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High-performance home server


theriel
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Dear all,
I am intending to build a small factor PC which would serve as a home server (HTPC+NAS). I have looked at this and other fora and the following is the result of my research. Any advice would be highly appreciated!

Assumptions:
-> small, elegant, quiet and operating 24/7
-> Intel Haswell, SSD, 4 x HDD, BR
-> media streaming: 5 portable devices in 3 rooms + TV + monitor
-> video and music ripping/transcoding (inc. on-the-fly downsampling)
-> possibility of adding graphic card in the future (if I decide I want to turn it also to a gaming rig)
-> Windows 7 (compatibility reasons)

Build:
->case: Fractal Design Node 304 (~80GBP)
->mobo: Asus Z87I-Deluxe (180 GBP) - it's beautiful :-)
->CPU: i5-4670 (180 GBP)
->RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series, DDR3 1600 (2x8GB) (~100GBP)
->SSD: OCZ Vertex 4 or 450, 128GB (100GBP)
->PSU: Seasonic SS-460FL2 (fanless) or SS-660XP2 (fan) (100GBP)

->HDD: (4+1) x 3TB WD Caviar Red (already have)
->BR: Pioneer (already have)

Total: ~740 GBP (I know, it's much cheaper in the US...)

A few thoughts / questions:
(1) Any thoughts on RAM and SSD chosen?

(2) Which case would you choose? Fractal Design N304 or maybe something else? (I have looked also at PC-Q25, but N304 seems better; Bitfenix Prodigy is too big)

(3) Fanless PSU (SS-460FL2) or maybe some ultra-quiet fan PSU (e.g. SS-650KM3 or SS-660XP2)?

(4) Stock or some other low-profile fan for CPU (which one?)

(5) I thought about using FlexRAID (4 DRU + 1 PPU). I have crucial data backed-up, but having to re-rip 3TB (~100 BR movies) in the case of a single HDD failure would suck. Is there any reason why it might be better NOT to use a snapshot RAID solution in my case?

(6) Do you know if Z87 on the aforementioned Asus is already shipped in C2 version ?

(7) I initially thought to get a built-in BR case (e.g. PC-Q28), but I realized that it will be more convenient and elegant to have the PC hidden, with just an external BR drive (which I already have) under the TV. Do you see any problems with using a BR drive in an external disclosure over USB 3?

Thank you for your help and thoughts!

Best,
Theriel

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My first reaction is you're trying to do too much with 1 box. I always worry when trying to combine a workstation computer with a server. Others may disagree; I'm just not that comfortable with the concept. For me, servers are meant to be kept clean, with a minimum of extras; workstations are where you load up the hardware and software and take more chances.

 

You might want to look at some other SSDs. Not that there's anything wrong with OCZ, but some other makes have been coming to the fore in the last while.

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I am sitting @ my desk reading your post and I look to my left and I see the N40L Microserver quiet and serene.  I look to my immediate right and see the HaF 932 Workstation/Gaming machine hulking and buzzing with power.  The thought of having to jam both together into one suitable "serves all my purposes" box seems to void the reasons for having either of them in the first place.  Can it be done though?  Of course but there is always a "do you want this or do you want that" attached.  

 

I picture the massive amount of number crunching, pixel pounding, benchmark blasting, cutting edge hardware companies (and independent builders ;) shoe horn into micro cases (like the one you mentioned)  and think why not.  The "why not" is because when you add even a middle of the road graphics card (gtx 660) and all that other hardware in such a small space it creates a environment that is the complete opposite of what you want in any server, HTPC, or gaming machine even.  In my experience (hands on & academic) builds like the one you are describing usually end being more difficult, higher maintenance, and costing a lot more to do correctly.  

 

I have to agree with you 110% the Asus Z87I-Deluxe is awesome.  Still needs to be time tested but it looks are killer and the innovations are cool.  

 

I have had mostly all OCZ Vertex drives and have had very little problems (outweighed by the good by far) with them.  Their support is great as well.  I am still running a original Vertex 30 (free upgrade via OCZ to the turbo model! :) right now daily.  

 

 I do not own a external BR but I would say on USB3 there would be no problems with it. Do you just have the bare drive now and are planning on adding a external case?  Vantec makes a 5.25 USB-3  optical case for about 25.00 USD that is pretty good.(vertical)

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-> possibility of adding graphic card in the future (if I decide I want to turn it also to a gaming rig)

-> Windows 7 (compatibility reasons)

 

 

Its not REALLY a server then is it though? I tried this and you will regret it. you will need to reboot because of game installs and all sorts, and thats not really ideal

 

Get a low power server and a workstation and you will be better off

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If there was only some technology that allowed multiple operating systems to run on the same hardware,,,,,,,,,,

 

Maybe this would be a good opportunity to build a HyperV or ESXi or VirtualBOX machine that could handle all of his needs.

When ever I see a list of several technologies trying to be implemented into the same machine, I think virtualization.

 

If you do decide to do a virtualization server, more memory is a very good thing, 32GB.

 

OCZ is OK for SSD's, I prefer SK-Hynix, Toshiba, Samsung, Crucial or Intel. They all fab their own flash chips.

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Well then good luck gaming over ESXi and remote desktop

Edited by Pancakes
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Let me justify some of my choices.

 

I am not a gamer - I don't have time for that (though I loved it when I was at university etc.). I like, however, once every two-three weeks spend maybe 3-4h playing a new game. Just to relax, bring those childhood memories ;). Thus, there will never be a real separte full-gaming rig in my house.

 

A good HTPC which can do proper multiple- streaming, encoding and downsampling on the fly does require certain power. I could do a separate HTPC and a separate NAS/file server. Having thought about it and made cost/benefit analysis, I don't see it as a good solution. Thus, I need something which will be capable of handling a certain amount of HDDs, look good in the living room and do all the streaming (and torrents etc.) necessary.

 

Workwise - at the moment I work on my laptop and it fulfils all my workstation needs (including Photoshop etc.). However, if I were to have a HTPC, I don't see why I shouldn't connect it also to a proper monitor (I hate working on TV screen) and also use it for Internet browsing, photo editing etc.

 

Maybe in the future I would leave this machine to be "just a server" and use a separate laptop and my tablet to work... probably I will.

 

I hope it clarifies where I am coming from...

 

--

 

Thank you for the advice regarding OCZ - I will look at other options...

Edited by theriel
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Media Center - Used C2D Small Form Factor Thinkcetre for around $100

Server - N40/54L for around $200

Gaming rig - Used full desktop Thinkcetre with a little more grunt for like $200 + GPU and PSU

 

EDIT: Whoops, you are in the UK. I doubt you could find stuff for as cheap used then

Edited by Pancakes
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Media Center - Used C2D Small Form Factor Thinkcetre for around $100

Server - N40/54L for around $200

Gaming rig - Used full desktop Thinkcetre with a little more grunt for like $200 + GPU and PSU

 

EDIT: Whoops, you are in the UK. I doubt you could find stuff for as cheap used then

Those are interesting recommendations, but he is asking for build help and this is the BYOB forum. 

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