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 Post subject: Advice on new low-watt build
PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:01 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:08 pm
Posts: 6
Location: United States
I run a linux server in my garage as a web/file/printer server and for software development.

It's a beast, at about 200 watts, and a recent hard drive failure inspired me to replace it.

My requirements are:
* The processor must have virtualization (VT) and 64-bit support.
* I want to keep watts to a minimum
* I need about 1T storage RAID 1
* Needs a GigE link (onboard preferred)

Some non-requirements:
* No special video needs (VGA just fine)
* No audio needs

I'm currently looking at this build:
* Intel E8200
* Gigabyte GA-G31M-ES2L motherboard
* Sparkle SP 250 watt ATX power supply
* 2xKingston KVR667D2N5/2G (4Gig total)
* 2xWD10EACS (2T total, but 1T with RAID 1).
* Case.. undecided. It'll be in my garage, so noise isn't really a factor.
Something big and cheap.

Any advice on the build? See any potential problems with it? I'm thinking this will be around 60 Watts, although I'm not sure. Is that a good expectation?

See anything I can tune while keeping the capabilities roughly the same?

Thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:09 pm 
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Location: State College, PA
How about a 740G MB and X2 5000 (or less)? Low power (with one WD6400AACS and C'n'Q not enabled yet mine draws 55W idle + 100W load), cheap and more than enough grunt - unless your software development needs alot of CPU horse power?

I'm not sure if the E7*** series have VT, I know the E5*** don't. The problem with the E8200 is it's high idle speed because of the 1333MHz bus, plus its cost. On the mobo front, the nVidia 9300 mobos are worth looking at, or the new G43/45 Intel boards, unless you can get that G31 board super cheap.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:12 pm 
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Thanks. The software development doesn't really need a lot of horsepower, per se. But having the VT support is an absolute must for what I'm doing, and that really only seems to be supported on pretty beefy processors -- both for AMD and Intel processors.

I only chose the E8200 because it was the cheapest processor that I could find that supports VT. I read a few comments out there that I could set it to run at pretty low voltage and save a lot of watts, so maybe it's not as bad as it might seem.

The G31 board is pretty darn cheap, but its also pretty simple. Kinda a minimum of what I need. I'm a little worried that some of the more capable motherboards will be more power thirsty.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 9:07 pm
Posts: 1042
Location: Vancouver
The lowest power consumption we have ever achieved using a mATX board was with a X2 4850e + Gigabyte 740G board. The entire X2 line for AM2 supports AMD's virtualization technology.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 2:12 am
Posts: 2831
Location: USA
Here is my low power Linux/Application Development Server:

    Antec Mini P180 (top and rear Tri-Cool Fans set on low)
    Corsair 450VX PSU
    Asus M2A-VM motherboard (690G chipset, up to 8GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet)
    AMD 4050e CPU
    Xigmatek S-1283 CPU HS (no fan)
    4 GB Corsair Memory (2 x 2GB)
    WD Green Power 500 GB drive (retail version)
    Sony DVD Burner

Fedora 9 64-bit installed flawlessly without any problems (GUI install of Fedora does not work but that is a Fedora problem on all systems).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:04 am
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Location: Surrey, UK
mooo2a,

What sort of power consumption do you get with that configuration ?

Andy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:31 am 
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Location: USA
AndyHamp wrote:
mooo2a,

What sort of power consumption do you get with that configuration ?

Andy

I haven't measured it (and don't intend to), but since the CPU idles at about 2-3C over ambient room temperture (with no fan on the CPU HS), I assume it fairly low. Cool n Quiet was enabled by default in Fedora 9 even when the server is booted up in text mode (run level 3).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 8:48 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:08 pm
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Location: United States
Lawrence Lee wrote:
The lowest power consumption we have ever achieved using a mATX board was with a X2 4850e + Gigabyte 740G board. The entire X2 line for AM2 supports AMD's virtualization technology.


