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Building HTPC


ILoveC4

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Alright guys...I have decided to build a rack mount, HTPC that I can use to run XBMC, and also use to browse the web and do basic computing tasks with the convenience of being able to display it on any TV.

For those PC builders out there, can you make any suggestions as to what I should avoid or look at? I've never built a PC specifically for this purpose before. I will initially use a video card with component out, but need to be able to swap it to HDMI.

Starting my shopping list and just looking to see if anyone has any suggestions.

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Ironically, doing the same thing...

I went overboard, but should be fun building it...

I went with a 4U NorcoTek case with 10 hotswappable HD bays (Sata and SAS)

Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4ghz cpu (overkill)

Intel BOXDZ77BH55K LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI out. (You can easily add a component video out card)

CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W Power supply (again, overkill, but I am loading this thing up with cheap drives)

LG Bluray drive + DVD RW

8 gigs of corsair ram

another sata controller card for all the drives

6 - 3TB Seagate drives 7200 RPM 2012 model(yes they are cheap and will fail)

2 - 2TB Seagate drives 7200 RPM

Windows Home Server 2011, 2008 Server R2 or Windows 7 Ultimate (haven't decided yet)

So the basic idea is to run the OS on the 2TB drive and back it up to the extra 2TB drive.

Then set up 3 of the 3TB drives as 3 separate volumes, Movies, Music, Misc.

The remaining 3 drives will be weekly backups of the above volumes and will be taken out via hotswap bays and stored.

For the time being I'm going to use a simple iOS app to emulate keyboard and mouse over the network and hook the HDMI into my matrix switch for output throughout the house.

Eventually, I'm hoping someone writes a control4 driver for IP control of a PC, in the mean time, the iOS app will work. I have a cool windows app that I wrote that can receive commands via network and can move the mouse or emulate keys. Just need to write the control4 driver some day... That way, I don't need drivers for specific media centers or other software, it would just turn the remote into a mouse and/or keyboard navigation for any app.

Wish there was a keyboard proxy for control4 drivers..

Anyway, this is my current build in progress. It isn't ideal, but its my anti-RAID 5... I simply don't want to trust RAID5 ever again. Hard drives fail, and odds are, during a rebuild, another drive will fail and so on... This simple backup / rotation strategy should give me redundancy, allow a ton of cheap expansion for adding more drives (2 more 3TB to begin and could go to 9 volumes online and just swap the 10th for backups = 27TB of storage).

With all the storage local, I don't need to worry about network speed :) but for others this will serve as a backup location, timemachine backups for other users, etc.

Yes, its not the most power friendly solution, but at least without RAID 5 the hard drives should not be spinning if they aren't being accessed.

Add WOL and a sleep macro at night, and at least the beast won't be running when it isn't needed.

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Raspberry PI.

$25 and one of the prebuilt images is XBMC. Awesome videos of the raspi doing XBMC.

So cheap you can put them behind every tv. Ethernet attached to be able to stream from a NAS. IP controllable.

Very cool.

http://www.raspbmc.com/

These look insane. So you stick one onto the back of every TV with a bit of chewing gum?... then they stream XBMC...all for $25 and the cost of the XBMC driver (oh and the chewing gum)..

Is that how this comes together?

Wild..:cool::cool:

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Anyway, this is my current build in progress. It isn't ideal, but its my anti-RAID 5... I simply don't want to trust RAID5 ever again. Hard drives fail, and odds are, during a rebuild, another drive will fail and so on... This simple backup / rotation strategy should give me redundancy

Funny. That's my strategy too..with the simple Dune's...just pull out the drive and swap in another if it fails. (These are stored off site as well. Something that people with NAS drives often fail to do...)

I like the philosophy of what you are setting up here.. different drives for different parts of the media library..

It's kinda what I do. Music on one drive (in a macpro). CTTV on another drive. Non Apple movies on a couple of others in 2 separate Dunes. Apple content on an AppleTV HDD...

It's sort of messy, but it spreads the risk of a drive loss, even thru to different equipment. And you can pull it all together using the Control4 media library. Or if you don't want to use that, then use XBMC or MyMovies, or WMC...

You don't *have* to pull everything off a central RAID'd Drive array. These media player solutions can pull content off multiple locations...

For me to lose *all* media, I'd need to lose 4 different devices and 6 different HDD's all simultaneously. Do your math on the chances of that happening..

pstuart.... I like your strategy a lot :)

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First, good luck finding a "new" component video card.

