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Topic # 110132 3-Oct-2012 16:48 Send private message

I have a media server at home (A Dell Zino) with 2TB of storage that is going to run out soon, so I have started considering my options.

I have thought about getting a NAS (Maybe a Synology), but at the same time I am just thinking maybe I should build up a server in a tower case as that will give me some greater flexibility. I would be good to be able to run something and spin up virtual machines so I can run some (non-critical) stuff at home, as well as do some experimenting.

Given that RAM and disk is fairly cheap, I really need a decent MB and chip that will cope with a few VMs. Can anyone make any suggestions as to what would be a good platform for this. I haven't really done much with virtuals so not sure what kind of CPU is best suited to the job.

Ideally, I would like to spend >$500 for chip+MB, but if that isn't realistic I would like to know what my options are. It doesn't need to run 50 VMs, be able to support lots of users or be commercial production grade, it's really just a something for me to run at home.

Any advice, suggestions, discussion etc welcome.

Possible uses:
Asterisk server (at least to play with and further my Asterisk knowledge)
SAMBA server for my network storage (With the ability to add more disk in future to a RAID array)
Plex/SickBeard/Qouch/sabNZBD server (currently all run on the Dell Zino along with IIS reverse proxy and the Plex frontend - would like to reduce this box to simply the Plex frontend)
Possibly a couple of other linux based servers, nothing particularly resource intensive (maybe a web server for testing, DNS server etc).




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  Reply # 696305 4-Oct-2012 17:58 Send private message

No one?




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  Reply # 696306 4-Oct-2012 18:01 Send private message

I went from server box to NAS solution at home. Smaller, a lot less power hungry, no worries about upgrades, etc, etc, etc...




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  Reply # 696307 4-Oct-2012 18:02 Send private message

Depends how "virtual" you want to be.  Probably chroot will be enough to run web servers, etc, unless you want to play around with VMs.

Lots of RAM and a good fast disk subsystem are probably the key things.  Quad core processor definitely an advantage.

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  Reply # 696309 4-Oct-2012 18:04 Send private message

The Netgear ReadyNAS devices can do most of the things you listed. But if you're looking for a machine that can run a bunch of VMs, just buy the best i7 processor you can afford, a compatible motherboard, and as much RAM as you can afford - it's really hard to go wrong. Using Hyper-V server is easier than VMware as the hardware requirements are a lot more relaxed.

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  Reply # 696342 4-Oct-2012 19:17 Send private message

Take a lot at IBM x3100 Server or HP Microserver

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  Reply # 696365 4-Oct-2012 19:50 Send private message

http://www.itexpress.co.nz/epages/shop.sf/?ObjectPath=/Shops/itexpress/Products/QZ160A

HP microserver for $377... you'll need to provide the HDDs and more RAM but I'm still soooo tempted by this for pretty similar uses as you.



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  Reply # 696412 4-Oct-2012 20:52 Send private message

sidefx: http://www.itexpress.co.nz/epages/shop.sf/?ObjectPath=/Shops/itexpress/Products/QZ160A

HP microserver for $377... you'll need to provide the HDDs and more RAM but I'm still soooo tempted by this for pretty similar uses as you.



Hmmm, with only a 1.5ghz processor tho, I suspect it might struggle with a couple of VMs




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  Reply # 696468 4-Oct-2012 22:04 Send private message

A couple of people on these forums run multiple VMs on them successfully I think.

e.g. http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=50&topicid=95517#565472

None of your proposed VMs look too demanding either. And they're really nice small form factor, low power and very quiet.



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  Reply # 696471 4-Oct-2012 22:09 Send private message

One thing I would possible like it to do is transcode video. Eg. Take a 720p H.264 video and recode it on the fly for streaming to, say, my iPad.

Assume this is going to need significantly more grunt?




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  Reply # 696476 4-Oct-2012 22:15 Send private message

ajobbins: One thing I would possible like it to do is transcode video. Eg. Take a 720p H.264 video and recode it on the fly for streaming to, say, my iPad.

Assume this is going to need significantly more grunt?


Well, I haven't got first hand experience but from the link above:

 michaelmurfy:
Mine can also transcode 1080p video for streaming over DLNA to my devices which is a huge bonus.



