Meet my first HTPC: Fanless, NAS/RAID1, Linux, 30 watts, 24x7, FC10
#1
Wink 
Meet my first HTPC.
She's a beauty.
And she doesn't make a sound.

Requirements
My requirements were clear from the beginning: I wanted an HTPC, but I also wanted to use it as my 24/7 Linux home server, with 2x big HDDs in a RAID1. Even though most people would say, go get and buy two devices -- a Synology NAS and a nettop as HTPC -- I wanted it all in one machine. And that made it all a little more complicated:

- HTPC/XBMC with flawless 1080p video playback
- NAS with RAID1: 1 SSD for the OS, 2 HDDs for the RAID1 (= min 3 SATA)
- Linux without a hassle
- Low power consumption b/c it will run 24/7
- Fanless: And of course, it should be completely silent (no fans), b/c it will be in the living room.

Hardware
Because I wanted something that worked flawless on Linux, I couldn't just take the best there is and that's that. As a Linux user, you always have to check for drivers and compatibility. So I did. And I think I made a reasonably good choice here. Everything works, with some minor exceptions (more later).

Main Parts
- Case: Streacom FC10 -- 300€
- Mainboard: ASUS P8H77-M PRO -- 105€
- CPU: Intel i3-3225 -- 126€
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance LP White DDR3-1600 2x4GB 1.35V -- 60€
- PSU: picoPSU-150-XT with a 120W AC/DC Adapter (incl. one Y-cable 1xMolex->2xSATA) -- 60€
- 1x SSD: Samsung MZ-7PD128BW SSD 840 Pro 128GB -- 128€
- 2x HDD: Western Digital WD Red 3TB WD30EFRX -- 2x142€
- 1x BD Drive: Sony Optiarc BD-5850H -- 81€

Adapters, Cables, Thermal Paste
- SATA Adapter (for multiple HDDs): I/O Adapter DELOCK 1xSATA-St>2x SATA-Bu. / Adapter Power SATA HDD 2x > 15 Pin - St 15 cm -- 3€
- SATA Slim Adapter (for BD Drive): DeLock Adapter Slimline SATA 22pin > Slim -- 4€
- Power extension: Power ATX 4pin/12V Extension (20cm) -- 3€
- Thermal Paste: Arctic Cooling Mx-2 Thermal Compound 4-grams -- 5€ (Note: Important! The amount of included thermal paste is not enough!)

Optional (if you don't have them)
- SATA III Cables: 4x DeLock SATA III Cable red 50cm -- 12€ (Note: The mainboard actually includes 4 SATA cables, so you act. don't need them)
- HDMI Cable (connecting the TV): AmazonBasics High Speed HDMI Cable 2m -- 7€
- S/PDIF Audio Cable (connecting the audio receiver): AmazonBasics Optical Toslink Digital Cable 1.8m -- 7€
- Medion X10 Remote Control -- found it in my techy box, so 0€ :-)

Still missing
- A wireless RF keyboard and mouse that look nice

--> Total Cost: 1185€

Hardware Justification
A bit about the why...

- The case is a beauty and can fit the amount of SSDs and HDDs I wanted, it can passively cool CPUs with up to 95W TDP.
- The i3-3225 CPU (Ivy Bridge) is 55W TDP, low power and has a HD4000 graphics chip, which is pretty good I think. Additionally, it works pretty good on Linux according to a couple of articles I've read.
- The RAM is low voltage RAM (1.35V), which is supposed to use less power (~ 1.65W per DIMM to my knowledge). Corsair is supposed to be good -- people on XBMC forums often suggest Corsair RAM.
- The 840 Samsung SSD is a new and apparently awesome SSD. I read it's super fast and has a low power consumption (0.6W idle, max. 3W).
- The two 3TB WD Red disks are NAS disks that are super silent (quieter than the WD Green) and use less power than many others (less power than the WD Green) -- at least according to tests I've read (4W idle, max. 5W). Additionally, the Red is built for 24/7 usage, so I am hoping that it lasts longer.
- The Bluray drive I chose is pretty much the only slim slot-in drive out there I think. Amazon reviews say it was quiet. I wouldn't really agree, but then again, it's an optical drive -- so it must make a sound...

Software
Linux was a must as I said, so Ubuntu 12.10 was a no-brainer. I didn't want to use XBMCbuntu or openElec, because I wanted to use the box not only as HTPC, but also as web server, NAS, scripting box, and so on.

