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Server hardware or desktop hardware for WHS 2011? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am going to be building a new WHS 2011 machine.  I have been debating on using server grade hardware or desktop grade hardware.  The two platforms I am deciding between are Intel C204 and P67/Z68.  The main advantage I can see going with C204 would be ECC ram while the main advantage of going with a P67/Z68 would be PCIE x16 for a video card.
    Saturday, July 2, 2011 12:07 AM

Answers

  • Sounds good. Your sweet spot for capacity and capability (and willingness to spend to get it all) is clearly a lot different than mine.

    Back to your original post, then, it seems simple: you said the trade was server gear for ECC memory (which absolutely buys you something) vs. desktop gear for video card interface capability (which for WHS I contend buys you nothing). Sounds like it's the server gear for you.

    • Marked as answer by Jer9935 Tuesday, July 12, 2011 10:55 PM
    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 9:06 PM

All replies

  • Desktop hardware for me based on availability and price although no requirement for a fast video card in a server. Driver availability is a more important factor although WHS2011 does not have a problem working with the majority of modern hardware available.
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Saturday, July 2, 2011 12:38 AM
  • I found the price to be close enough so it is not a factor in the decision and the internet makes availability a non issue.  When picking pieces for the build I make sure there are drivers available for server 2011 and as you said WHS2011 doesn't have a problem working on most modern hardware.

    I mainly am looking to know in what areas I would see performance differences and where I would see differences in reliability.  Also would WHS2011 use a powerful video card for anything?

    Saturday, July 2, 2011 12:46 AM
  • I don't think you will notice much if any difference in performance in a home environment. It's not as if you will have all 10 users simultaneously accessing the server. Make sure you have a Gigabit LAN, a CPU to cope with any video transcoding/streaming requirements and 4GB RAM. Much more than that will be overkill.

    I can't think of any application that WHS2011 was designed for which requires a fast video card, or in fact the need for any video card other for the installation and troubleshooting.

     


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    • Proposed as answer by Phil Harrison Saturday, July 9, 2011 11:45 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Jer9935 Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1:08 AM
    Saturday, July 2, 2011 2:57 AM
  • Hi Philip,

    you seem well oriented on the question of video card - you may have thoughts of a concern of mine. As you say, the video card is only necessary for installation and troubleshooting - in fact when you need to go into BIOS. All other occations you want to pull it out to save power. I must have installed and removed my video card dozens of times over the years and have looked for a way to disable/enable it through windows or BIOS. Not found a way yet. Contemplating replacing some HW when moving to WHS 2011 - any clues what MB that will facilitate enable/disable an onboards VGA? I realize that this may be a catch-22. How to get into BIOS to enable the VGA when you have no monitor working? Will probably have to be done after boot with remote desktop.

    Any ideas?

    Finn

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 8:41 AM
  • Hauge48,

    On board video cards use little power and do not need to be turned off when not in use.  All built on video can be disabled in the BIOS when there is a discrete card attached but not in their absence. A discrete video card will draw extra power and if removed will save some extra wattage.  An Intel i5 for example will use about 30 watts at idle with on board video while with a discrete card it will use about 60 watts.  

    To save power I would suggest to use motherboards with built on video cards.  All server grade motherboards have video cards built in and are designed to use little power.  The new consumer grade motherboards with the Sandy Bridge H67 chipset allow the CPU to handle video which will save power.


    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 12:19 PM
  • Agreed - I use onboard video.
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 1:08 PM
  • The main question in this thread is about using C204 vs P67/Z68 with WHS.  Extra information was provided throughout the posts but failed to specifically state examples of the benifits of the two platforms in a WHS 2011 environment.

    After doing more research on my own I have decided to choose a C204 chipset for the added benefit of ECC (stability), lower power draw,  and specifically designed to run 24/7 (stability).  Also it does support PCIE X16 if needed.

    As far as performance in a home or enterprise environment there are to many other hardware details that are still variables so there is not a clear cut winner.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1:08 AM
  • OK, let's get back to your topic.

