New to PC building, looking for some advice

Hey everyone! I believe this is the right section for this post, but if I’m incorrect I’d be happy to take it down and redirect my attention to the appropriate section so as not to clog up the board.

Last year, I built my first-ever PC, and the experience was incredibly rewarding and one of my proudest moments. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it, but after a few months of research, saving up, and a bit of trial and error, I was able to pull it off! I’m posting here because, since then, I’ve been wanting to attempt another build: a personal media server that I hope can accomplish a few things:

  1. Run a Plex server that can reliably transcode/stream 4K/1080p content to my television over ethernet (would love to share the Plex server with friends/family, but I think it might be out of my price range and network environment right now with a 20Mb/s upload).
  2. Run a YACReader (or comparable service) server through Docker to store my comics for easy access/readability on multiple devices.
  3. Seed torrents for 10 days after download as a replacement for my current seedbox.
  4. Do all of the above in a small form factor that makes as little noise as possible.

I’m writing here because I’m incredibly overwhelmed. Every time I try to embark on the same research journey I did to build my first computer, I feel like I’m jumping headfirst into a tidal wave and getting spit back out onto shore. I’ve managed to wrap my head around some of the basic concepts (UnRAID for OS, Docker for different programs, NAS Killer 6.0 as a starting point for putting a build together), but I’m having a super hard time figuring out what to do and how to do it.

Are there any guides you can recommend that are meant specifically for visual learners? Are there any that assume you barely know how Wi-Fi works and get you up to speed from there? Is my theoretical NAS build out of the realm of possibility for a gal in her mid-20s with ADHD living in an apartment with subpar Spectrum speeds? Please let me know! This forum has been super helpful so far (as hard of a time as I’m having figuring things out), and I hope everyone is having a happy holiday! I’d really rather not shell out for an off-the-shelf NAS that seems to be massively underpowered compared to what I could build. And hopefully, with your help, I won’t have to!

First let me take the time to welcome you to the board. As you’ve seen there is a ton of excellent resources here. As someone with ADHD myself I know you can do it. You are taking all the right steps in researching vigorously. Hopefully someone else can chime in on the unraid and transcode portion of your build as I do not have much experience in those areas. NAS Killer 6.0 is an excellent starting point. I personally would look at the supermicro boards more than any others. Supermicro has a long-standing history of making excellent long-lasting reliable products. ECC memory support while not necessary is a added benefit for several reasons. ECC memory is typically cheaper than standard consumer DDR4 as it is often pulled from working servers when server farms upgrade. Your spectrum connection should not be an issue for your general use case serving two friends and family maybe a more difficult task but your home needs it is no issue. Your first step truly is to select a motherboard that meets your needs. Then find a case that suits your needs and supports the form factor of your board. If you don’t mind me asking what is your proposed budget for your build?. One of the great things about building one of these is the CPU price and additional RAM price will drop in the coming years allowing you to upgrade cheaply in the future.

Good choice on unRaid - Been running it for over 10 years now and it is great and always getting better. I personally run AMD with a old Nvidia Quadro P400 card for transcoding that has served me well. I like that I can keep upgrading CPUs without changing the mother board. I would also get a mid tower case with good amount of drive bays that uses a ATX size MB as you may want to have more video cards for VMs at some point. Also full size components are more abundant and less expensive.

Thanks so much for the detailed reply, and starting from the motherboard and working my way through the components seems like a great plan (exactly how I built my PC, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that this would work the same way). As for your question, my proposed budget is a vague “cheaper than a pre-built NAS.” I know that’s not exactly helpful, but I suppose I’m looking in the $300-500 range altogether, depending on whether or not I can make the whole thing all-in-one or if I’d need an external transcoding solution. As long as the cost ends up being cheaper than a Synology or QNAP, I can justify the effort of researching and building in my mind. Otherwise, I might as well just take the easy road, you know? Hope that makes sense.