Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Best compatibility hardware for WHS2011 or FreeNAS?

Last response: in Systems
Share
January 16, 2012 8:43:51 AM

Hi all,

Just spent 5+ hours reading here and trying to figure out with which brand/model of MB to go.
I have Asus P5B Deluxe with 4GB RAM, ATI x1950, C2DUO 6600 CPU that is my HTPC in our bedroom and for the test I installed
WHS2011 on 1TB HD and install went fine just it would not recognize onboard audio and Intel controller that made me read and get a feel for what would be best option and so that I don't have driver issues but didn't figure out anything :) 

It seems like that people have more luck with Gigabyte as far as drivers.

I'm planning to buy an i3 CPU for sure and to build low power use box that I will keep in garage. It will be mostly used for back of pictures and movies and I'll be trying just for test maybe one IP security camera (possible on WHS2011?).

I will be also testing FreeNAS and will be using whatever ends up being best fit for me (WHS or FreeNAS).

FreeNAS v8 does not have bittorrent, ftp or web server 9(yet) but it might be added later on.
January 16, 2012 1:31:52 PM

johnnybegood said:
Hi all,

Just spent 5+ hours reading here and trying to figure out with which brand/model of MB to go.
I have Asus P5B Deluxe with 4GB RAM, ATI x1950, C2DUO 6600 CPU that is my HTPC in our bedroom and for the test I installed
WHS2011 on 1TB HD and install went fine just it would not recognize onboard audio and Intel controller that made me read and get a feel for what would be best option and so that I don't have driver issues but didn't figure out anything :) 

It seems like that people have more luck with Gigabyte as far as drivers.

I'm planning to buy an i3 CPU for sure and to build low power use box that I will keep in garage. It will be mostly used for back of pictures and movies and I'll be trying just for test maybe one IP security camera (possible on WHS2011?).

I will be also testing FreeNAS and will be using whatever ends up being best fit for me (WHS or FreeNAS).

FreeNAS v8 does not have bittorrent, ftp or web server 9(yet) but it might be added later on.


Going with server hardware is generally the best way to get guaranteed compatibility with server OSes, since the HW makers will have specific drivers for the server OSes if the driver isn't already in the OS. There are plenty of LGA1155 server boards for a low-power Sandy Bridge chip, such as the ASUS P8B-M/P8B-X and the Supermicro X9SC* series. You don't have to do this, most standard motherboards will have most of their features supported, such as disk controllers and such; the features that would not be likely to be supported are things that aren't really useful on a server, such as onboard audio and such.

I would also suggest going with the Xeon E3-1200 series CPU that is equivalent to whatever Core i3 you would pick as the Xeons have ECC RAM support and the Core i3/i5/i7s do not. You are building a server with a server OS and expect server reliability, so I'd strongly suggest ECC RAM.
m
0
l
January 16, 2012 2:34:38 PM

Given that you plan on using WHS2011 and mostly using this for media sharing, I'd say that you can use standard desktop hardware. There's really no reason to try and grab a Xeon or a "server" motherboard if you're not doing "server" type of tasks.

Server hardware is based on extra processing instruction sets, ECC memory, etc. You won't be housing any SQL databases or doing any processing intensive tasks, so my suggestion would be to pick a small and solid ITX motherboard with a sandybridge CPU. Just because this is a "server" doesn't mean that it needs business class server hardware.

I'd suggest the ASROCK Z68 ITX board. It's a super small board that can handle faster Sandybridge CPUs. You can put this is a LianLi PC-Q25 case for an excellent server.

WHS2011 is based on server 2008 R2, but with more of a user friendly way to share documents, etc. Any windows server 2008 drivers will work with WHS2011.

I actually had WHS2011 installed on the exact system I mentioned and it worked well. I ultimately went with server 2008 R2, because the user-friendly file sharing was kinda silly
m
0
l
Related resources
January 16, 2012 2:41:33 PM

For an excellent server, get this:

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MBWiFi version: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The case is small and built specifically for a server\NAS. You'll be able to fit a huge amount of hard drives for a solid RAID 5 to hold your music, movies, pictures, etc.

