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 Post subject: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:38 am 
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Hello,

I'm planning on building a low power web server using the parts below:
  • Intel Core i3 2100 (65W TDP)
  • Foxconn H67S Mini-itx motherboard
  • 8 GB RAM (2x4GB, might just use 1 stick for a while)
  • 500 GB Hard-drive (2.5" probably)

I'm hoping to make the system pretty low power; however, being new at building a lower wattage computer, I was wondering what kind of PSU I should use. I've been looking at the picoPSUs, and I was at first thinking a 150W w/ 102 AC adapter, but after running my parts through the "extreme power supply calc," it said that that my system would be about 100W. I've been reading many other posts, and I realize the 2100 and 2100T have low idle wattage, but I want to make sure that if the processor does become loaded that there aren't issues. I've also seen the Winmate PSUs on the site, which might be good, paired with an appropriate case.

Along with this, I was at first thinking of using the M350 (mini-box) case, but that would depend on the power supply.

Thanks for your help, I'm interested in learning more about this!


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:38 pm 
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I would speculate that the pico-PSU nets you 10%+ more efficiency, but I think that you should take a look at some of the smaller, fairly inexpensive 80+ bronze supplies you can get, for example an Antec EA-380D or a Seasonic 300w

Both can be had for less than $40, where as a pico-psu generally costs more.

I think both supplies would give you headroom, get you decent efficiency for your build, are easily replaceable if they break, and give you lots of room for expand ability.

I'm using several of the antec supplies with all-in-one ASUS boards with the E-350 amd chips, with 5x 3.5" 5400rpm drives plugged in, while idle running 20w.

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:25 pm 
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skimmmer wrote:
Along with this, I was at first thinking of using the M350 (mini-box) case, but that would depend on the power supply.
The only problem with M350 is that with the new mobos, the cpu socket is not located to the sides, so mounting the cooler in most 1155 boards will not allow to use any of the hdd brackets, the T versions come with a lower profile cooler, but im not 100% it will fit, the best recommendation i can give you, this is if you really want to go with M350, is to look for a mobo that has the CPU socket not next to the PCIe slot (preference oposite), kinda like the following picture,

Image

There are a couple of mobos that are like this, i dont remember all so you will have to search, the only one that remember is Giada MI-H67-01 LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard, but even this one doesnt go fully to the edge, so not 100% sure it will fit with the cooler. Or just go with another case, a mobo that imo is worth looking is the DH61AG Desktop Motherboard, check the following review, MissingRemote Intel DH61AG Media Series Mini-ITX Motherboard and Core i5-2390T, comes already with built in psu like a pico, just need to buy a brick but a 19V brick is like $20-40, there a huge selection of laptops bricks out there, and intel has good rep for being one of the most efficient mobos, research more about the board see if you like it.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:43 pm 
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I've built an SB system with a 60W PSU. Picos are very good but I used the case's fanless PSU to save money. I also did not go with a DH61AG for the same reason.
80+ 300W PSUs are a lot less efficient than a pico because you don't get 80+ at low load! Only platinum-rated mainstream PSUs compete with picos (assuming a decent brick).

If you want low-power, get an Intel board unless you're positive that your non-Intel board will not consume more. MSI also has a good track record.

You're going to have cooling issues with an M350 unless you drastically underclock or manage to get an efficient heatsink/fan to fit in there.

If you want a low-power web server, consider replacing the 2100 with a slower SB CPU. That will give you a lower actual TDP and save you some money. The disadvantages are that you lose some clock speed and HT, which wouldn't be an issue for the kind of low-power servers I'm envisioning. If you are going to run more than 2 threads concurrently and want decent performance on them, consider a slightly underclocked quad-core instead (get the cheapest model and it will not consume anywhere as much as 95W even before underclocking).

8G of RAM is most likely overkill. RAM consumes power, you know.


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:02 pm 
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HFat wrote:
I've built an SB system with a 60W PSU. Picos are very good but I used the case's fanless PSU to save money. I also did not go with a DH61AG for the same reason.
80+ 300W PSUs are a lot less efficient than a pico because you don't get 80+ at low load! Only platinum-rated mainstream PSUs compete with picos (assuming a decent brick).



Food for thought. My file server is on 24/7, and idles at 20w with the antec supply.

Just for simplicity sake, lets say for the Pico PSU on a different computer would use 20w, and on the antec 380 it uses 30w. In my state this would save me ~$7.00/yr in electricity costs.
The payback between say, having my system on a pico [say, $100 total cost [40 for adapter, 60 for brick from what i've seen on websites] vs my antec 380w [total cost $35] is something like 8-9 years.

