Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

Suggestions for low power home server

Last response: in Systems
Share
December 28, 2009 2:58:25 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Any time in the next few months (but would like it now :D  )

BUDGET RANGE: < $200 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
- File server (Gigabit required)
- Confluence wiki (2 GHz single core CPU and 512MB memory required - I think I could get by with a dual core atom)
- Nagios
- General purpose linux box
- Possible DVR in future
- Possible webserver in future

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
- keyboard
- mouse
- monitor
- speakers
- memory
- power supply (maybe, I currently have an Earthwatts 430 but not sure how efficient it is at low wattage)
- case (maybe, I have an Antec case - I think it is an NSK440)
- hard drive

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS:
- Amazon.com (have gift certificate)
- Newegg.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm leaning toward an Atom 330

OVERCLOCKING: probably not

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: n/a - headless

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
Overall I want it to be low power usage (under 50W full load, less idle), but be able to handle several different tasks. I looked at getting a sheevaplug initially, but that just doesn't have the horsepower to run something like Confluence. I'm leaning toward running Ubuntu Server for the OS.

Does anyone have any suggestions for components to get?

I know intel is coming out with the new version of the atom very soon that is going to use a lot less power, and AMD looks like they'll have a contender shortly as well. I don't need the server right away, would it be worthwhile to wait and see what comes out in the coming months?
December 29, 2009 8:20:08 PM

What kind of memory do you have? DDR2?

Atom per se runs on 8W, but the problem is the majority of Atom-based mobos use the power-hogging Intel 945GC chipset. At least 20-25W. The Ion is the chipset to go for, but it's new to the market and more expensive.

http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=35641

Also, your case & PSU may be incompatible with mini-ITX. Say, you buy a mini-ITX case, but it NEVER EVER uses ATX PSU. Catch 22. A mini-ITX case with PSU is about $50+. Plus, mobo + cpu combo $100.

Originally, I had thought of going mini-ITX for my home server, but decided against it due to cost. The majority of the cases can't hold more than 2 hard drives. The ones that can't are ripoffs. Also, there's a heat issue with Atom on some mobos. Basically, it overheats if not cooled well and shuts down or dies off. The tiny 40mm cpu fan is ear-piercing. In the end, I went with mATX + AMD. Have never been happier. It's cheap & available. My server cost less than $200 excluding storage. I got all the expandability - PCI-E & PCI. The mini-ITX mobos have at most 1 PCI slot.

Atom for me is only good for light web browsing and router. Even then, it can't handle smooth full-screen HD video playback without Ion.
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 1:20:54 PM

Yes, I have DDR2 memory.

Interesting, I didn't know that you couldn't use ATX power supplies with mini-ITX motherboards. Are there any adapters that I could buy?

Can you give me some more details on your AMD system? If possible, I'd also like to know the idle and full load power consumption.

Thanks for your help
m
0
l
Related resources
December 30, 2009 1:22:49 PM

By the way, noise isn't an issue for me as this system will be in a closet in a seldom used room.
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 9:37:48 PM

I'm thinking about potentially using the new Intel D510MO motherboard, which is the new generation of atom processors. It uses a little less power than ION and seems to perform better at non-video intensive tasks.

How long does it usually take for motherboards to end up on Amazon? Since it is new, is it likely that the Linux support will be poor?

Info on intel's site:
http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/D510...
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 10:23:10 PM

Based on netbooks i've played around with, I would be surprised if the onboard video + Atom would work well as a DVR. If you happen to get a giant video card, it's probably a different story, though in that case, why not just get micro/mini-ATX and go with a beefier (but older, for cost) processor?

I'm assuming this is a low-traffic webserver primarily for home/friends, and not something that's going to see 10+ simultaneous users. That would be a warning sign for me as well, you might want to go bigger than an Atom.
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 10:45:48 PM

Given your limited budget I would go with this:
http://lifehacker.com/5391308/build-a-silent-standalone...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It would make a terrible DVR but a pretty decent front-end to a DVR.

If you're going to go low-end linux then you don't have that many choices, all Nvidia: 9300 or 9400 or ION or an inexpensive discrete card like the gt 220. Hardware acceleration is supported well on them. Linux currently has some problems with AMD video, and Intel's graphics are weak compared to Nvidia's.

