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HTPC Looking for advice: NAS/HTPC/KODI-solution

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Mr-IK, 30 Jul 2017.

  1. Mr-IK

    Mr-IK Member

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    Hey everybody

    Having recently bought our first house, we often find ourselves watching movies, streaming etc. from more than just one location. Before, we pretty much had our "media-setup" limited to our living room, which made it easy to have everything in the same spot.

    What we are looking for is a way to watch movies (I'm in the process of "ripping" our 75ish blurays), streaming and such effortlessly in whatever room we are in.

    I've been looking around, and there seems to be a ton of different setups. I've read good things about KODI, which seems to be handling the majority of formats and services out there (we use Netflix and HBO mainly).

    But what do I need to get?

    Nvidia's SHIELD TV looks nice. But do I need one for every room I'm in? Preferably, the setup could work via Chromecasts, which means I would need some sort of NAS with the ability to shoot HD/4K to a Chromecast lag-free. Does this even exist?

    As of now, we have 3 rooms with TV's, max 15 meters apart, and we would like to be able to access and watch our own media + streaming media (which our phones are able to handle) as smooth as possible.

    Hope someone with a bit more experience could point me towards a setup or solution :)

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. nimbu

    nimbu Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, you do have plenty of options.

    I have the following setup:
    8 bay synology NAS
    Nvidia shield TV in the living room
    Amazon fire TV in the bedroom.

    Both the players run Kodi and open media directly via nfs / samba shares. All the decoding is done by the devices.

    First question, are you using a wireless network? If so, how good is it. Internet content like Netflix buffers pretty well but direct share access using Kodi is less forgiving of poor WiFi.

    Assuming that you have a wired network, high bit rate content and capable android boxes the above setup should work well.

    Now let's say you don't have a wired network, don't want to look at buying more expensive players etc. You can go with a solution like this;

    NAS / recycled computer running Plex server and Amazon fire sticks.

    The processing of the files is actually done at the server end and just throwing it down to the fire stick. Each can run the plex app and I believe that plex streams can be configured to be more forgiving of poor WiFi (I cant speak much about plex as I used it once, years ago). The fire sticks should still allow you to run all your other android streaming apps too.
     
  3. Mr-IK

    Mr-IK Member

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    Thanks a bunch Nimbu!

    I have a pretty solid 50/50 mbit connection, and my Airport Extreme router (latest gen.) is no more than 10-15 meters from the TV's i reckon.

    So from my understanding, I need a decent NAS for storage (does it need to have any special technology-capabilities?) and then a "decoder" at each TV (eg. Fire Sticks - but not chromecasts?).
     
  4. nimbu

    nimbu Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about chromecasts unfortunately.

    How much data (roughly) would you need to house?
    Will the NAS solution be housing anything other than just your rips of movies?
    Would you be annoyed if a hard drive failed and you had to reduce rip everything?

    Are you a set and forget type or do you like to tinker?

    If you are a set and forget I would invest in to a pre made nas. If you like to tinker there are many software options out there and might be a good way of checking things out.

    To do this you need a spare machine. There are various software solutions out there such as freenas/xpenology /open media vault. Etc

    Setup said machine, install the plex server plug in (which I believe most of the above supports), buy a fire TV and test it out.
     
  5. Mr-IK

    Mr-IK Member

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    1+2) I will be housing around 50 at a time I reckon (lets say 15-20GB rips pr. movie), and no more than 50gb of images and general backups. So around 2 TB should do the trick.
    3) If it failed, it would suck, so I guess I need some kind of raid-setup with a backup disc.
    4) I think I can manage to tinker, but I'd like it to be somewhat straight forward with the mandatory firmware update here and there. Command-line/terminal stuff several times a week would be a no-go.
    5) Thanks again!

    I just had my bike stolen, so I need to reevaluate my budget I'm afraid.
     
  6. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    I have got a setup similar to what you are looking for (roughly)...

    I run a Synology 2 bay NAS, 2 x 4TB drives mirrored. This is wired into the CAT6 I have throughout the house (which you probably don't have).

    Every DVD we own has been ripped onto the NAS (not blurays though) and all devices in our house can stream the movies natively as I have ripped them to MP4 format (so no transcoding needed). 3 smart TV's, 4 Windows laptops, 3 Android phones & 1 iPhone, 2 Android tablets, a PS3, a PS4 and 4 Windows desktops. It works really well, even for those devices using wireless. I use the native media player on the devices because Plex kills the CPU on my old Synology NAS.

    As a backup, even though it isn't critical as I still have all the original DVD's in the loft, I rsync the Synlogy to a homebrew OMV NAS running 4 x 2TB in RAID 5 once a week. If I had the money I would use mirrored 4TB drives in the homebrew NAS instead but that is for the future.

    If you were not planning to use Plex then a Synology DS216j is £150, with a couple of Seagate Ironwolf 4TB NAS drives @ £118 each means you are looking at £386-ish for a basic setup before you factor in backup.

    If you were definately wanting to use Plex or Kodi then you need a more meaty CPU - I personally would build a homebrew NAS (e.g. OMV or FreeNAS) with second hand parts then add disks to it. Disk costs wil be the same obviously for new disks but second hand PC parts can be cheap, you just need the space for a PC near your router.

    A Synology NAS is very much a set and forget solution, you only need to check for updates once a month or so. A homebrew NAS can also be pretty much set and forget once you get past the initial setup. You don't need a meaty solution for backup-only purposes, for example if you build a homebrew NAS for using Plex then a second hand 2 bay NAS (like a Synology) could be used to automatically back it up. The ideal solution depends on your budget.

    The key decisions are a) what kind of CPU grunt do you need (i.e. for Plex or if you need to transcode on the fly) and b) what is your budget.

    Note that I haven't gone into Kodi etc as I don't know a lot about it but I would assume you could run Kodi on a homebrew NAS/Kodi box and still backup elsewhere. Nor have I gone into things like running HBO or Netflix via Kodi etc as I don't bother with that, I simply use the NAS to store the movies and my data.

    TL/DR:
    My advice would be to build a homebrew NAS using OMV or FreeNAS on a MATX platform in a sound-deadened case, a couple of 4TB drives - you would only need something like a Pentium CPU and 4GB RAM maximum. Second hand parts can be found easily plus you have room to upgrade if you need. You wil need to plug the NAS into your router and buy an external USB drive to back it up to.

    Then try the native DNLA media server found with the homebrew NAS to stream to your TV's or other devices to see whether the wireless you use can handle the content streaming (without the added layer of Kodi or Plex) and you will know then whether you need to use homeplugs instead of wireless.

    Assuming all goes well so far, you can then either get cheap android Kodi devices for the TV's if you so desire - they will need need a NAS to get the centralised content or you can run Plex on the NAS to see if the native media player on the devices work with it (they should). All this is assuming you have smart TV's of course.

    Personally I find that having seperate media players plugged into all the TV's is a pain and as long as you have smart TV's the native media player usually is more than enough for what you need.
    This option gives you the ability to add to the solution as you can afford it
     
    Last edited: 1 Aug 2017
  7. Flibblebot

    Flibblebot Smile with me

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    unRAID for the NAS, running Plex Media Server in a docker container
    Raspberry Pis running Plex Media Player for embedded systems (or Plex running on your smart TV if it's available)
     
  8. nimbu

    nimbu Well-Known Member

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    Don't need a beefy cpu on the server if you are running kodi on the end points as they do the decoding.
     

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