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Due to budget constraints I constantly find myself several years behind "current" technology, when it comes to my PC hardware and operating systems. I do, however, make it a point to learn exactly what hardware is required to accomplish a given set of tasks.

Unfortunately, matching system specifications to a given task is often a game. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that I CAN'T accomplish things I regularly do with ease on one of my systems. Often people will speak authoritatively about the absolute need for hardware that is WAY over qualified, and equally over priced for my needs.

With this background I am asking for direct experience with the task I've outlined, to find out what critical specs and PC hardware (CPU type, clock speed, FSB speeds, number of cores, OS, Video card specs) I will need to accomplish one simple thing: Be able to live stream videos, play DVDs, and play various downloaded video/movie files, while driving my TV to its full 1920 x 1080 resolution, and at a reasonable frame rate ( which I assume should be at least 30fps). In addition to the actual specs, it will be a helpful addition to know HOW LONG AGO such specs became pretty common. I.e., if what I need became common place in 2010, that is a helpful reference point.

I probably will want a windows box, if only because I've been intimately acquainted with most MS OS's for many years. I'm also looking for used equipment, because I doubt these tasks really require the latest, greatest machine. Again... not looking for brand recommendations, but the system specifications needed to easilly perform the task.

Note: I have edited both the title and content of this post several times now both for brevity and clarity. For that reason, many comments no longer apply. Also, as the comment thread has already gotten too long, I ask that any further comments or answers at this point be limited to addressing the info I'm seeking.

  • Raspberry Pi is cheap, and can play Full HD video, with a few caveats. This will probably cost about $85, but can be as low as $35 if you already have some random parts lying around. – browly Dec 19 '16 at 23:56
  • Thanks browly. While good reliable and accurate information is easilly available for Raspberry devices, there's much more hype when it comes to PC specs. And as I said, I do want a windows box, mainly for compatibility with existing products and software. I probably couldn't, for example, get a Netflix player for the Raspberry. – Randy Dec 20 '16 at 0:05
  • Windows is expensive. Do you have your own licence already? – timuzhti Dec 20 '16 at 2:09
  • @NZKshatriya In his comment to sawreal's answer, he clarified that he wants an off-the-shelf WIndows box, so not a build request. – browly Dec 20 '16 at 16:30
  • I think you're using the terms "PC" and "WIndows" interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. You may want to change "PC" to "Windows" in each instance to clarify what you want. Linux boxes and even Macs are technically PCs now. – browly Dec 20 '16 at 16:55
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You can't go wrong with an Orange Pi board.

The Orange Pi One board costs $9 and with standard shipping, $14. It can capture and play video in 1080 @ 30fps.

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Orange-Pi-One-ubuntu-linux-and-android-mini-PC-Beyond-and-Compatible-with-Raspberry-Pi-2/1553371_32603308880.html?spm=2114.12010608.0.0.3icumZ

Or go with the new Orange Pi PC 2. Which has full support for 4K video. It costs about $23 with standard shipping.

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/New-Orange-Pi-PC-2-H5-64bit-Support-the-Lubuntu-linux-and-android-mini-PC-Beyond/1553371_32761481418.html?spm=2114.12010608.0.0.3icumZ

I believe the first board I posted also supports 4K but I'm not sure how quickly it would playback.

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  • Thanks, but for now, and to avoid making an overly time consuming project out of this, I'm likely going to stick with off the shelf windows box (anvy version) PC and video card, and I'm mainly trying to learn what critical specs I need to look for to play hi-def video. I don't want something where the wife will have to call me anytime she wants to operate it. But I must admit that for a future project, that Orange Pi looks pretty impressive for the price. – Randy Dec 20 '16 at 13:56
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    @Randy I think it would be hard to find an off-the-shelf Windows box that doesn't play full HD video. The fact that the tiny Raspberry Pi has no trouble shows how easy it is. Did you look at the HP Stream? About $200 new. Micro desktops are even cheaper. – browly Dec 20 '16 at 16:34
  • @Randy It really is. The Retrorangepi has a new image coming out pretty soon, and if you add Kodi to the mix its as simple as plugging in a game controller to control the box, your wife likely won't have to configure any of the settings as long as it is all setup to that point, all she would have to do is turn it on and navigate to Kodi with a few button presses. But yes, you can find tons of windows computers that can handle it. I've got a laptop from 2008 with 4gb of ram and it still handles everything in this day and age great. – sawreals Dec 20 '16 at 21:57
  • @browly so there really must be no difference between that micro desktop and an x86 development board. Aside from the nice little case and pre-loaded OS. – sawreals Dec 20 '16 at 22:02

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