What's the ideal mobo and CPU for WHS

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wayner
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What's the ideal mobo and CPU for WHS

Post by wayner » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:12 pm

I have Windows Home Server (WHS) running on an old Dell PC and I am thinking of putting together a more permanent system. Since this is a server it will be running 24x7 so I want low power consumption. The system does not need a really honking CPU - anything that would be Socket 775 would be more than sufficient but what is the lowest power CPU to put in such a system? Should I underclock? Does an E2160 or E4500 make sense - what is the power consumption for these CPUs? If not that then what? Does an E8200 make more sense - the processor speed is overkill but will the lower power consumption help?

What mobo should I get? The main need is lots of SATA ports - ideally 8 or so and Gigabit LAN. With WHS you don't really need too much else, maybe low end onboard video and audio (I do have a monitor attached to my WHS machine). The problem is that it seems that most mobos with lots of SATA ports have lots of bells and whistles that would be a waste in this configuration.

Noise isn't really an issue as this will be hidden away in the basement and given a low power consumption system it should be an issue to keep the noise down, other than that from the hard drives.

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Post by vincentfox » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:06 pm


SZ
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Post by SZ » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:06 am

>Don't run Windows Home Server!
This affects you if you have more than one HDD.

My WHS runs perfectly on D201GLY2 with 1TB WD GreenPower drive for a few months already consuming about 30-35W

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Post by oberbimbo » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:36 am

I have an Asus M3N78 with an Athlon BE 2400 and one Samsung HD which idles at 34W so you may want to look into AMD. If the D201GLY2 really needs 30W with a Greenpower it is sorta pointless IMHO.

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Post by nitram_tpr » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:18 am

When M$ say it is affected on multiple drives...is this for a RAID array or for a machine with multiple individual drives?

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Post by fwki » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:52 am

A single multi-drive RAID array which contains both the WHS system and client data files is not affected because it looks like a single drive to WHS. Data on multiple individual drives are only affected by client applications that attempt to write to a file on the server that is concurrently being written to by WHS Drive Extender.

To avoid data corruption exposure in multi-drive setups, simply have all client applications edit files locally prior to moving/copying them to the server. Moving files between client and server is not affected by the bug nor are backups. With these relatively easy precautions, I see no reason to avoid WHS if it fits your needs.

The current plan of record is to combine the fix for the data corruption bug with the planned release of Power Pack 1 in June. The fix is undergoing internal beta testing now and public beta testing in May.

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Post by wayner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:54 am

I have been running WHS for more than a year and I haven't had the corruption issue - that seems to occur mainly when you are editing files directly on the server that are duplicated.

TO nitram_tpr:

With WHS you don't use a RAID array - WHS essentially creates redundancy by storing all data, or at least all data that you tell it to, on more than one hard drive. This allows you to mix and match all kinds and sizes of drives - SATA, IDE, external, etc.

No back to the main topic - any sepcific suggestions?

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Re: What's the ideal mobo and CPU for WHS

Post by fwki » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:57 am

wayner wrote:what is the lowest power CPU to put in such a system? Should I underclock? Does an E2160 or E4500 make sense - what is the power consumption for these CPUs? If not that then what? Does an E8200 make more sense - the processor speed is overkill but will the lower power consumption help?
I am running a Core2 T5500 mobile cpu (1.66 GHz) with SpeedStep and have absolutely no cpu bottlenecks for WHS server duties nor any while streaming music or video from the system. On the WHS I also run Avast AVS, Diskeeper, and serve web pages and an FTP site. With that in mind, an E2160 (1.83 GHz) is sufficient and there is no need to underclock with as long as EIST is dropping VID along with the multiplier. IF EIST is not dropping voltage, try undervolting the cpu at stock speeds as these Core2's are sometimes setup with unnecessarily high stock VID's.
wayner wrote: Does an E8200 make more sense - the processor speed is overkill but will the lower power consumption help?
The 45nm E8200 is clocked much higher than the 65nm E2160 and runs with a much higher FSB, so power draw from the cpu and the fsb and the DIMMS will likely negate the die-shrink benefit. If you can wait until June, the 45nm replacements (E3000's) for the E2000's will be launched, but they will have higher fsb speeds. It's best to run the fsb at Auto (stock speeds) for SpeedStep to work.
wayner wrote: What mobo should I get? The main need is lots of SATA ports - ideally 8 or so and Gigabit LAN. With WHS you don't really need too much else, maybe low end onboard video and audio (I do have a monitor attached to my WHS machine). The problem is that it seems that most mobos with lots of SATA ports have lots of bells and whistles that would be a waste in this configuration.
Personally I would recommend entry-level server boards with integrated video and non-ECC RAM for WHS. The extra cost is worth it for durability. I am using a tiny flex-ATX Tyan board with only 2 SATA ports. My plan is to add a PCIe (4x) SATA controller card with 4 to 8 additional ports when needed. SATA port multipliers are also available.

