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Project retroNUC - 8TB Self-Contained HTPC Build!


retroNUC
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Hi all! This seems like a good place to introduce myself, and show off my project. Feel free to call me "Nuck" if you'd like a shorter nickname.

Started off my collection with a Pi4 and RetroPie about 9 months ago, but realized that wasn't going to cut it for some of the 6th/7th generation platforms (PS2/Xbox/GC/Wii) I would like to play. So when Intel decided to release their 11th generation of 'NUC' (small form factor) hardware, I decided to go all in and make a project out of it, primarily for sitting under my TV as a HTPC.

Core hardware for my system is an Intel NUC11PAHi7. It's a pretty capable device for gaming, even managing PS3/Switch emulation on integrated graphics (ETA PRIME has done some reviews here and here)

  • CPU - Intel Tiger Lake i7-1165G7 @ 4.7 GHz
  • GPU - Intel Iris XE Graphics
  • RAM - 32GB of DDR4-3200
  • Storage - 8TB 2.5" SSD for games, 512GB M.2 for system/media
  • Size - 4x4" Form Factor

I'm trying to stick to 8TB (largest commercial 2.5" drive) as the hard limit for this project, meaning no external drives and no NAS. It's a fun challenge to see if I can fit every game release onto a completely standalone box! That means heavy compression on everything where relevant (7Z/CHD/CSO/RVZ), trimming down to 1G1R sets, and manually choosing the best version(s) of a game to keep for 6th/7th gen. 

I have a background in software development and roughly know my way around image/video editors, so I'll be contributing back to the community where I can - Bug reports and fixes on emulators, filling gaps in media databases, and making my own LB/BB themes (based on previous ones I'd created for EmulationStation).

TZMFeDq.jpg

70Cob4W.jpg

Edited by retroNUC
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  • retroNUC changed the title to Project retroNUC - 8TB Self-Contained HTPC Build!
2 minutes ago, zetec-s-joe said:

Now these are the sort of Projects I like! Welcome to the Forum and I'm intrested in seeing how this comes along

I can just agree with you! Very interessting project.

Once i build my retropie, with ours/months of countless errors/bugs or false settings.. and setting up the emulators.. at some point i was able to finish it. I had no experience whatsover with linux, emulators or such a project. It was very exciting. 

Now, i'm on a new project like Nuck. I am looking forward to see more of it! 

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1 hour ago, JacK1518 said:

Once i build my retropie, with ours/months of countless errors/bugs or false settings.. and setting up the emulators.. at some point i was able to finish it. I had no experience whatsover with linux, emulators or such a project. It was very exciting. 

The initial plan was to keep using Linux and RetroPie once I upgraded to the NUC, but ran into the age-old issue of broken Linux audio drivers, given that it's brand new hardware.

After a few weeks of struggles, I switched over to Windows and the unofficial EmulationStation Win32 build so I could keep my data/setup, but ended up with more issues and poor support (fair enough, given that it's an unofficial build). Finally made the switch over to LB/BB a few weeks back, and slowly adding over platforms. I'd like to make an XML converter app between the two at some point, as I wrote a load of custom descriptions that I'd rather not have to type again!

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I can understand you very well. 

Now, i can say that you've got the right choice with BB! 

Ok, i'm not that into retropie anymore, cause it's been a few years now. 

You mean game or platform descriptions? Is it possible to copy the descriptions into a text file and then copy it to launchbox?

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10 hours ago, retroNUC said:

The initial plan was to keep using Linux and RetroPie once I upgraded to the NUC, but ran into the age-old issue of broken Linux audio drivers, given that it's brand new hardware.

After a few weeks of struggles, I switched over to Windows and the unofficial EmulationStation Win32 build so I could keep my data/setup, but ended up with more issues and poor support (fair enough, given that it's an unofficial build). Finally made the switch over to LB/BB a few weeks back, and slowly adding over platforms. I'd like to make an XML converter app between the two at some point, as I wrote a load of custom descriptions that I'd rather not have to type again!

I may be able to help with that. I made myself an app that does just that not too long ago. I only built it to convert tags to fields I needed to use, but I could add other fields and polish easy enough. If it isn't something you need in the next day or two I'll see what I can do to get it to a useable point and share it on the forums. Is the source XML using attributes to store the data at all or just field tags?

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5 minutes ago, C-Beats said:

Also may be better to just copy/paste what I assume are image links in your post instead of those links as they are requiring Google sign ins to navigate to.

Thanks for the heads up, thought they were attached locally on the forum. Fixed! 

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9 minutes ago, C-Beats said:

I may be able to help with that. I made myself an app that does just that not too long ago. I only built it to convert tags to fields I needed to use, but I could add other fields and polish easy enough. If it isn't something you need in the next day or two I'll see what I can do to get it to a useable point and share it on the forums. Is the source XML using attributes to store the data at all or just field tags?

