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Steelbeast's Ultimate 24TB HTPC build

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September 30, 2011 6:36:25 AM

I have finally finished my HTPC build with a few components from my old rig, along with some new goodies. Note I am using leftover CPU and mobo, if you want to go brand new, I suggest AMD APUs and motherboard for the budget-conscience.

This rig holds 13 HDDs! Scroll to bottom of 1st page for pics of the build.

There is no Optical drive included as I use a USB for OS Installs and a PS3 for my Blu-Ray needs. If you need an optical drive, just buy a full size tower, or an external drive. I would recommend an external if you plan on mostly playback, and an internal drive if you plan on mostly ripping and burning, you'll need a full-size tower however.

I use 2 SATA RAID cards that use the Sil 3124 chipset, which you must update the driver if using Win7 like me. You'll also need to flash the BIOS to "base" and not "RAID". See Silicon Image's product page, and click on the Driver and BIOS links.

I use Windows Media Center, with Media Browser for meta data, and Hulu integration = AWESOME

I use Media Center Master for additional organization and torrent/usenet automation = AWESOME

If you hate messing with a Music library that is nothing but headaches like I do, and like to listen to online radios from all over the world, I highly recommend Screamer Radio. It's free and incredibly lightweight, ad-free, and unobtrusive. It also has options to record the streams and tons of other options. This lives in your taskbar too for easy access. It already has hundreds of presets pre-loaded for you too! Here are some screenshots.

Case: NZXT Gamma Mid-Tower $35

CPU: Intel Core i3-530 $130

MB: Biostar TH55B HD LGA 1156 $80

RAM: Gkill 8GB DDR3 1600 $47

PSU: PC Power & Cooling 650W $70

2x HDD Bays: 2x EVERCOOL HDD Cooling Box $20/ea

SATA RAID Card - PCI: SYBA SD-SATA2-4IR $44

SATA RAID Card -PCI-x PCIx: SYBA SY-PEX40008 $60

13x HDDs: 2TB Seagate Green 5900RPM $70/ea

HSF: CORSAIR CWCH60 $58

3x 120mm Fans: Scythe Slipstream 120mm Ultra-quiet $10/ea

HTPC Keyboard: Logitech K400 $30

$591 w/o HDDs

The case is an excellent cheap case that you wont find anything else like it for the price range.

The CPU is a tad old, but it's actually still relevant today. It's a great OC'er, mine goes to 4.0Ghz. You can't do that with the Sandy Bridge version. It has Hyper-threading and integrated GPU to save $$.

The MoBo is deactivated, but you can find pretty much any LGA 1156 board to use.

You can "auto" OC using the Intel XMP RAM profile and get to 3.5Ghz in one step.

The PSU is good and cheap. Note that it's got a 7 year warranty, 'nuff said.

The HDD bays are excellent at cramming 3 HDDs into 2x 5.25 bays and keeping the "green" drives a super cool 27-37c. You'll also need some spare SATA cables and Molex SATA Splitters to power all the HDDs.

The SATA RAID cards are being used as additional connectors, I'm not using the software RAID functions. You'll need to go to silicon image's website and download the "base" BIOS update and flash from there to have it properly work with Win7. One is PCI because I dont have 2x PCI-x slots on my Mobo, otherwise I would've gotten it.

The HDDs are currently the best value/reliability you can get for storage drives. SATA III ready, 64mb cache, and 5900rpm sweetens the deal. FYI, these have a 5yr warranty, not 2 that newegg would have you believe. I have had bad experiences with WD greens failing and taking several seconds to spool up.

The new Corsair H60 water cooler works wonders on this hot CPU. I got this for a steal at $58, before rebates. Keeps the CPU around 20c idle and 45c load.

There's 3 ultra quiet scythe fans, 2 to put on the side of the case and 1 on front. You'll need atleast 1x 3-pin Y-adapter, I would get 2 just in case. Plus, get some fan resistors (noise adapters) for the CPU fan(s).

Lastly, the keyboard is the perfect compromise of ruggedness, convenience and usability. A major plus to this is its incredibly lightweight and full featured, plus you can scroll using the trackpad by swiping with 2 fingers...HUGE!

If you're one of those guys/gals that must have a remote, just get something like this for $20
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00224ZDFY/
At which point, you probably want a TV Tuner card too, but there's too many for a recommendation.

