Power supply for a cheap server with 4 drives

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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Power supply for a cheap server with 4 drives

Post by wilburpan » Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:52 pm

I have an old Pentium III computer that I'm planning on converting into a Linux fileserver. I'm looking for a quiet power supply to replace the cheap windtunnel power supply this machine currently has. The thing is, I don't want to overbuy, and even the lowest end power supplies I'm looking at seem to have many things I won't need (SATA and PCI-E connectors, for example).

I am planning on having 4 hard drives in this file server so I can run a RAID5 system, so the power supply will have to be able to deal with that (which isn't much, I know). Reliability is going to be a must.

Any suggestions on what I should get? I'm looking at the 350W Antec Smartpower and the 380W Antec Truepower, even though both power supplies have connectors I know I won't be using, and they probably have more power than I need. The Seasonic S12 380W PS is a bit more expensive than the above, and has the same connector issue.

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Post by NeilBlanchard » Mon Feb 27, 2006 7:46 pm

Greetings and welcome to SPCR,

I would recommend a quiet 120mm fanned unit, like the Fortron Source "Green" -- the 300watt version should be plenty, and it only has one SATA power connector. I built an Athlon 64 3200+ system with four HD's (two Samsung SATA 160GB (quiet) and two Maxtor IDE 120GB (very loud)) and the PS didn't blink. The version I got had fairly short wires, so if your case is a tall mid-tower, you might want to try and find one with longer wires.


Here's SPCR's review of the 400watt version:
Sincerely, Neil

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Post by najames » Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:24 pm

I am glad to see somebody else is goofy enough to be considering this with a PIII.

First your answer. I have 2 Seasonic S12-330s and they seem to work great powering one drive, passive 6600, AMD64 3000 Winny, 1gig, etc. I looked on Newegg under the reviews of this PSU and found someone wrote this:

Pros: -Very quiet operation
-Plenty of power (4 hard drives and a dual core AMD cpu running on it fine.)
-Excellent fit and finish
-Black plastic plugs that are very easy to grip

I would also like to use an old PIII 800eb+ATX board, and make a very small Linux file server to run 24/7, ideally something like these.

Infrant ReadyNAS RN600-DLS
Thecus N4100B
Thecus N2100B

My problem is that I have an ATX board and there are not many "small" cases to fit my 13"deep spot I want to put it. mATX socket 370 is slim to none. I also like the idea of using drive cages like above in the enclosures, up to 4 SATA drives/controller with gigabit nic. The prefabbed units are expensive, limited CPU&RAM, plus I already have most or all of the hardware on-hand except the case, (nic, and SATA controller for the PIII too).

I also have several ATX AMD64 rigs here, an ATX P4 2.4c Northwood, dual Opteron server too, but the PIII is perfect for this and low power. I even had it set up as a file server with Fedora 3, masquerading, etc at one time, doh!!! Choices are (a) give up on the PIII, or build my own case somehow **sigh** (b) get mATX cube case & board for the P4 (c) mATX and use one of the AMD64 setups (d) punt and get yet another unnecessary PC (maybe Geode NX) and small mATX case or prefab unit above.

I even have 2 new 160gig external Seagates I was thinking of connecting to a NSLU2, but transfers would be too slow across my LAN compared to gigabit transfers. I want to be able to centrally store many Windows-Linux-Solaris distros, other software, music, and "good stuff".

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Post by wilburpan » Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:42 am

Well, I've done some more looking around into power supply requirements, and it does appear that the primary power users in my system will be the hard drives. This is how I've estimated things:

CPU - PIII 750 MHz: 35 watts
RAM - 3 sticks PC133: 36 watts
VGA: Cheap AGP card: 20 watts
Hard drives: 4 ATA/100 drives @ 25 watts = 100 watts
Optical drives, fan, other cards: 55 watts

I know that a hard drive won't be using much power under normal circumstances, but given that (a) I want to account for peak power draw at bootup time, and (b) since this is a RAID5 system, data could easily be going to all drives at once, I want to be tres mucho conservative here.

The 4-pin hard drive power connector has 12V and 5V lines going to it. Does this mean that the hard drive can draw from either rail as needed? Also, since all of the power supplies I'm considering have dual 12V rails, my understanding is that the hard drives are "committed" to the 12V1 rail only, and can't draw off of the 12V2 rail. Is this correct?



To my understanding, the CPU is really not a limiting factor when running a Linux fileserver. Actually, neither is the choice between PATA and SATA. The major factor is the speed of your network. Unless every machine you have has Gigabit ethernet, network speed will be much slower than PATA or SATA data transfer rates. Second is how much RAM your fileserver has. Linux loves RAM -- in fact, when I was playing around with my first Linux machine, I found that increasing RAM made a much bigger impact on speed than changes in the CPU.

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Post by najames » Tue Feb 28, 2006 5:09 am

I do a lot of Linux/Unix work and know that the PIII 512MB works great in this application. It even works fine for a Linux desktop. I want to use SATA in everything, I rebuild and swap parts often and want it standardized and SATA is eaasier to work with. Every machine does have Gigabit. If I transfer a 3GB file from a PC through the 10/100 on the wireless router the speed is about 8MBps, if I pull the ethernet plug and connect the two boxes in the SMC 5port Gigabit switch it transfers at about 38MBps, huge difference. I have not tweaked anything either (jumbo frames?). One box had a slow 5400rpm drive, don't know if speed will increase with faster drives.

EDIT: RAM is going to be a key factor on the other PCs, VMware and multiple OS on all boxes.

I would like to come up with a small case, perferabley one that will at least accomodate 4 drives if needed. The Mashie Udat project on the web would be ideal, shoebox case, ITX board, 5drives array, except it has one slot for the array controller and no Gigabit. He is considering another box for that reason. I can do this easily in a tower on-hand but I would like to have one less lined up on the floor.


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Post by JimX » Tue Feb 28, 2006 7:18 am

When I tried connecting a fourth SATA drive in a friend's PC with a 350W Fortron, it wouldn't start. Get something that could be easily swapped.
[size=59]1. WS: Zalman TNN500Af, Abit IP35 Pro, E6750, 7600GT + N6600, WD500AAKS
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