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Thread: Recommendations for a new home server?

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    Post Recommendations for a new home server?

    Hi, was hoping to get some advice/opinions from people on some parts for a new home server.

    The aim is to put together a PC that would be used as a file server, and for hosting several virtual machines for a home/test environment. It will not be used for gaming, so graphics card is of little importance, so long as it has a passive heat sink, as such I have no requirements for an SLI/Crossfire motherboard. Regarding overclocking, stability is more important, but if I can possibly overclock the Q6600 to perhaps 2.8 or even 3GHz, while keeping it stable, that would be nice.

    Some of the parts I've considered are listed below, unsure really on a good PSU/motherboard/heatsink, but feedback or recommendations on any of the parts would be appreciated.


    Case: Antec P182 - £87.57 (ebuyer)
    A friend has seen the P182 (and another the P180), and it seems to be nice case, quiet and everything was fairly cool inside I think, tidy too. Any other cases similar in price and as good or better?


    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0 SLACR - £136.24 (Scan)
    I'd originally ignored the AMD Phenom CPUs, but with the current 9x50 models, can anyone recommend them over the Q6600 for price/performance?


    RAM: 8GB - 2 x "4GB (2x2GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800)" - £58.33 each so £116.66 for 8GB (Scan)


    HDDs:
    4 x Samsung HD753LJ 750GB - £67.37 each, so £269.48 (Scan)
    2 x Seagate ST3320620AS 320GB (re-using from old PC)


    Motherboard:
    Unsure, but leaning towards the Asus P5K Premium/WiFi-AP - £104.69 (Scan)

    Required:
    6 x SATA
    2 x LAN
    DDR2 (DDR3 memory is too expensive for now, about £178 for 2x2GB. As I'd like 8GB in total, DDR3 seems to expensive for my needs).

    Optional:
    8 x SATA
    2 x eSATA
    Although from what I can tell, having 8 SATA or 2 eSATA seem to be mutually exclusive, the boards I've seen with 8 SATA don't have any eSATA, and the ones with 2 eSATA only have 6 SATA, so I'm assuming that this is a chipset limitation of a maximum of 8 SATA ports in total. I know that the Antec P182 case only has 6 available 3.5 mountings for hard drives, but thought that if I were to have 8 I could mount 2 in the spare 5 1/4 bays if necessary. But for now, my main considering is for 6 SATA drives.

    Thought about the P5E WS Professional which seems to have 8 SATA and 2 eSATA (the extra 2 SATA and 2 eSATA provided via the extra Marvell chipset). Anyone have any experience with this board?

    Can PCIe x16 slots support cards other than GPUs? For example, the Asus P5K Premium has "2 x PCIe x16 (blue @ x16 mode, black @ x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology", assuming one slot has a graphics card in, could the other be used say for a hardware raid controller that requires a PCIe x4 slot?


    CPU Heat sink: not sure, but I’ve seen the Scythe Ninja and Mini Ninja recommended a few times, which is better at cooling/quieter or any other recommendation? The Scythe Ninja is fanless, so if I choose that one, any advice on a quiet fan I could use with it?
    Scythe Mini Ninja - £27.01 (Scan)
    Scythe Ninja Plus Rev B - £29.36 (Scan)


    PSU: not sure, but assume that I will probably need a PSU around 650W. Any recommendations?


    DVD-Writer: Samsung SH-S202J/BEBN 20x DVD±RW ±R DL Writer IDE Black OEM - £15.97 (Scan)


    GPU: 256MB Gigabyte 8400GS - £25.84 (Scan)


    I’m hoping to be putting this together sometime between the end of May and end of June, unless there are any reasons to hold off for a little longer?

    Thanks for any recommendations.

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    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    The board you are considering will certain get a q6600 to 3.0GHz stable, it could get it to the chips limits and the board would be stable

    Everything looks nice there, heat sink wise the ninja would be the one to go for between the ninja and mini ninja.

    The ninja comes with a fan which is quieter than the P182 stock fans so you might as well stick with it, but it will operate very well with 800rpm fans and even passive but perhaps not with the bigger overclocks.

    It's very similar to my P182 PC which has a ninja and passive gfx card. It's near silent just giving a very gentle sound of air being moved really. Nexus fans and acoustic paddign are the only way to get it quieter, like silent PC review have done to theres.

