Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Parts List

So, as I indicated at the last post I will be going over the parts I selected and what they cost me. This will give you a baseline to work from for your own servers. As I do already own all the parts, I will go over any experiences worth noting with them. Due to certain circumstances (related to the motherboard as noted below) I do have several extra parts that I plan to use in the future for starting some review/benchmarks. Hell, I paid for the parts so I might as well use them. An important thing to keep in mind is that this is a dedicated server, and as such there are not discrete parts for tasks such as graphics, sound, etc.; it should all be on integrated on board. With that noted, onto the parts list.

Chassis (or Case) - Chenbro ES34069 - $185

This case is exactly what I was looking for but is hard to find. No other case captures the look and feel of the pre-made NAS servers as this case does. The only retailers that had any stock in North America were in the US so I had to import it. There is a new ES34169 model with an internal 120w power supply but the model I chose uses an external power brick with an option for 120w or 180w (this is the one I went with). When the brick is plugged into the wall it emits a low hum.

Motherboard - Jetway NF93R-LF - $200

This motherboard met all my needs in an ITX form-factor required to fit in the above chassis; GM45 chipset for Core 2 Duo/Quad and integrated video, dual RTL8111C gigabit ethernet ports for Link Aggregration, 4 SATA 3Gbps ports for storage and an extra port for OS. On the other hand, I am now on my second board after sending back the first for RMA and am experiencing the same problem with this one. Tech support has tried to be helpful and are nice enough but I now have had the same problem on 2 boards and have eliminated other parts as the source by swapping with alternate parts as suggested. Hopefully I can get this worked out; otherwise we will see how they handle a return (purchased originally from a third-party retailer).

CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T5670 - $50

Chosen specifically for low TDP and performance that will be more than enough for NAS functions and allow for light transcoding at night if required. I was able to purchase this online from eBay as a laptop replacement part. I also purchased a T5270 to elimate my CPU as the problem when testing the motherboard.

Memory - Kingston HyperX So-Dimm KHX6400S2LLK2/4G - $110

A 4GB kit was chosen to allow buffering large files (VOBs, MKVs, etc.) for streaming over the network instead of having to read directly from disk which is the largest bottleneck when streaming. So-Dimm memory specifically was a neccesity for this chosen motherboard. Other memory by Qimonda and Hynix has also been used for testing with the motherboard.

OS Drive - Western Digital Scorpio Blue 80GB 2.5" IDE - $60

Again a neccesity of the motherboard, this drive connects directly to the 44-pin IDE port on the motherboard and draws power through it. I would have gone for a smaller drive (not from this line) but the price/size ratio and previous experience with WD led me to choose this one.

Total before storage = $605

Storage DrivesSeagate Barracuda 7200 1.5TB 3.5" SATA x4 - $500 combined

I purchased these as the largest drives available at the best price at the time. These would cost you only $400 combined now and you would have the option to get them at lower power 5900 RPM. Alternatively, for slightly more (about $550 combined) you could get 5900 RPM 2TB drives. If I was purchasing now, that would be what I would do.

Total with storage = $1105

All-in-all, you could do this with less money by not needing such a specific chassis or wanting such a robust motherboard. For example, for less than half the power required and 4 threads instead of 2 at the expense of a little processing power and only 1 gigabit port, you could get the Jetway NC96FL-510 for $140. This would save you $110 between being a cheaper board and not requiring a seperate CPU (comes with Atom D510 chip). You could save another $110 if you have some regular DDR2 memory lying around to use with it (and who doesn't). In fact, maybe if I can't get my current board to work this is the route I will take and try to recoup the cost of the 2 CPUs and memory on eBay...

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