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I want to build the perfect cheap Plex client


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#1 jtjacka

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:56 AM

I've just started to brainstorm the perfect Plex client for me.  This maybe not necessarily be perfect for everyone.  I have been waiting for Plex to support HD Audio for a very long time before I build a few clients and now the time has come!

 

Requirements:

 

Playback .mkv with support for VC-1 and H.264

Playback HD Audio (DTS-HD MA and TrueHD)

Must not be super laggy

It would be nice if it could be powerful enough to run a server but doesn't need to be able to transcode

 

Heres the cheapest I have come up with so far

AMD A4-3330

ASRock A75M-ITX

Rosewill RS-MI-01 (includes 250W power supply)

SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB SSD

Optional: Pulse Eight CEC adapter

 

Total = ~$230 with CEC adapter (~$270 with CEC adapter)

 

However, I am wondering if it would be cheaper on some sort of ARM device like maybe the CubieBoard.  Not sure if these can handle HD Audio however.

 

Anyone else have any ideas on making the perfect Plex Client?

 

Thanks, 

Jeff 

 



#2 Trudge

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 08:05 AM

I've just started to brainstorm the perfect Plex client for me.  This maybe not necessarily be perfect for everyone.  I have been waiting for Plex to support HD Audio for a very long time before I build a few clients and now the time has come!

 

Requirements:

 

Playback .mkv with support for VC-1 and H.264

Playback HD Audio (DTS-HD MA and TrueHD)

Must not be super laggy

It would be nice if it could be powerful enough to run a server but doesn't need to be able to transcode

 

Heres the cheapest I have come up with so far

AMD A4-3330

ASRock A75M-ITX

Rosewill RS-MI-01 (includes 250W power supply)

SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB SSD

Optional: Pulse Eight CEC adapter

 

Total = ~$230 with CEC adapter (~$270 with CEC adapter)

 

However, I am wondering if it would be cheaper on some sort of ARM device like maybe the CubieBoard.  Not sure if these can handle HD Audio however.

 

Anyone else have any ideas on making the perfect Plex Client?

 

Thanks, 

Jeff 

 

Personally, i think you should go a better CPU, ideally an A6 if you want to stay in the AMD world given your HD requirements - and you'll prob also need some RAM


Primary PMS: Ubuntu 13.10, i7-4771, 16GB Ram, Samsung 840 Pro 512GB
Media Storage: 2 x ReadyNas Pro Business 18TB mounted by NFS to Plex Server
Desktop Clients: 1 x Windows 7 27", 1 x 15.4 Retina MBP, 2 x17" MBP, 1 x 13" MB, 1 x13" MBA
Mobile Clients: 2 x iPhone 5s, 3 x iPhone 5, 3 x iPhone 4s, 3 x iPhone 4, 2 x iPad 3, 2 x iPad 2
Airplay & PlexConnect Targets: 4 x ATV3

#3 jtjacka

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:23 AM

Personally, i think you should go a better CPU, ideally an A6 if you want to stay in the AMD world given your HD requirements - and you'll prob also need some RAM

Well I already have one A6 in my server and it seems like much more than I need for a fairly simple client.  but yes I do need RAM haha.  If something ARM based can handle HD audio passthrough though would be awesome.  Maybe an Intel Atom processor?



#4 Hakoreh77

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 08:54 PM

Well I already have one A6 in my server and it seems like much more than I need for a fairly simple client.  but yes I do need RAM haha.  If something ARM based can handle HD audio passthrough though would be awesome.  Maybe an Intel Atom processor?


I was on the same boat as you. My server has a Phenom II X2 processor with 8GB ram and main HD 60GB SSD with a 2TB for all the media. I figured the Phenom was more than enough so I opted for a Intel Celeron G540 processor with Intel HD graphics and while it works its definitely on the slow side. I thought for sure it would be enough but it's not looking that way. I'm thinking about upgrading the CPU or adding more RAM. I have 4GB now.

I figured since specs are always important when posting, might as well have them in my sig..

Server: Windows 7 64 Bit, AMD Phenom II X2 555, 8GB RAM, Plextor 60GB SSD (OS) + 2TB Media Storage SATA

Client:   Roku 3

Mobile: iPad, SGS3 x 2, Nexus 7 2013 32GB

 


#5 jtjacka

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:01 PM

I was on the same boat as you. My server has a Phenom II X2 processor with 8GB ram and main HD 60GB SSD with a 2TB for all the media. I figured the Phenom was more than enough so I opted for a Intel Celeron G540 processor with Intel HD graphics and while it works its definitely on the slow side. I thought for sure it would be enough but it's not looking that way. I'm thinking about upgrading the CPU or adding more RAM. I have 4GB now.

