My name is Philipp C. Heckel and I write about nerdy things.

Meet my first HTPC: Fanless, NAS/RAID1, Linux, 30 watts, 24×7, FC10, XBMC

Linux, Multimedia

Meet my first HTPC: Fanless, NAS/RAID1, Linux, 30 watts, 24×7, FC10, XBMC

I recently built myself a new and shiny HTPC for my living room, and because it took lots of time researching the right components, I’d like to share my experiences. I published this post first on the XBMC forum a couple of days ago. Feel free to comment either here or there. Lots of pictures in the post!


1. Hello Beauty

Meet my first HTPC.
She’s a beauty.
And she doesn’t make a sound.

2. Requirements

My requirements were clear from the beginning: I wanted an HTPC, but I also wanted to use it as my 24/7 Linux home server, with 2x big HDDs in a RAID1. Even though most people would say, go get and buy two devices — a Synology NAS and a nettop as HTPC — I wanted it all in one machine. And that made it all a little more complicated:

  • HTPC/XBMC with flawless 1080p video playback
  • NAS with RAID1: 1 SSD for the OS, 2 HDDs for the RAID1 (= min 3 SATA)
  • Linux without a hassle
  • Low power consumption b/c it will run 24/7
  • Fanless: And of course, it should be completely silent (no fans), b/c it will be in the living room.

3. Hardware

Because I wanted something that worked flawless on Linux, I couldn’t just take the best there is and that’s that. As a Linux user, you always have to check for drivers and compatibility. So I did. And I think I made a reasonably good choice here. Everything works, with some minor exceptions (more later).

3.1. Main Parts

These are the main parts I’ve chosen for my HTPC. I’m very happy with everything. No exceptions. Seems like I did good research before.

3.2. Hardware Justification

So why exactly these components? Here’s a bit about the why.

  • The FC10 case is a beauty and can fit the amount of SSDs and HDDs I wanted, it can passively cool CPUs with up to 95W TDP. You got me here. I bought it because it’s pretty.
  • The i3-3225 CPU (Ivy Bridge) is 55W TDP, low power and has a HD4000 graphics chip, which is pretty good I think. Additionally, it works pretty good on Linux according to a couple of articles I’ve read. See and According to many people on the XBMC forums, the i3-3225 has a similar idle power consumption as the low power i3-3220T, so buying the T-version wouldn’t make sense — especially because the i3-3225 has a much better graphics chip.
  • After many many hours and much help on the XBMC forum, I went for the ASUS P8H77-M PRO mainboard. Why? Because it fits in the FC10 case (!), supports low voltage RAM, does not have problems playing 23.976fps video material, and apparently works fabulous on Linux.
  • The Corsair Vengeance LP White memory is low voltage RAM (1.35V), which is supposed to use less power (~ 1.65W per DIMM to my knowledge). Corsair is supposed to be good — people on the XBMC forum often suggest Corsair RAM.
  • The 840 Samsung SSD is a new and apparently awesome SSD. I read it’s super fast and has a low power consumption (0.6W idle, max. 3W). There’s a good review on
  • The two 3TB WD Red disks are NAS disks that are super silent (quieter than the WD Green) and use less power than many others (less power than the WD Green) — at least according to tests I’ve read (4W idle, max. 5W). Additionally, the Red is built for 24/7 usage, so I am hoping that it lasts longer. Check out this review on
  • The Sony Optiarc BD-5850H Bluray drive I chose is pretty much the only slim slot-in drive out there I think. Amazon reviews say it was quiet. I wouldn’t really agree, but then again, it’s an optical drive — so it must make a at least some noise…

3.3. Adapters, Cables, Thermal Paste

Keep in mind that you have to connect the components with each other, so don’t forget to order the right cables and adapters. I first forgot the slimline adapter for the optical drive — I’m sure you won’t :-)

3.4. Optional cables

If you don’t have these components/cables, you might want to buy them. SATA cables are typically included with the mainboard, an HDMI is necessary to connect the TV, and an optical audio cable is only necessary if you want to connect your audio receiver and not your TV.

