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T.Bone

Home Server Build Suggestions

Question

With the current issues going on with my EX-495 its pushing me more and more to new hardware. I have thought about either a Mac Pro, HP Gen 8, or a DIY rack mount build. My current set up is a Ex-495 with a Q9550s processor and a 5 bay san digital esata enclosure. These are the things I would like in my next machine ( give or take):

 
1) Equal or higher performance CPU
2) CPU Capable of multiple 1080p streams (including Audio) Needs to support x265 and 10bit 
3) File server of course
4) Hot swappable HDD (I know the Gen8 doesn't support this)
5) All Drives in same case
6) Small foot print if not rack mount (have home setup to garage where my rack is)
7) Should be #1 i don't want my power bill to go thru the roof. I would like to keep power usage at around the usage of the enclosure and EX-495. 
 
 
I currently use Serviio and Air Media HD to stream my media to iPhones and TV. The current processor doesn't do much stuttering if at all which is nice when watching a movie. Currently I'm having issue with remote access (can get sign in page after sign in it times out) on WS2012e R2 but I would like remote access. Help pointing me in the right direction or suggestions on what i should do is greatly appreciated. With tax time coming up i should have a little extra coin to make something decent if not nice.

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Well, it really depends on what you want, and ... more importantly, how many drive bays you want to have.

 

As for the system, there are several "DIY" cases that you may want to look at:

  1. Norco ITX-S4 or S8 (4 bay or 8 bay mini-ITX form factor case). They're not as rock solid as the HP MicroServers, but they're not a bad option, at all. 
  2. SilverStone DS380

Aside from that 

 

As for CPU, a Core i5 or better would be as good or better than what you're using (it's an actual quad core, but you could also use a Core i3 CPU, as well).

But if you want to support x265 and 10bit, then a higher end CPU may be a good idea here. 

 

 

 

 

As for power usage, that depends a lot of usage, but you may want to check out "LightsOut". It may help with power management and reducing usage. 

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Yeah I was thinking some kinda i7 as I really like the idea of quad cores, plus MORE POWER (Tim Allen Grunt)!! To be serious Id like to get:

 

1) the power I need and something I won't have to keep upgrading every few months. 

2) A processor that doesn't break the bank

 

I currently have the MSS and a 5 bay esata enclosure with 4 drives. I would love to have more capacity but how big i should go I have no idea. I do like this unit: http://www.origenae.co.kr/en/htpc_s21t.htm. This way it could sit out with my other equipment. Should i been looking for something better or is this cool?

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Well, the case you've linked is pretty darn cool. My only issue with it is no hot swappable hard drive bays.  I'm kind of obsessive about that, as it makes drive "maintenance" simple (adding/removing drives... without full system disassembly). But if you're fine with that, it looks like a VERY nice system. 

 

 

As for the CPU, the problem is that a good CPU is going to cost you a good chunk of money. Especially if you want to future proof it. 

Though, if you're going for the high end CPUs (Core i7's), it may be worth looking into the Xeon's and/or using ECC memory.  But the better CPU you get, the more it's going to cost (E3's are basically i7's, but E5's are much better and much more expensive). 

 

So, it really depends. If it helps, Plex has a pretty good guideline on what CPU you may want to use:

https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/201774043-What-kind-of-CPU-do-I-need-for-my-Server-computer-

This may be a very good starting point, as it may give you a good idea of what you want to look for.

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Thanks Ill check that out. as for the case I agree the hot swap is nice. I have some question out to the manufactures of this case and one just like it seems like there hasn't been any real updates to the cases. I asked if they had planned on implementing hot swap. Is that something I can set up myself? or is that something that has to be build into case design?

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Hot swap doesn't have to be built in, but if it's not, then you need to have exposed 5.25" bays available. Which it doesn't have. (you can use "backplanes", such as the ones from IcyDock to add them to any case). 

This is what I'm talking about by the backplane: http://www.amazon.com/Icy-Dock-MB455SPF-B-Hot-Swap-Backplane/dp/B000KMAWHO

And you can find different versions of these, with many different configurations. 

 

 

If you find something similar that does, please do update me on it. I've looked for something that has both, and sort of NAS devices (not cases), there is pretty much nothing. :(

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Well, that definitely helps. :)

 

And Lian Li is a very well known, and reputable company. :)

 

And as for how they perform, it's mostly just an adapter, so it entirely depends on the chipset it's connected to. So you'd want to check the motherboard or drive controller's documentation first.

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Well, I have a dual core in my media server which handles PLEX, Sonarr, and StableBit. That's all it does.

 

It would help to have a bit more specific, I've built a handful of media boxes for various people. My last build included a JBOD 36 Bay Supermicro with an Dell R830/820.

 

I highly suggest you steer clear of x265. Compared to x264, there is no match really. I'm rockin' a 6 core Intel i7 OC'd to 4.2Ghz, 32GB RAM, Intel 750 HDD, and it still takes me 20 minutes - 30 minutes longer than my x264 encodes. But that's just my opinion.

