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Build

Proxmox (Plex) Server

by fenichelar

Description

This build is for my Proxmox VM server. My Plex server is on one of the VMs. I have a separate file server that contains the actual media.

The server is located in my living room (coax comes in the living room and I can't run any cables in walls, I rent). I wanted it to be really quiet so I added 6 Noctua NF-A14 case fans (3 intake, 3 exhaust) and have them all spinning around 800 rpm. I also used big heat sinks and added a second fan to each (2 Noctua NH-U12DXi4s with 2 Noctua NF-F12s each). The CPU fans spin around 1100 rpm. The hard drives in my NAS are much louder than this server :)

Because this is a server, it never really idles. I have cron jobs that run every minute. So I will instead show the minimum, maximum, and average temperatures for the past month (rounded to integers). All temperatures are recorded every 60 seconds.

Minimum Temperatures:

  • Motherboard: 37 C
  • CPU A: 34 C
  • CPU B: 35 C

Maximum Temperatures:

  • Motherboard: 44 C
  • CPU A: 47 C
  • CPU B: 48 C

Average Temperatures:

  • Motherboard: 39 C
  • CPU A: 36 C
  • CPU B: 38 C

Been running well for about 3 months now (as of January 2017).

P.S. Up close pictures are from before I received the M.2 adapter so the adapter and SSD are absent.

2 Year Update:

It's been about 2 years of continuous use and everything is still going fairly well.

There is a firmware issue that causes the motherboard to start spinning all the fans at 100%. The only way to correct the speed is to restart the system which obviously is not acceptable. So I added a fan controller to control the case fans. I switched the CPU fans to constant speed instead of temperature controlled in the BIOS which prevents this issue for those fans. Obviously this means under load I don't get more air flow, but this isn't a problem because the system is still more than capable of cooling itself. I made this change about 18 months ago because the low noise adapters just weren't quite enough.

Other than that, everything is peachy. Quieter than the hard drives in the NAS. More performance than I can actually take advantage of. Zero maintenance.

If you want to run a Plex media server that will keep you and your family satisfied (zero buffering, multiple simultaneous streams, fast metadata for the UI, huge library) then I highly recommend doing something like this.

Part Reviews

CPU

Cheap (if you buy used) 8 core processor. What's not to love? For home servers, great buy.

CPU Cooler

Added a second fan (push/pull), probably didn't need to though. Exactly the right size for ASRock EP2C602-4L/D16 dual socket motherboard. Any bigger and they would hit each other. The only problem is because they are so close, you can't remove the CPU fans without taking the cooler off the motherboard. Ideally, the fan mounts would attach at the top and bottom instead of the sides so the cooler could be the same size.

Motherboard

There aren't a lot of dual socket LGA2011 motherboards on the market so this is probably still one of the best options. I love how many NICs it has. It has a BMC. No sound but that is expected. USB 3.0 would be nice but I would probably never even use it. I would give it 5 stars if it weren't for one issue.... the firmware. It randomly decides that all of the fans (case and CPU) need to spin at 100%. The only way to get them back to your settings is to restart. Anywhere from 1 day to 1 week later, it does it again. Yes, I replaced the motherboard with a brand new one. No, it didn't fix the problem. ASRock support was helpful at first but they don't know what the problem is and I haven't heard back in awhile. Solution: add low noise adapters to fans and just let them run at full speed.

Memory

Cheapest 64GB of DDR3-1600 ECC ram I could find.

Storage

Fast. Honestly, faster than I need. For a home server, probably wouldn't notice a difference if it was half the speed it is.

Case

Good build quality, not the best but not worth paying more for better. Lot's of fan placement options. It is about the smallest case you can get that will fit an SSI EEB motherboard. The large motherboard covers some of the cable pass throughs making it a little harder to work with.

Power Supply

It's a power supply.... It's titanium rated, modular, and has two CPU connectors. I don't know if the fan is running or not but I have never heard it. I'm not sure what else I could ask for...

Case Fan

The Noctua NH-U12DXi4 comes with one, added another for push/pull. Still very quiet.

Case Fan

It's a quiet 140mm PWM fan. I like it so much, I have 6.

Comments Sorted by:

dragunzonline 2 Builds 4 points 26 months ago

I love seeing the server stuff on here, I feel like that kind of hardware doesnt get as much love as it deserves.

ibnalfreak 6 Builds 2 points 26 months ago

I love this build. I dream of making a server one of these days.

chris76816 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

Nice server build!

enzorex44 6 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

I like that! Noctua must love it too haha +1

PigWithAMustache 2 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Wow how many streams are you running with those CPUs?

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

Only 5. Way more power then I need just for Plex, but the CPUs were cheap and I run a few VMs.

