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Ultra low power mini-itx media server / nas : suggestions?

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February 7, 2013 8:57:22 PM

Ok so I would like to buy (or build) a 24/7 ultra low power mini-itx media server / NAS. Something that can store my music files, videos, documents and be able to relay such info to a LAN networked device or to a phone/pc over the internet (i.e. owncloud). I would also like it to run a : web, ftp, and vpn servers, as well as have the ability to stream music and video off of a few attached SSD's.

Id also like to have it running some flavor of linux (ubuntu, amahi) and unless someone can convince me (utilize the x86 architecture, as opposed to ARM).

Also and more important I want it to be able to run locally if the internet is down, as well as pay no monthy/yearly fees to use (aside from cost of hardware and electricity).

I have looked at several over the counter solutions from SYNOLOGY, QSNAP, as well as alternate ideas such as Tonino2. Im also down with building my own system and was contemplating using the ATOM - specifically either the Intel DN2800MT (Cedarview) or the Supermicro X9SBAA-F (Centerton).

I suppose I could wait for the Atom N2850... but like the usb 3 ports on the supermicro, however since there is no HDMI and only an internal PCI slot the supermicro might not be the best way to attach directly to TV. Where the N2800/N2850 has a direct HDMI as well as mini PCIE for BT or wireless LAN.

Can someone provide an honest assessment on the best way to go, that provides a bit of upward mobility, preferably fanless, headless using very little power (in both active and idle states). Id hate to have one file server box and another separate media player device - but it doesnt seem like there is really any way to have both - perhaps I am overlooking some other low-power platform?


UPDATE: 5/07/13:


Ive given up on ARM and ATOM solutions and am really looking into Intel I5 and I7 ultralow power systems. Intels NUC is ok, but after discovering the availability of 13W, 17W and 25W Intel I7 processors (Ivy bridge/Panther point) Im looking more into a Mini ITX solution something on the lines of the Jetway NF9G motherboard form jetwaycomputer.

(www.jetwaycomputer.com/NF9G.html)

This seems to be the ultimate compromise for power (watts) vs power (cpu performance)

If anyone knows any other companies making similar MoBo's using Ultralow power I5 or I7 mobile processors - please post feedback/ideas/suggestions and keep this post alive.
February 7, 2013 10:08:15 PM

Nice! thanks for the suggestion... its very interesting as a media player when attached to TV, but even at idle its pushing 33+ watts - so although great for making your "not so smart TV" a "smart TV" and the high end graphics and nice assortment of I/O are sweet - but this doesn't seem like the thing you would want powered up 24/7. But for a home built gaming/multimedia console this would be pretty good option. Thanks again :) 
Related resources
February 7, 2013 11:41:55 PM

I think you could drop the graphics card in that build to a Radeon 6450 and save both power and money .

Im also sure there are Atom or AMD E series processors and motherboards that could reduce power consumption more . Especially the E series APU's which wouldnt need a graphics card at all

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$95 covers mb, cpu and graphics

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-am...
February 11, 2013 7:52:09 PM

After a bit more research and soul-searching I was looking for additional feedback specifically on the following :

Main function of device is NAS + Video streaming (w/ trans-coding) and am really looking to keep the power usage low for 24/7 use. I was originally looking at the Synology DS411slim but think i might be better served with a more utilitarian platform... that being said I was considering the following processors for a mini-itx build:

Intel Xeon E3-1220Lv2
Intel Core i5-3470T
Intel Pentium G2120


My other option is a prebuilt :
Intel Product ID: EKIH77M350
Intel Core i5-3450S Ivy Bridge Mini-ITX PC Kit, M350, 4GB, DH77DF, H77



Secondly - im thinking this will be a headless build and using a ZEALZ GK802 (running XMBC) to directly connect to TV for my video.

I was looking at a variety of Ivy mini-itx mother boards and curious about other options for a low power server... i know the article in this thread utilized the MSI mITX but perhaps going with an ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD ( w/ Z77 chipset) I could eliminate the GK802 with a WiDi tv adapter perhaps...?
February 11, 2013 9:46:34 PM

I've been agonising on similar lines - I've outgrown my Synology, both in terms of space and flexibility.

Where'd you land on the Atom vs iX debate? From what I can see, the i3 - and even the i7 - use less power in real terms than the Atom because they idle so low. They then have the oomph on tap if you do want to sit in front of the box and do anything (not sure truly headless works at this point, although handbrake-cli is available - it's a shame to not use all that processing power, after all). I also looked at the T processors (e.g. the 3220T) and concluded that it's great if you really need the lower TDP (e.g. because of a small case), but it's not necessary otherwise - a normal iX idles just as low, and is cheaper.