If you want to save money and go with a desktop MB, check the WHS forum for choices under the "What's in your server?" thread. And most of the bells and whistles can be disabled in BIOS for power savings

For the system HDD, go for performance over 5400 rpm Green Power drives. The newer low-platter count 7200 rpm drives consume only a negligible amount of additional power. For expansion HDD's go for the biggest and newest drives only as needed. HDD technology wrt power and performance is advancing all the time.

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Post by markn » Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:08 am

I'm planning on building something similar.

I'm awaiting a kontron 986 mini-itx nobo won on ebay. It has 4 sata ports which with todays large hdds seems more than enough but it also has a pci slot if you need more. It takes c2d 667mhz mobile processors and includes three gigabit nics. It should support smart fan I believe but not undrvolting.

I'm thinking about the chenbro mini-itx server case which offers four hot swap bays sperated from the motherboard compartment. Its a little pricey but does include an external psu which I'm hoping will be pretty efficient.

I'm not sure what processor to get. Maybe a t7200 or cheaper t5500. Its mostly a server but I want gigabit speeds and will run slimserver and possibly some transcoding/audio processing software. Lokking for better than via performance but at low power.

EDIT. I should add I'll run linux but the hardware is similar

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Post by fwki » Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:41 am

If the kontron supports EIST speed step, then you really don't need to undervolt. The T5500 in my WHS machine spends most of it life at 6x and 0.95v (the lowest "stock" speed step setting). For WHS you'll want a 64-bit capable cpu for compatibility with WHS upgrade plans. I believe the cheapest mobile Intel cpu with 64-bit is the T5500. If you are willing to spend the money, the T7000's would be handy for transcoding. I'm thinking of upgrading....watching ebay...wondering about the quality of a 2nd hand or gray market T7200...

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Post by markn » Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:49 am

Thanks. I run Linux which I'd forgotten to mention initially but 64 bit does benefit transcoding I suspect. I've been wonderring about used cpus too. They don't generally die unless miss handled.

Thanks

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To answer the question...

Post by fri2219 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:21 am

If it was my build, I'd look into an ICHR9 based board from GigaByte, stick an E2140 into it.

The board/Allendale combo undervolts stably to around 0.9V (from 1.35V), and you can just stick a Thermalright Bolt Through Kit + Ninja on the CPU- a similar (6-drive) setup in my house runs around 30C in a positive pressure case with no CPU fan.

I'm going to tackle drive noise this summer if the 1T WD GP drives prove to be reliable. (While the setup is strictly for home use, I'm still not sold on WD drives.)

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Post by fwki » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:29 am

Undervolting an E2000 for WHS is a good idea, and I just found out how good the Gigabyte P35 boards are at undervolting with a DS3L and a Q9450 at less than 1.0v VID. At $90 for the DS3L (rev2) and an inexpensive cpu, you can build a WHS machine on the cheap and put cash into hdd capacity.

A couple years down the road you can upgrade the cpu to 45nm E3000 or E7000 when software transcoding on WHS has the kinks worked out. I love WHS for file serving, backup and serving my family web page, but I am very careful with application software at this early stage. Even MS own Zune software is not yet compatible with WHS. Once the WHS user-base is large enough, media extender OEM's will do a better job with WHS compability. As it stands now serving files as they exist on the WHS is no problem, but be prepared for hiccups with anything more extravagant.

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Post by mark314 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:27 am

Just my $.02:

I will be making a WHS build thread soon, as the parts I've ordered are finally arriving.