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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    The aim is to put together a PC that would be used as a file server, and for hosting several virtual machines for a home/test environment. It will not be used for gaming, so graphics card is of little importance, so long as it has a passive heat sink,
    Graphics card is of absolutely *no* importance, all you need is anything with a framebuffer, the cheaper the better, even onboard is overkill.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    Regarding overclocking, stability is more important, but if I can possibly overclock the Q6600 to perhaps 2.8 or even 3GHz, while keeping it stable, that would be nice.
    No, no, no, no, that is such a bad idea for so many reasons, I'd be here all day listing them all, it's just plain unnessecery and it'll end in tears, stick with stock, you'll thank me later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    Case: Antec P182 - £87.57 (ebuyer)
    A friend has seen the P182 (and another the P180), and it seems to be nice case, quiet and everything was fairly cool inside I think, tidy too. Any other cases similar in price and as good or better?
    Just choose a chassis that gives easy access to the HDDs and offers cable management that wont cause cables connected to HDDs to be easily/accidently disconnected when hot-swapping disks to avoid downtime and nasty corruption, particularly look at cases with backplanes built in, few new Lian-Li chassis have this now, alternatively, get a chassis with a bunch of 5.25" slots and buy 3rd party backplanes. Generally gaming cases are useless in this area.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0 SLACR - £136.24 (Scan)
    I'd originally ignored the AMD Phenom CPUs, but with the current 9x50 models, can anyone recommend them over the Q6600 for price/performance?
    No, the current Phenoms are buggy, and slower than the Q6600 anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    RAM: 8GB - 2 x "4GB (2x2GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800)" - £58.33 each so £116.66 for 8GB (Scan)
    Fine, should do for VMs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    HDDs:
    4 x Samsung HD753LJ 750GB - £67.37 each, so £269.48 (Scan)
    It's a personal choice, but I'd stick with Western Digital AAKS disks, fast, quiet, doesn't seem to have horror stories attached, so I assume most get as much reliablity out of them as I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    Motherboard:
    Unsure, but leaning towards the Asus P5K Premium/WiFi-AP - £104.69 (Scan)

    Required:
    6 x SATA
    2 x LAN
    DDR2 (DDR3 memory is too expensive for now, about £178 for 2x2GB. As I'd like 8GB in total, DDR3 seems to expensive for my needs).

    Optional:
    8 x SATA
    2 x eSATA
    Although from what I can tell, having 8 SATA or 2 eSATA seem to be mutually exclusive, the boards I've seen with 8 SATA don't have any eSATA, and the ones with 2 eSATA only have 6 SATA, so I'm assuming that this is a chipset limitation of a maximum of 8 SATA ports in total. I know that the Antec P182 case only has 6 available 3.5 mountings for hard drives, but thought that if I were to have 8 I could mount 2 in the spare 5 1/4 bays if necessary. But for now, my main considering is for 6 SATA drives.
    If you find an Abit AB9 Pro you'll be laughing, the chipset might be a bit oldish, but it'll run the Q6600 && DDR2 at stock, stably, and it has everything you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    Can PCIe x16 slots support cards other than GPUs? For example, the Asus P5K Premium has "2 x PCIe x16 (blue @ x16 mode, black @ x4 or x1 mode) supports CrossFire Technology", assuming one slot has a graphics card in, could the other be used say for a hardware raid controller that requires a PCIe x4 slot?
    Yes, the rule of thumb is, if it physically fits, it works. All PCIe x1, x2, x4, x8, x16 cards will run in a PCIe x16 slot, baring the first PCIe x16 slot, which must be a Graphics card (if the board doesn't have onboard video).


    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    CPU Heat sink: not sure, but I’ve seen the Scythe Ninja and Mini Ninja recommended a few times, which is better at cooling/quieter or any other recommendation? The Scythe Ninja is fanless, so if I choose that one, any advice on a quiet fan I could use with it?
    Stay with stock, unless it starts getting noisy, then just go for something quieter. Maybe the Zalman CNPS8700-NT, keeps the motherboard bits chilly, quiet, has a PWM fan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    PSU: not sure, but assume that I will probably need a PSU around 650W. Any recommendations?
    Anything over 500W is a waste of money. Stick with reliable brands, Corsair, FSP, Enermax, Tagan, etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    GPU: 256MB Gigabyte 8400GS - £25.84 (Scan)
    Whatever's cheapest

    Quote Originally Posted by Pebble View Post
    I’m hoping to be putting this together sometime between the end of May and end of June, unless there are any reasons to hold off for a little longer?
    Nothing that I can think of, server related. BTW, don't mean to sound harsh about the overclocking idea, and I know it's only a *home* server, but it's better to play it safe than something silly to happen and nuke all your data, it's just not worth it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    In fairness I do use mine with stock settings with the above reasons but then it doesn't run anything important enough to take "real" server precautions over. It's up to you but if you need the extra grunt then im sure something like 3.0GHz will run stable enough, might be wrong as I've never really tested it but a lot of people do.