3.5. Grand Total

The total cost of this build is 1185€. Not cheap, I know, but it’s definitely worth it, I think. High quality CPU, HDDs, SSD, and case. Built to last :-)

4. Software

Linux was a must as I said, so Ubuntu 12.10 was a no-brainer. I didn’t want to use XBMCbuntu or openElec, because I wanted to use the box not only as HTPC, but also as web server, NAS, scripting box, and so on.

I actually thought about going into details on how to set everything up here, but I didn’t fully write everything down yet. Maybe I’ll do that some other time. For now, a list of software and uses will have to do:

  • Ubuntu 12.10 with XFCE4 desktop environment (so Xubuntu, I think …); Ubuntu boots and logs in to user ‘xbmc’ in 11 seconds (not that I care, it’s a server after all). XBMC can be started with the remote control by pressing the power button, and it can be killed by pressing another button twice (if it hangs)
  • Intel graphics VAAPI drivers (i965-va-driver:amd64), so that video decoding can be done in the iGPU. I have issues with this, though, but it works anyway.
  • LIRC (kernel-based LIRC and the standalone LIRC) to control XBMC with my remote control, and to execute commands when I press special button combinations
  • XBMC Eden from the Team XBMC PPA; Aeon Nox skin, YouTube plugin, RTLnow plugin, …
  • NFS and Samba server for home network file sharing
  • Apache2, PHP5, MySQL, Tomcat6, and others for software development
  • TightVNC to access the desktop from my laptop or over then net for the user ‘binwiederda’ (second XFCE4 session)
  • Guacamole to access the machine via VNC from anywhere without a VNC client (HTML5-based VNC client)
  • Nagios to monitor the temperatures (with hddtemp and lm-sensors), disk space and load of the system and my other server
  • GateOne as a web-based SSH client, so I can easily administer the machine from anywhere (uses WebSockets)
  • rsnapshot backup scripts to back up the HTPC, my laptop and my other server regularly
  • Various crawler scripts of my own to automatically buy and download the TV shows I and my GF watch and put them in the right place (so that XBMC can find them)
  • mdadm for a software RAID1 of one partition: two 1TB partitions in RAID1 (=1TB) for backups (/dev/sd[ab]1) and two 2TB partitions for media storage (/dev/sd[ab]2, =4TB)

5. Issues

5.1. Hardware Acceleration

Even though the Intel VAAPI drivers are installed correctly, I cannot use VAAPI decoding in XBMC. It sometimes starts playing, sometimes it doesn’t even do that and just freezes completely. The logs show that it in fact does try to use VAAPI, but there are no error messages whatsoever when it freezes.

When I click the stop button on my remote control, XBMC completely freezes with the message in the logs “NOTICE: waiting for video thread to exit” (-> never happens).

HOWEVER, even though this is not cool, I am very confident that this is solvable.
–> MEANWHILE, XBMC works just as good (1080p movies + Aeon Nox) without any glitches

5.2. Other Issues

I had some other small issues that turned out to be easily fixed. Here are a few links to how I fixed them.

  • I had some trouble getting LIRC to work with my remote control, but I solved it using this awesome thread.
  • The YouTube plugin has a bug in the current version, but this thread helped me fix it.
  • Encrypted DVDs wouldn’t work, until I did what is described in this thread

6. Power Consumption, Temperatures, Noise

Power consumption and noise was a big deal right from the beginning. I chose each of the components based on what people and reviews said about their power consumption and their noise levels. Temperatures are rarely measured anywhere, but it goes hand in hand with the other two.

6.1. Power Consumption

The machine idles at 29W, and goes up to about 55W when it’s under heavy load (using some tool, can’t remember the name).

Component Idle Max
Mainboard/CPU 15W 70W
2xRAM 3.3W 6W
1xSSD 0.6W 3W
2xHDD 8W 10W
1xBD Drive 3W 5W
Total 30W 94W

Power consumption table
(some values are just guesses)

There are certainly systems that consume less power, but considering that it has 2×3 TB HDDs and an Intel HD4000 chip, the power consumption is pretty awesome. Here’s how: A CPU that has a low TDP (55W TDP), low voltage 1.35V RAM, an SSD and a low power HDDs.

Here is what I calculated beforehand (mostly taken from reviews, and partly guessed). Unfortunately, I have no idea if that is near the actual numbers, but at least the idle power consumption is correct (table on the right).

