HTPC standalone, or NAS Media Server with mini HTPC? Which system architecture should I build? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-26-2012, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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I have decided I would like to build an HTPC system for my home media consumption. I am not sure if I should build a simple HTPC box, complete with hard drives, or if I should build a NAS media server that dishes out files through out the entire house, to multiple screens in various rooms. To help you advise me, here are the capabilities I seek:

DVR/TiVo replacement capabilities. Must be able to stream one channel, while recording another. Must work with a rooftop OTA antennae for free HD tv, as well as stream whatever free TV I can find, and work to stream 1080p Netflix, via HDMI.

Ability to find and record content from a newsgroup that I will join

Would like the ability for sending the signal wirelessly from the HTPC or NAS media server to HDtv panels in my livingroom, bedroom, basement rec room, and kitchen. No HDtv panel will be more than 30 feet from the center of the house, where I would place the file server, or standalone HTPC.

Would like to spend $1,000 or less. Would like some small degree of 'overkill' for 'future-proofing'

The system will be hooked up to comcast cable internet.

As of right now, I only have 1 single HD screen, but I intend to buy the others within the next year, so the ability to send media to multiple devices is required. I would also like to be able to watch different media on different screen s at the same time, if possible.

I don't play many games, but I do have kids (oldest nearly 8), so if there is a case where spending a little more here or there would also allow the system to do some gaming, I would be interested in learning more.

I'm software agnostic between Microsoft and Linnux. XBMC looks really neat from what I have read, and I like that it looks to be free. I would prefer not to use any MAC hardware or software.

The world of HTPC is new to me, so if I have forgotten to answer any important questions, please let me know and I will reply and update this first post as well.

Thanks for any suggestions of help you can provide! Once I know the basic architectural path of what I should build, I can begin researching system components, and form a build plan.

Thanks again!

Dan in Mpls
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-27-2012, 10:20 PM
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I've gone the route of one HTPC for each of the 3 TVs in the house and a file server. Only one HTPC is using wireless. The rest are all wired via gigabit ethernet. All of the HTPCs are miniITX in some kind of compact case, either Sandybridge S or T type CPU and SSD. One use a passive cooling case.

The file server has the following:
BCM RX67Q industrial MB, dual gigabit ethernet
8GB Crucial DDR3 RAM
Seasonic SS-350ET PSU
2x Highpoint RR 2320 8 port cards
2x CoolMaster 4-in-3 HDD racks
1x Thermaltake 6 bay 2.5in HDD rack
1x 3TB HDD
2x 2TB HDD
1x 1TB HDD
1x 500GB HDD
3x 60GB in RAID0 + 1x 100GB parity
1x 64GB SSD for OS
All the case fans and rack fans were changed to thermal controlled type. Thermal controlled fans added to the Highpoint cards.
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-28-2012, 09:19 AM
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I have a separate file server as well. The server is built to be robust with emphasis on redundancy and data protection. I can experiment with the individual HTPC boxes and try different drivers, codecs, etc and not worry about any compatibility with the storage.

I run Linux on my file server because I'm cheap.
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-28-2012, 10:24 AM
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Since you are planning to have more than one viewing location, I would definitely go the route of the serve/clients. This will all each client to be much smaller and will also allow clients to "survive" a primary HTPC/client not working (note-this is important for me b/c I am often tweaking the HTPC and a crash or need to do a reinstall does not sit well with the family). If you plan correctly, you can do this in stages. First, I would get a small (mini- or micro-ATX) case to hold a) one 3.5 hard drive, b) one 2.5 SSD drive, and c) slim or normal optical drive. With this, I would get an HDHomerum Prime, which is a cablecard tuner. With motherboard, ram, hard drive (2 or 3 TB) for recorded TV/movie rips, SSD (for OS), Blu-ray, Windows, and HDHR you should be able to get below your $1000 target. When you are ready for the server, you get can some deals on Craigslist or use old parts. I've tried a lot of different OS for my server (WHS1, WHS2011, Server2012, FreeBSD, FreeNAS, Solaris), and I currently use FreeBSD/ZFSGuru because it is free and one of the group of OS that provide the ZFS file system. I've gradually upgraded my server to the point that I now have one of the Norco, multi bay cases, but you may don't need that with todays hard drive capacities. After you get your server, you can archive recorded TV from the HTPC to the server along with your movie rips. As you add additional clients, they can use the networked HDHR and access content from the server. Depending on the number of HTPC clients, you may need to add additional HDHomeruns - I have 2 (each has 3 tuners).
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-28-2012, 05:30 PM
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A dedicated client/server model is the ideal situation, but if budget constraints apply there are other options. If the TVs can playback from a DLNA server then the OP can save some money by having a single HTPC for the main viewing screen and streaming everything else using a DLNA server on the HTPC with on the fly transcoading such as Serviio. The DLNA client interface on most TV's is pretty basic, but it doesn't cost anymore if you already have it. Can still watch OTA through each screen's indivual tuner.

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