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-   -   Home Media Server Help (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/new-builds/51515-home-media-server-help.html)

PeterSmyth February 11, 2012 09:15 PM

Home Media Server Help
Hey everyone, this is my first post, please be gentle:)

I am currently considering building a home media server. I have a mental checklist of things that it needs to do, but I'm not sure of the best way to implement them.

-Must be able to stream 1080p movies around the house to various devices (more than one device at the same time would be nice, but not necessary)
-Must be able to run some kind of torrent client
-Must have some kind of data redundancy(1 parity drive would be plenty for my needs)
-I think I would start off with 3 drives(2 data, 1 parity), but I may expand to more later on
-Low power draw would be ideal, but is not 100% necessary
-Would be running for long periods of time, if not 24/7
-Trying to keep the budget around $300-$400(If this is unreasonable, let me know. I am willing to wait for HDDs to come back down in price)

It seems like an integrated CPU/Motherboard is the route to go. However, most only have 2 SATA ports. What are the ways of increasing the number of available SATA ports. Are there any problems with mixing SATA ports from the motherboard vs. SATA ports from a PCI card?
Does passive cooling on the CPU carry any significant advantage, ie less dust?
How hot do the HDDs get? Is it worth looking into a case with lots of front vents/fans?

I am debating using linux for the OS(Although I could be convinced otherwise). What is a good OS that will allow me to implement some kind of software RAID, as well as run a torrent client? As I mentioned briefly above, I plan to start with 3 drives(2 data, 1 parity). I might want to add more drive(s) later on. 4 drives total seems like a realistic number, although having the capacity to have up to 6 total drives would be nice.

As for the devices that will be connecting to the server, it is essentially a bunch of Windows machines, as well as one Macbook. An HTPC might be added later on down the road. I want to server to simply show up as a network drive, but if there is a more elegant/different way of accessing files from the machines, that would be fine.

I know it's alot of questions, I appreciate any feedback.

enaberif February 11, 2012 11:01 PM

Windows 7 HP with XBMC all you need.

Linux is a royal pita to do any media with especially 1080p

moocow February 11, 2012 11:02 PM

I would say $300 USD / CND is not possible unless you buy used off BST section. An old AMD X2 with 2GB of RAM should be enough to stream and torrent stuff. I tried software RAID on Ubuntu 10 and it takes forever to initialize. I have yet to try motherboard hardware RAID and my 3Ware card is collecting dusts because Seagate 7200.11 & 7200.12 have problems with hardware RAID. Surprisingly, Hitachi DeskStar 7100 does work with hardware RAID or so they claim in their spec sheets.

Looking at this week's NCIX special, there is an AMD A8 with a Gigabyte board for $200. Add 8 GB of ram and it will come up to around $300 before any sort of tax. Given how expensive HDDs currently (with projected shortage until late 2012), I sure hope you got old ones to hold you over or win the lotto. Looking at integrated CPU prices, by the time you add another SATA card or RAID controller, it will be way more than the $300 stated above. ITX board have limited space and at most I see 4 SATA ports. May as well get a mATX with 6 SATA port with RAID support.

PeterSmyth February 12, 2012 01:05 PM

Just to be clear, this server will NOT be playing the media, it will only be distributing it to other devices. It is my understanding that this is not very CPU or RAM intensive.
I have found 2 motherboard/CPU options:
$130 - $20 rebate card + S&H
6 SATAIII ports
Newegg.ca - ASUS E35M1-I Fusion AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD Hudson M1 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

$120 - $30 rebate card + S&H
4 SATAIII ports
Newegg.ca - GIGABYTE GA-E350N-USB3 AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD Hudson-M1 FCH Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

Adding 2GB of RAM should be $10-15
Case and PSU should bring the total up to about $200-$210
I am comfortable getting only 1 or 2 HDDs for now, and not worrying about data redundancy until I get a third drive down the road.

I have a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 that I can acquire for free(legally). Does it have any kind of parity drive capabilities? As far as I can tell, it can only do a 1:1 mirror, or simply concatenate multiple drives together into one partition.

Panzer23 February 12, 2012 01:24 PM

Cheap Media Server
So right now my setup AMD Athlon X2 with 2GB of memory. on a generic run of the mill motherboard that I picked up on a combo deal for about $100. With the price of HDDs right now, obivously the prices are different.

AMD Athlon X2 + mobo - $90
2GB ADATA DDR2 800 - $40
2x 1TB Seagate Barracuda - $100 for both
1x 1.5TB WD Caviar Blue - $120
random generic PSU - free
Windows Home Server. - $100

not to sure about data redundancy, but its has been running for long amounts of time (6 plus months) at a time between services. No problem streaming 1080p media, and if you have a media PC, it integrates into WMC incredibly well. All told $450.

P.S. - I have bittorrent running on it as well as couchpotato, sickbeard, and SABNZBD no problem between running those and streaming.

jtktam February 12, 2012 01:26 PM

how much data do you plan to store on the server.. a 3 drive raid 5 doesn't really make much sense.. you are losing 33% to parity.. you start to get into 4 or 5 drive raid 5 would make sense (25%, 20% lost)..

if you getting ANY new drive these days, it will blow at least $200 out of your budget..


I am running mediatomb connected to my 3 QNAP 6 bay NAS drives.. each have 6x2tb in RAID 6

I have went down the path of using cheap hardware, etc.. but when you have over 24TB of storage, you don't want to mess around!


moocow February 12, 2012 04:37 PM

Quick Google search yielded this link:

Configuring and Managing RAID 5 on Windows Server 2008 - Techotopia

So it could be possible to run software RAID on 2K8 R2. I got a license myself but haven't tried it yet. Lian Li got a pretty ITX case with 4 to 6 HDD drive bays so you can just add a RAID card later to overcome the lack of SATA ports.

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