Quiet Rackmount Server w/ Lots of Storage

I recently had the power supply fail on my SOHO server, which was a mongrel of old parts, far too many USB cables, and was pretty darn slow. It was also very expensive to run, having a Pentium IV in it, the worst of Intel’s line.

My goals for a new server were:
* quiet
* energy efficient
* virtualization support
* lots of storage
* easy to take backups offsite
* rackmount
* budget-friendly.

After poking around NewEgg for a while (I think I enjoy shopping there a bit too much) I came up with a list of parts (after reading many of the helpful reviews), and I have to say I couldn’t be happier with the system.

It’s almost inaudible, runs at about 105W under normal load, has seven hard drives in it, of various capacities, fits in my rack, has a hot-swap drive for off-site backups, and runs Fedora 10 like a charm. The case is especially nice to work inside, and is of higher quality than you’d expect for the price.

I’m acually using the 2.66GHz version of the Core2Duo, but they don’t seem to make that anymore – 3.0GHz seems to be the low-end. It’s worth noting here that most of the commercial server builders try to force you into the Xeon line with a rackmount server and those are both more expensive and more power hungry than the Core2Duo and Core2Quad lines. Get what you really need, keeping in mind that virtualizing multiple systems onto one is a huge energy win.

Additionally, I got a cooler from BestBuy (surprisingly their in-stock cooler is the nicest I’ve found) and used Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound to bond the CPU. Plus a bunch of SATA cables I have in a box (they seem to spontaneously generate in there). The whole package comes in under $1200 even if you have to buy every part. Compare at fifty percent more to purchase pre-assembled.

Here’s the parts list:

The secondary SATA controller is only needed if you’re going over the number of drives the motherboard supports, and likewise the power splitters. If you were buying all new 1.5TB drives you’d likely not need this. Obviously the memory card reader is only if you need it. But who wants a floppy drive anymore?

Happy building!

2 thoughts on “Quiet Rackmount Server w/ Lots of Storage”

  1. a 4U box is just a normal desktop tower turned on its side. What you really want to try and do is get a bunch of 1U machines, and quieten them down enough to home-host ( can be done, depends a lot on what cpu performance you need )

    – KB

  2. Yeah, I have one server I built (public mail/web server) that’s “1/2 U” (short depth) with a single RAID mirror pair in it. That one runs even cooler (65W avg. @ 56 dB). But even with a full-sized 1U it’s difficult to get much storage into them, which was a main criteria for this box.

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