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Will an Atom do the job?


Mr Pleasant
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Hello. I'm not from around here, but stumbling across this site could save me hours of surfing and confusion. Four years ago I built the PC I still use happily to this day. It's the only build I've ever done and that success has given me the crazy idea that I could repeat the exercise and end up with a WHS 2011-based home server. Getting to the specifics, I've been offered a nearly new Zotac NM10 motherboard with either a D510 or D525 processor (the seller isn't sure, he's going to check the spec this weekend). Reading up on it online reveals it has excellent credentials as a low-power, always-on back up device, but views are mixed on its ability with media. I think my family requirements are specific enough for experts on here to give me a thumbs up or thumbs down. Here goes:

 

1 Windows 7 desktop PC, 2 Windows 7 laptops, 2 MacBooks (OS X Lion) all of which I'd like to set up as client computers for the fancy backup facilities.

 

Centralised storage for the 'family album' (large jpegs) and maybe other types of file. Probably not simultaneously accessed very often, if at all, but it's not unreasonable to think it could happen.

 

Remote access for copy from/to of photos and docs by eldest son at university.

 

Storage for ripped movie collection (MKVs), increasingly comprising Blu-rays, which would be accessed by a media streamer (Xtreamer Sidewinder Mk I) in the near term, but ultimately by who knows what - a DLNA equipped TV? A better streamer? Multiple streamers (possibly two at the same time)? All possible. Connection would be by cat5e and a gigabit switch.

 

Realistic?

 

My basic understanding is there is a big difference between simple file sharing (as above) and transcoding which would have to take place if I used a media extender like an XBox for playback, but that's the kind of fact I could be misunderstanding, potentially disastrously.

 

Unflinching honesty appreciated.

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It would be ok for your requirments but would not give you much room for growth (Granted most of the WHS you see from mfg are an atom). I have both a D525 and an I3 2100 and while the D525 was great for the basic home server stuff the small price increase for an I3 would be recommended. If you were wanting to stay in an ITX format a intex board runs 76 while a gigabyte runs 99 for the D525. An Gigabyte board and I3 would run you 230. While it is a 100 more you will get alot more out of the I3, I run an SQL server, Sharepoint, Media Server, WHS and a VM all on my i3 with 8GB of ram and it still has horsepower to spare.

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I agree with with Yodafett but here is my two cents. The D510/525 is fine for standard file serving, back up, and centralized storage. These have more to do with the type of storage you will use. As for transcoding (usually not done very often) that is another story. You certainly will be able to rip your DVD/BD with no problem but not transcode real time and stream to you portable devices. If you are OK with slower transcoding (conversations/not real time) it should be fine. But if you need real time stuff spend a bit more and get a Core I3-2100. Personally when you add up the cost of everything else you need such as drives, case, etc., the $100 savings you get by buying an atom is not worth it and you will outgrow it in a short time. You are better off spending the extra $100 and getting 4+ times the power and have a bit of future proof.

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Thanks for the prompt and useful replies. I'm still not sure if my Xtreamer requirement counts as transcoding. My understanding is that it isn't, simply calling for a file and doing the work while the server merely 'serves'. Likewise with one of the new breed of DLNA equipped TVs. The only time I come across the term transcoding is in relation to media extenders (e.g. the XBox or PS3) and it's my belief that that is definitely CPU intensive and at least a core 2 duo chip or better is required. Having said that, you guys seem unanimous in your opinion that an atom is just that bit too limited. Think I'd better pass on the NM10 and choose something with more brute force. Shame, as the low wattage has appeal.

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Agreed. Also, even if the Atom can do the 'offline' transcoding, it should go considerably faster with the i3. To me, that's worth something too.

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I should have pointed out that my intention is to continue the ripping on my main PC which is based around an E6750. Getting on a bit now, but more than capable of tearing into a Blu-ray. Think the NM10 idea is toast, though. I'll have a wander through the other subforums for further tips and advice. Many thanks.

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Guest no-control

Really guys? While I know an i3 is our preferred starting point a D510 is hardly a slouch and $100 is still a $100. Especially if he's getting a really good deal on the ATOM It could be be a great deal more than $100.

 

You don't sound like a power user. So in my opinion the ATOM is perfectly fine.

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I'm basing my comments on that fact that my servers always end up doing more than they start out doing. I think this is a very common scenario, but I could be wrong. Almost always, when I've gone for the lower powered configuration, I've come to regret it

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I have no problem with the 510/525 and use 2 of them at home for project boxes as they are perfect for testing OSes as well as my iSCSI host. I ran my original 2011 fine on it until I went and instal SQL2008 on it but until then it did everything fine for me. If you are ripping on your main and just server through an app or DLNA to another device the 510 should be fine.

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So far, Ii've built 3 2011 boxes, 1 - D510, 1 - Core i3 and 1 Core 2 Duo. The D510 works great for basic file serving. I have the box at my mom's house. It handles backups really well, is quite and low power. I even use it to upload files using remote access for a simple offsite backup solution. It can get slow, but I think that's more of a function of the drives I have installed.

 

That said, the only concern I have with the Zotac NM10 board is that it only has 2 sata ports. So, unless you give up the optical drive, you're pretty much stuck with a single drive pulling double duty for both OS and data. It's possible you can toss in a PCI-Express x1 card, and that will add 2 more drives to your solution, but depending on the size of your movie collection, even this may not be enough. Stepping into an i3 solution can give you as many as 4 onboard SATA ports as well as a PCI Express x16 slot for a heaftier 4 or even 8 port SATA card for even more drives.

 

So, forget about the CPU limitation. Think about how much storage you're going to need before investing in your WHS 2011 build. Good luck!

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