I looked for months trying to find a secondary HTPC for the TV in the bedroom. I thought about building a mini-itx system, I looked into the Zotac boxes, and I even considered ordering a HTPC off of AliExpress. I needed something that could play 1080p MKV files, run any skin I threw at it, and stream NHL and MLB in full HD (xbmc plugins) all without breaking the bank. Everywhere I looked people were recommending the RaspberryPi. Sure it might work for some people, but knowing my cell phone has a better processor than my HTPC just didn’t sit right. I finally pulled the trigger on an Intel NUC and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s my quick review.
My main HTPC is a custom build AMD A6-5400K machine with an SSD and 4GB of RAM. It’s running OpenELEC, and will play anything and everything I’ve thrown at it. When I decided to get a second TV and HTPC, I didn’t want to sacrifice what I’ve come to expect – basically perfection. With this in mind I spent months looking online for a cheaper, suitable HTPC. I came close to buying a few things, but settled on the tried and tested Intel Celeron NUC BOXDCCP847DYE.
Looking online and reading some forums or reviews you would think this is an underpowered machine. Sure, it’s not running the fastest latest chip, but it’ll do for streaming media. I’ve paired my NUC with OpenELEC. After running this on my main HTPC, I will never run anything else. The automatic updates, the great support, and the amazing concept all work wonders.
My Celeron NUC is paired with a 1x 4GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1600MHz stick of RAM, and a 60GB Mushkin mSATA drive. Normally people go with a smaller SSD, which is perfectly fine – 32GB or whatever will work, but at the time, this drive made the most sense economically.
The first thing I did with my NUC was upgrade the BIOS. I had read on some forums that updating the BIOS was recommended, depending on when your NUC was made. I checked the Intel website and the latest BIOS was marked as a recommended update. So I went ahead with it, and there were no issues. I updated it using a USB stick. After that was loading up OpenELEC – the 100MB OS. I love it! Formatting and setting up a USB stick couldn’t be easier, they provide the tools. Within a couple minutes I was testing out some media files.
I’ve thrown everything from old AVI files, MP4 movies, to 30GB MKV Blu-ray REMUX files, and they all play silky smooth. Every skin I’ve tested works amazingly well, with zero lag. The NHL Gamecenter plugin I have to stream live NHL games also works well.
Overall I’m extremely happy with my little Intel Celeron NUC. This little beast is perfect for a HTPC in my opinion – it checks all the boxes. Small, silent, and affordable.
Below are some cell phone shots of where it sits.