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HTPC and/or Windows Server


Junior Member
Sep 21, 2013

Looking for help/ideas on a pre built unit to act as a HTPC and/or windows server. For a long time I used to build my own desktops, but have migrated away from that and exclusively use my laptop for everything (1 for work, 1 for home). I'm wondering what kind of hardware exists out that would serve the following purpose.

Looking for a box at the same size as a cable box. This unit would be part of the entertainment system. I'd like to be able to remote into this unit and use it as a windows box/file server. This unit would be connected to the network and I will more than likely stream all video content. The unit needs to support multiple hard drives and have sufficient storage capacity.

Thanks for any ideas you might have.


Ken g6

Programming Moderator, Elite Member
Dec 11, 1999
Looking for a box at the same size as a cable box.
The unit needs to support multiple hard drives and have sufficient storage capacity.
What are the dimensions of your cable box? (Or equivalent cable-box-sized box?) Go on, measure it, I'll wait.

Now, what are the dimensions of a standard-sized hard drive? I just measured one. It's 4 inches by roughly 6 inches by 1 inch. So, how many of those can fit in your cable box? Not many I'll wager.

Are there smaller hard drives? Sure. But they seem to top out at 1TB, and you seem interested in a larger amount of space, if I'm not mistaken. If I am mistaken, you could probably find a case that would fit a couple of these drives and might fit your definition of cable-box-sized.

Another thing you could do is attach some number of external drives. That way you'd have that number plus one cable-box-sized boxes.

Alan G

Apr 25, 2013
I've got a standard Verizon FIOS cable box with some kind of HDD in it (they don't provide any specifications). Dimensions are 17x10.5x2 inches. There is no way that you get much in this kind of a case besides a single HDD, mini-ITX MoBo and who knows what kind of PSU. I've built two relatively small HTPCs in the last couple of months and there are some cases that will accept multiple HDDs but they are far larger than my particular cable box.


Dec 4, 2009
Just trying to understand this. Currently in my setup, after YEARS of trying to figure out the Holy Grail of HTPC, I went with a "server" type system that sits in my basement with a whole wad of hardrives in it which houses all my movie rips, reg and HD, TV shows, downloads etc, you get the idea. My small box which is in my living room and hooked up to my receiver, and then on to my TV, just "PLAYS" my media -- it does not store/serves it at all. I personally prefer to have a central storage box that has all my media and then various little machines access/play/stream that media on all areas of my house, whether it's the living room, my bedroom, my office etc.

I do not want a machine or box in my my entertainment system in my living room holding 3,4,5 or 8 hardrives with all the cooling and power requirements. I don't want to hear it, see it, smell it, taste it. Building a system that I call my "home server" is cheap and easy and its only job is to house all this media and then connect to a home network of some sort that then all the different media boxes can access, like a small HTPC with XBMC, or an ipad or cell phone, or laptop sitting in bed or a small dedicated media box like a WD live or android box or an Apple TV2 etc., etc..

I supposed if the ONLY place you will ever access your media is your living room and NO ONE else in your household needs access or wishes to watch something at a different time or different place, then yes I guess you could place and house and collect all media in a one shot deal in your entertainment system. It's just that trying to fit x amount of drives and having something running 24/7 in your living room, no matter how quiet it is, various pesky lights etc, just never worked for me.

Now everything I am saying hinges on the concept that you have readily available Ethernet connections in your home. I am lucky/savy enough that I wired my home so my basement, where my dinky server is, is directly plugged into a switch/router. Then I have an Ethernet port in my living room, office and bedroom where i can easily connect any number of devices, hard wired connect, to access all the media. Years ago I gave up on wireless streaming, I don't care what they came up with years ago, nothing allowed me to flawlessly stream 3-4 GB movies let alone pure HD/BR rips.

Again trying to cram everything in to some sort of low profile small quiet box where you will be present and hearing/seeing it all the time is not an easy thing. Just saying.