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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone.


I have an issue. The issue is I can not put together a system that I am not ending up with super high end components which I am TOTALLY sure I do not need... I just get worried that with the lower processor speeds, etc... Im going to get it home and not be able to stream the files that I need, where if I go to a full fledged Core i7 system I have that peice of mind that it will do everything and anything I want it to do. I just dont want to spend the money that it would require when I have a PC that is top of the line already.


Like I said, I have a home theatre setup in my basement which is connected to my powerhouse PC/HT System which does any and everything I need it to do... So I dont need ALL the bells and whistles. this is mainly to be able to watch the content on my upstairs living room tv which is a Sharp 32" Aquos. Basically I want a HTPC that is small(er) and quiet that will stream 1080p BLU-RAY MKV files in Stereo without any lag on the display at all.


In addition to this I want a Windows Home Server to manage backup of the rest of my PC's HD's and would like the HTPC to handle this load of work as well. The HTPC would be on 24/7 and honestly would be performing the server duties far more than the streaming duties. I guess I should confirm that Windows Home Server will work as an OS for streaming 1080p MKV files?


I would also like the server/htpc to be able to house a 3-4 drive RAID Array.


With all that said, could I get some suggestions of Motherboard, CPU and Cases that will do the steaming and be reliable as a Home server in the long run and never have an issue with playing 1080p MKV files in any format?


Thanks everyone!
 

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WHS not only will stream the files, that's one of the things it's designed to do. Here's what I used to do mine:


ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 because it has RAID 0/1/5/10/JBOD in case WHS goes to the wayside, USB 3.0, the 880 chipset, and plenty of memory capability.


AMD Athlon II X4 610e Propus 2.4GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 45W Quad-Core Desktop Processor because it's 45w instead of 95w or higher, 4 core, plenty of cache per core, etc.


Two of the 2 TB Seagate Barracuda LP ST32000542AS 2TB 5900 RPM SATA low power drives, and a 1.5 TB drive I had on-hand, and a 120gb 7200 as a system drive.


4 GB of PC1333 DDR3, although 2 GB appears to have been all I needed.


Case, power supply, BD drive, etc.


When streaming to a PS3, phone, anything that needs transcoding, this is just enough processor to keep up.
 

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Just depends on how you'll be streaming. Anything that requires transcoding needs some horsepower. When I was asking about processors for my WHS, I was told an i5 would probably be minimum for my needs. I ended up going AMD and 880 chipset on another recommendation, then did the processor I did to lower power consumption and heat. If you are streaming to a Windows 7 box only, then this doesn't really matter and that i3 will most likely be just fine, if not overkill.
 

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I don't understand your post. You can not have a HTPC running WHS. WHS is just not designed to be a HTPC. You need a server and a HTPC as two seperate systems.


If you are only streaming to other PC's then in reality that PC is just reading the file from the servers HDD. The server needs almost no CPU power to do this. However, if you expect the server to rip video's or do other CPU intensive tasks then a little better CPU could be in order. Well, I should not say ripping, I should really say re-encoding - for example turning a 1080p video into 720p or reducing the size of a 1080p video. Simply copying a blueray and turning the contents directly into a mkv file isn't very CPU intensive.


An i3 would work as a HTPC processor and would normally work as a WHS processor unless you do expect to do heavy re-encoding. But then, you could do the processing on that i7 you already own.


I run unRAID as my server OS. It's simpler in some ways than WHS but that's what I like. I can just leave it running and it just keeps working. The whole reason it exists is to provide a network location to store media. I run an old AMD processor in my server, a BE2350 I believe it is. Something like 1.8GHz and low power. Probably not much better than a Sempron. Yet, it works just fine. Lots of people run unRAID on Atom boards (mini-ITX with 6-SATA ports) and they have no issues either.


Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So WHS is not a good HTPC OS... That is good to know. I was just hoping to squish it all into 1 more PC instead of 2 more PC's



Just as more info... The file will reside on my machine downstairs. I just need to be able to play that file upstairs in 1080p on a TV, no sound system or anything.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by XST /forum/post/19621720


So WHS is not a good HTPC OS... That is good to know. I was just hoping to squish it all into 1 more PC instead of 2 more PC's



Just as more info... The file will reside on my machine downstairs. I just need to be able to play that file upstairs in 1080p on a TV, no sound system or anything.

The correct way to say it is that WHS is NOT an HTPC OS. It's not good or bad, it simply isn't one. You can use your Win7 machine as your storage if you want, I did that for years. You can stream from it, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So long story short...


Use 2 machines, 1 for a HTPC and 1 for a WHS.


The HTPC will be fine doing what I want to do off the Core i3 530?


Thank you everyone. Good to get up to date input from a group of people doing the same things... Hard to take what you read on the internet in various places as accurate information.
 

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WHS is for storing files, serving them to devices/computers that will be playing the media, and backing up other comptuers on your network. A WHS computer does not need to be near your television. Really all it needs is a power outlet and a network connection (wired ethernet). Many people keep their WHS computers tucked away. I had mine in a storage room for a long time.


I think what you want is what I call a client computer. This is a small, quiet computer used as a front end. It is connected directly to your television (and other AV gear if you so desire, but in your case it sounds like that is not needed). For this type of "client" computer your mentioned hardware, ASUS P7H55-M PRO, Intel Core i3 530 and 4GB ram, plus a hard drive of some sort and an operating system, would do the trick.

For reassurance and other options, start here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...l%20%28iGPU%29
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you for the responses.


Maybe explaining my entire setup and situation would be helpful in helping people suggest what I should be looking at in terms of serving/streaming.


