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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm starting to kick the idea of a central server around again, as I'm out of space for hard drives. I'm also moving from a condo to a house (my first one!) so there will be several televisions and a projector in the mix.

If I'm going to be running another PC 24/7 I'd like it to be somewhat energy efficient. I also don't want to spend more on the CPU/motherboard than I have to.

But at the same time I want to make sure transcoding is available to me, so a very low power system is likely out.

My plan is to run either a variant of Linux or Windows XP on it.
 

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I'm starting to kick the idea of a central server around again, as I'm out of space for hard drives. I'm also moving from a condo to a house (my first one!) so there will be several televisions and a projector in the mix.

If I'm going to be running another PC 24/7 I'd like it to be somewhat energy efficient. I also don't want to spend more on the CPU/motherboard than I have to.

But at the same time I want to make sure transcoding is available to me, so a very low power system is likely out.
FWIW, I had an i7-3770s on a DQ77KB with 16GB of RAM running OpenELEC, and it only pulled ~23 Watts idle. Think I had an SSD in it.
 

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That was kind of the point, the latest generations of Intel chips use "almost no" power at idle, regardless of what you get, so if you get a modern Intel CPU with enough power to meet your needs, I think you'll be good to go. You might be able to shave a few watts off if you go with something really power efficient, but you'll give up a lot of potential performance to get those couple watts.

FWIW, I was surprised until I measured it, because the i7 uses about the same amount of power at idle that my Atom based Supermicro X7SPA uses, but has probably 10 times the power. I'm not planning to migrate my unRAID box from the Atom to the i7, and I'll be able to combine a few boxes that way.
 

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That was kind of the point, the latest generations of Intel chips use "almost no" power at idle, regardless of what you get, so if you get a modern Intel CPU with enough power to meet your needs, I think you'll be good to go. You might be able to shave a few watts off if you go with something really power efficient, but you'll give up a lot of potential performance to get those couple watts.

FWIW, I was surprised until I measured it, because the i7 uses about the same amount of power at idle that my Atom based Supermicro X7SPA uses, but has probably 10 times the power. I'm not planning to migrate my unRAID box from the Atom to the i7, and I'll be able to combine a few boxes that way.
^This

Well . . . except for the surprised part. Gen for gen, desktop class processors in a server are going to end up with the same power draw at idle. Only at full load will they see all their different watt ratings, and of course a speedy i7 can race back to idle fairly quickly for you

A "deluxe" motherboard with a pentium can use more power than a standard board with an i7. Motherboard's have some losses that consume more power when they pack in non-intel features, but these differences are falling to the wayside with Intel providing virtually every feature on the board these days. Haswell is supposed to greatly improve power consumption with their "micro-sleep" architecture that according to apple "sleeps between keypresses" but it's never been realized as much in the non-laptop world of computing.

The all-in-one packages like the celeron j1900 are a little lower power, but it's an atom processor with intel graphics. With a pcie slot, you should be able to make a j1900 into a decent file server with a flashed ibm m1015. However, transcoding will be out of the question unless QuickSync transcoding was supported

All in all, you should be fine with your choice of CPU just pay attention to your PSU, your actual idle power draw of your intended setup (to size your PSU), and get a not-too-deluxe mobo
 

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You don't need a "traditional" server grade CPU/motherboard. Corporate servers that handle lots of connections/transactions. You only need a desktop cpu/motherboard but with many drives.

Power consumption is very low. The current Intel processors throttle down when not in use in heavy cpu intensive apps.

You can find some good deals on 3700k or even a 4700k Intel and motherboard. Go with the Z97 chipset motherboard.

Do you have a Microcenter near you where you live? If so, they offer some great in-store only deals on cpu/motherboard combos.

Get either an Asus or MSI motherboard. All the other cheap brands are un-reliable and will give you headachs.

See here: Asus Z97 mobo and Intel i3-4370 killer deal for only $244.00 (In store only)

http://www.microcenter.com/store/add_product.aspx?productIDs=0442565,0436565

More bundle deals here: http://www.microcenter.com/site/brands/intel-processor-bundles.aspx

All you need is 8GB of RAM, should be plenty for what you want for this server.

