Originally Posted by beastaudio
Hmmm, I would almost want to keep the HTPC up and running at all times so I have remote access to it without having to walk down to the theater every single day to boot it up....Is there an issue with that?
I have a Windows Home Server 2008 running 24x7 with my home automation software and it has simply been bullet proof. I also have a 24x7 Windows 7 machine with Windows Media Center that I was previously using for my whole home cable TV and that is also rock solid but I don't really use it as much as I switched back to Tivo. Unfortunately, Windows Media Center was very successful but never made "Microsoft-type money" so it has been relegated to history. Windows 8 is even more reliable than Windows 7 so you shouldn't have any issues with 24x7 use. If you want slightly more reliability, you might want to look at a Windows Home Server 2011 system, which is based off of Windows Server 2008, which would make it even more robust. However, it wouldn't be as flexible in the drivers and software you could run but would be more reliable.
Also, I am getting increasingly interested in this HTPC thing as it would simplify so many aspects of my music storage and streaming, measuring the room, etc etc. How much are you on the hook for, if you are looking for something that will basically do storage, REW, and BD ripping? Nothing as extravagant as n8's as I would still do my gaming on consoles.
You could get a cheap Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc. that would meet your needs for under $400 but would be a gainly mini/mid-tower type computer. If you want a really small computer or a home-theater type computer chassis, it could cost up to $1000 or so. Here are some general specs to look at and if you want to discuss further, just PM me.
Processor: Intel i5 (midway between lower power i3 and more powerful i7)
Memory: 8GB min with 16GB being better
Hard drive for system/programs: SSD - 120 GB min with 240/250 being better
Hard drive for media/data storage: 3TB drives or even better, 4TB drives.
Redundancy: Many motherboards or system support RAID for redundancy. You might want to consider that for your system but especially your storage drive as drives are relatively cheap vs the hassle of losing data, even musics/movies that can be reripped. The simplest and most supported is RAID 1 (Mirroring) which would require 2 drives that would mirror each other so you'd only have 1 drives worth of available storage.
Case: Basic case or HTPC case. Note that if you go smaller or towards HTPC that it will be more expensive and won't have as many options for hard drives.
So with that said here are a few options.
1. Get a desktop machine from HP or Dell and stick it behind your equipment rack
2. Get a small Intel NUC, Gigabyte Brix, or similar mini computer and then add an external hard drive with RAID mirroring built in. Note, some of these mini computers are barebones, which would require you to add a hard drive, memory, and the operating system.
3. Order something from AssassinPC or similar as has been mentioned.
4. Use a laptop or basic computer and then buy a Network Attached Storage (NAS) to store your data/music/videos that you could get access to from anywhere on your network. A NAS is a basic computer solely focused on being a file server (some have additional features).
5. Buy a Windows Home Server 2011 machine, which is pretty cheap and could handle many items but may not run applications designed for Windows 8. WHS would be your application server, storage server, media server, and backup server for other machines/laptops in your house. Good system.
Like I said, feel free to PM me if you want to discuss in more detail.