The motherboard has a wifi variant if you don't want to run cat5e cable (I would recommend using CAT5e though).

The PSU is small enough to comfortably fit in the case. Memory is fast and cheap.

You could save money by getting a cheaper processor and the non-wifi board. You can use onboard storage for your RAID5 or using the expansion slot to put a controller card in. I bought a RocketRaid controller card and shoved 8x 3TB drives in mine and it works great.
m
0
l
January 16, 2012 5:12:13 PM

MU_Engineer said:
Going with server hardware is generally the best way to get guaranteed compatibility with server OSes, since the HW makers will have specific drivers for the server OSes if the driver isn't already in the OS. There are plenty of LGA1155 server boards for a low-power Sandy Bridge chip, such as the ASUS P8B-M/P8B-X and the Supermicro X9SC* series. You don't have to do this, most standard motherboards will have most of their features supported, such as disk controllers and such; the features that would not be likely to be supported are things that aren't really useful on a server, such as onboard audio and such.

I would also suggest going with the Xeon E3-1200 series CPU that is equivalent to whatever Core i3 you would pick as the Xeons have ECC RAM support and the Core i3/i5/i7s do not. You are building a server with a server OS and expect server reliability, so I'd strongly suggest ECC RAM.


Thank you all for the replies!

Going server route would cost me a lot. Just the MB is around $200 but I've checked Asus driver page for ie. ASUS P8B and it has Win 2008 R2 support so I can see where's the trade off. If possible I would like to stay with i3 CPU due to low power consumption.

My current test setup uses 105 watts when tested with kill-a-watt.

m
0
l
January 16, 2012 5:33:14 PM

cirdecus said:
For an excellent server, get this:

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MBWiFi version: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The case is small and built specifically for a server\NAS. You'll be able to fit a huge amount of hard drives for a solid RAID 5 to hold your music, movies, pictures, etc.

The motherboard has a wifi variant if you don't want to run cat5e cable (I would recommend using CAT5e though).

The PSU is small enough to comfortably fit in the case. Memory is fast and cheap.

You could save money by getting a cheaper processor and the non-wifi board. You can use onboard storage for your RAID5 or using the expansion slot to put a controller card in. I bought a RocketRaid controller card and shoved 8x 3TB drives in mine and it works great.


I like the price for ASRock MB, how is the support for that brand in WHS2011?

I would definitely get non-wifi version and would run cat5e cable because whole idea of building this box is to gain in network transfer speed. Also, I would be getting RAID card to add more storage in the future.
m
0
l
January 17, 2012 12:16:50 AM

cirdecus said:
Given that you plan on using WHS2011 and mostly using this for media sharing, I'd say that you can use standard desktop hardware. There's really no reason to try and grab a Xeon or a "server" motherboard if you're not doing "server" type of tasks.

Server hardware is based on extra processing instruction sets, ECC memory, etc. You won't be housing any SQL databases or doing any processing intensive tasks, so my suggestion would be to pick a small and solid ITX motherboard with a sandybridge CPU. Just because this is a "server" doesn't mean that it needs business class server hardware.

I'd suggest the ASROCK Z68 ITX board. It's a super small board that can handle faster Sandybridge CPUs. You can put this is a LianLi PC-Q25 case for an excellent server.

WHS2011 is based on server 2008 R2, but with more of a user friendly way to share documents, etc. Any windows server 2008 drivers will work with WHS2011.

I actually had WHS2011 installed on the exact system I mentioned and it worked well. I ultimately went with server 2008 R2, because the user-friendly file sharing was kinda silly


The setup I described essentially is a desktop system, but with support for unbuffered ECC memory and Windows Server drivers. The motherboards are LGA1155 boards and Xeon E3-1200s are Core i3/i5/i7-2xxx units with ECC support. And unbuffered ECC RAM doesn't cost much more than normal desktop unbuffered non-ECC RAM. This isn't a massive dual or quad-socket "typical server" setup, which as you said, would be inappropriate. There is a small premium over standard consumer-market parts, but the OP apparently wanted something that would be as likely as possible to run flawlessly with a Windows Server variant, and that is what this provides.

