Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Media Center Setup

For the last 9 months I have been running a Gateway 901. I didn't buy it new (thank you, and have upgraded it to MCE 2005 and had a Maxtor 500gb drive in it. To up the number of tuners I added an ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 edition as well as a Hauppauge 500MCE dual tuner. Since MCE only supports 2 tuners out of the box, I followed this guide courtesy of The Green Button, a must if you are a Media Center Enthusiast. Finally I loaded it up with 1.5gb of PC2700 ram and let the recordings begin.

Unfortunately the Maxtor drive was not up to the task, and gave up the ghost after 8 months of service. I have since replaced it with a Hitachi Deskstar 500gb model. At first I was concerned that this drive would never be able to keep up as it had a lower cache, and noticeably stuttered several times the first several days during live TV playback. If it is recording 2 shows and you want to watch a third I have found that it is better to record that show and watch the recording rather than trying to watch it live. Other than that, the Hitachi has performed well and I am waiting on my RMA for the Maxtor. I think that the amount of TV my wife records is the reason for the Maxtor crapping out. At times we had upwards of 30 unwatched shows on the Media Center.

To combat disk failure, I am thinking of setting up a multi-spindle OpenSolaris iSCSI target. This is a little overboard for most homes, but gives me a chance to work more with iSCSI and help prevent unscheduled TV outages. If you haven't heard of ZFS, you owe it to yourself to watch this.


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