 

If you're deadset on Rack Mount (Which I prefer, due to hotswappable drives), you'll spend a pretty penny for what you're wanting. My Gen 5 HP DL360 (I think that's the name, haha) has dual Quad Cores, 8GB of RAM and it encodes about 10 minutes slower than my buddies Intel i7.

 

But to the point, custom building a rackmount server will cost you, you won't have the space for large capacity. What I'd suggest doing is build a darn fast server that'll handle your requests, and serve content, however the bottleneck will always be from your storage to your server. 

 

If you'd like, I can whip you up something in a rackmount fashion, I'll also post my media servers build. As for my desktop, it costs $5,000. Water Cooling isn't complete, but it's about $1,000 total for the complete setup. I'm waiting for a cooling block for Intel 750 Drives.

My Storage Server

I'll post a link when I get home from work tonight.

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Yup, Rackmount servers are expensive. Even the cheap stuff (norco) is like $400 for the better cases (the RPC-4220 and RPC-4224).  And SuperMicro cases are probably some of the best you'll find, and MUCH more expensive (though ebay and craigslist is a good place to look for them).

The upside, is like BinaryData said: Hot swappable drive bays. 20+ depending on the case. That makes installing and removing drives very simple. 

The downside is that you will basically need a crash course in SAS to really use these case effectively (or at all). 

 

 

But to the point, custom building a rackmount server will cost you, you won't have the space for large capacity. What I'd suggest doing is build a darn fast server that'll handle your requests, and serve content, however the bottleneck will always be from your storage to your server. 

 

That really depends. The Norco I'm using (RPC-4220) has 12x 4TB drives and 5x8TB drives in it. so it can hold a LOT of capacity. But this depends on the drives, the controller and the "backplane" connecting the drives. 

 

As for "darn fast", that definitely depends on your configuration. A lot of the NAS grade drives get 150+MB/s for max sequential reads. Which is faster than what gigabit ethernet will get you. So... :)

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Yup, Rackmount servers are expensive. Even the cheap stuff (norco) is like $400 for the better cases (the RPC-4220 and RPC-4224).  And SuperMicro cases are probably some of the best you'll find, and MUCH more expensive (though ebay and craigslist is a good place to look for them).

The upside, is like BinaryData said: Hot swappable drive bays. 20+ depending on the case. That makes installing and removing drives very simple. 

The downside is that you will basically need a crash course in SAS to really use these case effectively (or at all). 

 

 

 

That really depends. The Norco I'm using (RPC-4220) has 12x 4TB drives and 5x8TB drives in it. so it can hold a LOT of capacity. But this depends on the drives, the controller and the "backplane" connecting the drives. 

 

As for "darn fast", that definitely depends on your configuration. A lot of the NAS grade drives get 150+MB/s for max sequential reads. Which is faster than what gigabit ethernet will get you. So... :)

 

Well, i suppose so. I wouldn't stick an i7 in a Norco case. I'd rather build a tower (Which can be made for racks), especially if it's something that'd run 24/7, I'd rather have it cooled better.

 

With what he's asking, he'll be spending anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 on his machine. My Gen8 Microserver works super well with my setup. My setup works like this;

 

Gen 8 is the primary media center. It downloads the latest series (via Sonarr.tv), while PLEX serves the media. I have a 100Mbit up/down unmetered business class connection, so I can serve 2 - 3 different people outside my network without a problem. Currently it's just my brother, however my mom will be accessing it too :( Comcast offers a Gigabit connection for $300 / month.

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Well, i suppose so. I wouldn't stick an i7 in a Norco case. I'd rather build a tower (Which can be made for racks), especially if it's something that'd run 24/7, I'd rather have it cooled better.

 

With what he's asking, he'll be spending anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 on his machine. My Gen8 Microserver works super well with my setup. My setup works like this;

 

Gen 8 is the primary media center. It downloads the latest series (via Sonarr.tv), while PLEX serves the media. I have a 100Mbit up/down unmetered business class connection, so I can serve 2 - 3 different people outside my network without a problem. Currently it's just my brother, however my mom will be accessing it too :( Comcast offers a Gigabit connection for $300 / month.

 

well, rackmounts usually have good cooling. The issue: sound.  They're loud as heck, using high RPM and db fans. 

And as for the CPU, I'd always recommend a Xeon for this. Which I have already. Especially as you can find low powered xeons. 

 

 

And for pricing, well, not counting hard drives, it really depends on what exactly you're looking at getting. 

But as I frequently spec out a small, lower end NAS, before hard drives, $1000 is about right. 

 

 

As for internet, nice. I only have 150/25, via Cox Business. It's more than I would like, and no gigabit connection (though, I can get 500/50 for $400/month......)

 

I saw this last night:

 

http://www.lian-li.com/en/dt_portfolio/bp1sata/

 

they come in 1-3 drive config. they looked neat I wonder how they perform. I don't know anything about this company.

 

did you make up your mind, or have an idea of what you want, or did we just add more ideas/confusion for you?

 

 

 

Though to re-emphasize, if you want to use Plex, especially with HD, a Core i7 or Xeon E3 are VERY good ideas. You won't have to worry about the CPU being a bottleneck for the most part, and you'll have plenty of cycles for other tasks as well. 