Conclusion:

You get a 13-bay HTPC with exceptional cooling that is super quiet to boot. The added bonus is that it wont break the bank either :D  You can shop around for some better prices like I did, I just put up New Egg links because it's the standard, but half of this came from Amazon. If you need to cut back on $$ I would get a 550W PSU, 4GB RAM, and a CM Hyper 212+ heatsink. Scroll to bottom of 1st page for pics of the build.
September 30, 2011 7:50:25 AM

Even with a UL certification, I would not be putting a Diablotek PSU anywhere near that machine ( 1 year warranty, really? ). Especially since you can get much better PSU's at a similar price. For example there was just a sale on PC Power&Cooling Silencer MarkII 650W, $69.99 with CC ( $49.99 after rebate ). Which comes with a 7 year warranty and is according to tests a very good PSU.

I do think that using a watercooling setup on this is kind of a waste as there is no need for any kind of overclocking, just keeping things cool.
Which I am sure a good air cooler would have done just as well.

Other than that you seem to have a nice budget setup at your hands.

The obvious way to step it up of course would be to change mobo to something that can handle 2 HW raid cards and then get those cards, or simply get a single raid card capable of handling all the drives. But of course either case triples the cost of the system before the HDD's so understandably that is not for everyone.
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September 30, 2011 7:54:54 AM

thats awesome . hey wouldnt it be loud with all those hdd's
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September 30, 2011 8:15:39 AM

It will surely make some noise, but those are green (5900rpm) HDD's so they make less noise than your average 7200rpm desktop boot drive which is more optimized for speed.
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September 30, 2011 3:08:48 PM

rvilkman said:
Even with a UL certification, I would not be putting a Diablotek PSU anywhere near that machine ( 1 year warranty, really? ). Especially since you can get much better PSU's at a similar price. For example there was just a sale on PC Power&Cooling Silencer MarkII 650W, $69.99 with CC ( $49.99 after rebate ). Which comes with a 7 year warranty and is according to tests a very good PSU.

I do think that using a watercooling setup on this is kind of a waste as there is no need for any kind of overclocking, just keeping things cool.
Which I am sure a good air cooler would have done just as well.

Other than that you seem to have a nice budget setup at your hands.

The obvious way to step it up of course would be to change mobo to something that can handle 2 HW raid cards and then get those cards, or simply get a single raid card capable of handling all the drives. But of course either case triples the cost of the system before the HDD's so understandably that is not for everyone.

Yeah, I may still exchange the PSU, but its working fine. The watercooling isnt a waste at all when i got it for $58 which makes it a moot point, thats before rebates too.

edit: I did exchange the PSU, didnt realize the excellent deal they had going on thanks! Got the rebate just in time lol.
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September 30, 2011 4:06:09 PM

9_breaker said:
thats awesome . hey wouldnt it be loud with all those hdd's

it's insanely quiet. its not like all 13 HDDs are running at the same time.
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September 30, 2011 5:09:28 PM

How are there no pictures? You can't post one of these threads without posting pics! :D 
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September 30, 2011 9:16:47 PM

boiler1990 said:
How are there no pictures? You can't post one of these threads without posting pics! :D 

I'll definitely post some pics soon as the new PSU and additional HDDs come in. The 2TB Seagates are $10 off at newegg with a promo code so i decided to go ahead and stock up lol. Also as a side note, I use Molex and 3-pin fan resistors instead of a fan controller (for quietness) for a cleaner look, and that saves clutter too.
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September 30, 2011 9:55:31 PM

Quote:
I guess it's just me but that build does nothing for me.
I could of spend the money alone you spent on HDD's and came out better, what you have here is money wasted..
kinda overkill in one department and then lacking in others.
my opinion but I'm glad it works for you..

Not quite sure how this build is "lacking", care to elaborate? Overkill perhaps, but lacking i think not, its an HTPC, not a gaming rig or RAID server. Which means the goal is MAX storage capability with low power consumption and quietness.
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October 1, 2011 1:05:12 AM

Quote:
I guess..
"to each it's own.."
enjoy.

you'd be better off making a server and networking you residence, even add a Linux box.