Everything I've read says intels are also the best boards for power usage.

Any reason you're looking to save space? You generally pay premiums for smaller equipment. I get it for HTPC, but for something as mundane as a web server any junky case you got sitting around would work just fine and be cheaper. Even something inexpensive like an Antec 300 [i've picked up two off antec b stock for $30 each] would work great. plenty of cooling and expansion.

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:58 pm 
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protellect wrote:
~$7.00/yr in electricity costs

~USD23/yr here...


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:48 pm 
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Actually I've always seen reviews that show pico's aren't that efficient. Jonnyguru's is one example of this testing. If you check the review, depending on the power brick, you could get anywhere from like 77-83% efficiency. That's certainly not that good. The only advantage is that pico's are low power versus other psus are not designed for very low power. Pico's have an issue in that it depends on a high efficiency power brick, and then it loses more efficiency converting power in the pico for 5v and 3.3v. Unless I see examples of pico's going over 88+% efficiency for the total system, it's not really an efficiency question imho. Also at such low loads, you're talking a few watts at most, completely negligible.

Let's take your pico vs normal psu example. If a pico is 80% at 30w, you're looking at 36w used from the wall. The antec might be like 76% at 30w. Thats 37.2w. 1.2 watts is nothing.

See here the reality of the pico and why I'm not a big fan - http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?na ... y&reid=207

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:34 pm 
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merlin wrote:
The antec might be like 76% at 30w.

The 30W figure was AC.
This is SPCR. You know, the site with the measurements. So read first and pontificate later. The plantinum-rated Kingwin scored 77%, yeah. But the old $100 "high-efficiency" Antec scored 67% at 60W (not 30!)... so I don't expect the Antec you have in mind (which is not in SPCR's recommended list) would score very high.
It takes a really nice PSU to deliver 76% at 30W AC. And we're talking about <20W! That's where picos shine.

edit: AC vs. DC brain fart


Last edited by HFat on Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:42 pm 
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merlin wrote:
Actually I've always seen reviews that show pico's aren't that efficient. Jonnyguru's is one example of this testing. If you check the review, depending on the power brick, you could get anywhere from like 77-83% efficiency. That's certainly not that good. The only advantage is that pico's are low power versus other psus are not designed for very low power. Pico's have an issue in that it depends on a high efficiency power brick, and then it loses more efficiency converting power in the pico for 5v and 3.3v. Unless I see examples of pico's going over 88+% efficiency for the total system, it's not really an efficiency question imho. Also at such low loads, you're talking a few watts at most, completely negligible.

Let's take your pico vs normal psu example. If a pico is 80% at 30w, you're looking at 36w used from the wall. The antec might be like 76% at 30w. Thats 37.2w. 1.2 watts is nothing.

See here the reality of the pico and why I'm not a big fan - http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?na ... y&reid=207


I don't really like that review and due to it being one of the few picoPSU reviews out there it gets a lot attention here on SPCR. They test only a few bricks and from what I can see the ones they use are mostly crap. They test a fairly good brick, the FSP one. They then draw some questionable conclusions from the results.

If a normal PSU was close to the picoPSU plus a decent brick regarding efficiency then we wouldn't use picos now would we? :) If I were to power my system with the 80+ Antec PSU that came with the case my idle power consumption would go up by 50%. And I don't even have a super-efficient brick. I have an EDAC brick though, but although I use three 12V bricks for my systems, that EDAC brick is laying unused in a drawer. I use an old Viewsonic 60W brick for my file server. I found it in a recycle bin, think it was used with a LCD or something back in the day. It beats the crap out of that EDAC brick.

A picoPSU (the normal non-wide input ones) just passes the +12V along from the brick. It also uses the +12v from the brick and converts it down to +5v and +3.3v. The brick is important. Crappy brick = crappy end result. This is all the Jonnyguru review says really.

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:53 pm 
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HFat wrote:
merlin wrote:
The antec might be like 76% at 30w.

The 30W figure was AC.
This is SPCR. You know, the site with the measurements. So read first and pontificate later. The plantinum-rated Kingwin scored 77%, yeah. But the old $100 "high-efficiency" Antec scored 67% at 60W (not 30!)... so I don't expect the Antec you have in mind (which is not in SPCR's recommended list) would score very high.
It takes a really nice PSU to deliver 76% at 30W AC. And we're talking about <20W! That's where picos shine.

edit: AC vs. DC brain fart


Sure maybe that crappy antec. How about this superflower that scores 82% at 44w dc. :p
I'd say not bad for a 450w psu. at under 10% load.
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?na ... 2&reid=250
I'd suspect some of the low wattage seasonics would be pretty good too.
Also the picopsu is dependent on which type, the wide input versions obviously have to convert to 12v as well.

