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What is the ideal mobo for WHS? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I assume that you would want a mobo with onboard SATA, Firewire, lots of USB ports, basic onboard video and gigabit ethernet.  What else what the optimal mobo have? A second ethernet port?  Would it make sense for micro ATX or does that matter if you would want a case that could hold at least 4 and maybe more hard drives.  Would you want a low power consumption config since it will be on 24/7 and you would want it to run as long as possible from a UPS?

    Does it halpe performance to have any more than the minimum 512 MB of RAM?

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 6:30 PM

All replies

  • I'm not sure if what I have is the ideal motherboard but it works really well for me and its cheap to put together

    soyo P4S Dragon (Intel P-4) 1.7Ghz (part number SY-P4S Dragon)
    this MB has 4 Ide channels so you can hook up 8 IDE drives or a hardware raid (0,1,5,0+1)
    its cheap to get and the processors are cheap as well
    (my 1.7 is over kill for what i use it for Backups and file storage)
    hope this helps
    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 7:48 PM
  • I think that providing that the new specs are above the system requirements in the documentation for WHS that you can't go far wrong.

     

    I had an old Dell Optiplex system that i bought for about £100 to use as a server.  I have then added several hard drives and expanded the ram from 256 to 1GB and the processor is a 2.4 which came with it.

     

    I put 2 250GB IDE drives into it and then added a further 2 250GB Sata drives that i had lying around via a Sata PCI card which does the job brilliantly.  I chose the dell system purely because it was a low power pc and also that Dell somehow manage to make the quitest pc's ever, so you will never know when it is on unless you check the led on the front, ( i have to do this so much just to make sure as i cant hear it!!....lol)

     

     

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 8:03 PM
  • I think the question that needs to be asked is what are you looking to do with WHS?  If you intend to use it for what it is designed to do - then any bargain mobo that meets minimum requirements would do.  If you would want to play with it, by installing other services, apps, etc. - get one that will meet your requirements.

    As for features, again - what do you plan on putting in there?  if you have plenty of internal hard drives laying around - get one with plenty of onboard ports.  If you want to daisy chain a flock of external HDs - get one with plenty of USB ports.

    Either way, I think if you'd post this question on the Hardware forum, you'd probably get much better responses anyway.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 8:10 PM
  • Tobster ... I did the same thing.  Picked up a old Optiplex desktop box off ebay threw a gx260 mb in it and grabed a p4 1.6 cpu off an even older mb.  I'm with you in that I like Dell Optiplex systems because they are so quiet and there ps are fairly robust for low power unit.
    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 8:11 PM
  • I am currently using an Opitplex GX-240 that has a 512 MB of RAM and a 1.8 GHz Pentium.  The downside is that I believe it uses RD-RAM memory so if it makes sense to have more than 512 MB of memory then you have to pay for the nose for the memory.  Other downsides to this machine are that it has neither USB 2.0 nor SATA on the mobo.  Therefore if you are going to buy: 1. RD-RAM 2. a PCI SATA board and 3. a USB 2.0 board then you might be better off buying a new mobo, CPU and 1GB memory which could probably be bought for less than $200 - not much more than the 3 components listed above.
    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 9:07 PM
  •  

    Sorry for the cross post but I posted this in the software forum and it was suggested that I post here. 

     

    What is the ideal mobo for WHS?  I assume that you would want a mobo with onboard SATA, Firewire, lots of USB ports, basic onboard video and gigabit ethernet.  What else what the optimal mobo have? A second ethernet port?  Would it make sense for micro ATX or does that matter if you would want a case that could hold at least 4 and maybe more hard drives.  Would you want a low power consumption config since it will be on 24/7 and you would want it to run as long as possible from a UPS?

    Does it help performance to have any more than the minimum 512 MB of RAM?

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 9:13 PM
  • I agree with you on the cost of RDRAM and upgrades vs. new setup.  512 MB of RAM is enough though - you will not see the difference in upgrading if you just use WHS for what it's meant to be used.  The big question is storage.  The fact that your rig does not have SATA or USB 2.0 might be problematic if you want to keep hanging drives off it.  See how much storage you need.  Might want to start out with your current config and move up later on.
    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 9:19 PM
  • You could always do what i did and add a PCI sata controller board and then plug the sata drives into that.  Works well for me and saved spending more money on a board and cpu and ram whan i had it all already.  I think the card cost about £20, so a cheap easy solution.
    Wednesday, May 2, 2007 8:50 AM
  • @Tobster and Kanebrake:

     

    While there is nothing wrong with an Optiplex I don't believe those machines have SATA nor do they have firewire.  They only have 100mbps ethernet. They also may not have USB 2.0.  Wouldn't you want all of those features in a WHS box if you were setting one up?   You should be able to get pretty much all of that in a barebones new PC for under $200.

