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First Post - Custom Home Server Build Advice


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Hi All first post here  :wacko:

I am looking for some advice on building a home server, i have not built a PC for close to 10 years after making the jump to apple kit, so not really up to speed with the current PC hardware

I have a reasonable home network setup with a gigabit & wireless network with multiple Macs, iPadsiPhones, ATv and a Synology NAS

I have the following requirements

  • File server (Large media collection, Photos, Work etc..)
  • Central backup for home network machines
  • Manage parental control for internet access for the kids
  • Powerful enough to play with Virtualisation
  • Expandable
  • Quiet / Low Power - Will run 24/7 located in my Loft
  • Run Headless

Now i realise i can purchase a HP Microserver that will accomplish the above but i am looking to specifically to do a custom build as i feel i will get some enjoyment / learning from the build & configuration process.

I currently have a Synology NAS with 6tb of usable space, which is running as my fileserver, i am planning on this becoming the backup location for the new machine

I also have a passing interest in virtualisation, its something that i have increasingly come into contact with in my working life

Recommendations for a machine spec or examples of other peoples builds very much welcome, i dont really have a budget in mind, but dont mind spending to get a reasonable future proof build.

Thanks in advance

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Hi Philgr and welcome.


Motherboards are going to be specific for what you need with regards to PCI slots and SATA Connectors but for sure get one that is UEFI.  I would say that for the needs you posted and i3 CPU from the IVY Bridge series will do the job.


RAM is cheap these days so get all you can afford and I would stay with WHS 2011 for two reasons.  Number one is price and secondly with all the Mac's on your network, I don't know how WSE 2012 will re-act.


Unless you run some sort of TMG (Threat Management Gateway) WHS will not have a part in filtering content.  We have a lot of people using unTangle and pfSense which could do that job very nicely and replace your current SOHO router.


I'm sure others will post so watch for the responses.

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Hi Philgr!  Welcome to the Forums!


I would suggest as a starting off point reading No-Control's posts #9 & #11 at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5407-n54l-vs-another-off-the-shelf-vs-custom-build/?p=59587   http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5407-n54l-vs-another-off-the-shelf-vs-custom-build/?p=59601

From there you may want to read thru some of the other builds and hardware sections in the BYOB section http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum/23-the-byob-podcast-and-hardware-forum/


I'm sure there will be many other suggestions on things to look at but this will be a start.

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Building your own.  A man after my own heart.  You have come to the write place.  I will give you a bit of different advice as I tend to like some wiggle room in what I build so that it will last quite some time (not that it does, but it can).  If you look at my signature link you will find a list of my current systems/servers as a guide.  The one thing I will say is if you are planning to run some type of VM such as Virtual Box, (Hyper V needs Server 2012), then get a little more power than you need.  Remember that the CPU cost is not the main driver in a server, it is usually the storage so you are better off tossing in the extra $100 in the beginning.  If it where me, I would go with an I5, 8 gigs of RAM and a good mother motherboard (Asus, Gigabyte, AsrRock).  This is obviously an overkill for file serving but if you add VM's or transcoding, you will appreciate the extra power and capability.  Also, if you have not built something in awhile, check out my videos sections.  The audio is not good but it gets the message across.

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Many Many thanks Guys - :D


Lots to read up on, im going to take some time to digest some of this info over the weekend and will post back with some of my thoughts for comment



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Since you said that your going to store a large media collection on the server I would suggest going with adding Drive Pool or Drive Bender to the build. It is easier to manage a large amount of storage as one share when your dealing with a video collection, instead of having it spread over multiple shares. I'm using Drive Pool on my 2011 box with over 4TB of Movies, TV and pictures. All of it duplicated over 6 2TB drives.


The other nice thing with these drive tools is when you start to run out of space, add another drive and add it to the pool.

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Loads of really well documented advice here


As this machine will be for learning and not just a straight forward file server, i am wanting to build in some extra power and flexibility to upgrade its capability in the future


I already have an old full size tower case with plenty of room for storage drives, and as this box is going in the loft out of sight cosmetics are not a priority at this time, so i am planning on re-using this case.


To keep the noise down i am going to need some advice on a PSU


For the hardware, so far i am thinking the following purchases

  • PSU - ???
  • Motherboard - Gigabyte Z77-DS3H
  • CPU - i3-3200
  • Mem - 2 x 8 gig Ram (leave 2 slots free for later upgrade - does the board need to be full populated ? )
  • OS Drive - Crucial M4 - 64gig mSATA
  • Storage Drives - 4 x 2tb WD Greens

I might look to try and pick-up a raid card off an auction site


One question i have is setting up the system to run headless, do i need a Gfx card to set-up and then remove it ?


Thanks for the help guys



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What's the OS?  WHS2011 will only recognize 8 gigs.  Now, that's not to say you plan for RAM is not good.  If you wanted to run a virtual platform, I'd go all the way with 32.

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Guest no-control

Corsair CX430 for the PSU. The i3-3200 has a GPU already, so no need to buy one. To run headless just unplug the monitor.


Also need to answer jmwills, if WHS then RAM is fine if something else 32GB, or at least a 2x8GB kit now and another later. It sounds like a lot of RAM, its not for VMs.

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