Low Power Linux Machine


I would like a small form-factor machine with very low power usage. This will be used as an always-on Linux server at home, mostly for small development projects, remote tunneling, and some remote desktop activity while I'm at work via VNC. It will also act as a Samba share with a few USB drives attached (which I already have), but those drives will only see occasional use (mostly backup purposes for other machines).

Budget: $400

Low Power Usage
Small Form Factor (MicroATX)
DVD-ROM (I'd like to rip the occasional disc, and would like to use disc-based installs for Linux)

HDMI Out - I'll be connecting to my television which has HDMI in. D-Sub will work too, but HDMI is preferred.
Quiet - Fanless, or near-fanless would be great.

So I putzed around NewEgg for a while and came up with the following. I haven't built a system in many years at this point, so I've probably made some poor choices. I did my best, please don't yell at me too much. :)

MoBo/CPU: ZOTAC IONITX-T-U Intel Atom D525 (1.8GHz, Dual-Core) Intel NM10 Mini ITX
RAM: 2x Kingston 2GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 800 Unbuffered
CD/DVD: LITE-ON DVD Burner - SATA Model iHAS124-04
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green WD5000AADS 500GB
Case: Thermaltake Black SECC Japanese steel LANBOX Lite VF6000BWS Micro ATX

I was considering a cheap SSD because of the very low power usage, but I'm worried about the reliability of cheap SSDs. I also worry about having to deal with firmware upgrades - I looked at several cheaper drives and they all had firmware issues, and the companies only seemed to provide firmware upgrade software for Windows and sometimes Macs.

If someone could recommend an inexpensive, reliable SSD that I wouldn't have to mess with I'd be thrilled.
7 answers Last reply
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  1. I believe the AMD Zacate E-450 is more powerful than the Atom, and priced similarly. I'd look at one of those.
  2. Thank you for the suggestion. I found the ASRock E350M1 AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD A50M which is cheaper than the Atom CPU/MoBo and has additional features. I'll have to grab a power supply (the above-mentioned Atom board comes with on) but that's not a biggie.
  3. unrelated, but is that griffins as in family guy are niffty?
  4. Raspberry PI
  5. Nope, nothing to do with Family Guy, sorry. : > I had a griffin named Andrea in a D&D game a long time ago - long before Family Guy had ever been seen on television. Weird coincidence about the name there, and it hurt a little to have my beautiful flying mount turned into some derpy cartoon character.

    Raspberry PI
    Supply issues abound here last I heard, and even though I'm not looking to do heavy development I'd like to run a full LAMP stack / LDAP service / ZeroMQ / SMPP software - not sure that the very small memory footprint would work too well.
  6. You can get some prebuilt small form factor PCs from newegg that may be much nicer for what you are trying to do:

    I didn't realize these things existed until I saw one in a shell shocker, but they are a pretty good value, you can find some that have an empty 2.5" drive bay at the least.

    edit: As an example:

    It's got an empty 2.5" bay, 2 ram slots, built in wifi, and USB ports where you can plug an optical drive, mouse/kb etc. I think you can find cheaper ones with a similar setup though.
  7. So, an update. I took the advice of DjScribbles and bought a pre-built, low-power system. I also didn't know that these things existed (my Google-Fu is apparently weak) until he pointed them out.

    I bought myself a Zotac ZBox: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173023

    It does everything I want, draws minimal power, and has been a breeze to work with. I dropped in 8 GB of RAM (since it's so cheap), stuck Xubuntu on there, and now I'm quite the happy bird without having to fuss over parts.

    Sometimes the simplest solution is really the best - thanks, DjScribbles!
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