Building a Windows Home Theatre PC
In the last part of our guide, we walked through configuring the UEFI BIOS on a typical HTPC. The example we used was from an ASUS motherboard and whilst you’ll find broad consistency on configuration options from manufacturer to manufacturer, vendors will develop bespoke features that may prove beneficial to an HTPC owner.
Whilst I’m not going to repeat the last chapter with a full rundown of the Intel NUC’s Visual BIOS (as they brand it), I do want to spend a little time highlighting two specific features – Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect. These features are available on a number of Intel motherboards – check Intel.com for a list of supported devices.
Intel Rapid Start
Responsiveness is critical to a strong HTPC solution – when you hit the remote button, press a key or tap the touchscreen (depending on your hardware) you want your HTPC to be awake immediately and delivering your command.
Intel’s Rapid Start feature is designed to minimise the delay between your command and the Intel NUC responding when it is in Hibernation (also known as an S5 Sleep State). Intel boasts that when Rapid Start is enabled, the computer will wake from Hibernation almost as quickly as from Sleep (S3 Sleep, for the technical) with the benefit of drawing almost zero power when in that hibernation mode.
To enable Intel Rapid Start, we need to change some settings in the NUC’s BIOS before creating a separate hibernation partition on our SSD. Once that’s complete, we can get the Intel Rapid Start application downloaded, installed and configured. Before getting started, I should say that Intel Rapid Start should only be used with solid state disks, rather than conventional, mechanical hard drives.
Step 1: Configure the Intel NUC BIOS
Boot up (or restart) the Intel NUC and press F2 during the initial start-up (known as the Power On Self Test, or POST) to enter the NUC’s Visual BIOS.
Click on Advanced Setup and then click Power.
You should see check boxes for Intel’s Smart Connect Technology and Rapid Start Technology. Make sure both are checked.
Press the F10 key to save your BIOS Settings and boot into Windows.
Step 2: Create a Hibernation Partition
With the BIOS set-up, we now need to create a separate partition on our SSD which Intel Rapid Start uses for Hibernation data.