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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to build a new server since my old one has been very full for a while and the cpu/motherboard part of the build is proving to be more of a challenge to find something reasonable than the last time I did this so I was wondering if you guys had recommendations for that in particular, but also for other parts of it.

The plan is to have an array of 8 high capacity drives in ZFS on FreeBSD + 2 ssd, one for cache(either automatic with zfs, gotta look more into it or just manual where high demand file go first and get moved to the array later) and one for the OS. Looking into 16 or 18TB seagate EXOS drives but it's scary moving away from WD drives which I have had incredibly good experiences with.

The case will most likely be a Rosewill RSV-L4500U since I want one with 120mm fans and I have the L4500 right now which I really like(once I've replaced the cheap fans which at least half died). Something with at least 18 bays would have been better in case I ever want to double the array capacity but I haven't seen one at a reasonable price anywhere.

The drives will most likely be plugged into a used LSI 9207-8i chip card which is also what I have in my old server(great card, never had any issues) and are much cheaper now.

Not sure what to get yet for a PSU, there's not a ton of them that have the fan at the back which I need for a 4U case if I want to be able to close it. I've had an Athena Power Zippy HG2-6400P 400W in the old server for 9 years with no issues so might look into something similar. Something gold rated would be nicer but I don't think I've ever seen one, especially not available in canada which makes things harder to find and more expensive a lot of the time.

For the cpu and motherboard, I still have no idea what to get. I'd prefer server hardware and something not more than 2-3 years old but looking at the options, it seems to be much more costly than back in the day and 1k+ just for a cpu is about twice the max I'd like to pay(even though I do have a 1k cpu in my gaming rig...).

My current cpu is an Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) which is mostly doing a great job, but is a little slow when it needs to transcode more than 1 video and I want to avoid using hardware encoding with a gpu so a beefier cpu with at least 8c 16t and decent speed would be nice.

As for the motherboard, I'd like something with 2 nic onboard to do LAGG since I want to have 1 available nic to be able to still do network stuff if I'm saturating one with data transfers which is how my current server is set up and I'd prefer not to have to use a pci-e card for it.

For the ram, not too sure what the recommended amount would be for an array of this size with ZFS. I have 32GB in my current one with about a 4th of the capacity(~24TB) and no issues so 128GB would likely be good enough but I might try to get away with just 64 or double it(but really doubt it), depending on the price and I'd prefer to use ECC RAM.

I like to mess around trying new stuff so my old server has more than 12 services running on it in addition to being media storage and having the room to mess with virtualization a bit would be great but that might not be reasonable at current prices. I'm certainly not looking for the cheapest thing I can get or I'd just buy a used server and tweak it but I also don't want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on this since the storage will already be quite pricey.

If you have any good tips or recommendations, I'd love to hear it.
 

· AMD OC'ing Enthusiast
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check on ebay for "hp z440"

These are prebuilt servers based around X99

Sometimes you can swing a heck of a good deal and get a 10core Xeon, 4 sticks of 2133 ECC ram, motherboard, and powersupply all included for $250

Others are the bare bones system with power supply for $100 where you need to figure out your own ram, cpu, and storage. Still a good deal sicne you can find the 10 core chips (like E5 2660 V3) or if you need more ram speed, something like a E5 based V4 quadcore that can be found for $20 sometimes. I forget the model number, but the V4 on the end indicates the movement to 2400 ram standard, where V3's are 2133.

Definitely a cheap server style route to take with plenty of hardware support. Plenty of chip options, even as far as 22 core if you ever come across a good deal on one. The sweet spot would be a 12-14 core V4 xeon with a turbo of 3.5-3.7 and a base all core of around 2.0 to 2.4ghz. Plenty of snort for anything you want to broadcast form your server, yet still has a TON of power saving features to make it nearly invisible on your power bill if you do not use it much.

