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Home Media Server (Max 2k)

Last response: in Systems
January 30, 2010 8:43:07 AM

So, the story is: I'm attempting to build a Home Media Server for my parents/family. Simple enough. I don't have an exact budget, but I'm putting my max at 2k, for the sake of argument. This Media Server is (planning) to serve 3 users (father, mother, oldest sister), and I'm planning to extend the users to 6 eventually to include the entire household. The users will be served over WiFi (W-G).

The server will, ideally, hold the households digital music, TV shows, and movies. At the moment, the households data is spread over a collection of portable HDs, from 350GB to 1TB. Total data now... probably around 2TB, which will be copied to the server right away. My total storage goal for the Server is 4TB, maybe more, allowing for plenty more ripping of CDs/DVDs and whatnot.

I'm planning on using Windows Home Server. Linux is an option, but I am intending to move out within a year and windows seemed to be the easies to explain to my up-and-coming techie sister, who will have to manage it when I am gone.
I think thats all the information about the situation... any more info needed, simply ask.

My first question is, is this even feasible? I've built myself gaming PCs before, so I'd like to say I know my way around the inside of a computer, but its been awhile. Is what I'm talking about doable with my budget, or am I missing something, and it will only work in theory?

Secondly, Ive spent awhile researching RAID, and am pretty undecided. In your opinion, am I better off going with a pure backup solution, or working this server into RAID? Or... do i need.... anything of the sort? I don't know how devastating it'd be if TV shows/movies were lost. Losing an entire music collection would suck though.

My third question, is a server of this type doable in an HTPC? The ability to hook up a computer to the TV and/or stereo would be great. But I figure Windows 7 would handle streaming to other PCs not quite as well as Windows Home Server (which i assume cant actually play media).

This is my parts list, first draft of sorts.

Ultra X-Blaster ATX Mid-Tower Case and DiabloTek Power Supply Bundle - 400 Watt, ATX, Dual 80mm Fan, 24-Pin, SATA Ready, Black

Asus M3A78-CM Motherboard - AMD780V, Socket AM2/AM2+, MicroATX, Audio, Video, Hybrix CrossFire, DVI, DP, VGA, Gigabit LAN, USB 2.0, Serial ATA, RAID

AMD Phenom X4 9650 Quad Core Processor HD9650WCGHBOX - 2.30GHz, 4MB Cache, 1800MHz (3600 MT/s) FSB, Agena, Quad-Core, Socket AM2+, OEM

Corsair XMS2 4GB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory Upgrade - 2x2048MB

Ultra X4 500-Watt Modular Power Supply - 135mm Fan, ATX, Lifetime Warranty, 80+ Bronze, ATI CrossFire certification.

Hitachi Deskstar OS00163 IDK/7K Internal Hard Drive - 1TB, 7200RPM, 32MB, SATA-3G
$89.99 X 4

Microsoft Windows Home Server 32 Bit 1 Pack (Power pack 1) - OEM

Total: Roughly $900, and obviously room for improvement.

I'm going to toss the included PSU from the case, it seems... questionable. And about the PSU I chose, Ive heard iffy things about modular designs, so idk.

I'm not to picky if the processor is AMD or intel. I'm not too picky about any brands for that matter, as long as they are trustworthy names.

So, there you have it. I'm sure I'm missing something somewhere, just let me know.

Thank you in advance for any help, I know I'm only one of many people asking for this type of assistance.

More about : home media server max

January 30, 2010 11:53:53 AM

For your questions...
1. Yes it is very much doable in your budget...And some of the selections have good replacements...

2. If you can take regular backup, then there is no need of RAID...
Either RAID or Backup is upto you...

3. Even I doubt that...But why not try using a different OS like the Ultimate, that also has good networking features as well as Media...Will see if you can come up with any info on that...

Some suggestion for the components...
1. CPU - Defintely a better one...that is old gen and is not power efficient...
This is will run cool and very power efficient with a TDP just 65W TDP...
MD Phenom II X4 905e

2. Mobo
ASUS 785G - Can stream 1080p without any issues...

3. RAM
Corsair 4GB DDR3

4. HDD -
This is better...
Samsung F3 1TB
January 30, 2010 2:01:15 PM

First of all, you don't need an HTPC to hook it up to a stereo or TV. I'm using a standard Desktop mobo and case, and I'm doing both.

