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 Post subject: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:51 am 
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Location: Battlefield, MO
Seagate 1TB drive for my server died, so I figure this is a good time to replace my headless Windows 2003 server with something a bit more modern. Status quo is an HP think client with Transmeta Crusoe 700MHz, 512MB RAM, 8MB SSD for booting, with VIA SATA PCI controller in its only PCI slot, connected to an external 1TB 3.5" drive via eSATA. Total power consumption including drive right now is 17W (thin client uses 7W, HDD uses 10W). Works well, but when I remote desktop into it, it is very slow and laggy, it probably takes 30-seconds just for IE6 to load, launching even small apps like uTorrent take similarly as long. I'm also limited to 100MB/s ethernet - tried a USB2.0 gigabit ethernet dongle once, and it was so taxing for the CPU that it was actually slower than the onboard 100MB/s.

Its tasks will be:
  • Serving DVD and mkv files to my various HTPCs (no transcoding)
  • Hosting web server so I can access electronic automobile service manuals from my tablet
  • Downloading large files via HTTP and uTorrent
  • Microsoft Exchange Server, to keep my Outlook Contacts and email in sync with all my machines and mobile devices

Main reason to upgrade is, I would like to replace it with something that can run modern Windows, probably 2008 R2 since I have a student license for that. I also want gigabit ethernet. The new setup will be using RAID1 when HDD prices go down, because I recently lost my 1TB, and that's another reason for upgrading because the Transmeta CPU in the thin client will surely be bogged down by software RAID1.

I would like to spend as little as possible because this machine really won't be doing much, so I don't think I need anything very powerful. My thoughts are Celeron G530+H67 chipset board, or an AMD E350 board like the MSI E350IA-E45. The E350 board is around $67 shipped after rebate, so it looks like going G530 would be about $50 more. I think they idle around the same, with the G530 having much power processing power, but the thing is I don't know that I need any more processing power just for what this server is going to be used for. So probably most important thing is low idle power consumption since it will be on 24/7 just doing nothing or maybe downloading files most of the time. Video performance is no concern at all, it will not even have a monitor.

Is G530 worth the extra dough for what I'll be using this for?
Should I be looking at something else, like Atom? Although from what I've seen, Atom isn't all that cheap and I haven't seen that it idles much better either.

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:27 am 
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Atom is cheaper.
The cheapest Atoms boards might however be slightly less efficient than an MSI Zacate board and less powerful to boot. They have other issues like a lack of SATA ports or VM extension. If you can get a brand new MSI Zacate for that price, it's a good buy even if you could save a few bucks with one of the lesser Atoms.
The main reasons to go with Atom over Zacate would be:
-if you want no heatsink fan or even no fans whatsoever (any 2010+ Atom board from Intel will do in the right case)
-if you want the lowest power consumption (pick the DN2800MT but make sure its integrated power supply supports your drives)
-if you want 2 integrated NICs (pick the D2500CC)

Performance-wise, Zacate or Atom would be fine except perhaps for this:
GnatGoSplat wrote:
[*]Microsoft Exchange Server, to keep my Outlook Contacts and email in sync with all my machines and mobile devices

I avoid this product like the plague so I wouldn't know what its requirements are.
FYI, the fastest Atom probably beat the fastest Zacate at most multi-threaded loads but the fastest Zacate probably wins at most single-threaded loads by a larger margin. The G530 is even more powerful than both by an even larger margin.

The one thing you can't get with Atom or Zacate is ECC but it doesn't sound like you have a real need for it.

Be aware that two spinning 3.5'' drives consume a fair bit of power, especially if they're not low-power versions. If you want low power consumption, you might want to reconsider RAID1 or to pick 2.5'' drives.
Another solution would be to have your server go into standby automatically. Wake up from standby is not terribly slow (especially compared to spinning up drives) and can be triggered over the network.


