CPU advice for home server?

khorton

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2013
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www.kilohotel.com
#1
I'm getting ready to build a PC for the first time, and need some advice for CPU.

The PC will be used as a home server, with several purposes.

  1. NAS - it will initially have four drives for a NAS, with future expansion up to eight drives.
  2. Plex server - it must be able to serve ripped Blu-rays to a Roku 3, with no stutters.
  3. Web server - it will host a low traffic web site, running Joomla.
  4. Mail server - I might host our own email server at some point in the future
I won't be doing any gaming, photo or video editing, or other CPU intensive tasks on this machine.

I don't want to spend any more money than needed by purchasing uneeded performance, but I do hope to get several years of service out of this rig. I don't have a hard budget.

I want something that is fairly quiet, as it will initially be set up in our home office. Low idle power consumption is a plus, as it will be running 24/7.

I'm looking at a Fractal-Design R4 case, as they are apparently quiet, and are on sale now at a local vendor.

What CPUs should I be considering for this project?

Thanks,

Kevin
 

2is

Diamond Member
Apr 8, 2012
4,289
6
106
#2
None of those require much power with one important caveat regarding the streaming. If you're streaming in a format your Roku can decode on it's own then something like an i3 would be more than enough. If the server is going to transcode in real time, you won't want to go less than an i7
 

khorton

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2013
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www.kilohotel.com
#3
I tried streaming the Blu-rays from my current Synology NAS, and it stumbled badly. It works OK for lower resolution streaming, but I needed to move the Plex server to my Mac Mini with i7-3720QM when I ripped a few Blu-rays.

I'll choose a lower TDP i7 on a newer architecture (Haswell or later) to get better perf/watt.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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#4
Anything Core based essentially.
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
8,367
359
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#5
Have you looked at the HP microservers? They're only a few hundred pounds, come in a compact, designed-for-servers case (13 liters, vs. 56 liters for the Fractal Design), and only cost a few hundred pounds. Buy one of those, drop in your choice of hard drives, and you're set.
 

houe

Senior member
Nov 10, 2005
315
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76
#6
I picked up a Lenovo TS440 server for $300 US from tigerdirect a few days ago. It came with a xeon-1225 V3 cpu. 450W gold psu. 8 bay hard drive slots. No operating system. It was light on ram at only 4GB ECC ram but I bumped it up to 8GB. Another disadvantage is you do have to buy hard drive trays at $15 a pop. If you really want a server you can't beat server grade hardware. If you keep any eye out for a Dell or Lenovo server you'd probably find one at sub $300 without waiting too many days/weeks.
 

imaheadcase

Diamond Member
May 9, 2005
3,850
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#7
What i did was just buy a Intel NUC, a I5 or I3 Nuc will do what you want for streaming. Then just buy a cheap barebones computer and fill it with drives. I run stablebit software on it, so it makes Drive pool like Windows Home Server did.

This is great because you can put NUC by TV and does not make any noise, it runs Kodi on it for media, then use server to stream Movies/TV shows from Couchpotato (movies)/SABnzb (newsgroups).

The advantage is this is tuck server in another area of house, the intel NUC is compact and quiet and works with remotes. You don't have to worry about mass media loss on server with Stablebit, and use crashplan on server to backup important items. It leaves the Intel NUC enough CPU to do high quality streaming and server for the other backend stuff.
 

khorton

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2013
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0
www.kilohotel.com
#9
I picked up a Lenovo TS440 server for $300 US from tigerdirect a few days ago.
That is a great price for a server like that! I'll keep my open while I consider other options.

What i did was just buy a Intel NUC, a I5 or I3 Nuc will do what you want for streaming.
The Intel NUC is an interesting idea. I was already starting to wonder whether I really should be building a dumb NAS + a separate small PC to work as a Plex server and a web server. I'll check out a NUC to see if it might be the right answer for the server component.

https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/ar...kind-of-CPU-do-I-need-for-my-Server-computer-

I built a system around a Xeon E3-1265L V3 and ASRock E3C226D2I motherboard. It has no problems simultaneously transcoding two 1080p streams.
I was already starting to look at a similar ASRock E3C222D4U with a G3450 as the basis for a FreeNAS box. I'll take a look at the E3-1265L and E3C226D2I to see what the pros and cons are.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,384
11
81
#10
I'm getting ready to build a PC for the first time, and need some advice for CPU.

The PC will be used as a home server, with several purposes.

