welcome to my new project. Building the perfect HTPC that suits my needs and that of the family. I think the builds I have gone for are not necessarily the fastest nor the most beautiful. However the aim is to see how cheap I can build a reasonable unit as compared with current Media players for sale out there in the market. This is actually not so easy to do here in Australia. Why you may ask, red tape I suppose. We can import some but not all parts, motherboards and cases from places like: Amazon. & NewEgg. They both have fabulous cases but they do not ship all available direct to Australia. NewEgg don’t ship anything at least they didn’t last time I checked. To buy a decent build quality small box you will need to spend at least $80 plus.
My pictures of the units I have built so far are to follow at a later stage. For now I will say I was able to find some pretty nifty looking small boxes for a reasonable price scrounging through the net but the quality is just so so. The One I love but it’s really not a micro PC is a Thermaltake. The most expensive of all of them so far. That’s for later too! Overall none of them cut the mustard for what I wanted to build in the end.
After 3 creations and many rehashes of hardware lying around. I was pretty happy and so began testing out various software and researching hardware for a colleague as his new toy wasn’t performing as per the specifications. Reading up on the Thecus N4100EVO it seemed pretty impressive. Sadly the price he picked it up for was no longer valid and so I decided to wait for it to drop in price again. As they always do. While on the hunt for information for the Thecus I spotted this little gem: HP Proliant N40L MicroServer
Initially I was only wanting to upgrade my current Iomega Server. Having 4 2TB drives and many others attached to my
Astone Media Players networked throughout the house. It was time to have a slicker setup.
With a bit more reading I found it for a great price $220 at times it is lower according to what I have researched. This included 2GB Ram and a fairly useless 250GB drive. Plus more as per the first link: 250GB drive and memory will come in handy somewhere I’m sure. Even though this model has been around for a while, I still could not have achieved the build quality nor the motherboard, drive and memory all included for the $220 it initially cost me. If I had tried to build this it would have ended up costing more than $300. I can put 6 drives plus into it. I have increased the RAM to 8GBs apparently 16GBs can also be achieved. I added a video card which I had lying around and will update with the models of these items a bit later.
Why this server, well the plan is to set it up as a fully fledged HTPC with XBMC or Freevo thinking it will be XBMC. So the original plan for it has changed after understanding the N40L is capable of. I have already been using XBMC successfully with one of the HTPCs I previously built running Linux12. Linux 13 is now out & available. (UPDATE) LinuxMint 13 now installed.
What you need to do this: An understanding & some knowledge of Linux and or be keen enough to travel a rather steep learning curve. Why would anyone want to do this: For me it’s fun, and I hate with a passion proprietary software which is so restrictive it shackles my creativity. All of the software I use to do this is Free and that’s a bonus when being creative in case of stuff ups.
Sadly I’m off to a bad start: A faulty Mini SAS cable and I am awaiting replacement of it. I have found some wonderful forums and websites dedicated to doing similar things. Once I get my unit up and running I can share exactly what I’m up to with my build. Enjoy the links:
TekForums Setup guide: This is a must read. He has done a fabulous job.
Reviews: News and what’s happening.
Reviews: Installation guides for windows.
Home Server Shows Forum for Proliant Microservers photos & users experiences for modding firmware and more.
Hope this is enough to wet the appetites of the interested.