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Keep what HTPC hardware I have or get new stuff?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I had an HTPC awhile back but had some issues with it and then the TV we have in our living room died so it pretty much stopped being used. I kept having problems with random restarts when it was up and running, which got very frustrating when it continued after replacing the power supply and eventually the motherboard too. I want to get it up and running again and do a little upgrade while I am at it. I have 2x 1.5TB drives in my main rig right now and another 2x 1.5TB drives I got from newegg awhile ago sitting on my desk. The plan was to put all 4 in the HTPC in software raid 5 and have it also operate as a file server at the same time so I don't have to leave my desktop on all the time.

The problem I have right now is that the motherboard I have (Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3) only has 4 internal SATA ports and I would need 5 in order to have a drive for the OS (was planning on using my 32GB OCZ vertex that is sitting on my desk). I currently have 4GB of ram and a i3-520 or 530 (can't remember) in the motherboard. I was looking at some AMD E-350 boards that have more SATA ports but some people are saying they have trouble with netflix HD streaming on them, which is necessity for me. I am not sure whether I should try to get the hardware I have now working since I didn't figure it out before and I am really busy right now, not to mention I am short a SATA port. Should I try to get what I have working or should I look at replacing my motherboard and CPU?

Also, what operating system would you suggest using for this? All the other computers in the house run windows 7 but I don't feeling like buying a new copy just to get software raid 5 since I had home edition on it before. But, since netflix doesn't really work in linux because it relies on silverlight's DRM I feel like I'll be stuck with windows anyhow.
post #2 of 7
The e-350 is supposed to handle any HD content just fine, but like you said, I have seen some people complaining about problems with Netflix (which makes me wonder if it is a network issue on their end).

I have been debating getting a e-350 to replace my main HTPC just beacuse, but can't justify the cost.
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'Pooter
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Hard DriveOptical DriveOptical DriveCooling
Samsung  Samsung DVD-RW  Samsung DVD-RW  Cooler Master Hyper 212+ 
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Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VH242H 23.6" Logitech MX 3200 Wireless Antec Neo Eco 620 
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Antec P-180 Mini Logitech MX 3200 Wireless Crucial m4 128  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Athlon II X2 210e Gigiabyte MA785GMT-UDH2 ATI Radeon HD 4200 G.Skill Sniper 
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
From the sound of it the problem is the E-350 not having enough power to do what netflix wants it to do since netflix runs entirely in silverlight.
post #4 of 7
Yea, thats what I have read, but some say Silverlight 5 fixed it (but others still have issues).
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Samsung  Samsung DVD-RW  Samsung DVD-RW  Cooler Master Hyper 212+ 
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Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VH242H 23.6" Logitech MX 3200 Wireless Antec Neo Eco 620 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
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Hard DriveOptical DriveOptical DriveCooling
Samsung  Samsung DVD-RW  Samsung DVD-RW  Cooler Master Hyper 212+ 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VH242H 23.6" Logitech MX 3200 Wireless Antec Neo Eco 620 
CaseMouseOther
Antec P-180 Mini Logitech MX 3200 Wireless Crucial m4 128  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
So I will stay away from the E-350 then. Is booting to an eSATA drive or a USB3 drive feasible? That would leave the 4x SATA onboard for the raid array.
post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaeric19 View Post

Is booting to an eSATA drive or a USB3 drive feasible? That would leave the 4x SATA onboard for the raid array.

You could boot from eSATA, by using a SATA -> eSATA cable. USB3.0 would work too but you would need a decent sized one to fit Windows 7 and speed could be a concern depending on drive. Either option, you have to be careful not to accidentally knock them loose since it's on the outside.

Other option is buying an expansion card for extra ports, since you're doing software RAID, you don't need to buy an expensive hardware RAID one, just something that provides more ports. The benefit is that you'll also have more ports if you want/need to expand later. Unless you're using the x16 slot for a GPU or something, I think this is a good choice.
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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
I was thinking about putting a GPU in it, not sure if I will need one though with the onboard on the i3. As long as it can decode 1080p video and stream netflix in HD I don't really care, it would be used for gaming or anything. And yeah, I would prefer not to have to use a port on the back of my motherboard for connecting a boot drive.
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