The other challenge I've found is the mobo: if you have a number of discs to plug in, you'll rapidly run out of SATA connections. Only Asus seems to do a motherboard with enough connectors (the P8H77-I). You've landed on the Z77 variant of the same, though I don't think I need the extra functionality of that chipset and fear it'll just suck more juice while my back's turned.
May 5, 2013 2:47:05 PM

Coming in a bit late but have you considered simply using a Raspberry Pi? It's a small all-in-one board: $35 USD, consumes ~2 watts of power, has HDMI/RCA outputs, LAN & USB inputs and runs Linux completely off of an SD card. Lots of possibilities if you haven't looked at it yet...

http://www.element14.com/community/groups/raspberry-pi?...
May 7, 2013 6:04:59 PM

Shane Bridges said:
Coming in a bit late but have you considered simply using a Raspberry Pi? It's a small all-in-one board: $35 USD, consumes ~2 watts of power, has HDMI/RCA outputs, LAN & USB inputs and runs Linux completely off of an SD card. Lots of possibilities if you haven't looked at it yet...

http://www.element14.com/community/groups/raspberry-pi?...


I appreciate your feedback, and yes I've looked at it, as well as a few other solutions, but as for the PI not enough horsepower to do video transcoding, and function as a real media server, trust me its the PI is ok for basic stuff good but not enough horse power for anything remotely serious.

After additional research think i will opt for a MINI ITX motherboard form jetwaycomputer specifically their NF9G MoBo
(www.jetwaycomputer.com/NF9G.html)
this seems to be the ultimate compromise for power (watts) vs power (cpu performance)

you can get them with the ultra-low power ivy bridge (panther point) I7 mobile processors (i7-3612QM @ 35W) -- this was the best solution I came up with so far to address all my needs. If anyone has any experience with this company or their products please let me know -

I know 35 watts is still a bit much for most people myself included for a 24/7 media server/cloud/ftp/HTPC system so I'm holding out to see if this same board (or ANY other MoBo) will support the 13W, 17W and 25W new I7 mobile processors i.e Intel : I7-3689Y, I7-3667U, I7-3689Y I7-3555LE

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_Bridge_%28microarchite...)

After a ton of research the Intel I7-3667U processor seems best suited for this purpose --

Its just a shame that the people at Intel were too short-sighted when developing / designing the Intel NUC (Intel NUC BOXDC3217IYE) which has a significantly underpowered I5 processor that is more power hungry than the above mentioned Intel I7 processors...


If anyone else has any feedback on any other alternatives to the above please keep this post alive :) 

Cheers
Steve
May 8, 2013 1:26:26 PM

steve_7777 said:
Ok so I would like to buy (or build) a 24/7 ultra low power mini-itx media server / NAS. Something that can store my music files, videos, documents and be able to relay such info to a LAN networked device or to a phone/pc over the internet (i.e. owncloud). I would also like it to run a : web, ftp, and vpn servers, as well as have the ability to stream music and video off of a few attached SSD's.

Id also like to have it running some flavor of linux (ubuntu, amahi) and unless someone can convince me (utilize the x86 architecture, as opposed to ARM).

Also and more important I want it to be able to run locally if the internet is down, as well as pay no monthy/yearly fees to use (aside from cost of hardware and electricity).

I have looked at several over the counter solutions from SYNOLOGY, QSNAP, as well as alternate ideas such as Tonino2. Im also down with building my own system and was contemplating using the ATOM - specifically either the Intel DN2800MT (Cedarview) or the Supermicro X9SBAA-F (Centerton).

I suppose I could wait for the Atom N2850... but like the usb 3 ports on the supermicro, however since there is no HDMI and only an internal PCI slot the supermicro might not be the best way to attach directly to TV. Where the N2800/N2850 has a direct HDMI as well as mini PCIE for BT or wireless LAN.

Can someone provide an honest assessment on the best way to go, that provides a bit of upward mobility, preferably fanless, headless using very little power (in both active and idle states). Id hate to have one file server box and another separate media player device - but it doesnt seem like there is really any way to have both - perhaps I am overlooking some other low-power platform?


UPDATE: 5/07/13:


Ive given up on ARM and ATOM solutions and am really looking into Intel I5 and I7 ultralow power systems. Intels NUC is ok, but after discovering the availability of 13W, 17W and 25W Intel I7 processors (Ivy bridge/Panther point) Im looking more into a Mini ITX solution something on the lines of the Jetway NF9G motherboard form jetwaycomputer.

(www.jetwaycomputer.com/NF9G.html)

This seems to be the ultimate compromise for power (watts) vs power (cpu performance)

If anyone knows any other companies making similar MoBo's using Ultralow power I5 or I7 mobile processors - please post feedback/ideas/suggestions and keep this post alive.


Steve

Look at my 40TB NAS consumes 180W of power - This is a pure Media File Server base on FreeNAS, of ocurese there is lot of plugins that you can installed to make your NAS more versatile.
http://www.mpcclub.com/forum/showthread.php?t=22898&pag...

Of course with today HDD you can use 5x 4TB HDD for ONE SPM394

Update: Here are a list of plugins for FreeNAS:
http://forums.freenas.org/showthread.php?8470-INDEX-Ava...
June 26, 2013 9:44:35 AM

Did you find somwthing? I was looking for a NAS but as I see the prices I would prefer a mini computer on which I can run any linux program not only smbd...
July 31, 2013 2:02:52 AM

bodrin said:
Did you find somwthing? I was looking for a NAS but as I see the prices I would prefer a mini computer on which I can run any linux program not only smbd...