6.2. Temperatures

The idle CPU temperature is around 38-43°C, under heavy load it goes up to 55-60°C. Since I set the Nagios warning temperature to 60°C (3 days ago), it has not sent me a warning e-mail yet.

The HDD idle temperate is around 47°C for the HDD that’s over the mainboard, 43°C for the other one. The temperature hardly ever changes — it definitely does not fluctuate as much as the CPU temperature. Under heavy load from copying, it can go up to 49-50°C.

Update March ’13: Occasionally, the CPU temperature goes over 60°C now, but only when XBMC idles in the menu at 60 frames per second. It never ever happens in other situations.

I also did a bit more stress testing. When using aircrack-ng to crack Wifi passwords, the temperature reaches about 66°C after 5 minutes of 100% load in all four cores, and even goes as high as 71°C after 15 minutes of uninterrupted stress testing.

After stopping the stress test, the CPU temperature immediately falls back to 55°C, and then slowly sinks back to 50°C after 5 minutes, and to 46°C after 10 minutes.

6.3. Noise

Let me say it like this: When I turn off my heater, and close the door to the kitchen (fridge noise), and when I’m closer than 1.5m, I can hear something — like the sound of the ocean in a seashell. In short: It’s completely silent. My GF fell asleep next to it multiple times.

How it all came together. Thanks to everyone who helped advising me!

A. Appendix: Lots of Pictures

Now to the part everyone first scrolls down to. The pictures.

The FC10 with the Asus P8H77-M PRO, i3-3225 installed, but the heatpipes are still missing

Heatpipes installed successfully, lots of thermal paste is needed!!

Heatpipes closeup

Another heatpipe closeup

And the top view

With thermal paste

With the two HDDs and the heatpipes fully installed. All pictures from now on are actually about 10 days after I was using the machine with one HDD.

The CPU power connector cable is a bit short, but its long enough. It might get a bit warm because it’s squished between the RAM and the HDD. I don’t know if that’s bad for the cable …

The SATA ports, lots of cables


12V power extension to connect the external cable. The cable from the picoPSU to the external connector is too short

Power and LED pins: The mainboard power pins are not next to each other, so I wasn’t able to connect the power LED

Top view on the Bluray drive and the SSD. There’s room for 2 more SSDs left to it.

A SATA slim adapter is necessary to connect the Bluray drive

Front view (lid open)

Front view (lid closed)


  1. solmenda

    I have got the same case and motherboard. I’m a little worried about the heatpipes near the capacitors/components. The heatpipes could get about 60°C:

    I’m suspicious about the flat pipes too. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think they made it like this due to stylistic concepts. I would really like to make a cut of the flat pipe and see how does it look like inside.

    what do you think about it?

    In my opinion provides mCubed a better solution with the massive CPU cooling block and the flexible pipes (HFX 597 BorgFX). The CPU cooler block is about 4 cm above the motherboard, allowing gap between the pipes and the motherboard components. I think it could be the perfect solution for cases like FC10 supporting such diversity of motherboards (mITX, µ- and ATX).

  2. Philipp C. Heckel

    Of course I can only speak from my experience — but I wouldn’t worry too much about the max. temperatures. Unless you plan on using your HTPC to encode videos 24/7, it should never reach temperatures as high as that.

    As I said in the post, my CPU hardly gets over 50-60°C, so why should the heatpipes…

  3. mrVazil


    I have the same setup, and I was wondering if you experience audio drops on the HDMI out? I have random drops of about a second, doesn’t matter what program i’m using (firefox, vlc, xbmc, rythmbox). Can’t find a solution on the internet, so I thought of just asking other people with this config running ubuntu :)

  4. Philipp C. Heckel

    Sorry, I don’t have any drops on the audio, but I’m using the optical output channel, not HDMI. I use HDMI just for video, and my audio goes to my receiver.

