Htpc+nas

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by darkplanets, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. darkplanets macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I'm considering making a PC for dual purposes; HTPC and NAS.

    I could buy each separately, but let's be honest, they're pretty overpriced.

    Any suggestions as to what I should load into this thing? I'm trying to keep cost down as much as possible. I know the NAS doesn't need much overhead; it's more going to come down to the network card and raid (if used), and the HTPC is going to come down to the proc and GPU-- any decent suggestions?

    I'm not looking for the best around, just something that's going to be able to play 12-20GB movies with digital audio while at the same time being able to serve as a file-server on a local network. Gigabit networking would be nice.
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    What's your budget? How much storage is needed? A cheap-ish AMD setup (with ATI IGP) can play Blu-Ray just fine and the cost is pretty affordable too. Something like this and this should be sufficient.
     
  3. darkplanets thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    I would say 300-400 is my ideal budget. Your listed components would definitely work, and I've been eying them up, but once coupled with HDD's it could be potentially... expensive. I like the micro ATX board though, and if not Gigabytes, probably another's. I was actually looking at a Rosewill case with 120mm fans to keep this thing cool, and that leads me to question how cheap I want to get with the PSU. Also couldn't I get a cheaper single core and overclock it?

    I'd like to start with 4TB; whether that be 4 1TB or 2 2TB it matters not; along those lines, would caviar greens suffice? I realize they don't support RAID and are slower (at least as far as I'm aware), however I'd like to keep the heat down.

    Another principle questions is which OS to use; originally I was just going to make a NAS by itself running a stripped down NAS oriented version of Linux, but now that I'm incorporating a HTPC, I'm not sure what to run. I'm not exactly Linux savvy, but that isn't to say I couldn't learn.
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #4
    You wouldn't save more than 10 or 20 bucks by getting a single-core which is a lot slower. As you listed 12-20GB movie files, I assume those are Blu-Ray rips or other high-quality content. Single-core may not be sufficient for that. Besides, overclocking requires more power so in the long run it might be more expensive, let alone the extra heat and noise.

    If you get the CPU and mobo I listed above plus e.g. this RAM, this PSU and this case, the total price would be around 200$ unless I'm missing something. Still money for WiFi card if needed

    Caviar Greens do support RAID. Personally, I would get two 2TBs to start with. Easy to expand when needed

    You could try Linux first. If you don't find it to be your thing, just buy Windows 7 OEM for 99$
     
  5. darkplanets thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    That actually looks pretty decent.

    Do you think the case will handle the heat well? It looks like there's maybe a 120mm fan slot up front, but I'm not entirely sure.

    How about the RAM; is 2GB enough? If I use W7 I thought it liked 4GB?

    This would be my first self built PC actually; what's the difference between SATA and peripheral connections? I realize the 12v is going to the fan; if I add another do I need a splitter?

    As per the OS, what would you recommend? Is there any nice ways to share these HDDs over the network to Windows and Mac computers? SMB doesn't play well with OSX, is there any way I can do NFS?

    Sorry for all the questions.
     
  6. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #6
    It has gotten pretty good reviews, no mentions about heat issues. I doubt there would be any issues with your setup though, the CPU is only 65W and there is no discrete GPU. Here is another 25$ case but with 120mm fan.

    If it's going to be used just for movie watching and file sharing, then 2GB should be sufficient. You can easily add another 2x1GB if needed

    Peripheral connectors are for PCI cards or memory card readers and stuff like that. The 12V goes to the motherboard, it's dedicated for the CPU. I think fans use the peripheral connectors, there are so many of them. Usually there is no need for splitters and stuff like that, just follow the instructions.

    I'm not a specialist when it comes to networking but I think Linux might be better for OS X file sharing as it's so close to OS X. Also supports HFS+. Maybe someone else can help you more with this
     
  7. Zaap macrumors 6502

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    #7
    These hardware suggestions are good- should work well for both tasks.

    The only thing I'd suggest is to just bite the bullet and get 2x 2GB of RAM right out of the gate. The reason is, in my own experience I started off just like you, saying "I'm only going to use this PC for one or two things..." but then as you see it's actually a pretty decent workhorse, you'll find yourself putting it to use for things like ripping/recompressing media. If you really get into using it as an HTPC, you may eventually get a TV tuner and starting using it as a DVR, then wanting to squeeze recordings down to a portable file format. Then a few basic games... etc. etc...

    Suddenly 2GB of RAM wil seem anemic for those added tasks, and you'll also be slapping your forehead if you use up all the RAM slots with 1GB sticks. So anyway, my advice is just go with 4GB in the form of 2x 2GB IE: these, and you'll get more bang for the buck, better performance all around, and more future-proofing as you can eventually go up to 8GB.