  1. NAS - it will initially have four drives for a NAS, with future expansion up to eight drives.
  2. Plex server - it must be able to serve ripped Blu-rays to a Roku 3, with no stutters.
  3. Web server - it will host a low traffic web site, running Joomla.
  4. Mail server - I might host our own email server at some point in the future
I won't be doing any gaming, photo or video editing, or other CPU intensive tasks on this machine.

I don't want to spend any more money than needed by purchasing uneeded performance, but I do hope to get several years of service out of this rig. I don't have a hard budget.

I want something that is fairly quiet, as it will initially be set up in our home office. Low idle power consumption is a plus, as it will be running 24/7.

I'm looking at a Fractal-Design R4 case, as they are apparently quiet, and are on sale now at a local vendor.

What CPUs should I be considering for this project?

Thanks,

Kevin
If you are going to be serving true BD rips then don't get anything less than an i5-2500k or FX 6300; basically a Passmark score that is 6000+. An i7 or FX 8350 would be best.

My server is in a Fractal Design Define R4 and I love the job it does for me. 2x140mm fans in front, blowing across the HDDs and 1x140mm out the back. I have them turned down to 5v for noise with the included speed controller. The filters keep it pretty clean, too.
 

khorton

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2013
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0
www.kilohotel.com
#11
If you are going to be serving true BD rips then don't get anything less than an i5-2500k or FX 6300; basically a Passmark score that is 6000+. An i7 or FX 8350 would be best.
6000+ Passmark! Ouch. That'll take more $ than I was hoping to spend on the CPU.

The Plex site suggests a Passmark of 2000 is sufficient for 1080p content. I need to do some more research before I buy a CPU, obviously.

https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/ar...kind-of-CPU-do-I-need-for-my-Server-computer-
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,384
11
81
#12
6000+ Passmark! Ouch. That'll take more $ than I was hoping to spend on the CPU.

The Plex site suggests a Passmark of 2000 is sufficient for 1080p content. I need to do some more research before I buy a CPU, obviously.

https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/ar...kind-of-CPU-do-I-need-for-my-Server-computer-
1080p content isn't just 1080p content. You can get a 2GB 1080p movie from a torrent or get a BD Rip of the same movie coming in at 25GB. Transcoding the 2GB movie takes much, much, much less power. The quality settings for the destination also makes a difference. A Passmark score of 2000 will probably work for most 1080p digital content and some lower bitrate BD rips. Trust me though, if transcoding BD rips is a possibility you don't wanna cheap out, especially if there are going to be multiple streams running concurrently.

There are still quite a few CPUs that come in under $150 that should be up to it:
i3-6100
i3-6300
FX 6300
FX 6350
FX 8320
FX 8320e

If you can budget up a little to about $175 then you have a couple more options:
i5-4570
i5-4430
FX 8350
 
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khorton

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2013
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www.kilohotel.com
#13
Thinking about things a bit, I realize that it would be smarter to drop any ideas about putting the Plex server on the NAS, as I don't use Plex often enough to justify beefing up the NAS for this task.

I'm currently using my i7 Mac Mini to run Plex, and it does the job very nicely - I just need more storage capacity for the media, hence the NAS. The 2012 Mac Mini has extremely low idle power consumption (Apple claims 11W at idle and their similar claims for earlier models are backed up by credible review testing), and it is already paid for.

I'll pick a lower power CPU for the NAS. If I want to also host my web site, I'll either run it from a VM on the Mac Mini, or set up a completely separate small form factor PC that has no access to any other data.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,384
11
81
#14
Thinking about things a bit, I realize that it would be smarter to drop any ideas about putting the Plex server on the NAS, as I don't use Plex often enough to justify beefing up the NAS for this task.

I'm currently using my i7 Mac Mini to run Plex, and it does the job very nicely - I just need more storage capacity for the media, hence the NAS. The 2012 Mac Mini has extremely low idle power consumption (Apple claims 11W at idle and their similar claims for earlier models are backed up by credible review testing), and it is already paid for.

I'll pick a lower power CPU for the NAS. If I want to also host my web site, I'll either run it from a VM on the Mac Mini, or set up a completely separate small form factor PC that has no access to any other data.
I don't mean to scare you away.

Don't underestimate how nice it is to have a box that is ready 24/7. That way you don't have to worry about powering anything up to run Plex or anything else. Just turn on the device and go.

