I am getting ready to build a purpose-built testing/development server for my web development. I have been using an old win xp machine that I picked up for $50 at the local computer store a while back, but I am getting to the point that I need something a bit more powerful and running server software. I don't need too much from the server, basically running a few websites for development and client preview (nothing in production), probably < 100 pageviews per day. I will also probably self host my SVN repo on the server rather than paying for a hosted service, and will be running SQL Server 2012 Standard on the server (again, only used for development purposes, not in production). I would also like to take advantage of the domain/file server and backup aspects of windows server for my computers and my wife's laptop.
I am planning to go with a microITX/microATX system, 4gb RAM, 3tb hdd (possibly two in RAID1), running Windows Server 2012 Essentials. I am trying to decide on the CPU right now. My initial thought was going with a celeron G530. I am relatively certain that it will do what I want, and it fits within my budget (practically nothing).
I have started looking at bit at the embedded chipsets as well though, and they are really appealing to me. I love the low power consumption and heat output/fanless operation. If I could run the system without the noise of fans, it would be great. I am looking at the Intel Atom D2700. I have never worked with any of these embedded chipsets before though, and as this is my first true server, I really don't have much concept for what kind of processing power it will need.
It seems like my use should be fairly light and the Atom chipset should be sufficient (the specs are actually fairly close to the celeron), but I am just a bit leary about trying something new.
Is the Atom going to be sufficient? or should I step up to the celeron?
I would never recommend trying to run a Server 2012 installation from an Atom based system, it's not going to have the responsiveness and performance headroom you need. At minimum I would recommend you getting a Core i3-3220 processor. This dual-core processor is a full desktop processor so at least you're getting decent performance for running your several services. Yes, it might be a light demand but you are talking about numerous services continually running on this system with a full Windows Server OS.
If you want something compact and quiet you can still make a very nice MicroATX system with a Core i3-3220 which operates VERY cool. You can even use a fanless passive cooler with these processors with no problem, but even a mid-range CPU fan and cooler will run dead silent on a processor like that, it's going to most likely be your PSU and case fans that will be audible.