Help me build a low-power server!

Navy_BOFH

Active Member
Aug 2, 2013
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You didn't mention cost or chassis constraints. Have you looked at something like this for your needs: Supermicro | Products | SuperServers | 1U | 5018D8-AR12L

You could always purchase a different chassis and go with that board/CPU combo. Just keep in mind that it only comes with 2x1GBe and 2x10GBe SFP+ instead of 6+2, so that might be a negative.
The SYS-E300-8D might be my ideal build with a Lenovo SA120 DAS added to it for my drives. I don't know if noise will be there or not.
Ideally instead, maybe the Xeon-D board with a U-NAS NSC-800 chassis...

The cost constraint was within $1000 for board and chassis. Chassis constraints were loose considering I just wanted it to be quiet, semi-compact, and fit 5-6 3.5" drives and a couple SSDs.
 

tenet

Member
May 4, 2015
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If I had to re-do my D-1540/CSE-721 combo over again, I'd look at this chassis: Will Jaya 8-Bay NAS 3.5" SATA HDD Hot-Swap Premium Mini-ITX NAS Cloud Storage Enclosure with 1 Expansion Slot and 350W 1U PSU-Newegg.com

I would swear that it looks just like the U-NAS chassis. I'd probably also purchase a M1015 controller to go with the similar X10SDV-4C_-TLN4F. I think that meets your budget, though you'd lose out on SFP+ for 10GBe RJ-45 and 4 fewer 1GBe.

If you decide to purchase the SYS-E300-8D, know that noise will be an issue. It is *very* audible at 3M.
 

PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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Very interesting. It actually looks a bit better layed out than the U-NAS 8 bay case (a bit more spacious on top). Still might have trouble cooling the uITX MB since the fans seem to pull through the drive bays only and there doesn't seem to be any source/exhaust path for the MB.

Any idea if the drive caddies can support a 2.5" drive?
 

tenet

Member
May 4, 2015
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Very interesting. It actually looks a bit better layed out than the U-NAS 8 bay case (a bit more spacious on top). Still might have trouble cooling the uITX MB since the fans seem to pull through the drive bays only and there doesn't seem to be any source/exhaust path for the MB.

Any idea if the drive caddies can support a 2.5" drive?
From the source. (and for those too lazy to click, the answer is yes ;) )
 
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Navy_BOFH

Active Member
Aug 2, 2013
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If I had to re-do my D-1540/CSE-721 combo over again, I'd look at this chassis: Will Jaya 8-Bay NAS 3.5" SATA HDD Hot-Swap Premium Mini-ITX NAS Cloud Storage Enclosure with 1 Expansion Slot and 350W 1U PSU-Newegg.com

I would swear that it looks just like the U-NAS chassis. I'd probably also purchase a M1015 controller to go with the similar X10SDV-4C_-TLN4F. I think that meets your budget, though you'd lose out on SFP+ for 10GBe RJ-45 and 4 fewer 1GBe.

If you decide to purchase the SYS-E300-8D, know that noise will be an issue. It is *very* audible at 3M.
Good to know! Since it is for home use it needs to be quiet otherwise I know my wife will not be happy. I am liking the motherboard but still chewing over what case it will all go into. I like that case idea but might end up just going with a Fractal Design case like the Node 304 if possible, though I know I lose hot-swap capability.
 

gahabana

New Member
Dec 19, 2015
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Good to know! Since it is for home use it needs to be quiet otherwise I know my wife will not be happy. I am liking the motherboard but still chewing over what case it will all go into. I like that case idea but might end up just going with a Fractal Design case like the Node 304 if possible, though I know I lose hot-swap capability.
hi,
couple of weeks ago i finished build of my home server.
my requirements were simple and possibly simmilar to yours:
  1. quiet (can't stand the noise)
  2. act as mediaserver and fileserver running
    1. Roon Labs Server and
    2. Logitech Media server
      (both 1 and 2) can run at the sametime
    3. PlexMedia for streaming movies on Ipads and phones in the house (and outside when needed)
    4. Torrents
  3. Sometimes act as machine on which to either do bit of CPU intensive work
    1. I tinker too much with my music library .... sometimes converting all of it to mp3, sometimes to m4a and sometimes to still lossless FLACs (but e.g. not HD) ... with 40,000 lossless/HD/DSD files that used to take 8-10 hours on old overclocked i5-2500k
    2. From time to time tinkering with kernel changes, running armbian and linux ... more cores the better. just want it done fast
  4. In addition to quiet should not use too much power when doing nothing (80-90% of the time)
I wanted also to backup other laptops/computer in the house so lot of HD space was required. Also to keep power low i wanted to have large/fast SSD storage to cover music (not movies, tvshows , etc).

So in the end i went with
Supermicro motherboard X10SRM-F (no 10GbE on the board, model TF has that)
Intel Xeon E5-2660 V4 (i took ES, for about 300$ on ebay, runs all cores loaded at 2.5GHz and Turbo one or 2 cores to 3.1 GHz). That is i think little faster then final 2660v4 (2.4GHz all cores) and wee bit slower on one/two cores (3.2GHz).
4 x 8GB DDR4 ECC RAM (Crucial)
3 x Samsung SSD 850 EVO 2TB
3 x Seagate HDD Ironwolf NAS 10TB
1 x older available Sandisk Ultra Plus SSD 1TB
....
Noctua NarrowILM CPU cooler (iDX12 or iDX14 cant remember on top of my head)
Fractal Design Define Mini
Seasonic G-450 power supply
-----

I think thats about it.
am running Ubutu Linux
3x Seagate Drives are not that noisy when seeking but they make hum which you can hear. If irritated go wtih WD Red Nas drives. But for me it's good cause they have smart powersaving settings that you can play with which after x minutes slows them down and they can spinup fast if needed and are realluy silent and after 30mins i put them to standby. They are running Raid-10 so one drive can die with no data loss. I get 600MB read speads on that HDD array and about 250MB write. 4 drives would do better job but 450$/drive ... 15TB usable space is good enough for now.
On top of that 3 SSDs are running as RAID0 ... so yes if one dies i loose it all but it has 2TB of music and 0.5GB of 'other' stuff which is backed up on HDDs ... get 1.6GB read on that array and about 1GB+ write speeds.