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:16 am 
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Location: Battlefield, MO
Thanks, that does give me more to think about.
I'm not seeing any Atom boards on Newegg for less than the MSI E350. They are less before rebate, but I don't mind a rebate, especially since I've done several MSI rebates and they've always come.
  • I don't need fanless. I'd like it, but pretty sure one more fan in a small room with 2 full size desktop gaming machines won't make hardly any difference.
  • DN2800MT sounds interesting, found a thread on this forum that it also only uses 7W idle, so same as my HP Thin Client, but a ton more modern. Although the cheapest I can find it for is still over around $40 more expensive than the MSI E350. Assuming the MSI idles at 21W (one of the figures I saw in a review), that's only $10 more electricity per year, so it would take 4-years before the DN2800MT makes up the difference in cost. Being that the E350 is faster, maybe it's still the better choice.
  • Don't need 2 integrated NICs.
  • Don't need ECC (don't have it now and not missing it, so probably don't need it).

Yeah, I'm a little concerned about Exchange Server using a lot of resources. I know a G530 can easily handle it, but it's considerably more powerful. On the other hand, Exchange Server 2003 uses very little resources, as it runs fine and doesn't seem to be loading down my HP Thin Client at all. Only thing is if I go to a newer OS, I also need a newer Exchange Server which may use much more resources than 2003 did. I've been considering dumping Exchange Server and finding some other way to sync my contacts, email, and notes, but haven't really found anything that integrates as smoothly. Exchange Server and everything it took to set up for home use, does seem a bit excessive, like using a torch to light a candle.

I would really like to go RAID1, it's just 10W more power for the extra drive, so only $7/yr extra in electricity which is worth it to avoid the headache I just went through when my old 1TB died. 2.5" drives would be great, but they are considerably more expense up front and I'm not sure the power savings would save any money in the long run.

Now, would wake-up over the network require client machines to send a WOL packet? Or can newer systems simply wake up when a request is made on their UNC path?

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:31 am 
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The full price for basic Atoms baords is like $60. Sometimes you find them for less. But the rebated board your found is definitely worth the extra dollars (except for the higher TDP of the CPU which probably requires a fan).

When looking at the DN2800MT's cost, you should take into account the efficient PSU included in the package (assuming you've got a spare brick). But the same PSU could be a problem if you want to power two 3.5'' drives...

Looking only at the CPU part, the E350 isn't faster than the N2800. They're about the same and each has its advantages, with a slight edge for the E350 for general usage. There are worse Atoms than this one.

If Exchange runs on your thin client, it'll run on anything.

There are drives consuming substantially less than 10W. See SPCR's storage reviews. I was assuming you were trying to lower power consumption for another reason than simply saving money.
By the way, you underestimate the cost of electricity if you don't allow for the risk of rate increases which is substantial. But I guess electricity cheap enough in your locale that it hardly matters anyway.

I've always use WoL to wake up network computers but you can automate it (depending on how exactly you access the server).


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:05 am 
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Yes, the MSI board does require (and has) a fan. I think that's not entirely a bad thing, Newegg had a deal for the ECS HDC-I2 for $50 after rebate. I seriously thought about getting it until it went out of stock, but that board was passively cooled. All the reviews say it runs really hot, even in a well ventilated case, and people have had stability issues with it under load. So I think for these E350 boards, having a fan is probably better.

Good point. An 80W PicoPSU costs about $24 on eBay, so that definitely reduces the price difference. The DN2800MT can supply a max of 26.2W to the drives. That would technically be fine for 2 3.5" drives, although maybe a little close to the max for comfort. I also wonder if the power-on surge current will be a problem? I think that can be quite a bit more than 10W per drive. I could always run the drives on their own PSU like I currently do with my thin-client setup.

I'm mainly trying to lower power consumption to reduce long term costs and trying to get a setup I'm happy with in the most economical and practical way possible. It was also the best way to sell the idea to the wife. :wink: Rate of increase is not too bad here, I think it's gone from $0.078/KWh to $0.081/KWh over the past few years. Just curious, what kind of rates do you see in Switzerland?

I'm thinking WOL might not really work for me, because I'm not seeing a way to automate it if a mobile device like cell phone or tablet needs to access the server.

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:32 am 
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Yeah, unless your mobile devices run some kind of free and hackable OS that's not going to work for you.

Prices are local and there are different schedules. The main local residential schedule's marginal cost is around 0.22$/kWhr if I'm not mistaken.
Rate increases will likely be moderate here since we're not on fossil fuels. If you are and especially if you're on cheap coal, you have a substiantial price risk going forward which you can't eyeball by looking at past increases.


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:16 pm 
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My tablet and wife's tablet, also her phone, are Android so they are hackable (though I don't know Linux well enough to figure out how myself), but my phone is an iPhone so not really hackable.