Great, glad I posted here, I found the review here and it looks like a much better match for me. Thanks for the info.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:01 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:08 pm
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Location: United States
One more question. Do I need to worry much about power consumption on different memory brands, or are they all more or less the same?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:09 pm 
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Location: Formosa
Yes, they are more or less the same in terms of power consumption unless you want to buy something like DDR2 1200/1300 rated RAM, and it'd draw more power than average DDR2 800 ones.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:58 am 
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Rothan wrote:
The G31 board is pretty darn cheap, but its also pretty simple. Kinda a minimum of what I need. I'm a little worried that some of the more capable motherboards will be more power thirsty.

I don't think that's true. You could try G43 or Nvidia's new integrated graphics. They will be relatively power-efficient (65nm while G31 is 90nm).
AMD is also a good choice but make sure to undervolt/clock with RMclock as the processors are inefficient.
You can find all of these with VGA but if you are actually using video out why would you want to use VGA?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:18 pm 
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Location: State College, PA
just finished setting up CrystalCPUID (similar to RMClock) on a Gigabyte GA-MA74G-S2H (reviewed by SPCR) with X2 5000+, WD6400AACS, 1 DVD drive, 2x1GB RAM and 400W Greenpower PSU.

With idle at 1GHz and 0.8V it draws 39W, at 2.6GHz and 1.05V fully loaded (2x Prime95 and 1x ATI Tool) it pulls ~75W, so I'm pretty pleased :) I can't believe at full load it actually draws less power than the idle draw of what it replaced (Sempron 2400, 7300GT and 1GB RAM)!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:01 pm 
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Location: United States
Thanks again everyone for the input.

I ended up going with the following build:
* AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz
* GIGABYTE GA-MA74GM-S2
* SeaSonic ECO 300 300W SFX12V
* 4GB CORSAIR (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800
* 2TB (2x1TB) Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EACS 1TB SATA

It's running Ubuntu 8.04LTS server, and is just 44 watts at idle. That's with two virtual machines running as guests (also idle).

Impressive for that much horsepower and 2TB of disk space (although 1TB with RAID-1).

Wonderful stuff. I'm very impressed by what the Gigabyte board and AMD processor combined can do.

Thanks again for the great advice.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:52 pm 
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Rothan - are those figures with Cool n Quiet enabled? I'm trying to install Ubuntu 8.10 and wondered how well CnQ worked, as there doesn't seem to be any CrystalCPUID equivalent for Linux.


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 Post subject: low power pc
PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:50 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:32 pm
Posts: 101
Location: Mexico
I have built a relatively low power consumption pc for average desktop usage (web surfing, office, dvd burning, p2p....):

ecs mini-dtx atom motherboard (all on board)
2gb ddr2 533 kingston
seagate 500gb 3.5" HDD
liteon dvd-rw
generic mini-itx case
monitor samsung lcd 17"

this pc consumes at idle (windows and firefox running) 38 w
the monitor consumes 13 w

all the system at basic usage is 38 + 13 = 51 w

I think to replace the psu with picopsu120, maybe this will cut some watts

*update 3/02:

-installed picopsu120
-swapped hdd to 2.5"

system consumption idle: 23w (+ 13w monitor)

*update 06/02:

some details on my build:

*purchased on a mexican online store:

mini-itx case Acteck Kendal: $50
motherboard ECS Mini-DTX 945GCT-D (atom 230 / fanless): $68
160gb fujitsu 2.5" hdd: $65
dvd-rw liteon: $27
Kingston DDR2 DIMM 533Mhz PC2-4200 - 2GB: $19
LCD Samsung Widescreen 17" 740NW: $118
shipping: $7

*purchased on ebay:

picopsu 120: $47 (shipping included)
universal AC/DC brick 12-24v (4.5a/50w): $14 (shipping included)

TOTAL: $415

power consumption IDLE (measured w/kill-a-watt):

computer: 23w
monitor: 13w

total: 36w


Last edited by greenfrank on Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: greenfrank blew me away.
PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:45 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 3:59 pm
Posts: 14
Here I am thinking maybe I can get a, wait for it, OLD SOCKET A system down to 50 watts. Greenfrank has me beat and his system is twice as fast (at least) at idle.