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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:10 pm 
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Superflower = Kingwin
Best look at SPCR's numbers.
The trouble with these efficient PSUs is their price.

And you don't need to suspect: look at SPCR's tests of Seasonics. They're not in the same league.


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:24 pm 
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Whoa, thanks for the replies! :D

To answer some questions: I was thinking of going for a mini-itx and a smaller case mostly because I live in an apartment and generally have less room. That said, I could still go larger in terms of motherboard and case. The 8GB of RAM is overkill; however, because of RAM prices I was thinking of going for 2x4GB, and just using 4GB to start.

So, it sounds like a little higher pico psu (120-150W maybe) paired with a near equivalent brick might be good.

Though I'm new at constructing a server, what HFat said about maybe going with a CPU with more cores (more threads) and then underclocking it makes sense to me. I was looking at desktop quad-core processors, it seems like the cheapest are AMD, such as the AMD Phenom II X4 840 (95W TDP) (there are also older, cheaper versions). Also, while everyone said that Intel boards are most efficient, I'm guessing that there are some simple motherboards that will come close (as I don't need many features on the board).

Also, in terms of usage, it will probably be small, as I will be mainly hosting personal projects/sites running PHP and mysql. However, I was hoping to make a system that I will have for a while and be flexible to increased usage.

Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:55 am 
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You're not making it clear. What does "personal" mean? If it means what I think it does (very few users), you'll be fine with the cheapest dual-core CPU and with 1G of RAM.
Buying more than you need so that it may last longer only makes sense if the price difference is relatively small. Going from the cheapest Sandy Bridge (G620) to a quad is a huge price difference. You'll soon be able to get a more powerful CPU than anything you can buy today with the money you saved.

Unless you want something a good bit less powerful than even the slowest mainstream Intel, I don't recommend AMD if you want to keep power consumption on the low side. Intel is simply more efficient, and not by a small margin.

If you want to keep it small, mITX is the way to go but I'd keep the M350 for actual low-power gear (Zacate, Atom and so on) and not for efficient mainstream gear. I think you should get a case with a fan (Antec ISK300-65) or a somewhat bigger case (Morex T3500). Both cases come with decent PSUs so, assuming you go with a cheap dual-core, you wouldn't need to buy a pico. You really wouldn't need 120W for that!


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:58 pm 
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Sorry for being vague, usage would probably be light, about 0-5 users concurrently (if that), also few total users (maybe 0-25). I guess that it might be better to go with lower priced hardware (such as the G620) and then upgrade to better hardware if traffic/usage increases.

I was looking at the ISK300, but I wasn't sure if the 65W power supply would be adquate. The T3500 has more power supply options but it's a bit smaller than the ISK300 (unless the T3500 has a better layout). I'm still a bit confused on how to determine a PSU value. According to this graph:
Image

If the G620's maximum power is about 35W, then a 65W PSU would be fine. After reading a couple articles on TDP, including SPCR's, I find it interesting that the G620's power would be much less than 65W, but I could be reading this wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: i3 2100 web server PSU
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:14 am 
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I wouldn't put much stock in that chart as such. You have to look at their methodology and the parts they used. Others have posted slightly different results.
But yeah: the 65W rating does not reflect reality. Look at the whole product range and you'll see that all regular-voltage dual-cores are rated at 65W even though power consumption is a function of speed. So the slower CPUs will consume less. You can also underclock the faster ones to get the same effect (if you want their features and not just their speed which you'd of course lose by underclocking).
If you want to be safe, you could get a G620T or a 2100T instead.

The CPU requirements also depend on what your server does for the users.

The T3500 is bigger and has better layout than the M350. Neither would be particularly good choices I think but the T3500 has enough airflow and clearance above the board that cooling shouldn't be an issue. I'm not saying the M350 wouldn't work (I don't know) but noise would potentially be a concern if it did (with poor airflow, the heatsink fan has to work harder). My guess is that Intel's regular heatsink would fit the T3500 but no the M350. The heatsink on the G620T and the 2100T should fit the M350 however. If you use the stock heatsink, make sure your board can spin it slowly because it is very noisy at high speed.
The cases I suggested are not the only ones, just the ones that came to mind first. I didn't recall that the ISK300 was bigger but there's another Antec that was reviewed by SPCR (ISK100) which is smaller. And there are many cases which weren't reviewed obviously. Any case designed to be used with fans should be adquate when it comes to cooling (but might be noisy). Just be careful with fanless cases: sometimes they're not designed to take a CPU that generates much heat.


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