Help with a Server/HTPC build

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by Goros, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Goros

    Goros Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Hey everyone, it's been a while since I did any type of in-depth research on HTPC's and Media Server tech, but I've read assassins guide as well as a few of the posts here but none of the threads really address adequately what I'm looking to do specifically.

    I have a server case I picked up for cheap, it's a chenbro SR-10769 C0 with Two SATA 6.0 4 high hotswap bays, two 5.25" to 3.5" hotswap bays, a 5.25" to slim DVD w/3.5" hdd bay, and a 3.5" to 2 - 2.5" hdd bay converter installed. Has a Silverstone ST-1500 PSU inside also.

    So I have 1500watts of modular power, 10 - 3.5" hotswap bays & 2 - 2.5" bays

    I have a USB Bluetooth adapter for a keyboard and mouse (server will be in the basement with the receiver so noise doesn't matter) and a sdxc multi card reader ready to go in as well.

    I'm looking for an HTPC to stream media to laptops and other pc's as well as an Xbox 360 as an extender, but also want to run HDMI direct to the Denon 4311ci to feed to the 11.2 home theater setup. Do I need a component out sound card to maximize sound quality from the HTPC, or is a HDMI video card going to be sufficient?

    I have decided I want to run a windows 7 x64 ultimate client dedicated to media center 24/7. I already have Tunebite, DvDshrink, DvDFab8, etc. I want to store my entire DVD collection on HDD's and am looking for recommendations on storage - including backup and best bang for your buck RAID configuration. I am willing to entertain installing and populating an external raid array as well.

    When I build a PC, typically I install a small SSD (128-256gb total) for the OS and a pair of RAID1 velociraptor's for application space. Storage is usually a couple of the largest available WD or Hitachi HDD's in my price range in a raid 0+1 configuration as hardware raid.

    I'm looking for advice as I've never tried to assemble a storage array of this size (16-20TB of RAID drives with expandability and backup) and am looking for an affordable, realistic solution.

    I'm an enthusiast, so money - while being important - will find it's way where it needs to. This server is a one time thing but I want it 4k capable in storage and processing power/throughput.

    This will store DVD's of movies, TV series and cartoons, lossless CD audio, SACD and DVD-A lossless audio, HD home movies/videos, and my wife's photography portfolio.

    Currently I have no plans to store Bluray as I will use my oppo for that function.

    Please recommend me a RAID configuration and backup design that maximizes the abilities provided by the case above. Again, I will add a secondary external HDD array if need be. I'm just lost on the software vs hardware raid and SAS vs SATA6.0 and the best way to set it up with some level of redundancy while avoiding $1200 expansion cards.

    Also, more slower cores (2ghz hex core) or fewer faster cores (3ghz quad core)?

    Thanks in advance

    TL;DR version:

    Best way to set up the internal 10 hot swap bays for raid storage and backup?(raid system/software, sata6)

    Worth adding a 20 bay external enclosure for future expandability?

    Hardware raid cards make me sad. How do I get raid storage on the cheap, filling all 10 bays internally and being able to expand via SAS or sata6 to a second storage unit like a Norco 4220 (total noob to external raid storage)

    Faster processor (quad core 3ghz) or more cores (hex core 2ghz x2) for streams/transcoding to multiple devices (windows 7 ultimate, unsure as to what other software or VM's will be running)

    Sound card with component audio out or HDMI audio from NVidia 500/600 card enough when feeding a Denon 4311ci?

    Dual processor expansion nice to have, but necessary? See cores vs speed question above.
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  3. assassin24

    assassin24 HTPC Moderator

    Mar 27, 2005
    Likes Received:
    You said you reviewed my guide. My free HTPC hardware guide or my paid server guides? The latter answers many of the questions that you asked.
  4. mjaweeka

    mjaweeka Member

    Nov 14, 2010
    Likes Received:
    OP I certainly respect your approach - I'm in the process of building a meager solution by comparison. Perhaps I can sell you some free advice based on my limited knowledge, which I assume is why you posted.

    I gather that you basically want to set up a RAID-based media server.

    Is the standalone client used to rip/encode/copy media to the server?

