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PC "mini server" build - cheap, small, quiet - suggestions


Well-known Member
Hello all I have been weighing up my options for the past few weeks on what to do about increasing storage. Currently I am using my laptop with 100 Gb hard drive as my device for storage, obviously its not enough..

I could get a bigger hard drive for it, but to be honest, I am thinking bigger than what that can handle.

I've had a good long think about this, and the three options boiled down to the following.

1. Increase laptop to 250 - 320 Gb, and get external hard drive similar size for backups.
Problem with that is I see it as a somewhat short term solution - the capacity will no doubt soon run out, and I dont like relying on my laptop as a server.

2. Invest in a NAS box with embedded servers such as the QNAP 109 with built in Squeezecenter.
Problem is, it seems like a nice solution, but I've read about a few problems people have had and to be honest I think it could be a nightmare to configure if it goes wrong. Also, I believe a PC gives more ultimate flexibility.

3. A cheap server
This is my favoured option and the one I am asking about as I think it is cost effective and very flexible.

What would I want it for?

1. Squeezecenter server
2. Bit-torrent server
3. Video / Picture streaming server for my PS3

What do I want from it?

1. Must be as cheap as possible - I dont mind running Linux - I am running Ubuntu on my laptop at the moment!
2. Must be as compact as possible - Needs to fit alongside my home cinema kit.
3. Must be as quiet as possible - Dont want anything noisy.
4. Must be good for backups - ideally an external SATA port would be included.

So, I'm guessing a Shuttle style or similar PC would be my best option. I'd very much doubt I'd need anything but the bare minimum processor and memory for heat purposes.

I'd love some suggestions from AVforums, or indeed any comments on any aspect of my post :)


If it's going to be on 24/7 then you want something well ventilated, I'd go for a tower chassis with plenty of fans. As far as the spec goes, you really don't need anything cutting edge for a server, just make sure it has plenty of RAM.

For the OS I'd keep things simple and stick Windows XP on it, with a bit of tweaking XP is actually a surprisingly good server OS and extremely easy to administer.


Distinguished Member
I had a similar situation and went for the QNAP TS109pro.

Was daunting at first as I'm a Linux virgin :D but once I found the right software to see the drive contents via Windows, I think its great. Have a Samsung 1TB drive inside and another 1TB drive in an external drive as a full drive image (Q-Raid 1) so all data duplicated.

I use the download, twonky server & itunes functions. Its a central data store for all my PC's & PS3 streaming Music, Pics, Vids.

Big advantage is no fans so totally quiet (its in my lounge behind TV) and consume a fraction of the power a PC server would. The Samsung 1TB F1 drive is great as they are as good as silent & run cool. The NAS has never shown the drive temperature more than 36C and usually 30-33C.

Leave it on 24/7 think it only takes 17W of power and 100% reliable up to now. The've just brought out the ProII version with better CPU & double RAM so good time to buy.

PS. You mentioned Shuttle. My HTPC is a G5 class Shuttle (spec below).


Well-known Member
Just going through the process myself. Decided on Ubuntu 8.04 as it is a doddle to install and get working and I decided a NAS didnt give me enough flexibility. Ubuntu does all the file & media sharing you could need, and also I am going to use it for automated backups of my PCs.

My spec originally
Silverstone SUGO SG03 - £78.60
Gigabyte GA-73VM-S2 - £35.57
Intel E1200 - £35.03
OCZ 2GB - £24.99
LiteOn DH-20A1S - £16.20
Coolermaster eXtreme Power 380W PSU - £32.99
750 GB Samsung HD753LJ -  £67.68
In the end I bought a 2nd hand AMD CPU/Board & Mem combo for £50. The rest of the bits in the list arrive Monday and I'll be posting a thread about how I get on.
Take a look at this thread also

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