[WINDOWS] Nettop, NAS HTPC Help
#1
I'll begin by asking a simple but important question. You see last time i had atempted to build myself an XBMC HTPC i hit a brick wall when i realized the Windows version did not support hardware Acceleration. Now after looking around and reading it appears there is now support for it, but i really just want to confirm it does before going any further as i am most comfortable in a Windows based OS.

Moving on to the main build idea;
The final goal is to have all my videos stored on a NAS which multiple receivers (Nettop units) will all share access to to watch content. Let's say three Nettops trying to watch 720P quality videos over a non-wireless setup as a long term scenario.

First off, this this possible? Tongue
Next, what hardware would you guys recommend? I was thinking of using an Ausrock 330HT as my receiver units. As for my NAS i'm not sure what my RAID needs will be, do i need RAID for a speed boost or will the receivers be limited to their local HDDs for any reason?

I may be in a little over my head here. Any help would be great guys.
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#2
Zer0x123 Wrote:I'll begin by asking a simple but important question. You see last time i had atempted to build myself an XBMC HTPC i hit a brick wall when i realized the Windows version did not support hardware Acceleration. Now after looking around and reading it appears there is now support for it, but i really just want to confirm it does before going any further as i am most comfortable in a Windows based OS.

Yes. The Dharma version has Windows 7 hardware support. Just note XP is not supported.

Quote:Moving on to the main build idea;
The final goal is to have all my videos stored on a NAS which multiple receivers (Nettop units) will all share access to to watch content. Let's say three Nettops trying to watch 720P quality videos over a non-wireless setup as a long term scenario.

First off, this this possible? Tongue

I have a setup that does that everyday (except I am a 1080p snob).

Quote:Next, what hardware would you guys recommend? I was thinking of using an Ausrock 330HT as my receiver units. As for my NAS i'm not sure what my RAID needs will be, do i need RAID for a speed boost or will the receivers be limited to their local HDDs for any reason?

For the playback units I suggest the ASrocks (or Zboxes) with SSDs as their OS drive and with 2GB Ram.

For a NAS if you are willing to build a system NOTHING beats Unraid for mediaserver use IMHO (when you consider price, features, etc).

You get that combo and you will be like my sig, and you will have the setup you dream of.

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#3
Thanks for the speedy reply.

So asrocks running windows 7 would be more than suited for the newer builds of XBMC, perfect. They also come with remotes so that's a bonus.

I'm concerned about network bandwidth in a situation when all three Asrocks would be accessing the NAS. Two quick questions come to mind;

1. Let's say i want these things playing 1080P content, that's heavier than 720P obviously. Now times that by the three units i'm planning out in the future, can my network handle all that at once with any skipping? Would i need to upgrade to a gigabit router or anything? I'm just trying to plan for the most intense situations this system would face.

2. A much more simple question I'm a tad embaressed about. Can all three nettops access the same video file at the same time without a problem? Is this one of those situation where if a file is being accessed by one unit and another tries to access it will the NAS or nettop throw an error message out?

And yes i do plan to have everything hard wired, no wireless since i know that's a whole different ball game in terms of bandwidth.


Those two questions should take care of my network concerns. And for my Nettop receivers i think i'm okay with the Asrocks. So finally my NAS needs to be addressed. I have no idea what unRaid is, yet i continually hear high praise for it. If anybody could expand on this i would be thankful.
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#4
Zer0x123 Wrote:1. Let's say i want these things playing 1080P content, that's heavier than 720P obviously. Now times that by the three units i'm planning out in the future, can my network handle all that at once with any skipping? Would i need to upgrade to a gigabit router or anything? I'm just trying to plan for the most intense situations this system would face.

You don't need to get an expensive gigabit router. Just get a decent gigabit switch and hang it off the router with one cable and run everything through the switch. Its what I do.

Quote:2. A much more simple question I'm a tad embaressed about. Can all three nettops access the same video file at the same time without a problem? Is this one of those situation where if a file is being accessed by one unit and another tries to access it will the NAS or nettop throw an error message out?

As long as you use a solution that can maximize network bandwidth on reads (which is why I scream Unraid in threads like these) then its very easy to have three or more clients. I have tried 5 clients with my Unraid box (on my affronted gigabit network) with success.

Quote:Those two questions should take care of my network concerns. And for my Nettop receivers i think i'm okay with the Asrocks. So finally my NAS needs to be addressed. I have no idea what unRaid is, yet i continually hear high praise for it. If anybody could expand on this i would be thankful.

Unraid is a Linux based NAS OS that runs off a pen drive and lets you fill a computer with harddrives for information for devices on your network (like an ION box). Unraid pro supports up to 20 drives. I personally have a ten drive Unraid box and a 16 drive Unraid box for my information that I have built this year.

The advantage of Unraid over regular raid (to me) is the fact that you can mix and match different brands and sizes of your hardrives in your array, it allows your hard drives to power down when you are not using them (makes them last longer, saves power), and it has read speeds that saturate a consumer gigabit network. Unraid does all this, and gives you parity protection so that if one of your hard drives die you can replace it without losing the data. Unraid's parity uses one drive (so every other drive can hold data which is superior to WHS), but each drive can be pulled out and read on a computer (unlike normal RAID where everything is lost if too many drives die).

The downsides of Unraid is that a computer has to be dedicated to the task (as in its just a NAS nothing else), and that its write speeds are kinda low but that doesn't matter because streaming to multiple clients is all about read speeds. Oh, and that it costs money but its worth it to me.

http://www.lime-technology.com/

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#5
Thanks for all your help, poofyhairguy. I've been looking around the unRaid forums and it seems you're quite popular there as well Tongue

I have another two quick questions now that i'm hammering out my desired specs in this build.

First off, you mention an SDD would be ideal for my nettop receivers. I'm wondering how this will have any effect if the data they are accessing is on my unraid server and not actually stored on the nettop SSD.

Secondly, knowing you're an unRaid user and advocate, i'm hearing that the unRaid software itself has 'software raid' configurations. Does this mean i won't need to buy a raid card with an Unraid server build?
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#6
Zer0x123 Wrote:First off, you mention an SDD would be ideal for my nettop receivers. I'm wondering how this will have any effect if the data they are accessing is on my unraid server and not actually stored on the nettop SSD.
The SSD is for the receivers because it will make the XBMC graphics feel faster. The loading of menus and fanart (among other things) can cause the interface to feel slow. An SSD will make it feel much faster.

Quote:Secondly, knowing you're an unRaid user and advocate, i'm hearing that the unRaid software itself has 'software raid' configurations. Does this mean i won't need to buy a raid card with an Unraid server build?
unRAID is a software raid of sorts. If you check out the unRAID wiki you may be able to find what exactly unRAID is doing. The answer to your question is no, you do not need a RAID card to build an unRAID server.
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#7
Wow unRaid is pretty awesome, it got tons of nice features. The initial cost of getting it up and running seems a tad steep though. Get what you pay for i guess.

Alright it looks like my dream project is going to be an expensive one to get up and running.

Asrock 330HT is like $400.00
UnRaid NAS will be around $800.00

Shocked
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#8
Works perfectly...

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