Creating a dedicated gaming server, and expanding a home network.

I am looking to expand upon my current home network, and add both a File/media server, and a dedicated gaming server (mostly for TF2, possibly CS:S).

I have a few questions I want to ask before I make the plunge and sink some money into the home network upgrade.

I am going to use a closet on the top floor (two floors, with a basement) of my house to keep the server equipment. It's always extremely cold in there, and it has a window for ventilation if need be. All the electrical will be custom done by my cousin (master electrician). I plan to run two separate connections to the basement and one to a bedroom. It's fairly small network.

1. Since it's a small network, I assume I won't need any switches etc.. Often, when I read about other peoples home servers, they always seem to be using these large switches, patch panels etc.. Is there a benefit to this, or would plugging them directly into my router be just as good. I assume they just have many rooms wired up, and connect them all to the switch, then the switch (via uplink port) to the router. I could be wrong though.

2. What would be the ideal type of Ethernet cable to run? I am using an Xtreme N DIR-655 router. I was going to run Cat5E, but would Cat6 be any better?

3. I plan on running Windows Home Server on the file server. Do you have any other recommendations? I mainly plan on using it as a large backup of everyones data, but I may also want to allow a bit-torrent client to run on it while nobody is home. I was looking at FreeNAS but would not be able to run a Torrent client on it. I was also looking at Ubuntu Server edition but from what I read, it's extremely difficult to get it working with Windows based PC's. Any help would be great in this area.

4. "advanced" Networking(not really doing any of it here). I was tempted to pick up a Network+ study book, but figured I should ask instead.

Thanks for the help.

Edit : Found out everything I needed to know about the game server, took it out.
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More about creating dedicated gaming server expanding home network
  1. Careful about humidity downstairs. And are you going to be hosting your dedicated TF/Source server on the internet?

    I know when I play TF2, the net meters shows 10-20K/sec down. If you had 10 people playing (5v5) you would need 100-200KB/sec up which is ~1.6Mbits up. 32(16v16) person server would need 320KB(2.5MBit) through 640KB(5MBit) of dedicated bandwidth to not lag the players.

    Don't need to count anyone on your local network though *assuming* your packets are routed directly to the local server through the LAN. If you have port forwarding setup, when you connect to your server, use your local IP and connect directly to it instead of through the find server interface.
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