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Is a HP Gen8 microserver overkill for a home cinema?


RamblingIrishMan
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Hi,

 

I started out looking at replacing my old Synolgy DS212J NAS (1TB) and my Acer small form factor PC when I came across an article on a HP G2020T.  So I thought would a Gen 8 be able to replace the two and enable me to run a Plex server with encoding....?  

 

At any one time there might be myself using the server and say two kids accessing movies\TV programs (typically without needing any decoding).

 

This leads me onto the reason I am here as I have a number of questions for this community (if you please):

 

  1. Is this suitable for use in a sitting room or is it too noisy (it will be placed near the TV\router)?
  2. Can it take a wireless mouse\keyboard (I can't see why not)?
  3. What is the minimum memory for my proposed set-up, could I get away with 8GB?
  4. What raid configuration should I think of using as I probably will use if for backing up photographs from our phones...  I was hoping to start with 2*2TB drives
  5. Would you know where is the best place to purchase from?  My budget initial budget would be around £500 (€650) with a little wiggle room.
  6. Is Windows Server 2012 R2 suitable for the task?  I have access to this under my MSDN subscription so the cost of this won't be included in my purchase
  7. Are there any potential pitfalls or things I should consider?

 

In my mind I'd like to also use it for improving my technical skills and learning more about servers, VM... and this is how I'll just the spend with my good wife :)

 

Thanks in advance and sorry if these sort of questions have already been answered before.

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1

I would consider the Microsever gen 8 to noisy for a sitting room.

In the beginning I placed it in the living room, but moved it away. My wife did not consider it noisy though, so it might be a personal thing.

2

A wireless keyboard works (I used a logitech model myself, with a separate dongle). There's no Bluetooth

3

I use 4 GB and it works fine (2 GB was also fine).

4

If you've money to spare, I would go for 2*3TB, seems to be cheapest per TB.

5

Well, that depends on where you live.

6

?

7

Great server for NAS or media transcoding. Except for the noise,  occasional B120i troubles (should be no problem for Windows though) and poor Matrox graphics solution, it's great.

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A few questions to get an idea of what your real objective is.

1. Why do you want to replace the Synology?  I see it's 1TB but can't you just buy larger drives for it?

 

I hit enter too soon....

 

2. Can your Synology act as a Plex Server with an add-in application?  You could possibly just use a Roku type device near the TV.

3. You could keep the Synology as part of you storage plan (multiple copies of precious data like photos) and still get another device, right?

 

Like anything else there are numerous ways to a solution.  It really depends on what you are trying to do.  In this case it looks like you are trying to justify purchasing a Microserver. :D

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From the OP, it appears that the goal is to use the MicroServer as a server and desktop computer. I think that might be asking too much of the MicroServer. Generally, I don't like to use the same box as a server and workstation.

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Hi 

 

I am using Windows Home Server 2011 as it was cheap as chips to get a licence (about £30). It is very similar to Windows 7 but has some proper server functions and works well as a workstation and server for me. One thing I do not think most versions of Microsoft Server have the ability to use Bluetooth. So buy a RF keyboard instead of Bluetooth. I have a keysonic keyboard and it cost around £30. 

 

Never been a big fan of PLEX and I use a program call SERVIIO. It is not very processor heavy and can feed media to most types of devices. It works flawlessly with my Sony TV / LG TV....

 

Lastly I do actually have a spare HP Proliant G7 N54L. I was going to pop it on ebay but if your UK based we could try and do a deal...I actually changed the fan in the N54L to reduce down the noise. Plus I have a spare SDD which I could pop in.... 

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1.    Is this suitable for use in a sitting room or is it too noisy (it will be placed near the TV\router)?

 

Some/many consider the Gen8 with stock settings to be too noisy for a sitting room, family room, or bedroom – a lot depends on how you set it up. 

 

For that environment I’d consider looking at a Gen8 with a Xeon E3-1220Lv2 at 17WTDP or about half the TDP of the G1610T or the G2020T but the Xeon E3-1220Lv2 has a Passmark score 42% higher than the G2020T and 59% higher than the G1610T.  Win-win.  Check out the links in http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5639-proliant-microserver-gen8-links/ about noise concerns

 

This is one of those issues of what one person likes another person absolutely can't stand, YMMV

 

2.    Can it take a wireless mouse\keyboard (I can't see why not)?

 

I've used a wireless keyboard/mouse.

