Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

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Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:48 pm

Hi guys,
I wanted some opinions on my setup for my house. Thanks!
Currently I have a Dlink DNS-321 NAS (2 Bay) and a Zbox HD-ID11 for my HTPC. I stream movies to the Zbox which is hooked up to the TV. Sadly, I am running out of space on the NAS (4tb) and want to take this upgrade opportunity to create some disk protection since I am currently running JBOD.

I was thinking about 1 box instead of both of these (hopefully sell them for on CL to help pay). I was wondering about the component requirements though. My roommates and I disagree on this topic:

Since it needs to run 24/7 I would prefer as efficient and quiet as possible. I am 95% sure I want a Sandy Bridge CPU, but the question is which one?
For playing 1080p mkvs can the Intel HD 2000/3000 handle it? If so, would I greatly benefit from the i5 vs i3? Which would you get and why? I was thinking the 4 core i5.

Also, I am thinking of setting up a RAID 5 on the new box and would like to avoid having external RAID cards. Is this the best idea? I was going to have 5 HDs (1 parity) but is there something better you recommend?

Thanks so much!
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:19 pm

Xbit Labs did a review of the HD 2000 and 3000 that addresses HD content playback. Seems like either will work. And you don't generally care what the processor usage on an HTPC box is during playback as long as you get smooth playback. And the scenarios in the review even seem to have low processor usage.

If you are concerned about power, the 35W i3-2100T would be one option. The 65W i5-2400S is also another low-power option. But honestly, right now, your best bang for the buck in terms of CPU/GPU balance is in the AMD Llano. Now, the Llano's at Newegg are both 100W processors. So, they will have higher power use...but they also have *far* more capable integrated graphics (and less expensive motherboards in general). I don't see any motherboards in the AMD lineup that support RAID 5, though.

I'll make the obligatory RAID is not a backup strategy comment. Why do you want a RAID 5 array in your HTPC box?
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:35 pm

Llano is more energy-efficient than Phenom II, especially at idle. There are tangible benefits to the move from 45 nm to 32 nm process technology.

Llano seems ideally suited to an HTPC to me. It'd be nice if there were some killer Mini-ITX motherboards available for Socket-FM1, but you'll have to settle for a Micro-ATX A75 board like the Gigabyte GA-A75M-UD2H for now.


On the Intel side, I see no problem with the Core i3-2105 for HTPC processing performance on something like the ASRock Z68 Pro3-M, but you might want to add a low-profile graphics card (GeForce GT430, Radeon HD5550 or Radeon HD5570) to the system.


Does your HTPC need to be on all of the time, or can it be in sleep mode most of the time and just wake up when it needs to record or play back something?
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:58 pm

Thanks for the quick replies!

My main usage for this box is that I remote from work and browse and dl etc. It also is used as an IIS/SQL Server site which a few friends use. Then at night the house uses it to watch movies (local files). I don't do any recording etc so it can be off until someone hits it (web/remote/ftp/local). So it's more of a File Server/HTPC.

As for the mobo size there is no reason why I would use a mini-ITX or smaller format because space is not an issue and I would rather use a full sized board which is usually cheaper and offers more, right?

As for the Llano discussion, I don't know why I feel this but I feel that Intel is doing a better job and would deliver a better product and I would be willing to spend a few extra dollars for that comfort.

@[SDG]Mantis
What about future formats (like 4k)? I know these are not out now but I would like to keep this thing for a while.

@JustAnEngineer
I want to use RAID 5 because 90% of my 4TB of data are things I can download again (if need be) and the 10% that matters are already backed up 2 times (1 local and 1 remote). So I just need something to carry me over the lump is a HD dies.

Thanks again,
Antoni
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:21 pm

RAID 1+0 is also effective. It has lower processing overhead than RAID 5, but it provides less usable space for the same number of drives. 4 drives in RAID 1+0 provides N/2 storage space. 4 drives in RAID 5 provides N-1 storage space. Of course, 2 TB drives cost only $70 each, so needing some extra ones may not be a problem.

Adding more SATA ports doesn't have to break the bank ($77 for 4x SATA II or $25 for 2x SATA III).
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:34 pm

Hmm you could do either i3 or Llano. A i5 is overkill and since you'll never record I can say quite comfortably you'll never fully utilize all 4 cores on it unless you encode video on it.

I wouldn't add a raid card. That's just more heat. Since this is a HTPC use the onboard Intel's work acceptably well in a pinch.

In terms of RAID. I would either do RAID 1+0 or RAIO 6 if it's offered.
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Tue Jul 12, 2011 11:36 pm

I would use RAID5 over 0+1 simply because it's more versatile- you don't have to have an even number of drives, and you get more space. Processing overhead isn't going to be an issue with a Sandy Bridge-equipped HTPC.

Also, I've found that the i7-2620M in my laptop is more than capable of outputting 1080p Blu-ray and HD Netflix content over HDMI, so I don't see the need for anything more at this time, though JAE's suggestions for discrete GPU's are great. I used a fanless Zotac GT430 for a media editing rig recently to decrease noise effectively.

For the original question, I can't see a reason to jump up to an i5. I'd go with the lowest TDP i3 available, and slap a large fanless tower cooler on it, and call it a day- heck, you could get away with a system that has only one fan here if you wanted to.
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couldn't resist

Postposted on Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:57 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:RAID 1+0 is also effective. It has lower processing overhead than RAID 5, but it provides less usable space for the same number of drives. 4 drives in RAID 1+0 provides N/2 storage space. 4 drives in RAID 5 provides N-1 storage space. Of course, 2 TB drives cost only $70 each, so needing some extra ones may not be a problem.