    So audio settings are basically:
    – Audio output: Optical/Coax
    – Speaker configuration: 2.1
    – Boost volume: on
    – Dolby capable receiver: off
    – DTS capable receiver: off
    – Audio output device: Custom
    – Custom audio output device: iec958:CARD=PCH,DEV=0
    – Passthough output device: Custom
    – Custom passthough output device: iec958:CARD=PCH,DEV=0

    Note that ‘iec958:CARD=PCH,DEV=0’ is an option from ‘aplay -L’. There are also ways to check all the PCMs and play a test sound to see which one is working. Not sure how I did this though …

    To be honest, the optical output is also not 100% perfect, because it skips the first 100ms of sound when changing from totally quiet to some sound. For example, the first click of the menu sound is not audible. I don’t care that much about that clicking sound so I turned it off completely. Everything else is perfect. No random drops or everything.

    So I’d say simply buy an optical cable and you’re golden… Hope this helps a little.

  5. mrVazil

    thanks for the fast reply :)

    completely coincidence yes. I was looking for an HTPC and since a mate of mine recently got himself an amd a8 and had a lot of problems with ubuntu on that I decided I wanted an intel. I’ve always been a fan of asus boards and this one got good reviews so I picked it :)

    Unfortunately, I do not yet have an audio setup. My HIFI set is a 20 year old handdown, and although it sounds brilliantly, it has no opticals input, and not even a remote control. I will continue looking for a solution to this drop problem :)

  6. john

    What did you do for the IR Receiver? The FC10 doesn’t appear to come with one by default? Did yours?

  7. SaintGermain

    Hallo !

    I just started to build a HTPC based on a Mac Mini 2009 and with Debian as OS.
    It works quite well so far but I have trouble with the hard drive being always woken up by many processes (logging in particular).
    I have managed to solve many issues and now the hard-drive is more or less idle most of the time.

    I have many things to solve before this HTPC can be considered ready but the project is quite fun. Unfortunately there are not may HTPC linux users out there, so I feel a little lonely. :-(

    Do you know where I can share some tips about HTPC and linux ?
    Here ? ;-)

    And would you care to elaborate why you choose Ubuntu over Debian for a HTPC ?
    It may be interesting for me to switch to Ubuntu as well.

    Grüße !

  8. Philipp C. Heckel

    Hi, SaintGermain!

    Don’t feel lonely, we’re now two :-D

    I beliebe that the not-so-good graphics and sound support is probably the main reason for the smaller Linux community in the HTPC space. Getting everything to work just as you want it is — at least that’s what I read in the forums — a lot easier with Windows machines. Driver support is a lot better … Well, hm, just the usual arguments.

    You’re very welcome to post a guest post if you want to. Or you could just comment here if that’s enough space :-) As you wish. Just get in touch with me via mail.

    In fact, I think I’ll write up a few thoughts on my experiences with a Linux HTPC as well. I do have some How-Tos lying around anyway, in case I have to reinstall everything. Just give me a few days. I’ll post something here.

    Regarding your logging problem: If you have enough RAM, you could mount /var/log in ramfs, so the log-process wouldn’t have to write to the HDD.

    To the other question: I’ve always been an Ubuntu fan for my normal PCs. I use Debian for my virtual server though. They’re both great!

    Best regards

  9. SaintGermain

    I thought that it would be difficult at first (I remember my first times with linux a decade ago) and I was pleasantly suprised that almost everything worked after just a few little tweaks. But maybe those tweaks are not little for everybody ? ;-)

    About the logging, I have thought about the log in ram as well, but I have preferred to tackle the root problem first: if there is no error or any special events, then nothing should be written in the logs !
    I was quite surprised at the amount of verbosity of some softwares…

    I am a bit reluctant to post here as it is not the best way to share. A forum would have been better, but I have looked at some forum and they were either not interested in linux or in HTPC.

    I was under Ubuntu for a while as well, mainly for driver reasons. I was curious to see if there were other advantages as well for HTPC use.

    Cheers !

  10. Matt


    Does suggestions in the following thread fix the vaapi issue?

  11. Philipp C. Heckel

    Hi Matt, I still have the issue. I haven’t tried anything though because it works very well. I’ll check it out though. Let me know if/when you’re successful. Cheers Philipp

  12. Laurent

    Very interesting, I’m about to build the same kind of HTPC. One question though, since VAAPI seems to be an issue, do you manage to have proper deinterlacing with just the CPU ? That’s really an issue for me since I’m using my media center as PVR.

