Originally Posted by SCProCalibrator
I used to think I knew a lot about PCs until I started reading this thread. I realize now that I actually have to get into this if I am to start an HTPC library, where I filled my 750Gb HDD with only 65 movie rips and only 1 10-season TV show (all legit, no downloading!). I real library would need at least a 10Tb media server... Can the HTPC itself also be the media server? Or would I want a dedicated machine for it?
You want a dedicated server and a dedicated HTPC. That's the short answer.
In my case I want a dedicated HTPC, a dedicated workstation (for media management) and a dedicated storage server to hold it all. 3 Machines, the weakest being a 3570K i5 (HTPC), followed by a 2600k i7 (server) and a 4770k (Desktop).
I am very soon buying either a 4670K to replace the HTPC (which will becomes my office PC) or I might replace the 4770k desktop and use that as my HTPC. I tend to replace and trickle down usually.
I say all this coming from the angle of having tried the low end and never being satisified. My first HTPC was a Pentium G630 based machine, My first server was a 12TB Pentium based machine with WD GREEN drives. I upgraded both machines twice since 2011 chasing "ideal" or trying to be satisfied. I think I am very satisfied now. When I say upgraded I mean upgraded every single part, (case, psu, ram, cpu, mobo, ssd, hdd's etc, )
Since I noticed in another thread you are very much like me, I wanted to give you the benefit of a reply because I think I understand you a bit more than the 90% of the forum here that just wants "enough" but actually has no clue what that really is. Half the advice you would get is likely from the majority of folks that just want to download compressed torrents and play them back with fancy coverart in XBMC with simple playback (they don't care DVXA is broken in XBMC or even understand what that means). These are the same folks that run their display on "cool" because the whites look brighter (bluer) and don't like D6500k either, as with the red pushed the faces look too red. I'm sure you get what I am saying right ?
Since I noticed in the other thread you already are a gamer (like me) and you already have both an appreciation for good hardware and understand why it's better/needed, and you are willing to spend more than what a Raspi costs to play your media, and you actually do care what it looks like and sounds like - I would definitely suggest two machines - and that you build each appropriate to your needs (which means thinking it out clearly what you really want). I noticed you already have a robust video card, an overclocked 3770k i7, and two SSD's in your machine and that it was first an upper midrange gaming machine but that you are also interested in MadVR and other such advanced video processing (which is like gaming in the hardware demands) so you likely already understand pretty well the desktop or HTPC hardware requirements. You are just like me, I had a 2600k gaming desktop workstation when I started this thread and started chasing a media server but I really did not understand what a media server was. I never had experience with Windows Home Server, or Flexraid, or SATA HBA cards, I was mostly HDD noob too- I used velciraptors in RAID 0 for my OS before I got my first SSD, but I did not understand HDD from a storage perspective or what I really wanted.
If I was you and in your shoes I would probably build a dedicated HTPC in a nice case that is SSD only because it's quieter and cooler and you can build it easier without worrying about cramming tons of hard drives in there. If you want a video card you can make that happen still, but the problem with HDD in your HTPC is they are noisy and hot and no matter what you do you will be limited in storage space. My first server was a 10 bay full tower desktop case and 12TB and I outgrew that pretty quickly. With 4TB today you can get big space in a HTPC if you wanted it, but once you start adding in parity drives for backup and extra software to run software RAID I think you would like having everything in a dedicated media server that is reliable and constant. I did the all in one thing at the begining and if you need to restart windows and something else in the house is streaming (like wife in another room on a roku) and the picture dies on them you get screamed at
Your current machine is pretty robust so I am certain you can re purpose some of that for something else if you wanted to upgrade that (which is how I often attack things). Microcenter has the 4770k i7 for $249 and you can get another $50 off a motherboard like the Asrock Extreme4 or Extreme6 - also has the 4670k for $279 with the Extreme4 as a bundle too. That always makes me upgrade at the top and trickle down. Your 3770k would make a rather excellent server or HTPC CPU too, so you have tons of options how you want to handle it. You could just build a dedicated server, or you could upgrade your game rig / desktop rig and use that for the server.
If you want to chase the new MadVR features like pixel doubling or going up to high resolution like 4K you will likely need dual video cards (this is cheaper and more powerful and also much quieter than a single high end card struggling). Probably $400 gets you enough if you catch a sale. Possibly $500 if you want some headroom. Seems like things keep getting more expensive
But if you are happy with JINC3 you can get a $119 R260X or just keep what you have now if you re purpose it.
The answers you ask for are rather complicated I think because you have so many things and directions you can go. I am reading between the lines here in that there is a few things going on too, you want a gaming rig, a workstation or PC, ability to do HTPC, and also a media server. That's just like me
But you don't have a specific direction yet so it's hard for me to spec you out a server, but when you are ready we can help you here do that. Andy is the SATA card pro around here, he helped me flash mine (guide earlier) and also sold me a couple flashed cards too. He is also the bare metal visualization guy, he runs the server spec CPU and does ESXi, he also does live TV in MB. I'm probably more the gamer/overclocker/desktop guy as my hobby of HTPC is based off being a general PC enthusiast that also loved home theater. You sound like me a lot. But after this journey I did learn a lot about what I want and don't want from a media server, and in the end knowing about PC gets you about 80% of the way. You do want a dedicated machine with the ability to upgrade and expand when needed, you will likely keep acquiring media for as long as you enjoy this hobby of home theater. 4K media is likely to take up even more space someday too.