File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

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File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:09 pm

Well helloooooooooo there.

So I'm in the midst of coming up with two separate builds.

The first build will be a file server, which will be for backups and mass-media storage, for which I already have a case to use (Antec NSK-4400) and I already have 3 2TB drives for it as well (picked up on sale a few weeks ago). At this point, I plan on using FreeNAS as the OS, but I'm also asking for suggestions for this piece of the system! I may at some point in the future want to use it to run some VM servers on for random tasks. I'd like to keep the cost for this system around $200. For this build, so far I have come up with:


Plan of attack: Use an old 80GB SATA150 drive to install FreeNAS on, and build up the 2TB drives into a RAID-5 array as storage. I have a 1TB Caviar Green drive I will use to backup the backup of the really, really important stuff.


The other is an HTPC, which will use an existing case (an old Aspire X-Qpack case), and an existing TV tuner (An AverMedia M791, PCI-E 1x card). This system will record shows to the file server, also be used to stream movies to my TV from Netflix, act as a DVD/Blu-Ray player, etc. etc.. I'd like to keep the cost of this system around $300 if at all possible. So far, for this build, I have come up with:


I still am not sure what to do for this system's system drive. Or what to do for an OS. The TV tuner I have came with a Windows Media Center remote and receiver, I don't have any extra windows 7 licenses. I have an old copy of Windows Vista Ultimate I could use, but I feel like that might be a bit clunky. Definitely need some suggestions for this!
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:39 pm

Windows Vista should work with Windows Media Center as your DVR software.

Don't miss out on the combination deals.

$132½ Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H + AMD A4-5300 <<-- Server
or $142½ Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H + AMD A6-5400K
or ≈ $174 A85X motherboard + AMD A8-5500 <<-- HTPC
or $177½ Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H + AMD A8-5600K
or $197½ Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H + AMD A10-5800K

I suggest a 90 to 256 GB SSD for your HTPC. It'll be quieter than a Seagate Barracuda hard-drive.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:43 pm

For the server, I can only figure that you went with that motherboard to get the maximum number of SATA ports? I tend to be prone to Intel for computers that are on 24/7 but maybe I'm too outdated and the idle-ish power draw will be similar. There are Intel motherboards around that price range (not a very thorough search) with 8 SATA ports too. You'd have to get a Sandy Bridge-based Pentium LGA1155 CPU to match the CPU price range.

Get Windows 8 Pro Upgrade with the free (until Jan 31) media center add-on for the HTPC. Your Vista license, as long as it's going unused otherwise, qualifies you for the upgrade. Search the web for a few simple hacks to activate a clean Win 8 Pro upgrade install. *Or use Vista with media center as JAE says. There is nothing wrong with Vista, as much of a red-headed step child as everyone including MS likes to think.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:03 pm

If you prefer LGA1155, you may have to spend more than for the socket-FM2 systems that you've selected.

$77½ ASRock B75 Pro3-M <<-- Server
or $97½ ASRock H77 Pro4-M <<-- HTPC
or $117½ ASRock Z77 Pro4-M

$50 Intel Celeron G540 <<-- Server
or $75 Intel Pentium G860
or $135 Intel Core i3-3225 <<-- HTPC
or $215 -15 code "EMCYTZT2588" Intel Core i5-3570
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:25 pm

For your HTPC i would up the memory to 1866 instead of 1600 since the gpu works better with faster memory. As for the file server i do not think ddr1600 is unnecessary but its so cheap i would get it anyways.

I would also get the k model cpu for the HTPC just in case you want to OC it for some reason.

If you plan on doing a lot of video encoding to different formats i would consider a intel 1155 system with a nice 7750 dedicated card just in case you want to game a lil bit. As for the encoding i would get a i5 quad core of your choice or at least a i3 cpu.
I have 2 i3 2120 HTPCs with dedicated 7750 in one and a LP 6570 in the other. But i do my video encoding, say ripping a bluray to a MKV etc. with my 4700mhz 2600k gaming rig/home server. With my 3 rigs i have a total of 11.5 TB of storage with 4 2tb greens in my gaming tower along with its ssd os drive. 2x 1tb drives in my 7750 equipped HTPC and only a 500gb in the 6570 slim tower.