BEST part, when Ironwolf's are asleep or at least spinning slow it really is silent and power consumption is 36-39 WATTS when doing nothing. More or less the same when streaming music (Roon or LMS via SSDs or Streaming via Tidal). When streaming plexmedia it does peak to 60-70W for a second or two but then drops to 40W or so ... only when doing massive media conversions or compiling kernel (all 14 cores 100% busy) it does consume about 150W.

If i could've found 300-350W power supply which is semi-modular and quiet (and not 100$+ like fanless ones) would've gone for those, but dont think i can really hear PS fan from more then 20 cm away. Seasonic makes good stuff.

Lastly, it did take some tinkering with Bios settings to find low idle power whilst still having max performance when doing single core or all core tasks.... you can go down few watts more but then perforamnce will suffer 5-10% when one or more cores needto do CPU intensive work. Didnt find it worthwhile.

I ADORE Supermicro IPMI (no need to connect monitor/keyboard) and when i do need GUI on the server i fireup X-windows or reboot to windows. Some people bitch on that app but there are 2 options built in and both are more then usable, much better then before having to plug the monitor and keyboard/mouse cable to my monitor and/or use VNC from laptop.

Had to change settings on Seagate Ironwolfs so they go to deeper idle state and/or standby after 10 or 20mins but appart from that - that is all you need to do .
It is approximately 3 times faster then old (also fairly quiet 2500k o/c to 4.4 when needed idle 1.8GHz) and consuming about 50W when doing nothing on converting my music library and 2-3 times faster when compiling larger projects.

It is expensive but as my old machine was 5 years old I expect this one to serve me for next 5 (btw old one is only going to become backup for my current one - have 7 Samsung 2TB HDDs that are super silent and still working just fine, so guess will pull Raid10 on them too and get 6 or 7.5 TBs which might be good enough for critical stuff).

Ah last bit - since i have 4 2.5" SSDs i couldve mounted them 2 each in 3.5slots with 10$ adapters ... but instead i opted not spending 20$ but 60$ and i got icydock 4 SSD drives dock into one 5.25bay (with drawers for each shoudl you wish to run raid5/6 and pull drives out easily) which i will not do - but it works lovely and only ONE power cable to all 4 drives. plus it has a small 40mm fan which can be set to silent mode and drives never get hotter then 40 few Celsius. HDDs are cooled by case fan slowed down (also 40+ C max when writing like mad) and one exhaust case fan. thats it.

As for 10GB Networking - have on order 2 Mellanox Connect2x cards with SFP+ cable to connect new server with old one (rest of the home never ever needs to move 1TB quickly) ... i think that will add 5W in idle (not sure) but it will still be less then 10GBe via standard ethernet lan cables since i do not intend to put more then 2 machines for a while on 10gbe and i could add a 3rd one with no switches ... and its MUCH cheaper. Intel cards are 200+ with 2 ports 10gbE (and 100$ more for Mobo if you are getting one from Supermicro) and i got 2 cards and 2 cables (just in case) for about 100$.

hope this helps someone !
 
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vl1969

Active Member
Feb 5, 2014
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unless your need for GUI on the server is because you run some GUI application
than try loading Webmin on it.
you can do basically 99.9% of management from it via WebUI.
 

gahabana

New Member
Dec 19, 2015
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unless your need for GUI on the server is because you run some GUI application
than try loading Webmin on it.
you can do basically 99.9% of management from it via WebUI.
hi vl1969, yes agreed, had been running it on my older machine ... i just ssh and commandline myself to death for the time being. the only reason i have installed lightweight lxde that doesn't start automatically is to be able to run Wine (cause for decade almost i use 'foobar2000' for music library management/updates/conversions) and from time to time VirtualBox for Windows or other Unix stuff to test out. I am too lazy to learn how to do that via command line.

Anyhow, 5+ for Webmin - i just remember that years ago i had to change a setting as Webmin was waking my harddrives (as did the at a time Ubuntu GUI/Gnome) so took me a while to figure out how to avoid it. Now, from what i can tell, not running GUI on the server does not wake up my harddrives at all. Just had to change 'smartd' settings as it does not still recognise Ironwolf drives and does wake them up so i change it to look at my HDDs only once a day. If a drive is about to die, ill learn about it worse case when i look into log or when i setup email alert which anyhow might be next day or next week. Amazon can have a replacement drive in 1 or 2 days so i recon ill be fine. and my HDDs will sleep most of the day(s).

I could not believre you could get serious XEON server idling in less then 50W (less then 40W with no 10GbE cards) or doing very little work... so am very very happy !

Downsides - RAM is very expensive. DOn't know why. Used to be lot cheaper 5 years ago. ECC or noECC .. but most of x99 boards i looked at did not have good or none at all IPMI solutions so Supermicro it was.