HD movie server recommendations?

Discussion in 'General Hardware Issues' started by andy o, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    Hi all,

    First off, I hope I'm not too off-topic on this, but I realize a great majority of us here store ISOs on their HDDs now, so many of you would have dealt with a dedicated media server specifically made for high-bitrate HD streaming.

    I am building one as a matter of fact, to save some energy because currently I leave my more powerful PC on almost 24/7 (this is the year I turn green), and so far I've come up with a rather cheap but good Asus µATX mobo with 4 SATA ports. When I need more I'll just get a cheap SATA card. I bought a WD GreenPower 750GB to start with, and already have a 500GB drive. It will be powered by my ex-HTPC's PSU, a Fortron 300W fanless which has proven to run very cool anyway. I'll just use the mobo graphics of course.

    I am almost sure I'll be installing XP there, to be able to use my HDTV Wonder that those ATI bastards won't update for Vista, and I use that with a little wonderful free app called WatchHDTV, which has a humble but very efficient scheduler and HDTV watcher. I'm not installing the ATI crapware that comes with the HDTV Wonder. Another option is installing Vista for its better file sharing properties (password protect specifically), and ditch the HDTV Wonder and buy a better HDTV OTA card. But I already bought only 1GB for it, so I don't know if it will fare well with Vista. Maybe I'll just get Vista Basic, but I don't know its network capabilities. For a CPU I'll be using a C2D E6600 very probably underclocked to about 1.8GHz and undervolted if possible, that I'll get from my current work PC (which will get a spankin' new Q9450, thank you very much:D)

    It will be running Azureus 24/7 (legal stuff, just if I need to say it), and at the same time I will be ripping my BDs over network from my newly rebuilt HTPC. I got a gigabit router with Wireless-N that these two will be sharing with my more powerful work PC, I don't think I'll use the wireless, but it was only a bit more for it. My 3 mobos of course have gigabit ethernet ports.

    OK, so now, how the heck do I set it up? I can do "advanced" file sharing no problem (with passwords and permissions and stuff), but I wonder if there's a better way to do this that you guys know of. I currently share my internet via a cheap Wifi G router with a couple other people, so I'm wondering if I should just plug my new router into the old one and create my own gigabit sub-network, and if so, I wonder if I could hide it from the other users in the main router (I guess I could apply permissions or passwords easily in Vista, but it may be running XP pro).

    So anyway, any recommendations on this, comments, opinions?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2008
  2. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    Oh, and I almost forgot, how would I go about setting up a remote connection so I control it from another PC, like installations and such? Is it even a good idea in XP or Vista? I'll be putting it below the table and far in the back, and i'd like not to sacrifice my VGA connection on my monitor, or have to use another keyboard/mouse (or a switch).

    Thanks again.
  3. svcd

    svcd Member


    I had nearly the same problems a few years ago.
    Here is the solution i would propose. (I spend a lot of money first to make the experience that a HTPC is not the best solution for the living room).

    Now i have a Dvico Tvix 5100 Player for playback of Multimedia-Content in the living room.
    This machine is nice, small and not noisy. It has network access via FTP and you can connect two external USB-Devices (Harddiscs) if you run out of disc space. (And you will run out of disc space if you have a great DVD or HD-Collection :).

    I have an additional small old PC connected to the TV for surfing and e-mail.

    There are network routers which have low power consumption and have bittorrent client build in. you can have one of those devices as 24H server and filesharing client.

    For gaming & Co i have a PS2 and an XBox 360 connected.

    In Theory a HTPC will do the job of all these devices.

    In Praxis it will cost you a lot of money (even more money than if you use specialised devices). and it will do every job not very good.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2008
  4. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    OK, so I just got all my HTPC parts. I'm waiting for the case for the server, but I'll be (re)building my HTPC now. No one has any recommendations, or thinks there's any problem with the setup I described above?
  5. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I have thought about a PS3 actually, but building an HTPC has become a nuanced but obsessive hobby, hehe. I've got tens of case fans, in search for the super quiet ones. I probably got a couple of hundred dollars (or maybe even -sigh- more) invested in those over a number of months.

    Also, it gives me some kind of satisfaction to know that I'm in full control of (most of) my equipment.
  6. DigiMagic

    DigiMagic Well-Known Member

    Hi andy o,

    I'm too planning to build a HD movie server these days, mostly to backup HD-DVDs and be able to watch everything from another rooms.