Adding more SATA ports doesn't have to break the bank ($77 for 4x SATA II or $25 for 2x SATA III).


Continuing that line of thought:

$140 for 8x Sata III/SAS2

Another ~$300 will expand that card to 36 ports :)

Last but not least monoprice finally carries affordable SAS HBA-->SATA HD breakout cables!

[hard drive zombie] need more platters... platters... [/hard drive zombie]


Back on point, when llano 65w (cpu and gpu) and more motherboards arrive (itx) people are going to have to find even more excuses to keep going intel for small/quiet/cheap HTPCs
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Re: couldn't resist

Postposted on Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:05 pm

Bauxite wrote:

Back on point, when llano 65w (cpu and gpu) and more motherboards arrive (itx) people are going to have to find even more excuses to keep going intel for small/quiet/cheap HTPCs


I would second that. A quad i5 really is overkill. The extra performance you will buy will be wasted. I finished my current i7 build about 4 months ago. I had moved from a dual core Athlon with a SSD.... and guess what. Day to day operations were no quicker than before. The SSD was the primary thing providing the performance, not the CPU. Quads really don't shine until you start throwing up VM's while doing something else equally intensive... like video encoding.
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:07 pm

Multiple post issue corrected.
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Re: couldn't resist

Postposted on Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:24 pm

kc77 wrote:
Bauxite wrote:

Back on point, when llano 65w (cpu and gpu) and more motherboards arrive (itx) people are going to have to find even more excuses to keep going intel for small/quiet/cheap HTPCs


I would second that. A quad i5 really is overkill. The extra performance you will buy will be wasted. I finished my current i7 build about 4 months ago. I had moved from a dual core Athlon with a SSD.... and guess what. Day to day operations were no quicker than before. The SSD was the primary thing providing the performance, not the CPU. Quads really don't shine until you start throwing up VM's while doing something else equally intensive... like video encoding.


Or games! But that's not what's in question here :).
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:10 am

I would recommend RAID5 in this application -- for both its efficiency at redundant storage and to improve uptime. Yes, you could do 0+1 or 1+0 and it would probably hit higher transfer rates and use less processor resources, but in the application you describe, I think any Sandybridge processor is going to have ample processing resources to offer. Also, with 01 you would be effectively halving your storage/doubling your drives. As far as uptime is concerned - while we're not talking about anything mission critical here, not worrying about a drive failure ending movie night prematurely is a good thing.

If you want to get really crazy with it, you could use Intel's matrix raid to set up a RAID5 partition for most stuff and a RAID 0+1/0/1 partition depending if you have more/less critical data or need absolute performance for some reason.
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Re: couldn't resist

Postposted on Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:37 am

kc77 wrote:
Bauxite wrote:

Back on point, when llano 65w (cpu and gpu) and more motherboards arrive (itx) people are going to have to find even more excuses to keep going intel for small/quiet/cheap HTPCs


I would second that. A quad i5 really is overkill. The extra performance you will buy will be wasted. I finished my current i7 build about 4 months ago. I had moved from a dual core Athlon with a SSD.... and guess what. Day to day operations were no quicker than before. The SSD was the primary thing providing the performance, not the CPU. Quads really don't shine until you start throwing up VM's while doing something else equally intensive... like video encoding.


I've thought that for a long time, but I'm starting to have my doubts. I'm looking at a Ceton Infititv 4 (4 tuners) and then putting a BD drive in the HTPC to handle disc movies. However, if I'm watching a DVD on BD while I have 3 tuners occupied with recording while the wife is watching something in the bedroom and an AV scan occurs, I can see this being an issue for one or all of us. If anyone has the Ceton card, it might be worth looking at.
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:23 pm

frumper15 wrote:I would recommend RAID5 in this application -- for both its efficiency at redundant storage and to improve uptime. Yes, you could do 0+1 or 1+0 and it would probably hit higher transfer rates and use less processor resources, but in the application you describe, I think any Sandybridge processor is going to have ample processing resources to offer. Also, with 01 you would be effectively halving your storage/doubling your drives. As far as uptime is concerned - while we're not talking about anything mission critical here, not worrying about a drive failure ending movie night prematurely is a good thing.

If you want to get really crazy with it, you could use Intel's matrix raid to set up a RAID5 partition for most stuff and a RAID 0+1/0/1 partition depending if you have more/less critical data or need absolute performance for some reason.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it pretty freakin' likely to experience an URE during a rebuild of a RAID 5 array if your array is a few TB?

I switched to RAID 10 a while back and have no regrets. Sure, it's "wasted" space, but rebuilds are extremely fast and I can tolerate a lot more drive deaths (if I'm lucky).
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Re: Home Server / HTPC build i3 vs i5

Postposted on Fri Jul 22, 2011 4:39 pm

TheWacoKid wrote:
frumper15 wrote:Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it pretty freakin' likely to experience an URE during a rebuild of a RAID 5 array if your array is a few TB?

I switched to RAID 10 a while back and have no regrets. Sure, it's "wasted" space, but rebuilds are extremely fast and I can tolerate a lot more drive deaths (if I'm lucky).


With normal SATA drives ... yes which is why I just don't recommend it anymore. Why? Drives are cheap. There's just no reason not to have the extra fault tolerance of either 10 or 6 if space isn't an issue.
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