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Let's Pretend (Assume) That I Know Nothing About Anything But PCs

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm finally developing the need for NAS, among other things. (Physical DVDs are temporary, a pain in the ass, and junk. Doubly so for CDs) Currently, I run a PC on a network with my WDTV live. The WDTV is really just a short term solution to a more overarching problem - I'd like to replace it with a more robust HTPC someday, but that's out of the budget for the moment.

My needs:

1: Gaming Rig & Engineering Productivity Computer (Desktop, Main Device)
2: Networked Storage Available Across The Internet (Wake on Lan, SSH, would prefer ZFS, if possible)
3: Modest Website Hosting for my work as a Teacher
4: HTPC integration with every display device in the house.

Now I hear more and more and more nowadays of people going with Rackmounts. I believe I know what they are, but I so far am unable to get an idea of their capabilities.

My original plan was to build a desk that housed two computers - my On/Off Gaming Rig, and a 24/7 streaming server that piped media directly to a TV with no HTPC. I'm realizing slowly that having the video processed @Server isn't really ideal, and that it would be better to just pipe the information to a HTPC device. I'm assuming a Rackmount can't host a website though, but I may be wrong on that front. But I do imagine it would do well at NAS? I'm not sure whether a Rackmount, is, in itself, just NAS, or if it is a full computer that can have an OS and the like.

Ideas on what an ideal setup would be? I'm a very minimalistic guy, the fewer parts I can go with, the better, for me.

Am I looking at:

PC + Server PC + Rackmount + 2xHTPC
or
PC + Rackmount + 2xHTPC
or
PC + Server PC + 2xHTPC?
Edited by Kaeth - 5/1/12 at 8:49am
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post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
Humble Bump.
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post #3 of 18
The term "rackmount" just refers to the case style of the computer, nothing about the function of the computer itself. Rackmounts, as the name suggests, are cases that can be mounted (attached) to a rack (as seen in these images) and that lends itself to a more compact design for multiple machines, or simply a very large one. Networking equipment is also often put into racks for ease of access.

The rackmount feature does not remove anything from the computer in terms of how it functions or what functions it provides (most web servers are in racks, for example).


As for your media situation, this is what a lot of people do:

Have their main rig as they usually would, completely out of the equation except when they want to stream the video to their gaming rig.

Have a single dedicated machine built with a large-ish storage sub system and have this serve as a home server. This is a great way to do things because even a low powered machine can do multiple tasks beyond being a file server - so it's great to learn how to do things on.

From there, either stream video from the server to a console like a PS3, or the preferred route for easier setup - make a small, dedicated machine that serves as a Home theater PC (HTPC) that connects to the TV directly over HDMI.
    
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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Would there be any particular reason why a Gaming Rig would not be ideal for a 24/7 computer? I'm not that flush with cash for two computers (even a low powered one). For me as well, space is a factor. It would consume a bit more power at idle, but not considerably more, and I can't imagine that it would take that much of a performance hit if streaming to an HTPC and Gaming at the same time.

I suppose what I'm wondering is, can I get away with my Gaming PC / NAS / HTPC alone, and completely forgo the server route? Or is a server really a vital thing for webhosting / media library?
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post #5 of 18
Couldn't you use one of the HTPCs for serving media. My sig HTPC has an esata external enclosure for 4 HDDs and is used for downloading and media serving.
I am alone so max it has to serve is 1 stream.
It's 24/7 on the last 3 years, only failure was a PSU.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyGrunt View Post

Couldn't you use one of the HTPCs for serving media. My sig HTPC has an esata external enclosure for 4 HDDs and is used for downloading and media serving.
I am alone so max it has to serve is 1 stream.
It's 24/7 on the last 3 years, only failure was a PSU.

Any HTPC I build would have the necessary requirement of being small - like "Mount behind the Flat-Screen TV" small. I am loathe to little boxes sticking out from the wall. As a result, the HTPC really wouldn't have much built in Storage.
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post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joavery View Post

Would there be any particular reason why a Gaming Rig would not be ideal for a 24/7 computer? I'm not that flush with cash for two computers (even a low powered one). For me as well, space is a factor. It would consume a bit more power at idle, but not considerably more, and I can't imagine that it would take that much of a performance hit if streaming to an HTPC and Gaming at the same time.
I suppose what I'm wondering is, can I get away with my Gaming PC / NAS / HTPC alone, and completely forgo the server route? Or is a server really a vital thing for webhosting / media library?

You have a couple different situations going on at once, I'll try and answer as best I can.

You don't have to use a server if you're going to use a NAS, the server simply fills that role as well as other things. However, as far as I'm aware no NAS functions as webserver. Most people will not host a webserver on their gaming rig due to the inherent security risks. Potentially you could host a web server on a VM run on your gaming rig, though.

You will want, however, an HTPC for the streaming from where ever you end up streaming video from. It's simply the easiest and most efficient way to do it.
    
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post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTurtle View Post


You will want, however, an HTPC for the streaming from where ever you end up streaming video from. It's simply the easiest and most efficient way to do it.

Very much so - I just want to make them small as possible. (IE: One hard drive, max)
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post #9 of 18
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Presumably, what is the smallest factor I could get away with for a server? I'm trying to do a Deskmod soon here, and space is limited for PC components. Would it be possible, with 6-8 Harddrives networked, to have a Mini-ATX board with a decent processor and the most ram you could slot in it and have a good Webserver / Distribution server? I'm wondering what's the best graphics you could get out of them - I would have need on a server for up to 720p video. I'd prefer to not have to use a full ATX solution.
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post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joavery View Post

Presumably, what is the smallest factor I could get away with for a server? I'm trying to do a Deskmod soon here, and space is limited for PC components. Would it be possible, with 6-8 Harddrives networked, to have a Mini-ATX board with a decent processor and the most ram you could slot in it and have a good Webserver / Distribution server? I'm wondering what's the best graphics you could get out of them - I would have need on a server for up to 720p video. I'd prefer to not have to use a full ATX solution.

The server doesn't need any form of video card - that will be handled by the machine that is displaying the video. Most servers are headless (no monitor) so the onboard video is more than sufficient as you only use it for the initial setup. After that, you'll use SSH/Remote Desktop.

You don't need much RAM for video streaming either, nor processing power. Same goes for web hosting if it's going to be low traffic. An Athlon II x2 is more than sufficient for both roles, and 2GB is again more than enough provided you aren't looking for high traffic on the web server. If you are expecting/wanting high amounts of traffic, you'll have to check with your ISP as most don't allow web servers on home connections.
    
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