Self-build compact & silent Windows Home Server

Andyclockwise

Active Member
Moved this into its own thread from the WHS thread as it is going to get lost in there.

I want to build a WHS with similar design objectives to the HP Media Smart Server. My aim is for a very quiet, efficient, small unit, but with more expansion potential. I want to be able to upgrade in the future, if the need arises, and maybe add expansion cards for TV capture etc.

After a fair bit of research I have spec'd out the following:

Antec NSK1380 Black/Silver MATX Cube Case - With 350W Series 80 PSU
2 x WD Caviar Green Power WD5000AACS - hard drive - 500 GB - SATA-300
AMD Sempron LE-1150 SKT AM2 2 GHz L2 256 KB Energy Efficient 45w
Cooler Master Vortex 752 CPU fan
Gigabyte GA-MA69VM-S2 690V Socket AM2 mATX Motherboard (4 SATA, Gigabit Ethernet)
1GB kit (512MBx2) DDR2 PC2-5300 memory
Microsoft Windows Home Server OEM

Total cost £407 delivered inc VAT.
That's not far off the cost of the HP 1TB machine, but this spec, I think, has higher quality components (better quality quiet case and PSU, low power HDDs, more memory, more upgradeable / tweakable), only experience will tell. I really hope I can make it quiet, I currently have a Linkstation which makes an intrusive noise about which I can do nothing.

I should be able to commence the build later this week, so I'll post another update when its up and running. Hope this may be of interest to others thinking of going down this route.
 

onkeh

Novice Member
I recently made myself a home theatre/light gaming PC and it went very well. I saved myself a bit of cash since I got a lot of bits from my old desktop but the total expenditure was around £350 with free delivery from Scan.

- Silverstone SG03 case
- A-bit I-N73HD mobo
- E8400
- SST NT06-lite heatsink
- 2x 1GB Kingston RAM
- Passive 8500GT







Let me know if you any questions about the build process.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member
That build looks really neat Onkeh, and thanks for the photos.

My parts started arriving today - the case, drives and memory thanks to IT247.com for fast turnaround and minimal postage charge. Now waiting on Ebuyer for the rest.

As you can see from the photos the Antec Cube is a really small unit, just 10.6" tall. Like other Antec cases I have used before, its really well built, the top and sides and drive bay all removable, so should be easy to access during the build.






Despite the small size, there are 4 drive bays (3x3.5", 1 5.5") I reckon I wont need the CD drive post installation, so I could eventually convert this for a 4th HD. I have opted for Caviar Green Power disks as they are cooler and quieter, as well as being more effecient - see review here http://www.silentpcreview.com/article786-page4.html. The case has thermaltape on the HDD mountings to carry heat out via the case.
 

mac_monkey

Active Member
I've been contemplating a WHS build for a while now (ever since the first beta) however I have never been able to find an ideal case and motherboard so the plan has been shelved for the last year.

I finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought the 1Tb HP MediaSmart. I already had 80% of the components for a self build but couldn't find a suitable case (Small footprint, attractive, lots of internal drive space and at least 2 optical bays for a SATA HD hotswap caddy).Once I priced up a case, 2x500Gb HDs, WHS OS, cpu cooler and the sata hot swap I wasn't far off the cost of the HP machine. I decided whatever I bought would be a compromise over the HP so I'm going to be selling my CPU/PSU/RAM/IDE Hds and just enjoy the simplicity of the HP.

I hope all goes well for your build I'll be watching with interest.
 

New Start Neil

Distinguished Member
I've been contemplating a WHS build for a while now (ever since the first beta) however I have never been able to find an ideal case and motherboard so the plan has been shelved for the last year.

I finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought the 1Tb HP MediaSmart. I already had 80% of the components for a self build but couldn't find a suitable case (Small footprint, attractive, lots of internal drive space and at least 2 optical bays for a SATA HD hotswap caddy).Once I priced up a case, 2x500Gb HDs, WHS OS, cpu cooler and the sata hot swap I wasn't far off the cost of the HP machine. I decided whatever I bought would be a compromise over the HP so I'm going to be selling my CPU/PSU/RAM/IDE Hds and just enjoy the simplicity of the HP.

