Recommend parts for a low power media server!

I'm looking to build myself a computer thats on 24/7 and will do my file serving, streaming, and tv recording. Right now I use my desktop to record tv and store my files on a single 500 gig drive. I'm coming real close to outgrowing this and would like to move those tasks to a separate computer. Also, the current desktop throws off too much heat so a low power rig would let me throw the desktop into hibernation or whatever. I'm also going to do all of this in Linux.

Here are my wishes and needs:
Low Power, due to being on 24/7
Low cost
Ability to stream videos across a local network to xmbc, daap, etc
Ability to record tv shows, probably going with dual hauppage 150's
Thinking about software raid 5 for redundancy
Expandable so more drives can be added later

I'm unsure what platform I should be looking for or what I should be doing for parts. itx? microATX? fullATX? AMD vs Intel? I looked at NAS solutions coupled with an itx board to do the streaming, but the problem there is tv recording, plus NAS boxes that do raid 5 are expensive. A roll your own server sounds more suited to my needs.

Heres the parts list I have now:
Current desktop:
CPU: opteron 165
RAM: 2gigs DDR OCZ cant remember timings
Mobo: DFI Lanparty Ultra-D
TV tuner: ATI theatrix 550pro
Soundcard:Turtle Beach Montigo DLL
OS Drive: Raptor 74gig
Storage: IDE 320gb, IDE 80gb, SATA WD 500gb, USB 320gb

Spare Parts:
2x P4 2.4 Northwoods
P4 2.6 celeron
Micro ATX socket 478 board, 3pci, 2IDE, no Sata (Celeron board from an Emachines)
Full ATX socket 478 board, 5 or 6 pci, 1x agp 4x, 2 IDE, no sata
Full ATX socket 478, 3 or 4 pci, agp 8x, 2 IDE, no sata
PCI sata card, 2 port
2x 40 gig IDE drives
1x 5 gig IDE drive

Willing to buy brand new everything, just wondering if anyone would recommend something crazy with the old parts or my current desktop.

I was thinking the X2 EE BE AMD processor thats rated for 45w, along with a compatible motherboard and ram would be a good platform. But I'd definitely like to hear cheaper or more low power recommendations for this build.
5 answers Last reply
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  1. Unless your opty is stock, a brisbane won't be as fast on single-core apps. Surely it will be cooler.
  2. I would use your old parts, they are plenty fast enough. Get a new, fast HD and go with with 2.4ghz. The cost of new parts would offset any cost savings in electricity for YEARS. That's why I would use and recycle the old parts. And those parts are not very old and are just collecting dust now.

    I have a 2.0ghz server that streams movies nicely and does other tasks. I even disconnected ALL case fans except for CPU and it's been running fine for almost two years 24/7. :)
  3. If you can wait some, the new 45nm wolfdale intel CPU will have a low power comsumption and heat dissipation.
  4. The amount of power consumed and heat generated by your old, small HDDs would offset any benefit they might provide. You can get 750 GB for around $150 now (5 GB / $), so your small drives are worth < $1 and $8, respectively. Since a typical HDD uses more than 10 W, you use more than 87.6 kWh per year for each drive. For me, 1 kWh costs ~ $0.088, so running a HDD costs me something more than $7.71 per year. Factor in power supply losses, heat removal, and case space limitations, and it just isn't worth it to use drives at the bottom of the curve. 320 GB, sure. But not 40.

    If anything, I recommend using the small drives as cold spares in case you have a problem booting or something, or want to try a new O/S install on a clean partition. Just don't leave them plugged in.
  5. TeraMedia said:
    The amount of power consumed and heat generated by your old, small HDDs would offset any benefit they might provide. You can get 750 GB for around $150 now (5 GB / $), so your small drives are worth < $1 and $8, respectively. Since a typical HDD uses more than 10 W, you use more than 87.6 kWh per year for each drive. For me, 1 kWh costs ~ $0.088, so running a HDD costs me something more than $7.71 per year. Factor in power supply losses, heat removal, and case space limitations, and it just isn't worth it to use drives at the bottom of the curve. 320 GB, sure. But not 40.

    If anything, I recommend using the small drives as cold spares in case you have a problem booting or something, or want to try a new O/S install on a clean partition. Just don't leave them plugged in.


    I agree, in general multiple drives are not cost efficient if they are left on and not used. I have a number of drives on my home-made media server that are in USB2 enclosures. These are for older media and backup, so giving a lot of flexibility. I then use a standard commercial relay board to turn them on and off as needed. With Windows a trivial batch file (e.g. "net share movies1=h:\movies1") can be used to share a drive once it is powered up. You can then also use a remote login program to control the drives from your PC media clients. The one problem I had was finding a home relay board case that used plugs and sockets and looked ok with my media server, so made my own (see kalikosystems.co.uk for how I made my case).
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