Fanless low power, low cost home server

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3carrots
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Fanless low power, low cost home server

Post by 3carrots » Mon May 28, 2007 6:47 am

Hi all,
I am planning to build a fanless headless linux pc running 24/7 for web server, downloading, etc. purposes.

Main compontents are going to be:
- nForce 4xx-based cheap AM2 mobo with integrated vga/ethernet...
- A Manilla core Sempron (25W TDP) possibly undervolted
- 1 GB DDR2 Kingston RAM (dirt cheap nowdays)
- old notebook drive
- old midi computer case

I need recommendations for the following parts:
PSU:
- this needs to be the cheapest fanless solution possible, any ideas are welcome. Are there any chances running a higher quality PSU stripped off its case and mounted in the computer's case covered by grids?
- needs to be cheaper than the picoPSU + power brick combo

CPU heatsink:
- cheapest fanless one capable of dissipating this amount of heat in a fairly large case with lot of ventillating holes.

Unfortunately other than fanless solutions are not feasible, but any recommendations for other combination of components resulting the same performance in the same price range are welcome!

Thanks for any advices!

3carrots from Hungary, Europe

MikeC
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Post by MikeC » Mon May 28, 2007 8:08 am

This looks like a perfect application for a cheap used computer. Yesterday's marvels are today's basement bargains, and if you choose the right processor, you'll get all you want/need.

An early socket 478<2GHz P4 (Northwood core) w/ integrated video will be <50~60W demand at max load, and you can combine that with a big aftermarket HS to run it with a very slow fan, or maybe w/o a fan; depends on the details.

Such system will run perfectly well with any 180~300W Seasonic mATX 80+ PSUs, which are extremely efficient & cheap. They're not silent, but you can probably mod them for fanless or quieter operation in any number of different ways.
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nzimmers
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Post by nzimmers » Mon May 28, 2007 12:05 pm

You might want to look at a similar combination of AM2 Sempron with one of the ATI chipset MB's

I think most of the ATI and ULI chipset motherboards tend to use less power
than the Nforce 4 series

Moogles
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Post by Moogles » Mon May 28, 2007 12:30 pm

I'm looking to build something as close to fanless as possible, and your build looks pretty good. How do you find out if your AM2 Sempron is a manilla core? 25W TDP sounds nice.

Apparently certain desktop motherboards (SiS chipsets?) can take mobile Semprons, but they're all S754. They have very low TDP as well, and are very very cheap. Difficult locating a suitable motherboard though. :(

johno
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Post by johno » Mon May 28, 2007 1:45 pm

If you're using a notebook drive, how about just using a used notebook computer or mac mini? That's by far the easiest way to get sub-20w, and in many cases fanless.

3carrots
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Post by 3carrots » Mon May 28, 2007 2:22 pm

Thanks for all your replies!
MikeC wrote:This looks like a perfect application for a cheap used computer. Yesterday's marvels are today's basement bargains, and if you choose the right processor, you'll get all you want/need.
The components I listed are so cheap now that they cost the same as a 3 years old P4 (Something like 150 in USD). At least here in my country. And these components would consume much less power.
nzimmers wrote:You might want to look at a similar combination of AM2 Sempron with one of the ATI chipset MB's
I think most of the ATI and ULI chipset motherboards tend to use less power
than the Nforce 4 series
Yes, maybe you are right, but due to the poor linux support of ATI or ULI stuff it is not an option for me, I guess.
Moogles wrote:How do you find out if your AM2 Sempron is a manilla core? 25W TDP sounds nice.
Thanks for reminding me to re-check it, it's 35W unfortunately. Sorry for the confusion. Now I found this site: http://www.amdcompare.com/us-en/desktop/Default.aspx and it said there are two Semprons with 256KB L2 cache and 35W TDP: 3000+ and 3400+. An article on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AM ... processors) says that only 3400+ supports Cool'n'Quiet, so that's the one we should go for.
Moogles wrote:Apparently certain desktop motherboards (SiS chipsets?) can take mobile Semprons, but they're all S754.
I would be afraid of the linux support of these too, and I guess they are not supporting DDR2, which is here much cheaper than DDR.
Moogles wrote:I'm looking to build something as close to fanless as possible
What PSU are you thinking about?
johno wrote:If you're using a notebook drive, how about just using a used notebook computer or mac mini? That's by far the easiest way to get sub-20w, and in many cases fanless.
I would love to use a used mac mini or a notebook as a server, but it would still cost much more, it is not fanless and even less designed for heavy 24/7 use than a low end PC in a large case. The only reason I am going to use a notebook hard drive because I already have one. :)