It's all field tags, which I think is what LB uses as well. No rush - Was gonna tackle it as a side-project of my own, but happy to use yours of it's most of the way there. 

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9 hours ago, retroNUC said:

It's all field tags, which I think is what LB uses as well. No rush - Was gonna tackle it as a side-project of my own, but happy to use yours of it's most of the way there. 

Isn't fully featured at this point but should help with basic migration needs.

 

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  • 9 months later...
Posted (edited)

Sure, I can provide an update! Yes, you can fit (nearly) everything Wii downwards onto an 8TB drive!

These are all full Redump sets, filtered to a 1G1R state (English version preference, then Japanese) using Retool. The Japanese sets of certain platforms (PS1/PS2/Wii) are sitting on a NAS, otherwise this wouldn't fit at all. Additionally, I've had to filter out multiplatform games to a single version (usually GC/Wii > PS2 > Xbox) which saved approx. 1TB pf space, and the Xbox collection is exclusives only because you're going to get a much better experience on PS2 or GC emulation anyway.

If you're interested more in the 'fitting everything on an 8TB SSD' part of this project, so here's a quick audit of disc-based collections:

  • All of these have been converted into a compressed format such as CHD, RVZ (GC/Wii) or CSO (PSP).
    • Xbox emulators don't support compressed formats, so they've been compressed as 7Z LZMA, then LaunchBox does the auto-extract on launch feature.
  • 'Extras' are things like translations, undubs and selected rom hacks.
  • 'Japan' titles marked as remote (yellow highlight) now sit on my NAS, but are still listed within my LaunchBox collection
  • 'Dupes' are multi-platform games that I've hand-picked to keep the better emulated version. These aren't imported into LaunchBox.
    • Removed PS2 games that also appear on GC or Wii
    • Removed PSP games that also appear on PS2
  • Some red highlighted entries need to have another pass at some point...
     

image.thumb.png.dbe2245129238a9e19a4d1f4893040b6.png  image.png.794f86188c890781e4834947f86a1ebf.png

Edited by retroNUC
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/1/2022 at 3:13 PM, retroNUC said:

Sure, I can provide an update! Yes, you can fit (nearly) everything Wii downwards onto an 8TB drive!

These are all full Redump sets, filtered to a 1G1R state (English version preference, then Japanese) using Retool. The Japanese sets of certain platforms (PS1/PS2/Wii) are sitting on a NAS, otherwise this wouldn't fit at all. Additionally, I've had to filter out multiplatform games to a single version (usually GC/Wii > PS2 > Xbox) which saved approx. 1TB pf space, and the Xbox collection is exclusives only because you're going to get a much better experience on PS2 or GC emulation anyway.

If you're interested more in the 'fitting everything on an 8TB SSD' part of this project, so here's a quick audit of disc-based collections:

  • All of these have been converted into a compressed format such as CHD, RVZ (GC/Wii) or CSO (PSP).
    • Xbox emulators don't support compressed formats, so they've been compressed as 7Z LZMA, then LaunchBox does the auto-extract on launch feature.
  • 'Extras' are things like translations, undubs and selected rom hacks.
  • 'Japan' titles marked as remote (yellow highlight) now sit on my NAS, but are still listed within my LaunchBox collection
  • 'Dupes' are multi-platform games that I've hand-picked to keep the better emulated version. These aren't imported into LaunchBox.
    • Removed PS2 games that also appear on GC or Wii
    • Removed PSP games that also appear on PS2
  • Some red highlighted entries need to have another pass at some point...
     

image.thumb.png.dbe2245129238a9e19a4d1f4893040b6.png  image.png.794f86188c890781e4834947f86a1ebf.png

I would like to ask you a question.
How fast can you access PSX, PS2, Dreamast, Wii and Saturn games stored on a NAS over Wi-Fi? I mean, is there much difference to a USB connected hard drive?

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10 minutes ago, Merovingio said:

I would like to ask you a question.
How fast can you access PSX, PS2, Dreamast, Wii and Saturn games stored on a NAS over Wi-Fi? I mean, is there much difference to a USB connected hard drive?

Assuming a standard gigabit network with no other bottlenecks, speed should be 100MB/s, so speeds and seek times faster than the original CD/DVD hardware the emulated system expects, so no issues. Quick Google on Reddit seems to suggest the same. 

If you're still worried, some emulators should have the option to load the entire disc locally into RAM before boot (think I've got this set for Beetle PSX, at least) or there's probably an AHK script to do a local copy before emulator launches.

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Oh, you said over WiFi rather than ethernet... That's harder to determine, given whatever router and standards you're using, signal quality over distance, etc. Not sure, but maybe fine with 'ac' wireless or above?

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