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I have a Synology DS213, which I have recently discovered cannot transcode on the fly. As a results I was thinking about converting an old computer into a server I could access anywhere. I've never done such a thing and I was hoping to get some input.

What I am hoping to build is something that functions as a NAS and as a media center. The old computer has an intel core 2 duo E8500 (3.16 GHz) cpu, 6 GB of ddr2 memory, a Gigabyte GA-EP-15-UD3R motherboard and a PNY GeForce 9400 GT graphics card. I currently have 2x2TB, 1x250GB & 1x750GB harddrives.

I know none of it is amazing, I built it around 5 years ago. But do I have the spec to be able to set up a media center capable of transcoding 1080p movies on the fly? What operating system would you recommend for such a set up? I was also looking at either using MediaPortal, XBMC or Plex. Would there be a worthwhile investment I could make to severly upgrade the system (like $200-$300 towards a new cpu?).

Thanks for any help and advice you guys can offer.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Journeyman Geek, Breakthrough, slhck Jul 1 '13 at 6:57

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Link to graphic card specs:… – Novice C Jun 30 '13 at 22:50
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've been using an ASRock ION 330 for about 4 years. I mostly watch 720P films ans shows on it and I've yet to run into issues with Transcoding. Every once in a while I have an issue with audio sync.

Operating System

Depending on your *NIX experience I'd go with Debian Wheezy or Ubuntu LTS. The latter being a bit easier to get new packages and media support. I say this because currently XBMC via the package management is currently stuck at Eden due to the Debian dropping FFMPEG support.

A Few Notes On Audio & Video With Home Entertainment Systems:

  1. Depending on the number of audio outputs of the Motherboard it can be a total pain in the butt to configure. I configured mine at the OS level and leave the application dumb of it.
  2. Expect to fight with the NVIDIA manager to get it to play nicely with your TV. Unless it happens to like your TV a lot. :-)
  3. If you plan to play DVDs on it don't for get to install the DVD encryption packages.

I can't really back up 1 & 2 with a solid source...

More Notes on the OS

I'd suggest using a light weight windows manager like:

  1. OpenBox w/ a Dock
  2. XBMC GNOME Shell

I've based my answer of yes based on the fact that the following runs flawless for me:

My Hardware

  1. Intel® Atom™ Processor 330
  2. NVIDIA® ION™ graphics processor
  3. All wrapped up in a AsRock 330 Ion
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