But its your toys:)
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:40 pm

If you decide to use Vista, hunt down a Microsoft update called TV Pack 2008. It had bugfixes and added some additional minor features (I seem to recall it making the setup of ClearQAM channels a lot simpler, for instance). It was originally intended for OEMs, and at the time of release had to be found "unofficially", but Microsoft may have eventually put it up for download officially; it's been a while since I had to check.

Vista Media Center + TV Pack wasn't terribly different from Windows 7 Media Center.
In terms of functionality, Windows 8 Media Center is virtually identical to Windows 7 Media Center.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:57 pm

Appreciate all the help guys.

JAE: Thanks for the heads-up on the combo deals. I always forget about those, some good savings to be had there! I think they are currently even better deals then when you linked it. I like the combo with the A6-5400K for ~$135. That vs the processor/motherboard I had selected still saves me $20!

MadMan: Yeah, I thought about it. But I decided that I preferred the slightly cheaper entry cost for the AMD systems, especially since their idle power draw should be very close to each other. I like getting all the virtualization stuff without having to bin-up for it.

Vargis: Yeah, if I was planning on using the HTPC for a lot of transcoding/encoding I would definitely go for an i5 system; however, I plan on using my main desktop for that (i7 + 16GiB of RAM). The HTPC will just be for record + playback mostly, maybe some overnight encoding if necessary.

insulin_junkie: Wow, thanks for the heads up on that. Didn't know about that! I've never used Vista's media center, only Windows 7s with the TV tuner I have (in my old PC while I was still in college), and the Windows 7 one definitely worked really well. Good to know that with that pack, Vista's MC should work just as well!

Also, does anyone have recommendations for a good SSD at the sub-$90 price-point? It seems like it's a minefield of possibly bad controllers that cheap.
Gigabyte Z77-DS3H | Core i7 3770 | 2x8 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600| Samsung 830 128GB SSD | Gigabyte HD7950 3GB | Win 7 Pro x86-64
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:39 pm

If you want a solid SSD cheap you just need to give up on capacity. Although there are often ~120GB for $60-80 as deals.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:33 am

Hey Carl, just wanted to drop in my 2 cents. My home file server is currently an old AMD Athlon 2650e 1.6Ghz CPU (15w TDP, 6w Idle), Biostar N68S+ AM2+ Motherboard w/ 2GB DDR2 ram with 6x WD Green drives and idles at 38w at the wall according my P3 Meter. I'm running Windows 7 Home on it and its actually pretty snappy at streaming movies & files to any of my other computers on the network just fine. I'm sharing this as 2650's are on Ebay all day long for 20 bucks or less & i've seen my biostar board as low as 39.99! 2GB is plenty as I haven't noticed any performance issues at all.

My second suggestion, as I am currently exploring these two boards myself. The below boards contain the AMD C60 APU which has a 9w TDP & AMD 6290 Graphics.

Asus C60M 79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813131843

ECS HDC-M/C60 74.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813135321

I'd probably have to go with the Asus as it has 6 Sata ports vs 4 on the ECS. Yet the ECS's cooler looks to be more efficient to me. Ehhh.... trades offs. Drop in 4GB or ram for 20 bucks and you've got the heart for a new file server for 100 bucks. I'm tempted to buy the ECS just to see how well it would work as a Media PC on my girlfriends new big screen. Can't imagine surfing the web to be all that quick, but I bet movie playback will be awesome. By the way, your A4 is a great choice as I've already built several HTPC based on it, performs well. If its in your budget go for it.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:38 am

For SSD... Samsung all the way my friend!! I own several 830's and wouldn't trade them for the world. Super fast & reliable.

Samsung 830 64GB 79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820147133

Samsung 840 120GB 99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820147188
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:18 pm

vargis14 wrote:I would also get the k model cpu for the HTPC just in case you want to OC it for some reason.
Why on earth would you want to overclock your HTPC? The primary goals for building an HTPC is 1) Cool, so you don't have to work as hard to make it 2) quiet. If you're transcoding, I suppose you could make that argument, but I would expect you to transcode recorded content in a batch process where time isn't of the essence.