Second, since 99% of the time it will be used for XBMC and 1% for another task (Internet), there is no sense putting together a costly HTPC. You might as well just buy an Apple TV or Raspberry Pi.

http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/31/how-to-build-a-multi-talented-htpc-for-roughly-1-000/

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Thanks wappinghigh... Months of thought went into it. But the coolest part is going to be building it with my two daughters this weekend (fathers day).

The Pi is a great little box, but if you want to do anything beyond just streaming H264 standard, it can't handle it.

No way the thing can even run the C4 flash navigator, let alone rip a dvd / bluray.

SOA (sofware on arm architecture) will be awesome over the next couple years and with Windows 8 on Arm, things will change dramatically in the embedded space.

Pi is a cool device, but could never be considered a full HTPC, IMO. Just cause it can run XBMC doesn't make it the best. I can "run" XBMC on my AppleTV jailbroken, doesn't mean it beats a good HTPC running XBMC or is even close to it in performance or stability.

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Ironically, doing the same thing...

I went overboard, but should be fun building it...

I went with a 4U NorcoTek case with 10 hotswappable HD bays (Sata and SAS)

Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4ghz cpu (overkill)

Intel BOXDZ77BH55K LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI out. (You can easily add a component video out card)

CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W Power supply (again, overkill, but I am loading this thing up with cheap drives)

LG Bluray drive + DVD RW

8 gigs of corsair ram

another sata controller card for all the drives

6 - 3TB Seagate drives 7200 RPM 2012 model(yes they are cheap and will fail)

2 - 2TB Seagate drives 7200 RPM

Windows Home Server 2011, 2008 Server R2 or Windows 7 Ultimate (haven't decided yet)

So the basic idea is to run the OS on the 2TB drive and back it up to the extra 2TB drive.

I have a similar build with WHS 2011 in a Norco 4020 and running RAID 5's with a Spare for the different RAID Sets. It definitely sounds like the system is waiting for Air Traffic Controller to allow take off.

The one thing I would consider is if the HTPC is going to be a Media Player (Win7 or Win 8 Enterprise), then I would consider SSD drives for the OS. You will get better startup and run performance when playing movies. If you plan to use the system as a Storage Server, then WHS 2011 and the setup looks good.

What kind of RAID Controller will you use to hold all those drives? I run two LSI RAID Controllers to host the two RAID 5s.

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Not using a RAID controller, not configuring a RAID at all.

Using the 6 onboard SATA connectors plus a PCI express internal sata card for more ports. Can never have enough sata ports.

I thought about going SSD for internal, but after many SSD failures, I figured I'd go redundant identical drives and clone one to the other monthly.

I also will be using the box for recording HDTV over the air and transcoding it to MP4, so I'm constantly thrashing drives and don't want that activity on large volume storage (the 3tb drives).

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I think Apple is going down completely the *wrong* path with their cloud and streaming philosophy. And their anti consumer NAS/HTPC (aka as the MacPro) slant

That's what they should be developing.

An easy to use NAS device that "pull's" in all the content off everyones idevices and macs automatically. Real time as soon as they log into the home network. (sure use wifi streaming to do this), then store THIS in a central location.

The problem with the current way of doing things with Apple, is inevitably you end up with a dog's breakfast of multiple files on multiple devices, in multiple versions of itunes. Then when you actually go to stream something, oh wait..what was that home sharing account again?..which one?? (families end up with 6..maybe 10 different Apple ID's ?? And then oh.. :rolleyes:

Sure. Then back the new Apple NAS up to the "cloud". But don't force your customers to use "the cloud" as the primary source of the files...

Then use the new Apple NAS device to stream/connect directly to the TV. Now, If you could run such a device via a matrix, mix in .mkv's and non Apple content, open up itunes to also include TV shows, Netflix etc, then control this with Control4.... Even better. But like if *that* day will ever come :)

Nah. This company has lost the plot on what their customers actually want to do....

What could be simpler than an "all in one" Apple NAS. Doing everything via an "opened up" iTunes?

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I think Apple is going down completely the *wrong* path with their cloud and streaming philosophy. And their anti consumer NAS/HTPC (aka as the MacPro) slant

That's what they should be developing.

Well, I'm sure if you just let Apple know, they'll change course.

:)

RyanE

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Actually it's an interesting discussion..

Now if Apple was/is proposing to enter the HA market..?