My system requirements are slightly different as I intended to make a WHS that would be able to transcode SD or HD on the fly and send it to a media center at my TV. I intend to use Tversity to do so, which is now integrated into the WHS management screen through a 3rd party plug in.
With that I also wanted to set up WHS with bittorent, so that I could remotely queue up movies over bittorent, and then stream them direct to my TV.

I also wanted the parts to be capable enough to play double duty as a media player. I have seen the videos about LinuxMCE, the Linux-based media center platform which looks *incredible*. So, I've thought about playing with WHS for a while and then re-using the machine as a MCE at my TV.

So, the parts:

Asus P5E-VM w/ HDMI out
2Gb DDR2-533
Core 2 Duo E4200
Scythe Ninja
200W PicoPSU - PW-200-V
220W Dell power brick
2x 320Gb seagate barracuda (re-used and free, but loud)
Antec NSK1380 uATX case

I had intended on buying an E2xxx but they were sold out. So, with the P5E-VM (That comes highly reviewed by SPCR), I can undervolt my E4200.

I'm only waiting on one part now - the 200W power adapter. That'll be here in a week or so.

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Post by bgavin » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:24 am

As a computer servicer, I have no interest in using WHS, especially when Linux/Samba is available for free.

I understand that RAID on Windows boxes is done using Windows to handle the striping and parity. No thanks. There is too much chatter on the boards about corrupt this, and corrupt that, using software RAID.

Spend the money and buy a hardware RAID card. I'm sure they exist for SATA, and the connections are on the card. An all hardware solution beats Windows every time. If it was effective, the corporate shops would use software RAID. They don't.

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Post by fwki » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:55 am

The OP's questions on cpu and MB are dependent on WHS usage, especially wrt the handling of media files by both server and client. From what I understand, if you are serving media files to a PC, you dont need much WHS horsepower because the client PC can handle the on-the-fly-transcoding. If you are serving to a less-capable media extender (MG-450, HR21 DirectTV boxes, etc.) then WHS must serve files in a device-dependent compatible format and transcode on-the-fly at the server. MB/cpu recommendations would differ in these two usage models.

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Post by wayner » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:48 am

bgavin wrote:Spend the money and buy a hardware RAID card. I'm sure they exist for SATA, and the connections are on the card. An all hardware solution beats Windows every time. If it was effective, the corporate shops would use software RAID. They don't.
My SATA card(s) do have RAID but I have it turned off. Corporate shops spend a lot more than I am willing to spend - like several dollars per Gigabyte. With WHS I can have redundant storage for the fixed cost of the machine plus about $0.40 per Gig (as current HD prices are $0.20/Gig). Plus you can easily swap in and out whatever drives you want and they don't have to be the same size - you can even mix IDE, SATA and external.

Other than the corruption issues (which is a BIG issue) WHS makes a lot of sense to me. It works as a file server with redundant copies of files, backs up all of my PCs every night and acts as a web server for all of my files. Sure you can do all of that with Linux if you were so inclined but I want a lower maintenance solution.

By the way - I have been running WHS since it was in beta about a year ago and I haven't had any issues with it.

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Post by DrJ » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:31 pm

wayner wrote:Sure you can do all of that with Linux if you were so inclined but I want a lower maintenance solution.
I agree, with one caveat. It is hard in Linux to have the equivalent of the ability to restore a backup when your hard drive crashes by inserting a single CD.

I set up WHS server in the main house, where we have four Windows boxes. It is tough to beat the convenience. For my company I use FreeBSD with RAID and tapes and all that, but it is a lot more work, though more reliable and easier. Yes, easier, but more work.

FWIW, I run WHS an old Tyan dual Athlon board with dual mobile CPUs (equivalent to a 3600 in today's terms) with 2GB ECC-Reg memory. It is way overkill, but it works rather well. That is mitigated by the fact that I had everything other than the case in the parts bin. Right now I'm testing on a 120GB drive; larger ones will come later if I like it.

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Post by wayner » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:45 pm

Right now my WHS box has a 320GB Seagate IDE fan for the system drive plus the following data drives:

320GB Seagate IDE
500GB Maxtor SATA
2X 500GB WD SATA

This gives me a total of 1.95 TB. I duplicate all of my photos, music and videos. Therefore I have effective storage of around 1 TB.