    This also brings up the choice of OS- if you do plan to use 4GB, I'd go with a 64-bit OS. 32-bit is fine, but it can't address more than 3GB of RAM. I use Windows 7 x64 in my own HTPCs and I haven't had any problem with software-compatibility, which was a problem with XP and Vista. If you go with less than 4GB, stick with 32-bit Windows.

    It's not true that Macs don't work well with SMB shares- I've been using samba and Windows SMB networking for years with Macs and it works fine. Setting up Linux as a file server, you'll likely use samba anyway. With Windows, it's merely a matter of turning on file sharing, setting the proper sharing permissions with any shared folder, and then accessing them via the Go/Connect to Server menu in OSX. Windows or Linux smb shares will show up as smb://sharename. To keep it simple, I always keep my main shares as aliases on the OSX desktop.

    If you were just doing a straight NAS, I'd recommend Linux- just about any flavor will do the job, personally I prefer Mandriva as it was a breeze for me to set up and turn into a NAS server with smb shares to all other computers. ClearOS also works well if you just want click and install simplicity.

    But since you also want an HTPC, I'd highly recommend Windows 7. The $99 Home Premium version includes Windows Media Center, which is IMO the best HTPC front end. There's also tons of other great HTPC software for windows: Beyond TV, XBMC, MeediOS, Boxee, GBPVR, etc. For a browser, try Kylo, which is a Firefox offshoot made just for HDTVs.

    Yes, Linux can run HTPC software like Myth, but setting it all up can be such an exercise in pulling your hair out, I wouldn't recommend it unless you're already a command-line guru. I know the Linux fanbois will swear otherwise, but I don't even like trying to use media apps in Linux. I've found virtually every variant to be flaky even doing simple tasks like playing DVDs or common media files. IMHO, the old adage is true: Linux is awesome for servers, but not quite ready for desktop use.

    One more thing- for your build, I wouldn't go too crazy with fans. That hardware will not run very hot. My favorite fan layout is one 120mm fan (or as big as possible) in the front of the case pulling air in over the hard drives. Many cases will have a side door vent/cowl that exhausts the CPU heat. You don't have a graphic card, so no GPU fan. The PSU fan will vent air out the back- no other rear fan is needed with such a basic configuration. These are my fave 120mm case fans, cheap and virtually dead silent. Plug the fan directly into the motherboard SYS FAN header; that Gigabyte board has one, which is really all it needs.
     
  8. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #8
    AFP support in linux is shoddy, so if you use linux you would want to use NFS, which is also natively supported in Mac.
     
  9. darkplanets thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Thanks for the info!

    It looks like W7 x64 it is; I was personally leaning more towards linux, but my lack of command line prowess past inconfig, sudo, etc kind of impedes that, and I want this to be as simple and stable as possible.

    If hackintoshes weren't so convoluted and unstable for AMD rigs I'd have probably gone that route instead; I'm still leery on SMB and would prefer NFS, but I suppose this will suffice. I don't want to have to deal with point upgrades every few months, and then replace kexts, etc just to try to fix it. Of course I suppose the other option is to build an intel rig that's vanilla install capable, but I'm trying to keep total cost between $300-400, so I dont know if it's even possible.

    As per the processor; what if I went triple or quad core? I'm not familiar with AMD sockets or mobos; would the AM3 socket on the mobo fit a higher multi-core processor? Would the extra heat overhead be fine as well? I've just been poking around on newegg and found higher clocked DC as well as TC and QC procs. Also, what's with the chatter about unlocking cores?
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    Pretty much all current AMD CPUs use AM3 socket, including the latest 6-core, so you can get any CPU you want. If you're fine with paying more for e.g. quad core, then go for it. Heat isn't an issue as most AMD CPUs are ≤95W. Fan may run a bit louder though.

    Some AMD CPUs have one or two core disabled and it's possible to enable them to turn dual or triple core into a quad core. I wouldn't start playing with it unless you need more CPU power. As it's running 24/7, keeping components as energy efficient as possible is good IMO.
     
  11. darkplanets thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Is this unlocking through manual BIOS tinkering, or a utility provided by AMD?

    I don't suppose AMD procs come with some sort of in-use core disabling to save power? I mean if I do eventually decided to decode on it I obviously could use those extra cores, however as you said I'm not going to need it all the time, and using extra power is crappy.
     
  12. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #12
    http://www.overclock.net/amd-cpus/535501-official-amd-k10-5-core-cache.html

    It's quite easy but you need compatible parts.

    http://event.msi.com/mb/unlockap/

    There's also a utility that can do it for you
     

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