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 Post subject: Headless Linux File/Web Server
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:06 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:48 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
I'm hoping to get some advice on putting together a reasonably quiet file/web server. It doesn't have to be completely quiet, but I'd like it to be quiet enough that you don't notice it's on unless you're within a couple of metres. Low power usage would be a plus too. Here are the parts I'm currently looking at getting:

Case: SilverStone LC17 Black
PSU: Enermax Modu82+ 525W
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Dual-Core Processor (AM2, 35W)
Motherboard: Asus M2N-VM-DH
Memory: Kingston HyperX 4Gb Kit (2 x 2Gb) DDR2-1066 PC2-8500 CL5
Storage: 3 x Western Digital WD15EADS 1.5TB (setup in RAIDZ with a view to potentially upgrade this to 5 drives at some point)
Cooling: 2 x Scythe SlipStream 120mm 1200RPM Fan

I'm a bit limited in terms of sourcing parts as I'm located in Australia. Do the above parts seem appropriate or does anyone have any alternative suggestions?

Thanks.

UPDATE: Adjusted list down the page based on feedback received so far; thanks all!


Last edited by Arny on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:13 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:52 pm
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Location: Australia
No CPU Cooler?

I'm building a VERY similar system

http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=53214&highlight=linux+box

I'm going to passively cool the CPU using either a Scythe Ninja 2 CPU Cooler
or Xigmatek HDT-S1283 from pccasegear.com although these may not fit your chosen case.

Still researching which mobo + cpu to go for at this stage. Might go for a beefier CPU as I'm also running a webserver.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:30 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
At this point I wasn't considering getting a 3rd party CPU cooler - I was planning on trying it out with the included one and seeing how that went as I've had good experiences in the past. That said, I haven't bought a new CPU for a couple of years now so I don't know how good the manufacturer's fans are these days.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:31 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Any reason you are using a HTPC case for a file server? Does the orientation of the case matter for some reason?

Off the top of my head, an Antec Solo (using the suspension HDD mounts) would be better for your needs.

An aftermarket CPU cooler often significantly helps with noise levels. (That being said, AMD's cooler on the 4850E in my HTPC wasn't all that noisy before I replaced it with a Ninja Mini).

If you do go with the Solo, you could then go with the Ninja as suggested above (the Xigmatek mounts the wrong way on AMD mobos from memory) and run the Ninja passively, as it is near the rear exhaust fan. Replace the Tri-Cool with a Slipstream 1200rpm @ 5V (with a Zalman fanmate or something similar) or use the fan that comes with the Ninja as a rear exhaust and you will have a very quiet system. Be sure to soft-mount this fan with some rubber-based fan mounts instead of the normal metal screws.

If it really was a requirement that the case be orientated like that HTPC case, you could always put the Solo, which is a tower case, on its side...

That PSU is probably overkill - you could save some money by getting a lower rated version of the same model (if you can find it in Australia! :lol:).

Otherwise, I'm very happy with the Corsair VX450 in my HTPC. It isn't modular but it's fairly cheap and not to hard to find and is probably quiet enough for your needs.

If you are fixated on the Silverstone case for some reason, replace the rear fans with two x Nexus 80mm fans softmounted with the included Nexus mounts and undervolt those fans a little bit.

I'd recommend the Ninja Mini (not the full version this time) as a new CPU cooler. You can always go with the stock cooler and replace it later if needs be, I suppose.

One final thing, you didn't mention if you read the SPCR review of the Silverstone case. I assume that you have but just in case you've missed it, there is a review in the Cases section of the main page.

If you're unaware of PC Case Gear, this website stocks all of the components mentioned above as well as some cables for undervolting fans.

Hope some of this is helpful!