 

 

Interesting.  I wish the Intel NUC could be had for cheaper than it is selling for.  I am very curious about running PlexHT and the Plex Server on ARM based devices.  To me it seems like the MINIX Neo X5 could make a great little device.  Maybe this device running PicUntu (http://ubuntu.g8.net/) could work well.  Not sure exactly what all the challenges would be.  I haven't been able to find out if DTS-HD MA or TrueHD can be passed through on ARM devices running either Android or Linux.  



#6 Hakoreh77

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:43 PM

Dont know but I'm having major pixelating issues on HD content only on the Celeron. The Plex team is advising me to go i3. You still have a choice I built mine and not going to throw out the $ pursuing other options. I rather j ust keep what I have and make it work. I do wish I went AMD though they are cheaper.


I figured since specs are always important when posting, might as well have them in my sig..

Server: Windows 7 64 Bit, AMD Phenom II X2 555, 8GB RAM, Plextor 60GB SSD (OS) + 2TB Media Storage SATA

Client:   Roku 3

Mobile: iPad, SGS3 x 2, Nexus 7 2013 32GB

 


#7 Trudge

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:58 PM

Dont know but I'm having major pixelating issues on HD content only on the Celeron. The Plex team is advising me to go i3. You still have a choice I built mine and not going to throw out the $ pursuing other options. I rather j ust keep what I have and make it work. I do wish I went AMD though they are cheaper.

 

AMD are cheap because they need to be to sell.  Their CPU video decode/encode ability is really crap compared to intel.

 

There are so many of these "advice on hardware" threads around the forum a bit of searching will yield you so much info on builds, and first hand experience with processors that it is hard to go wrong with this.


Primary PMS: Ubuntu 13.10, i7-4771, 16GB Ram, Samsung 840 Pro 512GB
Media Storage: 2 x ReadyNas Pro Business 18TB mounted by NFS to Plex Server
Desktop Clients: 1 x Windows 7 27", 1 x 15.4 Retina MBP, 2 x17" MBP, 1 x 13" MB, 1 x13" MBA
Mobile Clients: 2 x iPhone 5s, 3 x iPhone 5, 3 x iPhone 4s, 3 x iPhone 4, 2 x iPad 3, 2 x iPad 2
Airplay & PlexConnect Targets: 4 x ATV3

#8 Hakoreh77

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 08:15 PM

you know what actually I just realized that if I turned a couple options off t here's no more pixelating yay thanks to trudge


I figured since specs are always important when posting, might as well have them in my sig..

Server: Windows 7 64 Bit, AMD Phenom II X2 555, 8GB RAM, Plextor 60GB SSD (OS) + 2TB Media Storage SATA

Client:   Roku 3

Mobile: iPad, SGS3 x 2, Nexus 7 2013 32GB

 


#9 jtjacka

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 08:20 PM

you know what actually I just realized that if I turned a couple options off t here's no more pixelating yay thanks to trudge

 

Very nice.  I have a hard time believing you needed the most powerful Core i3 just to be able to playback videos. Rasplex on my Raspberry Pi playsback pretty much everything I throw at it.  Just can't handle bitstreaming of lossless audio.  I am currently attempting to sell my C2D Mac Mini and am hoping to replace it with an Intel NUC because the HD 4000 should be able to handle lossless audio. 



#10 Trudge

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:51 AM

Very nice.  I have a hard time believing you needed the most powerful Core i3 just to be able to playback videos. Rasplex on my Raspberry Pi playsback pretty much everything I throw at it.  Just can't handle bitstreaming of lossless audio.  I am currently attempting to sell my C2D Mac Mini and am hoping to replace it with an Intel NUC because the HD 4000 should be able to handle lossless audio. 

 

The GPU in the low end Intel chips does not handle video decode with anywhere near the quality the GPU in the ARM chip in the RasPi does hence it needs to rely totally on the CPU to decode - you are doing an apples to oranges comparison here. ARM chips do not handle HD audio, but that is not to stop anyone matching it with a separate HD audio chip - which i believe has been done in the past with not a lot of success, but no one is doing now.


