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Question CPU for a home server/mining rig/second box for 24/7 uptime

Fallengod

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2001
5,824
12
81
I could use a little help here.

I am interested in building a home file server/mining rig/second box for 24/7 uptime. So what I want is a box to mine with, but also be able to run as like a home file server with 24/7 uptime. So low power consumption and stability is important.

I want to be able to do normal stuff on it with some degree of power but also low power consumption possible. I also do not want to spend too much either, I am looking for the best bang 4 buck. I just dont know what route to go.

So far my cpu considerations:
i3-8100
i9-9900T
Ryzen 3400g
Ryzen 5 3600
Ryzen 1600AF

I also learned that you can lower the TDP in ryzen master with 3 and 5 series cpus, so effectively making a Ryzen 3600 a 35 TDP processor?

Anyways, I need some ideas of what others would pick for this usage. I also have no idea what direction to go for motherboards, memory for case.
 

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
Super Moderator
Sep 13, 2008
4,865
752
126
What OS will it be running? For mining you don't need much of a CPU, but for home server stuff you could. Same goes for system RAM in general. If only used as a NAS basically, aside from mining, you won't need much of a CPU.

The question is, how many drives you plan to put in it, and how many GPUs, this will determine the motherboard, and then the CPU can be added.
 

Fallengod

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2001
5,824
12
81
I know thats why this is difficult for me to figure out because ive never built a second box for mining or home server. I dont know what to get because I want to be able to mine with it but also use it for file server stuff but not necessarily at the same time. I am thinking AMD ryzen might be the best route. I did read somewhere that you can adjust the TDP of the CPU in ryzen master with 3 and 5 series ryzens.

I plan to have ONE GPU at the moment but maybe TWO at a later time. I landed myself a 3060 ti FE a week ago, so I cant decide if that should go in my mining box or use my current GTX 1080 8gb. Heres kinda my thoughts at the moment.

Build:

OS: Windows 10 64bit was the plan....but whatever other options are there I could entertain.

CPU: ?

GPU: At the moment, ONE. But, I wouldnt mind having 2 if it were possible. I currently have a GTX 1080 8GB and BNIB 3060ti FE that just arrived yesterday. So one of those would be in the box, the other in my main rig.

Memory: Probably 32GB of something needed for a file server and long up times? If not 16GB.

Mobo: ?

PSU: Going to need a high efficient PSU because I live in CA and already have high electricity bills. So Platinum+? and at least 750 watts im assuming, maybe 850/1000?

SSD: Some type of SSD for main. I do have an old intel 180GB ssd to use but was considering a nvme sk hynix because they are good and low power. But thats also more expensive and means the mobo has to have a m.2 slot.

HDD: 2-3? Probably at the very least will need a couple 4TB drives as I already have one and its close to filled. This is probably my last priority at the moment. Was also considering a 2TB SSD for storage as well, but seems kind of a waste for a server box for a $200 SSD. Mechanical is probably fine. Have not given much thought on this yet.

Case: ? I have no clue yet. Just started looking today.

I also don't want to spend too much so was planning on buying used for the cpu/mobo/memory.
 
Last edited:

Shmee

Memory and Storage, Graphics Cards
Super Moderator
Sep 13, 2008
4,865
752
126
I think some Linux distro would be best for a 24/7 server. If it was just for file serving, I would recommend Freenas or similar (based on FreeBSD, my understanding is this is different from Linux). But since you are also mining on it, it would make sense to have a modern desktop Linux distro, perhaps. In the past I have liked Xubuntu for my Linux mining purposes.

I recommend you look into Linuxes and redundant storage solutions, look into ZFS etc.

The CPU doesn't really matter, as long as it can perform decently and is lower power. Keep in mind most modern low to mid range CPUs are pretty low power when idle and should be able to be adjusted to some sort of eco mode. And you can underclock and undervolt some as well.
 

Fallengod

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2001
5,824
12
81
I have zero experience with linux. That would be my main problem there. Good advice though, ill check it out.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
16,878
5,841
136
If it's a GPU mining rig, R5 3600 would be overkill for mining + file server duties. It will behave itself reasonably well in ECO mode.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
3,940
553
126
So far my cpu considerations:
i3-8100
i9-9900T
Ryzen 3400g
Ryzen 5 3600
Ryzen 1600AF
Have you considered a 3500X? It's basically a 3600 without HT, so should run a bit cooler and quieter. It's still Zen2, so performance should be more then enough for basic tasks like file sharing. Mining just needs a CPU to run the OS, so it's plenty for that.

