This is part 2 in a series about building an Eco-Friendly Economical Windows Home Server. Part 1: In search of an Eco-Friendly Economical Home Server Part 2: In search of an Eco-Friendly Economical Home Server 2, Electric Boogaloo Part 3: A Cheap and Green Windows Home Server Part 4: Ordered parts for Eco-friendly Economical Windows Home Server Part 5: Can I get a Mulligan on the Case Order? Part 6: Adding a 1TB Drive to my WHS
This is my second take at virtually building my new Windows Home Server. You can see version 1 here.
My main reason for the reconfiguration was that I wanted to use a SeaSonic power supply. I could have just added it to the previous kit, adding only $40 to the total price, and chucked the one that came with the barebones Asus case/motherboard. I really like the small form factor of the Asus case, but it only supports two SATA drives. While I’m only buying two now, having room for another two would be great. That way if I happen to catch a couple of 500GB drives on sale I could upgrade from 1TB to 2TB on the cheap. Fitting two additional drives means getting a bigger case, though. I chose the Silverstone model below because it fit the bill, was still fairly small (a little bit wider, but still short), and it was on sale. Going with the black case meant that I could save an additional $10 on the DVD drive by not having to find one with a white bezel.
Going away from the barebones kit meant that I lost a level of abstraction (the barebones kit had case, motherboard and power supply). So now choosing a motherboard and the power supply was on me. I settled on the Gigabyte board below because it supports 4 SATA drives, has 6 USB connections, will handle up to 16GB of RAM and a more powerful CPU if I choose to repurpose it later. Oh yeah, and it was cheap. I “upgraded” from a 2.2Ghz CPU to a 2.4Ghz, not a big deal, but it was part of a combo deal with the motherboard. I’m still sticking with a single core mainly for the power savings of 45W vs 65W. The SeaSonic power supply is the cheapest one that NewEgg carries, but it is also the only 300W one they have without committing a lot more money - and it’s still and 80Plus efficiency unit. With only running the 2 power saving drives, the low power CPU, and really no other accessories (the DVD is really just for installing the OS) a 300W psu should be fine. The RAM was pretty much a wash, $2 increase.
$94.99 x 2
I was pumped because the total price for this kit before shipping was nearly the same as the previous one, but I was getting a better CPU, better MB, and a much better power supply, and a case that was still smallish but would hold an additional two drives. Darn it, I still like the looks of that Asus case, though. Oh well, I’m a practical person. If I wanted design I’d be buying a Mac anyway, right? However, the shipping for this kit is about $20 more because there was a free shipping offer on the previously chosen case.
The above kit comes in at just over $470 including shipping. I’m really pleased with that and I think I’ll order it this weekend. It is pretty eco-friendly, will look okay sitting on a shelf somewhere, and the price is pretty nice, too. I would have have been ecstatic if it would have been closer to $400. If it was closer to $400 then adding the cost of WHS would put everything right at $550, which is the price of the cheapest HP MediaSmart Home Server, but having more memory, double the drive size, more energy efficient and just better all the way around. By the time I add the cost of WHS to what I’ve spec’d out it comes out to about $620. That still ends up being about $80 cheaper than the higher end HP unit (about $700). Both have 1TB of storage but mine has a little faster CPU, double the RAM, and still better in most areas. Some people will say that it’s not really worth the $80 considering I have to actually build and test the PC and they’re probably right. I knew I wouldn’t save a lot of money, but building the computer to my specs is more important.
Of course you could do something much cheaper than I have here, especially if you have an older PC or parts laying around. Even if you don’t you could easily pick up a decently powerful refurbished IBM ThinkCentre or HP or other desktop from MicroCenter for $199, add another drive, install WHS and be off and running. You can probably find one with a pretty small form factor that looks pretty good, too. Something like this would work fine - I don’t know if it supports SATA, but if not you could easily add two 250GB IDE drives for about $100. Not too shabby.
I have to thank Jay R. Wren (@sillyevar) and Tom Lynch for their feedback on my initial post. Jay reminded me about the power supply and Tom got me thinking about supporting four drives rather than two. I’m glad I went down both those roads, I think I ended up with a better system because of doing so.
Once again, what are your thoughts? Anything you would do differently? Do you have some different priorities or a different wish list?