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Thread: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

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    Question Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    hi guys.

    I'm really lost and have joined your forum in the hope that some kind soul can help me. I currently have a small network at home. I'm getting rid of my old media centre (athlon ii 240e x2 + ATI Radeon HD 4200) as it was slightly struggling with streaming full HD movies.

    My old media centre was setup to play one movie directly onto a tv and stream another using Serviio via Lan to my other DLNA tv.

    As above, I want to be able to share/play HD movies in two rooms, simultaneously, i.e. kids watching in one room and me in another, without jerky/slow playback.
    I want to be able to keep it on 24/7 without costing loads
    I also want to be able to transfer files to it from my PC upstairs.

    I'm not sure if I can make a cheap PC that uses under 20-25 watts on full power like a nas or if i'm simply better off purchasing a NAS. Any ideas?

    I hope i've been clear enough, but if you need further info, then please let me know.

    Thanks again.

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    I cant see any specific reason why your old machine wouldnt be able to achieve what you need. What kind of network are you running, I.E. Wireless N/Wireless G//10Mb/100Mb/GbE? Whats the hard drive in the media centre like?

    If you want an upgrade anyway, the best way to build a low powered media machine is probably with an AMD FM1.
    Personally i have a separate NAS with a slightly more powerful media centre (although that is being retired and sold on).
    What kind of budget are you looking at?

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    i'm on a 100mb wired Lan. I have a samsung 1tb spinpoint f3.

    I actually want to upgrade anyway as the power the pc consumes is high and that means i can't leave it on 24/7.

    I have approx £150 for nas enclosure and £200 for 2 media players. But i may not need 2 media players (WDTV?) as i have a ps3, which i've been told will do a good job.

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    As for a NAS i have one of these:
    http://www.ebuyer.com/248760-d-link-...edium=products
    It goes between 15-20MBps writing and 30-45MBps reading on my GbE network with 2 x 2TB drives in there. Its a doddle to get set up HOWEVER you will have to reformat your hard drive when you put it in there AND it does have a little fan which spins up from time to time. Its not too loud but you couldn't have it somewhere you sleep. There is also some people who have created custom firmware for it which allows loads of extra features to be run if you are any good with linux-y commands.

    Another popular NAS option which i also have is the HP Microserver I know thats almost £100 over budget but i think you can get £100 cashback if you look around. Whilst this is not directly a NAS, it can be turned into one using a free OS such as freenas or openfiler. Hell even using ubuntu would work if you're not upto them. Any of these options are still a lot more involved than something like the D-Link but it works well once going!

    As for the media streamers, not sure you would be able to build 2 x PCs for that money. Perhaps if you used AMD E450 or Nvidia ION based systems you could get away with it but it would be quite tight!

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    I think you misunderstood me mate. I don't want to build 2 pcs. What i meant was i want one device (NAS/PC/SERVER) which can distribute media to 2 players, like having 2 wd tv live players.

    Also if i went with a HP microserver, i'm better off building a AMD fusion, which should be more powerful too.

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    What are the full specifications of the PC the OP us using including the PSU??


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    AMD Athlon II X2 240e 2.8GHz Socket AM3 2MB Cache Energy Efficient Processor
    Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H 785G
    Kingston 2gb Ddr3 1333mhz Hyperx Memory Cl7(7-7-7-20)
    Samsung S223 DVDRW Drive
    Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB HDD

    Please note that its not just about the specs of the pc as i know i have a good spec. I want very low power consumption for the same speed. This current pc uses 50-70w on average, so i can't leave it on all the time. I want a device which:-

    1. I can leave on 24/7
    2. Can distribute HD movies to 2 tvs
    3. Uses low power consumption (i.e. 5 - 25w)


    I don't mind built a low power NAS/PC/Server if it means saving money, but having at least the same or more than what i currently have

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    Quote Originally Posted by nasorpc View Post
    I think you misunderstood me mate. I don't want to build 2 pcs. What i meant was i want one device (NAS/PC/SERVER) which can distribute media to 2 players, like having 2 wd tv live players.

    Also if i went with a HP microserver, i'm better off building a AMD fusion, which should be more powerful too.
    Looking at what you currently use (Serviio) it seems there is a few levels of complication in what you're doing. This software is able to transcode video on the fly to ensure compatibility with your devices. Now this is probably what is causing your current set-up so struggle as it takes quite a lot of processing power. You are fairly unlikely to avoid this issue whilst keeping in too slim a power envelope, especially if it is used constantly.
    The WD TV live player actually supports a wide variety of codecs so technically, if you get a decent DLNA NAS, you shouldn't need to transcode much, if anything at all so your requirements would be pretty low.
    If you really don't want to spend any money at all, i would look into trying to minimize any on the fly transcoding and undervolting/underclocking your current media centre.