    I plan to use Lime Technology unraid solution, for start with two 750 GB Samsungs, that I know are almost inaudible when running. I am still checking their lists of compatible hardware to match what works with unraid and what I can find locally. (I don't understand why it is so picky - I didn't know Linux works on so limited set of devices :confused: )

    My main/HTPC is completed few months ago (but slighly updated every now and then...); two machines will be gigabit-LAN-networked. I'll keep ISOs on server and decrypt in real time with anydvd.

    The only disappointment so far was getting somewhat expensive 7.1 24/192 soundcard and discovering afterwards PowerDVD downsamples everything :doh:
    But there is still hope SlySoft is in the meantime working quietly on their player... :agree:
  7. cohiba

    cohiba Member

    One more vote for unRAID. After reading your post, I am not sure that it will work with everything you want to do on your "server", but the most beautiful thing about unRAID is that it is EASY and FREE to try...

    My unRAID server idles at under 40W, and all it does is store/stream my movies, pics, videos, MP3s, etc. to all the PCs (and Xbox!) in my house. It has a web interface, so once you get it running, you don't even need a monitor/keyboard.
  8. hlkc

    hlkc Well-Known Member


    my set up is little complicated but here u go...

    my main box in my AV cabinet do more than just HTPC, since I build this box 3 to 4 years ago I have been adding more and more tasks to this box. I'm using this box for HTPC and feed all my AV sources to my pre-amp in my living room. Moreover it is my latest BD/DVD movie servers and also my home automation server all-in-one box.

    In additional, I have 1 eSATA box that contains 4 HDD inside and just a flip of a power switch, these 4 HDD will be on instantly from eSATA to my main box. With these 4 HDD and 4 inside my main box I have total of 8 HDD contians 75% of my movie collection, TV shows, MP3, pictures... in my main box.

    Now, don't laugh, I also have the 6 or 7 HDD mirror image of all the movies that I collected and collecting dust in my office. In case any HDD fails in my main box during in the middle of the party, I can just take it out and hot swap within seconds.

    Yes, I, of course have the storage server. I have a RAID 5 storage server that has 16 hot-swappable bays and leave it in the garage. I have this on 24X7 and this server stream all above contents to every single room in my house except my theater room. Currently I have 8X 500G HDD in this server.

    I look at all RAID solutions 2 years ago and at the end I did not get Tom's unRAID because of 2 reasons. I don't remember all the details of one of them but I remembered something to do with the algorithm and somehow I can lost all the data... and the 2nd one is at least when I look at them 2 years ago, a lot of people talking about problems with multiple streaming. When multiple clients requesting from the unRAID server at one time, the client PC has a lot of shutting/playback problems. That's why I end up getting something else since multiple client streaming is one of my important requirement.

    Last, all I did was just mapping the server, NAS, my main box, laptops together and they all can stream and receive the contents from each other.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2008
  9. hlkc

    hlkc Well-Known Member

    Hi Cohiba,

    Thanks for sharing the picture of your set up, I've a quick question, do you have any problem leaving your HTPC in your living room? How many HDD you have inside? What PSU do you use? I am sure from my questions, you know I am worry about sound in living room and that's why I specially build a AV cabinet away from my living room and store my HTPC, DVR and all other AV equipments there. I am trying my hardest to have 0db create from my living room :)

    When G45 MB released later this year I am thinking to get this fanless case in order to be silent if I decide to leave it in my living room or this 10 HDD case in order to have all the HDD inside the box in my AV cabinet, not decide yet.

    Btw, I have a same PJ like you. But I have the older model of yours, Panny AE500.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2008
  10. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, just a quick reply to thanky you for all the input. I just finished rebuilding my HTPC, and after finishing tweaking it I'll build the server, I got my case today (using an antec mini P180 - I love my main P180). The thing with the P-series Antecs is that they run quietly and beautifully but proper set-up is a b1tch. I don't care for Antec fans either, so off they'll go. I'll probably be doing that later tonight. I'll read your replies and links more carefully. That unRAID thing sounds great, but I think I'll be constrained to XP after all, since I'll put my HDTV card there and run Azureus too.
  11. cohiba

    cohiba Member

    Nope, no problems. When not in use, I put it into S3 sleep mode--all the fans are off, and it consumes just 3W--the exact same as if it was "off". The only difference is I can wake it up with my bluetooth keyboard, and it's back on at a desktop in a few seconds instead of a few minutes like a cold boot. I only have one hard drive (300MB) in the HTPC, and I use the Antec Earthwatts 380W PSU. Not the quietest, but still very quiet, and I got a great deal on it (you can see the specs and a pic of my HTPC here. When on, I really can't hear it--the fan from my Toshiba 65" 1080p DLP HDTV is louder...

