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  • Dave

    by IndyLux / Christopher Lux


    Before show 86, Jim, John, Tim Daleo and I were chatting about a new WHS build.  My vote was for an Intel Atom based system to maximize efficiency and minimize expense.  Jim suggested changing his planned Core i3/5 build in the forums and was handily shot down!  Here are the links to the proposed build.  Have a look and share your thoughts in the forums.

    BOXD510MO  Intel BOXD510MO Atom Dual-Core D510/ Intel NM10/ DDR2/ A&V&GbE/ Mini-ITX Motherboard, Retail APEX MI-008 Black Steel Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case 250W Power Supply Patriot Extreme Performance 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PDC22G6400ELK HITACHI Travelstar 5K500.B 320GB 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Notebook Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Atom Dual-Core D510 APEX MI-008

    w/power supply

    2 gig Patriot Memory High Efficiency Hitachi Hard Drive 320 gb
    $75 $50 $60 $60

    Pros: Inexpensive, Power Efficient (less than a light bulb!!), nearly fanless, powerful enough to run WHS, 64 bit


    Cons: Small, Not Very Expandable, Only 2 Sata Ports (Plan on adding a PCI SATA card or using USB drives), Not a super powerful processor.


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    We have built and sold over four of these but based on the Intel BOXD945GCLF2 Atom 330 with only one 2GB stick. We rolled these out as part of a GO GREEN campaign. They all work and work well. We still have ours running with WordPress, My Movies and WebGuide installed (amongst others) and it never has a problem with streaming movies over the network or other bottlenecks that you would think would occur. Kill-A-Watt meter never showed it going over 42W at startup and stayed at 34W under full load. We also have two drives mirrored with just the OS. (Yes it is possible, but proceed with caution.)
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    Seems like a waste of money to me. That is like buying a smart car when you have a family of 8. But of course, my server is a quad core now and when vail comes out it will be an i7 with 12 GB of ram.
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    Ordered the $72 D510 mobo last night. I am going to part out two USB drives and get a nice case. With a CPU TDP of 13W my target is 35W underload. The cost starts to grow when you consider I will need to use DDR2 with heat spreaders and adapters for the 2.5" drives.
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    I forgot to mention that for ours we used a larger case since there are two 2TB drives plus the two system drives. All other rollouts we based on the APEX ShoeBox cases.
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    I love the Idea! If cost were not an option, I would like to see SSD drives in the case, but they are still too expensive. I wouldn't worry about the processor so much. My box currently runs an Intel VIA C7 1.8GHZ single core embedded processor an has no problem at all other than the Console is slow to load up sometimes. the I3 dual core chip should do the trick pretty well if you are not loading tons of other software on the machine. The only thing I would caution against is the power supply. With a price that low, chances are that it is probably not that efficient plus it could generate a considerable amount of heat and having it crammed in the small case will not be ideal. My server also runs a mini-itx board in a small case, but the powersupply is external (brick) and besides keeping the heat outside of the case, it is silent. One question, when Vail gets released, it reportedly requires a 64 bit chip. Why not run an AMD Chip that can run at either 32 or 64 bit modes or even a board that has a removable chip so you can easily swap it out for a 64 bit one when Vail comes out?
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    I think this would be a very cool project if you're using it as a testing box and doing basic functions like backups and as a file server.
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    These type of boxes are great for HTPC with the right motherboard and hardware accelerated graphics as long as you do not have the need to expand. The problem is that they do not make very good servers on several fronts. For starters, when you have to start adding a bunch of external drives for expansion, you really do not save any power and in most cases, you do not save money either. Most of the aftermarket power supplies in the external drives are not designed for very good efficiency. Second of all, your server looks very cluttered with all the external stuff hanging from it and if you use USB, you make something moderately slow and make it even slower. Lastly, this would not be a good platform for Vail as I do not believe it would provide enough CPU to get the job done. In addition, using laptop drives again is great for HTPC, but not the greatest idea for WHS as they tend to be overly slow. The bottom line is you really do not save much on this configuration, you only succeed in limiting your expansion. Since memory, hard drives, and cases are about the same price, the only savings is from the MB/processor which save you about $100-120 over a Core I3. That is quickly offset by adding external boxes and cards. In terms of "value" it simply does not make sense in the long run. This will limit you so much going forward that the real cost of ownership goes way up as it will not keep up with you needs. Sometimes a deal is not a deal. I would really reconsider a purchase like this and pay a little more up front as in the long run it will perform better and be less costly when it comes time to expand. Just my two cents...
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    I do concur with the thoughts of others that the ATOM may be too weak of a processor for Windows Server 2008, but... We took a test rig and installed Smalled Business Server 2008. It works fine as a basic file server. Nothing more. (ATOM 330 Dual Core w/ HT and 2GB RAM) As far as Power Consumption and Cost. I disagree with PCDOC. The average home user or SOHO that would use a WHS would only need the drives that come installed (we always make sure they have plenty of headroom when choosing drive size). The only external drive would be the one they back up the WHS with and throw in their fire-safe. As for the rest of us "Power Users", just two 2TB drives is probably not enough. :-) p.s. Our Shoebox WHS' have an internal power supply with no heat issues. Then again - no one has stuffed one in the boiler room, wrapped in duct tape either. :-)
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