On Wed, 27 Sep 2006, John Stoffel wrote:
I've been looking around for a new system at home, basically to act as a file server (NFS, Samba) and backup server using Bacula. It also needs to run http and mysql and other daemons as needed.
I'd like to get at least a pair of 250gb drives to mirror them for storage, with LVM volumes on top. And of course room for expansion to another pair of drives down the line.
But I'd like it smallish and quiet as well. Oh yeah, it needs to have a PCI slot for a SCSI controller, since my tape drive is SCSI for backups.
- low power
- boots without a keyboard/mouse needed at all
- onboard video (don't really need it at all)
- PCI slots for expansion
- four 3.5" drive bays internally
- SATA ports on board
- AMD or VIA EPIA
- 1Gb of RAM or more.
I've looked at the Via EPIA style systems. Just not sure if they have enough oomph for what I want.
The other thought is to just take my old Dell Precision dual cpu Xeon 550mhz box and make that my main server, holding all my data, etc. It's got the drive bays, and PCI slots and scsi controller all in there already. I could add in some SATA controllers for the new disks without a problem. And it would continue to hold my ISA 8-port serial card. And it's got the memory for what it would be doing pretty much as well.
Then I'd just get a new system for my desktop with a much smaller disk drive.
Systems I've looked at:
- bare bones AMD x2 on ebay.
- VIA Epia Nanoscale dual CPU box
- buying a dell from their closeouts
I've built a few PCs over the past few years, so I can share some experiences.
#1: Built from scratch using a Soyo motherboard, Duron CPU, Powmax micro-ATX case. Cheapest system I could build, and one of the noisiest I've ever owned. The dinky 230W power supply has a cheap noisy fan, and the Duron runs super hot so it needs constant fanning.
#2: Antec Aria case, older Intel PIII + Intel mobo. The Aria case is crowded inside in strange ways, making most 3rd-party heatsink/fan solutions impossible. I have a hack solution using some springs to hold it place. The front power switch on the Aria was flaky, causing the unit to power off randomly (I made the "reset" button the power switch as a workaround; the "power" button does nothing, much to my wife's frustration when she tried to power it up to play StepMania). The Aria is mostly plastic and flimsy. Avoid it, despite its smallish size and pretty looks in pictures. But the Intel CPU+mobo is decent and doesn't run too hot.
#3: AMD64 x2, Tyan motherboard with NVidia chipset, Coolermaster Centurion case. This is my main system these days, it runs quiet, and I'm happy with every part of it. Wattage numbers:
[model name : AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4200+] Off:4W linux (idle):81W 1 core spinning: 112W 2 cores spinning: 145W
Compare to this P4 system,
[model name : Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.00GHz] off:4W linux (idle): 105W cpu spinning: 167W
The VIAs are seductive, but when I looked harder at them, they either required small (=noisy) fans,
or ridiculous heatsinking to run fanless,
So I would avoid them.
For server purposes, it sounds like reusing your existing Dell box is ideal. I still have my former main desktop (2x Celeron 466) running my internal web server, Postgresql, etc.
For the desktop, if I were building a new system today, I would look into the Intel core2/double/duo/whatever, retail packaging for the nice quiet Intel fan, and a mobo with an Intel graphics chipset. The core/foo's run lower wattage than recent AMDs (I hear), the Intel graphics are decent for 3D stuff, and the GPU drivers are open source. No dealing with ATI/NVidia driver madness.