EDIT: looks like there are also a couple of big threads covering it at avforums:

EDIT2: actually reading further on in the thread below it appears he wasn't transcoding :-/ Yeah looks like you would need more grunt to transcode.

http://www.avforums.com/forums/networking-nas/1586179-hp-proliant-microserver-n40l-owners-thread-part-2-a-2.html



Originally Posted by DazoTranscoding on the fly unsupported mkv's to sony TV.
720p MKV - 5-10% CPU usage
1080p MKV - 10-20% CPU usage

streaming to WDTV, Boxee Box, Sony TV and Sonos Music system simultaneously.

720p mkv - 30-50%
1080p mkv 50-70%

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  Reply # 696483 4-Oct-2012 22:24 Send private message

ajobbins: One thing I would possible like it to do is transcode video. Eg. Take a 720p H.264 video and recode it on the fly for streaming to, say, my iPad.

Assume this is going to need significantly more grunt?


Like the post that was linked before I have found it to be pretty-much no problems, except I am using Raspberry Pi's on the network though.

My Microserver is currently running 4x VM's (2x Debian VM's, 1x Server 2008 Enterprise and 1x Ubuntu acting as our router for the whole network)

It's load average is about 20% at the best of times and there is a heap of traffic feeding through it.

I would say that it shouldn't have too much problems transcoding video over DLNA since I used to with Serviio + DLNA to about 3 different devices streaming 1080p MKV's - I found that if all 3 devices were streaming then the server bogs a wee bit, but streaming to 2 devices was normally no problems (1x Sony TV, 1x Panasonic NeoPlasma and 1x Xbox 360)

At the end of the day it's totally up to you for what you want to go towards, I have found great value in the Microserver with 2x nics, it's my central hub for everything and still has room to grow (I can easily provision more VM's to it for those in the flat who needs them) - it really depends what you're wanting to do, for what you've said above I think the Microserver would be perfect and is a small low-powered quiet running box, with 4x hard drive bays (yeah they're not hot-swappable but meh) and the amount of USB ports it has it's very good value as a home server.

Hope this helps :)




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  Reply # 696484 4-Oct-2012 22:25 Send private message

The bottleneck in a VM environment prob won't be the processor, more like the Ram and the HD. I have 5 virtual machines running 24/7 at home on hyper v. The biggest improvement I got was moving the vms to an ssd. Unless you are running anything processor intensive I would spend less on CPU and more on ram and an ssd. Just make sure the processor you get supports virtualisation.

Windows 8 includes hyper v or VMware workstation is good as well, I use this at the office.




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  Reply # 696492 4-Oct-2012 22:30 Send private message

Found this further on in the avforums about the microserver. Depends if what you want is real transcoding or just muxing.



Originally Posted by turnright
Does anyone use the n40l for transcoding video? I tried transcoding a 1 hour video yesterday. It pegged the two cores at 100% CPU usage for about two hours. Processor temps capped off at about 47 degrees Celsius. Does that sound reasonable or am I going to kill this machine?

Assuming you haven't altered the cooling, I doubt you will ever kill the machine. Can you wait for the transcode though?? My aging quad core Q6600 takes about 6 hours for a 1080p Blu rip encode, I dread to think how long the N40L would take!!


It still looks like a great little system; I'm definitely very very tempted TBH after skimming through a bit more in that thread.

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  Reply # 696496 4-Oct-2012 22:32 Send private message

sidefx: Found this further on in the avforums about the microserver. Depends if what you want is real transcoding or just muxing.



Originally Posted by turnright
Does anyone use the n40l for transcoding video? I tried transcoding a 1 hour video yesterday. It pegged the two cores at 100% CPU usage for about two hours. Processor temps capped off at about 47 degrees Celsius. Does that sound reasonable or am I going to kill this machine?

Assuming you haven't altered the cooling, I doubt you will ever kill the machine. Can you wait for the transcode though?? My aging quad core Q6600 takes about 6 hours for a 1080p Blu rip encode, I dread to think how long the N40L would take!!


It still looks like a great little system; I'm definitely very very tempted TBH after skimming through a bit more in that thread.


Why are you still in the "Tempted" stage? Just do it! lol




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  Reply # 696503 4-Oct-2012 22:36 Send private message

michaelmurfy: 
Why are you still in the "Tempted" stage? Just do it! lol


Hah, ok poor choice of words;  I'm actually in the "want-it-now-but-3-kids-means-the-budget-doesn't-stretch-as-far-as-it-used-to" stage! Laughing

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