My residence is networked with CAT6a, and win7 allows you to share/stream across all PCs, including MCE extenders. My PCs backup to the HTPC every night, and I also have Pure Sync for folder-specific (family pics/vids/docs) sync backups. No need for RAID in a home setting IMO. A linux box serves the same purpose, but only adds to the frustration. Open source is nice, but has its headaches, and no one wants to baby a linux box all day, well some do i guess. I'd rather have everything automated, it's the 21st century after all. Linux is good for alot of things, but Windows and HTPC go together if you have any real experience with the above software I mentioned on my first post. XBMC just isn't worth it any more, it used to be, and Boxee is just social-meh.
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October 1, 2011 2:47:10 AM

i'm surprised you used the nzxt gamma for a htpc
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October 1, 2011 2:57:38 AM

9_breaker said:
i'm surprised you used the nzxt gamma for a htpc

Its not lit up like a christmas tree like most cases are, and i did disable the sole blue LED on the front panel. The HDD holders match the black mesh, it also has excellent cooling capability if I do decide to put it in a cabinet as well. Nothing annoys me more than lights in a theatre setting. Plus, how else are you going to fit 12 HDDs in a compact setting? For $35 at that?
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October 1, 2011 3:04:10 AM

well , that makes sense
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October 1, 2011 3:31:45 AM

Quote:
I hard wired my residence recently and got off the wireless, even with 1 unit in the network on wireless the entire network would crawl.
and the Windows 7 homegroup when that 1 unit was on wireless really was unbearable.
So now with CAT5 and a few high speeds NIC's were all having fun.
the Linux box isn't even on the network anymore, just sitting in the closet.
I am thinking of doing something kinda 'cloud' based..
good-luck with yours.

That's what im kind of doing, but more in-house. However, I do find Hulu convenient for reducing network bandwidth for TV shows believe it or not. Set the default to one of the lower or lowest quality settings and your good to go. I have found that trying to download every-single-episode-of-every-single-show too taxing. There are the exceptional few i have to get "else where", but Hulu saves alot of headache and bandwidth for $8 a month since alot of those shows don't even get watched anyways if you got it "elsewhere".

For backups, its kind of chaotic, but it works really well. I use the windows built in backup utility to backup weekly on most PCs and daily on some. Then i use PureSync for Folder specific backups on each PC to the HTPC, then the HTPC takes that backup folder and syncs it to a different drive, eliminating the need for a wasteful RAID array. I am susceptible to a single drive failure, but it will only be media, not any of the critical data. Why backup media, especially if you didn't pay for it lol?! The only thing you lose is time, and chances are you can get most of it back, or you wont miss any of it at all.
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October 1, 2011 3:39:46 AM

Quote:
I think it's fun drilling holes in the walls....:D 

Indeed :D  I dont do my own ethernet caps though since i can get 100ft. CAT6a for $15 lol.

EDIT: not to get too off topic, but for security I have found applying Norton DNS to the router and using avast works wonders, also with Secunia PSI auto updating. Once in a while I'll run MBAM to make sure all is well. IMO software firewalls open up more holes than they close (just make sure your router/wifi password is like 15 chars long to deter rainbow table junkies and remote access is disabled), and a good AV has excellent proactive detection, and doesnt ALWAYS scan the exact same files tearing down your HDDs, lightweight and free.
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October 1, 2011 4:37:35 AM

Quote:
never thought about that Norton to the router, instead of Avast I use Comodo..
good info.

Comodo is over-rated. Good proactive capability, but their signatures get hacked all the time which is their achilles heel, plus their AV detection is sub-par. Their CCE tool is excellent however. Iv'e worked professionally on PCs for 3 years and personally for 10 years heh. I'm also half way through my B.S. in IT Security and have the A+ cert and working on the Security+ by end of the year. :D 
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October 1, 2011 3:16:20 PM

Quote:
as in my signature, CompTIA A+, Net +, MCDST and DCSE.
besides the paper you get to hang on the wall when graduating, it doesn't mean much anymore.
it's about who you know and getting your foot in the door when employment searching..

Yeah, I am a combat vet with a secret clearance, so I think I got that covered :) 
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October 1, 2011 4:01:29 PM

Quote:
ex Navy deployed in Gulf in early 90's myself. never followed through with clearance....;)

Nice! 2x Iraq Deployments from 2003-08 here :sol: 
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October 8, 2011 2:10:19 AM

Alas, here are the pics I promised. The cable management is a nightmare in a mid-tower, along with a non-modular PSU, but this HTPC doesn't have a window anyways. Could've gone with black SATA cables, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $30 to do so as opposed to $12. Enjoy :) 




Last, but not least...

Yep, That's 13 HDD's alright :sol: 
You could sneak 14 if you get an SSD or laptop HDD and tuck it away somewhere, but you would sacrifice the eSATA port, if you use it. I use it with my ThermalTake BlacX Duet.