I also learned that you can lower the TDP in ryzen master with 3 and 5 series cpus, so effectively making a Ryzen 3600 a 35 TDP processor?
You can set a maximum TDP in the BIOS/UEFI as well. If you're going to run Linux, you'll have to since Ryzen Master is Windows only.
 

PingSpike

Lifer
Feb 25, 2004
21,386
327
126
I have a 24/7 multi purpose server. One of its goals was low idle power consumption. It runs unraid, which lets me spin the disks down. Standard HDDs actually use a fair amount of wattage when running and spun up. They use maybe 1 watt when spun down.

My experience has been that Intel CPUs have lower idle power consumption than Ryzen. Of course on a mining server I'm not sure the different would matter much overall, and some things I've seen suggests the difference has narrowed with Zen3. That said, I still ended up going with Ryzen because for my purposes more cores for cheap were just worth the small difference in idle power.

I'd go with Intel today though. Too hard to find good deals on Ryzen CPUs right now, their low end ones are particularly bad deals against Intel's offerings.
 

LightningZ71

Senior member
Mar 10, 2017
658
583
106
If this is going to be a 24/7 system, that is focused on file services and mining, then I would suggest looking at a few years old retired servers that are being sold on ebay. I've dealt with a few of these in the past for people to use as home servers. What you look for is retired small office servers that have low power versions of their respective processor generations. These systems are often tailored to environments where they can't be noisy in day to day operations, but still have the needed capacity for multiple hard drives and the reliability focus to use ECC DRAM and XEON processors. While they still use a bit more power than systems that were designed from the ground up to be focused on lower power, they make up for it in having a low cost of purchase (comparatively speaking). If power really is a huge issue, you can do load shifting by telling the VM with the mining software to idle during peak billing hours and only mine after hours. Useful retired servers and workstations can be had for less than $500, and will often include processors with a good number of cores and memory capacity to dedicate to multiple VMs.

I know that many will criticize this suggestion but if you take a look at the difference in purchase cost between doing one of these systems as compared to a new build with modern parts, and then calculate how much extra cost is involved in the difference in electricity, you'll find that the point where the new system recovers its additional purchase cost is often surprisingly far out in the future. And, in the future, if you decide that you have use for more capabilities, such as a memory hogging VM, or need more cores than you have, it's only a few inexpensive parts away. I have a friend that bought one at my suggestion. It was a retired edge server that was dual processor capable, but came with only one 8 core one and a couple of 8 GB ECC dims. He later decided that he wanted to add a gaming server, and then wanted to do a home firewall, then wanted a steam cache server, and finally added a plex server, and was able to swap out that processor for a pair of 10 core, higher clocked ones and add six more dims while adding four HDDs and another SSD and a video card. It took it all in stride, and none of it cost him a lot because he was buying used parts off of EBAY. Now, granted, he lives in the south, and power is cheap, but, that's his experience.
 

Fallengod

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2001
5,824
12
81
Yeah thanks for the info guys. I appreciate it.

I guess my problem is since ive never run a second box 24/7 and also never mined, I feel like I am trying to tackle all these things I have little experience with at the same time.

I want lowest power consumpion possible but with the ability to mine with it if desired(which should come down to only graphics card anyways). I also want it as a file server so to speak with ability to stream plex maybe for movie streaming downstairs. So theres all these considerations.

I did a lot of google searching and see a lot of people recommending and running intel celerons and whatnot, and recommending many cpus which seem to be out of stock. I also see some ryzen recommendations and also learned that there is an echo mode which drops the tdp level one notch on any ryzen 3 or 5 series cpus. That seems intriguing to me as it would allow me to run in essentially a low power mode until I wanted to change it to a more powerful situation.

