Hard Drives & Solid States:
Originally Posted by crizthakidd
Thanks so much for the answers guys wow that first comment really helped me put the idea out there more clearly. Couple of questions now. Do these small PC's have enough room for a hard drive and ssd? i might just buy one of those combo drives that have like 1tb hard drive and 200 gb of ssd.
Next is the audio. If I'm going to hook this up to some good speakers will i need a central hub that connects a subwoofer and side speakers ? I kind of want like a 5.1 system.
Is it possible to have this machine hooked up to a modem/router so that it becomes a network drive ? I want to be able to download movies while I'm out so like maybe remote desktop in and have the movie downloaded by the time i get home.
Without speakers , i want to spend about $500 . I can def increase that if you guys think its necessary but would be cool to stick to that. Thanks again fellas
Fitting a SSD and a HDD into an ITX case is not a problem in the slightest.
Depending on the motherboard you get, you can use a M.2 SSD that will connect directly to the motherboard and take no space at all in the case.
If not, SSDs are small, don't have any moving parts, don't get very hot, etc, so you can literally just use some velcro and stick it anywhere there is some space. I have 2 SSDs velcrod to the rear panel of my HTPC and another 2 velcrod to the rear of the mobo tray on my main system. The system I built for work has a SSD velcrod to the vertical bar that supports the ODD/HDD rack. No issues from any of these in the last 7 years.
So essentially, you only need to have a predefined space for the one HDD.Audio:
For the audio, you can use an external DAC/Soundcard, a purpose built home theater receiver, or an internal built in soundcard. You won't have space for a PCI-E internal sound card and
a PCI-E video card on an ITX motherboard, so internal add-in sound cards should be avoided.
Some motherboards have pretty decent built in audio. You can connect your subwoofer, your speakers, etc all to that built in soundcard directly and you're good to go. The only exception is if your speakers are passive and require external amplification, in which case you will need to buy an amp to sit between the soundcard and the speakers.
If you get an external DAC/Sound card, it will plug in via USB and therefore take up no space in your system. You would again plug all your audio inputs/outputs directly to it. Some of these externals also include amps, so if you have passive speakers, you won't need to also add an amp. This isn't true for all of them however, so it just depends on the setup you pick.
If you go the receiver route, it works very much the same way as an external DAC, and will almost always include a built in amp. These are usually the preferred devices for HTPCs but I honestly find them to be serious overkill, often having a large amount of feature redundancy with your HTPC and/or your TV. You pay for those redundant features and they take up space, so you're probably best off avoiding a receiver if you are building your own system specifically as an HTPC, but it is up to you.Network Drive:
You can set up network shared drives/folders within your modern operating system of choice. No issue there at all.
A better solution however would be a dedicated NAS. Plug the NAS directly into the router, and then all systems on the network can access it at any time. No need to proxy through the HTPC. The physical separation of the two devices several advantages. For instance, the HTPC does not need to be powered on for the NAS to be accessible. If something were to physically damage your HTPC, the NAS being a separate physical device has a good chance of remaining safe. Etc.
You can buy a purpose made NAS box, but those are usually pricey. If your router is half decent, you can usually just plug an external HDD into it via USB and set it up as a NAS via the router's settings interface. If your router doesn't support this, or you just feel adventurous, you can make your own NAS using an old computer or even a Raspberry Pi.Budget:
You say you want to spend $500 not counting speakers. When you say not counting speakers, does that means not counting JUST the speakers, or the whole audio setup?
Either way, I think it is pretty doable as long as you don't demand a particularly fancy case (Lian-Li, Silver Stone, the other usual HTPC cases that cost a few hundred bucks by themselves), and are willing to reuse an old graphics card, or stick with the built in graphics of your CPU. Adding in a new dedicated PCI-E card will probably put you a little over budget, but you can always add that in at a later date if and when you find it necessary.