a third-generation, Intel Celeron processor and a motherboard running Intel's visual BIOS. It also includes 3 USB 2.0 ports, an ethernet port and an external power supply. What it does not include is the following:
* Storage: You need an msata solid state drive. These typically cost $1 per gigabyte.
* Memory: You need notebook memory modules. You can have up to two of these in your build. Make sure they are of the same make and model. These are typically $20 per 2 gigabytes.
* Accessories: You are going to need a "mickey mouse" power cord ($5 -$10), a USB hub ($5-$20), a USB sound adopter ($10), speakers ($20+), an Ethernet cable ($5-$10), an HDMI cable ($5), and an HDMI-compatible monitor ($100+). You may already own some of these.
* Operating system: A Windows license costs over $100. Ubuntu is free and less crappy. Both are installed using a USB flash drive ($5).
I've installed Ubuntu. Everything runs reasonably quickly. No complaints with performance. Of course, the processor is of last generation and is entry level, so it isn't ideal for every use-case. Some demanding apps like 3D games and luxrender will not run well.
The box unfortunately includes very incomplete documentation. There were no instructions on how to access the BIOS. Not including a power chord is stupid.
on December 29, 2014
This makes an excellent HTPC. I'm running Windows 8.1 off of a 64 GB adata mSATA SSD with 2 x 2 GB DDR3 1600, some other reviewers have speculated the CPU at 1.1 GHz might struggle with HD video if it has to maintain system overhead with a "heavy" footprint OS like Win 8.1. I haven't experienced this yet, I am able to both stream downloaded content over the network at 1080 as well as Netflix without any noticeable stutter or lag. Boot time is under 10 seconds with the SSD. The only noticeable difference over a faster system is the video takes a few seconds to resume if you jog ahead or back more than a few seconds. While not entirely silent the fan is quiet enough that you'll only hear it from less than 5 feet away if there is no other noise, and even then it's barely perceptible.
I only gave it four stars because the first one I received had a defective blower, upon disassembly I found that the blades on the blower were striking a sheetmetal shroud attached to the bottom, making a rattling sound. I attempted to remove the shroud and while this eliminated the noise it also prevented the blower from pushing air over the heatsink and out of the chassis, pushing temperatures at load over 60 C. I am still awaiting a replacement from Amazon, I will likely change my review to 5 stars if the replacement doesn't have the same problem.
Received my replacement, all was well for about two days. Turned the unit on tonight and the fan chatter is back again. Frustratingly it only seems to occur when the unit is set horizontally on its feet, pretty much any angle off of perfectly level puts a stop to the noise. Not sure if I'm getting unlucky or if this is a common issue, regardless you shouldn't have to return a product multiple times to get a unit that isn't defective.
Instead of returning the unit again I was able to fix the problem. I removed the aforementioned sheetmetal shroud and bent the metal around the inside opening out (similar to how it would flex if you pushed a large cone through it.) I also loosened the mounting screws, which appears to have increased the gap between the blower and the shroud. The combination appears to have fixed the fan chatter, it has been nearly three weeks and I haven't heard any additional noise.
on November 21, 2014
This is my second purchase (after building this little guy into a full-scale XBMC Media Center already) and now this one makes two in the house. These truly are a perfect, small form factor, powerhouse for your media center projects!
(As always, purchase 2GB of the recommended RAM, an 8Gb Thumb Drive for your OS, and a mini-bluetooth keyboard if needed. Lastly, use an Ethernet cable for your connection. No reliable movie streaming ever came from using WiFi, so please don't waste the efforts)
*** About my review ***
First and foremost, I always check the reviews before I buy anything. Looking at the positive AND negative feedbacks is the only way to REALLY know how others felt about the same product you're considering for yourself.
That being said, I have offered the review above. If you felt it helped you, please click 'Yes'. Lastly, if you have any questions about this product, PLEASE feel free to ask away and I'll do my best to relay what I've seen so far!
on June 11, 2014
I built this for a general use PC for my mother-in-law. In that use, with 4GB RAM with Windows 7 64-bit, and a Crucial M500 120GB mSATA drive, the bottleneck is the CPU (which I was aware of in purchasing this specific unit). As such, I am very happy with this unit (as is my mother-n-law, which is where it really counts).
A caveat that is a Windows problem (other reviews indicate the same does not apply to various varieties of Linus), Windows 7 won't install to any USB drive (as the main drive that the "Windows" folder would reside on). I was then forced to buy an mSATA drive. I was able to install Windows 7 from a USB stick, so you don't need to buy an external USB DVD drive.
The 3 USB ports is a bit limiting, I'd suggest getting a powered USB hub to supplement.
I was able to use a "Mickey Mouse" wall-to-charger plug from a dead laptop charger for the included power brick, which does not come with the wall plug, only the unit-to-powerbrick section of the power cable.
The unit delightfully mounts to the back of an old (5 years) VGA flat-screen monitor. Some Dell flat-screens use the VESA mount holes for the primary stand, so this won't mount to those (also some of these mounts are recessed which may not work with the mounting plate). It will mount to one that comes with a stand that mounts to the bottom, with VESA mount holes in the center of the back of of the monitor unused. Even my ultra-cheap off-brand 23-inch HDTV in the spare bedroom would allow this to mount to it as well (most HDTVs should have "bottom" stands that don't use the VESA mount holes, so using this as an HTPC should be sweet for keeping your cables minimalized).
IMPORTANT: Make sure to download drivers to a USB drive ahead of time, Windows 7 wouldn't work out of the box without the Ethernet driver from Intel's site, so you will not likely be able to access Intel's site to download them directly to this unit. This will save you a headache.
on January 20, 2015
This is a device that you probably think won't be powerful enough to make a good home theater PC. I can assure you that the Celeron inside this inexpensive NUC has power to spare.
I used this, an inexpensive and small SSD, a RAM chip, and a little power cord (not included) to build an HTPC using OpenElec 5.0.0. I am able to stream 30GB and larger 1080p MKV video files from my server with no problems. OpenElec needs to be configured correctly to avoid a stuttering problem with certain video CODECs but once that's done the machine works flawlessly.
The box isn't silent but it's close enough to silent. I can hear a very faint air movement noise but once you're a few feet away you can't hear it.
Note: I also purchased a Turtle Beach USB sound card because my home theater systems lacks HDMI audio support.
on October 31, 2013
This thing is perfect for my Home Theater PC. I added a hard drive and memory, installed the latest version of OpenELEC, and it works great! It's very small and doesn't make any noise. It could easily be mounted behind your TV and never be seen. I'm not sure why they don't include the power cable, though. It was easy enough to add one to my order, but it seems like a simple thing to omit. I don't think a lot of people have these types of power cords just laying around.
on July 30, 2014
Bought this to use a Plex Server. At first I was a bit skeptical of buying a Celeron processor PC to run a media server with a 2 TB HDD. But I am very happy with the results. Media streams in HD streaming from a FiOS 15/5 network. It's on 24/7 and have had no issues until now. I used Ubuntu since it is more lightweight, compared to Windows and its free.