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  • HTPC + unRaid Build

    I've been running XBMC off an old laptop for a while, and while I really enjoy XBMC, the MS Vista Sony Vaio laptop hooked up to my entertainment center isn't cutting it. I'm also running most videos off of my desktop which is also eating up my gaming / work space. So anyway... I've been looking to put together an HTPC with a separate file server. Here's what I'm currently getting close to pulling the trigger on.

    HTPC (microATX)

    I ended up going with the microATX to provide potential upgrade / expansion capabilities. I had looked at miniITX and Intel NUC options but those were either more expensive... or more limiting. The microATX seemed like a good middle ground.

    I also plan to run OpenElec but wanted to have the option of running XBMC on Windows (for Netflix, etc.) if need be.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i3-3220T 2.8GHz Dual-Core Processor ($109.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i 57.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($47.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Microcenter)
    Memory: Corsair Vengeance 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($94.99 @ NCIX US)
    Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($58.99 @ NCIX US)
    Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($47.98 @ Newegg)
    Total: $469.92
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-08-05 22:07 EDT-0400)

    unRAID (miniITX)

    I don't plan to use a lot of drives so I went the miniITX route. The 3TBs should offer me plenty of space for the media I retain.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i3-3220T 2.8GHz Dual-Core Processor ($109.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i 57.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($47.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock H77M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($100.98 @ SuperBiiz)
    Memory: Corsair Vengeance 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($94.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($114.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($114.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case ($69.40 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($47.98 @ Newegg)
    Total: $741.30
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-08-05 22:08 EDT-0400)
    |TG-12th| asch
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  • #2
    Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

    Well you don't seem to be building a rig for gaming, so this really won't apply but just as a free bit of advice: I bought a microATX board for my gaming machine and ran into real issues shoehorning in dual GPUs onto it. I also found issues with the placement of some of the pin hookups on the mother board.

    Granted some of that is just bad design on the board, but if I had to do it again...I wouldn't buy a microATX board.

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    • #3
      Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

      Yeah, this is simply my media box. I'm building a gaming rig in another thread. :D

      Since this will go in my entertainment center, I needed something small so microATX was the biggest I could go. I looked around on other forums, specifically the xbmc forums, to see what mobos others have had success with. The ASRock has been a popular choice for HTPCs.

      For my unRaid box, I went even smaller with the miniITX. I wasn't sure about that, but this will be sitting in a closet so I wanted a small case.
      |TG-12th| asch
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      • #4
        Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

        I am very interested in hearing how this turns out for you. I have an ASRock miniATX and so far have been suitably unimpressed with it, so if you have a overly positive experience please let me know.

        I have a cheap 200$ box that is running as my file server right now, it has an external RAID5 hooked up to over E-Sata, but I am in the process of bringing it offline and upgrading it from 4 x 1 TB drives to 4 x 2 TB drives for extra storage.

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        • #5
          Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

          I'll try to take some pics and report back. Probably won't be for a few weeks until I get a chance to order and put it together. Still tweaking my gaming rig as well so I can do one big order.
          |TG-12th| asch
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          • #6
            Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

            I recently built a PC for my living room, more of a pc than a HTPC as I just prefer the functionality of a pc than a HTPC.

            I chose a microATX board ASUS P8-H77-M PRO as it had more room for future upgrades and could accommodate the 6 gig of old DDR3 ram I had sitting around and then some.
            I bought the Fractal design node 605 as it takes a full size PSU and most GPU sizes and I have found it to be quite good, my only issue with it is that there is basically no way to manage the cables for good airflow but the PC runs at a cool 30-40 celsius so the heat is not an issue, I am happy with the case and the quality of it, the top panel has a sound proof pad underneath it to keep the noise down, but when it comes to adding in more drives it is going to require some creative thinking cable wise.

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            • #7
              Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

              I was actually looking at the Fractal Design Node 605. I like their cases. In the end I couldn't justify the price for my HTPC especially since I'm also building an unRaid box for all of the media.
              |TG-12th| asch
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              • #8
                Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                It all comes down to personal choice, I really like what you are building, it is a great idea for people with lots of media, I personally do not have that much media, most of what I have is blu-ray dvd's that I play on the living room PC/HTPC.
                I am still looking into getting a NAS drive or maybe building something similar to what you are building just for backup and files and stuff, but then again I have a blu-ray writer and could backup quite a bit on those disks which I would probably prefer as an optical disk will not fail like a hard drive does....hmmm...decisions decisions.

                If you can post pics of your build that would be awesome, would love to see them, have fun.
                Last edited by MrMojay; 08-08-2013, 04:31 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                  Trigger pulled... should hopefully have all the parts here next week.
                  |TG-12th| asch
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                  • #10
                    Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                    What does unraid offer over freeNAS?
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                    • #11
                      Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                      Originally posted by bolagnaise View Post
                      What does unraid offer over freeNAS?
                      From what little I know of NAS type OSes / software...

                      FreeNAS is a more standard software RAID solution, which includes the ZFS file system. ZFS is considered my most, the most advanced file system out there with the ability to self-heal files. It mirror or stripes the data for redundency. Some of the downsides are the ability or ease of having different drive sizes, adding additional drives to an existing array, etc.

                      Unlike other RAID systems, unRAID Server supports true incremental storage expansion. You can add capacity by adding more hard drives or by upgrading existing hard drives. This is a great way to make use of older, smaller hard drives you might have laying around.

                      In my situation, I'm less concerned about the safety (backup) of my data because I back all of my personal photos, files, videos, etc. to the cloud. This is mostly a media server so if something did go wrong, I'm only losing my ripped DVDs, tv shows, etc. This allows me to use some old HDDs I've had laying around along with the two larger ones I'm purchasing.

                      From the threads I've been reading folks haven't really had any issues with the safety of their files on unRAID. If I was worried about it I would probably go the FreeNAS route, but since i'm backing up to the cloud and I want something that I can easily mix drives and add/remove drives, the unRAID option was the best.
                      |TG-12th| asch
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                      • #12
                        Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                        Great explanation. I currently run a 6tb 2 bay qnap NAS but am running out of space fast. I am thinking of getting a HP Microserver N540l and running unraid or free as on it.
                        sigpic

                        Former Pathfinder
                        Former ARMA Admin
                        Former ARMA TGU instructor
                        Former TGU Headmaster
                        Current Noob
                        Im also pretty bad at World of Tanks -

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                        • #13
                          Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                          Have you looked at Plex versus XBMC?
                          |TG-12th| Namebot

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                          • #14
                            Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                            Originally posted by Namebot View Post
                            Have you looked at Plex versus XBMC?
                            Yeah, I checked both of them out. Plex takes more resources to run since it has to handle the encoding/decoding to stream the content... which I found actually degrades the quality some. I wasn't interested in streaming content... I'm just going to let OpenELEC (xbmc) read from the unRAID server.
                            |TG-12th| asch
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                            • #15
                              Re: HTPC + unRaid Build

                              I run plex. I have a I5 Mac mini as a server connected to my NAS. PLEX has its advantages and disadvantages, I stream to my Roku in the lounge room.works very well for what I need.
                              sigpic

                              Former Pathfinder
                              Former ARMA Admin
                              Former ARMA TGU instructor
                              Former TGU Headmaster
                              Current Noob
                              Im also pretty bad at World of Tanks -

                              Comment

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