Ive ran my E5 1660 V3 all over the place, from 2ghz all core saving power, all the way up to 4.6 all core, and Ive settled on 4.0-4.2ghz at a reasonably small jump in voltage over stock. It is overclockable, but consumer X99 boards are still quite spendy at times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sure, there are good deals if you go back that far and they are very good chips but 8 or 9 gen back is a bit further than I would like to go since it's almost as old as my old server and if a component breaks in a few years, I'd like to be able to easily find something to replace it which is going to be harder and harder as time goes by if I get something that old and I plan to keep the server running for a long time.

Prebuilt can also have issue with proprietary stuff so it's harder to mix and match parts so I'd rather avoid that route(and shipping + duty to canada since most are in the US makes the price go up quite a bit), especially since I don't want something that sounds like an airplane taking off when it starts so I wouldn't use the case anyway.

If I can't find anything newer that's more reasonable I might have to go that route but I'd rather avoid it. If I wanted the cheapest thing possible, I'd just do a cluster to expend the storage of my current server which is still working fine.
I don't want to spend an arm and a leg but I don't mind spending some on it so a middle ground would be better. Thanks for the suggestions though.
 

· 46 Cans of Ravioli
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...what's the most intensive thing it'll be used for? if it's just a NAS then you don't need much, especially if it's just for data archives/backups or it'll only have <3 people accessing it simultaneously.

I was running a G5500 in my NAS before I eventually moved it to home server duty and it was plenty, even for 10 GbE and two Hyper-V machines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Video transcoding is by far the most intensive thing it'll be used for. My current one is fine for 1 at a time and seemed ok with a second one the 1 time I tested it, at least with a low bitrate video, but I'll have to rely about it more in the future and for higher bitrate stuff so I'd like to have some headroom. And I insist on using software encoding so relegating it to a GPU is out of the question, even if it would make me get away with a weaker cpu.

I also like to mess around with stuff so who knows what I might get it to do in the future if I find something cool to try, hence why I'd prefer something on the more powerful side, without going crazy.

There are some 8 core xeon from the gen of the G5500 that sell for 1.5k CAD on ebay(just picked one at random near the end of the list) which is why I'm having such a hard time finding something. Even for something discontinued there's stuff for crazy prices so it's hard to find one with decent performance for a price that makes sense comparing to what's available brand new.
 

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Even at 2.0Ghz and 2133 CL19 ram, the X99 era of chips can handle just about any media consumption.

No idea about encoding or similar.

I know my personal collection of X99 chips (2011-3) have not had any troubles doing anything, whether its playing a game alongside recording a stream at 4k, viewing blueray media at full 4k 60fps while having my live desktoip wallpapers going on 3 monitors, or even during file decompression (such as some of my game backups that can be as much as 10k files tossed into a 60gig 7zip)


Id say, figure out teh raw performance you actually need, double it, and go from there.

X99 is far cheaper than X299 for a platform, and still has plenty of parts to grab. Best of all, most workstations (such as that Z440 stuff I mentioned) are server grade to an extent, and have very good quality components.

EDIT my E5 1660 V3 overclocked to 4.2GHz currently, 3200MHz cache, and 2666 ram at CL18 (ECC) pulls over 60gigs per second memory bandwidth, as measured from Aida64. That should be plenty of raw bandwidth for your needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
There's plenty of parts available now but that number is going to decrease every year and if I need a new motherboard in 5 years or so like I did for my old server(couldn't even find exactly the replacement I wanted either for it and I bought the cpu new back then), then it might become an issue with such old parts which is why I'd prefer something as recent as possible.

Encoding requirements can vary a lot depending on what you're trying to do(the 5950x in my main rig can barely do faster than real time encoding with some very demanding deinterlacing) so the plan is to get the best cpu I can for a reasonable price(roughly max 500$ CAD).

You don't need much for media serving, storage and a few services running, even my old server is barely breaking a sweat for that, but if you start adding a couple VMs and a few transcodes, then things change.