     

    Certainly I would think that SATA is a necessity if you have lots of stuff to back up, as I do, as it is harder to find large IDE hard drives (>400GB) and that will likely get worse in the future as IDE becomes less common.  And wouldn't you want to move towards gigabit ethernet, particularly on the server?

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007 2:48 PM
  • Sorry Wayne but your wrong.  The gx260 has on the mb a 1gigbit nic (Intel) and has usb 2.0 on board.  The gx270 has the same but also includes a sata interface along with the ide.

    I'm running WHS on the gx260 mb w 1 gig ddr ram.  I'm running a gx270 box with 2gig of ddr pc3200 ram and Vista business edition. 

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007 3:29 PM
  • Sorry - I didn't know the GX260 had Gigabit.  I guess the only thing the 260 is missing is the SATA.  I have a spare GX260 sitting around that I was going to use as a workstation PC to upgrade the PC my wife is using.  For WHS I have a GX240 but I may buy new hardware when I move to my permanent WHS box.
    Wednesday, May 2, 2007 5:10 PM
  • No problem.  Another thing you have to be careful about are the capacitors on the GX270 board.  I look for ones that have been refurbished.  I believe Dell had a recall on some of these boards.  Maybe someone will stop by and shed more light on this.
    Wednesday, May 2, 2007 5:27 PM
  • The problem with the GX270's was the CPU temp thermister.  They were faulty and reporting a thermal event and shutting down the PC's.  We had about 300 of these go bad and needed the motherboard replaced.

     

     

    Wednesday, May 2, 2007 9:04 PM
  • I've thought about this myself and have come to the conclusion that I am better off buying slightly newer technology that is heavily discounted and going from there. Along with some used SATA cards from Ebay or craigslist. As an example: I bought a 3ware 8 port SATA card for $150 that works great. It is supporting 4 500GB drives set in a RAID5 configuration as a media server. I may add more drives later, but have to keep in mind the cards limitations.

     

    I'm also thinking that the dual cores would be cheaper in the long run because the power necessary to run them is lessened. Less power for CPU means smaller PSU and therefore cheaper overall cost of operation. By going with the lower level of the dual cores, the CPU prices aren't very expensive and the RAM is just as cheap and sometimes cheaper than the older RAM. 

     

    I think that Gigabit ethernet, SATA ports, USB 2.0 and Firewire should be sought after for any MB that might be used for WHS duty.

    Thursday, May 3, 2007 5:41 AM
  • I have replaced several of the GX270 motherboards with a bank of  capacitors behind the processor blown and leaking from the top. It is related the the thermister not properly regulating the temp and allowing high cpu temp which in turn blows out the capacitors. I have even had this happen on some refurbished motherboards and had to replace the motherboards on some systems 2 or three times. Another option is to look at the entry level Dell smallbusiness servers (SC400 series) which are less than $500.00 and have onboard SATA,IDE,USB and gigabit network adapters.
    Sunday, May 6, 2007 5:52 PM
  • One item that doesn't come up as much as it should is power efficiency. While certainly it is often easier or cheaper up front to build up something from parts either laying around or found cheaply on e-bay, it's easy these days to be penny-wise and pound foolish due to the enormous difference in power consumption for modern systems and CPU's vs. ones just 12-18 months old. A quick calculation at my current rate for electricity ($.16 per kw/hr) yields about $140/year for a 100w device. So if you can cut your usage by 100w (easy for a Core2 or current AMD vs. older), you will save $420 in electricity over a 3 yr period for a 24/7 device. If people understood this, the value of older computers for this type of always on application would plummet to near zero.
    Tuesday, May 8, 2007 9:30 PM
  • I'm running an Intel entry level server board (. It has a 64bit 133Mhz PCI slot as well as a 4x PCIe slot, so I'm set for RAID controller support. It'll take pretty much any Socekt 775 CPU. I'm running an elcheapo rocketraid SATA raid controller. The only bummer is I got a cheap dual core pentium D in there that sucks the power.

     

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121058

     

    When I rebuild and go for insane storage I'll move it all into a rackmount case, add an Areca or other robust controller (oinline array expansion FTW) and put in a CPU with a bit lower power consumption.

