Ooof. Our little media computer in the living room was 10 years old. I swapped it out with a NUC5. Technically, the CPU is the same performance, but it’s 6 watts instead of 75, and it’s spread over 4 cores instead of 2.
In reality, the integrated graphics is double the perf, plus there’s 12x hardware acceleration for video and encryption. It should be WAY faster. Also, it’s tiny, the size of a box of 250 business cards. It’ll pay for itself in 2 years, just on electricity alone, though the decreased frustration from LAG will help too.
There’s no DVD/CD/BD drive on it, though I have a USB DVD drive I rarely use. If I really needed to, I could swap the guts for my BD drive I never use.
Our HTPC has been moved from a 225W small PC to a 25W mini-PC. This is equal CPU, slower single thread, double graphics, and 10x video/encryption processing power, for about the cost of a mid-level video card.
Our HTPC was a 2006 Thinkcenter M55, and has been chuggy for some video for years. The real reason for swap out is because it finally lost the CMOS battery. This is annoying, because Windows 10 updates ALL THE TIME, and reboots ALL THE TIME. So, it would always hang at full CPU, full fan, waiting for a keypress.
When I replaced the battery, I found 2 FETs have been cooking a little bit of the motherboard. Searched around, and 3 K-stamp capacitors (they look Panasonicky) are bulged.
I thought I’d inventory it and see if it’s worth fixing, or whether it is worth even parting out. Radeon 6570, Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2x 2GB DDR2 DIMMs, LG Blu-Ray Rewriter, and a 128GB M.2 SSD in an adapter. PSU is 255 Watts, and the CPU is rated at 75 Watts. CPU passmark is just over 1800, and video passmark is around 768.
The cheapest quad-core mini-PC i could find was a battle between Gigabyte GB-BXBT-1900 (J1900), and an Intel NUC5PPYH. The N3700 Braswell supports AES acceleration, and overall is just a better tech. Not new and shiny, but really at the sweet spot. The unit has built in IR, USB3, and SD slot vs the BRIX. There’s actually a wifi card in there too, but I don’t need that. I could pull it and put the SSD there I suppose, but whatever. The Gigabyte was 25% less, but the J1900 BayTrail CPU still has power-state issues in some versions of Linux, and I like USB3.
So, the NUC Gen5 won out. The CPU passmark is just under 1900, and the integrated video passmark is around 1430. Half the perf for a single thread, but equal overall, plus hardware decoding for video is a huge help.
Instead of being an SFF desktop (4″ x 12″ x 14″) with a 75 watt CPU, and a 225W power supply, the NUC is a 3″x5″x5″ block with a 6-watt CPU and a 25W power supply.
Amazing what 10 years will do for technology. Also, I just moved the boot drive over, and Windows spent 20 mins applying drivers. All’s well I think.