    The G45 does look interesting, but I am also going to be looking very close at the upcoming NVIDIA chipset for Intel--the one that supports HybridPower. I am very keen on having a nice 3D add-in video card for gaming that I can turn completely off when not in use (just use integrated video)--that to me is the best of both worlds for a HTPC... :rock:
  12. Datus

    Datus Well-Known Member

    Quick reply

    Hmm, why arnt you running directly from pc connected to your telly again?

    I use my powerfull pc to do what i want to do and the media one to play and rip to HDD?

    Dont need a big box Im using antec desktop which comes with power supply and plenty vents, and on board Video and an old Xi-Fi card i had lying arround.

    If you need more than 3 TB's then a simple expansion box with a sata card and it can have another 4 or so TB's in it.

    Noise isnt a problem i have stock fan and a side fan (only cause I got a Quad) running low to stir the air in there. I think if i got a better cpu cooler i could probably get away with no fan.

    Im running Full 1080P on some £20K worth of kit ($40K) and sounds and looks pretty good.

    Ow Ive writen my own media launcher code with gets thumbs, posters and summary from IMDB and launches any ISO.
    Also just added feature to list avi's ect and lauch player for them.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2008
  13. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    Hi Datus,

    Right now what you describe is pretty much what I have. My work (main) PC is fairly powerful, it has a E6600 overclocked to 3.3 and overvolted as well, 4HDDs, and for the moment I have it with a 8600GTS, but I plan to update the card by the end of the year. I am about to update it to Vista x64, 2GB more RAM and an OC'd Q9450.

    But anyway, I've been running this PC pretty much 24/7 with Azureus and other software running all the time. I can only do this with this one because the HTPC I carry it around, and also my freakin ATI HDTV card is not Vista compatible.

    So, a low-power dedicated PC running 24/7 doing just this I think would be a good solution, my main concern is the energy waste, not so much the money saved, which I don't think would be much considering the cost of a 3rd PC. My roommate pays for the electric bill anyway. Also, as quiet as the P180 can be, it IS running 5 fans, and since it's in my bedroom it is audible at night.
  14. Datus

    Datus Well-Known Member

    Andy bit confussed.
    Your htpc has 5 fans in it?
    Your htoc is vista? and Why?

    Ditch the fans.
    Run cpu at 2.4ghz.
    Ditch the motherboard and GPU buy this
    You dont need masive fan cooling powersupply I bought this which comes with one
    Comes with 2 large fans. I use one becuase I have a quad cpu and need something to stir the air. It works off main powersupply and has a switch for low,medium and high. I set it to low and perfect.
    Again i use stock intel cpu and fan and if I bought a better one I could do away with it.

    Hope that lot helps
  15. andy o

    andy o Well-Known Member

    Sorry for the confusion. What I meant was my powerful PC with which I do photography and some graphic design uses the Antec P180 with 5 fans. That is the one with XP and the overclocked E6600 that I'm replacing with the cooler Q9450 and updating to Vista X64, and that is also the one I'm currently running 24/7. I'll build the server just so I don't have to have that one turned on all the time and wasting electricity. The server will actually be my third PC, and it will use an Antec mini P180, that comes with a 200mm fan on top, which even at very low revs would be fine by itself to cool the PC (I'll put my E6600 there, probably underclocked.)

    My HTPC is actually my second PC, and there are several reasons I'm running with Vista. My first reason was that since I already had Windows XP SP2 on one PC, I might as well just try the new OS and learn its tricks. The same reason I'm buying the next Mac mini. It has been pretty good so far, I'm liking Vista (after all the initial tweaks like disabling UAC and indexer and that sort of things). Vista, provided you have good enough hardware, runs faster than XP in my experience, with equivalent hardware.

    Other reasons that I realized better as time went on is that mfrs are paying more attention to drivers for Vista, and generally speaking those are the ones that get updated more often, and released earlier. Especially graphics cards manufacturers. nVidia had a long time without Purevideo HD support for XP. During that time I was already running Vista 32 pretty well on my HTPC with a 8600GTS with full Purevideo HD acceleration.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2008
  16. peterbus

    peterbus Well-Known Member

    why not put your hdcp in another room and install some cat5 cable with component or hdmi baluns with ir feedback to your attached devices,works a treat and no fan noise to worry about and no clutter in the living room to annoy the wifey.:rock:
  17. PrincipalityFusion

    PrincipalityFusion Well-Known Member

    Home Theater Server Setup

    I've been experimenting with a server/client setup for my movies also and this is the setup that I have settled on.

