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In search of an eco-friendly economical Home Server

Published to Blog on 27 Mar 2008

This is part 1 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

[Update: I reconfigured my “dream machine” in this follow up post

I ordered the 120-Day Evaluation version of Windows Home Server last week. I got the DVD in the mail earlier this week and it’s been sitting on my desk staring at me, daring me since then.

Like most geeks, I’ve got a house full of computers (desktops, laptops, routers, wireless routers, XBox and more). One of the things on my To-Do list for quite some time is to implement some type of file sharing and backup strategy. Anything would be better than the spaghetti of mapped drives and cheap cron software that currently serves those purposes. DFS (Distributed File System) in Windows 2000 Server helps out some, but its not the answer. And yes, I still have one of those running.

The promise of Windows Home Server is a godsend to me. So last night I jumped on NewEgg and started putting the hardware together. Yes, I could just buy one of the HP SmartMedia devices, but I’m a geek. I must build it.

I’m looking for small, quiet, low power, and as economical as possible. I know I’ll have to make some concessions given those parameters. My budget is under $500 dollars given that I’ll have to shell out another $150 for the software once my eval is over.

Below is what I’ve put together so far:


ASUS T3-M2NC51PV AMD Socket AM2 Barebone



AMD Athlon 64 LE-1600 2.2GHz Socket AM2 45W Processor



Western Digital Caviar GP 500GB 3.5” SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

$94.99 x 2


CORSAIR 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory



LITE-ON 20X DVD Burner, 12X DVD-RAM Write, Black IDE, DH-20A3P-08


The RAM and CPU are a package deal - save $10. I could go cheaper on the DVD drive by $10, but that is the cheapest one with a white bezel. Foregoing the DVD drive completely is an option, but it’s a “nice to have”. I could go cheaper on drives, but I like going with the “Green Power” drives for this application. I’m not a memory snob so the Corsair ValueSelect is fine by me. I always try to stick to some kind of recognizable brand of memory and I’ve never had a stick go bad on me. I’ve read from several people that any more than 1GB of RAM is a waste with WHS. I could go dual core on the CPU, but to get a 45W dual core I’d have to go a bit more expensive. The single core 2.2GHz should be sufficient for a file/backup server. Reviews say the case is fairly quiet - I could get a silent one and upgrade the power supply, but those would set me back another $100. I know I could probably go with a much cheaper case, a regular desktop slimline, but I want to keep it small and quiet.

After shipping it weighs in at at just under $460.00. Not too bad.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Any room for improvement without sacrificing budget?

Dan Hounshell
Web geek, nerd, amateur maker. Likes: apis, node, motorcycles, sports, chickens, watches, food, Nashville, Savannah, Cincinnati and family.
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  • On 27 Mar 2008 "Jay R. Wren"" said:
    A seasonic power supply they are WAY more efficient than default power supplies.
  • On 27 Mar 2008 "Jay Leask"" said:
    Keep us posted, I really need to do the same thing!
  • On 27 Mar 2008 """ said:
    Jay (Wren), thanks. I've heard the same things and it probably makes sense to do so in this application. Darn, I hate to drop $50+ on a power supply, though. Maybe I'll check out piecing together the case, power supply and board and see where that gets me. BTW, no more ads in the RSS feed - just for you, brotha! Jay (Leask), will do buddy. First thing, though, if you don't already have WHS - you can order the 120 day eval from the Microsoft site. The only thing it costs is shipping/handling, which was like $6 for me. But, if you want to just go ahead and pay for it then NewEgg has them for $159 when you buy other system stuff.
  • On 27 Mar 2008 "Tom Lynch"" said:
    As a person who when the "I'm a geek, I gotta build it" route with WHS I would recommend buying the HP model. The one thing you will find with WHS is you can never have enough disk space. The HP models have 4 drive trays so adding additional drives is no big deal. Also you didnt add in the cost of the WHS license itsself which makes your setup more expensive than one of the HP models. Another side note - with the HP WHS is already installed and as you will soon find out WHS is the longest install of all time. Either way - welcome to the world of WHS. It's as wonderful as you think.
  • On 27 Mar 2008 """ said:
    Tom, thanks for the welcome - that's good to hear. I've been back and forth with that myself - HP vs. build. The 500GB HP model is approx $550 with 512MB RAM. The 1TB HP model is about $700 with 512 MB RAM. As I sit with the above specs + the software cost I'm at 1TB with more RAM, maybe a little better system, and about $100 less. I know I won't be able to save a lot by building it myself, but I can save a little and I'll end up building the system that I want rather than taking what HP gives - and since they're the only builder in the market right now and only have 2 models it's slim pickings.
  • On 27 Mar 2008 "Digging My Blog - Dan Hounshell"" said:
    This is my second take at virtually building my new Windows Home Server. You can see version 1 here .
  • On 5 Apr 2008 "Keith Elder"" said:
    Isn't the HP home server just $599 and has a lot more out of the box features, all for only $100 over your budget?
  • On 7 Jul 2008 "Digging My Blog - Dan Hounshell"" said:
    A couple of months ago I wrote two posts with some specs that I had been considering for building an
  • On 18 Oct 2008 "Digging My Blog - Dan Hounshell"" said:
    This is part 4 in a series about building an Eco-Friendly Economical Windows Home Server. Part 1 In
  • On 19 Oct 2008 "Building a Eco-Friendly Economical WHS « MS Windows Home Server"" said:
    Pingback from Building a Eco-Friendly Economical WHS « MS Windows Home Server
  • On 21 Oct 2008 "Digging My Blog - Dan Hounshell"" said:
    This is part 4 in a series about building an Eco-Friendly Economical Windows Home Server. Part 1 In
  • On 16 Dec 2008 "Hot Link » Blog Archive » Building a Eco-Friendly Economical WHS"" said:
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