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    Can you build your own Gen8 equivalent Microserver?


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    #1 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 03 June 2013 - 02:39 PM

    If the leaked specs are true, and HP can get this to retail at around $400-500, then they will have a winner on their hands.

    Just for my own curiosity, I tried to spec a BYOB that would match the features...I came close, but could not match them all! (dual gigabit NIC's are nearly impossible to find on mini-itx motherboards).

    I built the idea around the mini-itx spec for compact size.

     

    Here's the "what-if" box I came up with.

     

    Case: Lian Li PC-Q25 ($99)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811112339

    (5 hot-swap bays on a SATA-III backplane, can hold up to 7x 3.5" drives --or-- 6x 3.5" drives plus 2x 2.5" drives total)

     

    Motherboard: ASRock FM2A85X-ITX ($99)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813157357

    (7 SATA-III ports with USB-3/eSATA ports)

     

    CPU: AMD A4-5300 3.4GHz 65W TDP ($55)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819113283

     

    RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) ($38)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231193

    --OR--

    RAM: Corsair Vengance 8GB (2x4GB) ($63)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820233379

     

    PSU: SeaSonic SSR-360GP ($60)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817151117

    (I know there are cheaper ones, but I'm a SeaSonic fan!)

     

    HDD: Toshiba 500GB 7200RPM ($55)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822149380

     

    Cheapest cost: $406

     

    Notes:

    I went with AMD strictly for cost.  The cheapest Haswell CPU is nearly $200.  No way that would make the budget.

    The FM2 board I picked has 7 SATA3 (6Gb/s) ports and a RAID controller supporting 0/1/5/10 which eliminates the need to buy a separate HBA card to add the extra SATA ports needed (though most BYOB followers will want a dedicated RAID-5 card).

    I am looking to replace my aging HP EX490 and this just may be the box to do it.


    HP EX490 (E5200 CPU & 4GB RAM upgrades) WHS2011. HP N54L Microserver (4GB RAM) WHS2011.

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    #2 ikon

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    Posted 03 June 2013 - 04:30 PM

    Thanks for doing this. It's an interesting exercise.

     

    I understand using the AMD CPU for cost reasons, but the only truly fair comparison is to use the same CPU that the G8 is using. It really needs to be as apples-to-apples as possible. Like I posted earlier, I just don't think we can build the kind of value we can get ready-made in the G8. We can build more powerful servers for sure, but not at the same value.


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    #3 Joe_Miner

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    Posted 03 June 2013 - 08:37 PM

    If the leaked specs are true, and HP can get this to retail at around $400-500, then they will have a winner on their hands.

    Just for my own curiosity, I tried to spec a BYOB that would match the features...I came close, but could not match them all! (dual gigabit NIC's are nearly impossible to find on mini-itx motherboards).

    I built the idea around the mini-itx spec for compact size.

     

    Here's the "what-if" box I came up with.

     

    Case: Lian Li PC-Q25 ($99)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811112339

    (5 hot-swap bays on a SATA-III backplane, can hold up to 7x 3.5" drives --or-- 6x 3.5" drives plus 2x 2.5" drives total)

     

    Motherboard: ASRock FM2A85X-ITX ($99)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813157357

    (7 SATA-III ports with USB-3/eSATA ports)

     

    CPU: AMD A4-5300 3.4GHz 65W TDP ($55)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819113283

     

    RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) ($38)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231193

    --OR--

    RAM: Corsair Vengance 8GB (2x4GB) ($63)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820233379

     

    PSU: SeaSonic SSR-360GP ($60)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817151117

    (I know there are cheaper ones, but I'm a SeaSonic fan!)

     

    HDD: Toshiba 500GB 7200RPM ($55)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822149380

     

    Cheapest cost: $406

     

    Notes:

    I went with AMD strictly for cost.  The cheapest Haswell CPU is nearly $200.  No way that would make the budget.

    The FM2 board I picked has 7 SATA3 (6Gb/s) ports and a RAID controller supporting 0/1/5/10 which eliminates the need to buy a separate HBA card to add the extra SATA ports needed (though most BYOB followers will want a dedicated RAID-5 card).

    I am looking to replace my aging HP EX490 and this just may be the box to do it.

     

     

    Nice work there!  Thanks!


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    #4 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 03 June 2013 - 11:12 PM

    The only truly fair comparison is to use the same CPU that the G8 is using. It really needs to be as apples-to-apples as possible. 

    True.

    In that scenario, replace the CPU/mobo with the following.

     

    Motherboard: Zotac H67ITX-C-E ($125)

    http://www.newegg.co...VirtualParent=1

     

    CPU: Intel G630T 2.3GHz 35W TDP (Sandy Bridge) ($80)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819116407

     

    Raises the overall cost to $460.


    HP EX490 (E5200 CPU & 4GB RAM upgrades) WHS2011. HP N54L Microserver (4GB RAM) WHS2011.

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    #5 hmvink

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 12:20 AM

    True.

    In that scenario, replace the CPU/mobo with the following.

