How many systems do I need/should I have?

zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
Hey!

I'm hopefully going to be moving into a new place soon and I'm pretty excited about it. The layout is basically a ~1000 square foot rectangle, ~20 foot by ~50 foot, more-or-less totally open.

Anyways, I'm going to partition off the space a little bit to have a kitchen area towards the back, then my restroom/shower and workshop in the very back (there's a back door).

I'll have my NAS, which is presumably its own system. It needs enough space for projects I'll hopefully start working on, most likely 1080p footage that hopefully I could keep 'archived' and also for just silly projects of mine like attempting to store as many ROMs and .ISOs of games as I can possibly get my hands on... I'm a bit of a digital pack rat.

I'm trying to move my primary gaming system into a SFF case that's easy to bring to-and-from LANs, this will probably end up in a S4 mini. Regarding gaming, I want to be able to play games with a keyboard and mouse at my desk or on the couch (with friends) with controllers. Steam in-home streaming is good enough for the couch experience.

I'd like to have access to the internet and how-to videos and whatnot in the workshop and in my kitchen. Either a laptop or a tablet could probably take care of this, but having a nice, larger display would also be nice in the event I'm not right next to the device I'm working on and my hands are messy.

Regarding the content creation, I want a system that can use a lossless and super-low-latency capture card (like the PCI-e Elgato) that can record gaming endeavors for the possible real-time stream. It would be nice if this system could be monitored/controlled from a portable device like a laptop or a tablet in the event there's a couch gaming session or something like that.

Besides that, there's another kind of weird use-case I'd like to have--I'd like to have a secondary gaming setup that a friend could play games that don't have local co-op with me. This could be fairly low-end and could technically be tackled by a laptop, but I like the idea of creating a sort of 'server' system that houses a video card (like a 1050) that can Steam in-home stream to whatever device we have available whether it's a laptop or a tablet or a VM with a passed-through keyboard and mouse and it's own monitor at my desk.

Long story short, I need a NAS, a SFF gaming rig that I can bring to the occasional LAN, a "HTPC" for my TV that can handle Steam in-home streaming, a computer at my desk for video editing and productivity, a computer running one (or two) capture cards and hosting streams, and a way to browse the internet and YouTube in my kitchen and in my workshop.

If everything is its own separate system, that's 7 individual computers. Do you have any suggestions for builds, client PCs, or any ideas for consolidating these systems?
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
Gold Supporter
May 11, 2015
1,578
2,107
If everything is its own separate system, that's 7 individual computers. Do you have any suggestions for builds, client PCs, or any ideas for consolidating these systems?
You might be able to cut things down to three 'systems':
- NAS
- Portable SFF gaming rig
- VM host for everything else

VM host can run all the VMs needed for the kitchen etc 'PCs' (which would then be replaced by ultra-lightweight thin clients), and adding a GPU with hardware passthrough would allow at least one VM to be reasonably used for gaming. An Nvidia GPU would be an obvious choice for Gamestream being able to stream anything locally with minimal latency, though depending on your space layout you could even use an extender to physically connect the remote host machine with a disembodied monitor and keyboard. Needing a separate box for gaming capture complicates things, though use of a 'GPU dock' to host the capture card and linking that back to the VM host could work depending on distance between the two.
 

Knolly

Chassis Packer
Jan 12, 2017
16
25
I don't know if I can help, but I can absolutely relate to this. There's something incredibly satisfying about having something that is really good and specialized at what you're doing. I've spent the last month trying to figure out what kind of setup to have though mine was simply a combo of NAS, HTPC, and gaming rig. I had a RVZ02 I had built to basically do all three and really liked the idea of building a teeny tiny NAS box with an ASrock Deskmini 110.

I wound up deciding to just have one fairly powerful PC do it all. It's still in the RVZ02 but I replaced a 3.5" drive I had in there with a 15mm 2.5" drive and, when they're in production again, will move everything into an LZ7. Filling in the HTPC role for streaming and occaisional light gaming is an nVidia Shield. Using Gamestream it could stream Steam as well, but it's not something I've really played with yet.

I doubt this actually helps, I just can sympathize because it's hard to balance the joy of building a PC specialized for a single purpose and the fact that budget-wise and system management-wise it becomes sort of silly when you start doing that.
 
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zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
re - @EdZ

That's kind of what I'm thinking of. Do you have any ideas for the client PCs? I know there are ultra-small units from a lot of manufacturers and it's even possible I could score some used/old NUCs from my workplace... I suppose free i5 NUCs would be a pretty golden score, but I'm not sure I can actually swing that.

Regarding the VM host... do you have any recommendations on hardware? If you look at my post in the Marketplace you'll see I have some server hardware--I ended up spending a fair amount of money and not appreciating how much of a pain it is to find a good case for a SSI EEB motherboard. The E5-2670's aren't super slow, but they're slower than my i7-4790K on average (unless you're doing big multi-core projects) and I haven't appreciated using them for my daily driver. I feel like an i7 might get the job done (4790K actually supports VT-d and VT-x) but do worry about the cores/threads and PCI-e lanes. Maybe Ryzen with its 8/16 core/thread chips will end up being a good fit?

I'm going to have to look into Nvidia's GameStream. A while back I played with Moonlight over WiFi and thought it was great, super-low latency on my smartphone (Android). A friend of mine recently tried it and said it was junk... Any thoughts on how it stacks up to Steam's in-home streaming? Does it maybe make sense to use a Shield TV as my client for the HTPC/gaming?

re - @Knolly

Yeah, haha. I keep thinking, "I could probably afford that." and then thinking "NO! Bad zovc!"
 

jtd871

SFF Guru
Jun 22, 2015
1,166
848
A basic Android tablet or Chromebook would serve for web browsing and youtube streaming. Plus you'd only (probably) need one if you don't need to fix it one spot. Just make sure that your wifi is solid.