Just how do they propose to make things all work *without* such a centralised media device?

It's the only way Savant can make it work (they use a modded macmini)

Without all content mirrored into the one device in the home, "control" is going to get very complicated..

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My policy is to not ever try and figure out what Apple is planning on doing in the future.

My other policy is usually to not care.

That said, I'm probably going to ask my boss for one of those new Apple laptops.

As Mom always said: "Can't hurt to ask".

RyanE

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I think Apple is going down completely the *wrong* path with their cloud and streaming philosophy. And their anti consumer NAS/HTPC (aka as the MacPro) slant

That's what they should be developing.

Well' date=' I'm sure if you just let Apple know, they'll change course.

:)

RyanE[/quote']

I laughed at this to, but from time to time I've been paid by marketing companies to sit in a room with other professionals and discuss telco subjects. Everything from current services to blue sky thinking.

Behind a one-way pain of one way glass is a bunch of executives recording our conversations and picking value out of our comments. The negative themes are usually not considered as something to sweep under the table, but as a set of actionable opportunities and a facilitator will often ask probing questions on such topics to understand user needs and trends he is taking notice of.

There is a free ready made source of useful consumer info in bulletin boards from people like wapp that spends his life thinking about this stuff, that could be really useful to consumer corps if they formalized the value.

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wappinghigh:

You seem to know everything apple should be doing.., I suggest you call them. Email them. Suggest to them via enhancement requests. And send unsolicited ideas to them. Don't rest until they listen to you.

Just so I don't have to listen to your knowing better any longer, I'll even put in the effort for you:

Phone number: +1.408.996.1010

Email: tim@apple.com

Address: 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA, USA 95014

Enhancement requests: bugreporter.apple.com

Unsolicited ideas: http://www.apple.com/legal/policies/ideas.html

If these don't work, there is a tonne of contact details here: http://www.apple.com/contact/ Start at the top, and work your way down the list.

There has to be someone in apple that shares your vision that their corporate and consumer media strategy is 180 degrees off the mark.

And, if any of those don't work, there are 15 job openings in apple corporate in Australia, including 3 iTunes interns - affect change from the inside. Http://jobs.apple.com

Now, if any of these don't work, may I suggest that you refrain from trying to tell them you know better in every 2nd post.

Thanks in advance

D.

Edited to add URL to jobs board.

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Well Apple obviously believes the "icloud" is the future....and yes.. it is kind of a giant AppleNAS/media player in the sky..

So no doubt *if* they entered the HA market, that is the direction they would take... it would be cloud based.

There is just a few fundamental flaw's in all this

That customers actually *want* there lives and houses on an icloud..

And that government's around the world can keep up to speed with internet access

Think what happened to the Sony PS network people...

And look how long (if ever) till the NBN..

ALL this could be negated by Apple, if they just swallowed their pride and gave customers an iNAS and opened up itunes as well....

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Thanks for that D.

I'm not anti Apple. I've got dozen's of their stuff in my home.. And continue to use them happily. And buy more :)

But alas such a fundamental change in philosophy has to come from the top. No itunes intern, or stupid 'ol geezer on a blog will change anything. The opportunity was lost I fear with the passing of our beloved SJ

He just lost interest in the all "content in one itunes/TV HTPC concept". He said as much in an interview just before he died. It just couldn't be done simply (with so many vested interests/ AKA as the movie and content provider industry) And more importantly it couldn't make money for the company.

So he dropped the whole concept when he relegated the AppleTv to become a toy for the "hobbyist". He's actual words. Not mine.

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Oh and D. Your right. Appols. I don't know any better than anybody else.

I just know that with a family with 5 iphones, umpteen ipods. Half a dozen itunes (therefore home sharing) accounts, an itouch, 2 ipads, 6 or is that 7 mac's, and an AppleTv many of which get rotated in and out of the house (at any given random time): And grandma's that continue to give bluray's for xmas, and wives that buy DVD's ..... that the current content and streaming philosophy doesn't work seamlessly...... :)

That's why we still have people like the OPer trying to build HTPC's..

And continual discussions about NAS devices.

And me bobbing up here and adding, "if only" Apple would do the same..

Cheers

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Repeat after me:

No ... stupid 'ol geezer on a blog will change anything.

I may just have found my new tag line.

:)

RyanE

P.S. Yes, I mock, but this really is probably the worst possible place to try and influence the future direction of Apple.

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