    1) Silverstone Temjin 07 case -- you can't beat the size of these things. They're HUGE (and expensive), but I got it because of it's hard drive capacity. If you buy hard drive cages for the front, it can hold up to 16 hard drives.
    2) SATA Backplane -- I purchased 2 of these hd cages. They allow me to put a max of 10 hard drives in the front bezel of the Temjin.
    3) Areca SATA controller (16 drive model) -- I only have 5 drives right now, but this piece of equipment will allow me to expand up to 16 drives, which is the max for Windows Vista which is running my server. We get copies real cheap at school so I pretty much get as many copies as i need.
    4) Asus motherboard and AMD processor -- can't beat the savings on these and they don't have to be powerful as you're basically just creating a file server so you don't need alot of speed.
    5) Cooling (IMPORTANT) -- I basically replaced all fans with Scythe and SilenX. The server is in my home office right next to my work pc and i can hardly hear it over the low hum of my work pc. The Areca controller has a fan that is small so that is the loudest thing in the PC. Good about the Temjin case, it is solid and thick so dulls alot of high pitch sound. For vibrations, i got some crutchfield sound dampening pads (the kind used in car trunds) and put it on various spots throught the case. This is basically a dead case except for the hard drives spinning up.

    Clients -- This is where the money savings came in:
    1) 2 $45 dollar cases (psu included) and cheap amd processors overclocked to 2.6 Ghz. Both running windows vista.

    The clients are connected wirelessly to the server using 802.11N. You basically can't stream high definition with anything less. Although i do get some interferrence from the neighbors occassionally, i can pretty much watch jitter free high definition from the server. To help the server keep up, i set up the hard drives in Raid 5. I initially thought that a raid setup was overkill for the amount of clients that i have, but it really does make a difference in some studdering for high definition material. I get a consistent hard drive throughput of about 375+Mbs according to Sisandra and the gigabit lan can definitely keep up with that so i'll have a really strong signal to get to the router. I chose raid 5 for the redundancy it offers. True, i had to eat the size of 1 Terabyte drive, but in the long run i won't have to worry about re-copying my hd disks as i'll just be able to stick in a replacement drive and the array will rebuilt itself (sweet!!).

    Anyway, the most expensive thing in my setup was the server, but the total setup is working out well. Also, i really like the Vista Media Center interface and it works well with MyMovies. It's so convenient to just open up Media Center and have your full collection of movies right there without hunting for disks. I have about 235 movies saved so far with about 600 or so more to go (high def and standard def).
  18. hlkc

    hlkc Well-Known Member

    Not to side track this thread, but I've 2 questions about this Abit MB
    1) It stated 7.1 CH HD Audio, Is it a TrueHD audio HD Audio?
    2) The HDMI GC in this MB, how we compare to ATI 3XXX series card?

  19. hlkc

    hlkc Well-Known Member

    Regarding #3 the Arec controller, personally I think is is a bit too much. I have Promise RAID SATA RAID controller and only cost me $60 to $70 per card and each controller only do 4 SATA. In order to do 16, I need 4 controllers and only cost me less than $300. But the Arec I think it costs $500 for 8 ports and 16 ports/2 controllers will cause $1K not to mention I don't have to get all 4 Promise today and you can save the money and get the next 4 ports when need.
  20. PrincipalityFusion

    PrincipalityFusion Well-Known Member

    The Areca controller i purchased used for $425. It sells new on Newegg for $750 i think. It's true that it's expensive, but I think it's worth it. Firstoff, the Areca uses the spare graphix port that runs at 8x instead of the normal PCI ports that the Promise uses. Second, what if you don't have 4 pci ports? Third, the Areca controller, from the research that i've done, performs better than the promise and has more functionality.

    Also, to get 16 ports, Areca sells a 16 port model (the one I purchased) so i don't have to get more than one controller.

    I'm not trying to knock your suggestion so i hope you don't take it that way. I think you get what your budget allows and i was able to find some good deals. It's true that i probably spent a little more than the average for a home server, but i didn't break the bank and it does everything i want it to do well. Furthermore, i like that all i have to do now is pop in a new hard drive when i want to expand as the expansion capability is already paid for.

    For a "budget" server though, or if I just wanted to spend less, i would have went with your suggestion (minus the 4 Promise controllers).
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2008