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CPU advice / critique - WHS 2011 build from spare parts


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Hi guys,


I put together a WHS 2011 box a while back out of some spare parts.  I haven't activated the OEM license yet and before I do I'd like some opinions on the Mobo & CPU.  


Here are the components:


Currently I am only using WHS for desktop backups.  


I may someday use it for:

  • Storing recorded TV (if ever get cable card tuner)
  • Crashplan
  • Plex
  • File sharing


So my questions: 

  1. Will the Athlon II X2 250u (1.6Ghz @ 25w) have enough horsepower to do anything other than desktop backups?
  2. Will I see much performance difference between the Athlon 235e @ 2.7Ghz and the Athlon 250u @ 1.6Ghz? - How taxing could the desktop backups be?  Is it worth the extra 20w?
  3. Does the integrated GPU on the Mobo (ATI HD 3000) burn electricity even when the box is headless?
  4. Will going down to 4G of RAM hinder performance if I add Crashplan or Plex later?


I appreciate your input.




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Hi JoeP and welcome to the forums!  When you get a chance be sure to introduce yourself.


In response to your questions I have some opinions, YMMV of course, but it's based on my experience with the N40L and N54L microservers -- check out the passmark performance for your Athlon's and compare those to the performce in the CPU table in the Gen8 MicroServer Links pages -- the 235e at 1666 is roughly comparable to the N54L at 1397 while the 250u at 1011 is roughly comparable to the N40L.  The 170u at 573 is roughly comparable to the Celeron 440 that was in the original EX485/7 -- a real dog IMHO.  Check out other people's discussion of the relative performance of the N40L/N54L -- there are also some blog posts about that if you're interested.


Here are my opinions..............


1) No, even the 235e isn't going to give you much headroom for additional apps -- the 250u is good only for a basic home server without any bells and whistles, IMHO


2) Yes, you will see the difference.  Moving from the N40L to the N54L I noticed the Server was definitely snappier -- the basic server functions like backups aren't that taxing -- it's the other "stuff" -- crashplan alone with the standard defaults can really bring my N54L to it's knees while chewing up RAM -- I've had to judiciously manage it's settings but its still a challenge and I've had to stop using some other apps because their combination with crashplan chewed up toooooooo many resources and it was becoming almost impossible to remote into my N54L with them all running.  (Server shutdowns were taking forever also!)

3) Anything energized and creating heat is burning some electricity but if it's idle the powr loss is going to be irrelevant, IMHO

4) You will definitely need 8GB of RAM if you're just considering Crashplan alone -- I'm running at about 5GB being utilized with Crashplan running -- if you only have 4GB you will be slowed down by all the memory paging


To be able to run Plex on top of that (plus allway sync, anti-virus, anti-Malware, other "stuff") I'm personally considering moving my WHS2011 to a beefier machine using an old X58 Mobo with a i7-930 -- either that or my Gen8 with the Xeon.  I need another project ...........


I would see the 235e as a stepping stone that you'll want to move up FROM when/if you decide to start loading apps on your home server.  Remember, this is just my opinion.


For the OS drive: instead of a WD Blue I would consider either a 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor or an SSD -- both can be gotten relatively inexpensively -- definitely get an OS drive greater than (or equal to) 160GB to avoid messing with installing WHS2011 on a drive less than 160 (been there, done that, it's a real PIA)

Edited by Joe_Miner
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I would see the 235e as a stepping stone that you'll want to move up FROM when/if you decide to start loading apps on your home server.  Remember, this is just my opinion.




Thanks Joe_Miner for your input.  I appreciate it.


On the subject of a starting point - if I activate my OEM system builder license (No longer for sale at Newegg or Amazon) will it forever be tied to this motherboard?  Or can I install WHS on a newer, more powerful machine in the future with the same license key?  I am assuming - No.


If the install media is no longer available for purchase retail, will Microsoft allow the purchase of another product key like they do with Windows 7?

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On question #3, I think it depends on the right driver support. I have one of the initial APUs, the e-350d running as a pfsense box, and it idles at 50watts because the GPU will not hit the idle state. I didn't have a watt meter when I was using the box with WHS 2011.

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Good question!


I don't know for sure what can be done about OEM Key activation on a totally different machine/different system board & CPU.  Hopefully someone more knowledgeable can chime in on this or it may be worth a call to M$.


I had purchased a 2nd OEM copy of WHS2011 at the last Newegg sale as insurance when I moved to either the X58 or the Gen8 machines.

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Technically (according to the letter of the law re: Microsoft's EULA) you cannot move an OEM licence from one computer to another. Again, technically, the OS has to be bought with a computer system, and it belongs only to that system.


Do people move licences from computer to computer? Of course they do. Is it technically legal, according to Microsoft's EULA? No, but they do it anyway.

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