I have had it in mind to build an HTCP for some time. The eventual purpose is to place my DVD collection onto a central server and have it all be playable by the HTPC and any other deives, such as tablets, that I may have by the time I'm nearing the end of the project. That will take some time. It will be done in a series of progressive steps given the time it will take to rip and encode the DVDs (I plan to use Handbrake) and funds limitations. I'm in the UK by the way so hence no links to NewEgg!
Here is the build I propose:
I will be reusing my existing Thermaltake PSU - it's actually over-rated for what I have and was bought at the time for a serie sof upgrades that never happened! I will also be reusing my existing WD 7200 system drive; it's only 320Gb but adequate. Also keep on using existing Windows 7.
Unfortunately, the rest of my existing kit is ancient and quite entry level - an old Athlon X2 4200 and NVIDEA GeForce 8600 so I forsee no immediate reuse for them, simiarly the motherboard has only two SATAII ports. And all in a hideous early 90's beige case with little in the way of room for more HDD's or anything else!
The new kit would consist of
Case: Fractal Design R3 Black Pearl Mini (as I like the design and want a tower type)
Motherboard: Asus P8B75-M-LE; this was selected as it provides a decent number of SATA ports, two PCI-e (one x16, one x4) and lets me re-use my ketboard and mouse (hey, every pound saved is a pound to spend on something else!)
Processor: Intel Core i3 Ivy Bridge 3220
HDD for storage: one (or two, funds permitting) 3Tb drives (I;d like advice on these - the obvious choices are Caviar Reds for some more money, Caviar Green for a bit less, or some Seagates, although the price differential is fairly trivial between these and the Greens.)
Plus the usual stuff like RAM, DVD drive and a remote control!
This system would simply use XBMC and also be my desktop. I don't play games so it;s main job is just daily net useage, and of course ripping/encoding. A beefier processor would be desirable, but funds do not allow.
An SDD would be an obvious choice but funds don't allow for that right now but it would be a priority upgrade. It's not a big issue and SDD prices drop all the time.
When the R3 case HDD capacity is reached - which is going to take some time - I would propose to build either a pure NAS or Media Server. At that point I would re-use most of the hardware in the above system in a large case, such as the antec Nine Hundred plus of course hard-drive cages and HDD controller card (hence the selection of the PCE-e slots for maximum potential expandability - though of course by that time HDD's will probably have more capacity so I wouldn;t need so many...ah, but then, there's BluRay to think about...) whilst the HTPC/desktop would be upgraded to whatever prevailed at the time. I would think about either a simple NAS - probably WHS +FlexRAID, or possible a media server with those plus Plex. Depends on whether I have Smart TV, tablets etc.
The only other possibility, which might save a little money, is to reuse the Athlon+motherboard as the basis for the NAS and keeping the i3 as the HTPC. I guess even a lowly processor like that could manage a NAS, but not a media server.
This would all be in a single room and using Gb LAN wired.
I don;t currently own any BluRays.
Obviously this is going to take a long time so I don;t see the point (and don;t have the funds for) a "big bang" right away, because I might spend 18 months filling five or six 3Tb drives and by that time who knows how big HDD's will be or how the price will have come down?
The only alternative I see to this is to re-use almost all of the current hardware in a new case and just add a graphics card and HDD's. But I suspect things like Handbrake would be painfuly slow. Then the Athlon would definitely be the base for the NAS when the time came, and the HTPC built with whatever was the hardware of choice at that time.
Sorry to ramble on. Does this sound a reasonable plan?