HW for home server

I would like to know, what are you thinking which hw I should use to build my home server? SW to run on it is Windows Server (no LINUX). Purpose of the server is: Domain server, File Server, Mail server, some video trascoding and 1 VM.
So questions would be:
CPU: from intel g4600t up to E3-1275V6 (should have iGPU)
RAM: to ECC or not
Motherboard: its no problem if its big; I don’t need necessary a mITX.
I would use my four old WD RED 3TB HDD. As single drive or RAID 1,5,6?

Most important thing of all: System on idle should consume as less power as possible as it would be a 24/7 server.

I use at home an old amd Phenom 2 3GHzx4 with a simple RAID PCIe Card and 3x3TB hdd with 4gb ram
I use it for Files, Mail, HyperV (3 Clients), DNS, DHCP, Web (MySQL+Apache) and some more things ^^
But I do not know about energy state, since I did not measure it^^
It works great with Windows Server 8.1

Be sure to check if the PCIe Card supports more than 2TB drives, because some old cheap ones do not

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CPU: I have no idea about that in context of a home server, but for running 14/7 I know that xeons are the best, and the upcoming epyc would compete with them. I have pentiums and celerons seen being used for that. If power consumption is one of the priorities, I would certainly look at performance per TDP. The G4600T has a TDP of 25W so a good option. The xeon E3-1275V6 is as expensive as an i7 7700K and with a TDP of 73W it seems a bit powerhunrgy for a file server and such. Than I would say to have a look at the i7 7700T which is a bit less costly, 4C/8T and has a TDP of 35W, but I don’t know how great it is to run 24/7. It gives 90% of the performance of the xeon in cinebench R11,5, R15, CPU Passmark and geekbench 3 (I don’t know how relevant these results are though).

ECC ram depends on how much safety you want. It can detect if there are uneven faults in the binary string (so more than half of the faults made would be recognized) but I don’t know if it it matter for regular users that much. About price I know nothing, but if it is so much more than regular ram than surely recommend to asses if you have the need for it.

Motherbord: search what suits you best. I for example would always recommend one with WiFi build in, certainly when you would add a lot of PCIe cards. But for a home server I don’t think there would be that many PCIe cards so I don’t see an issue there. I would look for 10 gigabit ethernet if it falls in the price margin so that it is future proof (if plans are going to be to move to 10 gigabit ethernet ofcourse). Also interesting is to watch out how many SSD’s/HDD’s can be connected to the motherboard.

Storage: definitely get a raid setup, the safety for losing a HDD is great. Here we are just regular people with a NAS with 2 2TB HDD in it. We didn’t need that much of storage, but it was on sale so the best option. Since we didn’t need 4TB we decided tot put it in raid 1. Man, did that save us 2 times! We never knew we would need it, but now I can say we definitely won’t go back to single HDD NAS. You have 4 cards so you have plenty of options. I personally would do a raid 10 (which is groups of 2 disk that mirror each other, and those groups than put in raid 0) it would give you an effective 6TB of storage, the other 6TB is the backup, and it gives you double the speed of what a single HDD would achieve since the information is stripped over the drives, the system can handle to lose a HDD per group, so up to 2 drives in you case if they are not the ones mirroring eachother. If you want a bit more speed, you can have a look at raid 5 or 6. Raid 5 would give you 9 TB of storage, 3 times the speed of a HDD and when 1 HDD is lost, the system can still move on with the 3TB of parity blocks (don’t ask me how) so you can change the faulty HDD. Downside is that it is that it is recommended to use a hardware controller (not necessary but recommended), also it can take some time to get the data on the replacement HDD since it has to be calculated from the parity blocks. Raid 6 is also an option and looks like raid 5 in that it uses parity blocks to recalculate the data from a HDD if it went lost. But it uses 2 parity blocks divided over the drives so it can handle 2 lost drives. It would not give the same storage and speed bump as raid 5 since the extra parity blocks also take their space, but it does better than raid 10.
I would suggest raid 10 since 6TB is plenty for most people, and lossing an HDD doesn’t affect the system. With raid 5 and 6 the lost data is calculated from the parity blocks, so it affects the system by slowing down the speed for data that have to be restored.

The biggest question ofcourse is how professional you want it to be. Getting a xeon for it, ECC memory and such are the professional options (and costly) that aren’t really needed for a home server. They can be handy but I don’t know if they are really worth the price for a simple home server. Unless you have some professional needs for it ofcourse.

If I had the money and need for a home server, I would probably use the i7 7700T since it has a TDP of 35W and has some decent performance, and get a B250 or H270 motherboard, regular ram and 4 HDD’s in raid 10. For the moment there is more need for a desktop build so I won’t do a home server build though.


Thanks for the reply @Alexander_Halbarth & @Brecht_Schatteman

For the CPU: I know that E3-1275V6 has 73W of TDP, but if I understood it correctly - otherwise please correct me :wink: - this is the maximum which the cpu is able to “consume”. It doesn’t mean that on idle or max 30% usage it will consume these 73W… So question would be if the Xeon model could be as efficient in terms of power consumption as the G4600T or an 7700K, as it has various idle states and the Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology for reducing consumption, but you would have some reserve for the future that you would not have with a Pentium.