Thanks for any further ideas!

bonestonne
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Post by bonestonne » Mon May 28, 2007 3:31 pm

if you're really dead set on fanless and all that, buy a PSU with a fan, and take it out. however, you need to still keep this computer in a place where theres constant airflow, such as near an AC vent, however, when that vent isn't blowing cool air, you're going to have a very hot computer running there. if anything, the PSU should have a fan, if thats the only one. you can use a very large heatsink, and go onboard for everything necessary other than that, but there needs to be airflow. the only fanless system that survive where theres little to no airflow are the ones with truely massive heatsinks. i'm not doubting you in any way, but i dont think your willing to put the time or money into making a truly fanless system, as you'll need to be running a low wattage CPU, have a large heatsink on the northbridge [if you have one] and a large heatsink on the CPU, while keeping the hard drive cool, and the other chipsets, to reduce system heat overall.

you could just use a laptop motherboard and stick a large heatsink on it somehow..sure it would take some ingenuity, but thats half the fun. i only say a laptop mobo because its not common to just stumble upon a 2.5" HDD.

i'm not saying that this is impossible, but you're cutting it shorter than it can be.

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3carrots
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Post by 3carrots » Mon May 28, 2007 3:59 pm

I found something pretty similar to my concept:
Check out this guy's setup in the general gallery!

He has a CPU consuming almost twice the power.

Maybe I should go with the cheap FSP ZEN, and any huge CPU heatsink. Bad idea?

dougz
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Post by dougz » Mon May 28, 2007 4:56 pm

I would not exclude Via chipsets. Good choice for cheap AMD mobos. Well supported in Linux, except for their graphics performance. Not a problem for headless servers. I've had good luck with ASRock (ASUS' budget line), although they are not enthusiast mobos.

Years ago, Via was not a good choice, but they have been fine for the last few years. Agree that avoiding Uli, SiS and ATI is a good idea.

Your power budget should allow a Pico PSU. Add a single large **slow** fan and some cardboard ducting...

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Tue May 29, 2007 1:32 am

Maybe I should go with the cheap FSP ZEN
the early zen models would shut down on very low-power PC's,don't know if this has been fixed, see link in psu forum

3carrots
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Post by 3carrots » Tue May 29, 2007 11:42 am

Thanks for the replies!

So basically the current idea is:
- Ninja-like huge heatsink
- picoPSU + adapter (60W should be enough, but if i could get a more powerful combo cheaper, i take it)

There is going to be a large open space over the CPU heatsink, maybe even with a hole on the top of the system, so I hope everything is going to be just fine with running this setup fanless.

vanhelmont
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Post by vanhelmont » Tue May 29, 2007 12:34 pm

Yes, via chipsets work well with Linux these days. I have used several over the years. The first one with built in audio and video, I could not get either one to work and just used seperate sound and agp cards.

I just built a system with MSI k9vgm-v motherboard, which has K8m890 nb and chrome9 video. I installed ubuntu 7.04, and everything, including video and audio, worked with no problems (well the bios detected my memory speed incorrectly, but that was easy to fix.) Also nothing on the board feels more than a little warm. I have a fan on the cpu and psu, though.

There is another via onboard video, I can't remember the name, for which I don't think there is Linux support.
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jessekopelman
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Post by jessekopelman » Tue May 29, 2007 1:11 pm

3carrots wrote:Maybe I should go with the cheap FSP ZEN, and any huge CPU heatsink.
For the same money you could get a PicoPSU and brick. PicoPSU-80 + 6.6A brick = $70, FSP Zen 300W = $85. I realize prices may not be the same in Hungary, but given the Pico is nearly 20% cheaper in this example . . .

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