HTPC + Storage PC (Multipurpose)

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by tential, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Currently, my PC in my room is set up for streaming and storage. I'd in the future like to connect this to my TV, and set up a multipurpose PC. Set up to do HTPC, Streaming, and gaming.

    Many of the problems I thought HTPCs had I've figured out solutions. I'm unsure how my google searches never found the problems, one being automatic downloading of metadata. As I've read more, I realize I'm a complete noob now in the PC world. So much has changed that something as simple as setting this up I'm finding challenging.

    Currently, I figured that I could build a new top of the line PC that would be quiet, and allow it to do all my needs. How feasible is this? Would I need a second PC connected to my TV to allow me receive the streams in top of the line quality and make sure that I don't get the noise from the .PC?

    Currently, my plan was to purchase a nice Lian Li case. From what I see they are the best and I don't really understand why you'd upgrade a case every couple of years. I could buy one and probably keep it for a very long time.
    Buy a new mobo/cpu/ram, my old mobo is about to die from what it seems. I can barely get past the BIOS screen.
    And then work on acquiring as much storage as possible, hopefully around 12 TBs so I can store as much 1080p content as possible without worrying about file size constraints.

    Is that too much overkill? I've seen all these HTPCs be so small, I'm confused as to where everyone is keeping the files. Are they simply streaming files to the HTPCs and using a main computer like this or are they actually keeping files on their HTPC? Currently, my PC had 2.2 TBs completely full, and my laptop has about 40 GBs left, and I have a list of things I've deleted that need to be readded one I have more HD space.

    Sorry if this is scatter brained, I've recently rekindled my interest now that I'm moving back home from school and will be removed from my social life. That means a lot of movies and video games lol.
     
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  3. Severian

    Severian Senior member

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    I keep my HTPC lean and quiet, and connected via gigabit LAN to my WHS, which holds around 10 TB of media. I use MediaBrowser plugin for Windows Media Center as my library aggregator software of choice, and it does automatic metadata retrieval.

    I think it's always a mistake to build a HTPC, which you plan on using only to play back media, like a gaming machine. Most of the video processing work is offloaded to your gpu, so even modest dual core machines are generally capable of this with an adequate gpu. My own HTPC is my second, and is an old Core i3 3ghz machine that utilizes the Intel graphics.

    Frankly the case is the least important part of the HTPC, pick one that fits your needs and is unobtrusive.
     
  4. Zxian

    Zxian Senior member

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    I'd respectfully disagree with Severian. I think that the case is one of the most important parts of your HTPC, especially if it's going to be something that's exposed in your media center. If you want to stick with the storage+HTPC option, the Silverstone GD07 can support 5 drives (3 more if you start using the 5.25" bays) and still provides a clean look to the system. The 120mm fans will ensure that you can get ample airflow while keeping noise levels down (this is important, especially if this is going to be in 24/7 operation for your general network attached storage as well). I have the ML03 case at home and the build quality is excellent.

    As for building a "top-of-the-line" PC, that's also unnecessary. A core i3 is more than enough to play everything that exists today. My media center is an i3-2100 paired with a Radeon 6450. The only reason why I went with the discrete card is for bitstream audio support, which is limited on the HD2000. I also keep all my data on my server and simply map a network drive to access the files. It keeps the system roles separate and lowers the hardware (and space) requirements of the HTPC. You can also keep the storage system out of the way somewhere so that it isn't audible when running.
     
  5. rekkos

    rekkos Junior Member

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    I would definitely take a look at Assassin's HTPC blog and guide if you have not read it. It helped me out a lot when looking at what parts I should get and why.

    http://assassinhtpcblog.com/?page_id=160
     
  6. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    I can't find a specific question to answer in this thread...
     
  7. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    I had originally thought I could simply stream all the files from my top of the line PC to an xbox or HTPC box. Now reading more, and having set up XBMC, I'm not sure if this is as possible as I thought. I really like that case you showed me though. The case is important to me because of noise. If a scene is a quiet scene, I don't want to be bothered by fans.

    Thinking more about it, my HTPC would be the center of my room, similar to my dorm room now where my Laptop basically never moves as it's where I play my movies and music off of. The current setup is so similar to a HTPC, I figured I might as well make the jump as I was starting to look at remotes to make the experience more TV/Entertainment like and less like we were using a PC.

    I've been confused since I read about HTPCs and they are usually really small. However, my library is 3 TBs but could easily be a lot bigger, I simply have just run out of space. I was wondering if people actually stored things on their HTPCs due to the small size. When I imagine a storage PC I imagine something large and bulky, I didn't really think an HTPC could fit my needs.

