I think this is a very worthwhile- if not a bit biased
- thread, so I guess I'm reviving it a bit. I like the media/cpu side of the AVS: it is very much like the audio/speaker DIY side in many respects...both good and bad.
Myself, I ended up going the NAS route, specifically, the Synology 412+. I have nothing right now. And while it didn't take long for me to discover you can build a very capable CPU/server for $3-400, it also became apparent to me it would require a considerable increase in time, know-how, and execution- all of which come at a cost; for both the novice and expert alike.
In the end I looked at what I wanted to do: serve up my media to a couple different locales in my home. Clearly, either option would be up to the task, but one owned the double whammy of being less expensive AND more powerful...and yet I still went the other direction, lol. Why?
Well, it's already been answered here, but sometimes I think those that can AND do undersell the notion of plug and play/convenience. Every year I get older the value of the aforementioned become more and more valuable to me. Heck, enough so in this case I made a conscious decision to sacrifice a bit of performance AND pay more! What am I, freakin' nuts?!
Nope, I'm not nuts. I'm actually a fantastically sane guy who knows his limits...on multiple
levels. First, to me, after I get done what I need to get done, where does the "extra" performance come in, anyway? It's the old headroom argument: if you're not using it, what value does it have? I'm basically looking for a reliable car that I'm going to drive to work everyday...I don't really care if its top speed is 100 or 200mph.
I know it's a bit different here because I don't have a crystal ball as to what the next ten years will bring, but who does? Seems to me that NAS' are no more or less vulnerable than DIY CPU's when it comes to the seemingly geometric increases in computer processing over just a matter of a couple of years and I think it's a safe bet that virtually ALL my options in 2013 will be either dinosaurs or limping along in 2017.
And then, if I'm going to have this thing for 4 years, what's another $300 anyway if it's doing what I want for the next four years and was easy to set up and maintain? To me, not much at all (and I prolly earn less than 75% on here, lol). On the other hand, I can see some here losing sleep over the same matter...and neither would be wrong.
For me, the idea that the resale of a commercial, well-respected NAS is prolly better than a DIY CPU I put together in my dining room held a bit of water too, but I could be wrong there, lol.
All this, and I still really do wonder about the real
electricity costs between the two over a few years. I've seen some claims on this thread that don't even resemble what I've seen elsewhere re DIY CPUs, but I don't know enough to be sure, so please do not take offense. Still, the ~40 watts during operation and 15 during hibernation of the 412+ seem awfully tough to match, to me. I know I'm going to be paying for my electricity, so it's something I took into account, at least a bit.
Ok, rant over. I realize some have already spoke to what I'm getting at here...I would just caution everyone to NOT underestimate just what kind of premium some put on plug and play. Just as there is validity to wanting to squeeze every penny of performance out of a given design, there is real value in other methodologies.
Have a good one!