I just read the LGX AG150 review, which uses the DN2800MT and learned it doesn't have x64 support at the moment. Even if it eventually gets x64 drivers, it doesn't sound like x64 support is on the forefront of Intel's concerns for Atom. That's a deal killer if I'm going to be using Windows 2008 R2 - it only comes in x64, and if I want to keep using Exchange Server, I need a server OS so I can't use Windows 7 32-bit. I could stick with Windows Server 2003, but primary motivator of this upgrade is to move up to something more modern.

That MSI E350 is looking better, though rebate ends tomorrow so I need to decide pretty quickly.

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:02 pm 
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The rebated MSI board is a pretty good buy at that price anyway. It's got a nice GPU and can be reused for an HTPC and/or to play old/indie/casual 3D games.

GnatGoSplat wrote:
I just read the LGX AG150 review, which uses the DN2800MT and learned it doesn't have x64 support at the moment. Even if it eventually gets x64 drivers, it doesn't sound like x64 support is on the forefront of Intel's concerns for Atom.

It's not about Atom but the GPU which is not designed by Intel. The next generation of Atoms will probably have Intel GPUs and I bet these will have no driver issues.
For a server, you don't really need the GPU drivers. My guess is that 64 bit Windows would run OK but would waste a couple of watts (it would still be more efficient than the MSI board). I don't know for sure since the DN2800MT I ordered hasn't been delivered yet.


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:43 am 
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Just thought I'd update that I did pick up the MSI E350IA-E45. Not from the deal I mentioned, because I thought on it too long, but MSI had another rebate offer 2-weeks later so I ended up getting it for $65 shipped.

Performance seems okay, I haven't done anything particularly taxing with it yet. It seems sluggish over RDP, but that could be because I'm temporarily using Wifi. It'll be on Gigabit LAN when I get everything assembled and in its final location. Processor rates a 3.8 in WEI, whereas a Celeron M 520 (single core, mobile C2D architecture) weighs in at 3.7, so it's probably just a little bit better than a 5yr old entry level laptop.

Power consumption is okay, but not really that impressive compared to the Celeron G530. G530 on an ECS H61M2-H2 board with a single 4GB DIMM, 3.5" HDD that uses 10W by itself, USB wifi dongle (~2W), and connected to a 150W Coolermaster PSU from my SFF case idles at 30W.

E350 with the same DIMM, 3.5" HDD that uses 7W by itself, same USB wifi dongle, connected to the same PSU, idles at 25W.

I'm sure better numbers are possible on both with a more efficient PSU, HDD, and RAM, but I'm mainly just comparing the difference between G530 and E350. Factoring in the 3W difference in HDD power consumption, the difference is only 2W. Annual cost savings of $1.42-1.58. Considering the G530 has FAR more available power on tap when needed, I think it makes for a better general purpose machine. Had cost been equal, I'd probably prefer to give up the 2W savings and get an 1155 setup just to have all that available processing power on standby.

Also thought I'd mention, those looking for silence won't be too thrilled with the CPU fan on the MSI E350IA-E45. It's definitely audible and runs pretty high RPM. I haven't gotten around to seeing if its speed can be adjusted. BIOS seems to imply it's automatic by default, but I haven't noticed it slowing down at all. As a server, the heatsink doesn't even get warm. It stays cool so I think there is definitely room for slowing down the fan.

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:04 am 
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Are you positive about the idle power consumption of your drives?
If you're right it means the ECS board is pretty efficient which is good to know. You're not comparing the CPUs' power consumption at idle but the boards'.

The point of the E350 is really the GPU. You have no use for it and only bought the board for its price but that's the main advantage over the G530.
It might also consume less power at load than an underclocked G530 but I'm not even sure about that. Sandy Bridge much beats almost anything by AMD when it comes to processing power and efficiency.

The E350 is however a good bit better than your old Celeron for multithreaded applications or multitasking. Windows' rating do not reflect the actual capabilities of CPUs. It's a poor CPU but it's not that bad!

edit: if you have the model with the large heatsink, some people have removed its fan.


