Vail Test Server Build

• August 6, 2010

What is the goal of this build.


The primary goal is to build a Vail test server.  A secondary goal would be to either use it as my WHS once Vail is released or sell it as a desktop PC or WHS.

Why did I choose these parts?

I got the two 2.5” drives to test RAID setups for the OS drive.  That also explains the Icy Dock bracket as well as the iStarUSA 2 x 2.5 case.  The Antec case was on sale for cheap!  It’s not a case I would have normally purchased.  I would rather have a case that I can route cables under the board so don’t deduct style points when you see my cables!  I like the 300’s for their price point but couldn’t pass this on up.  The Corsair PSU was also on sale but I must say that I really like it and will probably buy Corsair from now on.

The motherboard and processor are usually the biggest decision on a project like this.  I needed a universal board with a lot of SATA ports, Intel, USB 3, and easy on the wallet.  The Gigabyte board fit that very well.  There are other iterations of this board too.  Different sizes, ports, etc.  I liked the H55 that didn’t have onboard graphics just in case I repurposed the build for something else.  I would rather pay a few dollars to get a video card.

I also chose an inexpensive video card with passive cooling.  Low noise, does the job, nice price.  There is nothing special about the card but it does have HDMI out.

I was convinced that I needed the Core i5 processor for this build.  A quick trip to the forums convinced me otherwise.  I chose the i3 and saved $100 on the build.  The good thing about the 1156 socket is that I can upgrade it to i5 or i7 in a heartbeat.  I’m also using the stock cooler.

The 2TB drive has already found itself into my MediaSmart server but I originally bought it so I would have room on the Vail server to transfer my files over the network.  I don’t have RAM listed on this build because I had some DDR3 sticks hanging around from another build.  They are 1333 Kingston sticks that were fussy in an EVGA board but the Gigabyte sensed the timings perfectly and ran MemTestx86 for 12 hours and no errors.

The parts list

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADS 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3530

PowerColor AX3450 256MD2-H Radeon HD 3450 256MB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card

GIGABYTE GA-P55-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

iStarUSA BPU-2535V2 1 x 3.5″ to 2 x 2.5″ SATA I/II Hot-Swap Drive Cage

ICY DOCK MB990SP-B Dual 2.5″ to 3.5″ SSD & IDE/SATA HDD Bracket

CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-650HX 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power …

Antec Two Hundred(v2) Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Seagate Momentus 5400.6 ST9250315AS 250GB 5400 RPM 2.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Notebook Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Antec 200 Case

July 033July 035

Six hard drive bays.  Goal is to put two 2.5”  drives in the top 5.25 bay.  Buy a dual 5.25 bay that will hold 3 more 3.5” hard drives.  Did that make sense?

Vail Build 005Vail Build 006

It also has a built in 2.5” slot.  Seemed cool at the time but I doubt I’ll use it and it’s just taking up space in the case.  I think there are better full size cases for a server build but don’t forget that this was only $30 shipped.  More case photos later when the build is finished.

July 156

All the parts.

July 158July 159

July 160July 161

Hey Icy Dock, I purchased one of your boxes! A week before I received tons of them for the giveaway.  Darn.

Vail Build 003Vail Build 001

Here is a little box I had high hopes for.  It fits two 2.5” drives in a floppy drive sized container.  You can pop them out and lock them from the front.

More on this when we start talking RAID.

Vail Build 008Vail Build 009

Vail Build 011Vail Build 016Vail Build 019

A good look at the drive bays.  I have two old IDE drives that I will use in testing.  They will not go in a production system.

The cabling is a bit messy already.  It’s a test system.  It would be nice if mobo and case manufacturers teamed up to clean up the front panel wiring and connections to the mobo.

One thing I often forget is that it has a spot underneath that bottom drive for another 2.5” drive.  The case comes with rubber standoffs to mount a drive under there.  There is also room on the front of the drive cage for two fans.  Not included but it did come with two case fans.  Exhaust and a top venting fan.  The case has switches on the back to control the speed of these fans.  My Antec 300 switches are inside the case so that’s a nice upgrade.

Vail Build 020Vail Build 024

The 2.5 drive bay is not the best fit.  It would be better suited in a floppy bay but this case doesn’t have one.  Also note that I didn’t go with a DVD drive.  If it was a customer build I would include one.

Stay tuned for more posts and discuss this build in the forums.

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Category: Featured, User Builds, Windows Home Server

Comments (9)

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  1. jmwills says:

    So Dave, the Icy Dock drive is mounted in what would have been a DVD bay or is it normally suited for any 3.5" bay? RAID 1?

  2. jmwills says:

    I meant to say 5.25″.

  3. Homeserver says:

    That Icy Dock case mounts in a 3.5″ hard drive bay. There are no electronics on it, just a mount. I’ll try to get you some photos in action.

  4. [email protected] says:

    Sweet build! From “ran MemTestx86 for 12 hours and no errors” means MemTestx86 is for testing a motherboard/memory to ensure it’s OK? Can you point me to additional info? If this weren’t a test box, would you change anything? I’m debating home build this round (have EX485 now) to give me more control. HP does add some pretty sweet software, though.

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