    I do agree with the Western Digital AAKS hard drives though I didn't pick up on that before, I know people rave about spinpoints but I have heard and seen a couple of these horror stories, just can't recommend them really.

    You might even be better off with RE's (raid editions).

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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    I don't think you should overclock a server to be honest.
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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    thanks for the response guys.

    It's not for any business or mission-critical usage otherwise I wouldn't even have considered overclocking, was just looking in it at as a way of getting a little extra out of it. I'll probably just run it at stock and see how it goes, maybe only overclock it 2-3 years down the line if it starts to struggle. I can only rarely and briefly foresee the cores getting to 100% usage anyway (probably during the startup of any virtual machines, especially if they are started up concurrently), so I'm sure it'll be fine without overclocking, was just a thought really

    aidanjt, I know I said it was a server but hot-swapping really isn't needed, I have no issues with powering it down to remove/replace faulty components, but easy drive access is still nice to have. Cable management is an essential cirteria, would prefer it to look neat and be easy to work with inside, as opposed to having several cables in the way of seeing anything.

    Regarding the hard drives, I've no experience with the Western Digital AAKS, and no experience with the Samsung HD753LJ either, but the Saumsung HD501LJ seemed to have been really good, ran quiet, seemed to get good reviews. Have there been horror stories with the HD753LJ or were they general stories about Samsung hdds? Are the Western Digital AAKS as quiet as the HD501LJ or quieter? I'd considered RE hdds, but they seem too expensive.

    500W would be enough then? Do any 500W PSUs come with at least 6 SATA power connectors, or will I have to use splitters on them? seems that most come with only 4. Probably being a bit pedantic about it, more of a "i'd like" rather than a "must have", otherwise I can simply use splitters.

    Does the stock fan with the Q6600 run fairly quietly?

    staffsMike: not to sound like I'm doubting you, but are you sure that the Ninja comes with a fan? Its just that the model on the Scan sight seems to give the impression that it is the heat sink only (Scythe Ninja Plus Rev B Fanless HeatPipe Cooler S775/S478/S754/S939/940 c/w 120mm Quiet Fan). The fact that it says Fanless, and c/w (assumed that ment comes without), and does not list any RPM for the fan, gave me the impression that it doesn't. Are there perhaps different packages available?

    thanks again

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    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    the "rev B" ninja's all come with a 120mm fan. I've bought all 3 of mine from scan and all have a fan

    (w/o) is usually without as far as I know (c/w) is comes with.

    I hate the stock intel cooler, noisey thing and it's rubbish for cooling quads. 500w is enough but the corsair 520w only comes with 4 as standard, but you could always use molex to sata adapters. RE drives can be powered by both anyway I think.

    Western Digital AAKS are pretty much the quietest drives I've come across and they are inaudiable in the P182 which I why I love mine

    My setup sans gfx card if you are interested.

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    Re: Recommendations for a new home server?

    Thanks for the pic Mike, looks nice and tidy in there :-)

    I've looked around and I see what you and aidanjt meant by the horror stories about the Samsung's, I assume you were both probably referring to the "Check M.C. ecc error" that lots of people were reporting. Some seem to think it was a result of the out of date samsung diagnostics HUTIL, but even so, doesn't inspire much confidence. Still looking around, but seems people are saying positive things about the Western Digital AAKS, although they do seem to keep mentioning at times that its getting a bit old, not that I really care if its an old model, so long as its fairly quiet. The hard drive was the 1 thing I was fairly sure about, obviously not any more :-) A shame that the the Western Digital WD7500AAKS is about £23 more than the Samsung, that's about a £95 increase in total for 4 drives :-( Really sucks, may have to re-think my needs a bit.

    As for PSU, was thinking of the Enermax MODU82+ EMD525AWT, 525W will hopefully be enough, plus it appears to have 6 SATA, so just the right amount of connections.

    Guess I'll have to search around a bit more to see if I can get the WD7500AAKS a bit cheaper anywhere else.

    Thanks

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