    Can you cite some motherboards you are considering? (Not seeing any MiniITX C204 boards.) I'm pondering building a new WHS11 machine but best combos for my requirements don't seem to include C204 platforms. (My requirements, simply put, WHS-appropriate performance--let's be honest, that's a fairly low barrier; we're not running Google here--at lowest reasonable price and small form factor/low power consumption.) I get to a MiniITX Q67 card: Intel DQ67EPB3 running an 35W TDP i3 2100T CPU and 8GB of PC3-10666. I can't see a case for a P67 and definitely not the Z68 unless dissipating money building and running it is a key requirement or you want to spin 20+TB or something else that is on the far fringe of "home server".

    Sure, I'd like ECC and would gladly pay maybe a 20% premium for the memory (there aren't 20% more bits being stored) and something extra for the mobo but I just don't see a way to get there. I'm seeing memory price almost 2x for ECC. And with most of the video hardware in the 35W CPU, I'm not seeing the power advantage you see--especialy compared to the almost 2x$ 80W Xeon E3 CPUs. I'm also seeing the entry point for C204 boards at 50% or so more than the (relatively pricey at that) Intel board. I've run my AMD690/BE-2350 (45W) 2GB system 24x7 since fall of 2007 with no problem traceable to an upset bit, once I found and fixed an initially flaky Mushkin DIMM. Is ECC better? Sure. But no ECC seems Good Enough. I don't think it's Blue Screened more than two or three times over the almost four years. Could those have all been because of upset memory bits? Maybe. Not likely.

    I suspect I'd be hard pressed to see a performance difference in day-to-day use of the server between the $260 Q67/2100T and a $90 NM10/Atom D525 CPU+Mobo combo. But the latter are just too limited in growth capability for memory and SATA channels for my tastes. As noted, I suspect if nobody told me my server was running the NM10/D525, the only way I'd be able to tell is the lower power bills.

    Are the "server" boards better suited for 24x7 use? What is the basis for that? How many of the home-built WHS users here have run basic desktop mobos 24x7 since 2007 without a problem? Lots of us.

    How much storage are you planning to spin with this? I'm considering 2x 3TB Hitachi 5400 rpm drives and a 2.5" 500GB Seagate Momentus XT for the OS.

    Finally, is this for home or business?


    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 4:53 AM
  • Video transcoding might also be a deal breaker for a D525--anybody out there in forum-reader-land with any experience?
    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 5:14 AM
  • For HD transcoding you need a processor WEI score of 6.0 or higher.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1:33 PM
    Moderator
  • For HD transcoding you need a processor WEI score of 6.0 or higher.

    Anybody got a D525 they can give a WEI processor score report on? If so, please also report memory qty.

    I'm doubting there is any US market for an OEM-built WHS11 machine with more sunk in the BoM than a D525. (If any US OEMs think there is a market for one at all, that is.)

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 2:52 PM
  • OK, let's get back to your topic.

    Can you cite some motherboards you are considering? (Not seeing any MiniITX C204 boards.) I'm pondering building a new WHS11 machine but best combos for my requirements don't seem to include C204 platforms. (My requirements, simply put, WHS-appropriate performance--let's be honest, that's a fairly low barrier; we're not running Google here--at lowest reasonable price and small form factor/low power consumption.) I get to a MiniITX Q67 card: Intel DQ67EPB3 running an 35W TDP i3 2100T CPU and 8GB of PC3-10666. I can't see a case for a P67 and definitely not the Z68 unless dissipating money building and running it is a key requirement or you want to spin 20+TB or something else that is on the far fringe of "home server".

