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Build

Home Media Server

by obsideo

15
13 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

April 30, 2015

Date Built

Feb. 8, 2014

CPU Clock Rate

3.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

31.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

55.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.059 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

5.012 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

29.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

63.0° C

Description

EDIT: I've upgraded enough components that I've decided to update this post. the parts I've upgraded I'll tag (UPGRADED) in the individual part reviews.

I'd like to start by stating that this site is more than just a list of parts. It is also a community of builders. Constructive criticism can be helpful, so please, no down-votes without some explanation. Hopefully, this can be a help to new builders. I welcome any suggestions on how to improve my configuration. I’ll try it out; if it works, then I’ll repost the build with the modifications.

A brief description of my use for this machine will explain most of my parts choices. The bulk of parts were purchased in February of 2014; the extra RAM, RAID array, monitor, UPS, and various others were added around August of 2014; the CPU and cooler March of 2015. This is used for backup storage for many other computing devices. I use it for testing/diagnostics/cleaning/recovery of drives from other systems. I primarily run Windows 8.1 Pro (now 10 Pro) on here, but I will also run win7 and a variety of Linux distros. I do some gaming with this, but not excessively. I’ve also converted my 600+ DVD collection to soft-copy, and use this as a media center to watch them with Kodi.tv (formerly XBMC). Kodi is controlled and run independently on a HDTV in another room. Kodi also can run independent sound, so I can game while someone else watches a movie. I can have a large number of USB devices connected to this at the same time, so a lot of ports were needed. Even though I’ve been running this for more than a year, I’m finally posting this with my recent CPU upgrade. So, let’s start with that on my part list breakdown.

Part Reviews

CPU

This CPU is a beast for the price. It seems to effortlessly chew through file compression. It handles multi-device multi-tasking quite well too (i.e. playing a movie, gaming, receiving a smartphone backup dump and compressing it; all at the same time). I would recommend it as a cheaper alternative to an i7. A couple of notes about Xeons; the E3 series is comparable to an i7 of the same generation (e.g. E3 V3 is Haswell, V2 is Ivy Bridge), none are unlocked for overclocking, and many of them don’t have an IGPU (nomenclature ending in 0 or 1). I point out the lack of IGPU for gamers that also record their sessions. Intel quick sync video requires the IGPU, and can be quite helpful for video encoding.

CPU Cooler

(UPGRADED) I'm using this with a Noctua A15, which is a great combination. My CPU cooling solution is a self proposed cooling system for an effective yet low profile upgrade to a stock cooler, while still only being an air cooler. Running Prime95 for maximum heat I hit only 61C. Normal use heavy load (including gaming) is a top of only 55C.

Motherboard

This was a pretty good deal at the time. The BIOS is pretty easy to navigate, with many OC options. The system fan controller, Fan Xpert 2, was lacking some features, but I worked around them by lightly modifying the profile files. One feature I’ve found to be extremely helpful is the BIOS Direct boot hardware button. I’ve needed that a few times when I got stuck in bootloops while testing tolerances. If you plan on overclocking on a UEFI system, make sure it has this. The biggest downside is that the extra two SATA ports are Asmedia and do not connect with the Intel RAID controller. This gave me some headaches with some configuration tests. The Asmedia ports are not bootable, but can be unmounted from an OS. The hot swap for these ports don’t always like to cooperate. I’m currently only using one for my ODD; so far no problems with that.

Memory

EDIT: I've been running this RAM with stable timings of 7-7-7-21 Ch2 @1600Mhz, 1.5V. It has made my system overall snappier.

This RAM is potentially very impressive for the price. XMP 1 runs its advertised speed, latency, and voltage. However, I’ve run these at 1866MHz, 8-8-8-24, 1.5V, and 2133MHz, 9-9-9-24, 1.5V. Since I can’t OC the memory controller on my CPU, I just keep at on XMP 1.

Storage

(UPGRADED) Yes this is a very fast SSD. However, I'm taking a star off due to faulty speed advertising for TLC NAND. It runs an virtual cache of 20GB; running some of the cells as effective SLC. If you try to benchmark for more than 20GB, you find a more realistic speed of TLC NAND.

