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Recommendations for a new Media Server


Wade
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I was hoping to get some recommendations on motherboards for a WHS build.

I'm looking for a ATX board, with onboard video and sound. In addition I want to have as many sata connections as possible and ideally a quite board.... meaning not one with noisy fans on it, preferable one only with heat sinks.

Moving forward from three I'll likely get a roomy case and stack it with hard drives.

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My end goal is to load it with a couple HDPRV tuners, and potentially automate alot of my day to day stuff. I'm still new with the WHS thing, but I'm hoping to use it to it's full potential with my work and entertainment systems.

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Oh and another item, when it comes to cases, my current office case is a Haf 932, it's a monster and I love it. All the room and racks for hard drives is awesome. I'm thinking of sticking with Cooler Master as I like their designs, but are there any others which offer alot of hard drive storage at a cheaper price tag?

Thanks guys, and I'll try to document the build when I get started.

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  • wodysweb

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  • pcdoc

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  • Grison

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  • Wade

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wv1973,
THere are a few post already on the subject so take a look at these and I think it will be clear as to my recommendations and feel free to ask specific questions to refine your choices. I also like large cases which you will see if you go my web site (see signature). In terms of what you are wanting to do, I would suggest you reconsider your approach. WHS is fine for your basic tasks, file storage, backup, media storage and streaming, but I would recomend against adding things like tuners in your WHS and move those to a HTPC which would be attached to your TV/Receiver. Let WHS do what it does best and that is storage and backup. You will save yourself much grief in the long run.

http://homeservershow.com/core-i3530-htpc.html
http://homeservershow.com/jims-build-atom-v-core-i3-another-shocking-decision.html
http://homeservershow.com/forums/topic/jim%e2%80%99s-build-%e2%80%93-atom-v-core-i3
http://homeservershow.com/forums/topic/my-core-i3-build-for-whs-sagetv#post-5707

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Guest no-control

Well yes and no. If all he really wants is to record shows using the tuners there's a couple of options that would work.

A. Run WHS with SageTV media server as long as he's using SageTV for his client as well it should work without issue. But that being said I've never used Sage so I have no idea what the GUI is like and if it will also play a movie library. Hopefully its seemless and doesn't need to exit out of one GUI into another.

B. Virtualize! run either a Type1 VM with both WHS and Windows 7. Or a Type2 with WHS as host and a VM Windows 7 as a guest. I think the Type 1 option would be a better solution but its not exactly n00b/rookie friendly to setup either. But either way you can run windows 7 as a VM to handle the recording. It would also allow the use of extenders. The only real limitation for this is that you would have to run a network tuner like an HDHomeRun.

My advice to your original questions is to not cheap out if your going to run a lot of applications. The platform needs to be pretty solid to get the kind of performance needed.

As for case recommendations. I'm partial to LianLi, but if you want Coolermaster look into their ATCS 840 ~$150 or if you can deal with a mid tower the CM690 II is pretty decent for $99. Otherwise Antec 1200 is fairly cheap as is the NZXT Whisper

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I'm with pcdoc. Extender choices are growing slimmer and there are plenty of MCE add-ins that don't work on them. Build a separate, smaller box to handle MCE, but continue to use WHS for storage.

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I agree with no control on case choices but as far as platform you have to decide whether or not you want simplicity so everyone in the house can easily use it or just want to push technology. In the end if usability is important, do as mrossco nicely stated and build a separate whs and media center. My two cents. I would definitely look at the lian-li cases though. They are one of the best.

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I love my new WHS/SageTV setup (see http://homeservershow.com/forums/topic/my-core-i3-build-for-whs-sagetv for a description and specs). I think pcdoc and I pretty much agree on hardware, but I went a different way than Media Center on the software/extender side. I'm sure either approach is viable; it just depends on your preferences.

At least for me, having a single 24x7 box with WHS plus SageTV has worked really well, though I agree with the notion of keeping the tuners external. I have a pair of HDHomerun devices, and I'm very impressed with the quality, flexibility, ease of installation and low power consumption (5 watts). Recording up to four shows at once hasn't been a problem, even while streaming to clients/extenders or performing various file server activities. Note that I am using the WHS/SageTV box as a file and media -server- and central recording device; actual media playback happens through set-top boxes (SageTV HD Theater) or client PCs.

Take care,
- Jeff

PS Ease of use was a huge priority for me as well, as I had to convince the family that this would provide better versatility than our TiVos while retaining the "it just works" factor.

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Sage TV has always intrigue me but I guess I got soured from an earlier version. I should take another look and see. Thanks Grison for the write up.

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You're welcome; I'm always happy to share my opinion. ;-)

As for SageTV, version 7 is just coming out now. (It's in public beta, but it's solid enough to run as a primary system.)

I was only on the prior version for about a month, but to me version 7 is a huge improvement. The default UI is much better than before, although you still have the option to modify it like crazy if you want. The best new feature, however, is the addition of plug-ins. Prior versions could be customized, but it was a convoluted and manual process. The new plug-in architecture is much closer to the WHS approach, and thus it's an order of magnitude easier to try out the excellent and growing library of enhancements.

We were long-time TiVo users, but my wife can't say enough nice things about SageTV. Her favorite feature (available via plug-in): completely automatic commercial skipping. (I'm sure other server-based systems can do it too, but the closest TiVo came was 30-second skip.)

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Grison - How many extenders are you using? I was using SageTV on my HP MSS but WAF using the HD200 was low because there was a lot of lag. I put Sage Version7 on my new Dell Core-i3 and is a night and day difference.

My poor Celeron CPU in the HP MSS was maxed out most of the time but the Dell is humming along at about 3% CPU usage.

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I use the small form factor Acer (not the H340) but the other one in conjunction with my WHS on the H340 here in Iraq. Both of those work like a charm. The MCE PC (MCE running on Windows 7 Enterprise) does what it is supposed to do, play TV shows that we download form newsgroups and use our private file servers which hold 6 TB of movies.

Also saw this one today.

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