Storage: Indeed I was fluctuating between a RAID 6 or 10 setup as RAID 5 is too risky for me (got some negative experience). I would prefer solving it with the intel rapid storage technology which is onboard rather then taking a pci-e card for that.

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I did talk about the i7 7700T, not the K version. The K version can be overclocked and such, but the i7 7700T is interesting because it is downclocked to a TDP of 35W. And with that it does achieve 80% of the performance of that xeon that has double the TDP. But now that I did some further research on TDP, it stands for how much watts the CPU can dissipate, not how much Watts it consumes. But how much it dissipates and consumes it pretty much related. Some suggest to multiply the TDP by 1,5 to have a safe estimate of the max peak power requirement when choosing a PSU, so you could follow that rule of thumb. It is calculated by intel with what they define as a heavy load with the cores at base frequency. The i7 7700T has a base clock of 2.9 Ghz while the xeon has a base clock of 3.8 GHz. So it is not really a fair comparison since benchmarks run the thing at turbo frequency and such, so I take back my advice on the i7 7700T. It could be that they have the around the same capabilities when running at the same clock speed. I find it really hard to find other figures on the real power consumption (since TDP is just a measurement for the dissipated heat) of those CPU’s, so I can’t really help there I’m afraid.

For storage: since raid 6 is kind of like raid 5 and you wouldn’t really benefit from it since most of the raid 5 benefits are only partially the case, I would suggest raid 10. I also suspect raid 6 to have the same advice to use a hardware controller. Raid 10 would be easier and you don’t really lose much compared to raid 6, and seems safer in my eyes but that is subjective.

My Server is an Asrock C236 WSI with a Celeron G4400 and 16GB ECC ram. The board is mini ITX and has 8x SATA and 2x GBit network. Power consuption is about 15w with Samsung 256GB Evo v2 and without harddrives in idle.

If you don’t need so many SATA ports, I use a Fujitsu B3417 (micro ATX) also with C236 chipset, a Xeon 1245v5 an 16GB ECC ram. It uses only ~11w idle with 1TB Samsung Evo SSD.

I would always go with ECC, I know many people say it’s not really necessary, but who cares? It’s one factor that can safe you from silent bit rot and data garbage.

For data redundancy I use Snapraid instead of a normal Raid. It’s some sort of transparent raid over the filesystem and has the advantage that you can always access all drives in any computer. If you lose more drives than you have raid redundancy you can still access the remaining drives. While in RAID5 you have one drive as redundancy, if you lose 2 drives all your data is gone. Only drawback: Snapraid has some additional space requirements for administration when using a lot of small files, I mean really a lot. And secund: it’s no realtime raid but runs from time to time and makes a sync, runtime depends on how much data has changed.

Just my personal 2c. Works for me.

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wow, that are great news. So I think I could stay with the g4600t on about 15w. @hellBENder what sw do you have installed on G4400 and how is the performance?
I think I will stay on normal Raid as I am using it not only for movies etc but also for a lot of pdf (invoices etc).


Server (Aswock C236) runs Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The SSD and all hard disks are encrypted with LUKS/cryptsetup. Performance is good, about 94-112 MB/s with SAMBA/CIFS share while copying files from Windows, I didn’t have the time yet do find out why it varies so much when just copying ISO images and especially why there are those speed bumbs:

Copy from Windows to SMB share on WD Red

It’s no bottleneck of the CPU, because there is no problem when copying files to the internal SSD (also over SAMBA): 169 MB/s without bumbs

Copy from Windows to SMB share on Samsung 850 Evo v2 SSD (256 GB)

Exact power consumption of the server (the numbers from my last post where taken from my brain):

  • 17 watt idle with SSD and two WD Red (6TB+8TB) idling.
  • 20 watt idle (with one disk running)

Workstation (Fujitsu board, Xeon, as described above): It ran Windows until yesterday when Windows 10 decided once again that is was time to f*** all my open work and restart with dozens of applications still open. After my n-th big rage about this no-go since using Win10 I’m now on KDE Neon (based on Ubuntu 16.04 with newest KDE packages) and love it, basically, (on the one hand) but can’t believe all those little bugs regarding my dual 4k screen setup (cool thig is: the Fujitsu B3417 has 2x Displayport out): For example: Dolphin (file explorer) suddenly only works on display 2, while I can not click on any folders after the window is dragged to display 1…

Power consumption:

  • 10.9 - 11.1 watt with 2x 27 inch 4k screen @60Hz, USB keyboard, Logitech G700S wireless mouse, GBit lan acivated, but everything idling and doing nothing.
  • Opening Sublime editor and doing nothing again: +0.5 watt, can be reproduced by opening/closing :slight_smile:

After a while I decided to go with G4600T as processor. Now after setting up everything I’m very happy with my decision, Windows Server runs very smoothly on it, it’s silent (passive cooling :stuck_out_tongue: ) and it’s consuming around 22W.
Here the technical details (if someone is interested) :wink: Intel Pentium @ 2996.34 MHz - CPU-Z VALIDATOR

Writing speed over network to RAID: