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Home Server Build: Llano/Trinity vs. SB/IB?

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April 14, 2012 12:51:46 PM

Looking at building a home server - mostly will be a NAS, but may sometimes use it to offload some processing tasks (nothing terribly heavy - and I don't care if it takes a while to run). It's just going to sit in the corner of my office, hardwired in via gigabit to my network and will be running 24/7 - there won't be a dedicated monitor on it, but I intend to get an HDMI enabled mobo so I can run a 25ft HDMI cable from the server to my main PC's center monitor if I need to.

I've settled on a microATX form factor and am trying to determine what platform would be best. I intend to use a laptop HDD as the primary drive for power/noise reasons and 3.5" SATA II/III drives for storage. Maybe in RAID. Here are my considerations (in order):


1.) Hard Drive Capacity - would like at least 6 SATA ports (4 storage, 1 for the lappy HDD, 1 for the DVD drive)

2.) Power Usage - since it's running 24x7, I want something that is efficient

3.) Noise - again, running 24x7 - quiet is important

4.) Stability/reliability (will be running Win Home Server 2011)

5.) Processing ability - I know I could consider something in the e-350 or Atom range...but they are super limited in capabilities and I don't know that I want to limit myself that much for little additional power/noise savings.

6.) Cost - I have plenty of budget for either platform - but don't want to spend more than I actually need to.


So that said, I'm torn between an AMD APU in the dual-core range (either Llano or Trinity when it arrives in a couple months) and a Core i3 (either SB or IB). I know the Intel chips are better gamers (and overall better chips) but are they worth the price premium for both chip and mobo when I won't be using the power? I can get a Llano A4-3400 and A75/FM1 mobo (HDMI, 6 SATA III ports and USB3 for connecting my external drive) for $129.99, which is just a a couple dollars more than the cost of the Core i3 2120 by itself!

I don't mind paying the extra - but does anyone know if Core i3 at standard clocks w/ power savings enabled in Windows is that much quieter/lower wattage than the A4's at standard clocks w/ cool and quiet enabled? They're both 65W parts...and I won't be stressing either one. Maybe I could go for the Core i3 2120T which is 35W? But then
is it slower than the A4 (i.e., what does the "T" do to performance)?

Any thoughts are appreciated!
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2012 1:14:02 PM

for a nas/media center i would just get whatever is cheaper
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a b à CPUs
April 14, 2012 1:16:34 PM

I3 ... cheap and quick and the crappy Graphics is more than good enough ... and its a miser at idle in terms of power.

Plus you can stick in a faster i5 if you ever ready get it doing anything near a real server's load ... unlikely though that might be.

Low power CPU's are really overpriced ... often you can undervolt a normal CPU and get somethign similar ... and not waste the extra dollars.

A long time ago we would get low power CPU's because they usually overclocked really well without pushing the voltage too high.

Good luck with your build ... getting your own NAS up and running well on the network is a really pleasing and interesting project ... lots of different skills involved.

Keep us posted.

:) 
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April 14, 2012 1:36:16 PM

Reynod said:
I3 ... cheap and quick and the crappy Graphics is more than good enough ... and its a miser at idle in terms of power.

Plus you can stick in a faster i5 if you ever ready get it doing anything near a real server's load ... unlikely though that might be.

Low power CPU's are really overpriced ... often you can undervolt a normal CPU and get somethign similar ... and not waste the extra dollars.


Even though the i3 is double the price of the A4?

I doubt I'll ever need the i5 power - I'm talking about maybe offloading some website dev/testing and a couple custom/home built apps that do web scraping (financial data - it uses a custom algorithm to gather stock information from various sources and saves it in excel format along with ranking based on my own idea of what I should buy). They run fine in the background on my C2D laptop, but it'd be nice to have them running 24x7 without always leaving the laptop on.

(Also, I guess that's what you get when you combine a CS degree and an econ undergrad/grad degree :)  )
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a c 79 à CPUs
April 14, 2012 1:39:59 PM

i'm running an athlon II x2 255? for WHS v1.

and its fine. not sure about playback etc. WHS V1 does not like you to use the server directly, so be careful with what 2011 expects.

I built for low power and low noise as it'll be on for most of the time. managed to get 5TB and 65W from the wall.
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April 14, 2012 1:43:41 PM

I suppose I should put an addendum on that - my electricity costs about $0.07 per kwh. If the i3 uses 20W less than the A4 and costs $60 more (about the cost difference in chip alone, not counting mobo), it would take me almost 5 years of 24x7 running to save enough on power to make up the $60.

Now if the i3 is also considerably quieter (basically if it runs cooler near idle - since they can use the same HSFs and cases) then that might be worth considering.
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April 14, 2012 1:48:34 PM

13thmonkey said:
i'm running an athlon II x2 255? for WHS v1.

and its fine. not sure about playback etc. WHS V1 does not like you to use the server directly, so be careful with what 2011 expects.

I built for low power and low noise as it'll be on for most of the time. managed to get 5TB and 65W from the wall.


Is 65W at idle or load? 65W is higher than I'd like - I just built a new PC for my brother's graduation gift and a Core i5 2500k OC'd to 4ghz, big air cooling, Z68 mobo, AMD 6850, 8gb RAM and 2 TB drive (plus 2x 200mm fans, DVD drive, internal LED lighting, wifi card etc) only uses ~80W at idle.

I'd like to think I can fit this in under 40W idle...
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a c 79 à CPUs
April 14, 2012 2:10:41 PM

65W is with drives spinning, the cpu never really does any work, so thats at 'working load' rather than purposeful load.

no gpu, 2Gb of ram, 5 HDD's 3 of them low power. system drive is old and hot so i assume its a bit of a hog, 10W vs 5W perhaps. The PSU is also old, perhaps drawing 15W of inefficiency (its pulling 15W from the wall at standby/off...) so I can see that you could pull mine down a bit.
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April 15, 2012 1:52:02 PM

13thmonkey said:
65W is with drives spinning, the cpu never really does any work, so thats at 'working load' rather than purposeful load.

no gpu, 2Gb of ram, 5 HDD's 3 of them low power. system drive is old and hot so i assume its a bit of a hog, 10W vs 5W perhaps. The PSU is also old, perhaps drawing 15W of inefficiency (its pulling 15W from the wall at standby/off...) so I can see that you could pull mine down a bit.


Hmm, ok - seems like with a new 80+ bronze PSU and low power PSU I might be able to get to 40W.
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a c 79 à CPUs
April 15, 2012 2:12:48 PM

quite possibly, the main problem I found was finding a cheap mobo with 6 sata's and ide (i had a few ide's in there to start with). Oh and thats with 3 120mm fans, not sure they are needed, but the hdd's get a bit warm if there's nothing wafting over them.
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April 15, 2012 2:21:07 PM

13thmonkey said:
quite possibly, the main problem I found was finding a cheap mobo with 6 sata's and ide (i had a few ide's in there to start with). Oh and thats with 3 120mm fans, not sure they are needed, but the hdd's get a bit warm if there's nothing wafting over them.


Which mobo did you go with?
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April 15, 2012 2:23:22 PM

I'd just go with an E350 - they are so cheap and power efficient and if you use Brazos Tweaker you can run it nearly silently on the stock cooler. For what you are using it for it should be enough. Check out the ASRock E350-M1, you can get it in USB 2 and USB 3. Or even better would be the MSI E350IS-E45 - http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-e-350_... it looks like it's the most efficient of all the mobos.
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April 15, 2012 2:36:05 PM

Chip in a box said:
I'd just go with an E350 - they are so cheap and power efficient and if you use Brazos Tweaker you can run it nearly silently on the stock cooler. For what you are using it for it should be enough. Check out the ASRock E350-M1, you can get it in USB 2 and USB 3. Or even better would be the MSI E350IS-E45 - http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-e-350_... it looks like it's the most efficient of all the mobos.


I had considered the E-350 - it's hard to find something with more than 4 SATA ports in the M1 mobos though. And that would seriously limit my storage capacity.
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a c 79 à CPUs
April 15, 2012 2:38:00 PM

inanition02 said:
Which mobo did you go with?


ASUS M4A78LT-M LE with stock fan, in a fractal define mini case (6 HDD + 1 optical), 3 x120mm's all at tickover (inc PSU fan at just below audible), and is fairly quiet and unobtrusive. Not actually sure what's making the noise.

I was having to consider raid cards and all sorts before I found it.
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April 15, 2012 2:59:06 PM

inanition02 said:
I had considered the E-350 - it's hard to find something with more than 4 SATA ports in the M1 mobos though. And that would seriously limit my storage capacity.


Ok that makes sense. There was a review on AT recently showing that AMD's 65 Watt chips seem to be generously over budget so don't worry about the listed TDP's on the Llano's too much.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5696/puget-systems-echo-i...

That's a triple core too so I'd think the 3400 dual would be similar or even better. AMD is a little bit better at idle right now as well. You can also easily lower voltages with Fusion Tweaker. http://code.google.com/p/fusiontweaker/
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