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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  • ddrіver - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    If you have enough time reading them then I consider I'm doing a public service ;). Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    @ganeshts

    Try to ignore ddriver - he could have an argument in an empty room.
    Reply
  • ddrіver - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    As long as it's a good argument? Why share a piece of crap with people when I can have a cake all by myself? Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    @ ddriver

    EVERY possible argument seems to be a 'good one' for you.

    Here, I think these people can help you:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dignitas_(Swiss_non-...
    Reply
  • Duckeenie - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    Dude, seriously? Oxymoron? Reply
  • Crazyeyeskillah - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    There is nothing budget about this review. You are painfully out of touch with your readership. I've been on this website since 2001 and honestly don't know why I bother reading anything that isn't written by Ryan at this point. Really a shame what is left for Anands legacy. Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    Given that the primary point of the article was the HTPC itself, there's literally no point in your comment except to continue your pattern of abuse. This is equivalent to talking about "storage on a budget" and using an expensive CPU to test the storage solution. Reply
  • ddrіver - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    @lmcd: For your sake I hope you're pretty because you sure don't score any points on the IQ scale.

    The article is LITERALLY about "A Budget Home Theater & PC Setup". Not just "the HTPC itself". Reading comprehension fail. The article LITERALLY describes both. And although you may assume home theater is a wooden podium with really tiny actors putting on a play for you, it's actually not. A receiver is an integral part of a home theater. This is why the receiver is on the 3rd page of the article, before "the HTPC itself".

    Which brings us to my gripe: a $1000 receiver and a $2000 HTPC recommendation are not budget by any stretch of the definition. Which means the very first part of the title is complete and total BS. Kind of like your understanding of the text... or words in general. Literally.
    Reply
  • Reflex - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    As usual reading comprehension is not your strong suite. The article lists two receiver options, one for $999 and one for $430. Nether is top tier nor considered 'expensive' in the receiver space. It offered three HTPC options, two which could be configured for $600-800, and one that was gaming focused for $2000. Again, perfectly reasonable budget options while highlighting the current cream of the HTPC gaming crop as an option for those with the budget.

    If I have a complaint about this article its that I'd have liked for them to offer one or two steps up on each category, for instance I chose to focus on the display for my setup and dropped $2k on a 65" OLED and then went cheap on the HTPC by using a XB1S.

    None of the recommendations listed would be considered expensive, or even mid-range for the home theater space. Not even the $2k HTPC, honestly although it was the closest item. Mid-range in this space starts at around $20k, and goes up to around $200k before you get to the actual crazy setups (real home theaters).

    But again, reading comprehension is not your strength, nor is knowledge of the areas in which you spout word salad like something sold by RonCo.
    Reply
  • ddrіver - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    Oh Reflex, if only you paid more attention to making sense instead of just hurling whatever you pull out of your a$$.

    The fact that the author mentions another option once and then never describes anything related to it again is useless. If "mentioning" something was enough this article could very well have been a short table with the components needed. Basically the table on the last page (but one that actually lists the cheap AVR option).

    Secondly, reviewing a "budget" setup where the actual receiver used is $1000 redefines the meaning of "budget". The $2000 HTPC must be a stupid joke only the author gets. Google for "budget receivers" and tell me what the ENTIRE INTERNET believes "budget" means. But I'm sure you're smarter than everyone else... in your own tiny head.

    Only a bumbling moron can think these prices are "budget" because "midrange starts at $20000". And yeah, you refuse to actually read any of the comments that make good points here and prefer to focus on your own understanding of what I wrote, on rants about $20k midrange setups, and other stuff only you could think is reasonable. So you definitely fit that description.

    But but but wait. $200k is actually entry level pocket change, far from a "crazy setup" you seem to think it is. Compared to real home theater systems:
    https://www.theaterseatstore.com/most-expensive-ho...
    https://www.octaneseating.com/most-expensive-home-...

    But I need a good laugh. Keep going with your "knowledge". ;)
    Reply

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