Expert opinion on fine-tuning homebuilt NAS/MediaCenter setup (green/performance/budget)

Hi there.

I'm want to build a multi-purpose NAS/MediaCenter.

It is going to be used to:
- Store pictures (thousends of them, RAW, JPEG, TIFF and other formats)
- Store music & stream to various clients
- Store HD (1080p) movies & preprocess (local, so on this system) & stream to (at least) 2 clients
- Process/convert/extract/encode/decode) movies in/from/to various formats (mostly x264, DTS, AC3, MPEG4, MKV) in batch jobs

Maybe some useful info:
- The OS will be Ubuntu Server
- I'll be using Plex Media Center for the video pre-processing and streaming.
- Pictures will be processed by 1 client. The connection and access time preferably needs to be near-local performance (yeah i know... quite the requirement).

I am on a tight budget. Important criteria for me are:
- Performance (not top-notch, but still fast enough to be up to the tasks listed above. these tasks should be run simultaniously, but there are tools to do some CPU & HDD load balancing for the several tasks i guess)
- Noise (has to be as quiet as possible for the money, since it will be on at night too)
- Durable ('s a NAS & media center, so it will be on 24/7 and the extracting/converting/pre-processing of video will give some heavy load for long periods of time). I now do this on my i7 laptop and i have to take serious measures to prevent over-heating.
- Stay current for the next 5 years
- Low power consumption

I have already done quite some homework to find some great value-for money components. This is what i came up with so far, which i think is a quite well performing, quiet setup for the money:

- Motherboard : ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP / Asus P8B75-V
- CPU : Intel i5 3570
- RAM : Vengeance LP Blue CML16GX3M4A1600C9 9-9-9-24 16GB (2x8GB)
- SSD : OCZ Vector 128GB (for the OS and procesing video files. Will be transferred to HDD array when finished)
- HDD : 3x Western Digital Red 3TB / Toshiba DT01ACA300 3TB (= relabeled Hitachi 7K3000!) (put in a RAIDZ array)
- Case : Fractal Design Define R4 Titanium Grey
- PSU : Corsair VX450W

This whole setup will cost me about 1050 euro (NL). This is quite a lot of money for me.

What i need help for are 3 things:

- I'd like to cut costs as much as possible, while keeping as much performance, reliability and durability as posible. What components should i change, also in regards to my next question?

-I'd like this system to be as green as possible, while keeping as much performance, reliability and durability as posible. What components should i change, also in regards to my previous question?

- What PSU should i consider for this setup?

Aditional question: am i not missing any components?

PLEASE only reply if you KNOW what you are talking about and have experience in the options and advice you are giving. Just saying "I have MB 'X' and never had any problems with it", or "CPU 'X' is crap", or similar is not going to help me or others in any way.

Thank you very much, i really appreciate the help. This site has already helped me a lot with the tons of info it has!
9 answers Last reply
More about expert opinion fine tuning homebuilt nas mediacenter setup green performance budget
  1. Such a long post and still no budget. Life is hard on us geeks.

    You could get a 500W PSU or 550W gold or platinum PSU. The reasoning behind the gold or platinum

    being that they're more efficient in delivering power and since you're going to be keeping it on for so long, you

    want high efficiency. It's both more cost-effective and green in the long run. The high wattage will also mean it has

    some room to degrade in and you have some room to upgrade in. Corsair, Seasonic, Antec, NZXT, Enermax, Cooler Master,

    XFX, OCZ and Thermaltake all make some good PSUs and/or are known/reputable makers of them. So in 3-4 years you might

    have paid for your PSU through money saved on the electricity bill. Just something to consider if your bill is expensive. Due to the

    higher quality, it also runs more quiet; especially if you can keep it at the optimum 50-60% load PSUs work best at.

    Also for your RAID Array, you can go for RAID 10, as you'll get a mixture of performance and reliability.

    Though I can understand if you want a RAID 0 array, to get more performance. Yet I doubt you will or would

    want to, as you're storing so many images than you'd want reliability. But for RAID Z, maybe you should check out RAID Z3?

    It has increased redundancy. I'd also say get your hands on an i7 CPU if you can fit it in, as it's threaded cores will help you a lot in all that

    encoding and image processing and whatnot.

    I don't see the use for a K edition of either the i5 or i7 either, as it means you'll want to OC it

    to get the maximum out of it for you money. Yet doing that, will then in turn require more cooling on your part

    and that might not be feasible. You could get a different CPU with a lower TDP, that doesn't differ markedly from

    the K-edition i5. You should look for Intel CPUs with T, P, L or U suffixes, if you want power efficiency. Supposing you

    change your CPU, changing your Motherboard to a non-Z77 might also be good, as it's a motherboard designed for

    OC'ing. I don't count on you agreeing with any of this, but I wanted to post.
  2. At first I was going to recommend looking at AMD Octo-core processors (AMD FX 8350) for a little bit of savings and, in some cases, better performance than the Core I5-3570K (see Tom's Hardware CPU Charts 2012), but when I got to the power consumption chart, I realized any upfront savings you might find would be lost as you spend more money each month on your utilities.

    The Core I7-3770K would be a better performing processor all around, but we're not looking to add costs here.

    To be honest, your current build is about as good as it's going to get, price-wise without sacrificing performance. Personally, I'd drop the CPU cooler until you're sure you need it. I've only used two third party coolers in my build career (some dozen computers). The first I purchased because the stock fan died. The second because the CPU I purchased as OEM. All of my other builds have used stock coolers and (as long as you keep them clean and dust free), I've never been compelled to purchase a third party cooler due to noise.

    Finally, no system is going to be current five years from now. My current >3 year old Core I5-760 is considered ancient in tech lifetime. That's not to say it's obsolete or unusable; just not current. Motherboards are the same way. I couldn't put a decent processor upgrade into this system without also replacing the motherboard. End of Life for socket 1156 was about 6 months after I built this system. And while Socket 1155 had a good 2+ year run, it's on it's way out with the new Socket 1150 for Haswell.

    -Wolf sends
  3. Changed mobo to ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP and CPU to Intel i5 3570, since i'm not going to OC.

    The Corsair VX450W (actually more than 500W) has great reviews! Should be powerful, efficient and silent.
  4. Changed the setup a little bit. Could use some advice on the following choices:

    - Motherboard : ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP // Asus P8B75-V
    - HDD : 3x Western Digital Red 3TB // Toshiba DT01ACA300 3TB (= relabeled Hitachi 7K3000!) (put in a RAIDZ array)
  5. Leaning towards Asus.
  6. X79 said:
    Leaning towards Asus.

  7. Because Asus make some of the best boards and that one has so many nice features.
  8. X79 said:
    Because Asus make some of the best boards and that one has so many nice features.

    Sounds good. What features are you referring to?
  9. Well there's perhaps better energy efficiency with EPU.

    Which was something you were wanting.
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