||[Mar. 24th, 2007|10:42 pm]
So, I recently decided to add a media center PC to my home theater. Here is how I attacked the problem:
So, after you buy all this crap, it pretty much works great. I should have gone to eBay for the RAID card as I could have gotten it for half price, but oh well. Before I went with 3ware I tried out the Highpoint 2322 RAID controller. The Highpoint works fairly well, but it won't rebuild your array automatically on insertion of a new drive. One of my WD drives was also bad and the Highpoint controller failed to detect it. So far, the 3ware RAID card is a lot more reliable as it rebuilds automatically when a drive is reinserted. One thing to be weary of if you go with 3ware is there is no support in FreeBSD 7.0-CURRENT for the 3650SE. I had to hack the FreeBSD 6.1 driver into the 7.0-CURRENT kernel to get it to work (I'll post diffs upon request) as I run 7.0 in order to get my built-in NIC to work on my Dell.
- Mac Mini Intel Core Duo w/1GB RAM (~$630)
- Panasonic Powerline HD (~$150) for the pair. This provides Ethernet over powerline because I didn't want to run Cat6 cable through my house.
- M-Audio Transit USB adaptor. This allows you to pass AC-3/DTS audio from the Mac Mini to your stereo. ($100)
- 3ware 3650SE RAID card. ($500)
- 4 Western Digital 500GB hard drives for RAID6 (~$140 each).
- PC-pitstop 4-drive SATA enclosure (~$230).
In terms of setting up the Mac Mini to do media center stuff, it's pretty straight-forward. You need to download all the CODECS you want to use, install them, and then stuff mostly works. If you want to play DVD folders, you need to download a program called DVD Assist as FrontRow is unable to browse them by default. Also, you REALLY want to get the M-Audio Transit USB if you're wanting to replace your DVD player. Otherwise, the Mac Mini cannot do AC-3/DTS out. My only complaints are that FrontRow is kind of buggy. From time to time, it will lock up and crash leaving me with no recourse but to reboot the Mini. Otherwise, it's pretty cool.