Advice on building standalone server

Discussion in 'General' started by elsmandino, March 21, 2011.

  1. elsmandino

    elsmandino Portal Pro

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    Hello,

    I have managed to get to grips with Mediaportal and having realised what a great bit of software it is have got rid of MCE from all my PCs.

    What I ultimately would like to do now is have a dedicated server computer that has Mediportal on it that would record and serve Live/recordded tv to all the other computers on my network. I would also use the computer to serve all other media to the clients and will also install itunes on the server to automatically download new podcasts etc.

    The problem is deciding which software/hardware to use for the server. It have got to be powerful enough to do the above, yet as power efficient as possible. There are going to be 3-4 clients attached to the server - computers in my living room, bedroom and kitchen and a laptop.



    Can anyone give me some advice on what sort of hardware/software I should be using?

    My thoughts so far:

    I would need

    * 2 x 3.5" hard Drives - one for Recording TV programs and one for all my other media
    * A 2.5" laptop hard drive that would be used for the OS and time shifting
    * A quiet, cool case
    * Powerful, yet efficient CPU and Motherboard with lots of room for TV cards
    * Quiet, efficient PSU
    * 4GB RAM

    In terms of the OS, I am unsure whether to install WHS or Windows 7.

    BTW, I would be planning on running the server headless, so would also have to remotely log on for maintenance purposes.

    My current HTPC has the following bits, so I can canabilise any bits if necessary:

    Windows 7
    1.5TB AV-GP Western Digital Hard Drive (5,4000) (for recording)
    2TB Samsung F4 (for storage)
    2TB
    4GB Corsair Ram
    Antec NSK2480 w/PSU
    Asus AM3 M4A785TD-M Evo
    AMD Athlon IIx2 240e
    Hauppauge HVR-2200
    Hauppauge Nova -S2

    Thanks very much.

    A
     
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  3. elliottmc
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    elliottmc Retired Team Member

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    This list sounds pretty good.

    I'm guessing you probably also want to run MediaPortal on your server? If so, I would go with Windows 7. I have a dedicated server, and use Windows 7 without problems.

    You may find that the energy saving settings mean that the Samsung drive takes a little while to respond. I have one, and don't use it for recorded TV for this reason. It works fine, but I like my TV to start as soon as I hit the button.

    I have a similar motherboard/CPU combination. Nice and efficient, and you should be fine.

    I also use hauppauge TV cards (although I only have DVB-T). They work fine for me, and I would not use anything else.

    Make sure you have a good PSU and case. You'll want plenty of ventilation and fans too.

    I tend to use quietpc in the UK for quiet components. They are a really good company and don't sell any rubbish.

    One other thing. You might want your server to use powerscheduler to suspend/wake for recordings. I have seen enough reports of problems in these forums to avoid doing this. It might not be ideal, but I leave mine on 24/7, and have no problems at all.

    Good luck.

    Mark
     
  4. wonkyd
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    wonkyd Retired Team Member

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  5. bodiroga

    bodiroga Portal Pro

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    Why?

    What's the difference between using one of those and the onboard NIC?

    Thanks ;)
     
  6. elsmandino

    elsmandino Portal Pro

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    Hi thanks for the advice,

    The slight problem is deciding on how much to use from existing HTPC as the computer I use in my computer in on its way out (this is an old P4 with only a gig of DDR).

    I am thinking about chucking out the P4, and replacing it with the HTPC and building a mini-ITX computer for my living room.

    I think I might have to do this as the current m-ATX probably won't have enough PCI-e slots for the tuner cards that I want to use:

    I ideally want four freesat tuners and four freeview tuners for maximum flexibility. I agree that Hauppauge cards seem to be faultless but they seem to be a little slow on uptake in terms of bringing out new products. I was thinking of keeping the HVR-2200 but selling the Nova-S2 and then buying a TBS DVB-S2 Quad tuner TV Card, PCIe x1 (6984) (very new at the moment, so I shall wait for a few reviews) and also a Blackgold BGT3620 (Dual DVB-T2) to give me a total of 8 tuners (four SVB-S2, two DVB-T and two DVB-T2).

    I then need to decide what to do with in terms of CPU and motherboard:

    1. Keep the Athlon II x2 240e and the Asus Evo board in my main computer (perhaps adding a discrete graphics card) and then buying a separate ATX mother board and chip - I am thinking the new Sandy Bridge Core-i3 2100T looks a good bet with only 35W TDP OR

    2. Keep the Athlon II x 2 240e for my server but put it into a new AMD ATX board with lots of PCI-e slots and then buy a much faster CPU for the Asus Evo board.

    Any further comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  7. wonkyd
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    wonkyd Retired Team Member

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    Cheap onboard NIC will often cause problems with time sensitive streams such as live TS or even RDP. You can witness this with stuttering steams or even random disconnections
     
  8. elsmandino

    elsmandino Portal Pro

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    Having looked around, I am now tempted to use my existing HTPC as my server. I didn't realise that m-ATX motherboards could offer enough PCI/PCI-e slots, but the Asus AM3 M4A88TD-M E appears to be just the ticket - i'll just swap this with my existing motherboard.

    My only other problem is the fact that my case only has room for two hard drives. I am tempted to put the 2.5" hard drive in one of the 5.25" bays with an adapter. As hard drives are not technically designed to go here, do you think air flow would be a problem with air flow?
     
  9. wonkyd
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    wonkyd Retired Team Member

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    Shouldnt be a problem, do the exact same thing myself. 2.5" drives run quiet cool as it is.
     
  10. elliottmc
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    elliottmc Retired Team Member

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    You can put 3.5" drives in 5.25" bays, and buy coolers if you are concerned.

    For example

    ZM-2HC2 Hard Drive Heatpipe Cooler

    (not advertising - I have no connection with this company other than as a satisfied customer!)

    You can also put two 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay with suitable adapters.

    Mark
     
  11. allanp81

    allanp81 Portal Pro

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    I can echo that, I had to install a proper PCI NIC to get round stuttering.
     
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