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Horizontal case for a file server

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:51 am
by DavorC
Hello all, first time posting here, although I'm a long-time reader of
the site.

I am planning to replace my current home server and would like to ask
for a bit of advice on available options.

The server is currently an almost 10-yr old Athlon Shuttle with 4Gb
RAM and a 2Tb ZFS-formatted hard disk, running Ubuntu 12.04. It's used
mainly as a file server, with some light media transcoding (DVD
ripping) every now and then.

The new box will take over those duties, but for reliability I want to
move to a RAIDZ disk array (3+ disks) and error-correcting ECC RAM. I
believe ECC RAM implies using a server-class CPU, say a Xeon E3 which
comes in reasonably low-power versions. For storage, I currently use a
WD Red and have been happy with it, so I'll probably just get two
more.

On the new server, I'd also like to be able to run VMs and containers,
both to compartmentalize the various services and for work and
hobbyist software development. This won't be particularly intense, but
does mean not being too stingy with RAM, as does ZFS.

Also, for space and cabling reasons, this server would sit near my TV,
stacked with the DVD player and cable box. So I'd prefer a horizontal
case, and keep it silent enough so it doesn't disturb the TV/movie
watching, at least when it's not running at full throttle.

I don't play video games, so the CPU integrated graphics unit will be
sufficient for my needs.

Are there any cases that anyone can recommend? Minimal requirements:
- horizontal
- 1 external 5.25" drive bay (for my current DVD writer)
- 3 internal 3.5" drive bays (HDDs)
- 1 internal 2.5" drive bay (SSD)
- can accommodate mATX motherboards

Silverstone's Grandia cases look pretty promising. GD07 and GD08
easily fit the bill, although they might be a bit bigger than I'd want
(440x175x435). GD06 looks almost perfect: smaller than GD07
(440x150x340) but still accommodating all the drives I need. But I'm a
little wary what effect will loading it up to near capacity will do to
its cooling and noise, not to mention that I haven't been able to find
any decent reviews of the case's performance. (I also don't care that
two of the 3.5" bays are hot-swappable, I'll only have to access them
for replacement, so I definitely hope not too often!)

Any thoughts on the components going into the case? I'm unlikely to
spend a lot of time modding anything, so reasonable out-of-the-box
performance would be preferred.

Thanks,

Davor

Re: Horizontal case for a file server

Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 4:56 pm
by QUIET!
I like the e3s and I have one but you might want to look at the Xeon D.

It does not have integrated graphics but that's easy to fix with a low end PCIe GPU.

Intel also says that the first 3D Xpoint/Optane SSDs will be coming next year. I think that might be just the thing for doing RAIDZ with deduplication. That's more of a database thing but if you want to play with VMs, it's what the big boys are doing.

Re: Horizontal case for a file server

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:47 pm
by AlpineCarver
sorry for the late reply; i only stop by here sporadically.

another option to consider: AMD socket AM3+ processors. they support ECC, and a cpu + micro-atx motherboard is half the price of a comparable xeon E3 cpu + motherboards.

i've built half a dozen systems using ASUS socket AM3+ motherboards with ECC over the last few years, and they have been very reliable for me. my most recent couple of builds have used the ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 board, which is a couple of years old now, but is still available, is very inexpensive, and works great for low-power servers. its integrated graphics are pretty slow, but they're fine for a server.

unfortunately, AMD is no longer making very inexpensive, low power 2-core cpus in this line; probably the most suitable cpu for a home server right now would the FX-6300, at $95. it's rated 95w, but, since most home server cpus are idle most of the time, its actual power usage will be very low.

Re: Horizontal case for a file server

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:15 pm
by mingv7v
I have a GD06, got it soon after it was released so what's currently available may have undergone revisions. For me the GD06's 2 hot swap bays are too noisy to be of use (other than temporary) in a HTPC.

I have a FreeNAS server running RAIDZ2, it's a Xeon e3 on a Supermicro mobo but there are non Xeon CPU that support ECC RAM:

http://ark.intel.com/search/advanced?s= ... emory=true

The Supermicro mobo comes with built in VGA and IPMI support, so depending on how you plan to use the system you may not need a discreet graphics card even if the CPU doesn't have integrated graphics.

Re: Horizontal case for a file server

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:25 am
by DavorC
Thank you very much -- that's some food for thought, mingv7v and AlpineCarver. GD06 case is definitely out, based on mingv7v's comments, and I'm starting to think I should consider:

a) giving up the 5.25" external bay and putting the DVD writer in an external case for the times it's needed;
b) this would broaden my case options, especially if I'm willing to consider mITX and a non-horizontal case (e.g., Node 304); and
c) non-Xeon CPUs, either something like the ECC-supporting i5 or (gasp) something from AMD.

Choosing my components has just gotten even more difficult. I just hope the current system survives until I make up my mind about the replacement. :-)