The issue is that there are so many cpu models and the prices are all over the place even going back 4-5 gens so it's hard to find the right one. Last time I got a brand new one for about 235$ but now I either find something super expensive or really cheap but not quite as powerful as I'd like, not many middle ground ones so far.
 

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What software are you using to transcode? FWIW, your requirements don't seem too bad to surpass if it really is just NAS+transcoding (assuming you can get by using an Quicksync [or an nV card]).

My nas/plex server runs on a J5005 (UHD 605) and has no problem transcoding a single 4K stream (it can't do HDR to SDR tonemapping, though) and it can do multiple 1080p streams no problem. Even had it wired for 10GbE and a few sata SSDs, but I figured I'd rather have all my HDDs attached to it and use a different PC for the SSDs.


Nevermind, I can't read. Didn't see that you said you don't want to use hardware transcoding.

If you really don't want to GPU transcode, I'd probably look at X299 for what it is worth (I personally think it would be worth the premium over X99). Only problem is that it sucks power down like nobody's business. Personally, I find on-the-fly transcoding to be too much of a pain to do with software, so I downgraded my server to the J5005 to save on power usage and physical space.
 
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· 46 Cans of Ravioli
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Video transcoding is by far the most intensive thing it'll be used for. My current one is fine for 1 at a time and seemed ok with a second one the 1 time I tested it, at least with a low bitrate video, but I'll have to rely about it more in the future and for higher bitrate stuff so I'd like to have some headroom. And I insist on using software encoding so relegating it to a GPU is out of the question, even if it would make me get away with a weaker cpu.

I also like to mess around with stuff so who knows what I might get it to do in the future if I find something cool to try, hence why I'd prefer something on the more powerful side, without going crazy.

There are some 8 core xeon from the gen of the G5500 that sell for 1.5k CAD on ebay(just picked one at random near the end of the list) which is why I'm having such a hard time finding something. Even for something discontinued there's stuff for crazy prices so it's hard to find one with decent performance for a price that makes sense comparing to what's available brand new.
1st gen Threadripper? new prices are wonky but you can snag a 16-core 1950X 2nd hand on eBay (or /r/hardwareswap but they don't pop up often) for <$300. motherboards are a bit trickier but you can buy something new for ~$300. ASRock X399 Phantom has dual NIC and is $339, and here's a 1950X auction at $179 with 4 days left on eBay.

if you drop the dual NIC requirement (X540 instead?) you could go 2066, motherboards are cheaper on 2066 than TR. you can snag a 2066 motherboard for <$200 new.

 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you really don't want to GPU transcode, I'd probably look at X299 for what it is worth (I personally think it would be worth the premium over X99). Only problem is that it sucks power down like nobody's business. Personally, I find on-the-fly transcoding to be too much of a pain to do with software, so I downgraded my server to the J5005 to save on power usage and physical space.
I'll take a closer look once I get back from work. Power is cheap in canada so not super worried about it.

1st gen Threadripper? new prices are wonky but you can snag a 16-core 1950X 2nd hand on eBay (or /r/hardwareswap but they don't pop up often) for <$300. motherboards are a bit trickier but you can buy something new for ~$300. ASRock X399 Phantom has dual NIC and is $339, and here's a 1950X auction at $179 with 4 days left on eBay.

if you drop the dual NIC requirement (X540 instead?) you could go 2066, motherboards are cheaper on 2066 than TR. you can snag a 2066 motherboard for <$200 new.

Does seem pretty good, but now I'm wondering if I'd be able to cool properly it in a 4U case, lol. gonna look into it a bit more too.


Thanks for the suggestions, narrows things down to find something reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The more I look into it, the more intel prices seem to be all over the place. Some cpu are 3 times the msrp price and others are half of it so it's really hard to find something good.

The threadripper sounds pretty good though, especially the 1920x which can be had for 200$ CAD which is hard to beat for a 12 core. Not sure if it's a scam at that price but chinese seem to have quite a few of them.
 
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