Configuring a UHD Blu-ray Playback System

The rise in popularity of OTT streaming has coincided with a decline in the popularity of physical media formats such as Blu-rays. Irrespective of the market statistics, it is indisputable that the bitrates possible with the latter simply can't translated to OTT services. Bitrates usually directly correlate with video quality, though, beyond a certain point, it becomes very difficult to distinguish. HD audio formats such as Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD MA, Dolby TrueHD etc. are also yet to be widely adopted by OTT streaming services. On top of all these, Blu-rays are often treated as collectibles by some consumers.

UltraHD (UHD) Blu-rays (with their 4K resolution videos encoded in HEVC) were a bit slow to take off. On the PC front, the number of licensed software Blu-ray player vendors has come down from 3 (ArcSoft, Corel, and CyberLink) to just CyberLink alone. PowerDVD 17, with UHD Blu-ray support, was released in April 2017. The hardware requirements were quite specific, and we decided to pass up on a hands-on review at that time.

While reviewing the Intel NUC7i7BNH, I realized that it came with support for SGX, one of the primary requirements for PowerDVD 17 to play back UHD Blu-rays. I also remembered that the BIOS of the ASRock Beebox-S 7200U had a SGX option. Both of these systems also had a LSPCon on board to support HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 capability. Pioneer launched the BDR-211UBK in March, but, had specifically indicated that KBL-U was incompatible. However, based on our discussions with both CyberLink and Intel, we decided to give the drive a try by connecting the internal SATA ODD using a compact SATA-USB bridge.

The Pioneer BDR-211UBK and the UGREEN SATA-USB Adapter Combine to Make the Intel NUC7i7BNH a UHD Blu-ray Player

We looked up Amazon for a compact bridge and chanced upon a versatile UGREEN adapter. In addition to supporting the SATA drive, it also had a couple of USB 3.0 Type-A extension ports and a microSD reader. This made sure that the optical drive would not completely take over the USB port in the host system.

Using an Internal Drive without an Enclosure is not an Issue if the Setup is Tucked Out-of-Sight

After setting up the hardware and configuring the BIOS appropriately in the two systems, we installed the Management Engine components. The next step was to confirm that the system and allied components were correctly set up for UHD Blu-ray playback with HDR. CyerbLink provides the Ultra HD Blu-ray Advisor tool for this purpose. It also helpfully points out missing ME components or mis-configured BIOS options. Even though we were aware that the Zotac ZBOX MAGNUS EN1080K doesn't pass the requirements check (no SGX, iGPU inactive), we did try out the tool on it also.

The CyberLink Ultra HD Blu-ray Advisor (L: ASRock Beebox-S 7200U, R: Zotac ZBOX MAGNUS EN1080K)

Even though it is possible that the Zotac EN1080K might enable SGX in a future BIOS release, the use of the Intel GPU is probably disabled at the board level. This means that there is no protected audio/video path for secure decoding of the UHD Blu-ray streams. Given that there is no talk of UHD Blu-ray support from NVIDIA Pascal, consumers shouldn't keep their hopes up regarding the possibility of UHD Blu-rays getting played back on NVIDIA Pascal-equipped systems. Coming back to the results of the UHD BD Advisor tool, we find that the two KBL-U systems pass all the checks. We purchased a retail copy of the Planet Earth II UHD Blu-ray for testing out our setup.

Local Media Playback UHD Blu-ray Playback in Action
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  • Azethoth - Monday, January 1, 2018 - link

    Why don't you go read an article on _not_ home theater, and regale everyone with how awesome the sound from your shitty TV speakers are. Home theater is simply not for your budget, but don't pretend everyone is living in mom's basement.

    This article may be out of touch with the 5 of you, but it is not out of touch with the rest of the readers.

    Why not go whine in articles about supercars about how they are out of touch with 99.999999% of the planet. Oh noes! I still want to read about them though.
    Reply
  • Sivar - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    Most Anandtech readers are tech-savvy, but not tech experts and have normal homes, eyes, ears, and middle-level income (of those in the United States).
    Talk of an OLED TV or projector tells me that it is you who is out of touch with readers, and it doesn't help that your statement to the author was inappropriately rude.

    OLED TVs have an objectively better picture quality, but are much more expensive and the difference is not that noticeable to most people.

    Projectors are great (I use one) but are impractical for many (most?) homes because they need light control and, for good pricing, a large flat wall for the screen.

    Regarding speakers, if the implication is that there is no noticeable difference between them, then yI suspect you are not at all an enthusiast of home theater. This isn't even a reasonable debate, it just leaves me dumbfounded. True that there is little difference between an extremely fancy speakers (say from Focal or Magico) and a good set of well-designed towers such as those from Ascend or JBL, and indeed the audio industry has a lot of snake oil like expensive cables and any Bose product, but to say that a speaker "works or it doesn't" proves little experience with sound systems, even in the sub-$500 range.
    Reply
  • SunnyHours - Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - link

    Totally agree with you there!
    Especially your comment about Cables, Bose (I HATE BOSE!) and mostly the comment that "either a speaker works or it doesn't" that just really surprised me and made me wonder how this person can even entertain the idea of giving tips on a subject you know nothing about...especially on the internet where people will put you on the spot and call you for being an ignorant person and at the same time being a "know it all".

