After some research and considering the cost - benefit of purchasing a pre-built NAS, I've finally decided to roll up my sleeves and build one myself, primarily because I hope it would be cheaper and also because it offers greater flexibility! Make your own and make IT CHEAP, is what I've decided!
I need some help from anyone who is willing to, regarding the parts and configuration:
First question I have is whether I can combine a NAS and HTPC (I would like to, even if it means stretching my budget a little bit), I was planning on building an HTPC later, but since I'm doing this build now and as the objective states, this is mainly being done for media streaming and storage, why not combine both and save a few bucks??? If you are aware of any reasons why these to should not be combined please do let me know!
Objective: NAS for Media storage and streaming and transcoding (I use a PS3 media server), primarily, and then some data storage as well.
What MoBo and CPU should I use? I would like a small box which can fit in my media compartment
I would like at least 5-6 SATA ports for HDD's? Cheap but reliable, no fancy stuff needed but a USB 3.0 would be nice, based on all the recommendations I've got on this forum and in a few other places!
Hardware or software RAID? I'm thinking of using RAID 0, I'm not worried about redundancy, as I have a 3TB external drive which I use for backup for the most important stuff, but if any of you have reasons why I shoudn't use 0, please let me know, I'm open to suggestions.
What software should I run this on, FreeNAS or Win Home Server??? Combine an HTPC with it
Depending on the MoBo, any case and PSU suggestions, at least 6 3.5" HDD drive bays???
I would like to keep it within $400 is that a realistic budget for a 4TB NAS (including HDD's) and HTPC capability, and some room for expansion?
You could build a basic PC using a mini-ITX barebones, hopefully you can find one with a builtin RAID controller. You could add 2 large drives, install Windows 7, and it would do all that you want. There are some advantages to Windows Home Server but for your use I'm not sure if they are worth the trouble, and I don't know if it will work as well for a HTPC. Win7 for a small network will work fine acting like a server.
When you start talking about a small NAS my first thought is Linux. This would be cheap, not so easy for some people, but I'm not sure if it will serve as a HTPC.
You could buy a standalone NAS and just plug drives into it. This is pretty easy but wouldn't do anything for your HTPC needs.
I don't think you can buy new parts and build a 4TB RAID machine within your budget, you'll spend most of that on just the drives. If you went with Linux you wouldn't need real fast hardware and maybe you could find some old stuff that would work and just add new drives to it.