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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  • Gasaraki88 - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    You also obviously didn't read the title. It said 4K, HDR, UHD Blu-Ray. 1080p is not 4K nor HDR nor UHD-Bluray.

    You know what, you can say the TV is too expensive too. Get a 1080p 42" for $100. Get a old receiver for $150 that doesn't do Atmos. Get a cheap android tv box from China for $60. Too bad it can't do anything like the title said. You also wouldn't need a article at Anandtech because it doesn't even have a PC.
    Reply
  • Bullwinkle-J-Moose - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    Gasaraki88
    You also obviously didn't read the title. It said......

    "A Budget Home Theater & PC Setup:" then listed the authors requirements instead of mine
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    If you want 4k blu-ray on a budget. The Xbox One S is it. It's not even up for debate.

    And if you get Kinect, you don't even need to use any kind of controller.
    Reply
  • Gasaraki88 - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    Stop looking at home theater articles if you are not looking to spend more than a $1000. You people just like complaining. Anandtech should just remove the comments section because it serves no purpose with these idiots around. Reply
  • Makaveli - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    wow so much anger. There is a lot of cheap people on this site. Have most of you complaining every been in an Audio video store??

    Most of you need to stick to using your XBox for your HT experience.
    Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    Don't take it personally, ddriver enjoys posting dumb histrionics on every single AT article. Dude is an absolute nutter. Reply
  • mr_tawan - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    And he has so much free time to respond to every single article here. I wish I could have this much free time myself! Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    Yea the dude has both time to post all his rubbish, and come back and search for replies in a comment system without notifications. That's dedication. Reply
  • Mo3tasm - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    No seriously, this is a very bad comment system by all means, readability, comment organization, notifications, accounts etc.. I mean, it actually discourages one to write a comment. My free blog has a better one... Reply
  • ddrіver - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    You have time to read AND reply to my comments. The difference is that you don't have anything to say and when you do it's either to insult someone else or to say something wrong. Reply

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