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Main PC (E5200, G31, Lian Li Q07) | Gaming PC (E6850, X38, 5870 Vapor-X, P182) | HTPC (4850e, 780G, 3450, NSK2480B)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:48 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:48 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Thanks for your input. First up, I'm quite happy to look at alternatives for any and all of these parts. Regarding the Antec Solo, is there anything similar which you would recommend which has more HDD bays? I'm also trying to futureproof this build to some extent on the assumption that I'll probably want to add another couple of hard drives down the track (probably should have mentioned that in the OP, will edit it to note this point).

There is no requirement for the case to be orientated like a HTPC, but at this stage I'm not able to keep it store it somewhere out of sight so I was after something that looked good as well. The LC17 fits that bill with it's clean and minimalist design. I'll definitely keep looking around though after reading the review which I somehow missed on the main page. For the PSU I was actually after the 425W version but I can't find that anywhere (not on staticICE anyway).

Thanks for your help, definitely some useful advice there!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:47 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Finding cases with a larger number of HDD bays that are also quiet can be a bit hard. Going with an Antec P182 would allow you to fit more hard drives but you would probably have to use the included drive trays and rubber mounting system rather than suspension, which is the best way to quiet hard drives.

I suppose if you buy a Scythe Kama Bay to replace the lower 3 DVD and floppy disk areas on the Solo, you could do some DIY suspension for any extra hard drives with clothing elastic in the DVD bays as well. Just undervolt the fan included with the Kama Bay a bit.

(FWIW, the Kama Bay wasn't easy to install in my P182, so double sided tape + zip-ties may be in order if you consider this for the Solo).

Otherwise, something like a Coolermaster Centurion 590, and doing a DIY suspension for all your hard drives at the front could also work, like this.

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My PCs:
Main PC (E5200, G31, Lian Li Q07) | Gaming PC (E6850, X38, 5870 Vapor-X, P182) | HTPC (4850e, 780G, 3450, NSK2480B)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:48 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
I actually have one of the original Antec P180's for my desktop machine and I'm quite happy with it, I just hadn't considered that range for my server as I wasn't planning on spending that much on the case. I now realise that it's probably worth it spending that little bit extra so I may actually go with the P182.

Are there any comments on the other hardware that I'm looking at using? I've gone through half a dozen different combinations of motherboard and CPU before coming up with the above, but I'm still not 100% sure - is there currently anything with similar performance and lower power usage?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:35 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:39 pm
Posts: 307
Location: Toronto, Canada
JamieG wrote:
If it really was a requirement that the case be orientated like that HTPC case, you could always put the Solo, which is a tower case, on its side...

But then the Hard drive suspension won't work that well...

Is there a reason you need 1066 DDR2 RAM?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:53 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:48 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
speedkar9 wrote:
Is there a reason you need 1066 DDR2 RAM?


No reason, last I looked it was only a couple of dollars more expensive than slightly slower RAM so I figured why not since it's compatible. Is there really that much difference in terms of power usage and heat? Would I be better off going with something else?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:28 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:31 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Sorry, I've no idea as to what you'd need for a file server, but I guess the CPU needs would be pretty low. An alternative CPU would be the AMD 4850e, which has a bit more grunt.

FYI, I can only see 4 x SATA ports on that particular Asus mobo (unless I'm looking at the wrong version), so 5 x HDDs for the future may be out unless you are using a RAID card.

The Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2H has 6 x SATA ports and has been reviewed by SPCR, so this might be a better choice.

With Cool & Quiet enabled (or some manual undervolting) you should be able to get a pretty power efficient system.

The P182 may give you more space to mount hard drives using the included trays and rubber grommet set-up, but I still think the Solo might be superior for offering greater ease of suspending hard drives, which is the quietest way to mount HDDs.

I still think that the Antec Solo, standing upright preferably as pointed out by speedkar9, would be better, with a Scythe Kama Bay (for additional cooling for the extra HDDs) and DIY clothing elastic suspension in the DVD bay area for any additional hard drives. (Plus, the Solo is usually at least $50 cheaper than the P182.) Use the money saved to go for a Ninja for the CPU cooler and mount the included 120mm fan as a rear exhaust (with a Zalman Fanmate2 to vary the speed of this fan) instead of the included Tri-Cool and your system should be very quiet indeed.

