Intel

Apr 28 2016

Review - Intel NUC Kit NUC5PGYH Braswell Mini PC

 

Like the rest of Intel Atom systems, home theater PCs (HTPC) based on the CPU have come a long way over the last few years. The Intel NUC5PGYH offers hardware accelerated video decoding up to 4K (HDMI 1.4b output) via the quad-core Intel Braswell Pentium N3700. Now add in 7.1 multi-channel audio support, Windows 10 preinstalled, RC6 CIR (consumer infrared), 2GB DDR3L RAM, 32GB eMMC, and support for 2.5” storage expansion. This particular low power system has the makings of a serious media consumption device. And when considering that you can bring one home for $250/£220 ($280 SRP), even the price sounds too good to be true.

Feb 09 2016

Review - ASUSTOR AS5002T 2-Bay Intel Bay Trail Network Attached Storage (NAS)

ASUSTOR AS5002T two-bay Intel Bay Trail NAS

The ASUSTOR AS5002T is the first Intel based network attached storage (NAS) device tested at Missing Remote. So, I was very curious to see how its dual-core 2.4GHz Celeron J1800 would stack up against the strong showing we’ve seen from ARM Cortex-A15 based systems recently. With two Gigabit network interface cards (NIC), two bays, 1GB RAM, and USB 3.0/eSATA support, on the surface the $315/£185 AS5002T aligns nicely into the same category. But, it also offers a few features that are not found on similarly priced ARM devices: most notably, virtualization, hardware assisted transcoding, and Kodi integration. Offering the potential for this SOHO NAS to also be a well featured home theater PC (HTPC).

Apr 22 2015

Review - Intel Compute Stick STCK1A32WFC HDMI Dongle HTPC

Intel Compute Stick STCK1A32WFC HDMI Dongle HTPC

The Intel Compute Stick caused quite a stir when it was announced at CES 2015, and it’s easy to see why – Intel managed to stuff an entire Atom based PC into an HDMI dongle. The STCK1A32WFC model includes an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, 2GB of DDR3L RAM, 32GB of storage, 802.11bgn Wi-Fi (Realtek RTL8723BS), and Bluetooth 4.0 built-in for around $150. This is the Windows version, so it’s spec’d a bit higher than the Linux rev (should run around $110 and sacrifices RAM and storage), but either way you won’t have to pay for the OS because includes Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Bing. Of course all of this was announced back in January, so let’s find out if this PC, err Compute Stick, has the chops to be a home theater PC (HTPC).

Mar 31 2015

Review - Intel NUC Kit NUC5i5RYK Mini PC

Intel NUC5i5RYK

When it comes to sleek small form factor (SFF) home theater PCs (HTPC) Intel pretty much perfected it with their Haswell based NUC systems--offering an excellent media experience in a chassis with built-in IR, the potential to add HDMI-CEC, and optional hard disk drive (HDD) all from a quiet, low power system. Seeking to build on this success they recently released the Intel NUC5i5RYK and NUC5i5RYH (2.5” hard drive support) mini-HTPC kits based around a Broadwell Intel Core i5-5250U with HD 6000 graphics. We’ve heard a lot about Intel’s focus on increasing graphics performance and lowering power consumption with the new CPU, so it will be interesting to thoroughly test the system and see if it can deliver on its $390 price tag and be a worthy successor to the last-generation NUC.

Apr 30 2014

Review - Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) DN2820FYKH - Celeron/Bay Trail SFF HTPC

Intel NUC DN2820FYKH

A small home theater PC (HTPC) driven by an Intel Atom is not a new idea. Both NVIDIA’s ION and Broadcom’s Crystal HD offered solutions that coupled the chip’s TDP with specialized hardware that overcame its shortcomings--one with a complete GPU, the other providing just hardware accelerated video decoding. Neither of these products truly delivered on the concept of a quiet, low power HTPC that just works without undue compromise in many areas. To be fair, some of the blame clearly belonged to Intel because the CPU in yesterday’s Atom was slow and the GPU inadequate. Fortunately increased competition at the low end of the market and the shift towards mobile has provided the necessary impetus to address both of these deficiencies, with modern “Bay Trail” system on a chip (SoC) offering significantly improved CPU performance alongside a much more capable GPU, so much so that the integrated processor graphics (IPG) powering the Intel NUC DN2820FYKH comes to us today wearing Intel’s budget desktop moniker “Celeron” instead of “Atom”.  Marketing labels aside, if the $139 system can deliver the perfect low power small form factor (SFF) HTPC, “steal” would be the best way to describe it.

