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Originally Posted by GamingDaemon;14225182
  1. Processor: Should I use an Intel Core i3-2100? Is that overkill? Or something smaller like the AMD E-350? What do folks recommend?
  2. Motherboard: Should I do one of those combo motherboard/CPU things? This would go along with the first question if I do an Atom or an AMD E-350...
  3. Memory: 4GB DDR3? 8GB DDR3? Am I smokin' crack?
  4. Backplane for hot swappable drives: Is this necessary?
  5. Case: What's a good case for this system?
1.) Processor, almost anything will be able to handle simple file sharing. i3 2100 will work, E350 and atom will both work. I don't think it would be necessary to go any higher than that if it's just file sharing.
2.) Depends if you choose atom/e350 or separate processor/mobo. SATA3 is not important, 3.5 mechanical drives cannot saturate it. Just make sure it has enough SATA ports for the amount of drives you want, otherwise you'll need expansion card.
3.) 2GB would work even, but RAM is so cheap no reason to not just get a single 4GB stick
4.) Hot-swap not really necessary, usually good for critical applications, Home file storage doesn't need it. (though the case I list below does have it) Just a nice extra to save time on powering down to replace drive failures.
5.) Case : how small/big do you want? is 4 hard drives the most you would use? I use a Lian Li A05NB, hold ten of drives after I converted the 5.25 bays. If you go with mini-ITX build, I think this Chenbro case is a great option : http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=CA-3416912&title=Chenbro-ES34169-BK-120-120W-Mini-ITX-Server-Chassis

So I guess post back with what size case you want and budget and I can provide couple builds.
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