New Media Center Pc.

Hi guys, i was wondering if you all would be able to give me some advice on a new build i'm going to be working on.

I upgraded our two home based systems a few months back and now have a few parts extra that I intend to use for this build.

So far this is what i have sitting around.

Gigabyte P35C-DS3R Motherboard
2 x 2gb dual channel ddr2 corsair dominator ram
evga 8800 gts video card pci x16

Based on current cpu prices i figure that the best bang for the buck would come if i purchased a core 2 quad vs a core 2 duo, seeing as at newegg it was only a 30 dollar difference.

The build is will essentially be used as a media center pc. Secondly i'd like to use it as a server type system and place all my media on it so that the other devices/pc's on the lan can stream from it.

I plan on connecting this via hdmi or vga port on our 60" sharp aqueos tv.
I'd like to be able to set the system up to boot directly into vista or win 7 media center and control it via IR remote and transmitter of some sort.

Few questions I have :

1. I intend at a later time to convert my older dvd's over to digital format so that i no longer have to go fishing through 200+ dvd's to try and find a movie i'd like to watch. Which Media center would be more robust to format my future video's to? I've heard good things about windows 7 media center but have not tried it. Vista has alot to be desired....

Or would a better player like xbmc etc be better warrented?

2. I do not plan on playing bluray as i have a ps3 specifically for this. Safe to assume i can get away with your standard dvd burner to fit the bill?

3. What else do i need or do you all recommend i purchase?
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  1. Excellent idea. I was thinking exact same thing a few years back and now I'm running a headless home media server on Linux on a UPS. The server is set up to auto power off during a blackout and auto power on & load up everything (services). I could set it up to auto update software, but I prefer to micromanage that aspect.

    I'm not clear on what other devices are on your LAN. If it's game consoles, you'll need uPNP on the server to stream media. If they're all laptops, you just turn on file sharing. As for which OS, I think the best one would be one with a GUI so you could point & click to maintain the server. It could be anything from Windows Home Server, XP, Vista, 7 to Linux. Windows will be A LOT less work. Linux will be like spending hours or even weeks googling for solutions. However, there's like 0 malware on Linux. Zip. Nada. There are hundreds of thousands if not a million variants of malware for Windows. Ubuntu Desktop would be a good choice if money is tight. It's free & being updated regularly. Can play all popular media right on the desktop. All HD. Just need a GT220 or better gpu.

    1. THAT is exactly my reason for a media server. I could run out of storage space for media disks. On my W7, I just click open a network folder & search for a keyword of a media file I wanna see/listen. Choices of software REALLY depends on your other devices. Can they use uPNP or file sharing or whatever? Like my gigabit router can do WPA2-PSK, but one fragging device on the network can't. Had to lower security to WEP.

    2. So it sounds like your other devices are game consoles. You'd need a way to get software onto the server. Like installing an OS. Linux can be written to a bootable USB drive. That's what I did. My headless server is disk-less as well. It's hooked to the VGA input on my HDTV. I only use it like once or twice a month in the event of a screwup. Every day I ssh into the server for software updates or looking at logs. It's all command lines. If you have seen The Social Network, that's exactly how I do it.

    3. What are the other devices on your LAN? What's your budget?
  2. If you are not planning to play any games and you just want to watch movies and serve files, the e3300 is a really inexpensive low-power but pretty fast CPU that would serve your needs and reduce the heat/power usage in your build, especially important since it'll be running 24/7.

    Then, add a ATI HD5670 video card to get proper Blu-ray support, even for bitstreaming HD audio formats to a compatible receiver.
  3. Once this build is done i will have 2 vista computers that will need to share from it, 2 xbox 360's, and a ps3. Also I might possibly have one of the new asus eee slate tablets.

    When it comes to an os i'm stuck between vista and win7 mainly because i intend to transfer my playon server software over to this build so i can free up my main system. I'll most likely install ps3 media server along side that as well, or maybe leave playon on my main system and ps3 server on this build since they don't play to well on the same system.

    Budget isn't really a factor, but i figured to dump at most $500.00 considering i had 3 of the main components already, motherboard, ram, and vid card.

    If i bought it would set me back 150ish.

    Then there's the need for a hard drive and a case with power supply.

    You think a quad core would be overkill since playon and ps3 media server have to do on the fly transcoding?
  4. It really is up to you. We make recommendations. You decide on what to buy. It's not like we're pointing a gun to your head.

    That C2Q is a decent LGA775 cpu. It's in one of my buddies' systems I built for a home pc. It will throttle down when idle. So it won't use up 95W at all times. Even if you're doing a full virus scan, the 4 cores are barely used up. If you scan for virus, transcode video for both game consoles, server files, etc. all at the same time, yes, you might need a quad core. Also, you could watch HD on the server as well.

    Go with Win7. It's a LOT easier to set up and maintain than Vista. Also, MS will discontinue updates for Vista. Throw in all the service apps you need.

    However, I'd highly recommend an unmanage gigabit switch with all the devices plugged in it and the rightmost one when it's facing you, plugged into your current router. Such switch costs about $50 tops.

    And you need a CAT6 cable for each device. In each Win box, go to device mgr, right-click the NIC, props, adv, disable "flow control" & set "speed & duplex" to 1Gbps Full. You'll take full advantage of gigabit networking. I know PS3 supports Gb LAN. Not sure about Xbox. In case Gb LAN isn't supported, it should fall back to 100mbps. Copying 1GB file from server to client takes 10-20 secs on Gb LAN.

    For 8800 gts, a 400W or higher psu is required.

    Choice of cases is a personal preference. Your mobo is ATX. Pick out a case that's ATX compatible. All mid to full towers are. Some desktop cases too.
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