ITX Hardware Selection - $400ish budget


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Hey folks. I'm interested in tinkering with XPEnology as my own home built server. My primary concern is having a powerful enough machine to do at least two 1080p plex transcodes.

I believe Plex already uses the GPU if its present for transcoding, and such it would be a good idea to include a graphics card. But let's see about that later.

 

Here are my basic questions and if anyone thinks they have the right answer, please chime in. I've searched and read but still haven't come to a good decision yet.

 

Is this a good idea since hard drives never spin down with Synology?

 

I don't know where you heard it, but Synology and XPEnology does spin the disks down. There are specific cases, e.g. the HP N54L, where it won't do so that easily, but it can be done.

 

What is the cheapest processor/mobo combo in an ITX format that would be suitable for a solid plex, sickbeard, sabnzbd, and backup machine?

I'd buy a regular synology but their machines are so overpriced for what you get.

 

I'll take your 400-ish budget as $400 +- $50. From that, you can get an entry- or mid-range i3/i5 Haswell mobo with RAM and CPU, and maybe even a graphics card dumped in there. Given that you gave no more specifics, e.g. networking, I'll list some stuff:

 

- AAEON EMB-QM87A

Great motherboard, though not so well known brand. Double network stack, good if you want to do some firewall or just bridge them to achieve 2Gbps.

6 SATA ports, 4 of them SATA3; USB3 6x, and a lot of COM ports inside as a bonus. Price is not out yet, but it is supposed to be cheap (sub-$150).

It includes an i5 or i3, depending on your selection, but you will need a CPU cooler!

This would be my choice for HTPC.

 

- IBASE MI980

Another good competitor. Pluses are that it has two mPCIE sockets (for WLAN or mSATA), standing memory, and support for i7 CPUs. Also two different chipset version are released, ether Q87 or H87. Negative is that it uses more power, and has no HDMI ports. Both LAN controllers are Intel, unlike the AAEON.

 

- Kotron KTQ87/mITX

Seems to be good, but has a few negatives. Only one mPCIE port, only 5 SATA (but all of them are SATA3), but tons of USB, and LGA1150 instead of BGA1634.

 

- BCM MX87QD

The usual. 4 SATA3 ports, no HDMI but there's DisplayPort, two mPCIE (one full size for mSATA, one half-size). Double network stack, both are Intel.

 

- MSI Z87I

If you want something with a bigger name but same budget, the Z87I is perfect. Only 4, but SATA3 ports, double Realtek network, HDMI supports 3K displays, and I could go on. All of this for $140.

 

- Asus Z87I Deluxe

Probably my favourite from the whole collection, apart from the AAEON. Great quality, 6 SATA3 headers, compact, well designed. But most probably pricy.

 

I would LOVE if I could have this computer hooked up as an HTPC as well as do it's primary duty as a NAS/Server. I think the only way to do it would be with Hyper-V and that seems to get complicated. Perhaps separating the HTPC and Synology would be wise.

 

You can either try Hyper-V with a Win Server 2012 install + XPEnology running virtualized (actually you can assign one of the Eth ports to it as-is. Then you can mount the XPE shares on Win directly, and have both of them running, while having an HTPC. But Hyper-V, again, requires some power, something that a G1610 won't be able to provide.

 

Or you can try installing X11 and compiling Gnome Shell directly, that *should* work but nobody tried that as far as I know. It would be most definitely a fun project!

 

The largest thing I am worried about is keeping data without this "hack" version of the synology OS taking a big fat dump and making me lose all my data. Would an Intel G1610 and a compatible ITX board be good for synology? Hard drives never spinning down really seems bad. That, coupled with the need to buy a lockable USB drive to prevent corrupting the bootup.

 

You won't lose your data. Either you can use RAID (last, big partitions of all drives will be the one you want to fix if it craps itself), or Synology's own implementation, or a simple volume. Each of them has their advantage, but I'd go with something like RAID5/6 or maybe 10.

 

You don't need a lockable USB drive, but a motherboard with CMOS lock. The USB key won't get corrupted, at least not easily - all you have to do is to pull it during install, and done.

 

I'd also suggest a more powerful CPU for either the Hyper-V or the transcoding goals. The G1610 might not cut it.

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What an excellent and comprehensive reply. I'll give it a thorough read and see what I come up with. I'll post results. If you say we can get HDD's to spin down, then I'll be in good shape. Getting a GNOME environment running sounds ideal although I have no idea where I'd start with that.

 

Thanks a ton! I'll reply here again once I've figured out what I'll be doing. I've got a laptop that's got a cpu comparable to the G1610 so I'll test it out with plex streams and see how she handles it.

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What an excellent and comprehensive reply. I'll give it a thorough read and see what I come up with. I'll post results. If you say we can get HDD's to spin down, then I'll be in good shape. Getting a GNOME environment running sounds ideal although I have no idea where I'd start with that.

 

Thanks a ton! I'll reply here again once I've figured out what I'll be doing. I've got a laptop that's got a cpu comparable to the G1610 so I'll test it out with plex streams and see how she handles it.

 

Plex performance on Synology will be a lot different than on a simple Linux install, I think you have to account about +-20-25% performance difference (and the -25% is more likely).

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I used a FoxConn D70S-P. Celeron 1037U. Only 17W. It could possibly handle 2 1080p transcodes but no guarantee. Only $80 though and only thing you need is some DDR3.

 

 

p.s. I love your first 2 choices but are they available in the US?

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I used a FoxConn D70S-P. Celeron 1037U. Only 17W. It could possibly handle 2 1080p transcodes but no guarantee. Only $80 though and only thing you need is some DDR3.

 

 

p.s. I love your first 2 choices but are they available in the US?

 

If you would've checked more thoroughly, AAEON is actually a US-based company. For the IBASE board, it is Chinese, so easiest way would be importing it via DHGate/AliExpress.

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Da fuq happened to my original post?

 

I've been peepin' this board i Just discovered today. An older socket but I could snag an i5 cheap on ebay that would fit the job.

 

Also, is ECC memory important for this build? I'm kinda looking at building this with the intention for synology but potential to run FreeNAS or something else should this not pan out.

 

Edit: here are the links I was looking at.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813182261

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Core-CPU- ... 27d9739d4f

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Undecided -- That motherboard and CPU combo looks like a very good value. Do all of the features (including WOL) work well with XPEnology 4.2? Also, what case and power supply did you use for your build? Thanks in advance.

 

I haven't been able to get WOL to work. Someone told me to try this:

 

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1028&start=260#p6660

 

But I have not had a chance yet.

 

I did use a hex editor to fix the MAC Address.

I also used the scheduler and the NAS shuts itself off and turns itself back on just fine.

 

I added a Syba mini pci-express SATA 3 card so now I have 6 sata ports. I also added a 4-port USB3.0 pciexpress card so now I have usb 3.0 ports as well but I have not had a need for them yet.

 

I don't even need the 6 SATA ports yet, I have 4 disks in there.

 

The case I used is an old Lian Li I've had for a while now

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112266

 

Takes standard ATX PSU but I did not trust the PSU I had so I used a thermatake 180w FlexAtx PSU I had lying around.

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