    Codecs and compatibility is a COMPLETE pain in the arse, so im not suprised you are a bit frustrated by it. My approach is to just put PCs everywhere as you have maximum flexibility

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    Thanks biscuit. I have already tried undervolting and have only managed to bring the wattage down by a couple of watts.

    Rather than doing my head in with all this transcoding, its easier to simply get rid of a good media centre (but now old - 2009 diy model) and build or buy a NAS which consumes very low power and serves its purpose - to serve/distribute HD media ONLY!

    Now since we've decided that transcoding is not the answer, my question is back to:-

    1. What shall i do? buy a pre-built NAS or built a ultra-low power PC/NAS?
    2. What about the players? Use 1 ps3 and 1 player or get 2 dedicated players?
    3. Lastly what player(s) shall i get?

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    My little linkstation with 128mb and a 400mhz arm.

    Samba + torrents + media serving within 13 watts with a 1.5tb HD.

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    thanks abaxas, but you haven't said if it can allow you to play FULL HD media on 2 players at the same time

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    Quote Originally Posted by nasorpc View Post
    thanks abaxas, but you haven't said if it can allow you to play FULL HD media on 2 players at the same time
    Depends on the bitrate of the 'FULL HD' are we talking pure Blu-ray rips? As in 30-50gigs?

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    No mate...mainly average 720p rips (4-6gigs) and sometimes 1080p rips (7-8gigs). But playing on two players at the same time is a MUST!

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    Personally i think you need to put some time into researching what the player you have been looking at (WD TV is a pretty good place to start) can actually handle with regards to codec and wrapper format and then match the NAS you would like to choose to that.
    One thing to remember, .avi and .mkv file extensions don't necessarily dictate how the video file is encoded, this is simply the extension of the wrapper which will also contain metadata, audio and (in the case of MKV) subtitles. Think of it as like a .zip or .rar
    Video codecs are not usually the thing which cause a problem for players, its usually audio but that doesnt necissarily mean the video couldnt be causing a problem. Have look at some of your more problematic video files and check what codec the video and audio have been coded in and then compare that to what the NAS and the player suggest they can handle.

    Im not 100% certain of this but i suspect PS3s are not particualy great media streamers with regards to formats, codecs and wrappers.

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    I'm willing to reduce from 1080p to 720p if it means that i'll get everything working smoothly.

    I'm only using these as examples, but something along the lines of:-

    1080p
    Size: 7.84 GB
    Video: 1920x816 (X264 @ 23.976fps)
    Audio: DTS 1509kbps
    Codec: x264

    1080p
    SiZE: 8.74 GB
    ViDEO.CODEC: x264 (L4.1, DXVA)
    FRAMERATE: 23.976
    BiTRATE: 8677 kbps
    RESOLUTiON: 1918x810
    AUDiO: English DTS 5.1 1.5 Mbps (encoded from HD-DVD's TrueHD 5.1 3.2 Mbps)

    720p
    Video: x264 @ 6541 kbps
    Audio: English 5.1 AC3 640kbit/s

    720p
    Video: x264 @ 5179 Kbps
    Audio: DTS @ 1509 Kbps

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    Re: Need advice re: NAS or DIY PC

    Quote Originally Posted by nasorpc View Post
    Please note that its not just about the specs of the pc as i know i have a good spec. I want very low power consumption for the same speed.
    Have you tried undervolting your CPU and reducing the clock speed of the IGP? I have a Sempron 140 (45W) on a 785G chipset, and at *full load* it draws no more than 50W - that's acheived by dropping vcore to 1.05V, which is still rock solid with an AM3 CPU - AMD appear overspecify their vcores significantly. Video decoding using a dedicated hardware block on the IGP, so dropping the general GPU clock won't make much difference to its ability to decode video.

    Also make sure you have a *very* efficient PSU - the PSU can make as much as 10W difference at the kind of power draw we're talking about here. If you have a high wattage PSU, or one without an 80+ certification, you can almost certainly bring the power draw down. I'm now using an 80+ bronze 250W PSU after the original PSU in my case blew, and that's helped drop my power draw too.

    Before I undervolted, with the old PSU, my *idle* power draw used to be > 60W. With a more efficient PSU and undervolting I've got my *load* power draw >10W below that, whilst maintaining the same performance. And that's cost me the princely sum of £40. Well worth a try before you completely reinvent the wheel.

    If you do decide to go for a new build, consider an E350 based mitx system: very low power draw and should be more than powerful enough to decode one 1080p film whilst streaming another...

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