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Home Server Build Part 2 – Core Components and Build


Introduction

Hello All and welcome to Part 2 of this journey through my File/Home Server build. This is not intended as a ”How to” or any sort of exacting guide, but as a “How I did it”, so for anyone with a similar idea or need, will have the benefit of my experience as a starting point. (There is a forum thread for your own stories).

In Part 1 I looked at some of the many requirements and a few small details that dictated the components for the build. It is becoming clear that the specifications are overkill and pretty much future proof which suits me just fine, but you need to remember that this will not be a specification in line with some expectations of a Home Server, due to the use of desktop components, so take it all with a pinch of salt.

Since Part 1 was completed, I have also decided on a few other components, namely the motherboard, CPU, memory and cooler. As it stands I can start to assemble the core build and start a troubleshooting phase without storing files or streaming media, getting in the way of formatting and OS installing etc.

Components list so far:

  • MSI Z87M-G43
  • Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Cooler
  • 16 GB Corsair DDR3 Desktop PC3-12800
  • Intel Core i3 4130, S1150, Haswell
  • Cooler Master Silencio RC-550 Mid Tower
  • 500W be quiet! Straight Power
  • Blu-Ray Optical Drive (BH10LS30)
  • 2 x 120 GB SSDs OS (SanDisk SSD SATA III 128GB)

Components

Components2

The Z87M-G43 is from another build which is now being upgraded. It is only a few months old and new enough to last a good few years without looking out of date before it is out of the starting blocks. It is a decent mATX motherboard flashed with the latest BIOS (2.4 at the time of writing) with SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 on-board. It’s not going to win any prizes other than maybe the safe pair of hands award! It is also a Z87 Express Chipset which is not aimed at the Server market so it will have a few features that will be of little use. With that in mind, it may be an idea to declock memory to run tighter timings if required and it supports on-board RAID which will be the primary controller for the OS SSDs.

The Intel Core i3 4130 is also a little over the top for a home server build, but again it’s going to last a couple of generations before becoming sluggish. It has some interesting technologies including Wireless Display (worthy of a look at some point) and built in Intel HD 4400 graphics.

It also allows for DDR3-1600 speed memory, convenient because the Z87M-G43 supports this speed and the two 8GB Corsair sticks are DDR3-1600. From a CPU cooling aspect I believe the legendary Noctua NH-L12 should do the trick and with the possibility of declocked components and no GPU to cook the air inside the case, it shouldn’t break a sweat.

Memory, now this is an odd one. 16GB is going to be more than enough for this server, I won’t have many users on it, it will not need to support multiple streams and I won’t be running Virtual Machines at this time. The memory of choice was based on speed, price and capacity all crammed onto one DIMM. I decided to pair it up as I didn’t fancy 8GB on a single channel, so for no logical reason other than pride I went for 2x8GB.

It is all going to push the 500W be quiet! PSU slightly but I did rate the power consumption based on a slightly higher specification than the typical home server build.

With the operating system undecided I will use my trusty Windows 7 Ultimate for testing. It’s on my ProLiant at the moment and it works well as a remote Server Operating System that supports iTunes, Dropbox and other multimedia and cloud applications. With some rumours of a free Windows 8.1 around the corner, it’s thrown another spanner in the OS works when considering which of them to spend money on.

The 128GB SanDisk SSD SATA III in RAID should be enough to provide any Cloud swap files and applications to run in a latent free and low energy way. I am not sure at this point if the on-board RAID chip on the Z87M-G43 will support mirror but I would think it’s not going to be an issue if not, I would piggy back these on the RAID card once installed.

There are a lot of outstanding questions but there is also enough kit to start an initial build of this home server. From a hardware point of view, only the RAID Card, HDD choice and possibly some extra cooling fans, are outstanding and won’t get in the way of an initial build.