    I'm also worrying about dust and fan failure. My current storage PC has very few working fans, all of them have died on me. There is always a lot of dust to clean out of my PC. How long should I expect my fans to last when running 24/7?

    @rekkos
    I'm a noob I considering how long I've been away from the PC world. However, I feel even that's a little too simplistic for me. Maybe some things I want are a little overkill but the suggestion of integrated graphics no matter is always going to make me cringe.

    Edit:
    I took a look at the GD07, it uses a full ATX board, and from I've recently read, Mini ATX is the way to go as most users won't need a full ATX board. I don't know if this really matters or not. The only other knocks against it was SSD cabling (I'm unsure if I'll really need an SSD if I'm going for maximum storage). Also the testing methodology on anandtech I feel was kind of weird. They tested it with 1 SSD drive. For a 5 bay HTPC testing with 1 HDD seems odd as it seems that an HTPC case this big is definitely used for storage. Do you think this case would get much louder when it's fully loaded? I'd already be starting with the 3 HDDs I currently have, and adding at least 1 more quickly that brings me to 4.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5796/...d07-review-centering-and-serving-your-media/5
    Here is the review from anandtech though.

    Thanks again, sorry for the dumb questions, I've been away too long.
     
    #6 tential, Nov 21, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  8. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    Fans last a very long time. No worries there.

    My desktop is in a CosmosII case.

    My HTPC is in an Antec300.

    My server is in a full tower Thermaltake Armor.

    I don't own a "little" PC.

    Who told you they must be small?

    Personally I prefer to hide mine away somewhere convenient where it isn't an eye sore.my HTPC is in an AV closet.

    Small builds are usually a cool factor thing or because they will be out in the open in someone's living room.

    I prefer functionality. If I can't see it daily then other factors become important like flexibility, build quality, and ease of set up.
     
  9. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    You should ask your question in list form or bold text for specific answers.
     
  10. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    That was my plan too. How is yours set up exactly with a server and a htpc. Does your server feed the content too the htpc or I dunno ill let you explain!
     
  11. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    It's great.

    I add content and manage from my desktop. It's stored on server. Played on HTPC.

    Great set up. I used to not be able to play on PC when I didn't have HTPC dedicated. Or wife couldn't watch movie. Server is awesome when you need storage.

    I couldn't imagine doing it any other way.
     
  12. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    What kind of videos are you playing? Is the 1080p streaming easy? Any choppiness?

    Also, what program are you using to manage the media content on your HTPC? How do you manage when the content is on your server but your HTPC plays it all?

    Sorry if it's as lot of questions but I've been really confused as to how to set up an HTPC but play all the content off a server. Hence, why I wanted to just combine the two.
     
  13. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    I have a media server set up as storage. On that server I store permanently my media. My media consists of various movies like 1080p and 720p Bluray mkv rips as well as DVD rips. I also have TV shows and box sets.

    On my server I have folders called "movies" and "TV shows". Inside those folders are the media. My server drive shows as a mapped local HDD drive on both my desktop and HTPC. Basically it looks like its locally installed on both machines.

    I use mediabrowser. I just point the mediabrowser to the folders that have my movies and tv shows.

    It's cool cause I can add a movie on my desktop and it instantly shows and is available in my HTPC.

    I use makemkv to rip discs. I use media center master to organize and name and auto download album art and metadata.

    Let me know if you need links or more help.

    Did you buy assassins guides ? They explain it all very well. It's how I learned.
     
  14. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    No choppiness at all. I play perfect 1080p and 7.1 audio.
     
  15. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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    Choppiness is only a result of improper set up or hardware
     
  16. Mfusick

    Mfusick Senior member

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  17. tential

    tential Diamond Member

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    Sorry to take so long to get back to you I have been studying for a big exam.

    I understand what you mean though, I did use mediabrowser, I just couldn't get it to look like how Assassin did since I didn't pay for pearl or anything yet. I didn't really think about setting up my HTPC to access another PC. Now that I think about it it's a DUH. TBH, I was afraid it wouldn't really work well. I've made the decision to combine a PC Gaming, HTPC, and a Server in one PC after talking on the GFX section for a little. I have wanted the Xbox 360 experience with PC Graphics for awhile now. Ever since I got a 70 inch television and I can see all the imperfections in a lot of Xbox 360 titles, and the fact that my 5 year old laptop has better graphics in a lot of titles, has made me realize that I could build a PC and get MUCH better graphics quality. Only thing I'll use a console for is the Halo, COD, Battlefield series (online play). All the single player games though would be much higher detail using a PC.

    I'll shoot you a PM though later this week once I'm done this exam asking about what specs I should be looking at although mainly this will be driven by 1080p gaming, and how to actually set it up correctly and the pros/cons between xbmc and mediabrowser.