Primary PMS: Ubuntu 13.10, i7-4771, 16GB Ram, Samsung 840 Pro 512GB
Media Storage: 2 x ReadyNas Pro Business 18TB mounted by NFS to Plex Server
Desktop Clients: 1 x Windows 7 27", 1 x 15.4 Retina MBP, 2 x17" MBP, 1 x 13" MB, 1 x13" MBA
Mobile Clients: 2 x iPhone 5s, 3 x iPhone 5, 3 x iPhone 4s, 3 x iPhone 4, 2 x iPad 3, 2 x iPad 2
Airplay & PlexConnect Targets: 4 x ATV3

#11 jtjacka

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:00 AM

The GPU in the low end Intel chips does not handle video decode with anywhere near the quality the GPU in the ARM chip in the RasPi does hence it needs to rely totally on the CPU to decode - you are doing an apples to oranges comparison here. ARM chips do not handle HD audio, but that is not to stop anyone matching it with a separate HD audio chip - which i believe has been done in the past with not a lot of success, but no one is doing now.

 

Hmm ok. So the High-end core i3 would probably be the best bet for my needs?



#12 Trudge

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:08 AM

Hmm ok. So the High-end core i3 would probably be the best bet for my needs?

 

If you want HD4000, you are pretty much already locked yourself into that - from memory there is only a single i3 chip that has HD4000.


Primary PMS: Ubuntu 13.10, i7-4771, 16GB Ram, Samsung 840 Pro 512GB
Media Storage: 2 x ReadyNas Pro Business 18TB mounted by NFS to Plex Server
Desktop Clients: 1 x Windows 7 27", 1 x 15.4 Retina MBP, 2 x17" MBP, 1 x 13" MB, 1 x13" MBA
Mobile Clients: 2 x iPhone 5s, 3 x iPhone 5, 3 x iPhone 4s, 3 x iPhone 4, 2 x iPad 3, 2 x iPad 2
Airplay & PlexConnect Targets: 4 x ATV3

#13 jtjacka

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:26 AM

If you want HD4000, you are pretty much already locked yourself into that - from memory there is only a single i3 chip that has HD4000.

 

Don't necessarily need an HD4000 just looking for the cheapest option that meets my requirements. 



#14 Budwyzer

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:28 PM

Roku3  =D



#15 jtjacka

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 03:36 PM

Roku3  =D

 

I wish it was that simple.  However a Roku can't do HD audio,  unless that changed with the newest release but I doubt it.  



#16 Hakoreh77

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 03:57 PM

Roku3  =D

I admit I never tried the 3 but the Roku 2 was the motivation behind building my own client


I figured since specs are always important when posting, might as well have them in my sig..

Server: Windows 7 64 Bit, AMD Phenom II X2 555, 8GB RAM, Plextor 60GB SSD (OS) + 2TB Media Storage SATA

Client:   Roku 3

Mobile: iPad, SGS3 x 2, Nexus 7 2013 32GB

 


#17 Monsieur Latte

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:58 PM

I too went the slow route, but I noticed the menus and such are slow to populate so I ended up going with a faster client, amd are just fine I went with a foxconn device and it worked great, ended up with the mac mini in the long run due to built in IR.



#18 TE5LA

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:59 AM

Well I already have one A6 in my server and it seems like much more than I need for a fairly simple client.  but yes I do need RAM haha.  If something ARM based can handle HD audio passthrough though would be awesome.  Maybe an Intel Atom processor?

I'd steer clear of the Atom if you are planning on using the onboard Intel video most of their boards have. For one, the Atom is weak (YouTube video runs about 95-100% on CPU) and the Intel graphics like the 3150 has no overscan adjustment if you connect to a television.



#19 TE5LA

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:09 AM

Video requires barely anything to run well. My living room HTPC uses a Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H motherboard with an AMD X2 250 dual core and connects with a powerline adapter (the thing that plugs into the AC outlets and uses house wiring for Internet) and I stream 1080p videos perfectly. I'm using the onboard Radeon HD 4200 graphics as well.



#20 jtjacka

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 03:20 AM

I do have an older Mac Mini that I am trying to sell to help pay for the cost of one of my new clients because my current one can only handle audio over optical cable.  I have found a few pretty small cases but it seems like it is impossible to build a computer than has the same form factor as the Mac Minis.






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