I built a server with 4x 500Gb 2.5" drives (RAID X) using a JNC9C-550-LF. It's running with Debian and all services including media (miniDLNA), SSH, Web, Mail (including AV and SpamAssassin), Samba etc, etc. It pulls 33 watts most of the time (around 16W for the m/b and the rest for the drives and drive cage. The board is fanless. It all sits inside a small Thermaltake case.

Performance isn't sparkling, but it's a server for the family and no-one gets media dropouts or complains of files taking too long to open.

What I'd really like now is a fanless PSU (which shouldn't be too difficult) and a fanless cage for 4 drives (which AFAIK isn't available).

November 3, 2013 4:23:35 AM

Sorry to come in late on this but in case it helps, I have been running a low power, silent media server for the last 6 months and have been very pleased with the results. It is built from
ASUS P8B-M S1155 MOBO
Intel Xeon E3-1220Lv2 Ivy Bridge with a passive cooler
Nofan P-400A Silent 400W Fanless Power Supply Unit (look on Quietpc.co.uk or quietpc.com)
SSD + 3Tb WD Red HDD
Nofan case + DVD drive for ripping DVDs/CDs (could also rip Blu-Rays with Blu-Ray player but haven't tried)
Running Vortexbox (see http://vortexbox.org/ and http://info.vortexbox.org/tiki-index.php?page=HomePage)

I run it headless and have it stuck under the stairs streaming to a variety of clients - xbmc, PS3, Cambridge Audio streamer and various Raspberry Pi running picoplayer (squeezebox substitute) or Raspbmc for video streaming.

As Vortexbox is Fedora based you can hack into it as you wish and adapt it to do what you want. For example I have a rsync daemon running on it so that the music/video on the files are automagically and efficiently backed up to a Backuppc server in the loft (an Ubuntu box with a RAID 6 array)
January 9, 2014 4:04:34 PM

Hello....thought I'd bump the thread.

I'm putting together a Lian-Li m-ITX enclosure with H87I-plus, two sticks of Rip Jaws I had extra (2x4), a 120GB Samsung 840, SeaSonic PSU and G3220 which I can replace with a T or L-series (maybe Broadwell or Skylake?) later. Might add a WD Blue 1TB. So far so good! :) 

Basicly it's just a surfer, but could take on a larger role.

ETA: It's not quite finished, but measured 32 watts idling.
January 10, 2014 12:20:08 PM

pickaroonwyo said:
Hello....thought I'd bump the thread.

I'm putting together a Lian-Li m-ITX enclosure with H87I-plus, two sticks of Rip Jaws I had extra (2x4), a 120GB Samsung 840, SeaSonic PSU and G3220 which I can replace with a T or L-series (maybe Broadwell or Skylake?) later. Might add a WD Blue 1TB. So far so good! :) 

Basicly it's just a surfer, but could take on a larger role.

ETA: It's not quite finished, but measured 32 watts idling.


Appreciate the Bump, I ended up holding off for lack of an ideal solution.

I've checked out the ASUS H87I+ but couldn't find much in terms of power consumption. Lately I've had a renewed interest in the Jetway Q87 @4.1W TDP ( datasheet ) , combine this with a nice i7-4765T processor (Haswell) and you got yourself a sweet little HTPC / Media server.

After reading other reviews such as the ASUZ Z87 PRO, which covered a few other motherboard solutions I'm a bit torn, and for a bit was even contemplating a pre-built Lenovo Thinkcentre M93p; all of which seemingly offer top notch power consumption - which was my main focus point, however they also seem to be pretty good from a performance standpoint.

Sadly all these options are a bit pricy, if someone could come up with a better option for the $ i would totally welcome any other suggestions. Ive seen pre-built Jetway NFJ-Q87's at MitxPC but they don't seem to be available with the 34W TDP i7-4765T processor. There seemed to be more options available for the barebone systems at LogicSupply but then comes the power supply issues which if over 65W kinda negate the whole point of a low power system.

The only other option I was looking at is trying to find an embedded motherboard that comes with the i7-4650u to use for my rig. I found an Advantech SOM-6894 & SOM-DB5800 solution except I'm certain this setup would be prohibitively expensive. :-(

Regardless, of all the options above the power consumption numbers look impressive (on paper) but guess I was hoping for some real world user feedback.

Pickaroon if you can keep us updated on your power consumption finding's as you finish up your system - I think that info could be very insightful.
January 20, 2014 3:05:55 PM

Not a total match for your needs but I needed a low power media server that I can take with me on the road and found just what I needed at this place http://queegtech.3dcartstores.com/Q-BOX-Traveler_p_79.h.... Seemed very open to accommodating when I requested changes. I think they are working on a mini version of their ESXi server which might fit into a jack-of-all-trades type server which sounds kind of like your goal.
!