Asrock J4205-ITX Kodi/NAS Build

NOTE: Please read the updates at the bottom for latest information and testing

My 21TB drivepool was hosted on my work computer/NAS, but running this consumes 120W idle and about 160W when transcoding a video.

My current Kodi installation is running on a Gigabyte Brix BXBT-1900 (See link for build details)

As the NAS would need to run near my router I have decided to combine the 2 projects, as the BRIX does have quite a whinny fan (I have sensitive ears).  And the Kodi 3D MVC build is very stable now (thanks to the work by afedchin).

If you love 3D TV, please read and sign LG 3D TV Petition (opens in new window).

Parts

Software

OS

Windows 10 pro (as needed remote desktop), £21 from http://softwaregeeks.co.uk

Kodi

See Gigabyte Brix BXBT-1900 – Windows 10 Kodi 3D MVC Setup

Disk Array

I use Stablebit Drivepool, which cost $29. I already had this setup on my old server.  It does not change the format of the disks and can create duplicated folders.  Transferring was easy, installed the 6 drives from my old computer plugged them in and the pooled drive appeared.

Build

My first problem is the computer would only boot with one stick of memory, I solved this by downclocking the memory to 1600 (from 1866), a future BIOS update may allow me to up the clock speed again.

The Akasa 2×2.5″ PCI/PCIe Mounting Bracket allowed me to mount the OS SSD and Drivepool SSD cache drive.

The computer without the drives is absolutely silent, not even any coil noise from the PSU.  A different story once the drives were in, but only the drive being used stays on.  I need to find which drive is making the noise, at the moment I think it may be an old Samsung 204UI as the rest are either WD Reds or Greens (confirmed was the Samsung).

UPDATE: It was the Samsung and replaced with a 4TB 2.5 Hard drive from a Seagate portable drive removed from its case, works fine and power usage dropped and a lot quieter.

With the NAS idle the power usage is 18W, and 38W with all drives spinning, this drops after five minutes as the drives not being used power down.

Setup Issues

At the moment I cannot get HD audio pass through or 3D MVC.

I have switched to PCM transcoding so I still get lossless audio, as to the 3D, I switch to Side by Side and press the 3D button on the TV, as the TV is 4K I still get the 1080p picture, just not as convenient as hardware based MVC which auto switches the TV.

Take a look at Intel Apollo Lake forum, there are quite a few people with this issue, but it may take a graphics/audio driver update from Intel to fix.

Workaround for 3D and HD Audio Passthough on HDMI 2.0

Install the Realtek Audio driver on the motherboard driver disk

Get a DVI to HDMI (Female) adaptor, and plug your current HDMI cable into this.

This bypasses the DP-HDMI 2.0 chip effectly downgrading to HDMI 1.4b, you cannot get 4K 60Hz 10bit, but you can get:

4K 30hz (desktop and Kodi)
HD audio passthrough (DVI to HDMI Receiver)
3D MVC even with Kodi and Desktop in 4K (it auto switches to 1080p 3D 24Hz on my LG TV)

NVidia and ATI graphics have been able to pass audio through DVI connector for quite a while, I have the Realtek audio driver installed from the Asrock Disk, and the audio is still through ‘WASAPI – Intel Display Audio’ in Kodi.

Update 12 Feb 17: Got round to installing the ASRock beta bios 1.20D date 10 Jan 17 with description ‘Modify vBIOS setting for HDMI display’, this does not seem to solve anything for me, still no passthrough sound and 3D not working.  You would think ASRock would give a change log so the change can be tested properly or if it is even worth trying.  So still using the workaround for the time being.

Update Mar 17: ASrock sent me 1.61 DP to HDMI 2.0 BIOS update now getting audio passthrough, but there is a delay in it starting and audio is sometimes out of sync.

Update Apr 17: Tried the 1.66 DP to HDMI 2.0 BIOS direct from Intel and the delay in audio starting seems to be fixed, and I have not noticed sync issues.  3D MVC is still broken.  I am now using HDMI 2.0 and Preferred 3D mode set to Interlaced, and it plays great on all 3D on my passive 3D TV (for some reason I get juddering on Avatar, maybe bitrate issue?).  Firmware no longer on Intel site, see Nov 12 update, download HDMIFwUpgrader(v1.66)

Update May 23: System stable with Corsair CMSX8GX3M2B1866C10 Vengeance 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3L 1866 Mhz C10 204 Pin SODIMM Module with speed reduced to 1600Mhz, problem is when the BIOS is updated, the memory speed is reset to AUTO, a stick of RAM needs to be removed and the RAM speed reduced back down to 1600, changed recommendation to Crucial 8 GB Kit (4 GB x 2) DDR3L 1866 MT/s (PC3L-12800) SODIMM 204-Pin Memory, this is from the ASRock supported memory list and I managed to pick up for £40 from Amazon Warehouse.  Hand on heart I cannot feel any difference between 1600 vs 1866 but probably the Corsair has a lower CL10 compare to Crucial CL13.

Update Aug 20: If you are getting a juddering effect when 3D is playing, make sure you try setting the HDMI input of the TV to PC Mode as that seems to fix it (With my LG OLED TV anyway), Bluray mode seems to add extra processing to the picture which the computer does not like.

Update Nov 12: The 1.72 DP to HDMI firmware direct from Intel does not work with this board, see Asrock J4205-ITX (Apollo Lake) DP to HDMI 2.0 Updating Firmware to 1.61 or 1.66 for Audio Pass-through Issue.

Audio is sometimes unavailable after using Remote Desktop Connection

If Audio is not available (Red Cross in Notification Area), by disabling Intel Display Driver in the Device Manager, then re-enabling the audio it is available again.  See Restart Audio Driver after Remote Desktop Use to automatically restart the Driver

4 thoughts on “Asrock J4205-ITX Kodi/NAS Build

  1. Nice post 🙂
    I am planning to do the same setup.
    Does this MB handle CEC?
    Seems NUC with same config are OK.
    It should become the HTPC/NAS killer with that.

    And another question: Do you use a remote air mouse?

  2. Sorry for late reply, didn’t know there were comments. I have never tried CEC, when I had a RPi I would always turn if off anyway. You could use a NUC but it would have very limited storage space for drives, unless an external drive bays are use, NUC and these drive bays tend to be noisier. My build has one 140mm fan on lowest setting and I cannot hear it and it is in my front room.

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