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Tharnax

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Tharnax

Opinions/Suggestions welcome!

 

So finally have a number of years one of my WHS2011 servers has kicked the bucked.  Actually, I think just the motherboard quit on me as it will no longer post.  It had been running 24/7 and after one of the many Windows updates requiring a restart I can not even get it to post so I can get into the BIOS.

 

Current hardware:

  • Supermicro X8SIL-F Motherboard
  • 4GB RAM
  • Old i3 processor (can't remember exactly what and can't post to figure it out)
  • 1x 1.5TB WD Blue OS 
  • 6x Mix of different size and manufacturer drives (Single data pool created using Drive Bender)

Budget $700CDN or less to replace Motherboard/RAM/Processor:

 

Possible hardware:

or

Note: Both processors do not require any specific bios version on the motherboard, which is preferred as I don't have a spare processor to temporarily install in order to update the bios in case I receive a board with an old bios.

 

Primary purpose is MB3 transcoding at least three simultaneous streams (current setup barely did more then 1).  Server runs 24/7 running OneDrive & BitSync cloud based applications & maintains routine daily backs ups of multiple PCs on the network.

 

Overkill?  Underkill? Do you recommend one process over another, why?  

 

The reason for a server based motherboard is WHS2011 is a server OS, so I've had driver issues in the past with running this OS on a non-server board, I want to avoid that issue.  As to why I'm running WHS2011, I have two other servers running the same OS and all talk to each other quite well.  Also, prefer not to go to Server 2012 with the added expense of the OS as this time.   

 

Comments/suggestions/alternatives most welcome!  Would like to make the purchase soon as I need to take the working server back to it's home the end of next week. 

 

If this is the wrong spot for this, let me know and/or feel free to move it.  Thanks for in advance for your thoughts.

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CashMoney

Considering how long you kept the old machine, typically speaking the Xeons are higher binned and often run cooler (not that an i5 puts out that much heat) which could mean a longer life. You've had what? 4 years? 5 years? From your previous setup, I can't see you not getting that out of an i5 too, which would save yourself a few bucks.

 

That said, the Xeon will run 8 threads on the 4 cores, and the 1245 has an iGPU which with some of the guys on here making pretty good strides at getting transcoding on an iGPU working, could be a good purchase for the future. $100 worth of performance difference? Maybe. Either would be good, the Xeon will be better, but if you wanted to save some money I don't think you'd be disappointed with the i5.

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Tharnax

Thanks for your input @@CashMoney.  I was leaning towards the Xeon processor but I think the potential longer life, lower heat and future MB3 transcode potential makes the $100 investment worth while.  MB3 is only going to get used more not less so the having the ability for more transcode streams will be beneficial if/when they get transcoding on the iGPU working.

 

Any concerns with the board?  I choose it because it's a reasonable price and it has room to expand.  I can store up to 10 drives in the case so with the 10 on-board SATA ports I can start with all 7 drives plugged directly into the board with the ability to add a few more in the future. 

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shaefurr

As far as RAM goes, id just go with g.skill, tad cheaper and ive never had issues with any of them, plus they have heatsinks over the kingston you linked. http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231428

 

I'd also recommend the Xeon if you want to spend the 100 extra, though im sure the i5 would work just fine. I got 5 years out of my current i5 and it still works just fine, and thats running 24/7.

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Tharnax

@@shaefurr - Thanks!  I appreciate that you linked the .ca site!  

 

I've got some g.skill RAM in another machine and agree no issues.  I guess my only concern was attempting to getting something on ASRock's memory "compatibility" list.  Normally I'm not to concerned with the manufacturer "supported RAM" and I've still been debating it considering it's Kingston ValueRAM and a single 8GB to boot as well.  I'd prefer to get a 2 x 4GB package and the G.Skills you linked fits the bill.  I looked for all the "supported" 4GB options ASRock notes but I couldn't find any available to purchase.  In case of issue, I was just considering getting RAM ASRock "officially" supports.

 

Yes, since my last post, I've decided that the extra $100 is worth the spend.

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shaefurr

Yeah, I think nowadays the whole supported brand isn't an issue. Maybe more so back in the 90s or something. The only thing I really check when buying ram is the specs, like with the mobo you posted. Which reminds me, if you go with the Xeon you can use ECC ram if you like, bit flips are rare but the ram isnt too much more for 8GB. Dunno if its really needed though as ive never used ECC myself. http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820239370

Capacity - 4 x 240-pin DDR3 DIMM slots
Support up to 32GB, un-buffered DIMM Type - Dual Channel DDR3 1600/1333 UDIMM and ECC UDIMM
Supports DDR3 1600/1333 
Voltage - Supports 1.35V to 1.60V

Thats all I would look for in ram. I dont care what the brand is as long as its not crap quality. I wont mix brands though, like have 4gb g.skill and 4gb kingston, I always use the same brand/model in each PC.

