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Media Server Build

1473 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Zap
Hi Everyone,

I'm considering building my own media server and then a seaprate HTPC. The HTPC would be very simple. It would just run Win7 and have a Blu Ray ODD. It would access Blu Ray and HD DVD files I have ripped from some file storage over the network and send it to my Denon AV Tuner to display on my projector. My entire house is wired with Cat 6 Ethernet gigabit connections.

The media server is the question. It would be a completely separate machine from my HTPC. I would like it to do the following:
  • Be on all the time
  • Use low power
  • Handle 2 to 4 SATA drives (hopefully SATA 3)
  • Easy access to the video files
To do this, I am trying to decide what to build:
  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?
Thank you in advance!!
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· Registered
1,752 Posts
Have you considered using an external 4+ bay eSATA port multiplier enclosure? There are quite a few in the under-$200 range. Some even come with PCIe controllers, in case your motherboard doesn't have an eSATA port that supports port multipliers. These will pretty much only use the electricity your HDDs need. If the HTPC is the only system that needs regular access to the drives, then this is the most energy-efficient method.

· Registered
1,752 Posts

Originally Posted by GamingDaemon
View Post

Also, Zap, can you tell me more about the eSTAT port multiplier? Is there one someone can recommend?

I do not have a recommendation. I own one, but picked it up on a hot deal and have not used it yet.

They are listed at Newegg under server RAID systems. Most of them support some kind of RAID, but you can also use them in JBOD.

A basic 4 drive unit runs around $100 without interface card. If you already have an eSATA port that supports port multipliers then this is a cheap way to get started. You can also get ones that support USB 2.0 and even USB 3.0 so you can hook it up to any computer. That one even supports hot swapping drives. Some come with eSATA PCIe cards. Some come with SATA 6G cards so while the drives in the box can be anything, the interface between the box and the host computer has more bandwidth. Of course if 4-5 drives aren't enough, you can do 8 drives.

Note that there are often bad end user reviews of all these units. Most of them come from the users not using them with an eSATA port that supports port multipliers, or from them not setting up the various RAID/JBOD modes properly. And of course some of these enclosures can just be finicky, but then again some computers are that way too.
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