  13. Philipp C. Heckel

    @Laurent: I have no experience with the deinterlacing settings in XBMC — to be honest I just left it the way it was. As I understand, deinterlacing is only necessary for analog material in Live TV or so, and since I’m not using my HTPC with any analog material I cannot comment on that.

    If I can help any further, just let me know.

  14. Laurent

    Most countries are broadcasting digital TV interlaced too, not just analog (in France 1080i or 720i, depending on the channels). But if you don’t watch live TV or recorded programs, it’s not an issue for you indeed. Thanks anyway.

  15. Tom@MDS

    Nice to see other folks doing just this. I really liked this article. It’s too bad others don’t take the time to put their own together. I’ve put my own together but not on Ubuntu. Used RHEL clone SL instead here. Focused on transfer rates so got about 300MB/s read and write hooked up to a 1Gig/s network for 120MB/s transfers. Was surprised this could be done with a RAID6 software raid over XFS and shared through Samba / CIFS. Got this hooked up to my 42 inch through HDMI. Works out great. Was surprised it took really only 7 steps to setup the storage for that speed.

    HTPC / Backup NAS:


  16. T

    Hi there,

    Congrats, that looks like a very solid build for me!
    I’m in the process of replacing my desktop PC/NAS with a HTPC. As a long time Linux user, it should run on linux. I think your solution would very much fit my needs.

    Given that you built that machine a half a year ago, can you think of anything that you would do differently now?


  17. Philipp C. Heckel

    Interesting question. Has it already been half a year? Wow. How time flies …

    Half a year later, and I am still very very happy with my build. I would in fact not do anything differently. The build is running solid 24/7 in my living room. It’s completely silent and only consumes 30W. It runs an XFCE, Apache, MySQL, VNC server, Guacamole, Mediawiki, XBMC, GateOn, a samba server, mdadm / software RAID, a Nagios monitoring service in combination with my WhatsApp notifier scripts, various download-scripts to automatically download podcasts and so on. I use it to develop web sites and test out my hacks (mitmproxy, DNSmasq DNS spoofing, sslsplit, etc.). I can control it with mouse and keyboard, can run scripts with my remote control via LIRC (kill or restart XBMC), control XBMC with the remote, connect to the device via VNC (native client) or via the Guacamole web client. Awesome stuff.

    The only thing that still does not work is VAAPI (hardware acceleration) in XBMC. This does not bother me at all because I believe that it’s fixable by upgrading to the newest XBMC version. I still use XBMC Eden from the repos. Again: It’s not a big deal because it plays 1080p flawlessly…

    A friend of mine is currently planning to build his own HTPC and as I already told him to simply take my build. Still happy, still awesome!

  18. Juanjo

    Hi Phillip.. Great article, i just built a lower profile one, with a g1610 celeron, running it fanless with stock cooler.. anyways, wanted to recommend you uninstall any drivers you had installed and run the installer from intel open source website @

    i am running minimal ubuntu 13.04, xbmc 13 monthly build, with those drivers installed and vaapi works perfect, even HW deinterlacing works excelent!


  19. htpcnas

    Hiya Philipp,

    I’ve posted a reply to your topic on xbmc forum and was hoping you could help me?


  20. Fazek


    Your HTPC is very inspirational :) I am thinking of a similar build, however, I cannot seem to figure out whether a ZOTAC
    Z68-ITX WiFi – Mini-ITX ( would fit the FC10. Based on the system build guide ( it would seem that it wouldn’t? But I’d just like to know how to check for sure because right now I just can’t be certain.

    I would really like a motherboard with 2 Ethernet ports and WiFi also though.


  21. Philipp C. Heckel

    What I did was I took the pictures of the motherboard and the case and “measured” if it would fit by placing them over one another in the GIMP (or any other graphics program). If you make sure that the scale is the same for both pictures, this is a quite food way to do it.

    And if you’re unsure, you can ask Streacom, they have a really good and fast-answering support team.

  22. Fazek

    Hi Philipp!

    I am almost at the final stage in figuring out what parts I want for my HTPC… But I am curious about the PicoPSU part, though. Your reference is inactice, but I’ve found this: Do you think this would also work? I just don’t really know anything about these kinds of PSU-s or what to look for in them. Appreciate the help :)


  23. Kamil Kolo

    Very well made tutorial and choice of HW parts. I like it and I am going to build HTPC using the same Case.

