Build a Kick-Shin Media Server PC

Here are the specs for a building a media server PC that is a bit more affordable than the Kick-Arse Media Server that I described last time. We’ll call this one a Kick-Shin Media Server.

I went through each component from last time and considered downgrading a bit, to get the price down.  The result is a machine that should do a respectable job at serving up media through Media Center in Vista, but won’t break the bank.

The planned use for my media server is to host all of my family photos and videos, as well as being equipped with a video capture card for capturing video directly from a satellite receiver.

I’ll use Media Center in Vista to serve up all of my photos, videos, and recorded television programs. Like Tivo, Media Center allows setting up the machine to grab all sorts of shows/movies that it finds in the schedule.

I plan to use an XBox 360 as my media extender. The XBox 360 is connected to the 50″ plasma TV and will use wireless ethernet (G, rather than N) to pull media from the server and play it on the TV.

Here is my proposed list of components:

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower – $69.95

Power Supply: Antec EA650 650W ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC – $99.99

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel – $99.99

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core – $169.99

CPU Fan: Use retail fan – $0

Memory: Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory – $108.99
(Total of 4GB)

Hard Drive #1: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s – $189.99

Optical drive: SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner – $24.99

Video card: MSI N9600GT-T2D512E GeForce 9600 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported – $114.99

TV Tuner/Capture: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 MCE Kit 1128 PCI-Express x1 Interface – $99.99

Total: $978.83

Thoughts

Case: I stuck with Antec, but dropped down to the Three Hundred case: still lots of room in the case, but slightly less cooling.

Power Supply: We drop down to a 650W power supply, which should be enough if we don’t load the server up with too many drives or other cards.

Motherboard: Managed to stick with a P45 board, but one that supports fewer SATA drives (six).  If we need more than six drives, we could look at going with an external drive or drive array.

CPU: I dropped down from Quad Core to Dual Core, going with the E8400.  Should be fast enough for our basic needs.

Memory: We dropped back down to 4GB, which should be plenty.

1st hard drive: I deleted our fast 10,000RPM drive and we now just have a single 1TB SATA drive.  The OS will be marginally slower, but adequate for our needs.

Video card: I also dropped down a bit on the video card, since we don’t plan to use the server for actual gaming.  Stuck with NVidia, but we’re now going with a GeForce 9600 with 512MB memory.

TV Capture: We stuck with the Hauppage WinTV-HVR 1800, which is compatible with Vista-based Media Center.

Conclusions

We didn’t have to give up too much from our Kick-Arse ($1800) configuration to come down to about half the price.  This is a decent sub-$1000 PC that we could use as a media server or a software development box.

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