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.
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)
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.
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.