An atom processor would not work as a back-end DVR unless it had a hardware tuner/encoder, and even then it would probably drop frames. And until the Adobe flash 10.1 driver is released the Atom will have problems with Flash.
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 11:24:45 PM

Thanks for the advice, especially regarding DVR stuff.

The DVR thing is more of a someday/maybe type of thing than an absolute, so I'd like to avoid making drastic (or expensive) changes to support that, especially ones that will require me to make major compromises with it's primary uses.

The #1 use for this box will be a fileserver and Confluence, the others are really just nice-to-haves. If I went with the XBMC setup above, I wouldn't be able to fit any addtional storage in the case, which would require me to use external drives, undermining the low power aspect.

I realize that the intel cpu/board that I cited above only has 2 sata connections, but it also has a PCI card with which I could add more. I could also use my current case and power supply, which can also support many internal drives.

So far I'm still looking at the Intel setup above, and I'll keep the DVR aspect on the back burner.

How soon does it normally take Amazon to get motherboards in? I'd really like to use my gift certificate to buy the setup.

Thanks again everyone
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 11:34:23 PM

my cart
--
quantity of item 1


MSI 785GTM-E45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

MSI 785GTM-E45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813130237
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$10.00 Instant


$69.99
$59.99

select item 2 quantity of item 2


AMD Sempron 140 Sargas 2.7GHz Socket AM3 45W Single-Core Processor Model SDX140HBGQBOX

AMD Sempron 140 Sargas 2.7GHz Socket AM3 45W Single-Core Processor Model SDX140HBGQBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103698
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy



$35.99

Subtotal: $95.98
--
You got DDR2, ATX case & ATX PSU. Reuse 'em. It's true that Linux has issues with AMD GPU/IGP in that the full-screen HD playback may be choppy. I believe it has to do with the media players. Linux does have ATI drivers. If you must have smooth playback, you need a GPU + mobo:

GIGABYTE GA-MA770-UD3 AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
$74.99

Any nvidia GPU is fine.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 11:40:12 PM

Sorry, I don't know the answer to your Amazon question.
m
0
l
December 30, 2009 11:54:53 PM

p55ibexpeak said:
my cart
--
quantity of item 1


MSI 785GTM-E45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

MSI 785GTM-E45 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813130237
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$10.00 Instant


$69.99
$59.99

select item 2 quantity of item 2


AMD Sempron 140 Sargas 2.7GHz Socket AM3 45W Single-Core Processor Model SDX140HBGQBOX

AMD Sempron 140 Sargas 2.7GHz Socket AM3 45W Single-Core Processor Model SDX140HBGQBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103698
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy



$35.99

Subtotal: $95.98
--
You got DDR2, ATX case & ATX PSU. Reuse 'em. It's true that Linux has issues with AMD GPU/IGP in that the full-screen HD playback may be choppy. I believe it has to do with the media players. Linux does have ATI drivers. If you must have smooth playback, you need a GPU + mobo:

GIGABYTE GA-MA770-UD3 AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
$74.99

Any nvidia GPU is fine.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...


What kind of power consumption would I see with a setup like this?
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 1:05:34 AM

The board, ram, cpu, and 1 hdd should run to about 200 W under load. Case fans and other equipment [discrete video, optical] would be additional.
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 1:11:20 PM

vanekl said:
The board, ram, cpu, and 1 hdd should run to about 200 W under load. Case fans and other equipment [discrete video, optical] would be additional.

I'd really like to keep this under 50W peak load. 200W is way too much.
m
0
l

Best solution

December 31, 2009 3:28:07 PM

The Revo consumes 22W under load. You will not be able to build a box yourself using conventional processors and meet your 50W goal.

Many consumer-level hdds run at 10W or less under load, and if you are careful with your purchase you can find some drives [green drives] that run at about half that. So even with a 2-hdd setup you will easily fall under your 50W cap.
Share
December 31, 2009 4:26:50 PM

vanekl said:
The Revo consumes 22W under load. You will not be able to build a box yourself using conventional processors and meet your 50W goal.

Many consumer-level hdds run at 10W or less under load, and if you are careful with your purchase you can find some drives [green drives] that run at about half that. So even with a 2-hdd setup you will easily fall under your 50W cap.


Can you clarify what you mean by 'conventional processors'?

I don't understand why I couldn't build a box myself that would meet the 50W goal.

