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Frankenstein PC - hardware selection advice

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello fellow OCNers.

I am going to be getting a copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 for free and I wanted to get some practice with it and turn it into a server. I don't have any experience with WS2012 at all so I don't know exactly what I need to make it work. I do know where to start though - Hardware to run it.

I have an Intel i5-4440 in the PC I am currently using that will be retired in the next month when I finish building my rig. Using parts that I have around the house to build it since it is my first venture into WS2012. Correct me if I need something more powerful!

CPU: i5-4440 (1150 chipset)
Cooler - Noctua Dh15
Motherboard: ??
PSU - Evga 550w G2
Video 1 - Nvidia GT630
Video 2 - Radeon HD7950 (once i move to Pascal. Will use this for a virtual machine)
RAM - 16gb - I have 2 sets of 8gb, however they run at different speeds. Because I will set 1 set to be used in a virtual PC I figured I wouldn't have any problems?
Case: ??

So I need a Good motherboard and then a Case that has extremely good airflow.

Any comments, advice, or correction very welcome!

Thanks again.
post #2 of 10
WinServ2012 will operate on the i5 without issue but it'll 64-bit OS only. Meaning all your drivers must have a 64-bit (x64) version. I'd you don't really need the Noctua unless you're aiming for a less noisy machine. The stock cooler is just fine since you can't really overclock that CPU as it has a locked multiplier. Never seen a production server with anything but the stock air cooler except for "silent" boxes. The mismatched RAM will cause issues, no matter if you intend to use stick 1 for X and stick two Y. You will likely not notice the difference but you should expect hiccups in stability and performance.

The VM software will allocate a portion of the total available RAM attached to the motherboard and, as far is I know, it can't discern one from the other. Maybe you setup Hyper-V or ESXi or some other bare-metal VM (w-w/o Hypervisor) to do this but I've never seen it done nor looked for that setting. I know you can pair channels or set one channel as a spare but I've never worked on a box with only two sticks of RAM. Read this to get a handle on setting up bare metal server and hypervisor read this: http://www.internap.com/2015/02/26/bare-metal-vs-hypervisor/

According to this forum post, the integrated NIC chipset (Intel i217V) is not compatible but the i217UM will work. However this post shows a workaround. Motherboard manufacturers should have a list of compatible operating systems on their websites. Sorry, but I cannot recommend a motherboard without knowing your budget since there are simply too many options. Also, what else to you intend to do with the machine and any future expansions.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Alright thanks for the response, I will go ahead and adjust the RAM accordingly to be the same speeds and latency, wasn't sure on that one.

Alright, I just wanted to make sure that it would be running as cool as possible as it will be on 24/7. It will be in another unoccupied room so I will not hear any sound.

Have any recommendation on the motherboard? I have no experience with tech in that chipset. Maybe a board that is $150-
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Anyone have any suggestions on a motherboard with 2 pcie slots? Also still need to get a case with good airflow that can accommodate 6-12 HDD slots?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
For the motherboard I was thinking maybe one of these options, not sure how necessary they would need to be though:
z97 MSI Krait $129
Gigabyte z97 HD3 $102.95
Asus z87 Plus $129.99

Which motherboard would you guys select or recommend a different one?

For the case I was thinking of maybe the TT Core x9 or the NZXT 810 Switch that I could pick up for ~$150 used but in good condition.

Anyone, thoughts?
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
So I have boiled it down to 2 different motherboards in the ~$150 range.

Using this for a test server to play around on and practice, will set up as a Remote file access as well, might host a small website from the server if I can get that to work. I will experiment with 1 Virtual machine. Will store a lot of smaller videos (3-5min) and my videos that I make from those smaller ones. (8-15min)

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-UD3H
Pros: Gigabyte quality is well known to me. Extra PCIE slots to make a virtual PC with dedicated GPU at a further date if I wanted to. Gigabyte Cloud Software to make easy remote file sharing.
Cons: Only use 4/6 SATA Ports with the M.2 installed - limited to 4 HDD, less than stellar reviews

ASRock Z97 Extreme6/3.1
Pros: 6 HDD WITH Ultra M.2 installed, Dual Ethernet Ports, USB 3.1/C compatible
Cons: Never used AsRock, 4/10 SATA ports are Asrock version that will not work with RAID

Struggle here, I have never used an ASRock board before, doesn't mean that they are bad quality just never had a Gigabyte or Asus fail me. The ASRock seems to offer me a bit more with the dual LAN to possibly set up a Link Aggregation to switch then to main PC. However I was thinking of getting a good quad ethernet port pci card anyways? Haven't looked too much into that part yet, want to the system to function first.

Any advice or words - Signs of Life - would be appreciated. smile.gif
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Not sure why I am still posting here but I found a really good review for several of the more popular z97 boards and wanted to share it.

Tom's Hardware z97 Comparison

I decided to go with the ASRock board (Just not the 3.1 version) for a couple reason -
  1. Dual LAN via Intel/RealTek - Gigabyte used Killer and a i217v that isn't compatible from 2nd post above.
  2. Seems like the most well rounded temperature oriented board. Yes it wasn't the lowest but with only a 5C difference between it and the Asus I don't think it was bad.
  3. Efficiency seemed to be most well rounded. Between being at a pretty good price as well as offering solid performance it is hard to pass up really.

