Server or htpc for my needs....

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Bruce85, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    Hi im looking for a project for the new year, and ive decided im going to build a server or a htpc. i just dont know which one, im thinking you guys will say server which is great but im not sure if ill end up building both, or buying the htpc ( if needed) basicly i want to do this little lot below...

    i would like to watch/record tv in each room in house (5 rooms) all independant.

    i would like to have mediaportal on each tv but independant just one database to with the option to have differnt things on each tv music,pic,movies etc..(if possible)

    im going to have all equipment in loft or dedicated place.
    what sort of case would i be best buying (it dosent have to look good as its away) but would i be best getting big one as if anythink comes up in future im safe.

    any help or ideas you could put my way on would be great.
     
  2. spacemanc

    spacemanc
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    I would just make a HTPC like my build:

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/home-entertainment-pcs/1567795-low-cost-high-spec-tv-htpc-build.html

    I really can't see many benefits to having a dedicated server and HTPC, but having just one will save you a fortune.

    EDIT - btw using mediaportal on the client PC's acts just the same as using mediaportal on the main server PC with all the same functionality - the only difference is that the initial TVservice start up takes around 20 seconds on the client PC's, whereas its much faster on the server PC.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012
  3. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    i thought the server would be were i store all my files to be accessed from any pc/laptop ipad etc..,then i would have htpc's in rooms were tv's are to access my movies,music from server.
    am i way off and dont i need all this equipment.? is there a easyer was to achieve this
     
  4. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    would for example of just the server, my mrs be able to watch corrie, daughter 1 listen to music & daughter 2 watch a film, while i watch the news all at the same time off the one server. if so thats just what i need?

    edit: also i dont want to watch on pc's i want to watch over tv's/projector
     
  5. robbo100

    robbo100
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    Well the main benefit of having a server located somewhere tucked away, is that it means that you don't have to have an ugly big case with loads of hard drives and PCI / PCI-e TV cards on view in the main part of the house. If you are serving 5 rooms and have a big collection of media and a large demand for recordings being made by lots of users with very different viewing tastes, you will need this. Having all this elsewhere means you can make the 5 clients very small and quiet (or potentially silent if you put a small SSD in each one).

    However, with modern TV Tuner cards which are low profile and also have 4 tuners per card, coupled with a good NAS, the requirement for the large servers is less prominent nowadays in my opinion.

    I have put a server in the loft before, and although it coped for a year, the temperatures it was exposed to in the summer (with the radiating heat from the sun on the black roof tiles was incredible) and I would not recommend it if you can avoid it (or if you have some very very good cooling).

    If you are happy to settle for a HiFi separate sized case in your main-room, you could get a low profile case and fit a quiet 2TB drive and a 4 tuner TV card (or more than one if your demands are high) and use that PC as your server. You could then put your music, movies, TV Series on a NAS somewhere tucked away (if they didn't fit in this server). However, this suggested setup will mean that the Main-Room HTPC (the server) will always be on if any of your clients are running (even if they are only accessing data from the NAS and not viewing live TV), which many not be acceptable to you. You could of course put the server in one of the bedrooms (the one least used), but if you have guests, you will be forced to switch if off so that they can sleep, which is not really acceptable, which then brings us right back to the loft option....

    It is possible to centralise databases with MediaPortal with a bit of fiddling (I have never do it myself), but from my experience, the various plugins are so good (as long as the files are named correctly) that they are picked up by each of my clients without any maintenance (I run the system without centralised databases).

    Robbo100
     
  6. spacemanc

    spacemanc
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    Yeah thats what my setup does. The client PC's don't have to be powerful at all really - they just need to be powerful enough to play HD content if that's what you'll be watching. Almost all graphics cards and media players have HDMI now, so watching on TV isn't an issue at all.
     
  7. robbo100

    robbo100
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    Based upon the fact that perfect1000k will want to run 5 clients, then he/she will have to run a server somewhere in the house to share the live TV across the network. It may be that this server is also one of the clients (run as a single seat), but it will still also serve the other 4 clients.

    In terms of startup time in client/server setup. If the server and the client are both running win7, and are left to go into S3 sleep mode, then you are typically looking about 4 seconds for the client to wake-up (during this wakeup it will send a WOL magic packet to the server), and then the server will take about 4 seconds to wake up. So you are only looking at about 8 seconds from everything being "off" (using about 5 W per PC), to the client viewing live TV. This isn't much more than a Sky+ box to be honest.

    Robbo100
     
  8. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    cheers robbo i was just reading your sky tv post as it happens. thanks for the reply its just what i info i needed so am i right in thinking if i put a htpc together i can keep adding nas when space runs low?
    also will each of the 5 tv's need a htpc to run media portal seperatly and all conected to the nas. sorry for all the questions i just want to try do it right first time and not spend more than i have to for the setup i want.

    cheers.


    edit: i think you just answered that in your last post cheers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2012
  9. robbo100

    robbo100
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    Just in case:

    Yes, you might need to re-configure the clients so that they see the right network location, but there should be no problem - incidentally, if you can avoid using a NAS and having it all on one server, then I think you get a slicker (more responsive) system overall as MP is not looking to a mix of network locations for the data. Also, MP should always record/timeshift live TV to a local drive on the server and never to a NAS.

    Yes, each client will run the client side software so that they can talk to the TV Server and access all the data (films etc) from either the server or the NAS.

    Keep the questions coming, best to ask now and buy once :laugh:

    Robbo100
     
  10. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    cheers robbo so im thinking im best to build a server and not use a nas.?
    due to a more responsive system.
     
