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Low power / high efficiency server build

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October 10, 2008 10:24:12 PM

I'm looking to build an high-efficiency / low-power (read: cheap to leave on 24/7!) Windows server to run at home, and access both at home and externally. I want to use it for:

- torrenting
- media storage / streaming.
- software development (including running SQL Server for testing purposes)

I haven't quite decided where on the efficiency/performance scale I want to aim for - I was hoping someone could educate me on a potential setup that would cater for both! Obviously it needs to be performant enough to handle the above. I've looked into the Intel Atom processor, but have read that the chipset on the supported motherboards let it down.

TBH, most of you will probably know better than me on what I should be going for so... any advice?

Thanks.
October 10, 2008 11:46:00 PM

Just look at the build THG put together on the Front Page.

35w Idle and 60w Load.
The E7200 is quite a powerful CPU at stock for its low power.

If you wanted an HTPC Server, I would recommend an AMD build since their integrated is much better, especially for media purposes. But is looking for something that may need CPU powre, the Intel build edges ahead.
October 11, 2008 4:47:03 PM

Interesting review. I think a high-efficiency system, as opposed to low-power may be exactly what I'm after.

Still, I'm interested in trying to drive the power usage (particularly when idle, as it may often be) to the absolute minimum. Are there any other hardware components that may have out-performed the test setup used in that review?

Are there any other components (notably hard disks, memory) that are geared towards high efficiency that I should be looking into?

Thanks for your reply.
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October 12, 2008 3:23:08 PM

Okay, I'm thinking of building a system based on that comparison. So far, I'm thinking:

Processor: Intel E7200
Motherboard: Foxconn G31MG-S
Hard disks: 1x 250GB (Hitachi Deskstar P7K500), 1x 500GB (Western Digital Caviar GP)
Memory: DDR2-800, 2 or 4GB
PSU: Fortron FSP220
DVD Drive: None (I have a USB one which I can use when required, which I don't imagine will be very often)
GPU: None

How is this looking so far?

I chose the hard disks based on a separate review, and opted for two in order to keeps programs and files/media separate as I tend to do.

I've not decided on a memory brand yet - are there any particular brands which are more efficient than others?

Also, the PSU isn't set in stone. Although the review mentioned that it was ideal for the build, I've had difficulty finding many online retailers selling them, which leads me to believe that it may have been succeeded. Given this build, which again I want to be as power efficient as possible, are there any others that may serve this purpose better?

Thanks again.
October 13, 2008 9:53:30 PM

Okay, this doesn't seem to be going very far... :p 

Can someone at least point me in the direction of a good, low-power PSU which will support two SATA drives? Thanks. :) 
October 14, 2008 1:49:56 AM

Why 2 HDDs?

I would just use the 1 500GB GP drive if you want low power.
The Corsair 450w is a good PSU.
If you shop deals, The Antec Case/CPU combo with a 380w PSU is a very good deal. That is what I bought for my last home server, but mine is a bit beefier with a q6600.
October 14, 2008 9:48:42 AM

TBH, I only opted for two hard disks because that how I always tend to build PCs - one HDD for the operating system and program, and another for media and other files. Will two HDDs really have much of an impact on the power comsumption of the system?

In respect to PSUs, I've read that the overall efficiency of low-power systems (such as this one) will reduce if the wattage is high. Is this not also the case if I go for a 380W or 450W PSU as you suggested?

Also, does the Antec/PSU combo you mentioned have a power connector for any SATA drives? If so, how many?

Many thanks for your reply. :) 
!