    Sure, I'd like ECC and would gladly pay maybe a 20% premium for the memory (there aren't 20% more bits being stored) and something extra for the mobo but I just don't see a way to get there. I'm seeing memory price almost 2x for ECC. And with most of the video hardware in the 35W CPU, I'm not seeing the power advantage you see--especialy compared to the almost 2x$ 80W Xeon E3 CPUs. I'm also seeing the entry point for C204 boards at 50% or so more than the (relatively pricey at that) Intel board. I've run my AMD690/BE-2350 (45W) 2GB system 24x7 since fall of 2007 with no problem traceable to an upset bit, once I found and fixed an initially flaky Mushkin DIMM. Is ECC better? Sure. But no ECC seems Good Enough. I don't think it's Blue Screened more than two or three times over the almost four years. Could those have all been because of upset memory bits? Maybe. Not likely.

    I suspect I'd be hard pressed to see a performance difference in day-to-day use of the server between the $260 Q67/2100T and a $90 NM10/Atom D525 CPU+Mobo combo. But the latter are just too limited in growth capability for memory and SATA channels for my tastes. As noted, I suspect if nobody told me my server was running the NM10/D525, the only way I'd be able to tell is the lower power bills.

    Are the "server" boards better suited for 24x7 use? What is the basis for that? How many of the home-built WHS users here have run basic desktop mobos 24x7 since 2007 without a problem? Lots of us.

    How much storage are you planning to spin with this? I'm considering 2x 3TB Hitachi 5400 rpm drives and a 2.5" 500GB Seagate Momentus XT for the OS.

    Finally, is this for home or business?


     

    I am not looking for any type of mini boards, full ATX is preferred as case space is not limited.  Also room to grow is a very important factor. The board will be put into a 4U rack mount with 20 hot swappable bays partly filled by 11 Seagate ES drives in different sizes with room to add more.

    The power consumption between the Xeon E3-12XX Series and i5/i7 are comparable.  TDP does not accurately show a CPU's power usage, bench marks have shown 30-40 minimum watts and 110-120 max watts for both types depending on the clock speeds.  While running an Atom CPU may use slightly less power the limited growth is a deal breaker.

    Also the cost of the hardware has not been mentioned in this post because everyone's financial situation is different, this is more about the hardware itself not about how much it costs.

    While lots of people including myself run desktops 24x7 with little to no problems it does not mean there are not better ways to build a WHS. A server board for me mainly allows the use of ECC ram which is proven to provide better reliability.  This will be used in a home environment so anything extra that can be done to improve reliability allows me to spend more time living and less time fixing.

     

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 8:38 PM
  • Sounds good. Your sweet spot for capacity and capability (and willingness to spend to get it all) is clearly a lot different than mine.

    Back to your original post, then, it seems simple: you said the trade was server gear for ECC memory (which absolutely buys you something) vs. desktop gear for video card interface capability (which for WHS I contend buys you nothing). Sounds like it's the server gear for you.

    • Marked as answer by Jer9935 Tuesday, July 12, 2011 10:55 PM
    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 9:06 PM
  • It's an Atom processor, Dick. WEI processor score is probably going to be fairly low. Look at a Sandy Bridge processor instead.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:39 PM
    Moderator
  • I suspect you are right but don't have the data to prove it. I also suspect this says no OEM WHS machine will be able to make use of the HD transcoding capability of the OS.
    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:13 AM
  • Say "No inexpensive OEM Windows Home Server 2011 machine" and I'll agree. :)
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:30 AM
    Moderator
  • I'll say that. But I'll also say an expensive OEM WHS11 machine is DoA in the marketplace that is now all about "Post PC", tablets, smartphones, and the cloud.

    Oh, and I should add, about "I'll put up with any amount of advertising to get something for 'free.'"

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 3:10 AM
  • Heh. Windows Home Server is a niche product. Expensive servers will find (are finding/have found) their way into a lot of homes that might surprise you. I'm pretty sure that V1 sold better than it might have otherwise because small businesses see it as a cheap backup and file sharing solution (which it is), but I know a reasonable number of high-end homes which have Windows Home Server as part of the entertainment network.

    As for the advertising, I will pay for a premium service without ads if I actually get a premium service. If I get the same service, just with the ads scrubbed off, I'm less likely to pay...


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:21 PM
    Moderator