Wanted to give some pointers on how you can use the Zotac BI323, and a review from a Linux user.
First off all: Zotac does not state this on their website, but this HTPC actually has a S/PDIF port. This is a huge plus.
- Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, up to 2.08GHz
- I put in two SO-DIMMS (yes, it's laptop memory!) DDR3-1600 of 4GB, so 8GB in total
- A small 60 GB Kingston SSD (not included) for fast booting. Storage is on the NAS on our LAN
HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA (we use the HDMI with our FullHD tv)
- It's "4K ready".
3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) / USB 3.0 port Combo
- 1 x USB 3.0 type-C (front) (which is a nice bonus!)
802.11ac (Intel Corporation Wireless 3160)
- 1 Gbit Ethernet
- Bluetooth 4.0
Overall, this seems like a very nice configuration for a HTPC with Kodi, especially considering its price (€150 without SSD or RAM). There's no IR though, but we control Kodi using our smartphone.
Reading reviews on the CPU, it seems like it should handle 24 fps 4K footage in H265 smoothly, so it's also future proof, although I'd buy an i3 or even an i5.
Software: Fedora 23
I wanted a pretty recent kernel on that Zotac thingy, because I read a lot of comments on the stability of the N3150 under Linux. Fedora 23 comes with Linux 4.4, so that seemed pretty appropriate.
Then following the guide on kodi.wiki on installing Kodi, I quickly ended up with a nice Kodi system.
WiFi: Intel and TP-Link
Apparently, Intel WiFi cards, combined with Linux and the TP-Link AC1200 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router, don't work as well as it could.
Starting with my Lenovo Thinkpad X250 with an Intel Wireless 7265, I seemed to have problems staying connected to that router. I thought it was something specific to my configuration (Arch Linux + 7265), but now it seems to be more all round.
The client (my laptop) asks for the WPA2 passphrase (NetworkManager), supplying the default password pre-filed. Pressing enter connects to the network just fine.
The Zotac doesn't connect to the WiFi at startup. We use
nmtui now to connect after startup. After connecting the first time, the connection seems stable.
We have the same on a HP EliteBook we used to test Kodi on. This issue needs more investigation. It only happens on that specific router; my own TP-Link Archer C2 doesn't have this issue.
Apart from this little annoyance, we will probably just connect it with a cable in the future.
Sound: pure ALSA over PulseAudio
Another issue: we connect the Zotac using S/PDIF. That's a digital connection to our 5.1 amplifier. Sometimes this connection just stopped working.
On the Kodi wiki, they state that Kodi also runs without PulseAudio. You can either force it using
Or just by uninstalling pulseaudio (and a big part of Gnome as it depends on Pulse, which is fine since we only use it with Kodi).
Now the S/PDIF device is one of the audio devices shown, and can be selected. Also, we can enable digital passthrough, and everything seems to work fine now.
Btw, the sound card uses a Realtek ALC892 chip, if you want to know that.
I downloaded some test files for testing the 5.1 sound, of which also the UltraHD HDR 10bit HEVC, 24fps. This file is 24fps 4K footage, and regarding articles that appear in the wild on the internet, should play smooth. That's probably tested on a 4K screen though, not on our FullHD screen.
I think Kodi downscales the resolution, because the video isn't smooth at all. I suppose it will do well on a real 4K monitor though; but don't take my word for it.
daftykins told me on the #kodi irc channel 4K should play smoothly at 30Hz (on a 4K screen, of course).
This Zotac machine is working nicely, although I don't think I would recommend it for 4K video. It's mostly Intel only, so works pretty much out of the box on Linux. PulseAudio doesn't seem to work well when using the S/PDIF connection, so you must use raw ALSA.
If you want to know something about this box, leave me a message. I'll have a look.