I actually thought about going into details on how to set everything up here, but I didn't fully write everything down yet. Maybe I'll do that some other time. For now, a list of software and uses will have to do:

- Ubuntu 12.10 with XFCE4 desktop environment (so Xubuntu, I think ...); Ubuntu boots and logs in to user 'xbmc' in 11 seconds (not that I care, it's a server after all). XBMC can be started with the remote control by pressing the power button, and it can be killed by pressing another button twice (if it hangs)
- Intel graphics VAAPI drivers (i965-va-driver:amd64), so that video decoding can be done in the iGPU. I have issues with this, though, but it works anyway.
- LIRC (kernel-based LIRC and the standalone LIRC) to control XBMC with my remote control, and to execute commands when I press special button combinations
- XBMC Eden from the Team XBMC PPA; Aeon Nox skin, YouTube plugin, RTLnow plugin, ...
- NFS and Samba server for home network file sharing
- Apache2, PHP5, MySQL, Tomcat6, and others for software development
- TightVNC to access the desktop from my laptop or over then net for the user 'binwiederda' (second XFCE4 session)
- Guacamole to access the machine via VNC from anywhere without a VNC client (HTML5-based VNC client)
- Nagios to monitor the temperatures (with hddtemp and lm-sensors), disk space and load of the system and my other server
- GateOne as a web-based SSH client, so I can easily administer the machine from anywhere (uses WebSockets)
- rsnapshot backup scripts to back up the HTPC, my laptop and my other server regularly
- Various crawler scripts of my own to automatically buy and download the TV shows I and my GF watch and put them in the right place (so that XBMC can find them)
- mdadm for a software RAID1 of one partition: two 1TB partitions in RAID1 (=1TB) for backups (/dev/sd[ab]1) and two 2TB partitions for media storage (/dev/sd[ab]2, =4TB)

Issues

Hardware Acceleration
Even though the Intel VAAPI drivers are installed correctly, I cannot use VAAPI decoding in XBMC. It sometimes starts playing, sometimes it doesn't even do that and just freezes completely. The logs show that it in fact does try to use VAAPI, but there are no error messages whatsoever when it freezes.

Quote:2:18:08 T:139632131294976 DEBUG: VAAPI - initialize version 0.32
22:18:08 T:139632131294976 DEBUG: VAAPI - vendor: Intel i965 driver - 1.0.17

When I click the stop button on my remote control, XBMC completely freezes with the message in the logs "NOTICE: waiting for video thread to exit" (-> never happens).

HOWEVER, even though this is not cool, I am very confident that this is solvable.
--> MEANWHILE, XBMC works just as good (1080p movies + Aeon Nox) without any glitches

Other Issues
- I had some trouble getting LIRC to work with my remote control, but I solved it using this awesome thread
- The YouTube plugin has a bug in the current version, but this thread helped me fix it
- Encrypted DVDs wouldn't work, until I did what is described in this thread

Power Consumption, Temperatures, Noise
I just installed the second HDD, so I cannot say anything about the numbers with two HDDs, but here are the numbers with one HDD installed:

Power consumption
The machine idles at 26W, and goes up to about 55W when it's under heavy load (using some tool, can't remember the name).

Temperatures
The idle CPU temperature is around 38-43°C, under heavy load it goes up to 55-60°C. Since I set the Nagios warning temperature to 60°C (3 days ago), it has not sent me a warning e-mail yet.

The HDD idle temperate is also around 42-43°C, but it does not change as much as the CPU. Under heavy load from copying, it goes up to 47°C. The second HDD (which is not over the mainboard) is currently about 3°C cooler (so 40°C right now).

Noise
Let me say it like this: When I turn off my heater, and close the door to the kitchen (fridge noise), and when I'm closer than 1.5m, I can hear something -- like the sound of the ocean in a seashell. In short: It's completely silent. My GF fell asleep next to it multiple times.

Related Threads
How it all came together. Thanks to everyone who helped advising me!

- Fanless low power FC10 build: Please check my specs
- Custom build, all-in-one: HTPC/1080p + RAID1 + Fanless + Linux + 30 watts + 24x7
- Mainboard for the i3-3225

Pictures
Now to the part everyone first scrolls down to. The pictures.

