Building a new home Linux server

To my great regret, my home Linux server, built in 2005, finally failed. Now I need to build a new one, ASAP. While I'm at it I'm going to upgrade its storage capacity.

The server is on 24x7x365 and is used primarily for:
  • Software RAID 5 storage array, particularly music and movies
  • Samba server for my gigabit network (~3 clients)
  • A couple daemons such as a BitTorrent client; i.e. nothing extremely CPU nor RAM intensive

Other occasional uses:
  • Running a Linux VM or three
  • Batch transcoding and processing of audio and video files
  • Collecting video from security cameras and batch transcoding it

The most important things to me in a new server are:
  • Linux compatibility: I want the hardware to be fully supported by the mainline kernel, and preferably also the RHEL 6 kernel. I strongly prefer not to depend on third-party kernel modules and binary modules are out of the question. I most likely will not depend on any SATA or network chipsets made by Promise, Broadcom, or NVIDIA, and Marvell might even be iffy. I have a relatively good track record with Intel products under Linux.
  • Fast I/O: I want to wait for I/O as little as reasonably possible, whether locally or over the network. Obviously I don't need a 15k SAS RAID 10 array, but on the other extreme a single spindle will not cut it.
  • At least 7 TB of storage.
  • Value: I don't want a "cheap" build but I also don't want to waste money. I'd like to keep this server for the next seven years.
  • Noise: This server will be in our office with us. We've become accustomed to the noise from the old server (~5 case fans, PSU, Intel CPU cooler), and anything significantly louder is unacceptable. Quieter is better, of course.

Reliability is also important to me, as I've got beloved data on this server. I keep backups and I have the server on a UPS, but I'm currently thinking I'm going to buy backup parts for at least some of this build: doubles of at least motherboard and any extra controllers I need, and a spare disk on hand for the arrays. (I hope CPUs fail as infrequently as I think they do, after they've survived their first months.)

What I'm currently thinking of is:

Lian Li PC-V2100 case (already owned)

Corsair HX750 PSU (just bought, can return but inclined to keep it)

Supermicro X9SCL-F motherboard (or X9SCM-F if I decide I want the extra PCIe)

Xeon E3-1230

2x8 GB DDR3 PC3-12800 ECC DRAM

IBM M1015 PCIe SAS HBA (probably off eBay?)

2x 80 GB SATA Seagate Barracudas in RAID 1 for the OS (already owned)

5x Seagate Barracuda 2 TB SATA disks in RAID 5 for data

As soon as I configured a Xeon, though, I started wondering if I might be over-buying for my needs, especially considering that I've been using a Pentium D and 8 GB of RAM up until last week.

My question for you all is: given my needs, what would you recommend for my replacement server? Or do you see obvious improvements to my above list? Build or buy, I don't care--I'm not above buying something from Dell or eBay so long as it meets my needs. All suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you!
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  1. Thinking about going way in the other direction, could I get away with this? Real-time transcoding is probably out, but I can't believe it wouldn't be 2x faster or more than the seven year old server it's replacing.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Celeron G1610 2.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($34.99 @ Microcenter)
    Motherboard: Intel DH61BEB3 Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($66.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($66.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $168.97
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-05-06 03:20 EDT-0400)

    Throw that in my Lian Li ATX case, add in an LSI HBA in the x16 slot?

    Should my 24x7 file server have ECC memory? Looks like maybe $20 more.

    Is there a better motherboard with an Intel NIC, maybe a motherboard that'll accept 16 GB or more?
  2. I will definitely not use such a powerful processor as Xeon for such simple needs. Even the Celeron processing power would not be used, but I guess it is the best option you can choose now.

    If you could wait a bit, there are AMD Kabini processors coming in a month or two, which would do everything you need using about 15W of power.

    This 750W PSU is an absolute overkill, as even with 7 hard drives your server won't use more than 150W of power (maybe closer to 200W if you ll go with the Xeon).
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