Question 2020 NAS/HTPC Questions and Part Recommendations

MCMailbox

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Hello all,

I will soon be moving into a house with three other guys for university, and I think it would be awesome to put together a NAS/home theater PC for all of us to use. However, it seems as though there isn't a ton of literature on part picking for these types of systems, so I'm partly putting up this question in hopes that some others may find it helpful, too. I want to do a full PC build instead of just pick up an out-of-the-box NAS from BezosMart for a couple reasons. First, I am experienced with PC building and setting up RAID arrays, so the greater customization, expansion and serviceability of a full-on PC is a benefit to me. Second, as I mentioned I would also like for this to serve as a home theater PC, so normal PC functions (i.e. a browser for Netflix and the like) are a primary goal for me. So I wanted to ask some general questions and then get help with parts recommendations for a PC that could fit an easy medium between a dedicated server and HTPC.

So first, my use case: Mainly I want this to be a local replacement for cloud storage services like google drive, which means a storage solution for documents, photos, other misc files and the ability to access them remotely, but also for 4k video files and therefore the capacity to stream them to any PC in the house (I do not necessarily need to access 4k video files remotely, these would stay local). As for home theater functions, I really just want this to stream the aforementioned local files, and work as an internet browser for online streaming services (o.e. Netflix) in 4k as well. I will NOT be gaming with this machine. "Prosumer" features like premium on-board audio, overclocking support, aesthetics, etc. are not necessary and happily sacrificed for budget/performance, however onboard optical audio output would be a top priority. Features like IPMI would be plenty convenient, but since it will be hooked up to the TV anyway I already have a UI. I don't plan on encrypting the data on this device.

Now for some questions that I have:
For my use case, would dedicated server hardware like SuperMicro boards, ECC RAM and Xenon processors be worth my while? Or would I be better off basically just throwing together a parts list for a mid-tier daily driver?
Is AMD now a competitive option for server PCs?
For software, I presume Windows would be the best option here for remote desktop to access files outside my local network, as well as general usability, correct? Or is there a comparable/better linux option for my use case?

Some info on these questions will help me pick out a parts list, but any parts recommendations you may have would be greatly appreciated! As far as budget goes, I'm not looking for the cheapest possible option, but since I will not be gaming on this system and its mainly just general use/4k streaming/NAS I certainly hope not to exceed $1000.

Hopefully my conceptual understanding is good here, but please let me know if I've got anything wrong.

Thank you all very much!
 
Hello all,

I will soon be moving into a house with three other guys for university, and I think it would be awesome to put together a NAS/home theater PC for all of us to use. However, it seems as though there isn't a ton of literature on part picking for these types of systems, so I'm partly putting up this question in hopes that some others may find it helpful, too. I want to do a full PC build instead of just pick up an out-of-the-box NAS from BezosMart for a couple reasons. First, I am experienced with PC building and setting up RAID arrays, so the greater customization, expansion and serviceability of a full-on PC is a benefit to me. Second, as I mentioned I would also like for this to serve as a home theater PC, so normal PC functions (i.e. a browser for Netflix and the like) are a primary goal for me. So I wanted to ask some general questions and then get help with parts recommendations for a PC that could fit an easy medium between a dedicated server and HTPC.

So first, my use case: Mainly I want this to be a local replacement for cloud storage services like google drive, which means a storage solution for documents, photos, other misc files and the ability to access them remotely, but also for 4k video files and therefore the capacity to stream them to any PC in the house (I do not necessarily need to access 4k video files remotely, these would stay local). As for home theater functions, I really just want this to stream the aforementioned local files, and work as an internet browser for online streaming services (o.e. Netflix) in 4k as well. I will NOT be gaming with this machine. "Prosumer" features like premium on-board audio, overclocking support, aesthetics, etc. are not necessary and happily sacrificed for budget/performance, however onboard optical audio output would be a top priority. Features like IPMI would be plenty convenient, but since it will be hooked up to the TV anyway I already have a UI. I don't plan on encrypting the data on this device.

Now for some questions that I have:
For my use case, would dedicated server hardware like SuperMicro boards, ECC RAM and Xenon processors be worth my while? Or would I be better off basically just throwing together a parts list for a mid-tier daily driver?
Is AMD now a competitive option for server PCs?
For software, I presume Windows would be the best option here for remote desktop to access files outside my local network, as well as general usability, correct? Or is there a comparable/better linux option for my use case?

Some info on these questions will help me pick out a parts list, but any parts recommendations you may have would be greatly appreciated! As far as budget goes, I'm not looking for the cheapest possible option, but since I will not be gaming on this system and its mainly just general use/4k streaming/NAS I certainly hope not to exceed $1000.

Hopefully my conceptual understanding is good here, but please let me know if I've got anything wrong.

Thank you all very much!
There was an LTT video regarding NAS builds that recommended some viable options in terms of parts. I think AMD would be a good bet since you can get a good and affordable 6C/12T processor. Although yes, you could 'technically' just turn any desktop PC into a NAS system. I'm not too sure about the OS though.

Here is a minimum (good) viable build in my opinion:
PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 GHz 6-Core Processor ($151.68 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M DS3H Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard ($72.99 @ Best Buy)
Memory: G.Skill Aegis 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3000 CL16 Memory ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Patriot VPN100 256 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($50.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec P101 Silent ATX Mid Tower Case ($110.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CXM 550 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply ($83.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $580.60
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-06-06 01:36 EDT-0400


Build does not include the drives. I'll let you decide that on your own if you want Pro NAS drives or not. Upgrade according to budget:
  • PSU if you plan on getting a bigger case with more than 8 drives
  • Another SSD if you need more cache
  • A better CPU for overall performance: either an 8C/16T Ryzen 2nd Gen or even better 3rd Gen
Keep in mind if it's purely a NAS system. You won't be needing a graphics card.
 

MCMailbox

Distinguished
Jun 3, 2013
44
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18,530
0
There was an LTT video regarding NAS builds that recommended some viable options in terms of parts. I think AMD would be a good bet since you can get a good and affordable 6C/12T processor. Although yes, you could 'technically' just turn any desktop PC into a NAS system. I'm not too sure about the OS though.

Here is a minimum (good) viable build in my opinion:
PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 GHz 6-Core Processor ($151.68 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M DS3H Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard ($72.99 @ Best Buy)
Memory: G.Skill Aegis 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3000 CL16 Memory ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Patriot VPN100 256 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($50.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec P101 Silent ATX Mid Tower Case ($110.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CXM 550 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply ($83.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $580.60
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-06-06 01:36 EDT-0400


Build does not include the drives. I'll let you decide that on your own if you want Pro NAS drives or not. Upgrade according to budget:
  • PSU if you plan on getting a bigger case with more than 8 drives
  • Another SSD if you need more cache
  • A better CPU for overall performance: either an 8C/16T Ryzen 2nd Gen or even better 3rd Gen
Keep in mind if it's purely a NAS system. You won't be needing a graphics card.
Thank you for the reply!

So it looks like basic consumer parts will do the trick according to the parts list you put together (much appreciated!), which sounds good to me. I'd like to go for NAS drives because the media server functionality is a priority so I can access files from work/school so it will be running 24/7.

Also, I understand that SSD cache in ootb NASs is just to store data that is randomly/frequently accessed, but what is the purpose of SSD cache in terms of a NAS PC? Is it basically the same concept as using an SSD for boot/programs and HDD for data as recommended for most PCs?
 

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