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Home server build sugestions plz

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July 10, 2007 10:05:47 AM

I'm want to build a server for lets say 500$ that is ultra quiet and energy efficient.

1. The computer will be running 24/7.
2. The motherboard considering the low energy has to have a integrated graphics card.
3. It will run torrents at all time and work as an FTP and so on and so on.
4. It has to be able to run a 10/10 connection without the system lagging.
5. I live in a very small apartment so the computer system will be in the same room so it has to be very quiet.
6. The system has to be able to have 4 sata minimum, preferred 6 sata

This is what I'm considering at the moment

1 Antec p180
2a Zalman ZM600-HP 600W for a 6 sata build
2b Corsair CMPSU-520HXEU 520W or Antec Phantom 500W for a 4sata bild
3a Intel G33 maybe a Intel DG33TLM 6 sata
3b Asus M2A-VM HDMI 4 sata
4a Intel e2xxx (low energy series)
4b amd AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ 1,9GHz Box or the new BE 2xxx low energy series

I havent consider ram but i will with 99% probability run a xp system or ubuntu

I would like to hear your opinion on a server build or what you would recommend.

Oh yes i know a amd build is a lot cheeper, but i want the most stable system.
July 11, 2007 11:57:09 PM

oh come one somebody has to have one small opinion
July 12, 2007 1:08:00 PM

I'd recommend a unit with a decent uATX board based on the G33 or AMD 690 chipset and either a Celeron 400 single core or an Athlon 64 BE series dual-core. Both are inexpensive and more than up to the task. If you want to do RAID, get an external PCIe controller- onboard is less than stellar at that.

More to follow later (I only have a second to post here right now.) Hang in there.
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July 12, 2007 1:58:58 PM

You are totally looking the wrong way for a quiet and cheap energy efficient system.

Buy a cheap branded system, something like a Dell Vostro, and add disks to that. It will be warrantied, it will be quiet, it will not draw much power.
July 12, 2007 2:09:22 PM

AMD cpus are stable, I wouldnt worry about that. but I dont know which AMD board with integrated graphics has 6 SATA.

what hard drives do you plan to put in there? any raid arrays?

P180 should be a good case for something like that. I dont know how spacious it is, I assume its pretty big, and it has decent cooling and very good acoustics so I hear. very heavy though.
July 12, 2007 2:50:05 PM

I wouldn't worry about "stability".

either way you look at it (Intel vs. AMD) it will be a stable system. I would reccomend going with and AMD build because it's cheaper, may get to splurge a bit on motherboard options.
July 12, 2007 3:19:39 PM

Hi genored,

I've built a couple of home servers and have learned a fair amount in this area of computing.

Your first need is to have a system that will be running 24/7, thus mixing in your third need - a torrent app server, FTP app server, and I suspect probably some sort of backup solution too. Windows is ok if you are a novice for this sort of build, just be aware that using Windows XP is a desktop OS, compared to say, Windows Server, so it has a fair amount of overhead that will chew up resources. But, if you want to expand your knowledge of computing overall (and don't mind the performance hit when transferring data from one OS to another), ubuntu server linux is certainly the more challenging, and imo, more rewarding path to take. It uses less resource overhead, does need some time to tweak and set up correctly (as will Windows) and securely. But, once you set it up correctly (aka sshd), you just need to login inot it via an ssh client.


I saw that your second mention is to use a board/CPU that uses low energy. Have you given any consideration to mini-itx boards? CPU Speed is not what you need, if you want to use little amount of energy as possible AND keep it quiet. there are a lot of out-of-the-box fanless configurations out there under mini-itx and don't require large PSUs.

Buying a 'branded' system kind of defeats the point of this project, from what I gather you want to build it, rather than just buy pre-made.

A Linux / mini-itx board server will take care of your fourth need. The NIC is on-board on those boards and linux runs something called daemons in the background 24/7 and the box rarely, if ever, needs to be re-booted if you upgrade a package.

I recommend not worrying about the # of SATA ports on the board nad get yourself a proper RAID card, PCI-E is preferred (although those aren't cheap), but PCI will do. If you don't mind having a 'quasi-'RAID system, an el cheapo RAID card will work, say from Promise. Promise aren't the nicest cards support wise, but there are solutions if you seek them out. Just remember to have one, small drive for the OS and keep the RAID drives just for storage.

Since this system MUST be quiet, I would invest a bit of money in ensuring you get large heatsinks / fanless components, aka fanless PSU, fanless CPU cooler, etc. I would, at most, use one 80mm case fan for exhaust, running off of the 5V rail. You can move more air if it runs on a 12V rail, but that means the rpm is higher, and thus, so will will the noise level. Again, a mini-itx board is designed for low power output. So the CPU won't be 2GHz+ at say 800MHz FSB, but then again, you aren't gaming or running SETi on this box, right?

If you pay for your utilities in the apt, I would also look at drives that use as little power as possible, aka laptop HDDs. They may be a bit more money, but you can source out 5400rpm drives. You may be able to make a several hundred GB RAID, but you may end up dropping more money than may have to reach TB sized RAID. With the set up I mentioned earlier, one drive for the Os, others for storage, what you could do is use a CF card (1GB or larger) for booting and running the OS. It will use a lot less power than another drive in the box, and won't require another (read: noisy) fan to keep them all cool.