    However I diceded to inovate it by following HW:
    1) MB: ASUS B75M-A LGA 1155 – cheeper than P8H77

    2) CPU: i3-3245 (same TDP, better performance)

    Could You please answer my question… Is it possible to put standard Optical drive into this case? I know there is no hole in front panel for it, but I am going to curve bigger hole (little bit DYI thing :-) ). I would just like to know if there will be enough space for the standard drive (5,25) inside of the Case.

    If I curved larger hole into the matal front panel, do You think it would be possible to put the standard-size drive into the case on the position for slim drive? (I cannot gues the space between MB and the roof of the case).

    Thank You

  24. Philipp C. Heckel

    Hi Kamil,

    I’m glad you like the build. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is no room for a standard drive. The reason is the “rack” to hold the HDDs. As you can see in this image, the disk drive just lays on this rack, and so do the HDDs. If you were to cut a slot in the front of the case, you’d have to do the same with that rack. And then you’d have no place to put the disk drive on.


  25. Kamil Kolo

    Hi Philipp,
    Thank You for Your quick answer, the need of slim drive is horrible. Slim drives are more expencive and they are not so fast as standard drives… Even the external USB Blue-Ray drives are cheaper and faster than the slim one. Unfortunately, I dont suppose Streacom will make any fanless case for standard drives, so I will have to adapt :-( I think I will start with the other HW first and buy Blue-Ray drive subsequently as last HW part.

    Do You think the i3-3225 or i3-3245 CPU with inside-builded 4000 HD GPU will be sufficient to watch movies on 2560 x 1440 LCD (via DisplayPort) or do You recommend to use “only” FullHD LCDs monitors (1920 x 1080 pixels) ?

    Thanks again ;-)

  26. Philipp C. Heckel

    Not sure about the i3-3245. I am pretty happy with the i3-3225, but I haven’t played anything better than 1080p. It plays 1080p like a charm, but mostly I watch 720p anyhow as I hardly see a difference (shame on me, I know)…

    Sorry if those aren’t the answers you’re looking for. But I’d rather not give any advice I cannot deliver on …

  27. Kamil

    I have found another problem while building my htpc. I am going to use 150W PSU, I can calculate my HW power consumption, however how to count the motherboard consumption? What is the average MB power consumption? How did you count it? CPU (i5-4570S) is max 65W, other HW without MB could be max 30W. This means Only 55W remaining for motherboard. Is it enough?

  28. Thierry

    Kamil, maybe 30-40W for the motherboard and fans.

    Thanks PHilipp for your info on about the picoPSU.
    Are you still satisfied of that model? No buzzing noise from the AC adapter?

  29. Max

    Hi Philipp, I am replacing my ancient and much too noisy HTPC/NAS with something totally silent. I was looking into the Streacom cases and ran into your very nice build story. I plan to run it on windows 7 since we have a lot of windows laptops around the house. The HDMI will feed via Sony ST7 to my Epson 1080p 3D projector. Apart from minimal power consumption my key requirement
    is 3D bluray ISO playback. Does your i3 / HD4000 support this?
    Thanks, Max

  30. Marvin

    Hi Philipp,

    even tough the original post is over 2.5 years old I really liked reading it and the built seems still to be a good choice! I’m currently looking for a similar setup, but only with the slimmer FC5 Case – too bad that the streacom cases are so expensive, but on the other hand they enable the possibility to build such nice systems. Especially with todays Haswell CPUs and Motherboards which are powered by an external power brick (e.g. Penitum G3460T + ASRock H81TM-ITX ). Hopefully I can share my experience until the end of the year :-)


  31. Philipp C. Heckel

    Hi Marvin,

    I’d definitely like to hear your experiences. I’m super happy with my HTPC, it’s been running for 22522 hours and it still works like a charm.


  32. Nick Kromme

    Hi Philip,

    Although this post has aged horribly (according to the internet standard, anyway), I’d like to advise Conky as a system monitor, it has _every-thing_ you could imagine in a sysmonitor.

    Besides that, nice blogpost man, my compliments.