Need RAID Help

I have several HTPCs that I use to play TV, Movies and Music from my media server.

I currently have the following setup (with help from FireWire2 and this forum actually):
Norco RPC-4220
Supermicro X7SPA-H-D525
4GB Mushkin SO-DIMM DDR3 1333
Corsair TX650 PSU
2x Datoptic SPM94 Port Multiplier
5x Samsung F4 2TB in RAID5 on one SPM394
5x Seagate XT 3TB in RAID5 on one SPM394
FreeNAS 8.0

I'm not a fan of FreeNAS8.0, and I would like the server to do more of the heavy lifting with ripping, PlexServer, and some other goodies that will allow me to share my media across my network and devices. I will be using some version of Windows for the OS.

I plan on keeping the case and PSU, but want to replace the motherboard, CPU, and RAM.
I was debating between the Core i3-2120T and the i3-2100. I like the lower wattage of the 2120T, but I want to ensure that it has enough power for what I want to do with it.
I'm looking for suggestions on a motherboard. I liked the SuperMicro that I currently have has the two Intel Gigabit NICs so I can maximize the speed when I bound them together.

While I liked the Port Multiplier, and it was a good option at the time at the time, but I have purchased 7 more 3TB drives, and I don't want to have to but another port multipler, and I don't like losing 6TB by having multiple RAID5 arrays instead of one large RAID5. Ideally I'd like to fill all 20 bays, and I'd like to be able to add the drives one or two at a time (instead of 5 at a time).
I'd like suggestions for other raid options. I used to have a Highpoint RAID card (5x SATA) which I liked and never had issues with. I've hard mixed things about "FakeRAID", but the bottom line is that I need some protection (which RAID5 gives), and I do not need ultrafast performance or ultrafast rebuild times. If there is a reasonably priced hardware RAID card, then I'd be all about it, but at the same time, if a hybrid or "FakeRAID" is far cheaper but still more than enough performance for my needs, then I'd be up for that.

I do have a question about Hybrid or "FakeRAID" solutions. If I set up an array, and the OS craps out and I have to reinstall, do I lose my array? Or when I reinstall, will the array be picked up and all data still available? Similar question with Software like Windows Data Pooling, or FlexRAID. If I have to reinstall the OS, can I reinitialize the arrays without any data loss (as that is the point of a raid, to protect the data).

Lastly... I'm struggling with a Windows version. I WAS going to use Windows Home Server, but now that they are doing away with it, I don't know if I should wait until it's "replacement" is available (Windows Server Essentials), install Windows Server 2008 R2, plain old Windows 7, or maybe even give Windows 8 a try.

I appreciate any comments and suggestions!

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  1. Well I decided that I'm going to go with WHS 2011. They have support for another couple years, and by the time they quit supporting it, I'll be ready to rebuild again.

    I still really need some suggestions for the RAID solution. That is my biggest concern right now.
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