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WHS on an old Dell GX270? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello fellow WHS users! 

    I have been running the WHS Eval for a month or two now and I'm seriously considering building one for full-time use.  However, I have kind of a tight budget and would like to know if my current WHS test machine will be able to do the job for real.  So far it has been rock solid, but I would like your opinions.

    It's a Dell Optiplex GX270 SFF desktop chassis w/
    P4 2.8b (533fsb)
    2x512mb PC3200
    *1x80gb IDE Internal (Single SATA port internal, currently unused) *
    1x160gb 2.5in external USB/e-SATA enclosure (using USB now)
    DVD-ROM + Floppy
    Onboard 865g video
    Onboard Gigabit LAN
    8 USB 2.0 (6 rear, 2 front)

    *Chassis only has room for a single internal HDD.*

    The PC uses ~55w idle | ~85w full load

    Also, there is no room for case fans.  Only fans are PSU and CPU.  It does get quite toasty inside.

    I know the machine has enough Oomph, but as far as cooling and lack of internal bays, i'm a bit concerned for reliability.  The GX270's also were affected by bad capacitor issues.  I have already replaced several caps on this machine (was before I started using it though).  Has been stable for several months now, but for future 24/7 use, i'm not so sure.  It will probably be backing up and serving 2 other PC's on average.

    As for HDD storage.  I was wondering if I should go with a 320-500gb IDE internal drive and maybe use an e-SATA adapter for external use.  I have a spare adapter, but will require some modifications since the expansion slots are low-profile.  I have another 320gb Ext e-SATA HDD I can use.

    So all tolled here are the Pro's/Con's

    Pro's
    + Small Form factor
    + Decent Specs
    + 8 USB 2.0 ports
    + Gigabit Ethernet
    + Relatively lower power consumption

    Con's
    - Single Internal HDD Bay
    - Lack of case cooling
    - Reliability in question
    - Single SATA port

    I do have some newer spare parts laying around, which I could put together to make another PC, but costs would be another $250 + WHS License to get it up and running.  My current PC is ready to go, so it would only be the cost of the license + HDD or two. 

    Thanks in advance!
    Sunday, August 17, 2008 9:20 PM

Answers

  • Thanks for all your feedback so far.  I will most likely build my own permanent WHS somewhere down the line (6-12 months).  For the time being, I think i'm going to try to keep the GX270 running just for PC backup purposes.  I am also planning on modding it a bit to add a case fan on the top blowing directly onto the motherboard.  See if I can get some sort of airflow inside.  I will not be storing my important data on it so if it dies, no biggie. 

    The 160gb USB will be swapped with an e-SATA 320gb Drive for better speed and reliability.  I just need to mod my e-SATA adapter into a low-profile bracket first. 
    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 2:23 PM

All replies

  • Anything with a P4 invloved is not a low power consumption computer. A typical P4 computer pulls about 130 watts at idle where a good dual core under load would pull about 60 or so watts.

     

    I built my WHS some time this year and it cost about 400 with software included.

     

    If your just looking to test out WHS then it would fine. 

    Sunday, August 17, 2008 11:08 PM
  • I have measured the wattage with a Kill-A-Watt to get the readings I listed.  55w idle and ~85w load were the results.  Not too bad, but of course a newer Core or low powered AMD system would be a bit lower. 

    The current PC is already the test WHS and has worked just fine.  I want to put it into action as a real WHS, so would like some feedback whether or not it's worth it to use the current system. 
    Sunday, August 17, 2008 11:21 PM
  • We have still these models in our company. After about 3 years of normal workload the entire series died due to mainboard (capacitors blowing up, sometimes also a chip burned out) and power supply permanent overheating (components replaced on warranty or at own cost).

    The case is simply not capable to do the necessary cooling.

    Since this happens already in a normal Office scenario, WHS would put much more stress on the system, increasing the overheating of the system. Therefore not a very reliable investment into the future of your data.

    From my experience I would not recommend to use this system as WHS besides for testing.

    Best greetings from Germany

    Olaf

    Monday, August 18, 2008 9:42 AM
    Moderator
  • Further to the above,

    Do you really want to be storing, what to you, is valuable data, on a machine which is getting on in time, and has a reputation for failing?

    Technically also, the 80GB disk is far too small. I know that it is possible to install - just - on that, but it will SERIOUSLY limit what you can do with the server. The recommendation is that you use your largest available disk, at the time of building, as your system disk. Consensus through the beta's has been that a system disk somewhere between 350GB and 500GB is the most cost effective.

    Also, although the documentation says that you can use a USB disk as part of the pool, it really is not a good idea. There have been numerous instances  of external disks causing problems, such as going to sleep, not powering up quickly enough for the server to recognise them etc.

     

    All in all, unless you are only going to use an old machine as a test system, where you can afford to loose all your data, it really isn't the recommended position.

     

    Colin

     

    Monday, August 18, 2008 10:09 AM
    Moderator
  • I'm planning to do exactly the same excercise, though with another GX270 (the minitower). In my company the minitower and desktop GX270's are being used 24/7 without any issue. The SFF version is not used as far as I know.

     

    You could also consider to buy a large (500-1000MB)/cheap sata-2 drive. This will work in Sata mode if the computer does not support sata.

     

    Is it  possible to replace the CPU fan with a more efficient one?

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 7:28 AM
  • Before starting to use that machine, do at least a visual check of the capacitors. If the are starting to bump up, forget it.

    I think the CPU cooling of the mini tower models is coming directly from the power supply  (but may be different in some models or regions) - which should be fine for the larger cases and is not causing additional noise.

    If you are not happy with that, check the socket - it should support also mounting other coolers.

    Only replacing the fan should be possible as well, but more efficiency you will get with a fitting cooler.

    Best greetings from Germany

    Olaf

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 7:50 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for all your feedback so far.  I will most likely build my own permanent WHS somewhere down the line (6-12 months).  For the time being, I think i'm going to try to keep the GX270 running just for PC backup purposes.  I am also planning on modding it a bit to add a case fan on the top blowing directly onto the motherboard.  See if I can get some sort of airflow inside.  I will not be storing my important data on it so if it dies, no biggie. 

    The 160gb USB will be swapped with an e-SATA 320gb Drive for better speed and reliability.  I just need to mod my e-SATA adapter into a low-profile bracket first. 
    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 2:23 PM