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$500-600 M-ITX Minecraft server?

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March 28, 2012 2:37:30 AM

I have up to $600 to build a dedicated local Minecraft server for the players at my college and in the consortium my college is a member of (a total of about 150 players across all the colleges, but regular and peak load would be much less than that.)

I am trying to determine what parts for such a build would be best, and if I should wait for Ivy Bridge or go ahead and buy. The only real catch is that the server has to be as small, unassuming and portable as is possible, since it will likely move around quite a bit, and space is of much value in any dorm. Hence, I am looking at M-ITX boards...

I guess I am a bit unfamilear as to what sort of workloads a MC server is expected to deal with, so I don't know how much to invest in the CPU, RAM, and HDD/SSD. But I do have a spare copy of Win7 and a old disk drive, so that keeps the entire budget to be spent on everything else. No need for a screen or peripherals, either.

I did a rough build, put below:

SilverStone Sugo SG05-B Black SECC / Plastic Mini-ITX Desktop Computer Case SFX 300W 80Plus Power Supply

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-16GBXL

ASRock H67M-ITX LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000

Patriot Torqx 2 PT232GS25SSDR 2.5" 32GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

TOTAL: $576.95

Any help/advice would be much appreciated!

-VGM
March 28, 2012 3:04:33 AM

That's a pretty solid setup for a Minecraft server. Although I'm not a hardcore player/server mod, I've run the server on my laptop (Core 2 Duo) before and it's taxing for just a few people.

It really stresses the CPU, so you've done well picking the 2500K. The 16GB RAM might be unnecessary but it'll probably help with a good number of people online.

A 30GB SSD will be enough for W7 32bit and the server stuff, so you shouldn't need much more than that if that's all you're doing with this PC.

Good choice on the SG05 - the 300W PSU will be efficient and should run well compared to other built-in PSUs.
March 28, 2012 3:29:14 AM

That's a pretty solid setup for a Minecraft server. Although I'm not a hardcore player/server mod, I've run the server on my laptop (Core 2 Duo) before and it's taxing for just a few people.

It really stresses the CPU, so you've done well picking the 2500K. The 16GB RAM might be unnecessary but it'll probably help with a good number of people online. said:
That's a pretty solid setup for a Minecraft server. Although I'm not a hardcore player/server mod, I've run the server on my laptop (Core 2 Duo) before and it's taxing for just a few people.

It really stresses the CPU, so you've done well picking the 2500K. The 16GB RAM might be unnecessary but it'll probably help with a good number of people online.


I was wondering if the RAM was excessive or not. After a bit of searching I can't find any good measure of what to expect in terms of memory usage per client in a MC server... I'll keep looking, but if anyone could provide any insight that would be great.


A 30GB SSD will be enough for W7 32bit and the server stuff, so you shouldn't need much more than that if that's all you're doing with this PC. said:
A 30GB SSD will be enough for W7 32bit and the server stuff, so you shouldn't need much more than that if that's all you're doing with this PC.


32 bit Win7 would defeat the purpose of all that RAM, no? But I thought 64 bit took up ~20GB, so I figured around 8-10GB after formatting would be plenty. Maybe I should go for a little more storage?

Good choice on the SG05 - the 300W PSU will be efficient and should run well compared to other built-in PSUs. said:
Good choice on the SG05 - the 300W PSU will be efficient and should run well compared to other built-in PSUs.


The case/PSU is the only item I am pretty confident/firm on.

...I'm happy that I seem to sort of know what I am doing here haha, but knowing workload per client would be nice... As would cutting the memory down if 16GB is a waste. But I don't know that.

I'll look around a little more, see if I can uncover anything helpful.
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March 28, 2012 3:46:58 AM

Quote:
I was wondering if the RAM was excessive or not. After a bit of searching I can't find any good measure of what to expect in terms of memory usage per client in a MC server... I'll keep looking, but if anyone could provide any insight that would be great.

I think my laptop used about 3GB, so you may need a decent amount. Not sure you need 16GB worth though.

Quote:
32 bit Win7 would defeat the purpose of all that RAM, no? But I thought 64 bit took up ~20GB, so I figured around 8-10GB after formatting would be plenty. Maybe I should go for a little more storage?

haha true. I'm not sure W7 64bit will fit entirely on a 32GB SSD after updates (32GB becomes roughly 29GB). You may be able to trim down the installation size by disabling the page file and hibernation (saves you a ton of space on larger drives, since the page file == RAM amount).

Quote:
...I'm happy that I seem to sort of know what I am doing here haha, but knowing workload per client would be nice... As would cutting the memory down if 16GB is a waste. But I don't know that.

I'll look around a little more, see if I can uncover anything helpful.

I remember looking into running a server long-term once and couldn't find much. The information has to be out there since there are thousands of people running these servers though!
March 28, 2012 4:06:38 AM

Quote:
I think my laptop used about 3GB, so you may need a decent amount. Not sure you need 16GB worth though.


According to this page, 40-130MB per player (or "slot") is the norm. Assuming the high-end of that range (since I expect to use some plugins), and with, say, 12 of the 16GB of memory (with the rest lost to the OS and running processes/plugins), 12288MB/130MB = 94 slots.

That is a bit excessive, but if the CPU can handle about that many users, then I may actually have allocated funds appropriately.

BUT I found two hitches.

Quote:
haha true. I'm not sure W7 64bit will fit entirely on a 32GB SSD after updates (32GB becomes roughly 29GB). You may be able to trim down the installation size by disabling the page file and hibernation (saves you a ton of space on larger drives, since the page file == RAM amount).


It seems that over and over, as I look, servers can get pretty big pretty quickly. So, I think I will have to bump up to 64GB with the drive. I'll look into what is the best value.

(See Update below regarding this paragraph): The other hitch is that it seems that a Minecraft server does not utilize multiple threads well without serious heavy-lifting and customization of the Java that makes it up... Such is something I would much rather avoid. So, as ridiculous as it sounds, would getting a dual-core and OC'ing it make more sense? If I could get a water loop to fit in the case (which I know can be possible in some ITX cases), that may somehow be a better option.

Update: I am finding conflicting reports/views on the possibility of Minecraft Server not playing well with multiple threads. I first figured it would scale well, mostly because I know that Java can be made to scale relatively well across cores, and MC is, well, Java. But I keep finding people who seem to know what they are talking about throw numbers and such that suggest that higher clocks are more important: Like this:

Quote:
OK, I've ran Minecraft servers for nearly a year now, let me say a few things.

Firstly, the above are right— the CPU and RAM requirements are constantly changing.

A good, time-honored rule of thumb is that 1GB RAM = 10 slots. However, assuming the rest of the server is strong enough, you can usually stretch that up to 15 slots per GB of RAM.

As for the CPU, if your only planning on running one server, always go with a CPU with the highest per-core speed. Most of Minecraft is single-threaded, and because of that faster clock speeds is better than more cores.


...I do intend to have a few simultaneous servers on this machine, but I do wonder if the i5 2500k is the best choice for the $.

!