My recommendation: Save the money.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:36 pm

For your file server, I recommend running NAS4FREE. It was originally called FREENAS but they sold the name. From the info from what I gathered, it seems NAS4FREE is the better choice. I run it on my NAS for backups and archival purposes and it is great. I also recommend running ZFS RAIDZ1 (optional on NAS4FREE) so you can get better performance, protect yourself from silent corruption and like RAID 5, RAIDZ1 can sustain a 1 drive failure. With NAS4FREE you can opt to install the the package on flash media connected via USB so you can free up a SATA port.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:40 pm

CampinCarl wrote:Plan of attack: Use an old 80GB SATA150 drive to install FreeNAS on, and build up the 2TB drives into a RAID-5 array as storage. I have a 1TB Caviar Green drive I will use to backup the backup of the really, really important stuff.


FreeNAS uses ZFS these days. To get the benefits of ZFS, you don't want to put your drives in a RAID array of any kind. ZFS wants to see a bunch of RAW drives and manage them itself.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:05 pm

vandy wrote:For your file server, I recommend running NAS4FREE. It was originally called FREENAS but they sold the name. From the info from what I gathered, it seems NAS4FREE is the better choice. I run it on my NAS for backups and archival purposes and it is great. I also recommend running ZFS RAIDZ1 (optional on NAS4FREE) so you can get better performance, protect yourself from silent corruption and like RAID 5, RAIDZ1 can sustain a 1 drive failure. With NAS4FREE you can opt to install the the package on flash media connected via USB so you can free up a SATA port.


NAS4Free is just a branch from the 7.0 line of FreeNAS. I'm surprised it uses ZFS now because that was the main reason for the split from what I understand. There are a handful of linux/bsd based NAS systems out there - FreeNAS, NAS4Free, Nexenta, OpenFiler, and several others. It might be a good idea to research them once you determine what your requirements are.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:11 pm

dextrous wrote:
CampinCarl wrote:Plan of attack: Use an old 80GB SATA150 drive to install FreeNAS on, and build up the 2TB drives into a RAID-5 array as storage. I have a 1TB Caviar Green drive I will use to backup the backup of the really, really important stuff.


FreeNAS uses ZFS these days. To get the benefits of ZFS, you don't want to put your drives in a RAID array of any kind. ZFS wants to see a bunch of RAW drives and manage them itself.


hmm. Are you sure? I could have sworn I read that FreeNAS supported NTFS and software/hardware RAID0/1/5/10? If it doesn't that's fine; running ZFS and using RAID-Z isn't really a problem for me. It'd roughly be the same thing.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:19 pm

CampinCarl wrote:Well helloooooooooo there.

So I'm in the midst of coming up with two separate builds.

The first build will be a file server, which will be for backups and mass-media storage, for which I already have a case to use (Antec NSK-4400) and I already have 3 2TB drives for it as well (picked up on sale a few weeks ago). At this point, I plan on using FreeNAS as the OS, but I'm also asking for suggestions for this piece of the system! I may at some point in the future want to use it to run some VM servers on for random tasks. I'd like to keep the cost for this system around $200. For this build, so far I have come up with:


Plan of attack: Use an old 80GB SATA150 drive to install FreeNAS on, and build up the 2TB drives into a RAID-5 array as storage. I have a 1TB Caviar Green drive I will use to backup the backup of the really, really important stuff.

For a server I did an A6-3500 (seems similar specs to the A4 you picked and I am extremely pleased. Very reponsived and worked well.
I like the windows home server 2011 for my server. I may also try FreeNAS in future but for features WHS2011 provided what I wanted and is only $69 for a license.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:29 pm

dextrous wrote:NAS4Free is just a branch from the 7.0 line of FreeNAS. I'm surprised it uses ZFS now because that was the main reason for the split from what I understand. There are a handful of linux/bsd based NAS systems out there - FreeNAS, NAS4Free, Nexenta, OpenFiler, and several others. It might be a good idea to research them once you determine what your requirements are.