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:27 am 
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I'm not sure how accurate this test is, but I tested idle power consumption of the drives by connecting them to a standalone power brick (one of those designed for external drives) and measured with Kill-A-Watt. The drive consuming 10W at idle is an old Maxtor (Seagate) 320GB. The drive consuming 7W at idle is a Seagate ST31000528AS 1TB. So 3W difference.

I guess that does mean the ECS board is pretty efficient, the only thing that seems to get warm on it is the chipset heatsink, even the CPU stays quite cool with stock cooler. I made a mistake on the model, it's actually H61H2-M2. It's a rather bare-bones board, it lacks SATA3 and USB3.0. Some even lack HDMI and gigabit, although my particular board does have those. It was last year's Black Friday special at just $20 after rebate, shipped. It has gone on sale this year a couple times for $25 and $30 after rebate.

In my experience, the G530's GPU is pretty capable for HTPC as well. I may try comparing the E350 and G530 with some HDTV video files to see if the E350 would make a better one or not.

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:53 am 
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GnatGoSplat wrote:
I'm not sure how accurate this test is, but I tested idle power consumption of the drives by connecting them to a standalone power brick (one of those designed for external drives) and measured with Kill-A-Watt. The drive consuming 10W at idle is an old Maxtor (Seagate) 320GB. The drive consuming 7W at idle is a Seagate ST31000528AS 1TB. So 3W difference.

10W seemed really high. The explanation is that you're also measuring the brick's inefficiency.
The actual difference isn't 3W and when you bring other components in play, the inefficiency will drop so you may be underestimating the difference between the boards by a watt or so (which doesn't change the overall conclusion of course).

GnatGoSplat wrote:
It's a rather bare-bones board, it lacks SATA3 and USB3.0.

If you have no use for those, they only waste power...

GnatGoSplat wrote:
In my experience, the G530's GPU is pretty capable for HTPC as well. I may try comparing the E350 and G530 with some HDTV video files to see if the E350 would make a better one or not.

There's little point in wasting your time. I was talking about 3D performance.
The picky crowd already knows all the reasons why Intel GPUs decode video wrong and the rest of the world doesn't care.


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:15 am 
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HFat wrote:
10W seemed really high. The explanation is that you're also measuring the brick's inefficiency.
The actual difference isn't 3W and when you bring other components in play, the inefficiency will drop so you may be underestimating the difference between the boards by a watt or so (which doesn't change the overall conclusion of course).


The brick is definitely inefficient, it seems to be consuming 2-3W with no drive hooked up to it. However, I thought the difference in drive consumption using the same brick should be pretty close to accurate. Would it not be? I might check the difference on a few different PSUs to see if that number changes.

GnatGoSplat wrote:
There's little point in wasting your time. I was talking about 3D performance.
The picky crowd already knows all the reasons why Intel GPUs decode video wrong and the rest of the world doesn't care.


I'm not sure its 3D performance would make it any better than a G530 in games either, since the CPU would probably become a bottleneck.
The Intel GPUs always looked good enough for me, so I guess I'm not that picky!

Yes, this board has the bigger heatsink. I'll have to try removing the fan entirely and monitor CPU temps. Since the heatsink doesn't even get lukewarm, it could be that without much stress on the GPU, it might be fine without the fan. Monitoring CPU temps and fan speed is one thing I haven't tried. I'm almost sure that fan speed can't be "Auto" like the BIOS says, because at no point is it really quiet.

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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:24 am 
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Typically a brick wastes more power the more useful power it supplies... but its inefficency diminishes.
So differences are exagerated when you're powering a single component, not only compared to the actual power consumption of the component (which you never measure with an AC meter) but also compared to the situation where you're feeding a whole system with the same brick.


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 Post subject: Re: 24/7 server: Celeron G530, AMD E350, or something else?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:05 am 
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I tried a different way to measure the HDD load. First, I used the same 150W Coolermaster PSU with motherboard connected and sitting at the "can't find boot device" screen, with no drive connected. It saw 27W. Then I plugged in the Maxtor 320GB and when it leveled out, power read 35W. I then unplugged it and plugged in the Seagate 1TB, power read 32W. So it looks like the 1TB drive really does use 3W less power than the 320GB, so I think the 2W idle difference between the MSI E350IA-E45 vs ECS H61H2-M2 w/G530 is accurate.

I installed HWMonitor last night and was able to confirm the CPU fan is running 100% at all times.

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