Here's Media Browser working it's magic, I didn't have to fetch any of this info myself at all.

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October 8, 2011 10:08:00 AM

Looks pretty nice to me even cable for cable management.
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October 8, 2011 2:11:48 PM

rvilkman said:
Looks pretty nice to me even cable for cable management.

Thanks man, I appreciate that. This thing is so heavy (13 HDDs!) I have to keep it on a piece of glass so the PSU can breathe lol. Otherwise it sinks right into the carpet. Makes it easier to slide around too. My guess would be that it's almost 40 lbs. I really like how the box looks like it was factory made on the outside (minus the "Evercool" logos), along with the tiny Logitech adapter makes it look very clean. No lights are very nice too. This thing is so quiet that I can hear the "green" HDDs spool up for use when I access one, it's awesome. That's only in an absolute silent room, 5ft away from it of course. Thanks to the ultra quiet scythe fans, and I put resistors (noise adapters) on the CPU fans too.
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October 8, 2011 8:22:17 PM

I am thinking about spanning this as one large volume (JBOD), because 13 seperate "partitions" is not very convenient. However, what would happen if one of the drives failed? Would the whole JBOD array be messed up? Can I add and take away to JBOD at will? Basically, is it even worth the effort?

EDIT: Nevermind, seems I found the answer to my question. If the drive with the Table of Contents fails, I could lose everything (need recovery software), plus it doesn't offer any speed benefits. Not worth it. Software RAID5 would be my best option, but I don't want to sacrifice I/O at this time, and all 13 HDDs wouldn't be able to fit in the array without incurring additional heavy cost. Which at that point, you may as well spend $500+ on a real RAID controller.

Conclusion: Not worth the cost and effort to be extra lazy with copy/paste lol :p  Long live Tera Copy!
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October 13, 2011 8:34:23 AM

steelbeast said:
Nice! 2x Iraq Deployments from 2003-08 here :sol: 


Ditto. 3ID 05: Baghdad and 07: LSA Anaconda. Nice to see Military personnel with technology emphasis!
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October 13, 2011 9:15:07 AM

Here's my Rig and HTPC-

[CASE]
NZXT Phantom

[PSU]
XFX Black Edition 850W Modular Computer Power Supply, 80 Plus Silver, CF/SLI Ready

[CPU]
Intell 2500K

[MOBO]
ASUS P8Z68-V PRO (Sata 6Gb/s USB 3.0)

[GPU]
HIS IceQ X Turbo Radeon HD 6950 2GB
HIS IceQ X Turbo Radeon HD 6950 2GB

[RAM]
G.SKILL Trident+ Turbulence II 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

[HDD]
OCZ Vertex 2 60GB
WD Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s

[COOLING]
Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B
Delta FFB1212EH-F00 120mm (deafening LOUD)
XIGMATEK XLF-F1255 120mm White LED (x4)

[OS]
MS Windows 7 Ultimate

[MONITORS]
Asus VW246H
Asus VH226 x2
* Going to eventually replace the 2 22" monitors with the same 24" *

[MISC]
Logitech Z623 200 w 2.1 Speaker System
Logitech MX518

// HTPC // Just started, will add multiple HDDs at a later date (obviously)

Case: nMEDIAPC Red Wood 8000 ATX Media Center
PSU: Antec Neo Power 500W
Mobo: ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775
CPU: Intel E7300
RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 640GB 7200 RPM Sata 3.0G/s

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October 13, 2011 9:03:41 PM

ha2fb said:
Ditto. 3ID 05: Baghdad and 07: LSA Anaconda. Nice to see Military personnel with technology emphasis!

I was a Tanker, loader and then gunner. '03-'04 was with 1st AD "Baghdad Island" (Had a big Tower and Ferris Wheel), Fallujah (we got the marines to finish our dirty work) and got stop lossed for Karbala (to kill Sadr, but slipped through our fingers, killed 800 of his men in 2 weeks though) for 15 months. Then I went back to Iraq from '06-'08 with 1st CAV to secure all of Baghdad West for 15 months...again. First tour was absolutely nuts!
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October 13, 2011 9:42:51 PM

Quote:
+1 to the Military....
as stated earlier:

USNavy
USS Deyo DD-989 (Charleston, SC)
PO 3rd Class
GS-E (Gas Turbine - Electrician)
1 - deployment in Kuwait and not Iraq..

give all you guys much respect..

+1 to you as well my friend :) 
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