I hope all goes well for your build I'll be watching with interest.
Which model did you go for and where did you get it from?
 

mac_monkey

Active Member
Which model did you go for and where did you get it from?
I went for the EX475 (1tb) version in the end from Insight. for £450 delivered. I was going to get the EX470 from serversdirect/laptopsdirect, but after reading some reviews on their CS I thought I'd rather buy from insight.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member
I've been contemplating a WHS build for a while now (ever since the first beta) however I have never been able to find an ideal case and motherboard so the plan has been shelved for the last year.

I finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought the 1Tb HP MediaSmart. I already had 80% of the components for a self build but couldn't find a suitable case (Small footprint, attractive, lots of internal drive space and at least 2 optical bays for a SATA HD hotswap caddy).Once I priced up a case, 2x500Gb HDs, WHS OS, cpu cooler and the sata hot swap I wasn't far off the cost of the HP machine. I decided whatever I bought would be a compromise over the HP so I'm going to be selling my CPU/PSU/RAM/IDE Hds and just enjoy the simplicity of the HP.

I hope all goes well for your build I'll be watching with interest.
Thanks mac, you're right, there's a gap in the market for a small case designed for the WHS market, the only neat small case with 4 hotswap caddies is made by Chenbro http://www.xcase.co.uk/p/404991/chenbro-es34069-mini-itx-home-servernas-chassis---just-arrived.html but it is an ITX format and double the price of the Antec. If things don't work out with the Antec, I might be swapping the case down the line. I don't mind that, for me the build process is half the fun :D

CPU and mobo have arrived today, but due to Citylink kerfuffle, the rest should be arriving tomorrow, just in time for the weekend.
 

Tejstar

Distinguished Member
I went for the EX475 (1tb) version in the end from Insight. for £450 delivered. I was going to get the EX470 from serversdirect/laptopsdirect, but after reading some reviews on their CS I thought I'd rather buy from insight.
My main concern about the Mediasmart servers was the heat impact of filling all four internal caddies as well as noise. Whilst the form factor is perfect for a server everytime I considered purchasing it those those factors kept playing on my mind. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member

Tejstar

Distinguished Member

Andyclockwise

Active Member
Build update: All went well with the build:



If you really want to see all the build photos they are here

Its a tight fit, but there's enough room for another disk or two at a stretch. I've never built in such a small case, but really the only awkward part was fitting the Sata power cables, there's not much length. The Coolermaster Vortex fan was too big to fit, I had to go with the stock fan, but in the event it was very quiet. There were also 2 Sata cables included with the Motherboard so the final build cost can be done for £384.30.

I was amazed just how quiet it all is. I didn't think it was working at first, until I put my ear right next to the case. Its been running a few hours now and internal temps are CPU 23 deg C, System 42 deg C, so I probably won't need the case fan supplied.

So far so good, my design objectives have been met. WHS is installed and working, just in the process of transferring everything off the Linkstation so I can finally get some peace and quiet.
 

Tejstar

Distinguished Member
How many hard drives are you using at the moment? They seem like great temps although if you maxed out the case with all four HDDs I'd worry how hot it would get in there. Seems like you have lots of leeway though.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member
How many hard drives are you using at the moment? They seem like great temps although if you maxed out the case with all four HDDs I'd worry how hot it would get in there. Seems like you have lots of leeway though.
There's 2 Green Power drives - see 1st posting in this thread above for full spec. I've just checked again and after 24 hours running, 2 PC backups and lots of data transfer the temps are System 42 deg C, CPU 26.

There's no doubt that the GP drives are cooler (and quieter) than standard, partly because they run at 5400. I can't imagine that 4 would be a problem, and there is always the option to add the case fan.
 

Tejstar

Distinguished Member
Sounds good. Good choice of HDDs, I'm thinking of using the same ones - although a 1TB one if my budget can stretch to it. The smaller form factor has always appealed to me, especially as I plan to keep it out of the way somewhere but was worried about space for future storage, noise and temperature. Looks like I may have to have a rethink! :)
 

onkeh

Novice Member
How you finding the CPU temps andy? I was *this* close to getting that Antec case but decided the lack of clearance for custom hs/fs too much of a worry. Are you using the stock hs/f and do you not find it loud? It is my experience that stock fans are usually good at cooling but really noisy.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member
I've just checked them now and I've got CPU 22 Deg C , System 40 Deg C.