    Next thing he will say is that "Vinyls sound like crap and cassettes were a much improved product" LOL.
    Reply
  • Dug - Friday, January 5, 2018 - link

    He's not out of touch. A good balanced receiver will last much longer in a system than video. Most people upgrade video (tv's, monitors, etc), than they do sound. Projectors don't really fall into the family room scenario either. Usually too much light, sound, maintenance, setup, etc. Plus there's no real 4k hdr affordable projectors out. Reply
  • Bullwinkle-J-Moose - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    "So you want a home theater system but don't want to get an AV receiver?"
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Why not?

    I have a 35 Watt dual-core Sandy Bridge with optical audio output to my Digital EQ (Behringer DEQ24/96) and Balanced XLR to each JBL LSR305 powered monitor

    (Behinger AD converters sound like crap but with an optical input, it sounds Fantastical)
    Much better than a Denon receiver I do believe

    Sure, it's completely Gimped when its running Windows 10 DRM garbage

    But, if I want to run 4K on a Gimped System, I can boot to 7 / 8.1 or Spyware Platform 10

    I'm running Windows XP right now so I don't need to worry about Bluescreens of Death, malware, or Viruses like I do with Spyware 10

    Burns BlueRay Disks fine and can boot to a stock install of XP in 3-4 seconds from a Samsung 850 Pro

    Any computer newer than Sandy Bridge is nothing more than a Locked Down Gaming Console with a web browser attached and they make for really piss poor home theater setups

    "Personal" Computers died with Sandy Bridge!
    You are just renting a JukeBox
    Reply
  • Azethoth - Monday, January 1, 2018 - link

    I am missing the part where your "fantastical" Behringer DEQ24/96 decodes Dolby Surround.

    You are failing at Home Theater. There are standards. One of them is surround sound.

    Stereo is for listening to old timey music. I am willing to put my Denon in surround stereo up against your stereo thing anytime. I will also pretend that Denon is better, except it would actually be true unlike your imaginings where an optical in somehow makes a difference.

    Just so you know, hard science and engineering tells us that an optical in connection means you 100% do not have what this article is about: the more part of 4k blu ray. Atmos does not fit into optical. Hell, 7.1 and 9.1 surround did not fit.

    So you and the rest here are just bloviating without saying anything relevant to the topic.

    tl;dr If it is beyond your budget, quit whining and read the follow up article next year. Everything will be cheaper and better.
    Reply
  • Bullwinkle-J-Moose - Monday, January 1, 2018 - link

    "I am missing the part where your "fantastical" Behringer DEQ24/96 decodes Dolby Surround.

    You are failing at Home Theater. There are standards. One of them is surround sound."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    There is no "Standard" to Home Theater!

    Surround Sound is one of many so called "Standards"

    Your "Budget" demands "Your Standards"

    3.1 / 5.1 / 7.1 / 9.1 are simply additions to the 3.0 "Standard" that I created over 30 years ago

    They do not Image a "Standard" stereo output as well as mine and yet you claim "They" are the "Standard"

    Advertising propaganda has taught you well

    Now go forth and spew nonsense

    A "Budget" Home Theater can be whatever you want it to be

    Racing Stripes and RGB lighting may cost extra
    Reply
  • Reflex - Monday, January 1, 2018 - link

    I am unclear on how your setup will do positional audio in a home theater setup. For instance, if I play back DD5.1 content, will your setup put the appropriate audio and effects behind a viewer? If I play Dolby Atmos or DTS X content, will it additionally place the appropriate audio above the viewer's head? If so, how are you handling the decode operation for those standards to translate them to your proprietary speaker number and arrangement?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Bullwinkle-J-Moose - Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - link

    "If I play Dolby Atmos or DTS X content, will it additionally place the appropriate audio above the viewer's head? If so, how are you handling the decode operation for those standards to translate them to your proprietary speaker number and arrangement?"
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I support my original "Reference Standard" which preceded Atmos and DTS X

    I do not support other "Non-Standards" which came later

    The only way a "Non-Standard" Home Theater experience can match the "Stereo" Imaging accuracy of my Reference "Standard" is to steal my design

    If Dolby or anyone else can claim to match the Imaging accuracy of my Reference Design, then there are really only two possibilities here that I can see

    A: They stole my design
    or
    B: They are Liars

    There either ONE Reference, or there is no reference

    Choose Now!
    Reply
  • Bullwinkle-J-Moose - Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - link

    There is either ONE Reference, or there is no reference at all Reply

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