And of course I dont want to spend a lot of money which has me focusing on older stuff.
 

coercitiv

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2014
4,162
5,054
136
I guess my problem is since ive never run a second box 24/7 and also never mined, I feel like I am trying to tackle all these things I have little experience with at the same time.
A few things to consider:

1. Plex server - CPU and GPU requirements vary wildly depending on how many streams you intend to be able to run at the same time.
  • If it's just one stream downstairs, any new gen Pentium will do. Celeron will do it too, but it's going to be a big compromise considering you're also taking mining into account.
  • For 2-3 streams a modern i3 with 4c/8t will be the best option, enough CPU grunt to transcode stuff quickly.
  • Don't aim lower than socket 1200 or AM4 APUs, it's not worth it. You want the best hardware encode/decode money can buy right now. Hardware encode/decode or CPU core count is what will give longevity to your CPU choice in a Plex server. For example my 6600K is great for accomodating a Plex server for 2-3 x264 concurrent streams, but won't be able to take even 1 HEVC stream unless I have a video card with hardware decode for it.
  • You want an APU, the iGPU will be very useful even if you intend to have multiple dGPUs in the box. The only reason you might consider something like a 6c/12t Ryzen would be for mining Monero, but you're 99% better of focusing on GPU only mining as thermals will be challenging enough anyway.
If I were to buy a new system (exclusively) for my Plex server today, I would aim at i3 10100. A Pentium with 2c/4t would be the budget choice.

2. CPU power - this is not a problem, just make sure of the following when you configure the system:
  • make sure CPU sleep states are enabled in BIOS. On the Intel platform this will likely enable SpeedShift, so don't worry if you lose control over max clocks in Windows power management settings.
  • set video output via iGPU - this will allow your entire CPU package to enter sleep mode properly. The difference in idle power for the CPU is quite significant (4-6W with video output via dGPU, 1-2W when using iGPU, tested on Intel platforms)
  • if worried about sustained power usage, lower CPU TDP from the BIOS. Both Intel and AMD platforms should allow you to do this, unless you pick a very cheap motherboard (which is obviously a bad idea for a 24/7 system under heavy power usage duty)
  • under normal circumstances you don't need to change CPU TDP, since CPU loads will be minimal through the day. Transcoding via Plex is a finite task anyway, so the CPU will ramp up, transcode to fill the buffer, then enter sleep. Other than that Plex uses the CPU for a limited time during the night, when scheduled for maintenance (updating db, metadata, file analysis etc). I used both a 6600K and 1600X and Plex server CPUs and never bothered with lowering their TDP. I did lower the target temperature on the 1600X though IIRC, which made it behave like a 65W TDP CPU under prolonged heavy usage (cooling was configured to be silent).
3. Heat - this will be a problem if you plan to use 2 GPUs for mining. Consider a case with very good ventilation, one in which you can mount 2x 140mm fans on the top to remove hot air building up in the case, alternatively one with excellent front panel ventilation (a mesh of sorts, not just lateral intakes and solid front panel) which would also be using 2x fans.

4. PSU - prioritize power first if you may use 2x GPUs for mining in the future. Whether you go Gold or Platinum depends on your budget (and maybe noise preference), but going with 850W instead of 750W may not be such a bad idea for a system that could end up using 450W+ 24/7 for a few months. Here you need to acknowledge that building a media/file server and mining station in one case is a big compromise in terms of both power usage and reliability. Normally you would want a Platinum PSU at <450W to keep idle system power as low as possible, yet your system is already aiming for anything between 20-30W and 400-500W sustained power usage.

5. Odd and ends
  • when configuring the system, disable whatever possible on the motherboard that is of no use - best example will be the integrated sound. This may help you shave off 1-2W of idle power usage. It may not be a bad idea to measure idle (barebone) system power usage with a power meter and checking how disabling various features helps or not (sound, wifi, some ports etc).
  • you may also want to do your homework on the number of platters in the HDDs of choice, as idle power usage is affected by platter count
  • still on the HDD topic - check if your HDD of choice is using SMR - this is obviously very important depending on the kind of file storage and file usage you have in mind. SMR is not necessarily bad for a plex media server, I have 2 SMR drives on my system which are fine for my needs, but I'm also making sure that heavy non-sequential writes are usually targeted at other disks instead. The point is to buy into SMR as a deliberate decision, and all storage brands are making this difficult nowadays.
 
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