     

    Another option is to go exterme low power and use a Via mini-itx box. I got one of mine running WHS, which had every driver on the install disc. PIck one with PCI and get a decent PCI RAID controller and a big enough case... you'd be running pretty well power wise.

     

     

    Saturday, May 12, 2007 4:26 AM
  • just to second that just about all gx 270 boards have bad caps so get a refurb one off ebay
    Wednesday, May 16, 2007 1:20 AM
  • I used a gigabyte bord Nforce2 with an AMD xp3200+ and and ATI 9500pro. It overkill but I have the system. Nforce2 was not driver supported like the vga card was not. with xp drivers it now works fine.

     

    But I do go back to an Asus P2B-DS with two PIII-450 and 1 gb ram. The system should to the trick aswell. The I can attach also my tape streamer on the S-connector. Why do I see so many users with a high end machine from two years ago. On old machine as a backup server with 200gb is fast enough I think. What do others think?

    Friday, May 25, 2007 7:55 PM
  • For me the ideal motherboard for a compact system would be the Albatron KI51PV-754. This is a mini-ITX board with 4 SATA ports, 8 USB ports, and 2 Ethernet ports (1 of them is Gigabit).

    Monday, May 28, 2007 4:26 AM
  • I've been thinking about this Shuttle barebone nanoBTX system from Directron for $119, pairing it with an Athlon 64 X2 3600+.  Should run nice and cool.  It has room for up to five HDDs if you count the 5.25" and floppy slots.
    Sunday, June 3, 2007 5:51 AM
  • If you are just playing with WHS for yourself, then recycling what is on hand may make the most sense. And you can "enjoy" the grief of reinstalling on yet another MB as often as you like, or when you get bored.

     

    At a Microsoft & AMD seminar for system integrators earlier this week, it was made VERY CLEAR that if one is targeting selling these to end customers as soon as WHS is released, one MUST select 64 bit OS compatible components, because the very next major release of the product will be 64 bit ONLY, and you don't want to have to tell a customer the box you recently sold him can't be upgraded!

     

    That was a MS guy speaking.

     

    They pack these seminars very carefully and pace them as fast as they can while keeping the entire audience awake. The goodies give away and all audience questions are at the very END and you don't even get the coupon good for a nifty heavily discounted MB&Processor&VistaUltimate(NFR, of course) kit until you have left the room and handed in your fully completed tour eval form. Very few leave early.

     

    Given the amount they present, and the amount they clearly have had to leave out, ANYTHING they pack in and spend time on they have to consider being IMPORTANT.  

    Saturday, June 16, 2007 3:34 PM
  • I see Z06_Dude got the 3ware SATA RAID card working - I'm struggling with my 3ware 9500S-4LP card - performance is incredibly slow (to the point it times out with large files).  Is there any trick to getting this working?  Thanks!
    Thursday, June 28, 2007 8:14 PM
  • The shuttle now appears to be selling for $99 but, unless I am reading it wrong, it only appears to have a 100Mbit network card and handles 2 SATA drives.  I would want to be able to use at least 4 SATA drives and have Gigabit ethernet.
    Wednesday, July 4, 2007 10:14 PM
  • To be more accurate current CPU's are able to reduce power usage when not required. This will save you money. Otherwise older Athlon XP's and Pentium II's 3's have a very similar TDP to todays newest dual core desktop systems. Also remember that TDP's on AMD and Intel processors are measured differently. AMD measuring max TDP, Intel measuring average I believe.

     

    Best bet for saving power would be using mobile parts, Turion or T series Core 2 Duo's. Builtin VGA, NIC's, DDR2/3 ram, and low platter count HDD's or 2.5" devices.

     

    example...

    My server

    400w psu, Athlon XP 2100+, 768mb DDR 266, Nvidia Quaddro 64mb AGP VGA, Highpoint 404 pci raid card in JBOD, 1 x 500gb, 3 x 400gb, 5 x 120gb, 1 x 122gb, 1 x dvd rom. Total power from 180-230 watts via APC ups power monitor

     

    My Media Center

    300w psu, Athlon X2 3800+ s939, 2Gb DDR 400, 6150 builtin VGA or 7600GT PCIe, 1 x 32gb Raptor SATA, 1 x 250gb Sata, PCI dual TV Tuner, PCI Auzentech sound. Total power from 150 - 180 builtin vga, or 180-210 with 7600GT Also this was running nothing apart from the power monitoring utility at the time. Hate to think how close it gets to the 300w limit when powering up and running Media Center.