Edited by shaefurr
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legallink

I concur with shaefurr and the discussion, ECC ram would be a not so expesnive and a bit more assurance, especially if you are using WHS2011.  If you upgrade to some of the more cutting edge file systems, you'll be happy you have ECC for peace of mind.

I've run a few servers with ECC, and generally speaking you don't notice the difference, other than the peace of mind/slightly higher quality components.

 

The only consideration you may want to think about is the ASROCK board.  Do you typically have a monitor connected to the machine?  Would IPMI be helfpul?  Just a thought.

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Tharnax

@@shaefurr - Good point, I had pretty much ignored ECC ram when I couldn't find any of the ECC RAM available from ASRock's compatibility list.  I agree 100% with you that brand compatibility shouldn't be an issue.  As long as the specs match there shouldn't be any issues.  Newegg is OOS on the RAM you linked but I think I can get it elsewhere.  I'm back to a single 8GB chip but I guess that's not a big deal, it also leaves 3 slots available for future upgrade of the OS to something that can actually make use of more then 8GB of RAM.

 

@@legallink - I don't normally connect anything to the server other then network, power and maybe the odd external USB device.  IPMI might be nice, although personally I've never used it.  I think from a usage perspective I'll get more use out of the extra onboard SATA ports then IPMI but it was worth consideration.  

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legallink

I would strongly recommend you go with dual channel as opposed to a single rank of ram.  Almost all the review sites have shown significant differences between dual channel and single channel ram implementations.

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CashMoney

I agree with the above posts for ECC and Dual Channel. ECC will be better for 24/7 use and the dual channel will improve the performance.

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Tharnax

Does anyone have any Dual Channel ECC 4GB RAM suggestions at a reasonable price?  Say under $130 for 2x4GB?

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shaefurr

+1 for any Fractal Design case.

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Tharnax

@@CashMoney - Thanks ordering that RAM today.  I'll still have slots left to upgrade in the future if I decide to go with another OS.

 

@@Twisted - I've looked at Freenas, although really only since MB3 received support and at that time all three WHS servers were working quite well together.  I may look at it down the road, unfortunately, I really don't have the time it deserves to learn, set it up and trouble shoot it.  I currently have three servers running 24/7 distant locations, one a two hour drive away and one a days worth of travel by plane away so having the ability to remote trouble shoot is extremely important.  I'm sure there are much better options then what I've got setup, unfortunately, I just don't have the time to investigate them.

 

Nice case!  Funny, it's even cheaper in Canada!  Unfortunately, not in the market for a case right now but I've added to my wish list as an option for my next upgrade.

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steve1977

Interesting to see everyone recommending the Xeon over the i5. I remember that I went with an i7 back in the days when I bought mine and there was some clear disadvantage of the Xeon when using it as media server. It may have had something to do with transcoding? Or some specific task that a Xeon is actually inferior when you don't use it a file server, but for other tasks as well?

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legallink

The major difference between the i7 and the Xeon is the built in gpu.  If you have/need the built in gpu (hardware encoding, etc.) then the Xeon lacks the feature obviously.  I think if you could get the i7 (not the i5) at the same price as the Xeon, the i7 would probably win out.  But an i5 has certain features turned off which makes the Xeon better at transcoding and serving up media.

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steve1977

Yes, that was it. Can you run the server without a GPU and does transcoding not benefit from hardware encoding as well?

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shaefurr

Without a dedicated GPU or a CPU with a built in GPU you might still be able to boot the server, it depends on the BIOS, you may or may not get an error about no video device. Just depends on the motherboard.

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steve1977

What about hardware encoding? I would assume a Xeon without a GPU cannot do so, which would limit the transcoding capabilities? In this case, wouldn't an i5 or an i7 be the better choice for the opening poster?

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legallink

GPU hardware encoding at this point is not as much a boost to transcoding times as the extra cores of the Xeon would be (and by not as much...it is very little as opposed to double the cores).  As to whether you will get a no video device error will depend on your Xeon implementation (both OS as well as motherboard).  If you get an IPMI equipped board, you don't need a video device.

 

i7 and Xeon's are comparable...but usually i7's are more expensive.

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