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Hardware configuration for HTPC backend and frontend

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February 11, 2010 1:27:34 AM

Hello all. I want to build a HTPC/file server but I have some questions. My ultimate goal is run a home media server that also acts as a DVR (using MythTV or something similar). I'd like to have separate backend and frontend systems so that once everything is set up I just need to add storage as needed to the backend server and run multiple frontends as needed.

Specifically here's what I'm looking for in the server:

-File storage/sharing (~2-4 TB)
-Backup storage for several laptops
-Media streaming
-HDTV capture and playback
-Print server
-Possibly a web or ftp server

My main questions involve balancing the hardware across the front and back ends. I know a basic home media server could be had with minimal hardware, but given that I want PVR functionality do I need to be looking at quad-core processors? Does the frontend hardware need to be better than the backend (better processor and/or graphics card for hi-def playback)?

I'm pretty sure that if I built this all as a combined backend/frontend system I wouldn't be nearly as confused. With the separate systems I'm just not sure how to appropriately divide the hardware between the two systems.

I haven't listed any budget requirements or other specifics as I'd like to first understand the general hardware requirements. Thanks for the help in advance.
February 11, 2010 3:44:17 AM

The problem with high-end CPUs is that they need serious cooling/space. So they might not be the best solution for your planned HTPC setup, unless you're fine with seeing a mid-size case near your TV. You might also want to look into NAS devices so that you can integrate multiple hard drives into one abstracted back-up location.

And of course, don't forget the most essential tools! At the very least, you need a wireless keyboard and mouse set, and an HTPC-friendly remote control.
February 11, 2010 5:21:32 PM

Quote:
The problem with high-end CPUs is that they need serious cooling/space. So they might not be the best solution for your planned HTPC setup


So what would be my best option for a fairly quiet/low power front end? All I need it to do is play remotely stored video (DVD rips, recorded & live TV) and possibly blu-ray (internal DVD/blu-ray player). Should I look at at lower processor (e.g., Athlon II) and a decent graphics card for HD/Blu-ray playback?

What about an integrated gpu? I'm guessing this would reduce my heat/noise issues but how much am I'm going to sacrifice in performance? Also, I wouldn't need a lot of storage on the front end. Could I go with a small laptop drive (5400 rpm) or flash drive to further cut down on noise?

I guess I'm trying to figure out the best way to put most of the grunt work on a NAS or media server and still get decent playback on a small frontend (hope that makes sense).
!