noob hardware question

submitted by m0darn edited

I know this isn't build a pc, but everything over there is so gaming oriented I thought I might get better advice here.

I'm a noob that wants a home media server for sharing photos of my kids with my family (across the country), video library sharing to some family members, and streaming my music collection to my phone (and maybe my dad's).

But I'm considering ripping my father in laws extensive bluray collection (well seeing it up so he can rip them into my library) so I reckon a full tower is required for HDDs.

I'm imagining unraid, with a big pile of used drives. What I like about that approach is that I can economically add storage as the video library grows as I/we rip. Or are used HDDs a false economy.

I think the only processing intensive thing in the use case list is ripping and video library sharing. I have no concept of what sort of processing is required. Should I get a graphics card?

There's a Lenovo TS-140 (E3-1226 V3) available available used for $80 Canadian. Is that a good place to start?


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I have a media server with over 1000 Blu-ray and DVDs on it (and a few UHDs).

Recommendations: decide if you care about subtitles early. Ripping subtitles off blu ray is a pain in the ass. They’re not stored as text but rather as images, so you need software like SubtitleEdit to OCR those images back into text. It gets it wrong all the time. Ripping off DVD is easy, so I just grab all sub tracks off DVDs.

I have six 8TB drives in a RAID6 configuration using MDADM on a Ubuntu Server box. It’s using a very cheap motherboard with integrated CPU. I had to add a PCI SATA card to have enough ports. Same machine hosts all my photos, security camera footage, and other files.

Movies are ripped on my gaming PC using makemkv and Handbrake. I haven’t bothered finding a method for re-encoding UHD since we’re only going to watch them at home where bandwidth isn’t an issue (so I have like 300GB of LoTR lol). I picked up a bunch of cheap used drives from goodwill (mostly DVD drives), so I’ll queue up 5 or so movies before bed and let it run overnight.

Movies are hosted on Plex and watched on phones, tablets, and AppleTVs around our house.


as far as subtitles go, I've had good luck with Bazarr:


Not skilled in any of this, but have you looked into a NAS? This might be a place to start since you're talking about ripping Blu-rays, sharing, etc.. I'm sure you can eventually connect the NAS to your desired PC in the future. Someone else might have a better suggestion.

actionjbone , edited

Rather than build a computer, check out NAS devices.

My Synology NAS does everything you mention except ripping, and you can rip with any computer that has an optional drive.

A NAS is lower power than a tower server, and many are designed to let you swap hard drives.

m0darn [OP], edited

I don't have a computer with a bluray drive, only laptops.


You can buy a USB blu-ray drive for like $50.


A used older desktop is a good starting machine. I think Unraid is a good starting point as the community is more welcome to completely new people needing a lot of help. Also this channel has a tone of good guides for Unraid:

I suggest starting off cheap to learn. Then you can spend money as you determine what is necessary based on problems you encounter. One VERY important thing to remember is that HDDs fail, power surges kill motherboards, water leaks kill the whole thing. If you don't want to loose family photos, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE IT BACKED UP OFF YOUR SERVER. Preferably "off-site".

m0darn [OP]

Okay, I think $80 Canadian for a case, psu, mobo, cpu, & ram is sounding pretty reasonable. I just don't know of its enough processing power for the video stuff. But I guess if not I can upgrade the mobo/cpu or add a graphics card.

Thanks, that channel looks great.

Re offsite backup: Yes I don't have so many family photos that it will be difficult/ expensive to store online. But I need to get them together first.


Id say rip blurays on your main PC/laptop and build low power device for server.

Streaming musing and sharing photos is not intensive task, but streaming 4k video is another storry. Unless you need 4k streaming you should be fine with almost any intel cpu that supports quicksync and with no gpu afaik. I googled that Lenovo and it seems like it has Xeon E3-1226 v3 which does support quick sync, so I bet it will run just fine. My celeron g3930 can transcode 1080p


Streaming 4k content is not a problem, transcoding on the fly to lower resolutions is hard and requires good capacity planning.


I'm not convinced that a pile of old HDDs is a good fit for your homeserver.

  • Many small disks will consume more energy than fewer large disks. Currently, the best capacity per price seems to be in the 20TB segment. A similar argument can be made for noise.
  • The HDDs you have might not be perfect for 20/7 usage. I personally would recommend using disks that are made for continuous usage.

Start with what you have, but if you outgrow your setup, buy proper hardware. And make backups.


You'll need a decent GPU to decode HD video, which led me to just put together what's basically an outdated gaming PC from old parts and a couple cheap ones I had to order. Works great as a jellyfin server.


Not if you're serving content to a device that can do the decoding, like a Shield. My Jellyfin server runs in a Proxmox VM with no GPU passed though, and transcoding disabled for all accounts.