     

    Motherboard: Zotac H67ITX-C-E ($125)

    http://www.newegg.co...VirtualParent=1

     

    CPU: Intel G630T 2.3GHz 35W TDP (Sandy Bridge) ($80)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819116407

     

    Raises the overall cost to $460.

     

    Did you read ANY of the reviews of the Zotac H67ITX-C-E?? Definitely not what you want for stable server environment.

    I think that with the proven track record of the 36, 40 and 54 models there simply is not a true competitor for the HP Microserver at the moment. 

     

    No, I do not work for HP!  :lol:


    Edited by hmvink, 04 June 2013 - 12:27 AM.


    #6 ikon

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 05:45 AM

    True.

    In that scenario, replace the CPU/mobo with the following.

     

    Motherboard: Zotac H67ITX-C-E ($125)

    http://www.newegg.co...VirtualParent=1

     

    CPU: Intel G630T 2.3GHz 35W TDP (Sandy Bridge) ($80)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819116407

     

    Raises the overall cost to $460.

     

    Did you read ANY of the reviews of the Zotac H67ITX-C-E?? Definitely not what you want for stable server environment.

    I think that with the proven track record of the 36, 40 and 54 models there simply is not a true competitor for the HP Microserver at the moment. 

     

    No, I do not work for HP!  :lol:

     

    Hey, not as bad as I feared Mr_Smartepants, but still quite a bit more than an N54L. And hmvink raises a good point: the MicroServers have proven to be really stable & reliable. As always, building your own has a certain amount of uncertainty.


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    #7 schoondoggy

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:32 AM

     

     

    Hey, not as bad as I feared Mr_Smartepants, but still quite a bit more than an N54L. And hmvink raises a good point: the MicroServers have proven to be really stable & reliable. As always, building your own has a certain amount of uncertainty.

    I believe he was trying to come up with a MS G8 alternative, not a N54L. The G8 will be more expensive than the N54L.

    As a owner of a N36L, N40L and N54L, I agree they are stable and reliable, but they are not very flexible. Try to add non-hp options to them, LSI and Adaptec RAID controllers as examples. 

    What kind of options have you added to your Microserver successfully?



    #8 ikon

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 11:30 AM

    Yeah. We have to be careful to keep the comparisons even. When I was talking about the N54L I meant the $406 cost, which uses an AMD CPU, so it's closer to the N54L, but it is a faster AMD so the comparison isn't completely even.

     

    I really didn't add anything to the N40L, other than an ODD. I don't think not being able add an LSI or Adaptec RAID is a huge detriment. These days, I'm beginning to feel some of the software options are getting to be more appealing than hardware RAID anyway, especially for small boxes like the N54L. Also, with only 1 PCIe slot, it will be difficult to use a G8MS as an HTPC and have hardware RAID, making things like DrivePool and DriveBender even more appealing.

     

    Anyway, back to the G8: $460 is not a bad price for a BYO box to compete with the G8 MicroServer. Unfortunately, the Q25 case is quite a bit larger than the G8MS, and you have to give up the convenience of a drive cage.


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    #9 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:31 PM

    Hey, how did my post become its own thread?  Ghost mods...slippery suckers! :P

     

    Did you read ANY of the reviews of the Zotac H67ITX-C-E?? Definitely not what you want for stable server environment.

    No, but other reviews about Zotac products in general indicate it's a brand to stay away from.

    I only included it to highlight the "apples-to-apples" features of the G8.

     

    My intent for the above (first?) post was just to highlight how much of a bargain the Gen8 microserver will be "IF" they can get it to retail for between $400-500.

    That's all.

     

    Folks who want to BYOB will always BYOB unless an off-the-shelf system will meet their requirements below their cost threshold.

    At the time I bought my EX490, the cost of building my own server was far beyond what I paid for the EX490.

    And, Yes.  HP makes some damn fine hardware.

     

    So I guess this discussion has morphed into: "What would you build to match the specs of the G8 microserver and keep the cost between $400-500?"


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    #10 jmwills

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:36 PM

    Don't forget to add in the cost of a warranty (RMA) for the entire unit if it all goes to HIAHB.


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    #11 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:41 PM

    Unfortunately, the Q25 case is quite a bit larger than the G8MS, and you have to give up the convenience of a drive cage.

    Well, not really.  The Q25 case holds a lot more drives than the G8MS, which is a selling point in my opinion.  Also the Q25 is the only mini-itx case I could find that has a SATA backplane so adding/removing drives is simple.  Not completely tool-less, but no cables to mess with.



    Another challenge is finding a suitable motherboard with an E-SATA port that can be configured for port-multiplying for use with an external drive case like MediaSonic or Sans Digital cases.  

    I'm going to miss that feature of my EX490.


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    #12 ikon

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:58 PM

    I grant that the Q25 will hold more drives, but it is larger. What it gains is configuration versatility it loses in server placement versatility. That's not an argument a lot of bitheads are going to agree with, but I want the box to be as small as possible. Heck, if I could get a viable server in wrist watch size I'd jump over the moon :)

     

    I'm not worried about eSATA any more: USB3 is my external drive link of choice these days.


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    #13 schoondoggy

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:23 PM

    Thanks for doing this. It's an interesting exercise.