The FC10 with the Asus P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225 installed, but the heatpipes are still missing:
[Image: dsc_0546.jpg]

Heatpipes installed successfully, lots of thermal paste is needed!!
[Image: dsc_0548.jpg]

Heatpipes closeup:
[Image: dsc_0550.jpg]

Another heatpipe closeup:
[Image: dsc_0551.jpg]

And the top view:
[Image: dsc_0552.jpg]

With thermal paste:
[Image: dsc_0554.jpg]



With the two HDDs and the heatpipes fully installed. All pictures from now on are actually about 10 days after I was using the machine with one HDD.
[Image: dsc_0558.jpg]

The CPU power connector cable is a bit short, but its long enough. It might get a bit warm because it's squished between the RAM and the HDD. I don't know if that's bad for the cable ...
[Image: dsc_0559.jpg]

The SATA ports, lots of cables:
[Image: dsc_0560.jpg]

picoPSU:
[Image: dsc_0561.jpg]

12V power extension to connect the external cable. The cable from the picoPSU to the external connector is too short:
[Image: dsc_0562.jpg]

Power and LED pins: The mainboard power pins are not next to each other, so I wasn't able to connect the power LED:
[Image: dsc_0567.jpg]



Top view on the Bluray drive and the SSD. There's room for 2 more SSDs left to it.
[Image: dsc_0571.jpg]

A SATA slim adapter is necessary to connect the Bluray drive:
[Image: dsc_0572.jpg]

Front view (lid open):
[Image: dsc_0570.jpg]
Fanless Linux HTPC/NAS: Streacom FC10, ASUS P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225, Corsair LP White DDR3-1600, picoPSU-150-XT, 1x SSD 840, 2x HDD WD Red 3TB
Stats: 29W idle, 55W load, CPU 38-43°C idle, CPU 55-60°C load, HDD 42-43°C idle, HDD 47°C load

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#2
huh that is wild, I've never really seen a photo of the inside of one of these fanless cases, I didn't even realize you had to install heatpipes like that but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for the info, sweet build!
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#3
thanks alot for this awesome review! i actually read the text first Wink
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#4
Nice writeup and gorgeous build. Repped. I too read the text Smile.
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#5
Nice built! I have been looking for reviews about this case as it seems to be a great option although I would not like to have a power brick sitting around the case. Streacom provided limited info but mentioned that the power brick could be installed inside the case.

Could you please help and let me know the internal dimensions for potentially fitting a PSU inside the case? Would it be possible to fit a Seasonic fanless PSU beside a mATX motherboard without any extension cards?

Appreciate your help and await further experience you may have with this beautiful case!
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#6
Nice.... very cool build. Smile Also gave you a +1
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#7
Here you go. Hope this helps.

Case wall to mATX board: 11.5cm
[Image: DSC_0580.JPG]

Wall to wall: 30.5cm
[Image: DSC_0582.JPG]

Height, bottom to the "hanging" HDD: 4.5cm
[Image: DSC_0583.JPG]
Fanless Linux HTPC/NAS: Streacom FC10, ASUS P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225, Corsair LP White DDR3-1600, picoPSU-150-XT, 1x SSD 840, 2x HDD WD Red 3TB
Stats: 29W idle, 55W load, CPU 38-43°C idle, CPU 55-60°C load, HDD 42-43°C idle, HDD 47°C load

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#8
Ok now that the second HDD has been running for a while, the RAID1 is completely built and active, I have to update the numbers a little. Unfortunately, I can't update the first post due to some forum restrictions about max. number of characters and images Undecided

--> Idle power consumption: 29W (before: 26W)
--> Idle HDD temperature: 44°C for the drive over the mainboard/RAM, 38°C for the other one
--> Idle CPU temperature: same, same, 38-43°C

--> Normal CPU Temperature in the XBMC menu ('idle' in the menu): 50°C core1, 47°C core2
--> Normal CPU Temperature during 1080p playback: 43°C core1, 44°C core2

--> Frame rate (no VAAPI) in XBMC playback for a 23.976fps 1080p movie: 23.98fps (XBMC only gives two digits)

Does anyone know why the CPU temperatures are so high when 'idle-ing' in the XBMC menu? This is really disturbing. Temperatures are 10°C cooler while playing 1080p video...
Fanless Linux HTPC/NAS: Streacom FC10, ASUS P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225, Corsair LP White DDR3-1600, picoPSU-150-XT, 1x SSD 840, 2x HDD WD Red 3TB
Stats: 29W idle, 55W load, CPU 38-43°C idle, CPU 55-60°C load, HDD 42-43°C idle, HDD 47°C load

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#9
I noticed also that the temps are higher when I am on the Movies menu and even higher on the Info of the movie..... kinda annoying. I don't know why. Sad
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#10
Nice build and thanks for the info!!

