Efficient Home Server CPU

I want to put together a 24/7 home server (likely Ubuntu) to stream media and fool around with VMs (likely no more than 2 running at the same time). None of it is mission critical, but stability is always welcome. I don't think I'm capable of or want to get involved with any type of bare-metal hypervisor so it's not a particularly important feature to me.

My initial thought was to go quad core with an Athlon II X4 645. After looking around a bit, I can't help but feel like a more modern architecture might be a better choice both for power and performance per dollar. At the same time, I feel like the 645 is already nearing overkill for my needs. So now I can't make a decision.

Budget is approximately $500 (CPU, MB, RAM, PSU, case, plus a SSD system drive), but less is always better and I'm not in a huge rush to make a purchase.

So I'm waffling between:

X4 645
X4 960T
i3 2100/2125 (not a quad)
i5 2400

If someone can provide a CPU recommendation with a motherboard (I prefer ATX or mATX) that offers undervolting, I'd appreciate it.

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  1. I would go for the cheapest dual core celeron, the g530 for around $52 at newegg. To get hyperthreading with the 2120, it will cost you about $70 more; not worth it for a simple server. Or here's a newegg shellshocker deal for today for only $249.99 after rebate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ImageGallery.aspx?ComboImage=combo815304.jpg&ComboName=Pentium%20G850%2fH61%2f4GB%2f500GB%20SuperCombo%20LE&ItemList=N82E16811147123%2cN82E16813138332%2cN82E16817170016%2cN82E16819116397%2cN82E16820145322%2cN82E16822148767%2cN82E16827106289
  2. I'd go with a cheap apu.
  3. Would the G530 be able to handle running two VMs while streaming media to multiple clients? I'll admit, I kind of had my mind made up to purchase a quad core.

    Wouldn't an APU be a bit of a waste for my purposes. I realize I listed some overkill processors, but it seems like APUs would be better geared towards an HTPC rather than a server.

    Anyone else care to chime in?
  4. I guess the apu would be a bit overkill for the grahics. the i5 is definately overkill. I think an i3 would be good since it would fit into your budget and be more efficient than the athlons or phenoms.

    a celeron will run vms but might be sluggish, 1 vm would be ok but 2 might be a bit much if you are jumping between them.
  5. After researching things a little more in depth, I think I'm deciding between a SB Pentium (G620/850) and a Phenom II X4 840. If I pair the CPUs with a Z68 or AM3+ mobo, and I find that whatever I choose isn't powerful enough, I have an upgrade path for each. Either set up would be roughly the same price in the end.

    Any suggestions on which would be better? I'm leaning towards a G850 for the more modern architecture and better power efficiency. It looks like the G850 will match or just slightly under perform the X4 in most tasks other than transcoding (which I hopefully won't be doing very often).
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