- Just about every motherboard comes with 6 audio ports, in my case, interchangeable for whatever you want. I'm currently using 1 as output for my Desktop speakers, 1 as output for my TV downstairs, 2 as input for guitars, and a 5th as OUTPUT for my stereo. I just bought a 25 foot mini stereo to RCA cable, ran it through the floor, and hooked it into my stereo. Couldn't be simpler. This could also be done with an Optical/Coaxial cable as just about every new mobo also has those outputs.

- For the TV - I'm currently using a DVI to VGA adapter and then running a 20 foot VGA cable through the floor to my HDTV. This however could be done in a variety of ways. If your TV runs of HDMI, then what I would recommend doing is getting an ATI Radeon 5670 Video Card and using its HDMI Connector to stream both HD Audio and HD Video to your TV. There are also converters out there for standard def connections, such as the standard yellow composite output.

To the build, I'd say spend your money on Hard Drives, and then good RAM. And for the OS, I'd say feel free to go 64 Bit, since 32 Bit can use a MAXIMUM of 3GB RAM.

Case: SILVERSTONE Silver Aluminum front panel, 0.8mm SECC body GD01S-R ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail $100

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3R $185

CPU: Intel Core i5 750 $200

PSU: Corsair HX650 $110

RAM: G.Skill Eco 8GB DDR3 $225

Hard Drives: 4 of these bad-boys in RAID 0+1 for 4TB Storage, high performance, and data redundancy . . . at a whopping $720

Optical: 2x LG Blu-ray Drives $200

TV Card: Happauge HVR-220 $130

GPU/VGA: ATI Radeon 5670 $100

Network: Netgear Wireless Adapter $60

TOTAL: $2030 after MIRs, but before the OS (Linux!!!). That build is Extremely high performance and probably would never bottleneck you with media for quite a while. :)  Expect the prices of 2TB Hard Drives to drop. If they do drop and / or you decide to go only with 2 Drives, I'd suggest upgrading the GPU to an ATI Radeon 5750 for $130.

Hoping I left you with some ideas. :)  And if you wanted to trim off some money you could chop off 2 of the drives and save it for RAID 1 only, which would reduce performance and lower your capacity to 2TB, but you'd still have hands-free backup. Or you could do the opposite and have RAID 0 only, which would give you high performance and 4 TB, but no data redundancy, so if 1 of the 2 drives failed, you lose everything. To trim off another $100 if you needed to you could go for 4GB RAM, which I'm sure you'd be safe with.
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January 30, 2010 3:27:28 PM

Some major edits above, so I'd suggest you re-read the whole thing and discard everything I said before.
January 31, 2010 2:04:11 AM

If you're going to be running Microsoft Windows Home Server, any of these builds here are complete overkill. WHS needs very little CPU or memory with the exception of transcoding if you're going to be streaming to extenders and you're storing your video in a format your extenders don't support. Since it's going to be running 24/7 think low power like Atom, Celeron or Sempron. You don't need RAID if you're using WHS - it has its own duplication scheme that's part of the OS. This also means you don't need enterprise/RAID-class drives but instead you can use so-called "green drives". A motherboard with plenty of SATA ports and a good network controller are the important parts. This is a Home Server not an enterprise server.

Windows Home Server as an HTPC doesn't work. You'll want clients (HTPCs, extenders, other machines) and the server (WHS) separated. Your HTPC can be something small and lightweight that sits next to the TV while everything is stored on your WHS machine. It'll need a bit more CPU horsepower but it won't need storage and the emphasis here is on the GPU and its features (7.1 support, etc.) and the software player you use and its features (Blu-ray, sound, etc.)

You should be able to build a separate HTPC and WHS machine for a little bit more than 1/2 what your budget is, easily, depending on how fancy you want to get. Fancier doesn't mean better or faster either.
January 31, 2010 3:04:17 AM

I still say Linux.