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DIY WHS Media Server - Help with parts

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I'm wanting to build a media server using WHS. The main duties of this unit will be to store and serve movies (either as ISOs or VOB files), music (lossless) and photos. But I will also be using the unit for laptop backups.

While I am attracted to some of the 4, 6 and 7 drive systems from Netgear (Readynas), Thecus and Qnap, it seems that I can build a much better system with far more drives for around the same money (this is probably exacerbated by the fact that these nas devices are quite expensive in Australia).

Anyway, I would like to have a system that I can grow into. Something with space for 12 drives would be great. Set out below is my proposed list of parts:

Case: Lian Li PC-343B
Hot Swap Drive Racks: 4 x Lian Li EX-H33 (Giving me access to up to 12 drives)
PSU: Corsair HX-520
CPU: Intel E5300
RAM: 2GB - 2x1GB
HHD: WD 1.5 TB Green Drives
Blu-ray reader - Not sure which drive to choose. Hopefully something that can be made region free

Two items I am unsure about are the PSU and motherboard.

THe modular PSU I have listed above only has 8 serial ata connectors. Is there a way to increase the amount of hard drives I can connect to this PSU? Or is there another PSU that can accommodate up to 12 sata drives?

I am considering one of the Gigabyte GA-EP45 series. At the moment though I'm not sure which one in the series to go for (there are so many). Any suggestions would be appreciated. I realise that most motherboards will not support more than 8 sata drives so I was thinking of getting one or two SiL3114 controllers.

Any thoughts/suggestions on my build would be appreciated.


According to Newegg the 520HX only has 4 SATA power connectors. It has 8 regular connectors (4 pin molex) which would mean you would need to find some cable converters. The 620HX looks to have 8 SATA power connectors as well as 10 regular connectors if you really were looking to stay with Corsair. I did a quick search on Newegg and the max SATA power connectors I saw on a name brand power supply was 8. So any way you slice it you would need to use some power connector converters that go from 4 pin molex to SATA.

I would say your idea of adding SATA controller cards would work just fine provided you have the space in your case as well as enough free PCIe slots. This might help you compare the different Gigabyte boards... http://www.gigabyte.us/Products/Mot...roductID=3014,3013,2952,2953,3015,2958&Page=1 Pay attention to memory type, amount of PCIe slots, and amount of network cards as these look to be the major differences between the boards. You can also do your own comparisons.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the response 00Roush. Clearly some things to think about. I'm also looking at the Corsair VX power supplies as they may be a bit more flexible for this application.
Updated Parts List

This list of parts should provide me with a system that can cope with the next version of WHS (potentially 64 bit) and a huge amount of storage. And (not including hard drives) it will cost around $2300 (Australian dollars) – about the same price as the NETGEAR Readynaspro 6 bay pioneer edition (in Australia).

Operating System: Windows Home Server PP2
Case: Lian Li PC-343B
Hot Swap Drive Racks: 5 x Lian Li EX-H34 (Giving me access to up to 20 hard drives)
PSU: Enermax Revolution 85+ SLI 1050 W
CPU: Intel E5300
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA EP45-UD3R (has 8 Sata ports and 3 PCI Slots)
RAM: Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C5 4GB (2x XMS2 2GB)
Port Mulitplier: 3 x Sil3114 controllers (providing an additional 12 sata ports)
HHD: WD 1.5 TB Green Drives
Fan Controllers: 2 x Scythe Kaze Master Ace
Blu-ray/DVD/CD Drive: Pioneer S02

I suspect that many of you will consider the power supply overkill but given its incredible efficiency and the fact that it officially supports up to 24 hard drives, it seems like a good choice to me.

I appreciate the idea. This case wasn't something I had initially considered as it does not appear to be directly available in Australia. However, I have found it on Ebay. However, the cost of this shipped to Australia is US$550. So I'll have to balance that against the local cost of the lian li (with the additional drive bays).

Do you know whether this case would still need the Sil3114 controllers? Or are you able to connect the 5 connectors from the drives to 5 sata ports on the motherboard?

Thanks for the feedback.


The case is just a case with 20 hot-swap slots for drives. The back plane has connectors that comply with the special cables used by SAS/Sata array controllers. But you still need a controller.

Here is the manufacturer's product page for the RPC-4220.

There is also a version that has standard sata connectors from the back plane to the motherboard or array controller connections: the model RPC-4020.

[NorCoTek site]
Hi Couj,

Just in case it slipped under your radar, the EP45 board won't have an onboard video card so you'll need to source a PCI-E or PCI video card.
Thanks for the input guys.

I'll certainly give the choice of case some more thought.

Given that I shouldn't continue to need a graphics card after I've set the server up, I thought I'd insert one when setting the server up and then take it away (to save on power) once the unit is up and running.

Is anyone aware of a dumb controller card that has more than 4 sata ports?


This Supermicro 8port has been popular because it fits in a regular PCI slot. Newegg link which also links to the manufacturer website.

I have several of these running in my file servers on regular PCI slots. The 32bit PCI slot does limit the max bandwidth, but they're not being heavily used.

There is also a newer 4x PCIe version AOC-SASLP-MV8 that was annouced, but that's a bit hard to find. I can't wait to pair that up with the newer Norco 4220 and have only 4 small cables running to the drives...
For the case part, I would suggest you check your local computer server provider and see if they offer some cases with hot swappable 3.5" slots. Usually real server products are more reliable than home products. Also the Lian-Li plan is not cheap at all(almost $300~350 USD for 4 or 5 cases you want).
Sli controllers are fine if you just want to be able to connect more hard drives. In case you want better performance/compatibility/features etc, you might want try at least Marvell controllers. However, marvell based cards (or better ones) are not that cheap. One suggestion would be pay attention to some cheap server boards(price range $200~$350). They usually have a lot onboard sata ports(might not be as much as 20 though...), common Core 2 Duo cpu and ddr2 memory are fine (Xeon and ECC are not required), have onboard video chip (you do not have to worry about video cards) and have several pci-e 4x/8x slots or PCI-X for your possible future SATA controller cards or NICs upgrades.

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