_________________
My PCs:
Main PC (E5200, G31, Lian Li Q07) | Gaming PC (E6850, X38, 5870 Vapor-X, P182) | HTPC (4850e, 780G, 3450, NSK2480B)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:48 am
Posts: 8
Location: Sydney, Australia
JamieG wrote:
FYI, I can only see 4 x SATA ports on that particular Asus mobo...


Weird, the specs I was reading said 5 x internal SATA ports but looking closely at the picture I also can only see 4...

Thanks for pointing that out!

Ok, based on the feedback I've received so far I've adjusted my shopping list:

Case: Antec P182 Performance One Black Case
PSU: Seasonic S12 II 430Watt PSU
CPU: AMD 4850e
Motherboard: GA-MA74GM-S2H
Memory: Kingston HyperX KHX6400D2K2/4G CL5 4096MB 4GB Kit (2GB X 2) DDR2 800 PC6400
Storage: 3 x Western Digital WD15EADS 1.5TB

I've taken out the cooling for now as I want to see how everything works with the default cooling; if necessary I'll grab some additional fans and/or the Ninja Mini as kindly suggested above.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:55 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:31 am
Posts: 117
Location: Gold Country, CA
Personally I think this is *way* overkill. You just don't need much grunt for a file server unless you want it to do transcoding on the fly.

I'd also do it a bit differently. There are a few things you should consider, like ECC memory and a means to connect to the computer during boot. ssh won't be useful until the boot is completed, so if you run into any issues you can't fix it without attaching a keyboard and monitor.

I'd suggest an old server that has an integrated card for control over Ethernet, like LILO (there are many acronyms for this sort of thing). Yes, you will have to work at it to get it quiet. I did this for a dual P4 Xeon (2.6GHz) that I use for a purpose similar to yours, and I put it together or $200. It runs FreeBSD and works great for the four to six users that it serves.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:48 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Thanks for your thoughts.

DrJ wrote:
Personally I think this is *way* overkill. You just don't need much grunt for a file server unless you want it to do transcoding on the fly.


I am actually planning on having some transcoding on the fly out to the PS3, so a bit of grunt is necessary.

DrJ wrote:
I'd also do it a bit differently. There are a few things you should consider, like ECC memory and a means to connect to the computer during boot. ssh won't be useful until the boot is completed, so if you run into any issues you can't fix it without attaching a keyboard and monitor.


Connecting the server to a monitor and keyboard during boot won't be a problem, I have both nearby if necessary; I only refer to it as headless because that's how it will be during normal operation.

ECC memory intrigues me - is it really worth paying extra for? From a quick look at local prices it seems to cost nearly twice as much, and the only times I've had issues with RAM have been when it's failed completely.

DrJ wrote:
I'd suggest an old server that has an integrated card for control over Ethernet, like LILO (there are many acronyms for this sort of thing). Yes, you will have to work at it to get it quiet. I did this for a dual P4 Xeon (2.6GHz) that I use for a purpose similar to yours, and I put it together or $200. It runs FreeBSD and works great for the four to six users that it serves.


That's pretty much the route that I've gone in the past, but now I'd rather buy some new parts and build something from scratch - everything secondhand I have access to is pretty much on it's last legs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:22 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:31 am
Posts: 117
Location: Gold Country, CA
Arny wrote:
I am actually planning on having some transcoding on the fly out to the PS3, so a bit of grunt is necessary.

That's different. A low-end Athlon or C2D would be useful then.
Quote:
Connecting the server to a monitor and keyboard during boot won't be a problem, I have both nearby if necessary; I only refer to it as headless because that's how it will be during normal operation.

I'd still go with a board that permits remote operation.
Quote:
ECC memory intrigues me - is it really worth paying extra for?

You will get differing opinions. I think it is worth it, since memory errors slowly can corrupt a system, particularly if you build from source. RAM is so inexpensive these days that I personally don't think it is a big deal.

