Computers and components

The first choice is server vs. desktop vs. home-theater PC vs. NAS vs. laptop vs. ultra-portable.

A NAS is a simple and convenient solution but you can't do much else than serve files from it.

If you want a desktop or server computer, the second choice is whether to build your own or to buy a pre-built system. If you're not too picky about particular choices, it's much less of a headache to get a pre-built computer. On the other hand, if you have a better idea about a component for your pre-built computer, you may end up frustrated. In that case, it's better to build your own, but prepare to do quite a lot of research.


See the laptops comparison page.

Desktop computer parts

Pre-built desktop computer systems

Velocity Micro

Falcon Northwest

  • can configure up to 4 HDDs
  • 1200W power supply w/ 19dBA fan
  • CPU liquid cooling might be noisy
  • - can't get rid of DVD-RW even if you get the Blu-ray burner
  • $750 for SSD vs. $480-$700 on pricegrabber

(Dell) Alienware Aurora ALX

  • liquid cooling

Network Attached Storage

Drobo Pro

  • - allows only one host to access the disk array
  • - not a NAS device and requires a file server or DroboShare in order to be connected to a network
  • BeyondRAID technology makes swapping and adding disks a no-brainer; disks can be of different capacities, speeds and manufacturers - i.e. are completely virtualized. See BeyondRAID vs. RAID.
  • comparison among Drobo products - only the Pro and Elite have iSCSI, which exposes the NAS as a block device, enabling it to be formatted with any any filesystem, such as ZFS, which is the only mechanism to prevent silent data corruption live. The Elite allows multiple hosts to access the same Drobo unit and is more than double the price of the Pro ($3500 vs $1500).
  • in-depth review - very good results
  • Drobo is a solid company and has an robust user base
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