The D510MO motherboard/cpu has been tested to draw 25.8W at load: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=369.... This is described as 'total system power consumption' so I would imagine this includes memory and hard drive, not sure if it's measured at the wall or not though.

If I get a green hard drive (such as one of the ones tested here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/1.5tb-hdd-caviar,23...) we're looking at around 6.6W being consumed at max throughput.

This puts the system with 1 drive at around 32.4W power consumption under load, and each additional drive (assuming the same drive as above) would be another 6.6W.

Figure in 70% power efficiency (my Earthwatts 380W power supply is tested at 80% efficiency at 20% throughput (76W), so we'll figure a little less than that) and we're looking at 46W draw from the wall for the single drive setup.

Thanks again for your help
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 4:54:28 PM

I don't consider the Atom a conventional processor. I don't consider netbooks computers, but toys.

The Atom will fail at many of the tasks I would use it for, but it does have a niche, and one of those niches would be what you are planning.

> I don't understand why I couldn't build a box myself that would meet the 50W goal.

You are twisting my words. I said it couldn't be done with conventional processors. Yes, you can do it with the Atom, but, as I said above, the Atom is a niche processor. If you look above, you'll note that I specified a system with an Atom. I'm just saying that you wont be able to put together a high-powered computer given your $200 price limit and 50W goal. Not going to happen. You are going to make a trade-off, most likely by going with a niche processor like the Atom. The Atom doesn't even come close to handling DVR chores, except as a front-end, and only then if it has a decent GPU, such as the ION chipset.

BTW, a 380W power supply is 400% overkill for the system you are planning. You could get by with a simple 90W brick PSU, or using the brick PSU that comes with pre-configured systems (such as the revo).

It sounds like you have already picked out a system. Good luck.
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 5:07:44 PM

vanekl said:
I don't consider the Atom a conventional processor. I don't consider netbooks computers, but toys.

The Atom will fail at many of the tasks I would use it for, but it does have a niche, and one of those niches would be what you are planning.

> I don't understand why I couldn't build a box myself that would meet the 50W goal.

You are twisting my words. I said it couldn't be done with conventional processors. Yes, you can do it with the Atom, but, as I said above, the Atom is a niche processor. If you look above, you'll note that I specified a system with an Atom. I'm just saying that you wont be able to put together a high-powered computer given your $200 price limit and 50W goal. Not going to happen. You are going to make a trade-off, most likely by going with a niche processor like the Atom. The Atom doesn't even come close to handling DVR chores, except as a front-end, and only then if it has a decent GPU, such as the ION chipset.

BTW, a 380W power supply is 400% overkill for the system you are planning. You could get by with a simple 90W brick PSU, or using the brick PSU that comes with pre-configured systems (such as the revo).

It sounds like you have already picked out a system. Good luck.


Makes sense, I guess I just wasn't sure what you meant by conventional processors. I think that the atom build that I'm looking at will be able to handle all of the tasks I want it to, save DVR stuff.

I also realize that the 380W PSU is overkill, but it is a high-efficiency unit and I already have it, so why buy a new one?
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 5:13:51 PM

As long as the PSU fits your box there's no reason to buy a new one. I didn't realize that you already own it.

Usually when you put together systems this small you choose a correspondingly small case, in which case your PSU would not fit.
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 5:39:08 PM

One last thing. When choosing a case make sure that the case has motherboard standoffs that match the board you pick. For example, ATX cases usually shouldn't be used to host mini-ITX boards because I don't believe their holes match.

Here's a couple of case suggestions. They both are small, include power supplies and are economical. One is microATX and the other mini-ITX:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 5:47:54 PM

vanekl said:
One last thing. When choosing a case make sure that the case has motherboard standoffs that match the board you pick. For example, ATX cases usually shouldn't be used to host mini-ITX boards because I don't believe their holes match.

Here's a couple of case suggestions. They both are small, include power supplies and are economical. One is microATX and the other mini-ITX:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Interesting, I thought that mini-ITX boards were able to fit in ATX cases, as mini-ITX is backwards compatible with mATX, which in turn is backwards compatible with ATX.

I guess I will just try to fit the board in my existing case/PSU and if it doesn't work I'll pick up a new case/PSU. It would be really great to keep my existing one though as I'd be able to fit many drives in it.
m
0
l
December 31, 2009 5:50:55 PM

You may be right. I've never tried it, and I've never seen a manufacturer advertise this feature.
m
0
l
!