What does change is the motherboard and its components. Most consumer boards don't allow for its use, and even if they claim they support it, well, often they don't. You really need to move into classical workstation or server boards to get good support. Those use Opterons or Xeons, and they also are much better made, and include quality components (like Intel or Broadcom NICs -- none of the RealTek nonsense). The cases too usually have hot-swap drives, though that's probably not really necessary for your box.
Quote:
That's pretty much the route that I've gone in the past, but now I'd rather buy some new parts and build something from scratch - everything secondhand I have access to is pretty much on it's last legs.

There does come that time, and I'm reaching it myself. Still, my main box is an early dual Athlon that is about seven years old, and it is fine.

One thing you may want to consider is a used pre-packaged, low-end server from HP or Dell. I too like to build my own, but for a simple system like you are proposing it often is more cost-effective. While there is nothing wrong with using a consumer desktop as a server, I have a strong bias against it. They are just not as well made, cut every corner possible, and are not really suited for the task.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:21 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:31 am
Posts: 117
Location: Gold Country, CA
A motherboard like this one might work for you:

http://supermicro.com/products/motherbo ... BL-LN2.cfm

You can use ECC memory or not, and it takes standard C2D processors (ECC is a function of the north bridge, unlike the i7). It has an on-board video chip (though I don't know it) and you can expand to a RAID controller if you want. It is also quite small.

Downsides? Costly, few BIOS options, and no PCI-E 16x (but you don't need that for a server).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:45 pm 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Thanks for the info DrJ, I'll take it all onboard as I do some more research over the next few days.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:51 pm 
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Posts: 3300
Location: Essex, England
You can save yourself some cash by getting a lower power PSU. My server (in sig) uses a higher power CPU, and 8 HDD's and it is not an issue.

I would also not bother with ECC RAM, there really is no need thesedays. The quality of RAM has improved so much over the last decade that standard branded RAM is as good as ECC from yesteryear. (OK, I exagerate, but RAM issues are very rare now compared to a decade back).

Quote:
Case: Antec P182 Performance One Black Case
PSU: Seasonic S12 II 430Watt PSU
CPU: AMD 4850e
Motherboard: GA-MA74GM-S2H
Memory: Kingston HyperX KHX6400D2K2/4G CL5 4096MB 4GB Kit (2GB X 2) DDR2 800 PC6400
Storage: 3 x Western Digital WD15EADS 1.5TB


That is the board I use when building new PC's for customers, its great but due to a southbridge issue I cant reccomend it to you. The AMD south bridges have terrible HDD performance when you use 3 or more drives at a time. 1 drive is perfect, 2 is barely slower, 3 is slow, and 4 is pathetic.

Unless this has been fixed in the last few months, you are not going to want to use that board (or others that use that southbridge). I will try to dig out some more info for you regarding this problem.

The nVidia chipsets dont have this problem, but as nVidia are pulling out of the chipset business there boards are becoming difficult to get. The GA-M68SM-S2 works fine with several (4) HDD's in software RAID 5 under Linux - but it only has 4 SATA ports instead of the 6 on the 74.

Otherwise that spec looks fine to me, but I would personally have a seperate boot drive that wont be in a RAID array, just use the smallest cheapest drive you want to use. Yes it will use an additional port, but it can make life much easier for you - a PATA drive would be a nice idea if you dont want an optical drive and dont want to use another SATA port.


Andy

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Main PC, P180, CM Silent Pro 500M, i5 3570k @ 4.2Ghz, 8-GB @ 2,000MHz, 256 GB Samsung 830, 500-GB 7K500, MSI 660Ti Twin Frozr, PC is super quiet :o
Server, 6-TB RAID-5 array, + 2 x 2-TB backup drives, 380W Enermax Pro82+, 4x very quiet fans, positive pressure only, no exhaust fans
Living Room PC, 3500+, 2-GB RAM, HD501LJ


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