     

    I understand using the AMD CPU for cost reasons, but the only truly fair comparison is to use the same CPU that the G8 is using. It really needs to be as apples-to-apples as possible. Like I posted earlier, I just don't think we can build the kind of value we can get ready-made in the G8. We can build more powerful servers for sure, but not at the same value.

    Apples to Apples is not important, you will never match feature for feature. It is all about value. What do I get for my money. A MS G8 will cost $xxx, for that money I get features and functions and form factor and a warranty and certifications(VMware). If I take the exact same amount of money, what do I get from a BYOB solution? or Fujitsu? or Dell? 

    Small form factor seems to be important to you, that may be way down the list for another entry level server purchaser. 

    Creativity is a very good thing! 



    #14 ikon

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    Posted 04 June 2013 - 08:29 PM

    Absolutely agree: each person is going to have their own pet features list. Fortunately, there is (mostly) hardware available to meet just about any of those feature lists :)


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    #15 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 10 June 2013 - 02:47 PM

    Guess I need to update the build list now that the Gen8 is available.

    For motherboard, I'm switching to an Intel 1155 socket so I'd have an upgrade path from my desktop i7-3770S.

    The Intel G1610 is $50 and the G2020 is $65 at Newegg but they're not the 'T' model CPUs.  Anyone have links for 1610T or 2020T CPUs?

    http://ark.intel.com...are/71069,71070

     

    Motherboard: Asus P8H77-I ($110)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131841

    (2 SATA-III, 4 SATA-II ports, USB-3)

     

    CPU: Intel Pentium G2020 Dual-core 2.9 GHz 55W TDP ($65)

    http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819116886


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    #16 jmwills

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    Posted 10 June 2013 - 02:52 PM

    That board is missing a NIC, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and an on board SD Card slot.  Kind of hard to compare.

     

    Edit:  Only 2 x 3.0 USB on the Gen8 but a total of 5 x 2.0 USB


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    #17 ikon

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    Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:22 PM

    I guess the bottom line is that these boxes are indeed good value for money.


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    #18 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 10 June 2013 - 11:09 PM

    I guess the bottom line is that these boxes are indeed good value for money.

    Yes, that was the original intent of my 'first' post.  Though now it's kinda morphed into "This is what I would buy instead of a Gen8".

    The main problem is a lack of mini-itx boards with lots of features/ports.  There's just no room and the market is very shallow.

    Oh, and about that MicroSD slot onboard.  That is a feature I have NEVER seen on a motherboard before.  I've seen SD card slots but never MicroSD (only on phones).

     

    HP just packs so much goodness into a small space!  It's a tough act to follow. ;)


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    #19 ikon

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    Posted 11 June 2013 - 12:20 PM

    HP just packs so much goodness into a small space!  It's a tough act to follow. ;)

     

    Indeed. They seem to have hit a sweet spot with the MicroServers.


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    #20 Mr_Smartepants

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    Posted 11 June 2013 - 03:02 PM

     
    Here's the updated "what-if" box I came up with using both AMD/Intel scenarios.
     
    Case: Lian Li PC-Q25 ($120)
    (5 hot-swap bays on a SATA-III backplane, can hold up to 7x 3.5" drives --or-- 6x 3.5" drives plus 2x 2.5" drives total)
     
    RAM: Corsair Vengance 8GB (2x4GB) ($68)
     
    PSU: SeaSonic SSR-360GP ($60)
    (I know there are cheaper ones, but I'm a SeaSonic fan!)
     
    Heatsink: CoolerMaster GeminII S524 ($40)
    (with fan removed, this will mesh with the PSU fan.
     
    OS: Windows Home Server 2011 ($50)
    (It works!)
     
    Subtotal of above: $338
     
    AMD setup
    Motherboard: ASRock FM2A85X-ITX ($100)
    (7 SATA-III ports with USB-3/eSATA ports)
     
    CPU: AMD A4-5300 3.4GHz 65W TDP ($55)
     
    Intel setup
    Motherboard: Asus P8H77-I ($110)
    (2 SATA-III ports, 4 SATA-II ports (6 total) & USB-3.  NO eSATA port)
     
    CPU: Intel Pentium G2020 2.9GHz 65W TDP ($65)
     
    AMD system cost: $493
    Intel system cost: $513
     
    Notes:
    The AMD FM2 board I picked has 7 SATA3 (6Gb/s) ports and 1 eSATA3 (6Gb/s) port (8 total) and a RAID controller supporting 0/1/5/10.
    The Intel 1155 board I picked only has 2 SATA3 (6Gb/s) ports, 4 SATA2 (3Gb/s) ports, and NO eSATA port (6 total) and a RAID controller supporting 0/1/5/10.
    The costs have gone up so I adjusted the prices.  The case price jumped $40 alone.
     
    I don't need two NIC ports and I need more than 4 drive bays which negates the use of the Gen8 microserver.
    It's really hard to find a reason NOT to use the AMD parts since they offer more features for less money.  The only reason for me to buy the Intel parts is for an upgrade path from my primary desktop machine (Z77, Core i7 3770S).

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