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Server + HTPC combined - What do you think?

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#1 AndyD

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:31

I currently have a WHS 2011 serving a small HTPC. I was thinking of moving from WHS 2011 to Windows 8 and using my server as an HTPC. These are my server specs...

Intel Q6600
8GB RAM
Asus Formula board
ATI 5570

I used the board, cpu and RAM from an old PC build. Lately I've been thinking that this is way overkill for a server and because the server is always on whenever the HTCP is on I figured it might make sense to combine them.

About the only drawbacks I can think of are that the server is a bigger box and a little noisy. The former I can deal with but the latter I'll have to figure out how to quite things down.

Can you guys think of any other drawbacks?

It will simplify dvr funcitionality (getting rid of cable boxes and using Silicon Dusts 3 tuner) as well since I won't have to worry about how to set the htpc to record and drop onto the server for viewing elsewhere.

Thinking of also...

Continue using Drivebender for storage

WHS 2011 running within Virtualbox for pc backups


#2 TPreston

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:43

Might be worth considering moving the server to the garage (less heat for hdds and no noise you can run hdmi up to 20m and usb in a single cat 6 run )

#3 HawkMan

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 20:59

Server+HTPC combined is a great combo. one I run myself.

I use a bigger silverstone HTPC case with room for a ton of HDD's. and with a good silent PSU and a passive graphics card you won't need to worry about sound, the HDD mount also came with rubber rings to use between the disks and frame for dampening vibration. they've kind of "rotted" up pretty fast though, but could be replaces by any rubber washer anyway, and well, the HDD's don't make any noise on my rig anyway. One suggestion to improve

One suggestion for improvement though, make one auto logon acount for the actual media center, with Media Portal or Plex(plex is easier, but Media Portal is more powerful and is faster to update the libraries with live scans of the folders, and it has folder browsing for videos as well as the movie and tv series libraries). And another Account for remote management and server and potential legal download duties. To make this work you need to google a registry hack that allows you to have multiple simultaneous logons. that way you can log on to your server part and manage that without disrupting the media center.

Oh since you'll also be using a tv tuner and using it as a sat/cable box with PVR, You'll be using Media Portal over Plex anyway.

#4 +Karl L.

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 21:05

I have a very similar setup with almost the same machine specs, except I have a Radeon HD 5770 and run CentOS. I love it! Also, I vote for XBMC as your media center.

#5 HawkMan

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 22:23

I have a very similar setup with almost the same machine specs, except I have a Radeon HD 5770 and run CentOS. I love it! Also, I vote for XBMC as your media center.


He's lookingfor a HTPC not a Media Center. XBMC has no tuner so it's useless. also XBMC's absolutely useless requirements for how to set up series in folders and naming for the library to show them properly makes all the other good things about it invalid.

#6 +Karl L.

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 22:36

He's lookingfor a HTPC not a Media Center. XBMC has no tuner so it's useless.


My mistake. I interpreted HTPC as media center. According to Wikipedia its more of a superset of what I was thinking of:

A Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Media Center computer is a convergence device that combines some or all the capabilities of a personal computer with a software application that supports video, photo, music playback, and sometimes video recording functionality.


also XBMC's absolutely useless requirements for how to set up series in folders and naming for the library to show them properly makes all the other good things about it invalid.


This I definitely disagree with. Library setup and naming convention is personal preference, but even if I disliked the way XBMC handles that aspect, its other features would still make it by far the best media center I've ever used.

#7 HawkMan

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 23:03

Well except that Media Portal does everything XBMC does, and in some aspect better, especially the fact you can just dump all files for different series in a folder, the XBMC will instantly add them to the library with folder watching, and ad them to the correct series, with the correct season and episode and with fan art and all that. Plex, is easier to set up than MP, though it requires use of the Web interface, is a little bit slower with updating the library, but handles series just as fine from a single folder, as a bonus it has mobiel and tablet apps that can stream from your media server. of course plex doesn't have TV tuner capability so it loses out.

as such both MP And Plex are better alternatives than XBMC that does everything else just as good and handles series far far better. Not having to spend a lot of time organizing series into special folders would be a deciding factor even if both these alternatives where in some way worse than XBMC

either way, OT.

#8 OP AndyD

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 16:24

Thanks for the feedback guys!

TPreston - I live in an apartment. I did think of moving the server to my 2nd bedroom but it really isn't a big deal to leave it in my living room

Hawkman - I don't personally distinguish between HTPC and Media Center. And I actually used both WMC and XBMC in Windows 7. With Windows 8, I only really need WMC for TV viewing. I've also never really had any issues with setting up XBMC for metatags. I do use Metabrowser for tagging / media info though which I think makes a huge difference

Current beta of XBMC also supports tuners but I'll more than likely stick with WMC till it's final

So looks like I have a project to work on this weekend :) But first, I need to image my current setup in case I decide to go back

#9 briangw

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 16:32

Not to hijack this thread, but is there a way to get a tuner to run on a Windows 2012 Server Essentials VM (with WMC addon, haven't attempted to install it yet) that is hosted on ESXi 5.1?