Look at http://csv.de/artsearchresult.php?ARTIK ... EGORIE=059. Tell me what you think? They don't stock a number of the boards but they can be ordered and arrive in a few weeks, so they say.

The Intel boards look good and have 1xPCI slot which I can use for my HW Raid board.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:19 pm 
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rubber_boat - that link didn't return an item and I don't know enough German to understand why :?:

As for getting a SktA system down to 50W idle - it might be possible, but you'd have to castrate the chip by underclocking it so badly that it wouldn't be capable of doing much at all. My old sktA system idled at 80W heavily undervolted at 1.6GHz (though some of that was from the 7300GT card) and it was slooooow. The killer for old systems is the lack of C'n'Q/ Speedstep - you can't have both a low idle and high performance, it's either one or the other.

Besides even an old Athlon64 would beat it hands down :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:49 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2005 3:05 am
Posts: 154
Location: Germany
Agreed. Unless you already have the hardware I wouldn't bother with SktA hardware anymore. Newer hardware will be much faster and can be brought to <50W. I have an Athlon LE-1640 on an Abit AN-M2. With a 2.5" single-platter HD and the CPU kept at 1 GHz and 0.76V, idle power consumption is <25W with an Antec EA380. It consumes 28W at full load (same speed/voltage).


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 Post subject: low low power
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:05 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 3:59 pm
Posts: 14
OK

All I have the cash for now is what I already have.

I have the specs for the peso system at 23w printed out. The time both of you took to add your insights and information is very much appreciated. Thank you.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 13
Location: Australia
Hi,
I'm trying to drop my wattage at the moment and any suggestions would be very helpful. This is my config:
- AMD Athlon X2 4850e Dual Core (2.5GHz) - AM2, HT2000, 2x512kB L2 cache, G2 stepping, 65nm, 45W
- 8 x Samsung 1TB 5400rpm SATA2-300 HDD w. 32MB cache (HD103UI) EcoGreen F1 DT [2A spin up max, 5.6W typical seek, 6.2W typical read/write, 5W typical idle, 0.5/0.8W standby, 0.5/0.8W sleep]
- Highpoint RocketRAID 2310 4 port SATA2 RAID 0/1/5/10/JBOD PCE-Ex4
- ASUS M2NPV-VM motherboard with integrated Nvidia 6150 graphics + nForce 430
- intel 8254OEM rev 2 gigabit ethernet, PCI card
- 4 x 1GB DDR2 RAM

- Ubuntu 9.10
- ZFS filesystem
- Mediatomb
- Samba

When I put a power meter on this kit it shows about 110W. This seems to be the standard power usage; when the system is up and running without user interaction. It seems high to me.

I know that ZFS does a lot of work in the background so I expect that the disks will run at 6W a lot of the time (total ~50W). But the CPU shouldn't be running at 45W unless it is working hard.

Since this is a server I want it to be up and running all the time; but I don't want it to be chewing power unless it is being accessed by a user. Any suggestions?

I'm not even sure how best to monitor what Ubuntu is doing. There is a pretty basic system monitor installed by default; but it doesn't even tell me what speed the CPU is running at.

Thanks,
Ty

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:39 am 
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Location: the Netherlands
Ty: I assume you measure power usage at the wall outlet. In that case, do not forget about the PSU (in)efficiency... Suppose that the efficiency around 100W is 70%, then the actual power usage of your components is about 80W.

RAID card, GB ethernet, 4 sticks of ram, a few watts each and it'll add up...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:03 am 
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Posts: 13
Location: Australia
pyotr that is an excellent point. The PSU is probably wasting quite a bit of power.

I should really look for a new motherboard that has all the components I want onboard. Does anyone know of a, not too power hungry, motherboard that has these features:

- 8 x SATA-2 plus either 1 IDE or another 1 SATA-2 port
- onboard gigabit ethernet
- onboard graphics adapter
- VGA or DVI port
- at least 1 DDR2 SDRAM slot
- able to run Ubuntu linux (i've heard that VIA boards don't work well with Linux)
- preferably a high performance per watt embedded CPU; or AM2/2+ socket for my current CPU

I've done some searching but it seems very hard to find a motherboard with so many SATA ports.

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