Storage

To store all the data, I have two RAID 0 arrays setup with the 4x4TB drives (added in Aug, 2014). The main array is hardware striped for performance, the backup is software spanned. Although, RAID 10 is easier to setup, its advantage of lower array failure require six or more disks. I have decreased energy use and decreased latency due to less disks having to spin up on access. I spanned the 2nd array for two reasons; performance is not as important, and a spanned array has a better chance for data recovery in the event of a failure. At the time, there was a good deal on these drives on Newegg, and I did manage to get these from two different batches (by luck).

Storage

(UPGRADED)

The entire purpose of this drive is an environmental safety. I backup my data to it once a month, then it is stored in a fireproof, waterproof lock box.

It runs a bit slow, but I expected as much from an archive drive. I would recommend this to anyone that has a similar need. It would not be quite so reliable as a primary storage drive, and likely much worse as a system drive.

Video Card

The Asus GTX750 is only running a 1600x900 monitor and a 720p tv, but it seems to handle that pretty effortlessly. Most games I can run at max settings or one notch below, with v-sync off. Everything short of stress testing, I can barely hear the fan running. When I’m not gaming, then I don’t hear it at all. I will eventually be looking to upgrade to a GTX960 later this year. I’m looking at one of these 2:

https://pcpartpicker.com/part/gigabyte-video-card-gvn960wf2oc2gd

https://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-video-card-strixgtx960dc2oc2gd5

or possibly this one, if the extra 2GB are worth the extra money:

https://pcpartpicker.com/part/gigabyte-video-card-gvn960wf2oc4gd

Any recommendations?

Case

(UPGRADED) After scouring cases relentlessly, I finally found this gem. There maybe a handful of better cases for what I want. However, having a maximum height clearance of 19" under my desk restricted a number choices. I could put an overwhelming amount of information in this review. So, I'll stick to a few key points, and let you you check more thorough reviews from others. First off, OPTIONS! there are so many ways to build with this case. It is really impressive, and also a bit daunting. I stuck with a mostly stock configuration. Front access dust screen, for both front and bottom. Though they are only screens. The front dust screen can be augmented with with Silverstone ultra fine filters (14cm or 12cm). The bottom is not so easy for that though. If you want the side to be an intake, there is no included filter. Again with Silverstone, a 140mm magnetic ultra fine filter fits quite nicely there. SATA power extension cable could be a big help with the stealth 2.5" drive mounts. Despite any issues I've had with it, this is the best case I've ever worked with.

Power Supply

(UPGRADED) My old 400W platinum fan-less just wasn't keeping up with this system when loaded. I decided to upgrade for limited future-proofing. I carefully chose this based on several factors: Corsair's great reviews, including reviews for this model, platinum rating, fully modular, minimum 650W, fluid dynamic bearing fans, fans only run as needed, and PSU to system communication (Corsair Link). The price is pretty good for these features. If it fits your need, I highly recommend it.

Optical Drive

This is a cheap but effective BD reader. Normally I wouldn’t have anything special to say about an optical drive. However, this one is very quiet. The only time I’ve heard it making a significant amount of noise is when burning a standard audio CD at its fastest speed.

Wireless Network Adapter

This is just an Intel 7260, dual band wireless AC 2x2 plus BT 4.0. It’s a half-mini PCIe card (like for a laptop) with a PCIe 1x adapter and external antenna. The main reason for this was to give my router some freedom. I am enjoying other perks from it as well. It’s a good buy for the price.

Case Fan

(UPGRADED) This fan has some catchy and sometimes specific uses. This is a 140mm fan with only 120mm mounting. Noctua includes these with a number of CPU coolers. Which perfectly fit my need. It may be a slightly unusual combination, but it works very well. Also, I breathe louder than this thing.

Case Fan

With few possible exceptions, Noctua is the quietest for the amount of air it moves. That, along with lifespan, is why I bought these. The side fan (always on) does most of the work on providing fresh air for the CPU, GPU, and PSU, whereas the front fans are primarily for the RAID arrays (set to come on once the CPU reaches 35C then 40C). The rear exhaust only kicks in once the CPU gets to 45C. The Asus fan controller is based on the CPU temp. Never running faster than 700RPMs, these fans work quietly well.

