Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

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Cadmus
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Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby Cadmus » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:06 pm UTC

Ok, so at the moment I have a single rather overspecced NAS-cum-HTPC, running a low-end Core2 of some sort with a few hard disks added on, an old GeForce 7 and that's about it.

Now seeing as I recently found out that 1W = £1 per year I was thinking of splitting it into two machines. One NAS/bit-torrent/VPN box and an HTPC. While they would have a higher power draw combined the HTPC part would be suspended/off most of the time letting the quiter, cooler, more power efficent NAS do it's thing.

Now I'm wondering how much grunt I need to do these jobs separately. The HTPC will be doing the usual YouTube, AVI, MKV et al. I was thinking of a dual-core Atom board with a small SSD, but there's also the possibility of net booting if that's not going to aversely affect playback.

My concern about putting a particularly slow CPU into the NAS is it will adversely affect streaming speeds to the HTPC (they will be linked by GigE), does it depend on the share protocol? I was planning on using just samba (we have Win and Mac machines on the network too) but if using NFS would be a massive improvement for sending stuff to the HTPC I can set one of those up I'm sure.

Both will run Linux, probably Ubuntu as I'm most familiar with that.

Has anyone had much experience with this sort of thing, and what did you find did/didn't work for you? What pitfalls would you advise on?

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roflwaffle
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Re: Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby roflwaffle » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:11 pm UTC

I'd say the most cost/energy efficient setup would be something like this with a usb enclosure for your disks, and I wouldn't bother upgrading your HTPC provided you're using wakealarm with it.

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Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
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Re: Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby Zamfir » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:09 pm UTC

I have been thinking about doing a similar thing, but saving money is tricky. If you are not careful, you can easily spend 100 to 200 quid. Have you monitored what your current average power draw is? Especially if you make sure the machine goes to low-power states when it can, and if you turn it off when you're not using it?

Of course, if you just want to mess with stuff for fun, with power savings as excuse, go ahead. I see little reason to throw away your current machine?

@Rofl, that wouldn't run a torrent client, or am I missing something?

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roflwaffle
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Re: Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby roflwaffle » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:04 pm UTC

That's up to the NAS portion. For BT someone would need something like this. Of course, depending on the cost and power consumption of the router/NAS it might be better to go with an old computer and spend a few bucks on a picopsu. I'm partial to the old slot 1 P3s because they have plenty of processing power for NAS/BT/VPN plus some other stuff, and they are passively cooled, but if someone needs more than 1 lan connection the router would probably be more cost effective.

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Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
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Re: Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby Zamfir » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:24 pm UTC

Is an old laptop not basically the same as an old desktop + picopsu? That plus a USB-powered HD might be the cheapest and simplest solution, even if it's not the ultimate low-power solution.
That BT router looks nice, but I suspect that I would be constantly frustrated by it... not the flexibility of a computer, not the simplicity of a purely storage NAS.

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roflwaffle
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Re: Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby roflwaffle » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:13 pm UTC

Pretty much. The only exceptions are that IME old laptops tend to be more expensive than old desktop hardware and they aren't built to be modular overall, so if something crucial goes out the laptop usually gets parted out, and that a desktop should also allow more room for larger HDs, whereas you're stuck with whatever disk storage the laptop has unless you also get a USB HD enclosure. YMMV as this is based on my experience in the states. If old laptops plus a USB enclosure are cheaper than old desktop hardware plus a picopsu, or just an 80plus PS if noise isn't a factor, in a given location, then that's what I would go with, provided the router/NAS isn't the cheapest/most suitable option overall.

L337R3dN3k
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Re: Making a more effcient NAS/HTPC setup

Postby L337R3dN3k » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:50 am UTC

If you're mostly concerned about streaming speed and power consumption, and don't have old hardware you want to use, the bus speed is more important than computing power. For a super NAS, I recommend:
Cheap CPU with decent FSB and low power consumption; clock speed doesn't matter much.
Simple mobo that will work with your cpu, has integrated graphics of some type, a PCI-E slot, and gigabit ethernet.
A little memory (just enough to run whatever OS you're going to use; factor in drive cache as well if your raid controller doesn't have onboard memory).
A PCI-E RAID controller that will handle however many drives you need.
Power supply and any other bits you're missing

For a slightly slower but more power efficient NAS, consider:
Mini-ITX or similar mobo with a dual-core Atom CPU, RAID support, and enough SATA slots to run your drives
~2GB RAM (consider 4GB if you decide to run Windows Server 2008)
ITX power supply, case, any other bits you're missing

Also, Samba is usually slower than NFS but you probably won't notice a huge difference. Samba might be easier for compatibility.


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