Specs for new HTPC/media server
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Author:  kidnebraska [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:13 am ]
Post subject:  Specs for new HTPC/media server


This is my first attempt at building an HTPC, and I wanted to get some feedback on my proposed build. I based a lot of the build on the SPCR review of the Node 605 and other recommended components.

The machine will serve as both an HTPC and an NAS. On the HTPC side, its primary use will be encoding and playing media; no gaming. On the server side it will run a few applications and host shared volumes for the rest of the household network. Most of the time it will have little load.

Here are the proposed specs:
Case: Fractal Design Node 605
PSU: Seasonic SS-400FL2 Active PFC F3 400W
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Q77M-D2H
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770
CPU cooler: Noctua NH-C12P
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 4000 (onboard)
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 MHz
SSD: OCZ Technology 128GB Vector Series SATA 6.0 GB/s; Scythe Slot Rafter (2.5" drive mounter)
ODD: Panasonic UJ240 6x Blu-ray Burner BD-RE/8x DVD+RW DL
RAID: 4x WD Red 3 TB NAS Hard Drive (in RAID-5)
Wi-Fi: TP-Link PCI Express Wifi Adapter
Bluetooth: IOGear Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter

1. Several reviews, including on this site, found the Node 605 to have somewhat limited thermal headroom. However, those tests all had a separate GPU card.
2. I won't be doing any gaming, so with thermal performance in mind, I plan to use the onboard GPU.
3. Yes, the CPU is overkill for a HTPC. It's still only 77W TDP, same as the i5-3570K (the next processor down with HD 4000 graphics).
4. The drive cages support 4 HDD/SSDs. I'd like to use 4 drives for the RAID array and 1 SSD for the system disk. A pickle. However, the case has 7 expansion slots (of which I use 1) and I think this should do the trick: http://www.scythe-usa.com/product/acc/064/slotrafter_detail.html. It also allows for mounting an additional fan. Would adding a fan there help with cooling? I'd probably start without and see how it works.
5. The case has ports for 2 80mm exhaust fans; I could easily add one to improve air flow. Any idea how much that would help, versus added noise?
6. My main concerns are noise and adequate cooling. On the noise, I live in the middle of a big city, so ambient noise is never that low. It doesn't need to be silent.

Thanks in advance!


Author:  MikeC [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Specs for new HTPC/media server

Sounds OK overall... but that RAM will never be used. 8GB is plenty.

Given your choice of the WD Red, it should still be decently quiet. As long as you keep your fans at less than full speed, assuming the PC is under the TV and you sit say 6' away, you won't hear it as soon as you turn the TV (and/or sound) on.

Our Node 605 sample is being sold off, btw.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Specs for new HTPC/media server

Yep - you won't need more than 8GB RAM. Be sure to get low profile version to avoid CPU cooler issues.

While you can cram a 125mm tall tower style cooler in the case, Fractal recommends 30mm clearance for top down coolers. So, perhaps the 114mm tall C12P gets starved for air.

Mounting the SSD: No need to get fancy. Find a flat spot near airflow and velcro the SSD to the case. It weighs next to nothing. Heck, if you can find thermal tape, you can use the case as your SSD cooler. If you want to spend more than $1/GB, then Samsung's 840 Pro is a nice alternative. Can't imagine any of your applications needing top tier SSD speed, though. Something like the Samsung 840 is a cheaper/good enough SSD.

Author:  Abula [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Specs for new HTPC/media server

Not sure why you want a Q77 chipset, but thinking on the SSD, you could go with Intel Desktop Motherboard LGA1155 DDR3 1600 MicroATX - BOXDQ77MK, that comes with a mSata port, so you could just add an msata ssd like Crucial m4 128GB mSATA Internal Solid State Drive CT128M4SSD3.

On the ram, i agree with Mike/steve, into 8gb bieng enough, unless you going into zfs where memory does benefit... but i somewhat doubt it as its a all in one setup. Crucial Ballistix Sport Very Low Profile 8GB Kit (4GBx2) DDR3-1600 1.35V UDIMM 240-Pin Desktop Memory Modules BLS2C4G3D1609ES2LX0 will be a nice choice, its really a low profile memory, the hieght is the same as the mobo memory clamps, this should allow you any cooler to be placed on the cpu.

The PSU.... Seasonic recommends this passive X-Series PSU to be placed only horizontal not sideways, so in this case it will end up sideways, so i would go with another, Seasonic 360W 80PLUS Gold ATX12V Power Supply SSR-360GP , it was recently reviewed by SPCR and got the editor choice, Seasonic G360 PSU: High efficiency & performance, low price, at $60 is tough to beat, gold rated, quiet and cheap... should be more than enough for your setup.

For the CPU cooler, according to fractal website,
CPU cooler compatibility: Approx 125mm with side-mounted fans - For coolers with top-mounted fans, Fractal Design recommends that you add at least 30 mm clearance for decent airflow
If you want a tower style... the Noctua Ultra Silent CPU Cooler Cooling NH-U9B SE2 has a height of 125mm, so it should very close. If you want a top fan cooler, Noctua NH-L12 Low-profile Quiet CPU Cooler with 120/90mm Dual PWM Fan should be a good option, just for the reference in case you want to see it installed on a nod 605, [Review] Fractal Design Node 605 - successful entry into the HTPC area?


Author:  Vicotnik [ Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Specs for new HTPC/media server

kidnebraska wrote:
3. Yes, the CPU is overkill for a HTPC. It's still only 77W TDP, same as the i5-3570K (the next processor down with HD 4000 graphics).

The i5-3570K will be slightly cooler though, as TDP is not set for a single CPU but for a range of CPUs. It will also cost less. And so will an i3-3225, and an Ivy Bridge Pentium/Celeron as well. ;)

Author:  kidnebraska [ Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Specs for new HTPC/media server

Thanks, everyone, for your advice and suggestions! Based on your feedback I tweaked the build a bit.

Case Fractal Design Node 605
PSU Kingwin Stryker 500W Platinum 80+ 500W
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3P
CPU Intel Core i5-3570K
CPU cooler Noctua NH-L12
GPU Intel HD Graphics 4000
RAM Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB kit (4GBx2) DDR3-1600
SSD Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB
ODD Silverstone 12.7 mm SATA Interface Slot Load 8X CD/DVD RW Drive
RAID HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL
HDD 4x WD Red 3 TB NAS Hard Drive (in RAID-5)
Wi-Fi TP-Link PCI Express*Wifi Adapter
Bluetooth IOGear Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter
OS OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion, OS X Server

Overall, I revised down the raw power of the system a bit, more in line with its intended functions. In particular, I switched to the B75M motherboard and moved down to the i5-3570K. I also dropped from 16GB of RAM to 8 GB (I can always add more if needed). On the other hand, I added the RAID card, as OS X does not provide support for RAID-5.

MikeC was nice enough to sell me the case, PSU, and cooler from SPCR reviews. He was super helpful. The rest of the parts should start arriving next week!

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Specs for new HTPC/media server

Enjoy your build :)

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