After tinkering with XBMC v12, I have been trying to find an affordable option to switch entirely in my house. The problem is that I require 3-4 devices total.

While I might be able to justify splurging on a single build, there is no way that I am going to consider multiple $1k HTPC builds. The problem is, I do not want to settle for a clunky system with choppy navigation.

I had heard in the past about the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing), but I hadn’t realized it was already available. Today I found that the ultra small form factor all-in-one unit (case, mobo, cpu) is readily available.

Powered by an Intel Core i3 3217U 1.8GHz (2C/4T) processor, there should be enough performance to smoothly handle the UI, unlike the Raspberry PI or Pivios XIOS DS and all at only 17W! Combine that with the Intel HD4000 graphics, which has already been proven to be able to easily play 1080p h.264 video, and this is looking like a solid start.

Unfortunately, while $289 isn’t “terrible” — that’s not the whole price. You would still need to include:

So in total, I am still looking at closer to $365 all-in.

Yes, it is a lot more than the $115 Pivios XIOS DS unit, but it isn’t really any worse than a PCH C-300 Combo at $369.00, and only slightly more than a $249.00 PCH A-400. On the plus side though, it should hopefully offer a much better user experience.

Granted, that would be the minimum… if you wanted to splurge, you could look a 64GB, 128GB or even 256G mSATA SSD, and go all the way up to 16GB DDR3 if you really wanted to. However, for a pure XBMC box, that would be a huge waste — but it would give you options if you ever wanted to re-purpose the unit later..

All-in-all, this appears to be a good middle-ground solution of maintaining cost and performance, while still being very energy efficient.


4 Responses to “Potential USFF XBMC Build”

  1. Carl on February 19th, 2013 8:59 am

    I think you’d be very surprised at how performat the raspberry pi running rasbmc actually is. If you want I can move it to the upstairs living room PC to show you.

  2. Mike on February 19th, 2013 12:36 pm

    I’d definitely be interested in seeing how the Raspberry PI holds up for general UI — especially on some of the heavier skins.

    I’m open to a RPI, but I would need to look into all the extras I’ll need… a case, psu, storage, IR receiver, mounting options, etc. (should still be under $100 total though).

    Depending on quality, I could pretty easily justify the Intel NUC in the living room, and RPI’s in the bedrooms…

  3. Carl on February 20th, 2013 12:34 am

    Yeah saying a RPI is $35 is wrong, but realistically you can get by well under $100.

    One neat xbmc thing I took this chance to setup, as well as off load some tasks from the pi is.

    Granted I use OMV so the barrier to entry for me was pretty low.

    I haven’t tried any skins other than the optimized default skin.

  4. mike on February 23rd, 2013 5:08 pm

    If I migrate to XBMC I definitely want to setup a centralized database. So offloading that would be a requirement. I want the RPI to provide a UI and play videos only. In theory I have a home server of some kind that should be handling all other tasks.

Leave a Reply