Building a silent powerful home server

davidm

New Member
Oct 3, 2014
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Hi all,

I'm a bit stymied and hoping for some advice.

I've built dozens of servers, but for this build can't find exactly what I need.

I have a very minimalist one room loft style apartment, so I don't have a "server room." Last year I put a server in a closet, but it was awkward. So I want to build a system that is absolutely silent under normal load, and quiet under high load, both from about 6' away. I can put it in a ventilated enclosed shelf space, but anything louder than 25db, or any high pitched or irregular sounds, will be too much. It should also consume minimal power since it will be on all the time.

The work I do is text mining and visualization. So the server needs to support at least 64GB, more than 4 cores, and support fast storage. I want something that isn't fiddly, which lasts a few years without touching it, so I think options like water cooling are out. It needs to be rock solid. Sometimes processing jobs will be maxing out CPU and I/O for hours at a time.

Some NVidia 970 video cards seems ideal since they run passively under normal load, if I can find a model without the coil whine issue. For storage I'd like something like a Samsung XP941-512G along with a 4TB drive. The 50 watt Xeon V3 E5-2608L might be a good choice for a CPU, though something with better peak speed would be good.

I don't mind spending $1500+ on this build, though spending less would be nice. I considered something like a Precision T3610 off eBay but am not confident they are quiet enough, and building it myself I can use the newest generation parts. Given I don't want a large system, I haven't found any micro ATX boards that support 64GB or more. Yet I understand there are 32GB DDR4 chips, so shouldn't they support 4 X 32GB = 128GB?

Thanks for any advice!
 

HellDiverUK

Active Member
Jul 16, 2014
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Why do you need a nVidia 970 GPU in a server? Sounds like you need a workstation, not a server.
 

davidm

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Oct 3, 2014
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Why do you need a nVidia 970 GPU in a server? Sounds like you need a workstation, not a server.
OK, let's call it a workstation, but it has the same attributes as a server, particularly since it will be on all the time doing processing, except the rack format and jet engine noise levels.

The 970 is for visualization, as well the GPU is very suitable for some processing operations.

(I've asked about this kind of system in other forums, but the answers usually center around booting Windows quickly, or getting the most FPS in games, or "why would anyone need more than 8GB RAM?" This site seems like a better hybrid).
 
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FMA1394

Active Member
Jan 11, 2013
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Just FYI: the Dell Precision should be decently quiet. You might consider also looking at HP's Z820 workstations.
 

Hank C

Active Member
Jun 16, 2014
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you can always find deals on dell out for those Precision Workstation
 

davidm

New Member
Oct 3, 2014
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I've just found "quiet" to be too variable. For example, some reviews called the Dell T5600 "quiet," yet this review http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/precision-t5600-xeon-e5-2687w-workstation,3610-12.html says "The system is audible from 10 feet away with a television and window-mounted air conditioning unit running at the same time."

Since it's my living environment, and just one big room, and on all the time, I really couldn't put up with any unreasonable noise. I've built completely quiet systems before with a low power Xeon and discrete video and carefully spec'd out components.

Unfortunately though I'm finding my parts list at close to $2.5k with taxes is higher than hoped so I'm still hunting, I'll probably end up going with pre-X99 generation parts.
 

Hank C

Active Member
Jun 16, 2014
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I have dell T3610 which single socket model. It is very quiet. Can't barely hear it it is on unless you see the light is on.
 

Boddy

Active Member
Oct 25, 2014
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Whilst not a server, my preferred older desktop PC is a Antec Sonata III 500 with E8400 cpu, Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS4P motherboard and a massive Artic Freezer 7 Pro CPU cooler with PWM fan control (daisy chained) to additional Artic 120mm fan behind hard drives and 120 mm fan at rear of case.

With massive CPU cooler and Gigabyte EasyTune 6 application, I'm able to turn down the fan to 600-800 rpm for idle and light work and still maintain CPU temp of about 36-40 C. Very quiet but does rev up when internal temp increases, e.g. heavy CPU work as you would expect. www.artic-cooling.com

Cases without side vents are quiet as I cooked my previous Aldi motherboard doing some heavy video rendering. Hence my option for triple fans and big CPU cooler. Food for thought.
 

davidm

New Member
Oct 3, 2014
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Thanks all. I'll consider a T3610, though I'd prefer to check it in person before proceeding since even an individual model may have different characteristics.

I'd think a T5610 with one CPU might be quieter under normal conditions since the T3610 with its smaller case would have to be more aggressive with cooling.
 

HellDiverUK

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Jul 16, 2014
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The bigger 5-series Precisions have more fans, a T5400 has at least 4 fans, where a T3400 has 2 or 3 depending on configuration.
 

davidm

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Oct 3, 2014
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The bigger 5-series Precisions have more fans, a T5400 has at least 4 fans, where a T3400 has 2 or 3 depending on configuration.
Sure, but more slow spinning large fans could be quieter than fewer faster spinning small fans, and the T5xx0 is designed for multiple top end (120+W) CPUs so would be 'over provisioned' for one mid-range (<100W) CPU.

Mind you I had a T7500 and it was a horrid beast.
 

HellDiverUK

Active Member
Jul 16, 2014
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The fans Dell use in the Precisions are all heavy server-grade Delta fans with noisy ball bearing motors. The less of them the better. Size doesn't seem to play a part in the noise they produce.
 

Mike

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May 29, 2012
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The fans Dell use in the Precisions are all heavy server-grade Delta fans with noisy ball bearing motors. The less of them the better. Size doesn't seem to play a part in the noise they produce.
It's all ball bearings these days'.

I've had good luck with gentle typhoons as they provide tons of pressure with their blade surface, and they are very quiet.
 

HellDiverUK

Active Member
Jul 16, 2014
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It's all ball bearings these days'.
I'd have to say you're wrong. There's very few BB fans out there, they're either sintered bronze sleeve bearings or FBD (which is also a variation of sleeve). Ball Bearings aren't used so much because they're noisy and need careful lubrication in the factory.