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No I haven't made any real decisions yet. I waiting to find out about my tax return to set a budget. I figured this wouldn't be cheap so I'm guessing under 2000 for the build. I tried to read up on power supplies. I also noticed Xeon processors were expensive, some over $1000. I really need to figure out what kind of case I want. I've been looking at both rack mounts and that S21T still.

 

is water cooling that much of a benefit? seems like water would be the worst conductor, my ignorance about tech, I'm thinking in relation to some thing like a car radiator. I'm surprised its not some other liquid.

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No I haven't made any real decisions yet. I waiting to find out about my tax return to set a budget. I figured this wouldn't be cheap so I'm guessing under 2000 for the build. I tried to read up on power supplies. I also noticed Xeon processors were expensive, some over $1000. I really need to figure out what kind of case I want. I've been looking at both rack mounts and that S21T still.

 

Ah, makes sense. :)

 

And yeah, Xeons range in price. The "E3" ones are pretty close to Core i7 in price, but also in spects. The E5's range from $500 t0 ... well, some get to $4500 (the 16 core model). And I really haven't looked at the E7's .... 

So it depends on specifically how much you're willing to spend.  And looking at the CPU is a good start. And just for a ballpark, you probably want to look at setting aside 1/3 of the budget for the CPU. Or more. Especially, since you've mentioned streaming/transcoding software.

 

 

 

 

is water cooling that much of a benefit? seems like water would be the worst conductor, my ignorance about tech, I'm thinking in relation to some thing like a car radiator. I'm surprised its not some other liquid.

 

hahaha! :)

 

Yes, water cooling isn't really a good solution for cooling, despite what many gamers say. it's great for a silent system, but the overall heat dissipation is actually worse than a case with good airflow. 

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Ok I'm looking at a few things to get a broad Idea of what ill need. What are the best motherboards to be looking at? I was pointed to Asus but those posts were a little old. is there difference between gaming and other motherboards? Also how about power supplies do the higher end Power supplies save you energy? they sound like they do condition power a little so that is nice. as for the chip Im guessing it will be 600-1200 for a chip. I like the idea of quad cores but 6 core sounds better. what i really need and sounds good are worlds apart.

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For hardware:

 

  • Motherboards:
    I highly recommend server motherboards. They're designed to be always on, more likely to support ECC memory (more stable, basically), management options (like Intel vPro and IPMI, which let you connect to the system, even when it's off or booting!),  and the onboard chipsets are usually of better quality. 
    SuperMicro, Tyan, and ASRock RACK are good companies to look at for this. 

    However, this definitely depends on what exactly you plan on doing. 
     
  • Power Supplies:
    80+ certified, the "higher" the better, as they will generate less heat and pull less power from the wall to provide the same power to components. 
    Also, Active PFC is good, this is the power conditioning you're referring to, I believe.  This is "true sinewave" as opposed to stepped approximation for voltage regulation.  It basically provides "cleaner" power. 

    Also, you definitely want to get a UPS/Battery Backup, as these absolutely do condition the power for you, and can filter out spikes and brown outs. As well as give your system time to shut down during a power outage.
     
  • As for the CPU, it absolutely depends on what you plan on doing, and the budget you have to spend. 
    If you want quad core or better, then look at Intel Xeon CPUs. These are server grade, and always support ECC memory (which again, is good for stability, as it detects and corrects errors, to a degree). ECC memory is a bit slower, and costs a bit more, but for a server, it may be worth it. 

    That said, Xeon E3's are generally equivalent to Core i7 processors, with slightly different goals.  Xeon E5's are a "bit" higher end, as you can find them in quad core and up to 18 core variants, IIRC.  But they definitely cost a lot more. 

    But you're right, "want" and "need" can be worlds apart (I really want that 18 core "Xeon E5-2699v3", but it's ~$4000). 

    If you plan on transcoding media, then spending a good chunk of money on a good CPU is worthwhile. 
    Plex actually has a good guideline for this: 
    https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/200250377-Transcoding-Media
     

 

 

Sites like PC Part Picker can be helpful to spec out a system before purchasing, so you don't go over budget. 

 

And it's a good idea to start at the CPU. Figure out what you really need and can afford and build around that. 

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16 cores would be awesome. Looks like I have a ton of research to do. as I can but the items over time and put together should allow me to spend a tad bit more.

 

as for my computer needs that is hard to say I'm not a gamer (I have a PS4 for that) but... I want my computer to do everything I need it to.

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16 cores would be awesome. Looks like I have a ton of research to do. as I can but the items over time and put together should allow me to spend a tad bit more.

 

as for my computer needs that is hard to say I'm not a gamer (I have a PS4 for that) but... I want my computer to do everything I need it to.

 

Yeah, it would. :)

 

And don't forget that there are dual socket systems as well. Lots of options, so it really depends on what exactly you want, and how much you're willing to spend. ;)

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I got a little overwhelmed with the thought of building my own server and picked up a Gen8 Microserver. The more i dug into it the more complicated it became. I can figure out complicated but the more I researched the more limiting that server seemed to become. I was able to dump it on a client of mine so no harm no foul, It will be better used in his environment then mine. 

 
So now I'm back to figuring out how to build again.

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