Building a Home Server – The Complete Guide

SECTION II: PREPARING FOR THE ULTIMATE HOME SERVER BUILD

*Read Section IV introduction about UEFI Vs. Non-UEFI before continuing!

Proceed with the home server as you would any custom PC build, except prioritizing storage, temperature control, power, and chassis selection. Since this isn’t a pure enterprise build, we can budget a few components, but keep in mind what exactly you want the server to do. We assume that you have some experience building a computer, but there are brief outlines in case you don’t.

The guide is focused on the home server as being a centralized media hub that will encode and stream media via Windows Server 2012 Essentials and XBMC. Luckily neither of these two methods require massive amounts of processing power, so the CPU, GPU, RAM, and motherboard don’t need to be high-end enterprise products. In case you want it to do more, such as play games and edit media, consider buying more powerful components as your needs warrant.

rosewill rsv-l411 server chassis case rackmount 3

SERVER FRAMEWORK

With everything sorted out, here are the parts we used for the ultimate home server. The total cost comes out to roughly $5000 factoring in updated components:


CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Quad-Core Black Edition 3.2GHz (Amazon Link)


GPU: AMD ATI Radeon HD 4670 512MB (Amazon Link)


Motherboard: GIGABYTE 870A-USB3 Revision 3.1 (UEFI BIOS PREFERRED) (Amazon Link)


RAM: G.SKILL RipjawsX 1600MHz 8GB (2GB x 4) (Amazon Link)


Operating System: Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Essentials (Amazon Link)


USB Thumb Drive/DVD Drive: MEDIA MUST BE AT LEAST 4.2GB


Microsoft-Based Email Account: Hotmail, Live, etc.


Networking: UPnP Router Preferred


So as you can see, not very powerful; but it doesn’t need to be. These are just extra components we had collecting dust which are now put into good use. Unless you really need it, the GPU isn’t recommended considering motherboards nowadays have integrated graphics that can output to your monitor/HDTV and run HD content seamlessly. Our motherboard can’t, hence the AMD Radeon HD 4670 substitutes as a display adapter.

TSSDR Server Bld Pik 3

As a reference, our current Windows Home Server 2011 is running off the Acer Aspire Revo 3610. With a dual-core Intel Atom 330 CPU and NVIDIA ION GPU, this lowly machine can live-transcode HD content to the PS3 via Universal Media Server, play HD content on XBMC, stream HD over Wi-Fi to any handheld, and remote stream HD media from anywhere using Microsoft Silverlight…SIMULTANEOUSLY. So trust us when we say, you really don’t need anything spectacular on the computing side.

For the operating system we chose Windows Server 2012 Essentials. There are many different home server OS’s like Amahi, and general Linux distros that handle server tasks quite well. Heck you can even use Windows 7 and modify VPN settings. WS 2012 takes our spot though due to its extensive features and ease of use.

24
Leave a Reply

avatar
8 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
Lucian IleaThatHomeServerBuilderDeepak SharmaPlanetbriangilbs72 Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Andymanic
Guest
Andymanic

how much did this cost all together?

Calvin Garcia
Guest

about 50k all together

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The system before the HDDs, LSI card, PSU and case was about 5000. Factor in about 3000 for the sponsored equipment IF you need eight of those hard drives. A stingy builder could probably put this exact system together for under 7000 I would bet

Deepak Sharma
Guest

Hey Andy, The total price is listed in the components and conclusions section, but there is not precise amount. Since we didn’t prioritize heavy gaming or heavy usage, our components are a tad older. If you were to take the present-day updated equivalent components (for example, a 3770k, GTX 680, and a better motherboard), it comes out to roughly $5000 average; of course, give or take $750 depending on where you live and how your prices are. If you want the identical price to what we paid for ours during the time we bought them, it would come out to… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

about 50k

CT
Guest
CT

Timely article! I’m just going to start a backup PC build
using mostly parts on the shelf from previous builds and LSI 9265-8i about to
be replaced by a LSI 9271-8iCC and new drives. Question: will a copy of Win 7
Home premium work for the OS? The 2 workstations on our home LAN (wired
gigabyte) are using Win 7-64 Home Premium and Win 7-64 Pro.

Thanks Cal

Deepak Sharma
Guest

Hey Cal,

Make sure to read Section IV (page 10) if you plan on using a 3TB+ drive/array as your OS boot drive.