Start with something like this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117374&cm_re=g3258-_-19-117-374-_-Product

It will probably handle 80-90% of what you want to do and then if you find yourself on the stuttery end of a few transcodes then just drop in a better CPU rather than build a whole new system.
 

khorton

Junior Member
Jan 6, 2013
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0
www.kilohotel.com
#15
Don't underestimate how nice it is to have a box that is ready 24/7. That way you don't have to worry about powering anything up to run Plex or anything else. Just turn on the device and go.
The Mac Mini is already on 24/7, so I've already got a Plex server ready to go whenever I want. I agree that it is highly desirable that a Plex server be available on extremely short notice. At 11W consumption for the whole system at idle, I'm happy to leave it running all the time.

I agree that it makes sense to spec the NAS so there are good options for a faster CPU if I decide I want more performance later - something with an LGA1150 socket looks like it offers a number of CPU options that have a good balance between power and efficiency. I do want to select a CPU/motherboard/etc combo that provides relatively low power consumption at idle, as the NAS will be idling most of the time.
 

dclive

Elite Member
Oct 23, 2003
5,627
0
81
#16
I bought an i3 NUC and an i5 Mac mini and a Synology NAS. Best of both worlds - lots of disks easily available, plus high-CPU power for the (very, very few) times I needed it. I run Plex and lots more on the NUC/mini. Great little machines. Currently running ESXi with a few Windows VMs on them, 16GB RAM, SSD on the Synology.
 

freeskier93

Senior member
Apr 17, 2015
487
0
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#17
None of those require much power with one important caveat regarding the streaming. If you're streaming in a format your Roku can decode on it's own then something like an i3 would be more than enough. If the server is going to transcode in real time, you won't want to go less than an i7
You don't need an i7 for a single transcode stream... Our Plex server is an A8-5600K, transcodes just fine.
 

TeknoBug

Platinum Member
Oct 2, 2013
2,078
1
91
#18
NAS doesn't need a lot of CPU power, Plex needs a fast HDD and good network connection, mail and web server just needs a good HDD.

For me I'd go with a processor that has ECC memory support, integrated security features and hardware I/O virtualization support (used to run a dual Pentium Pro Linux/NetBSD server for 12+ years). However even an AMD FM2/FM2+ Athlon X4 or mobile/desktop i3 will do the jobs you listed. My Intel NUC (i3 4010U) would suit all those server tasks just fine. You don't need an i5 or i7 as it will sit wasted and suck uneeded power (matters to me).
 

dclive

Elite Member
Oct 23, 2003
5,627
0
81
#19
NAS doesn't need a lot of CPU power, Plex needs a fast HDD and good network connection, mail and web server just needs a good HDD.

For me I'd go with a processor that has ECC memory support, integrated security features and hardware I/O virtualization support (used to run a dual Pentium Pro Linux/NetBSD server for 12+ years). However even an AMD FM2/FM2+ Athlon X4 or mobile/desktop i3 will do the jobs you listed. My Intel NUC (i3 4010U) would suit all those server tasks just fine. You don't need an i5 or i7 as it will sit wasted and suck uneeded power (matters to me).

Agreed. For the vast majority, a basic, simple i3 NUC is more than enough.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,384
11
81
#20
NAS doesn't need a lot of CPU power, Plex needs a fast HDD and good network connection........
A NAS doesn't need a lot of CPU power but Plex can need a lot of CPU power. I am not sure why you think Plex needs a fast HDD since any platter based HDD from the last 3 or 4 years can easily serve 4+ streams at once.
 

smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,384
11
81
#21
The Mac Mini is already on 24/7, so I've already got a Plex server ready to go whenever I want. I agree that it is highly desirable that a Plex server be available on extremely short notice. At 11W consumption for the whole system at idle, I'm happy to leave it running all the time.

I agree that it makes sense to spec the NAS so there are good options for a faster CPU if I decide I want more performance later - something with an LGA1150 socket looks like it offers a number of CPU options that have a good balance between power and efficiency. I do want to select a CPU/motherboard/etc combo that provides relatively low power consumption at idle, as the NAS will be idling most of the time.
Since the Mac Mini is already 24/7 you should look into something like an unRAID server and just cheap out on the parts.

www.lime-technology.com

You can run that on a Sempron with 1-2GB of memory. You could even disable a core and it will run about 6W TDP.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113367&cm_re=sempron-_-19-113-367-_-Product
 
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