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More RAM vs better CPU - Home media server

Last response: in Networking
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May 23, 2014 6:44:39 AM

Hi guys, I've got a (legitimate) copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2 desktops, they're very low spec but its only for domestic use, I plan to store media on there such as music and films, but I also want it aas our house's backup solution.

So these are my builds, I know there're weak, but I'll upgrade the better one in time :) 

So my first build is a single core AMD @ 1.8GHz with 1.75GB RAM
My second build is a dual core Intel @ 2GHz with only 1.25GB RAM

I do also have 3rd build with a RAID controller, however it will have the Intel CPU and RAM.

I have 2 x 300GB SATA HDDs @ 10,000rpm, which I could RAID into mirrored as i like to be safe with data, but they are brand new so I can see them during on me yet haha.

So which build would you suggest? I don't think I'll be setting up a RAID arry any time soon so I guess we can count that out for now.

Cheers guys
May 23, 2014 6:51:01 AM

An i3 and 4gb of ram could reduce lag for your media server.
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May 23, 2014 6:52:37 AM

2nd build would be better to be honest mate. It's much cheaper and easier to upgrade RAM anyway and the performance boost from a Dual Core Intel over an AMD single core I'd take any day over 512mb of RAM.
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May 23, 2014 7:08:26 AM

plaintuts said:
An i3 and 4gb of ram could reduce lag for your media server.

An i3 would be total overkill for a file server. Even a 2GHz Core2Duo would still be much faster than necessary to keep a 1Gbps LAN port busy as long as the HDD(s) are fast enough.

RAM-wise, it really depends on usage patterns. If it is mostly media streaming, more RAM for cache won't help much since most content probably will not get re-streamed any time soon and the HDD(s) should be able to keep up fairly easily unless there are several concurrent users. Even then, each user does not need more than a few MBs of read-ahead buffer space on the server so ~1.5GB RAM for media streaming would probably be good enough.

If OP wanted to build new or buy used, 4GB would make sense as cheap insurance if he did not mind spending $40-50 on that... but OP wants to re-use a PC from 6-8 years ago as-is so spending anything probably is not on his menu.
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May 23, 2014 7:10:42 AM

JimmoR3M said:
2nd build would be better to be honest mate. It's much cheaper and easier to upgrade RAM anyway and the performance boost from a Dual Core Intel over an AMD single core I'd take any day over 512mb of RAM.

That depends on whether we are talking about a Netburst dual-thread, Netburst dual-core or Core2.

If the pick is between Netburst (P4/Pentium-D) and AMD, AMD would be the better choice.
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June 16, 2014 7:59:50 AM

For a home backup server and storage server you need lots of storage first.
Second build would be better you won't need much ram and a faster processor is better for this situation.
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June 17, 2014 11:59:29 AM

Buy an old mid-2000's era PC and puts lots of storage on it. File servers don't need beefy processors. Your RAM is more important that your processor, but only marginally. Your storage space is the most concern. It takes very little processing power to move files over a network, and very little RAM.
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June 24, 2014 6:18:58 PM

I have 2 300GB SATA HDDs that run at 10,000RPM, so faster than the normal 7,200RPM although I've never benchmarked them so whether R/W and access speeds significantly increase I don't know, but I have found another site that has benchmark details for the drives http://hdd.userbenchmark.com/SpeedTest/1307/WDC-WD3000H...
Should be good enough drives, right? :) 
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