Aside from that, Win 7 Home Premium should work just fine!

CT
Guest
CT

Hi again. The beat-up old case that was a demo on the back shelf at my local NCIX store has room for 15 drives: 8 2T enterprise HDD on a 9265-8i as a RAID-5 /w spare, 5 2T on the MB as a RAID-10 /w spare, a SATA CD/DVD, and either a 1T SATA or a 320G IDA for the OS. My ASUS MB started crashing after I tried to add RAM so I bought a MSI MB to use the X58 CPU and RAM for the backup build. Low BIOS RAM: In your write-up you made a quick aside… Read more »

Deepak Sharma
Guest

Hey Cal, I hope I’m reading the right part, but it seems like you’re having trouble getting into WebBIOS. I feared this may come up. I was hoping that it was an issue with my Gigabyte board, but I can see now that it is not. The LSI diagnostic check, while helpful, takes its sweet time. However, there are a few things that make it go haywire, and mass rebooting is the best way to fix these problems. I’ll outline a couple, starting from WebBIOS: 1. CTRL+H not triggering WebBIOS – this can happen for a couple of reasons. One… Read more »

Paul Braren
Guest

Seems my strange workaround on WebBIOS entry on Z68 motherboards still applies (it was always a little goofy to have to do this, but even LSI points to this same workaround)
http://tinkertry.com/webbios/

with SSD Review mention over here:
http://tinkertry.com/lsi-knowledgebase-article-points-tinkertry-method-configure-lsi-raid-z68-motherboard/

Thanks for posting your saga, Deepak!

Deepak Sharma
Guest

No problem, and thank you as well for the contribution Paul 🙂

HomeServerBuilder
Guest
HomeServerBuilder

Are guys on weed? Home server and you choose to bypass a key feature for the home or SOHO user, Storage Spaces. You choose to use very expensive drives and hardware RAID and try to aim this at the home user, WTF? Choosing to stick an OS on such a large array is also just plain over-complicated. You could have used a cheap pair of SATA drives on the on-board SATA ports in RAID-1 or AHCI with dynamic RAID-1 and kept the pool for what is wanted. Now you have a array that will be turning and burning 24/7 as… Read more »

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Thanks for the response and we can see your view of things. Fortunately, we have received several responses to the contrary as well. From our viewpoint, we wanted to approach things from the most understandable level and such that it was a complete picture that could be followed by others. We hope to have accomplished this. To answer your question, I recall our initial discussions where we wanted to build a system that all could build, using very conservative parts and/or those that have some bite to them and leave ourselves open to build on the initial report in the… Read more »

Deepak Sharma
Guest

Just to follow up on what Les posted, yes we left the guide open for people to choose however they wanted to approach the server. We mentioned that you could go hardware RAID, software/motherboard RAID, or something else, including Storage Spaces. Even the OS can be different. There are even more methods, such as unRAID, but it all depends on what the user wants. If a user is going for Windows 8 or WS 2012, Storage Spaces will be advertised for obvious reasons. It’s not something that needs showcasing, but we did mention it in case readers don’t know about… Read more »

ThatHomeServerBuilder
Guest
ThatHomeServerBuilder

1 Not his fault your broke… 2 Onboard Raid Sucks its “Fake Raid”.

3 raid 1 really? why not raid 4, 5 or 6?

4

felix
Guest
felix

Les,very good review…You’re almost in my mind, as atm i am trying to make a parts list for a similar home project (9260-4i though)

Is the system yet available for some benchmarking ?
I mean, since you did a massive build with a very-very helpful & detailed article, it would be nice to measure the performance and maybe time the LAN transfer by the onboard gigabit adapter.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Lets ask Deepak as this review was his baby….stay tuned…

Deepak Sharma
Guest

Hey Felix, Great question. I actually ran four simultaneous copy tests from two different sources to the server, including a 600GB live backup session. Overall speed was pretty darn nice, about 35+ MB/s for each copy session, of course varying due to sizes. A 550GB folder of 2.5k files and 141 folders took about 4 hours to copy over, while the other four copies were going on. We’re waiting on CacheCade at the moment to post proper benchmark results. We got about 650MB read, but only about 60MB write for random IO testing using CDM, so we’ll see how much… Read more »

SSD QUICK SEARCH