The Gigabyte lost contendership when it had a Killer LAN port and an "Always on" Turbo boost which causes it to run much warmer than the others. Being a 24/7 device it is not the best option.
The Asus was the next best option however at that price I could not justify the 5C lower temp. Was a struggle since it is also more efficient but was also -1.1% in relative average performance.

Thank you @SelecaoNYC for the information in the second post it is much appreciated and has given me a very good resource for information in getting started.
post #8 of 10
Intel has a great dual NIC PCI/PCIe cards if you wind up having a spare slot. You can also grab a PCI RAID controller to allow for more storage since you've had to compromise on the motherboard's SATA port allowance. But you're gonna have to trade X for Y given the max PCI lanes without going up to a server mobo and server CPU.

Would you mind telling what exactly do you plan on doing with this box, why you need two graphics cards and why you're considering doing link agg? Link aggregation would only benefit your LAN users and your switch/router would need to support 802.3. What type of users would require the data flow you desire? I think if you have a router which supports DD-WRT with a broadcom chip, you can link agg ports 3 & 4.

In your initial post you stated "Correct me if I need something more powerful!" but you didn't offer a reason as to why you'd need a more powerful "test and experimental" system.
Edited by SelecaoNYC - 2/4/16 at 2:49pm
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SelecaoNYC View Post

Intel has a great dual NIC PCI/PCIe cards if you wind up having a spare slot. You can also grab a PCI RAID controller to allow for more storage since you've had to compromise on the motherboard's SATA port allowance. But you're gonna have to trade X for Y given the max PCI lanes without going up to a server mobo and server CPU.

Would you mind telling what exactly do you plan on doing with this box, why you need two graphics cards and why you're considering doing link agg? Link aggregation would only benefit your LAN users and your switch/router would need to support 802.3. What type of users would require the data flow you desire? I think if you have a router which supports DD-WRT with a broadcom chip, you can link agg ports 3 & 4.

In your initial post you stated "Correct me if I need something more powerful!" but you didn't offer a reason as to why you'd need a more powerful system.
Yeah and I am ok with doing that sacrifice since this is just me learning how to create a server in WS2012 and if I really dive into then i'll look at getting a more appropriate set up. Just don't want to spend money on something I might not thoroughly get into. Almost finished building my new PC so this is the prebuilt I have been using that I am wanting to turn into a server so my only costs are the motherboard and a better PC cooler so maybe $150 ? I'll make that investment for some knowledge and at least entertainment. redface.gif

Basically I am going to learn how to create a server for this purpose:
Storage host for my main pc with 4 Hard Drives in raid 1.
Accessing video files for playback and video editing from main PC
Set up a remote access capability
Play around with creating a Virtual machine
Potentially host a website from server

I know from a different thread that link aggregation won't help for single file transferring but more a long the lines of multiple files it then would benefit. Hopefully if I can get everything set up and working I will share access to my file hosting to a couple friends in which we will be downloading and loading individual files simultaneously.

I will use it for anything I can think of diving into it. I really don't need a ton of storage which is why I'm going raid 1 with 4x2tb HDD which the SATA on motherboard support. I already have a HP 1920-24G switch that I will use as a median between the server, pc, and router. I have the nighthawk X6 router, not sure if it supports the DD-WRT but I can check into that.

As far as the Graphics cards goes I should have been more specific sorry - I won't use 2, I am just going to use the GT635 in the system until I move my main pc to a pascal, then I will move the 7950 into the server for the virtual machine. I am going to play around with the virtual machine to see if I can get it to work where I can access it from my windows tablet to do some mobile photo editing when I am not near my pc.

Per bolded part, I probably won't need anything more powerful but since I haven't really messed with servers at all other than reading a CCNA book - I just wanted to make sure. smile.gif
post #10 of 10
A Raspberry Pi can be a server. As a matter of fact, I have I Raspberry Pi B+ setup as a torrent seed box and file server. Is it fast...No. Is it a server, YES. Since you seem to be interested in a learning experience, might I suggest looking into RAID5 since you have four 2TB drives.

https://www.synology.com/en-us/support/RAID_calculator

Learning how to deploy and manage a server is really fun. A Dell PERC card could be yours for cheap on eBay and it's a great learning tool. Given the scope of management relative to hardware and software, and how learning to expand a server in production.There is a GREAT thread here on Overclock, regarding RAID hardware:

http://www.overclock.net/t/359025/perc-5-i-raid-card-tips-and-benchmarks/0_100


The Netgear R8000 is compatible with DD-WRT, which means you can play around with 802.3 on ports 3 and 4, as well as your managed switch. Boosh!

You mentioned editing photos and video. Editing batches of photos with Photoshop actions can be very taxing on the RAM, so it editing a single 250MB TIFF. Consider using ONE stick. 8GB is still a lot RAM for a test box. I can run several-busy VMs on a host without breaking 5GB. As I said before, given that you have mismatched RAM, you are setting yourself up for potential headaches when pushing the box to it's limits. BUT, since this is a learing experience, you will encounter plenty of headaches in many areas and *** moments, followed by hours of troubleshooting and then brief moments of clarity.

FWIW, I don't know squat about video cards. Now howz about you gimmie tree-fiddy?
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