 

3.    What is the minimum memory for my proposed set-up, could I get away with 8GB?

 

IHO, I’d go for the full 16GB but I'm a little crazy too – Chris & I had done some studies that seemed to support the theory of better performance in transfers with more memory http://homeservershow.com/performance-measurement-of-the-hp-proliant-n40l-and-n54l-g7-microserver-and-other-nas-devices.html

 

That being said, 4GB on Windows 8.1 Pro would do a lot for you.  8GB would be better IMHO & 16GB is what I've gone with.

 

4.    What raid configuration should I think of using as I probably will use if for backing up photographs from our phones...  I was hoping to start with 2*2TB drives

 

Put a good SSD in Slot 1 as a RAID0 for your OS.  Put 2 4TB Reds in Slots 3 & 4 in RAID1 for your data (I picked 4TB’s just because it was double what you were looking at – plan your storage for 2-3 years down the road & not what you just need for today) – there are many other alternatives. 

 

 

For more simplicity & more flexibility I’d turn off the B120i and set it on AHCI in the BIOS – I’d still put the SSD in Slot 1 and 2*4TB’s in Slots 3 & 4 (leaving Slot 2 open for future) and consider using Covecube’s Stablebit DrivePool & Scanner – that way if you need more storage you just slide it in Slot 2 or add it to an external USB drive and you’re good to go.  If a MAJOR disaster should hit you drives in DrivePool are all in AHCI and can be read/copied off on any other Windows Computer – this is a BIG boost in resiliency in my opinion.  The down-side is the fans tend to run faster in AHCI mode so you’ll have to be sure to install the latest firmware to bring those speeds down.  That info can be found in http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5639-proliant-microserver-gen8-links/

 

Lot's of other good possibilities, look at what other people are doing in the Forums!

 

WD Red drives are quiet, in my experience, and they tend to run cooler too which should help overall temperature levels.

 

5.    Would you know where is the best place to purchase from?  My budget initial budget would be around £500 (€650) with a little wiggle room.

 

I’m in the States so the first place I usually look is at NewEgg.  Check the Gen8 links page for other places and check out the Deals forums where members have posted UK deals from time to time.

 

6.    Is Windows Server 2012 R2 suitable for the task?  I have access to this under my MSDN subscription so the cost of this won't be included in my purchase

 

For what you’ve talked about above I think Windows 8.1Pro would be the way to go.  And when Windows 10 comes out later this year you’ll be able to upgrade for free (or so they say).  With 8 or 16GB RAM you could even run VM’s –

 

 

That said == With your MSDN subscription I would suggest spending the first few months testing/playing with different OS’s before settling on any single one

 

7.    Are there any potential pitfalls or things I should consider?

 

Spend some time reading through the links at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5639-proliant-microserver-gen8-links/ and learn as much as possible from other’s mistakes J

 

If you put a video card (even a passive one) I’d suggest considering adding one or two quiet aux fans to help keep it cool (this will increase your potential noise level) – that PCIe location can get hot.

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Wow, I got so many replies, this is some active forum!

 

Just to clarify a few points\questions made throughout your replies.

 

  • Royco - I live in Ireland so equipment is more expensive than in the UK & US :(
  • CSKenney - While I could expand my existing NAS storage, it isn't capable of transcoding (it's too old and slow) so I though about using a server as a NAS and media centre

  • My existing PC is an old Acer small form factor  PC and it's struggling with some large MKV video files

  • Ikon - Yes I was going to log-on directly to the server and use it to play videos to my TV via HDMI.  I am assuming the Gen8 can output to HDMI, is this the case?

  • Andyzz - While I have purchased a Plexpass (and not used it yet) I would consider other alternatives such as Serviio. Andyzz I PM'd you about your G7 N54L

  • Joe_Miner - thanks your comprehensive reply. I thought the HP micro servers were limited to Windows server products and that Windows 8.1 wouldn't install on them? But I see on link you gave to cskenney posting on Gen8's that it can be done.

  • The noise level is a potential issue for me, despite having 4 noisy kids and three of them are teenagers!

 

Decisions, decisions...

 

Thanks to you all for your input

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The Gen8 microservers don't have HDMI out.  They have a standard VGA out for video.  If you want HDMI then you have to install a video card.

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