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Mini-server / HTPC motherboard recommendation

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Last response: in Motherboards
October 21, 2011 12:28:00 PM

Hi all,

I'm planning to build a small home server / htpc and im looking for a motherboard.

Can anyone tell me of a low cost, low power, fanless motherboard without integrated gfx?

I will be using a VDPAU enabled PCIe gfx card like the ZOTAC GeForceĀ® 210 Synergy Edition 512MB so i dont need a board with ION / Fusion GFX.

The motherboard should have at least enough expansion slots for a TV tuner, GFX card, WiFi card and 4 or more SATAII ports.

If anyone knows any websites, brands, links, etc, i would appreciate your help.

More about : mini server htpc motherboard recommendation

a b V Motherboard
October 21, 2011 1:34:18 PM

Your GPU will be PCIe x16, but I'm not sure what the other ports are going to be.
Wifi = USB or PCIe x1
TV Tuner = PCIe x1?

So you are looking at a microATX as the smallest board you can buy since miniITX only has one expansion slot. Integrated graphics don't matter since they will just be shut off. Most motherboards are fanless, but if you want one that comes with a CPU and is fanless that will be hard to find since you need so many ports.

This one might fit your needs, but it depends on the sockets you need. The other option is buy any microATX board and put a big heatsink on whatever processor you choose. Just make sure you buy a low power CPU.

The other option is to get a LGA1155 motherboard like this
and get an intel pentium g620 and one of these
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a c 717 V Motherboard
October 21, 2011 2:32:09 PM

IMO - 1. Never use Wi-Fi for either a 'server' or 'HTPC' if necessary Powerline, 2. Intel HD Graphics 3000 (850 MHz) is fine for anything 2D, 3. Fanless 'CPU' e.g. Intel Ion are 'okay' but e.g. Core i3-2105 make for a better investment, 4. ANY mATX (uATX) LGA 1155 H67 or Z68 MOBO is fine e.g. ASUS P8Z68-M Pro.
October 21, 2011 8:40:53 PM

Thanks for the input guys. Some really nice pieces of kit there.

I just have to clear up a few things..

The server will run FreeBSD, so the only way to play Full HD will be a Nvidia VDPAU-enabled gfx card. ATI and Intel are not well supported unfortunately.

I'm not worried about onboard graphics inhibiting the performance [I know i can just switch it off], but i don't want to pay for a Fusion / ION whatever GPU which I'm not going to use.

I know ION supports VDPAU, but it only has tier B support.

If AMD / ATI provided better support for *nix, i would choose the ASUS E35M1-M any day.

And i did say "low power". Guess i should have been more specific.. IMHO 45W+ just for the CPU is not low power. If this server is to be running 24hrs a day, passively cooled, then this is not acceptable.

It is low power for a gaming rig, but that is not what i'm after. Server / HTPC doesn't need such a strong CPU.

What I'm looking for is something like the Intel D525MW, but with PCIe.

I would happily get a via board if they weren't so damn expensive for what they are. :-(
a c 717 V Motherboard
October 21, 2011 9:59:50 PM

The 'server' isn't the part that concerns me, the HTPC use is. I don't particularly 'like' FreeBSD - just make certain that the 'TV Card' is fully supported.

Buying a discrete GPU defeats 'FREE' part of FreeBSD, nor do 'I' consider a Core i3-2105 a 'strong' CPU. As an option the i3-2120T is 35W BUT 650Hz iGPU. The TDP comes in to play with load/rated, and a simple file server is ultra-low load, but I want the better graphics and performance once needed. I have several HTPC's, all with HSF, and all are extremely quite using ultra-low dBA fans.

This 'build' is going to be a pain like hitting your head against a wall to prove it's hard.

IMO - FIND a 'FreeBSD' Build that is KNOWN to work with ALL the components working as expected i.e. lacking Caveats. Good Place -> then Copy it! ;) 
November 1, 2011 2:58:11 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. The Core i3-2105 looks like an interesting desktop CPU.

But, while you may not be concerned about the server part, I am. Unless you want to host it in your room, and pay my electricity bills! :) 

And I *do* like FreeBSD, so unless you're also going to set it up and administer it for me too, I'll stick with FreeBSD, thanks.

And please explain how buying a discreet graphics card "defeats 'FREE' part of FreeBSD"... Maybe i should steer clear of all proprietary things, such as sound cards, TV cards, CPUs and motherboards!

Am i missing something here? I thought it was free, meaning i can do what the hell i like with it..

Thanks again.

a c 717 V Motherboard
November 1, 2011 3:29:33 PM

To clarify, "The 'server' isn't the part that concerns me..." I clearly mean COMPUTING POWER. In my house I have a Windows Home Server in RAID, and in my office NAS + off-premises NAS. I like the 'doodads' of Windows Home Server -> office it's all about back-up's. In either case the CPU's aren't limiting factors - I/O, network speed limits, etc.

In contrast the HTPC is required to process considerably more graphic and data.

Explained - "defeats 'FREE' part of FreeBSD":
1. FreeBSD - limited H/W support
2. FreeBSD - problems running Intel Intel HD Graphics 3000 ; $$Money$$ Discrete GPU
3. FreeBSD - Quirky and problematic
4. Windows 7 Home Premium for as little at $86/CAL

Then there's the whole 'Wi-Fi' thing which is another nightmare.


IF you're concerned about kWh then use Hybrid Sleep (S3 + S4) {Windows} and WOL if you're not constantly requiring access.

IMO - The Best & Smartest is to have (2) PC's regardless of the OS used: 1. HTPC, 2. Server with ultra-low power CPU e.g. Intel Atom.