PigWithAMustache 2 Builds 3 points 26 months ago

its the pc master race... overkill is ok!

maxakabeast 1 point 26 months ago

No interest/needs in gpu passthrough?

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

Interest: YES! Need: no. I've had a EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW in my Amazon cart since I built this server....

Stuart_Munto 2 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

hahaha yeah I was going to say to throw in a cheap 1050ti or 470 and you will have a killer gaming rig there. A GTX 1070 will definitely do the job! Great build!

FurryJackman 3 Builds 1 point 20 months ago

I mean, if you got 4 single slot R9 Nanos or Vega Nanos with a closed loop... you could do 4 Gamers, 2 CPUs with a better PSU.

1080p capable LAN Party in a single box!

Clarify7 3 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

+1 for a server build, but I would like some more explanation as to what you do with the server. You have a Plex server on a VM and a media server on the actual machine? Curious as to why you would run that configuration (more due to my ignorance on server uses other than as a NAS).

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

So I had the file server (Synology DS1815+, 40 TB raw, RAID 5) setup and running well before I built this so that drove a lot of my decisions. The file server contains all my movies and tv shows for Plex plus computer backups and other files. I used to use an Intel NUC as a Plex server. It worked great for 1-2 streams. I highly recommend because of the low power consumption. But I wanted more streams and server grade hardware (like more than 1 NIC!). So I built this :)

I have a Ubuntu 16.04 container (LXC) that runs my Plex server. I have another Ubuntu 16.04 container for acquiring media (NZBGet, Deluge, Jackett, Sonarr, CouchPotato). I have other containers and VMs for other stuff as needed.

My file server and VM server (this box) are both on my network. But I created a direct connection between them with 2 gigabit links bonded using balance-rr (mode 0). They talk on this bond instead of through my main network. I can transfer files between them at 2 Gbps :)

So if I had to do it from scratch I might just make a single machine. But it is kinda nice to have them separate, they each backup eachothers config, hardware failures take down less, the Synology interface is way nicer than FreeNas or unRAID in my opinion, etc.

zharrison20 1 point 23 months ago

I know this is an older post, but if you see this, can you explain what the benefit is of using multiple VMs separating your plex server and media acquirement? Seems like a job that can be handled in a single environment.

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 23 months ago

My previous server had both plex and media acquirement on the bare metal and it worked fine. But separating them helps with a few things:

1) Memory leaks!! A few times I have had a memory leak (in Ombi) make the media acquirement VM slow to a crawl. Plex never missed a beat! I have thought about separating all of the media acquirement software into separate VMs for this very reason but it would be too much work.

2) Limiting access to processor cores. Same as above but with CPU instead of memory. Less of a problem but it can be.

3) I like to minimize Plex down time because I have lot's of family/friends using it constantly. I can restart the media acquirement VM without affecting Plex which is really nice. No one would notice if the media acquirement VM was down for a few hours maybe even a day.

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

I should have explained my VM server storage:

The Plex metadata, thumbnails, etc. is stored on the Samsung 950 Pro to keep the interface fast. Both the Plex and media acquiring container use the Samsung 950 Pro for the OS.

One of the HDDs is for temporary storage for downloading media before it is copied onto the NAS.

One of the HDDs is for storing daily backups of the containers (NAS stores weekly backups). This was probably a waste, should have just done daily backups on the NAS.

Clarify7 3 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Ok, I think I get it now. So the file server/NAS sends the media to the Plex VM server, then the Plex server streams the media you want to use, correct?

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

Exactly. The NAS is mounted on the VM server using NFS. It is hilarious how much the files move around, but it works extremely well.

  1. File goes from the internet to my router
  2. Through my switch
  3. To the VM that downloads videos
  4. Once done downloading, it is transferred over the dedicated network to the NAS and deleted off the temporary drive

  5. Then it goes back over the dedicated network to the Plex VM so that Plex can transcode it to generate thumbnails (only the thumbnails are saved on the Plex VM)

  6. Then when I go to watch something, the file goes over the dedicated network from the NAS to the Plex VM where it is either transcoded or just passed as is

  7. Through my switch
  8. Finally to the Xbox for local streams or router for remote streams!

So, my VM server sees the video file at least 3 times...... Once for download, once for thumbnail generation, and once each time it is watched. Crazy when you think about it!

Clarify7 3 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Damn, that is complicated, but if it works, it works. Nice!

Jeuloth 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

Ahh i just love home servers, i have been sourcing used parts to build my own slowly. +1 but one question. Is that a custom tv stand? I love it. If not where do i acquire lol?

