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What case/motherboard to get?


brianmullins
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I'm thinking of building a real home server, and tossing my frankenbuild. I'm curious to those out there that have built these and what hardware they recommend. I'm only interested in 4-6 drives, since I can get 2TB drives pretty cheap and will just upgrade these as sizes go up and prices come down. Cooling will be an issue, as I am forced to keep the server in the west-facing garage, and in the summer the garage can get pretty warm. I'm not looking to do anything exotic, just want it to run reasonably cool in general, and I'll shut it down if needed.

I'd appreciate hearing what you used and why you choose it, as well as any other criteria I should use.

Thanks!

CD

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My 2 recommendations:
*Get as many onboard SATA ports as possible. I'm not a big fan of consumer-grade accessory storage controllers. I think there are motherboards out there that have up to 8 or 10 connectors. That'd allow you to have lots of hard drives, even if you don't think you'll need them now.
*Be 100% sure to get a system that is 64-bit capable. This will ensure that you can run WHS2. If it says Server 2008 compatible, that is ideal
*If the fan headers can automatically adjust the speed, that's ideal as well.

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Guest no-control

I agree with AJ get a 64bit system. Most enthusiest level motherboards have 6 sata ports already, I've only seen more onboard ports on server motherboards, which is overkill. I personally haven't really had a problem with PCIe controllers just make sure the board has an x8 slot or x16 slot as this is the size of most controllers. If you can hold at that 4-6 drive rateand cycle out you may never need the additional controller.

As far as hardware I prefer the Low Power AMD stuff right now like the Sempron 140 or a used athlon "e" series (4050e, 5050e), but if you find an Atom board with enough sata ports that might work as well. For a case the Antec 300 is pretty hard to beat for being cheap and easy. Coolermaster 590 is a decent choice as well. The heat level in the garage is really going to determine your cooling. I'm in SoCal so my garage is up over 130 degrees some days, not an option here. But if your temps are mild enough you could get away with some decent fans. Or possibly a self contained water cooler like a corsair H50

I just finished a pretty wild build (sticky in the Virtual section) and have recently parted it out (mostly) for another build. For now I'm currently using a pair of HP EX470 MSS' and a SansDigital esata box = 16 drives total.

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Here is an extract from an earlier post I wrote. I have full details of my builds on my website.

I selected a Lian-Li case that holds five 3.5 inch drives (plus a couple more in the 5.25 bays if you need it) and a motherboard (gigabyte) that has 8 sata controllers (1 for cd/DVD, and 7 available for drives). The case has great airflow with quiet multiple 120MM fans, is very well built but is a bit large for a mid tower. I loaded it with 5 drives and all the fans running and it draws about 95 watts but that is using a quad core which is an overkill. If you pick the right CPU and an efficient power supply you draw much less power. I would consider your CPU choices carefully because even though normal functions do need much CPU, that will change as you increase the number of add-ins so you should consider that in your choice. no-control had some good low power choices and H50 will keep a stable temp much better than air cooling but that only affects the CPU. I suggest a roomy case with a minimum of 2-3 120mm fans to provide plenty of air flow to take care of the rest of the system. If you are going to stick it the garage and it gets hot our there, do your drives a favor and do not get a small case. Also, in my opinion, if the system will be in more severe enviorments, do not use external boxs of any type as they are not designed with the best airflow for harsh enviorments such as a garage. If you need more drive room, then get a bigger case up front which as good air flow... My two cents.

My rigs can be viewed on my site.
http://www.win7king.com/2.html

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I have to wonder if you might actually be able to get by with a smaller case and smaller motherboard. The reason I say this is if the footprint is small enough then you might be able to fit it in elsewhere. Perhaps in a clement controlled area of the house? It would be really difficult to control the temperature of the HDDs otherwise and as we know the storage is the thing of it.

Anyway I think it would be advantageous to avoid the problem of heat in the garage altogether if possible. If you can

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That choice is of course up to you. The H55 boards along with the I3 are a great combo. Personally, since the I3 has built in HD video, I would use that combo for an HTPC but you certanily will not be disappointed with the performance, you just will not use the on board HD video. Good luck and post what you end up with.

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Sure,...

However, in some cases video subsystems are used to offload the CPU for some tasks. Having the onboard video or rather in this case on chip video could actually be used on a server to do real work without pegging the CPU. If not now then in some time in the future.

With the Core i3 530 one would have two physical cores, two logical and a video core that could be put to work.

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