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#11
(2013-01-19, 16:07)Beer40oz Wrote: I noticed also that the temps are higher when I am on the Movies menu and even higher on the Info of the movie..... kinda annoying. I don't know why. Sad

i have this same issue, fans always kick in. any info on this would be helpful
My HTPC AMD A8-3870K CPU/ SilverStone ML03B/ASRock MB-A75M /Seasonic SS-400ET/Corsair XMS3 4GB
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#12
(2013-01-19, 15:53)binwiederda Wrote: Ok now that the second HDD has been running for a while, the RAID1 is completely built and active, I have to update the numbers a little. Unfortunately, I can't update the first post due to some forum restrictions about max. number of characters and images Undecided

--> Idle power consumption: 29W (before: 26W)
--> Idle HDD temperature: 44°C for the drive over the mainboard/RAM, 38°C for the other one
--> Idle CPU temperature: same, same, 38-43°C

--> Normal CPU Temperature in the XBMC menu ('idle' in the menu): 50°C core1, 47°C core2
--> Normal CPU Temperature during 1080p playback: 43°C core1, 44°C core2

--> Frame rate (no VAAPI) in XBMC playback for a 23.976fps 1080p movie: 23.98fps (XBMC only gives two digits)

Does anyone know why the CPU temperatures are so high when 'idle-ing' in the XBMC menu? This is really disturbing. Temperatures are 10°C cooler while playing 1080p video...

Since XBMC requires 3d rendering for the menus... it probably because the video card is actually working on rendering a 3d environment verses a 2d desktop environment. And since you are using integrated video card, that would mean the CPU is actually working more.

Also if you ever looked at the Frame rate in the XBMC menu your frame rate is probably higher... You probably have the option check to have the frame rate matched to the movie you are playing to the frame rate will actually drop which mean the video card is working less actually during a movie play back. Sitting idle your frame rate is actually closer to 60fps I bet.

I would expect the Temps to go up myself... you are using a passive cooling system verse an active cooling systems (were the fan speed can change if temps go up).
Living Room: i3 • WIN 8 x64 • 160GB Standard hard drive (soon a SSD) • HD 5400 • Rapier (easily customizable) • Imon Enclosure
Server: Dell PowerEdge 310 • media storage (20TB) • LSI HW raid • 15 hd bay enclosure (raid6)
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid...pid1303449
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#13
That makes total sense. Thanks!
What I don't understand is that when the screen goes black (XBMC screensaver), temperatures still stay 'high'...
Fanless Linux HTPC/NAS: Streacom FC10, ASUS P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225, Corsair LP White DDR3-1600, picoPSU-150-XT, 1x SSD 840, 2x HDD WD Red 3TB
Stats: 29W idle, 55W load, CPU 38-43°C idle, CPU 55-60°C load, HDD 42-43°C idle, HDD 47°C load

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#14
(2013-01-19, 23:39)binwiederda Wrote: That makes total sense. Thanks!
What I don't understand is that when the screen goes black (XBMC screensaver), temperatures still stay 'high'...

I am sure XBMC is still rendering the screen at the higher frame rate... it just dims the screen taking into count some screens can get image burn. ( I am sure that is why they put in the screen saver in the first place was to prevent image burn)

You can check this if you turned on debugging... if will show you are system stats while you going through XBMC menus
Living Room: i3 • WIN 8 x64 • 160GB Standard hard drive (soon a SSD) • HD 5400 • Rapier (easily customizable) • Imon Enclosure
Server: Dell PowerEdge 310 • media storage (20TB) • LSI HW raid • 15 hd bay enclosure (raid6)
http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid...pid1303449
Reply
#15
I actually chose the screen saver "Black", not "Dim", so it turns completely black. So to my understanding, the the refresh rate could be "tuned down" to almost zero -- but then again, what do I know ...
Fanless Linux HTPC/NAS: Streacom FC10, ASUS P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225, Corsair LP White DDR3-1600, picoPSU-150-XT, 1x SSD 840, 2x HDD WD Red 3TB
Stats: 29W idle, 55W load, CPU 38-43°C idle, CPU 55-60°C load, HDD 42-43°C idle, HDD 47°C load

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Meet my first HTPC: Fanless, NAS/RAID1, Linux, 30 watts, 24x7, FC1052