  11. robbo100

    robbo100
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    I would (and have).

    By "Server" I mean a PC with lots of hard drive space running Windows 7 of some variety, it doesn't need to be WHS or anything like that (I am not even sure if MP will run on WHS or not).

    Whether the server is actually doubling as one of your clients, or a dedicated server without the client side installation depends upon:

    1) how much storage space you need and how small do you want the case
    2) how much heat/noise you are willing to tolerate
    3) are you happy to have it running in the main living space of the house for hours on end.
    4) can you run sufficient antenna cables to the server location in the living space (1 terrestrial antenna will service ALL DVB-T/DVB-T2 tuners, but you will need one LNB feed for each DVB-S DVB-S2 tuners). And are you willing to tolerate all the wires in the living space.

    I am not saying that a NAS won't work, and the difference may be undetectable, but I believe it is simpler from my experience (you only need to wake up one network device for the clients to be cooking on gas).

    Robbo100
     
  12. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    to answer the questions

    1) i would like the option to add more storage space when needed. (so bigger case i suspect)
    2)heat/noise not a problem as if not in loft somewere else out way.
    3)not a problem can stay on all day
    4)im planning to compleatly rewire/network house (im a spark by trade) so cables will be in walls eventualy when i know what to run were

    im thinking i will go with a server tbh as i like the idea of the 1 unit, now its a case of the what to buy minefield.
     
  13. robbo100

    robbo100
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    You have definitely answered your own question then!

    1 server, 5 clients it is then!

    Hardware wise, I am a complete numpty and others will hopefully help from here. If it is going in the loft, then any-old case with excellent cooling (possibly with water cooling with the heat exchanger in another part of the house if you have a very hot roof), but if you don't want to go to these lengths, then lots of case fans are essential. In terms of the TV Cards, I suggest you look at BlackGold cards (are you intending to use DVB-S or DVB-T?).

    The server does not need to be anything special (as Spacemanc said). I run an E7400 processor with 2 gig RAM. It can have onboard graphics of very low quality (since the GPU on the server will never be pushed). The motherboard will mostly be dependant upon the number of SATA ports and PCI-e slots you need. You will definitely save money (and the planet) if you allow it to sleep rather than run it all the time!

    Client wise, you probably want to decide on the size of the case you want for the clients, and then the hardware will be defined by that (as a starting point).

    If you make them all identical, you may be able to get one of them perfect and then copy a mirror of the hard drive to the other 4 clients to save time (although I am not sure how this will work with M$ licences and activation etc.

    Robbo100
     
  14. spacemanc

    spacemanc
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    Don't mean to hijack, but on my setup, the clients take 20 secs to start TV and that's with the server already running - after that everything acts like its single seat. It's not a major issue and I can certainly live with it, but any idea what would cause this initial delay?
     
  15. robbo100

    robbo100
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    Not sure. I have stuff recording at the mo, but I will time mine tomorrow morning to be precise and then look at the client side settings to see what your problem might be.

    What is your client OS? It could be problems with your network device recovery from standby. Are you sure you've using S3 sleep and not S4 sleep (which will take much longer to recover)?
     
  16. Bruce85

    Bruce85
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    didnt even realise you replied get lost in world of own on this site. i havent even thought about cards tbh i was thinking freeview but now im thinking sky in every room to many choices. could i just get server up and running and add to it when ive done my home work or you think im best getting all at once.
    as for the clients i can add them one room at a time
    as for SATA ports and PCI-e slots again im not to sure what mb would you reccomend.
     
  17. robbo100

    robbo100
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    I wouldn't recommend any MB as I am clueless. There are far more savvy people on here than me that will advise. As I say, it needn't be anything special.

    Yes, you can add cards as you go. If you set up a DVB-T system (DVB-T2 if you want High Def TV in the UK through your aerial), then you can add satellite cards at a later date. You can merge matching channels from different suppliers (terrestrial and satellite) so that (for example) only on BBC One appears in your EPG list. MediaPortal will then decide what tuner is available (based upon what recordings are scheduled and what it needs) and tune it to the appropriate channel.

    Robbo100
     
  18. tony_park

    tony_park
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    This may be the client finding the network, and getting a network address

    Tony
     
  19. spacemanc

    spacemanc
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    I think you're right, but it does it even with both PC's running and connected to the network, and the TV service is already running on the server PC. Any way of speeding it up?
     
  20. robbo100

    robbo100
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    So just to check then: Your server is running, and you start your client from S3 sleep? Or is the delay the first time that you try to tuner to a channel with both client and server already awake?
     
  21. spacemanc

    spacemanc
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    Both are already awake with TVservice running on server PC - in fact it takes pretty much as long as it does to start the server PC from sleep, because it's lightening fast on startup.

    I press the "TVservice" button on the client PC, and it takes 20 secs for the picture to start - after that everything appears to work as normal (though there is in fact quite a delay, which I only noticed because the other night I could hear the sound from the server TV, whilst watching the same channel upstairs)
     
  22. robbo100

    robbo100
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    So the time when you could hear the sound from downstairs, was someone else watching the TV on the client side at the same time on this occasion (are you sure they hadn't time-shifted the stream at all)? There is often a delay of a second or two due to the different processing powers of the two machines. My client plays about 2 seconds before the server because the client is doing less and is more powerful.

    Have you tried setting the tuner cards to pre-load in pause mode?

    If you have the client side software on the server PC already playing live TV, how long does it take the client PC to tune to the same channel?
     

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