Comments Sorted by:

Karl0508 1 Build 2 points 43 months ago

Love this build well balance perfect from server and workstation

2 questions:- 1) What raid do you use? (Sorry if i missed it) 2) Did you need bios update for z87 for xeon?

obsideo submitter 7 Builds 1 point 43 months ago

I put that in the storage review, but that's OK. there's quite a bit of text in this post. It's two different RAID 0. One is hardware striped for better performance, the 2nd is software spanned for better data integrity in the event of a failure.

This Xeon isn't a Haswell refresh (refresh Xeons end in 1 or 6), so there is no need for a bios update to function properly. However, i did update it anyway.

Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad some people have noticed what I was trying to do with this.

Karl0508 1 Build 1 point 43 months ago

I have to admit this is the path i'm going to go down for my next build so i understand what you where trying and think you got it

All in all i would love to own this!

I'm going Z87 itx for mine tho just because i can :)

obsideo submitter 7 Builds 2 points 43 months ago

"just because i can" can be a regrettable statement. "i might use that feature" has a much better ring to it, even if the results maybe the same. Think about how it may be used, or you might wish you had spent that money better elsewhere.

I would say that I'd love to build you one, but shipping might be a bit pricey on this 60lb+ beast.

Karl0508 1 Build 2 points 43 months ago

Yeah

The just because i can is because i was looking for Z87 mobo and the MSI Z87I-AC itx came up for like £50

The cheapest i could find a mobo with more ports was over £70 and tbh they where all b85 and would like to have the Z87 features

EDIT:-

THIS HAS JUST COME OUT

http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/part/msi-motherboard-csmq87me43

Would this be a good choice? over the MSI Z87I-AC

Karl0508 1 Build 1 point 43 months ago
obsideo submitter 7 Builds 1 point 43 months ago

You want the Z series features, take advantage of them. It you can shift your budget a bit, try to get the G3258. You can OC that chip.

You probably don't want a Q series mainboard. Those are geared more for workstation use.

threedb 1 point 43 months ago

I am new here and some dumb questions:

1).So it's a utility device ( server ) but you also use it as a workstation ( game )?

2).Can it work like a NAS server? Can it stream media to other devices? And upload data wirelessly, etc?

This is really cool and all machines should be like it.

obsideo submitter 7 Builds 2 points 43 months ago

Oh, this is also a NAS server. I have 2 laptops, 2 smartphones, and sometimes a tablet that backup data to this. All of those devices only connect via WiFi. Windows to Windows connect easily through Homegroup. ES file explorer is a great Android app for transferring data over local networks. There are also apps that automatically do photo backups to a local NAS when connected to WiFi. I can't remember the name of those right now.

threedb 2 points 43 months ago

Thank you for the breakdown explanation. Again, this is very cool. To me, all machines should be setups along these lines. I was interested in buying a NAS for my home at some point but why not just try something along these lines? If I can figure out how to do it. Very cool obsideo. :)

obsideo submitter 7 Builds 1 point 43 months ago

Simple answer, yes to all. I agree that this would be a great in-home standard. However, a decent amount of storage and processing power do cost a bit. Also, setup was mostly trial and error. I had fun with this, but others wouldn't.

Slightly more in-depth; it can stream, but I don't quite need it and my network isn't quite strong enough for that yet. When I started on this, more than a year ago, I only had about a $1k budget. To afford some things, I skimped on others. Some surprisingly, to my advantage. One of the things that got cut was an Android streaming device in my living room. At the time, that was going to be around $50 for a decent one. Instead I paid $26 for a 50' HDMI cable to run under the house. The HDMI has far more bandwidth than any home network (currently), and no worry about radio dead-spots, network congestion, etc. I use Kodi.tv (XBMC) for this. So, not so much streaming, as simple playback on a full screen app on a 3rd "monitor." There is also a XBMC remote Android app that allows me to use my phone as a remote for this.

Eventually I will be upgrading my home network to WiFi AC. If Kodi can't handle wireless streaming, then I believe VLC will work for that. More experiments (evil laugh)

[comment deleted by staff]
obsideo submitter 7 Builds 1 point 42 months ago

Thank you for that question. I had forgotten to photograph that. The dual drive bay, on the very top in the 1st photo, it's in the 2.5" slot. I'll remember to get a shot of that opened up when I repost with the GPU upgrade and 250GB 850 EVO. That may be a few months out, though.