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

Wish I had the time to build a custom TV stand! Took a few months to find that one. Woodstock Furniture Outlet in Georgia, their website appears to be down :/

Jeuloth 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

I just love the orientation of the wood members in the middle, I might be left to emulate my own version.. Nova Scotia, Canada is a bit far from Georgia LOL

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

Yeah, I like it because it is a minimal design but the middle section makes it not boring. It's not that far, only 1750 miles... I'll be waiting for pictures of your server and stand!!

Omgukk 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

I was thinking of doing a HTPC, but I may just ditch that idea and go with something like this. I enjoy the idea of a media server and it seems much more versatile. I want to start the long process of ridding myself of physical DVDs/blu rays and this would be the perfect solution. EDIT: also +1

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 26 months ago

Thanks! If you have space for a tower, I think it is a better option. The Intel Xeon E5-2670 is probably one of the best values (if bought used) for ripping DVDs/Blu-rays or transcoding.

gannetchemist 1 point 26 months ago

Great build by the way!

Did you have any issues setting up the the PCIe m2 adaptor with this motherboard?

Thanks in advance

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 26 months ago

I was worried. Installed the OS and booted from it just like any internal drive. Couldn't have been easier.

gannetchemist 1 point 26 months ago

Good to know , I've got an upcoming build with this motherboard and was going to go down the intel 750 route but had reservations regarding the boards nvme capability to boot from this.

Thanks

FACUNDO 13 Builds 1 point 26 months ago

Serious business build <3

mire63e 1 point 25 months ago

Are you able to boot from the m.2 drive?

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 25 months ago

Yes sir!

mire63e 1 point 25 months ago

Thanks. I should have read the comments above....

dokuhebi 1 point 15 months ago

Thanks for sharing this! I'm considering using it as a guideline, since my use goals are the same. Any changes you would make if you were doing the same project today?

alex.justesen 1 point 13 months ago

Thanks for the build! Will be using your reviews to upgrade my own server from an i5-6600k to dual xeons to handle more vm's/dockers.

irreverentPS 1 point 10 months ago

May 2018: perhaps an update?

I've just decided on the mobo towards a server-workstation. Yours looks a good build; thank you for posting!

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 months ago

Update added! :)

irreverentPS 1 point 4 months ago

much obliged!

KimSh 1 point 19 days ago

I am about to build a similar rig, but with all RAM slots filled. Would mind letting me know if the Noctua NH-U12DXi don't conflict with the nearby RAM, that is, if they stay above them?

Also, about the extra Noctua NF-F12s that you used (you have two per cooler, and as far as I know that cooler model comes with only one fan), did you simply by it separately and plug to the MB as an extra fan (hence 4 fans connected to the MB)?

Thanks a lot for your insights!

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 19 days ago

If I recall correctly, there were no RAM clearance issues.

Yes, I purchased additional NF-F12s. I used a Y adapter to connect them to the same plug on the motherboard. So 4 fans but only 2 connections to the motherboard, connected to CPU0 fan and CPU1 fan. I looked up the amperages at the time and determined this wouldn't be an issue.

It is a very, very tight fit. You must put the fans on before you mount the cooler because there is not enough clearance for the fan clamp to be pulled over the fan once the cooler is mounted. Doing one push fan and one pull fan (so they stagger for clearance) would have been much easier.

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 19 days ago

Also, I had to purchase a fan controller not shown in the pictures. Motherboard has a firmware issue. Check the description I wrote. Not sure if it has been fixed as it was a while ago but just wanted to warn you.

KimSh 1 point 19 days ago

Those are all very helpful information, thanks a lot for replying - and so quickly! One last thing: do you mind letting me know which fan controller you end up using that solved the issue for you? Believe it or not, that is exactly the last part I need to choose and the thing I am researching on right now!

Thanks again!

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 2 points 18 days ago

https://www.nzxt.com/products/SENTRY-Mix-2

Even on the lowest speed it was too loud, so I actually put the low noise adapter inline with each fan. I have 10 fans total:

2 CPU0 (push/pull) - controlled by motherboard

2 CPU1 (push/pull) - controlled by motherboard

3 intake - controlled by fan controller

3 exhaust - controlled by fan controller

KimSh 1 point 18 days ago

Awesome, many many thanks for all your details on this. It helped tremendously. I was about to buy 3 Noctua 140mm 2000rpm and 2 Noctua 120mm 2000rpm fans (both from the PPC Industrial line) for the top and the bottom of the case. Now that I learned that you had noise problems even with fan controller with 1200-1500rpm fans, I will be thoroughly reconsidering my choices for fans and will choose something less strong than the 2000rpm ones.

Thanks again!

fenichelar submitter 1 Build 1 point 18 days ago

No problem. Just to clarify, my tolerance for noise is extremely low because the PC is in my living room. I wanted it to be completely inaudible from 10 ft away. Now if only I could make the HDs in my NAS quieter....