NAS4FREE is a continuation of Freenas 7. Not a branch. The new FreeNAS (FreeNAS 8 ) is completely different. They sold the name. Using ZFS in NAS4FREE is optional as you can still use RAID 0/1/5.

Info : http://www.nas4free.org/general_information.html
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:40 pm

CampinCarl wrote:hmm. Are you sure? I could have sworn I read that FreeNAS supported NTFS and software/hardware RAID0/1/5/10? If it doesn't that's fine; running ZFS and using RAID-Z isn't really a problem for me. It'd roughly be the same thing.


You can probably mount an NTFS volume with the right configuration, but ZFS is the native file system. You can use hardware RAID with ZFS, but you will not be able to use some of the features of the file system. Sometimes, it can even cause problems. You will basically be using ZFS to set up software RAID. ZFS is a very good file system for NAS duties.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:25 am

Well, I placed the order on Newegg last night. Here's what I ordered:

2 x ($89.99) GIGABYTE GA-F2A85XM-D3H FM2 AMD A85X (Hudson D4) HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$179.98

1 x ($109.99) AMD A8-5600K Trinity 3.6GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) Socket FM2 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 7560D AD560KWOHJBOX
$109.99

2 x ($37.99) CORSAIR 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model CMV8GX3M2A1600C11
$75.98

1 x ($64.99) AMD A4-5300 Trinity 3.4GHz (3.6GHz Turbo) Socket FM2 65W Dual-Core Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 7480D AD5300OKHJBOX
$64.99

1 x ($-30.00) DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #1146372
$-30.00

1 x ($-30.00) DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #1146370
$-30.00

Total Amount: $380.59 w/ shipping

The A4-5300 will go in my server, and the A8 will go in my HTPC. Since I'll be using IGPs on both, I know their idle power draw will be very low regardless, especially since the A10-5800K configuration in TR's reviews drew 24 idle watts. I decided to put off ordering an SSD for the HTPC until after the holiday season; I'll be running that 80 gig HDD in my HTPC, and I decided to boot FreeNAS from a USB stick.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:39 am

well, I got the parts in last night. I didn't take any unboxing pictures or anything, as there wasn't too much to show off. I only ran into a few hitches along the way.

1) I believe I accidently wired my hard drive activity light backwards into the motherboard for the FreeNAS setup, which is causing a high-pitched wine when the light is on. I haven't had a chance to shut the thing off and check it yet, but I will tonight.

2) The old µATX case I'm using for my HTPC seems to have a busted power switch. Caused the motherboard bios to corrupt a few times (Thanks, Gigabyte, for the Dual Bios! Life saver!) because it kept resetting often. And it corrupted the first install of Vista because the first time it happened, it happened during the end of the installation process. So right now I just have the tiny reset switch in place of the power switch.

Going back to Vista is kind of weird after using 7 for so long. I had to actually use the driver disk to install drivers for it temporarily, as the default drivers on the Windows disk (which is pre-SP1) were so old almost nothing worked. Then I went around and got the proper drivers installed. Haven't had a chance to get the drivers for the TV tuner installed yet, but I did download them this morning before I left for work. Ran windows Update multiple times, so I think I'm nearing the end of the Windows Updates that have to be run.

Both systems are very responsive, which I find pretty shocking considering how cheap they were. I still want to get SSDs in both of them, and new cases. I want to put the ZIL on an SSD for the file server, hoping to improve write performance. Also want to get new cases, as the HTPC case has the above issue, its fan is noisy, and it's just not in very good shape, and the NSK-4480B Antec case I put my FreeNAS box in only has 3 hard drive slots. For the FreeNAS box, I found a really nice Fractal Design R4, which has 8 sideways internal 3.5" bays. Not sure what I want for my HTPC case, but I know it has to be full-height. Possibly a Silverstone GD-05, but its' kind of expensive.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:38 am

For a Micro-ATX mid-tower that accepts full-height expansion cards, look at the Antec NSK3480 or the Silverstone Temjin TJ08B-e.
For a Micro-ATX desktop/HTPC that accepts full-height expansion cards, look at the Silverstone Grandia GD04-USB3 or GD05-USB3.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:47 pm