This is in an old Dell Dimension that I am reusing with 1GB of RAM and about a 1.8GHz processor. This system does not have onboard SATA so I did have to add PCI SATA cards. I have a Promise SATA card and a Silicon Image card - the Silicon Image card gave me some problems at install as it did not find the drivers. I had to manually install later on after the system was up and running.

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Post by croddie » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:30 am

Bumping an old thread to see if there are new answers.

No-one seemed to be getting particularly low power, given that WHS doesn't require any graphics and can take a slow CPU. Presumably current integrated graphics tends to draw power even if unused?
Any motherboards in the works that could make for a low power WHS setup?

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Post by piglover » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:31 pm

croddie wrote:Bumping an old thread to see if there are new answers.

No-one seemed to be getting particularly low power, given that WHS doesn't require any graphics and can take a slow CPU. Presumably current integrated graphics tends to draw power even if unused?
Any motherboards in the works that could make for a low power WHS setup?
I run mine on a Biostar A760G M2+ with an Athlon 4850e. It runs about 35W idle with just the first disk (a seagate 7200.11 1.5Tb) - add power from there as you add drives. Others have reported lower idle power using this board/CPU combo and a bit of tuning for power - things like disabling audio, etc - but i am just too lazy and generally satisfied. I got the MB+CPU for $95 on a frys combo deal early this year.

I tried it first using an Atom based board (BOXD945GCLF2) but I couldn't find a good PCI SATA card that worked well with this board. I tried a PCI-X supermicro card with the Atom but it had lots of compatibility issues with this board. That same supermicro card worked well in the A760G until I replaced it with a PCIe based card a few months ago.

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Post by MikeC » Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:02 pm

This could be a good choice for a low power home server -- Intel Atom board w/ mobile chipset: Intel Desktop Board D945GSEJT

The Atom N270 is 2.5W TDP; Mobile Intel 945GSE Express Chipset is 6W TDP.

A big plus: Integrated DC-to-DC circuitry -- 12 VDC jack on back panel for external power supply; ATX12V 2 x 2 power connector for alternate internal power supply.

Biggest downside is only 2 SATA ports, not great if you want massive storage... but it does have a PCI Express slot that can be used for a SATA expansion card.

We'll have a review up in a week or two.

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Post by MikeC » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:31 pm

BTW, Intel says the minimum power required for a system using this board -- Intel Atom board w/ mobile chipset: Intel Desktop Board D945GSEJT -- is 1A on the 12V back panel power socket.
http://download.intel.com/support/mothe ... 2001us.pdf
[EDIT]-- That's 12W w/ no HDD, system booting off LAN. Adding a low power HDD would only increase min power by 4~5W at idle, tho the bootup power peak could jump >20W with a 3.5" drive. Some kind of staggered HDD spinup scheme (for multiple high capacity 3.5" drives) with a 2.5" OS drive would keep max power low.
Last edited by MikeC on Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by croddie » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:38 pm

Looks very promising MikeC: looking forward to the review!

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Post by ilovejedd » Mon Sep 14, 2009 4:45 pm

What are the chances you might be able to review the MSI Industrial IM-945GC board, too? That one has 4 SATA ports and as far as I'm aware, they all use the ICH7 southbridge. It also features an IDE slot which is ideal for people with old IDE hard drives. They can use that instead of one of the precious SATA slots for the WHS install.

I know an ION-based solution (e.g. Pegatron IPX7A) is likely cheaper and lower power, but I've recently had to wrestle with getting Acronis True Image and SpinRite working on my Zotac ION board. Never did get them to work, by the way, so now, I'm not really feeling very happy with the ION's SATA controllers. A shame really, since I had been planning on using an ION board for a tiny Chenbro ES34069-based WHS build.

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Post by MikeC » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:58 pm

ilovejedd wrote:What are the chances you might be able to review the MSI Industrial IM-945GC board, too? That one has 4 SATA ports and as far as I'm aware, they all use the ICH7 southbridge. It also features an IDE slot which is ideal for people with old IDE hard drives. They can use that instead of one of the precious SATA slots for the WHS install.
Not much. It's the desktop chipset 945GC -- 22.2W TDP. Like Intel's original Atom boards -- which are half the price. Only the 2 SATA ports on the Intel boards are significantly worse. I'd be looking for a low power chipset board for this app.