Mar 13 2014

Review - Gigabyte Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R Mini-PC

Gigabyte Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R Mini-PC

For home theater PC (HTPC) “small” is another word for “compromise”. Thankfully, the amount required by our miniscule content consumption devices has decreased exponentially over the last few years. There is still a price demanded however, tiny systems require slower mobile integrated processor graphics (IPG) to drive them. We have to choose between size and performance; it is simply not possible to fit desktop capability in a five inch PC. But what if it were not? What if you could slip a 65W desktop chip inside a 2.4” x 4.3” x 4.5” chassis? Is it possible to cool it and extract desktop level performance from a physically diminutive system? Gigabyte asked exactly that, but was not content to use just any desktop CPU, instead opting for the 3.9 GHz (turbo) Intel Core i7-4770R with Iris Pro 5200 graphics - creating the $650 Brix Pro GB-BXi7-4770R. Putting so much CPU in a little box is sure to have its own set of trade-offs however, let’s find out what they are.

Jan 24 2014

Review - Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) D54250WYKH - "H" is for 2.5" HDD Mount

When Intel brought out their Haswell Next Unit of Computing (NUC), inclusion of features like SATA made it clear that they had bigger things in store for the little system. They were honest that some of this promise will require 3rd party case OEMs to fully realize, but Intel quickly announced that they would be creating their own chassis with 2.5” drive support a bit later. Providing this feature is interesting to two groups of users: those who have, or want to leverage a 2.5” SSD instead of mSATA or anyone who wants local, rotating, storage in the NUC. As it happens, now is the time, and when I sat down with Intel at CES to talk NUC they had one of the new 116.6mm x 112mm x 51.5mm enclosures for me to take back and run through the paces.

Oct 04 2013

Review - Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK

Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK

For home theater PC (HTPC) enthusiasts the news that Intel was leaving the retail motherboard market cut deeply. After all, many of the features we have come to expect, like an Intel network interface card (NIC), consumer infrared (CIR), and outstanding stability along with innovations specific to our market, such as the custom solutions (aka HTPC) header, looked likely to slowly fade away. Fortunately--at least for now--these concerns have proved meritless because the output of that decision, the Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK contains each of these features along with something that was previously unattainable to DIY – a 15W TDP integrated processor graphics (IPG). Running $342 in bulk, the cost of the 1.3-2.6GHz Intel Core i5-4250U makes up much of the $360 (estimated SRP) we expect the D54250WYK barebones to retail for. While not cheap, it certainly appears a good value if the Haswell iteration of the NUC can deliver the perfect client HTPC.

Jun 24 2013

Review - Intel HD 4600 - madVR Performance

Intel Haswell CPU

As many in the home theater PC (HTPC) community are aware, madVR produces an unparallelled level of flexibly and performance. Producing results that rival some of the best dedicated video processors available in the market. It was not that long ago that utilizing this advanced video renderer was limited to those with a high-end discrete graphics processing unit (GPU) and a penchant for mixing PC usability with HTPC use cases. Time and Moore's Observation (er... "Law") has changed this with the feature available through 10' friendly user interfaces (UI).

The previous generation HD 4000 GPU found in Intel integrated processor graphics (IPG), "Ivy Bridge", was the first Intel graphics solution to combine decent coverage for this feature and modern CPU performance. It was hoped that the 4th generation "Haswell" IPG would finally unlock the full capability of madVR, but as was mentioned in our first look at the Intel Core i7-4770K the HD 4600 could not. Having spent more time with the platform, it was time to revisit this issue and provide a more detailed look at what is, and is not, possible.

Jun 20 2013

Review - Intel Quick Sync: Examining Haswell Performance

Intel Quick Sync

In the recent release of 4th generation (Haswell) Intel Core integrated processor graphics (IPG), Intel placed significant focus on changes made to Quick Sync transcoding technology included with the HD graphics portion of the chip. As the review developed, it became evident quite quickly that this aspect of the Intel Core i7-4770K warranted specific coverage outside of the more general platform/system/performance characteristics that are usually covered. The detailed why and how of Quick Sync, or specifically what has changed versus the previous generation is beyond the scope of this discussion; this somewhat because Intel has already published a reasonably detailed whitepaper on the topic for those with academic interest, but mostly it is because results matter more than technical diagrams. In the pursuit of this goal the differences in Quick Sync speed and quality between 3rd and 4th generation Intel Core IPG will be detailed as well as how it compares with x264 when it matters the most - archiving high-bitrate material.

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