Best RAM deals here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231643&cm_re=DDR3_RAM-_-20-231-643-_-Product
 

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You don't need a "traditional" server grade CPU/motherboard. Corporate servers that handle lots of connections/transactions. You only need a desktop cpu/motherboard but with many drives.
I don't entirely agree with this - but then I don't know what the OP is planning. I run server grade components, but I'm running ESXi with several VMs. I also want the server to be as reliable as possible, so for me a Xeon with ECC RAM and an Intel server board are important to me. Also, I've run into situations where consumer boards and such have Realtek NICs, which IMO are junk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I really just want a computer that can fit 10 or so hard drives. I'm not really knowledgable about raid and things like that, though I would like to do the parity drive thing (if I can eventually wrap my head around how it works).

Right now my main HTPC has 3 hard drives in it and is connected to a 4bay external enclosure. Since its my DVR and Plex machine it is on 24/7. I could just buy another external enclosure, but I'm starting to wonder if I can do better for not much more money.
 

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For what he wants with just being able to use 10 hard drives. All he needs is the cpu/motherboard I linked.

The Asus Z97 supports SATA RAID. Its easy to set up in the BIOS. You can search for Youtube videos on how exactly to set that up.

For 10 drives I reccomend using RAID 5. If one of the drives fails, then RAID 5 all data will still be in tact. But it uses at least one of those capacity of the hard drives you lose.

Here:
 

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The all-in-one packages like the celeron j1900 are a little lower power, but it's an atom processor with intel graphics. With a pcie slot, you should be able to make a j1900 into a decent file server with a flashed ibm m1015. However, transcoding will be out of the question unless QuickSync transcoding was supported.
I agree with this, I was also going to suggest the Celeron J1900 + cheap second hand LSI card. I haven't tried personally but I would guess that the J1900 could transcode a 1080p Blu-Ray rip comfortably while performing server duties (I have the Atom C2750 which I believe is effectively an 8-core J1900 and it can transcode at least 3 1080p Blu-Ray rips simultaneously).

Speaking of PSUs. I was occasionally dropping a drive so as an experiment I upgraded from an Apex 275W SFX PSU to a Silverstone 450W SFX PSU and my "idle" power consumption at the wall dropped from 82W to 41W! I had paid a premium for a low power server grade platform and then doubled my power consumption due to a bad choice of power supply.

Regarding software, OpenMediaVault with SnapRAID (user space snapshot RAID) is excellent. RAID 5 for 10 drives is a bad idea (2 drive failures = game over), RAID 6 is better, however I feel that filesystem+ level redundancy mechanisms (SnapRAID, FlexRAID, ZFS) are the way to go (particularly for media servers) these days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
i survived a failed drive in the past. nothing here is irreplaceable - its just the time needed to rip discs again. the stuff i do really want is stored on 2 pcs.
i understand there is a way to use raid to protect against a drive failure - so if i want to fill 8 drives i need a 9th for "parity" and somehow everything can be reconstituted. i just havent really figured that out yet
 

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i survived a failed drive in the past. nothing here is irreplaceable - its just the time needed to rip discs again. the stuff i do really want is stored on 2 pcs.
i understand there is a way to use raid to protect against a drive failure - so if i want to fill 8 drives i need a 9th for "parity" and somehow everything can be reconstituted. i just havent really figured that out yet
Watch that Youtube video I posted. Just create a RAID 5 volume.
 

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I would second the thoughts on going the linux route in terms of OS. You had mentioned possibly running WinXP as the OS for this machine. That would be a bad idea, especially with Linux distros like Freenas, Nas4Free, OpenMedia Vault. All of which offer great stability and security. With the use of ZFS you benefit from leaving the HW raid control out of the mix. The file system is self correcting and really worth the effort. In terms of hardware I would say spend the money to get better components. Gigabyte makes a board the Z97 UDH5 which has server grade components on it and runs rock solid. Spend the money to go with ECC ram as well and a good xeon proc and you'd be good to go. Don't let it scare you away, the more you know and learn about it the more fun you'll have.
 
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