So, after playing around with things, I can confirm that it is NOT the LED's being wired backwards, it is the power supply itself being loaded passed a certain percentage (which I can't accurately place, as I have no wattage-measuring-devices). The PSU in question is an Antec EarthWatts 380W PSU. I tried moving plugs around, etc. to see if I could better distribute the load between it's two rails, but it the high-pitched whine returns. I dug up an older Antec PSU I had laying around (the only other PSU I have spare), an Antec TruePower 330W. It's only got 17A on the single 12V rail (the EarthWatts is rated for 17A on EACH of it's 12V rails), and seems to be going along just fine. However, this PSU isn't very efficient, and is pretty old. I fear it could die and take some other parts with it.

So I think I'll have to buy a new PSU for this thing. That's too bad.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:21 am

$45 SeaSonic SS-350ET Bronze (27A @+12V)
$66 SeaSonic SSR-360GP Gold (30A @+12V)

324 watts (27 amperes) on the +12V rail is way more than these modest systems require. Without a graphics card, you may not even tax your old PSU's 17 A (204 watt) capacity.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:56 am

Yeah, even with 3 2TB hard drives, I don't think my system could possibly be drawing more than about ~125-150W. I think it could be that the EarthWatts just sat around too long, as it had been rock solid with no noise issues in the old A64 X2 system it had been in. I like the cheaper SeaSonic, though it's actually 17A on two 12V rails according to the picture, though it can only support a max simultaneous load of about 13 Amps on each one. I'll probably get the slightly more expensive one and use that.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:52 am

On those power supply labels, look for the maximum combined load on the +12V rails. 324 watts ÷ 12 volts = 27 amperes.
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:21 pm

Bump goes the thread!

So I've got an extra paycheck coming up, and I wanted to finish out these systems with a little bit of that money. I still need to get:

New case for the HTPC
New case for the NAS (more hard drive space!)
New PSU for both as well.

I've decided to hold off on getting an SSD for the HTPC for now; I still need to decide if I want to stick with Vista or get a 7 or 8 license.

Obviously, as before I still like the Fractal Design Define R4 (even though it's now about $20 more expensive than it was) for the NAS and the Silverstone GD-04 case for the HTPC. Are there any other opinions on these cases?

In terms of PSUs, I think the SeaSonic SSR-360GP JAE linked would be great for the NAS. The fact that it is 80+ Gold is very nice considering this box will be on 24/7. For the HTPC I think something that's modular would be ideal in order to save clutter. I was thinking of the Corsair CX430M, as it should be fairly reliable and it's pretty cheap.

Edit: Another option would be to use the OCZ Modxstream 600W Modular PSU I have in my current box for either of those two, and buy a new one (with much longer cables) for my main rig. Are there any thoughts on that option? It's really annoying how ugly the cables have to be because it can't reach a few things in my P280.
Gigabyte Z77-DS3H | Core i7 3770 | 2x8 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600| Samsung 830 128GB SSD | Gigabyte HD7950 3GB | Win 7 Pro x86-64
CampinCarl
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Re: File Server and HTPC (Separate Builds)

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:36 pm

Got the Corsair CX430M and Silverstone GD-04 case (PSU/Case for HTPC) delivered today (2-day shipping free from Amazon). The rebuild went smooth but slow as the case is very...non-tool-free. Had to pre-plan more than I'm used to in order to make sure I didn't put cables into fan blades or have it look ugly. The glue for the divider between the hard-drive rack and the rest of the case was dried up/had gotten stuck to some paper thing inside the case and so was useless. The case is also very, very heavy. But it looks fantastic, and everything worked the first time! I had to use both SATA power cables as the Blu-Ray drive and the HDD were separated by too much space to be able to just use one. Still, I think the insides look pretty good.

I'll try to get some pictures of the insides up tomorrow, along with the rebuild of the NAS (which should be in tomorrow).
Gigabyte Z77-DS3H | Core i7 3770 | 2x8 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600| Samsung 830 128GB SSD | Gigabyte HD7950 3GB | Win 7 Pro x86-64
CampinCarl
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Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 9:53 pm


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