Raspberry Pi vs Intel NUC: Video playback

Does the handheld Intel Core i3 NUC completely outshine it in this David vs. Goliath battle?

Video playback

The Raspberry Pi isn't quite the high-definition media centre for 25 that we would have loved but it's close. The Raspberry Pi can play back video at 1080p resolution without any problems. However when high bit-rate multi-channel audio track is added there is often problems with dropped frames.

As the Raspberry Pi user has access to a plethora of Linux distributions the easiest way to turn a Pi into a home theatre viewer is by installing XBMC to access media held on network attached storage. Installation is painless and the XBMC's feature set is arguably the best out there thanks to continual evolution of the software.

Network connectivity issues aside, Intel's NUC is a far more capable video player.

Intel's NUC can handle 1080p resolution video playback with multi-channel audio without any problems at all and with very little noise coming from the cooling fan. We tried it on both Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu Linux and playback was smooth with no discernible quality problems. Again Intel's decision not to include an Ethernet socket is the main problem, meaning that 802.11n Wi-Fi is the bare minimum for those that want to stream high quality 1080p resolution movies.

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Network connectivity issues aside, Intel's NUC is a far more capable video player for those that want to watch Blu-ray movies at native resolution with multi-channel audio. For those with more modest home cinema setups that can live with 720p resolution video being pushed to two speakers then the Raspberry Pi can just about cut the mustard, but for those that want more the NUC is the device of choice.

The Lowdown

Intel's Core i3 and HD Graphics 4000 provides the grunt that is needed to pump out high resolution video and multi-channel audio without dropping frames, whilst the Raspberry Pi can be hit and miss.

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