I would like to start this build log off by saying that this is about as ghetto a build as you can make, but it works. I don't care how the cooling looks since it will be in a room in the basement. Now back to the scheduled programming.
This project started from a combination of old parts that I had lying around, a lack of a NAS for backups, and the recent video from linustechtips "Under $150 Budget Gaming 8 Core CPU, Motherboard & 16GB RAM" video. I didn't necessarily need a budget gaming build as I already have a good desktop computer. I do however need a NAS with capabilities for Plex as I don't support the business model of cable companies. Between Plex, Netflix, and the internet in general, I won't ever have to buy cable again.
I already had the case, DVD drive, fans, and access to free Windows through Dream-spark. This left everything else up in the air as to what I would get for this project.
I started with the motherboard. I wanted something a little newer than what Linus built so I would have room to upgrade in the future. I started looking on ebay for some dual LGA1366 server boards and I found a good deal on this Supermicro board with dual Xeon E5504 cpus and passive heatsinks. (the cooling for these is where the ghetto comes in) It has 6 sata ports, standard ATX form factor, has IPMI support, and is powered by standard power connectors. I can easily upgrade these cpus in the future if I need to but they should be able to handle 2 1080p streams or 3-4 720p streams on Plex according to their Passmark scores.
After I had the motherboard picked out I started looking for ram. Server ram tends to have a lot of compatibility issues so I went to Supermicros page for my motherboard and looked at the compatibility list for ram and started searching ebay for 6x4GB ram kits and found a few options, but the one I picked was on the compatibility list and had ECC support so now I have 24GB of ECC ram in my server for some reason. Whatever, more is always better for servers. I did end up having one stick DOA, but they shipped another one right away which was awesome.
Since this is going to need a lot of storage between backups and Plex and it needs to be reliable I went to Backblaze's recent study on desktop hard drive failure rates and pcpartpicker's storage list. I set the list to lowest price/GB and the HGST Deskstar 7k2000 was very close to the top of the list and had a 1.1% failure rate on Backblaze so I picked up 2 of them from Amazon. I had some issues with DOA drives, the first batch I got 1 of the drives worked and the other wouldn't initialize so I sent it back and got another which did the same thing. Third drive I got worked fine so we'll see how they work long term. I've mirrored these drives for now since I only have 2, but I plan on putting up to ten 2TB hard drives in here in RAID 6 for 16TB of redundant storage. This would need either and HBA or raid card when I upgrade, but I'll worry about that later. In order to fit all these drives I'd have to put 6 in the actual cages, 3 in a 2x5.25 bay adapter for about $20, and I found out that I can fit one more just above the DVD drive when building this for a total of 10 drives. I will either put the SSD on top of the power supply or somewhere in the back panel with a preference for the latter.
The last thing I picked out was the power supply. I plugged everything into a power supply calculator and it came out to about 500W but I wanted a little room for add in cards and I needed a power supply with two 8-pin cpu connectors so I ended up going with the EVGA 750B2. It does only have 9 sata power connectors so I'll need to get 2 molex to sata adapters when I max this thing out later.
I should probably add zip ties to the list since I used so many of them...
I ended up putting Windows Server 2012 R2 in here instead of Server 2016 simply because of documentation. 2012 has been out for longer and there are a lot of guides and tutorials for noobies like me. I've already setup backups for my mom's desktop on a network but I'm away at college so backups were a little trickier here. I ended up going with BitTorrent-sync for file transfers over the internet and I'm backing up into that and it seems to be working fine.
I used Realbench and HWmonitor in order to stress test the machine after building. I tried cooling the cpus with just case airflow and it actually overheated and shut off so I had to ghetto rig some cooling. I ended up putting the 2 top case fans directly over the heatsinks with some zip ties and temps went down to about 70C on the hottest core. I still wasn't happy with that and decided to take a look at the thermal paste the seller had put in there or if they hadn't ever changed it. What I found was some old and hard thermal paste that I could literally scrape off in one piece. I put some arctic silver on there and temps went down again, this time to 65C on the hottest core and and average of 60-63C which is awesome.
Overall, this was an amazingly fun project and I'm planning on having more fun messing with Plex and perhaps running some jails for games later. I ended up with a pretty powerful NAS box with expandability, and all for much less money than just buying a NAS. (about $350 for a 10-bay diskless NAS, a third of other options) If you have any questions, feel free to ask.