I know I am coming off as a mini-itx fanboy, but for your needs, I see it as a better option over Intel/AMD for price/performance/noise output.

Don't limit yourself to just the Big Two, explore ALL your options. Hell, you may be even able to get away with tricking up a router with a USB port for external drives and modify its firmware for those apps and save yourself a ton of money!

http://www.DD-WRT.com comes to mind as well as http://www.nslu2-linux.org/ - a device that adapts USB to ethernet whose firmware has been modded to do what you are looking for.

I hope you explore and price out what you feel is best for you - 'cuz knowing is half the battle!

:D 
July 12, 2007 3:34:06 PM

Okay, here's the rest.

1. CPU: The CPU does not need to be very powerful at all. Aim for one that runs cool over one that is very fast. I'd recommend a 45-watt Athlon 64 X2 BE series as they are very efficient and inexpensive. Second would be a Celeron 400 series as they are about as cheap and cool as the X2s are. The X2s are better chips than the Celerons are, but either would serve you just fine and work with normal, inexpensive motherboards. A mobile-on-desktop setup with a Core Duo/Solo or Core 2 Duo mobile chips would be cooler and consume somewhat less energy, but the cost is far greater than the X2 BE/Celeron 400 setups would cost as they use Socket M motherboards, which are pretty rare.

2. Motherboard: Pick a motherboard with an IGP and a PCIe x4 or x16 slot. The ASUS M2A-VM with its AMD 690G chipset would fit the bill very well for a Socket AM2 setup and most of these are $60-70. The Intel G33 units are nice as well, but start at $100. A G965-based board is about $10 cheaper. I'd probably shoot for a board based on the 945GC or GZ instead of the newer ones as the 945G boards are $60-ish rather than closer to $100. A Celeron 400 or low-end Pentium Dual Core/Core 2 Duo E4000 being run as a file server will run equally as well on the 945 boards as they will on a G965 or G33. Do not worry about how many SATA ports it has; you'll only need two at most on the motherboard itself.

3. RAM: 1 GB should be sufficient: 2x512 MB DDR2-800 for the Athlon 64 X2 or 2x512 MB DDR2-533 for the Intel chips if you use a 945 chipset, 1x1 GB DDR2-800 if you use a 965/G33 chipset.

4. Optical drive: You'll probably want one unless you plan to netboot the machine to install the OS. That's doable, I have done it, but it's kind of a PITA with an optical drive being $30 these days. Get an SATA one if you can, especially if you are running an Intel 965 or G33-based board.

5. Disks: You will want to have one SATA HDD for your OS and then several for your data. Your data should go on a RAID 5 or RAID 10, and that means 3, 4, 5, or more disks for the RAID 5 and 4, 6, 8+ disks for the RAID 10. The RAID 5 gives you the the sum of the capacities of the HDDs minus one HDD for your data storage, while a RAID 10 gives you half of the total capacities as data storage. RAID 5 has read speeds of the sum of the read speeds of all the HDDs minus one HDD and write speeds similar to a single HDD while RAID 10 has read and write speeds of the sum of the read or write speeds of half of the HDDs. If you don't need fast writes, go with RAID 5 over RAID 10.

You will very much want to run your RAID HDDs from an external controller rather than onboard SATA ports. The best onboard SATA controller- the Intel ICH9 series in the 30-series boards- will handle a 4-disk RAID 10 okay but bottlenecks RAID 5 performance. Other chipsets are even worse- my NForce 4 reduced by RAID 5's performance to 20 MB/sec write, 70 MB/sec reads where it should have been ~60 MB/sec write, 120-130 MB/sec reads. This is not due to the BIOS RAID configuration but that the SATA controller can't handle that much data at one time. Add-in cards that run off the PCI Express bus have much more bandwidth to work with and will gladly handle the load. If you run Windows, you'll probably want to get a hardware PCIe x4 or x8 SATA RAID card like an Areca, Intel, or 3ware unit. These generally cost $300-500 for 4 and 8-port units. If you run Linux, buy a less-expensive PCIe x4 or x8 SATA controller card without the hardware functionality such as HighPoint's RocketRAID 2300 series and use Linux md RAID to control the disk array. This provides excellent performance due to the massive bandwidth the SATA card has on the PCIe bus and the computer is far more than powerful enough to handle a RAID 5 or 10 on its own without the card helping out. Windows doesn't have RAID 5 in software- only 0 and 1, so you'd have to use a hardware card to get that functionality and have decent performance.

6. PSU: You'll not need a massive unit at all as the CPU and motherboard consume very little power. HDDs consume roughly 15 watts each and figure 30 for the optical drive. A good 380 to 400 W unit from a reputable manufacturer should provide enough power. Get one of the high-efficiency ones as they run cooler and the high-efficiency ones also tend to be of better quality.

7. Case: You just need one with enough HDD bays and good ventilation.

There, I hope that helps.
!