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Post by MikeC » Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:53 am

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for "staggered hard drive spin up" and found many RAID cards offer this. Cheapest in a quick search was HighPoint RocketRAID 2640X1 PCI-Express x4 Four-Port SATA and SAS RAID Controller Card - $90 at Newegg. Rated for 5W power draw. This would probably make the lowest power, low cost home server with the new low power Intel Atom board, 4 2tb drives, electrodacus's 130W DC/DC power board & 150W power brick, and almost any cheap mATX case -- like this $23 el cheapo from newegg, with HDDs suspended Aphonos-style in the front.

Except, of course, with that PSU, you don't need staggered spinup anyway for 4 HDDs. :lol: But then you could have 6 HDDs if you wanted... or a simple cjheaper 2-SATA PCIe 1x card for 4 HDDs.

I suppose there might be some question (by some folks) of whether a single core Atom board has enough computing power to handle this many drives well.

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Post by piglover » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:16 am

MikeC wrote:Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search for "staggered hard drive spin up" and found many RAID cards offer this. Cheapest in a quick search was HighPoint RocketRAID 2640X1 PCI-Express x4 Four-Port SATA and SAS RAID Controller Card - $90 at Newegg. Rated for 5W power draw. This would probably make the lowest power, low cost home server with the new low power Intel Atom board, 4 2tb drives, electrodacus's 130W DC/DC power board & 150W power brick, and almost any cheap mATX case -- like this $23 el cheapo from newegg, with HDDs suspended Aphonos-style in the front.

Except, of course, with that PSU, you don't need staggered spinup anyway for 4 HDDs. :lol: But then you could have 6 HDDs if you wanted... or a simple cjheaper 2-SATA PCIe 1x card for 4 HDDs.

I suppose there might be some question (by some folks) of whether a single core Atom board has enough computing power to handle this many drives well.
Agreed. This is the right approach. The only drawback is that the MB you are looking at (D945GSEJT) has PCIe-minicard support and the SATA/Raid card is 'normal' PCIe x1. I'm not sure how you would use them together...

As for the second part - WHS needs almost no CPU resources at all most of the time. For most home users the Atom is plenty powerful enough (though it would be better if it was the 330 instead of the 270).

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Post by MikeC » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:30 am

piglover wrote:Agreed. This is the right approach. The only drawback is that the MB you are looking at (D945GSEJT) has PCIe-minicard support and the SATA/Raid card is 'normal' PCIe x1. I'm not sure how you would use them together...
Right. The board does have a standard PCI slot, so this could be used instead: HighPoint RocketRAID 1740 PCI SATA I & SATA II Controller Card - Retail

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Post by piglover » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:07 am

MikeC wrote:
piglover wrote:Agreed. This is the right approach. The only drawback is that the MB you are looking at (D945GSEJT) has PCIe-minicard support and the SATA/Raid card is 'normal' PCIe x1. I'm not sure how you would use them together...
Right. The board does have a standard PCI slot, so this could be used instead: HighPoint RocketRAID 1740 PCI SATA I & SATA II Controller Card - Retail
If you go PCI then there are a lot of options. You really don't need the RAID functions of the highpoint card for WHS. There are dozens of SiL-3124 based PCI cards out there for to get 4 SATA-II ports on IDE. Probably the best one is here: http://www.addonics.com/products/host_c ... dsa4r5.asp. You can find this card brand new as low as $36 if you shop a bit. I've used them in the past and they work great. The only reason I went away from the Atom was that I needed 10 SATA ports, not 6. The only 8-port SATA cards I could find were PCI-X based and there were compatibility problems with the Intel ATOM boards+WHS (the same board worked perfectly in the A760G+WHS - go figure).

Edit: was digging around a bit. User reviews on Newegg claim the Highpoint card has no support for Server 2003 - that would be a show-stopper for WHS. These reviews are old so this could have been fixed but anybody considering this card for WHS is well advised to confirm support before they buy.

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