I've installed the AMD CoolNQuiet application which drops the processor speed down to 1000mhz when idle, and I think that has lowered the temp a little. Maybe the current consumption too, I'm not sure. I intend to get a tester to see what the current usage is like.

There is a certain amount of background noise, but it is very low frequency, unobtrusive purr, and you can hear the disks very gently "clicking" away at times, but even that is considerably less than my other PCs. I am not sure if it is the power supply or the stock CPU fan, probably a little of each.

All in all I've been very pleased with the WHS application, I've got remote access running a treat (had to manually set the router even though it is UPnP), and the backup is amazing. My daughter complained that her Laptop started up in the middle of the night to back itself up, and I hadn't even had to configure wake-on lan or anything, it just worked.

Here's a photo in its final location.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member
Yes its on 24/7. Its not doing an awful lot most of the time, just balancing storage and online backup.
 

onkeh

Novice Member
So that system temp is without a case fan right? Mine sits around 35-6 with the fan off and drops to around 25 with one installed. I'm not sure if 35-6 is too hot or not.

Of course without the case fan the stack is almost completely silent (I have to put my ear to it to tell if it's turned on or not, I have all the LEDs off). The fan on makes it audible, but not too bad. Still want to try it with a fan adjustor, see what the best balance is between temperature/noise. I was thinking of changing the case fan but the one that comes with the SG03 is supposed to be pretty quiet anyway so I'll work with it for now.
 

Tejstar

Distinguished Member
So that system temp is without a case fan right? Mine sits around 35-6 with the fan off and drops to around 25 with one installed. I'm not sure if 35-6 is too hot or not.
I would not worry about that temperature at all - if it was over 50c then it would be a concern.
 

shilv

Active Member
Recently been looking to get myself a Windows Home Server up & running. After initially coming across the OS I was all set to purchase the HP MediaSmart, though after snooping around various forums thought I would go down the self-build route. I've never built a PC from scratch, but have done a lot of upgrading to various systems involving numerous bits 'n pieces over the years. This is probably the perfect 1st build project for me as the components are relatively low-end and cheap should anything go wrong with the build (the OS is the most expensive component).

Aesthetics aren't that important as the system will be in a cupboard in a utility room in the garage (this may change, as I'm currently measuring min/max temp over a good few weeks to make sure the ambient temps are ok).

As for components I think I'm going down the OPs route of effiency and upgradeability should the need arise. So far I've got my eye on the following:


Antec Solo Case (4x internal 3.5 bays and 4x external 5.25 bays - ideal for hot-swap caddy)
EarthWatts 380W PSU
Asus M2N-VM NF430 Socket AM2 mATX mobo (4x internal SATAII and 1 external SATAII + onboard VGA)
AMD AM2 Sempron 64 LE-1150
2GB Corsair PC2-5400 (667) CAS 4-4-4-12
2X 500 GB Western Digital WD5000AACS Caviar GP "Green"
MS Windows Home Server 32Bit Edition DVD (OEM)

All-in-all around £430ish.

Just doing some extra research to see if there could be any compatibility issues - please chime in if you can spot any!! Other than that my build should start within the next few weeks.

How are you getting on with WHS?
 

mrm3

Active Member
I would recommend the HP MediaSmart 470 and 475.

Been absolutely fantastic. So simple to use. HP have built upon the OS too so cannot just replicate. If you want to add a HDD you just slot it in. No cables. Do not even need to restart or turn off !

Plug and play.

Think if you build you own you are not making a saving that makes it worth it unless you are just using old parts.

Its tiny too !

Also get it from PC world for £399 for the 500GB leaving you 3 slots. The 1TB uses up 2 slots so think the 470 is the better option. I have 2 x 750GB and 2 x 500GB now.
 

Andyclockwise

Active Member
Well there's no beating the self-build for that feeling of self-satisfaction, and personally I love the whole selecting, ordering, getting packages in the post, pretty boxes, fixing it all together thing:).

I'm not sure I agree on the cost, I managed to come in under £385 for 1TB, which is quite a bit cheaper than the equivalent HP 475. There are a few pros and cons between the 2 options - I don't have the hot swap caddy, but I have more RAM, better specc'd HDDs, and the Shadow Copy facility is not disabled (as it is on the HP) so I can get earlier versions of any files stored on the shares. Oh and did I mention, its really quiet.

Those specs look good to me shilv, hope the build goes well. WHS rocks.
 

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