     

     

    As for a good WHS mobo, something with most of everything builtin, but adding RAID card as JBOD is a great option when duplication is applied and you have enough room in the case for more HDD's.

     

    Wednesday, July 4, 2007 11:48 PM
  • FYI, I built a WHS with the Intel D975XBX2 motherboard, and it works like a charm. The NIC and audio drivers were not automatically setup after installation but it was really easy through device manager and the accompanying driver CD.

     

    The only thing I’m unsure about is whether or not the discrete Marvel RAID controller (extra 4 SATA ports) work under Windows Server 2003. Currently I have that controller disabled in the BIOS. From what I’ve read they do not, but none the less I plan on getting a decent RAID expansion card anyway. Not to use RAID, but to provide 6-8 SATA ports.

     

    Either way, the 4 intel based SATA ports work fine and I’m happy to report my WHS is FAST Smile

    Thursday, September 6, 2007 5:11 PM
  • From Intel's tech specs on that board "The Marvell 88SE6145 controller supports single drive non-RAID configurations as well as RAID configurations."

     

    I would think that if you can set the Marvell controller to be "non-RAID" in the BIOS (maybe legacy, JBOD, or some other language), you should be able to use these other four SATA ports.

    Thursday, September 6, 2007 9:24 PM
  • Thanks for the post hlaroux.

    I probably won't have more than 4 internal hard drives for a while, who knows, maybe a year or more. I'll definitely try it when I get my 5th drive. I have a feeling you're probably right Smile
    Sunday, September 9, 2007 6:41 AM
  •  

    Don't forget one other thing that's worth specifying for a WHS motherboard - The ability to POST and boot without a GFX card in it.

     

    Unfortunately, this doesn't seem like something that's often easy to determine from technical specifications

    Monday, September 10, 2007 11:58 AM
  • I think you will always need to have some sort of GPU available. That can be on-board with external connector or without external connector but it will need something.

     

    If you build from scratch and don't have built-in video of some sort, pull the VGA card from that Pentium 133 in your closet (you know it's still there) and install it.

     

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007 9:27 PM
  •  HLaRoux wrote:

    I think you will always need to have some sort of GPU available. That can be on-board with external connector or without external connector but it will need something.

     

    If you build from scratch and don't have built-in video of some sort, pull the VGA card from that Pentium 133 in your closet (you know it's still there) and install it.

     

     

    That's not true. Every version of Windows NT was capable of running without a GPU. Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition required a video driver (and a video card) to drive the remote display. For Windows 2000 MS introduced a "Null VGA" driver (in the Server Appliance Kit) to enable Terminal Services to run without a video card. In XP/2003 Terminal Services does not require a video driver.

     

    I have WHS running on a Dell PowerVault 715N with no GPU.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007 11:12 PM
  •  

    Even an integrated GPU is going to use electricity and generate heat, both of which is unnecessary.
    Wednesday, September 12, 2007 8:57 AM
  •  wayner9 wrote:

    I assume that you would want a mobo with onboard SATA, Firewire, lots of USB ports, basic onboard video and gigabit ethernet.  What else what the optimal mobo have? A second ethernet port?  Would it make sense for micro ATX or does that matter if you would want a case that could hold at least 4 and maybe more hard drives.  Would you want a low power consumption config since it will be on 24/7 and you would want it to run as long as possible from a UPS?

    Does it halpe performance to have any more than the minimum 512 MB of RAM?



    IMHO the ideal mobo for WHS should have:
    -A lot of SATA ports (at least 6)
    -usb bootable
    -gigabit ethernet
    -hardware raid1 for the system drive
    -usb 2.0 (4+ ports)

    I believe that 1GB of ram vs 512MB have a good performance boost, expecially when the server is doing backups or other stuff and the clients are using the connector. At current ram prices, even 2gb is cheap.
    Friday, September 14, 2007 12:38 AM
  • I have just build my WHS around Abit AB9 QuadGT mobo, 2GB RAM and P4 3.0GHZ CPU.

     

    Abit AB9 QuadGT mobo does have...

     

    - 6 SATA + 2 eSATA + 1 IDE

    - 2 IEEE1394 (FireWire)

    - 3 USB 2.0 headers (can support up to 6 USB ports)

    - on board 10/100/1000M LAN

    - supports AHCI & RAID 0/1/5/10

    - Silent-OTES heat-pipe design

     

    my best,

    Friday, September 14, 2007 7:59 PM