#10 Aergan

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 16:59

I use the following for mine:
  • Server 2012 Standard (Hyper-V Enabled)
  • Silverstone Grandia GD06 case in black
  • AMD Phenom X4 2.2Ghz / 8GB DDR2
  • 2x 1Gbit LAN (1x onboard, 1x PCI)
  • GeForce 650 GTX 1GB
  • 2xWD 3TB
  • 2xSamsung 1.5TB
  • 1x Samsung 1TB
  • Fortuna MCE Remote
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Adapter
Used for Media File Server, XBMC (Hooked up to 42" Toshiba LCD TV), Hyper-V (running Linux, XP, Win7, Win8, Server2012), web server, domain controller, active directory, DNS, DHCP, backups, file server, software repository, ISO library, LogMeIn, RDP/RDS, media transcoding, audio encoding, Steam (Big Picture Mode).
Sits next to the Xbox 360 under the TV and isn't too loud at all (certainly a lot less noisy than starting up the Xbox).

I recommend Silverstone cases if you want it to look great in the living room whilst providing a good balance between noise and cooling.

#11 OP AndyD

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 17:07

Not to hijack this thread, but is there a way to get a tuner to run on a Windows 2012 Server Essentials VM (with WMC addon, haven't attempted to install it yet) that is hosted on ESXi 5.1?


I'm not clear on what you're trying to do. You're trying to install WMC to 2012 Server Essentials? I don't think you can

#12 OP AndyD

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 17:13

I use the following for mine:

  • Server 2012 Standard (Hyper-V Enabled)
  • Silverstone Grandia GD06 case in black
  • AMD Phenom X4 2.2Ghz / 8GB DDR2
  • 2x 1Gbit LAN (1x onboard, 1x PCI)
  • GeForce 650 GTX 1GB
  • 2xWD 3TB
  • 2xSamsung 1.5TB
  • 1x Samsung 1TB
  • Fortuna MCE Remote
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Adapter
Used for Media File Server, XBMC (Hooked up to 42" Toshiba LCD TV), Hyper-V (running Linux, XP, Win7, Win8, Server2012), web server, domain controller, active directory, DNS, DHCP, backups, file server, software repository, ISO library, LogMeIn, RDP/RDS, media transcoding, audio encoding, Steam (Big Picture Mode).
Sits next to the Xbox 360 under the TV and isn't too loud at all (certainly a lot less noisy than starting up the Xbox).

I recommend Silverstone cases if you want it to look great in the living room whilst providing a good balance between noise and cooling.


I actually have 4 2TB drives with intentions of adding more at some point

Hyper V - why do you have all those OS's?

My server is in this case...

http://www.lian-li.c...=38&ss_index=95

In Black. Aesthetically I think it's fine. Just that it's a full tower

EDIT - didn't realize you have 5 drives. Do you have room for more? I should have room for about 8 drives I think

#13 HawkMan

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 17:45

Thanks for the feedback guys!

TPreston - I live in an apartment. I did think of moving the server to my 2nd bedroom but it really isn't a big deal to leave it in my living room

Hawkman - I don't personally distinguish between HTPC and Media Center. And I actually used both WMC and XBMC in Windows 7. With Windows 8, I only really need WMC for TV viewing. I've also never really had any issues with setting up XBMC for metatags. I do use Metabrowser for tagging / media info though which I think makes a huge difference

Current beta of XBMC also supports tuners but I'll more than likely stick with WMC till it's final

So looks like I have a project to work on this weekend :) But first, I need to image my current setup in case I decide to go back


Honestly, while WMC works great, I would suggest you give MP a go. it works as a server/client solution as well so you can connect to it with other computers running the client, you can have a far better EPG experience by setting up WebEPG to download the EPG as far ahead as you want instead of the cable/satellite epg. it's also fully skinnable with great skins, and has been a round since XBMC (it started as a fork, but has hardly any XBMC code left now) so it's solid and stable. And of course it gives you everything in one system that can be fully navigated with a remote. also WMC is pretty much standing still and has been still since win7 release.

#14 Aergan

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 18:16

I actually have 4 2TB drives with intentions of adding more at some point

Hyper V - why do you have all those OS's?

My server is in this case...

http://www.lian-li.c...=38&ss_index=95

In Black. Aesthetically I think it's fine. Just that it's a full tower

EDIT - didn't realize you have 5 drives. Do you have room for more? I should have room for about 8 drives I think


Application development, testing, lab, compatability.
Windows 8 VM is used when I need to get to something running at home from a remote location (RDP or LogMeIn). I also use it for "Play To" to the other Xbox 360's in the house as it doesn't suffer from MCE lag and doesn't seem to care what format/resolution the media is. Windows 7 lives for MCE but doesn't get used a lot now. Server 2012 is used for my RDS Gateway & connection broker.

I have a 2.5" bay free for which I have a 640GB drive for but haven't installed it yet. Will move the host OS VHD onto it to free up read/writes to the 1TB drive. I don't have any more official bays unless I make my own drive cage CPU side of the case. I do have a USB 3.0 enclosure at my disposal but I don't have an USB3.0 card installed anymore due to the bloody huge GTX over hanging the PCI-E 1x slot.

The Lian-Li's are very nice cases. For my choice I did a lot of research as I wanted a purpose built HTPC case that could live under the TV in a living room environment.