    Have you considered what OS you are likely to use based on your network requirements (ie. sharing, SMB/DLNA support, client backups)? There are some good software RAID solutions out there that will easily support a home environment, depending on your integrity/redundancy needs (like ZFS).

    Your server most likely will spend a lot of time idle, so I would initially recommend a good quad core if you have a lot of clients, are encoding, or transcoding (ie. Plex) on it. Personally, I just ordered an i3-3220 to kind of 'future-proof' my build, since most/all of my movies will be encoded by my gaming rig and transferred, but even that could be considered 'overkill' based on your exact needs. Are you considering running virtual machines at all?

    Audio carries on fine without an external sound card, via the HDMI port. Stay away from analog output if you care about hd audio formats.

    How long do you plan on waiting for 4k to become an available standard? Imho you may be swapping out old drives by the time that happens, so if that is a major determining factor, you may want to scale back your plans initially, if at least to get a handle on your growing needs and daily usage.

    Just my 2 cents.
    #3 mjaweeka, Feb 12, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  5. Goros

    Goros Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    Likes Received:
    I haven't used the paid guides, mostly because I'm the buy-once-cry-once guy and don't need help with hardware selection specifically (I build pc's for "fun", my current rig runs a p8z77-WS with an overclocked i7 3770, overclocked fsb, 32gb overclocked memory, overclocked sli 580gtx lightning Xtremes to 920/1880/2400, 4 ssd's, etc) I need to understand the things to look for in the hardware that helps ensure future expandability, enough pipes to the CPU and enough power for transcoding, etc.

    If you sold those details, you wouldn't have any repeat customers since they could look at their own hardware specs and determine what they needed.

    For a gaming rig, I have all that and have been overclocking since 1997 when I had to solder my dual P3 Xeons (slot A's) to get them to do so...but this box's purpose is to stream, store, sort, and transcode media. The rules don't really change for what you need in a good system.

    My questions really focus on delving into the stuff I haven't worked with. Raid cards, 20bay HDD enclosures to expand storage, etc.

    I posted the same thread on AVS and got some responses, so I'll focus on FLEXRAID. I am planning on running win7 ultimate with xpmode and will be running VM's. I want to run plex for the iPads in the house, and my 360 will act as an extender as well. Haven't looked into how to do it yet, but I'm sure I will once I figure the hardware part out.

    My real concerns involve mobo and processor selection, as this will be a dual purpose rig (HTPC and server). I need one powerful gpu with enough memory to buffer 4k frames, but also need space to access the pcie slots for raid cards...and need to know what to look for in a mobo/CPU combo as far as number of pcie lanes needed to support the cards etc.
  6. Goros

    Goros Member

    Dec 16, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Ok, here is what I have decided on thus far.

    Windows 7 Ultimate x64 operating WMC with Mediabrowser and Plex.
    Plex will feed the Roku and IPads, WMC will feed the 360, HDMI to the Denon 4311ci.

    Mobo and processor I have a few options, I'll choose soon.

    My main issue now is I want to run this tower (chenbro 10769) concurrently with a 24 drive enclosure (Norco 4224) but only want to run one motherboard/processor.

    I've never used any commercial enclosures and have always used towers to build my pc's. FLEXRAID will give me the ability to grow my storage "on the run" so to speak. I want to use all SATA 6.0 drives since SAS drives are stupidly expensive.

    My initial build will consist of a vertex4 128gb for the OS and a vertex4 256gb for applications. The 10 HDD hotswap bays in the tower will have 3tb 7200rpm drives fully populated and I'll have 10 drives populated in the 4u chassis to start. That's 60TB of total space, but I will be using FLEXRAID and will be backing everything up as well. My assumption is that my total usable space will run in the 20-24TB range after all is said and done, with the ability to add 14 more HDD's as the need arises.

    So, my question is - being utterly unfamiliar with the hardware involved in expansion cards or what this Norco 4224 case uses, what cards/cables etc do I need to buy that will be compatible with FLEXRAID? I need to support all 24 HDDs out of the back of the tower to the 4224 enclosure, plus whatever slots are needed for full SATA 6.0 in the tower that isn't on the motherboard natively.

    Edit - a Norco DS-24D is also an option.

    Thanks for the help.
    #5 Goros, Feb 14, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013