Author Topic: Ultracompact HTPC with BluRay - suggestions/help needed  (Read 165 times)

HughC

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Ultracompact HTPC with BluRay - suggestions/help needed
« on: April 20, 2017, 03:00:25 PM »
I'm looking for an ultracompact HTPC with the following general characteristics:

- Dimensions <~ 11"W x 12"D x 3.5"H
- HDMI (to Samsung TV - not 4K but might be soon!)
- SSD mainly so the OS boots quickly (doesn't need to be huge as have a NAS)
- CPU/RAM/Graphics etc. for streaming/playback of DVD or Blu-Ray/browsing NO need for gaming capability
- Windows 10 (or 7)
- Optical drive DVD/Blu-Ray (really only need R)
- Wired ethernet, Bluetooth

I was initially looking to buy something but the problem seems to be finding anything compact that includes a BluRay player. Can one build (or get someone to build) such a thing? (I have no experience with this but am eager to try if there's a good solution.)  A few years ago there seemed to be several things available (e.g., Dell Zino - but I gather it could overheat) but now, no one offers a BluRay in anything small.

The HP Elite Slice looked promising but its add-on optical drive is just DVD. A Mac mini comes close but I need Windows because of software issues. What about an Xbox1!!?? I know nothing about these. Lenovo has (as do many other manufacturers) ultracompact boxes such as the Think Centre M700 but no optical drive.

Any ideas much appreciated.


Ari Altman

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Re: Ultracompact HTPC with BluRay - suggestions/help needed
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 05:16:31 PM »
Welcome to the TBG Forum, HughC!

So, with those particular dimensions, we have to be pretty careful about the case you use. Specifically, 11" wide would be very narrow for a horizontally-oriented case. Most cases are much wider than they are deep, but you have a bit more depth than width available. And you absolutely won't be able to find anything off the shelf with the specifications you need. The big OEMs just aren't focused on this specialized market. You want slim, compact, Blu-Ray compatible, true 4K output, with an SSD - that's simply non-existent. But of course we can build one, right?!?

Actually, your options are pretty limited, but I think you could actually get by very nicely using a 7th-generation Intel NUC with 4K support and an external Blu-Ray drive. It will be tiny and have everything you want. Here's the parts list:

(1) Intel Nuc 7th-Gen i3: (Amazon.com / Amazon.ca)
(2) Pioneer external Blu-Ray drive: (Amazon.com / Amazon.ca).
(3) 8GB of Crucial RAM: (Amazon.com / Amazon.ca
(4) Crucial MX300 275GB SSD: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca
(5) Windows 10: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca
(6) Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Blu-Ray software: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca

Total cost comes to about $675, and going with the NUC that I linked to allows you to add another SSD or hard drive later on if you need one.

If you have a strong desire to have the DVD drive integrated, then we need to custom-build an HTPC, but you'll probably be limited to the IN-WIN BQS656 (Amazon.com / Amazon.ca) due to size restrictions. I've reviewed this case and like it a lot, but it adds a lot more bulk and could end up more expensive.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 07:12:59 PM by Ari Altman »

HughC

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Re: Ultracompact HTPC with BluRay - suggestions/help needed
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 12:20:53 PM »
Thanks, Ari, this is very helpful indeed.

The use of the NUC is attractive as it produces such a compact solution albeit with an external drive.

What does a solution with an integrated Blu-Ray look like (with the IN-WIN BQS656)? I'm OK with a somewhat higher cost (my wife said she would prefer something integrated even if somewhat bigger). How difficult would it be to build such a thing? Would there be room for an SD card reader in addition in this solution (sorry if this moves the goal posts)?

Ari Altman

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Re: Ultracompact HTPC with BluRay - suggestions/help needed
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 02:37:44 PM »
Thanks, Ari, this is very helpful indeed.

The use of the NUC is attractive as it produces such a compact solution albeit with an external drive.

What does a solution with an integrated Blu-Ray look like (with the IN-WIN BQS656)? I'm OK with a somewhat higher cost (my wife said she would prefer something integrated even if somewhat bigger). How difficult would it be to build such a thing? Would there be room for an SD card reader in addition in this solution (sorry if this moves the goal posts)?

If you want 4K/60Hz output via HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, the number of options for an ultra-compact build can be counted on one hand. Or make that one finger: the NUC.

If you want something with 4K support and an integrated Blu-Ray drive, then you will also need an add-in video card, which makes the system a whole lot larger. Your best bet in this case would be simply to build a full-size HTPC, like the one profiled in TBG's Home Theater PC Buyer's Guide, and then add the optional video card. Note that it will not fit in the extremely tight space you originally listed.

If you don't care about proper 4K support, then the In-Win BQS656 is a good solution. I would not recommend a home theater system without proper 4K support to someone who has or wants a 4K TV, which is why I'd generally view this as a distant third choice. But if you decide this is what you want, I'll list out the parts.

And no, SD card readers really aren't an option for any of these systems. They require extra external bays which no reasonably-compact case will have.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 06:12:26 PM by Ari Altman »