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Want to build a Low Power/Small Form Factor NAS/HTPC

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August 12, 2010 12:38:34 AM

Ok so I may be trying to do too much.

But I've got a 3 year old, noisy desktop that I want to make into a HTPC/NAS. From that build I think I want to reuse the two WD 1TB Caviar Greens that I have, and am willing to buy whatever else I need.

Ideally this PC will be on all the time, accessible by the net, but should the need arise, function as a HTPC. The desktop now streams to the ipad/iphone and would like to keep that function if at all possible. Recording TV isn't necessary.

I'm in love with the Zotac Mini ITX NVIDIA ION mobos but not sure if that's what I really should be looking at, knowing that I've got at least two HDDs, probably a third for OS.

I'm also stuck looking for a case that would hold all this (plus most likely a BluRay or DVDRW).

Am I trying to do too much, and still have it energy efficient? Obviously a pico psu wouldn't be my best bet - neweggs calculator puts me needing 300W.

Am I doomed to have a noisy ass PC that kicks into high gear the minute Firefox seems to get a memory leak? Or an oversize desktop in the middle of my living room? Or are there other options that people have tried, and or built themselves?
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 1:30:18 AM

The primary reason to use mini ITX is for the small size. You are defeating that once you add multiple drives and such.

All you need is a low power processor and a quiet PSU, combined with a couple low noise fans.

Wouldn't a healthy sleep mode be more important? I'm guessing you are not going to access this 24/7.

You have not set a budget, but lets see:

Silverstone case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Will hold 2 HDs, one optical, and one SDD if wanted.

Add a couple low db Yate Loons
http://www.jab-tech.com/YATE-LOON-120x120x20mm-Case-Fan...
Not only quiet but low frequency... what noise they make is less annoying.

ASUS M4A88TD-M
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Athlon x2 260 Regor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU
Seasonic fanless 400W 80 plus Gold
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Seasonic is the only manufacturer I would ever give a pass to without a review... this is pricey but fanless and extremely efficient. Low heat, low noise, low power consumption.

I just grabbed this Blu-ray player/DVD burner myself:
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Internal-Lightscribe-SH-B...

And then grab an SSD if I haven't spent your money:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Low power, no noise.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 3:22:50 AM

Hmm along Proxi's lines with a humbler budget :p  Reuse those WD Greens
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 3:31:35 AM

*shrug* without a budget I can't say. He put emphasis on form factor and noise, so I did the best I could ignoring cost but not getting crazy :) 
August 12, 2010 3:35:27 AM

Yeah, cost is a factor, but I'd rather see the top end and have stuff to choose from instead of just scraping by. Any more suggestions out there? So definitely scrap the mini itx aspect, and concentrate on quiet/htpc.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 4:22:51 AM

You can get many ideas over at silentpcreview
http://www.silentpcreview.com/

You can certainly drop the SSD and PSU from my build and choose a PSU from the list of quiet ones:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_PSUs

Nexus
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seasonic S12II 380B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This would be my choice. Probably not quite as quiet but very good regulation and very quiet. You can't beat Seasonic quality.

The PSU batuchka linked is quieter than most, but not in the same league as these.

You might also look at the X4 Athlon:
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-Athlon-Efficient-Quad-Core-Pr...
Not sure you need that much processor.
August 12, 2010 12:09:10 PM

Ok so here's my ignorance - I've got a crappy intel dual core now. Between the x4 athlon and the x2 regor - which would I get the better bang for my buck (in terms of both speed and energy efficiency). Or anoer way to reveal my lack of knowledge in this - do i need quad core?
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 1:49:41 PM

Nope no encode/rip the X2 would serve u fine While Proxi picked out a fine Seasonic for HTPC/SFFs i would go modular PSU as it allows neater cable management and promotes better airflow and u did say $$ was tight (and combos are your best frens) ^^
August 12, 2010 3:59:16 PM

When would you buy a quad core - like what kind of programs would you be running that would demand it - or is it just future proofing?
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 4:30:39 PM

The programs that get a huge boost in multiple cores is the encoding/transcoding applications. Handbrake is a popular one, for example. These are the programs that take a DVD or blu-ray movie and shrink them down into a single video file to be played back on the HTPC. The encoding scales very linear with each core you add (quad core is 2x faster than dual core).
!