In my basement I have a Core i7 950 PC connected to an Onkyo TX-SR875, Paradigm Speakers, SVS PB-13Ultra Woofer and a 52" Sharp Aquos TV.


I have 2 laptops that me and/or my wife use around the house or while watching TV (yes, im a total geek that way)


My wife has her own PC as well, nothing special but she is the photo/music junkie.


And upstairs we have a plain old 720p Sharp Aquos 32".


My situation is that when i am in the basement I can play the files on my main PC which does this flawlessly on my 52" TV... But when I am on my PC and my wife or my kids want to watch one of the digital movie MKV files I cant really use my computer because what I am doing might include audio or CPU intensive work. In other words I wont let them watch them because it will be enjoyable for all of us...


So to remedy this issue I want to be able for them to watch movies on the upstairs 32" TV, they don't care about the fancy speakers and sub.


At the same time I've been thinking about setting up a dedicated server to host picture and music files so that my wife and I can have our PC's backed up nightly and store our digital family photos and music. The MKV/Movie files will always be on my main PC (Core i7 Setup) as this is where I encode/decode/download them and they are such huge files that I'd rather not be transferring them to the server.


So what I had in mind was setting up a HTPC that I can play the MKV files from my main PC on the TV upstairs and since I was going to be building a new PC to do that I thought that maybe I could use that PC for the Music/Photo/Backup server.


Hope this helps! Thanks again for all the help everyone. I know a lot about computers and I know a lot about HT -- I just don't know a lot about how they work together in some instances.
 

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You sort of have the perfect setup for WHS. BUT, I suggest you DO move your videos to the WHS, and not store them on your main HTPC (your existing i7 machine).


WHY you ask?


When you stream an MKV or other media file from WHS to the HTPC, it's only doing file sharing. This puts almost zero load on the server itself. If you are streaming to laptops or another client PC on the 32", this will also present almost no load to the server. And, if you are trying to play a game or something that does require heavy load on your HTPC (the i7), you don't have to concern yourself with any overhead caused by the client PC at the 32".


Also, since your wife is a photo nut, WHS offers a few things that would probably come in really handy:

1. A "photo" share that you can even set up to be accessible from the internet

2. Data duplication on the WHS, so you'll have the data even if a drive fails

3. Automatic backup of client computers. This works REALLY well.


Another idea that comes to mind, since you mentioned kids, is using an XBOX or PS3 at the 32" instead of building a PC. It will put more overhead on the WHS to transcode to send, but this is exactly what I do at my house. I store everything on the WHS, have one HTPC in the living room running Windows 7 Media Center with Media Browser, a PC in my wife's art/craft/office space, then PS3's in other rooms for gaming and streaming. The laptops we have aren't adequate to view HD video, but are at least backed up by WHS.
 

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IMO you don't need a dedicated WHS server.


your basement computer (i7) should be able to act as your server. what you do on the basement pc should not effect anybody streaming a video file from it. streaming a video takes very little cpu power. the receiving pc is where all the cpu stuff is happening. and even that cpu stuff is very light on the cpu. netbooks are capable of watching 1080p videos. i think you would be fine making your basement pc the server and stream to all the other pc's in the house from there.


if you are dead set on a server, get a 2.0ghz or faster, 1-2g ram, and a cheap mobo and you're set. get win7 or WHS (microsoft is removing the drive pooling feature fyi). a server that is meant to stream video only does not need a lot of power or even medium power.


you can stream to a PS3, but its not rly idea. check out PS3 Server i think its called.
 

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oh, and for your htpc in the upstairs, again, you can get very basic components. 2.0ghz cpu, 2g ram and a cheap latest gen mobo. if you don't need hd audio, the onboard audio and video will be plenty for stereo. if you want future proof, pick up a low end ATI 5xxx card for ~50 bux.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ /forum/post/19625881


Another idea that comes to mind, since you mentioned kids, is using an XBOX or PS3 at the 32" instead of building a PC. It will put more overhead on the WHS to transcode to send, but this is exactly what I do at my house. I store everything on the WHS, have one HTPC in the living room running Windows 7 Media Center with Media Browser, a PC in my wife's art/craft/office space, then PS3's in other rooms for gaming and streaming. The laptops we have aren't adequate to view HD video, but are at least backed up by WHS.

you don't need to transcode to a xbox360. it can play up to 10mbit video files w/out issues (it can do 720p files just fine, it won't do 1080p stuff though, unless the bitrate is under 10mbit). just need to install either sharks007 or divx codec on the server and it will play natively in windows media center.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Will WHS play the MKV files though? If it does why would I not use WHS as the OS and store ALL the files on there and just play a movie once in a while off the WHS machine?


I realize that its "better" to have 2 separate machines but what I really need is WHS to play the odd movie once in a while. Will it do it? Or it just doesn't work with VLC or WMP?
 

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WHS (or any other OS) doesn't play the mkv file. the local pc does. streaming a video from a computer to another, its identical to simply transferring the video. the server does nothing to the file other then take from the hard drive and send it over the network.


any OS can be used on a server. i use win7. i used XP for a time. WHS has some added features that you can use but are by no means needed. and one of the biggest features people use WHS for is being removed (drive pooling).


you don't need a dedicated server and an htpc. just use the i7 you have in the basement and get a cheap htpc for the upstairs. your i7 can act as your server. there is nothing inherently special about a "server" (for our purposes). just like there is nothing inherently special about a "htpc". its just a term we call a PC to tell what the pc's purpose is.
 
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