To the OP:
1. You mentioned network performance being important to you. Be very careful about what LAN chip or chips are on your chosen motherboard. Many consumer-grade boards use LAN chips that are pretty poky in the throughput department. Realtek's LAN chips in particular have fairly poor performance, and unfortunately they are pretty much universal on lower-priced consumer motherboards. I'd stick with Marvell or Intel ICs. You also may want to consider having more than one gigabit Ethernet port on a motherboard as your network connection will be the bottleneck for your file transfer speeds. Most HDDs push well over 150 MB/sec in throughput (and much, much more in RAID10 or RAID5) while a good gigabit NIC will top out at ~110 MB/sec.

2. Some "server" boards have onboard extra SATA/SAS controllers (like an LSI SAS2008) that support RAID5 on Windows for a fairly small premium. That gives you 12-16 onboard ports between the southbridge and the discrete on-board controller. It may be well advised to spend an extra $100-150 on a "server" motherboard to get those features rather than needing to buy a $200-400 add-in card to provide similar features on a consumer board.
m
0
l
January 17, 2012 5:36:45 PM

MU_Engineer said:


To the OP:
1. You mentioned network performance being important to you. Be very careful about what LAN chip or chips are on your chosen motherboard. Many consumer-grade boards use LAN chips that are pretty poky in the throughput department. Realtek's LAN chips in particular have fairly poor performance, and unfortunately they are pretty much universal on lower-priced consumer motherboards. I'd stick with Marvell or Intel ICs. You also may want to consider having more than one gigabit Ethernet port on a motherboard as your network connection will be the bottleneck for your file transfer speeds. Most HDDs push well over 150 MB/sec in throughput (and much, much more in RAID10 or RAID5) while a good gigabit NIC will top out at ~110 MB/sec.

2. Some "server" boards have onboard extra SATA/SAS controllers (like an LSI SAS2008) that support RAID5 on Windows for a fairly small premium. That gives you 12-16 onboard ports between the southbridge and the discrete on-board controller. It may be well advised to spend an extra $100-150 on a "server" motherboard to get those features rather than needing to buy a $200-400 add-in card to provide similar features on a consumer board.

You're right, all of the consumer-grade boards use Realtek's chip. Never really payed close attention when buying MBs what LAN chipset it has.

Also while doing this test in my LAN highest speed I've seen was around 60MB/s. I'm using latest pfSense with Intel dual port Gigabit nics so I think bottle neck might be my switch which is D-Link DGS-2208
m
0
l
January 17, 2012 5:52:21 PM

johnnybegood said:
You're right, all of the consumer-grade boards use Realtek's chip. Never really payed close attention when buying MBs what LAN chipset it has.

Also while doing this test in my LAN highest speed I've seen was around 60MB/s. I'm using latest pfSense with Intel dual port Gigabit nics so I think bottle neck might be my switch which is D-Link DGS-2208


If you have Intel dual port gigabit NICs and a gigabit router, it's likely not your NICs or router that are keeping your speeds to ~60 MB/sec. Intel's dual-port NICs are server-grade hardware and pretty much always can hit near the theoretical maximum network performance in tests that aren't CPU, disk, or RAM-bound. Modern switches are "line-speed" switches and switch from one port to another with no loss; the switch you list notes this and claims a 16 Gbps throughput (8x gigabit ports full duplex = 16 Gbps.) So that doesn't look like the problem either.

I am curious to see the test you are running, since it sounds like the test is finding something else is bottlenecking performance, such as CPU, disk, RAM, or a sub-optimal setting in the OS. It could also be the receiving computer has a bottleneck as well.
m
0
l
!