I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on the Intel NUC i5 D54250WYK. I’ve run it through it’s paces as a home theatre pc, keep reading for my review and thoughts. When looking for a HTPC, you want something that is small, quiet and powerful. Right now it’s very tough to find something better than the NUC i5 D54250WYK when you want to check all those boxes. And boy does this little powerhouse ever check those boxes.
This is a review of the unit itself, but I’m also reviewing it as a HTPC. Sure other blogs will do benchmarks and all that and put it through it’s paces as a desktop PC (which it would be amazing for) but I wanted to tailor my experience towards using this as a HTPC. This means I used this as my “main media player” or “main xbmc” box for a week. Using it every day for a week really gets you acquainted with it.
Alright so the main draw to the NUC is the form factor. Damn this thing is tiny. Don’t let that fool you though. The NUC i5 D54250WYK is crammed with a soldered on 4th generation Intel Core i5-4250U processor. Yes, this is a mobile processor you see in high end laptops but really it’s no slouch. Also wedged in the case are two SO-DIMM slots that you can max out with 16GB of DDR3L ram. Internally you also have 2 mini pci express expansion slots, one for an mSATA and the other for a wifi module for example. There was also a USB header and SATA header. My review unit had a 128GB mSATA SSD.
The chassis is 4.59¨ x 4.41¨ x 1.36¨. Honestly it’s so tiny it’s incredible.
What about noise? The fan is extremely quiet when on, if and when it comes on. It only came on maybe a hand full of times while using it. It was only audible when I put my eat up to the unit. From 8 or feet away it really was silent while in use.
Included is a VESA mounting bracket to allow you to slap it up behind something and tuck it away. I had mine perched nicely beside my TV (to show it off..) but you could really tuck this away anywhere and as long as it has sufficient air flow you’ll be golden.
The front USB port really came in handy. I use a Rosewill remote and it comes with a little USB dongle receiver and it worked nicely sticking out the front. There are more USB ports around back that are useful for things like the Pulse Eight HDMI USB-CEC Adapter, or any other peripherals.
So I am a huge fan of OpenELEC, which is just an OS based around XBMC/KODI and I use it on all of my HTPCs. I loaded it up with the latest stable version and was up and running within about 10-15 minutes. If you would like to see a how-to, I filmed the steps I took.
After loading up OpenELEC and updating the plugins I took to importing my library. I was AMAZED at how quick this thing was at loading the library. It’s 2-3x faster than the Amlogic S802 M8 Android PC. I plugged in the directories and went away chugging through the hundreds of movies and thousands of TV episodes. This was my first real taste of how my week would be. Everything is so damn quick with this box. I can’t stress that enough. Every theme I loaded into XBMC was buttery smooth with no delay at all when loading fan art or posters.
I played every movie format and codec I have, everything was flawless. I knew if my Celeron NUC was able to play them this thing wouldn’t blink an eye.
Another use case was live TV. I have a live TV plugin setup and it worked flawlessly. There were some sluggishness issues on the Amlogic M8 but there were no issues here on the NUC.
Overall I am very pleased with this device. Would I personally buy this for an OpenELEC HTPC? No, this is overkill. Honestly this is way more than you need. What would I use this for? I would turn this into a home server. Load up Plex, MySQL server, everything else I can think of, and attach a USB 3 hdd enclosure, something like the Mediasonic H82-SU3S2 ProBox 8 Bay External Hard Drive Enclosure to store all my media. This thing has way to much power to use as a HTPC. Then again if money is no object, buy this, it will work amazingly.
Intel NUC i5 D54250WYK Haswell Review
– Small form factor
– Very fast processor
– Very quiet
– Not many options to upgrade
– Rear ports included mini hdmi which I found annoying, I needed to buy an adapter
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