Intel motherboard - only choose a server board, not a desktop board, right? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi


    I'm another person trying to work out 'the best' motherboard for my second WHS build.


    Let's say I'm focussed on an Intel motherboard - billions of dollars of marketing gives me a slightly better feeling for Intel motherboards over others, alright! :-)


    Well, seeing as WHS is built on top of Windows Server 2003, and given that Intel explicitly state that there is no offical (driver) support for Windows Server 2003 on Intel *desktop* boards... then my ONLY choice for complete peace of mind with an Intel board *has* to be one of their *server* and not their desktop boards. Am I right?


    Sure, someone's going to post that they're running an xyz Intel desktop board with no problems whatsover, but if I'm trying to build a new WHS with as much end-to-end peace of mind as I possibly can, then a server board has to be the only choice. Yes?


    Or am I missing something?


    Let's say I get a resounding "You're correct". Next question: what's the smallest form factor Intel server board with at least 4 x 3Gb SATA channels*?


    (* is it just me, or is it incredibly hard to choose from a massive list of boards as to which one is 'right' for you? Yes, I can search at newegg.com, yes I could search here too: http://www.motherboards.org/mobot/index.html, but I never seem to be able to search on the features I want to search on)



    Saturday, May 10, 2008 12:33 PM

All replies

  • Firstly, i wouldn't bother with an intel motherboard, they're generally crappy.  Their server-grade ones are probably OK but its a complete overkill for a WHS system.  Just get yourself a Asus/Gigabyte etc desktop board with the polymer capacitors and 2003 drivers and you'll be fine. 

    my 2 cents anyway.
    Saturday, May 10, 2008 3:29 PM

    for whatever it's worth, I built my WHS using an ASUS M2N-LR.  It is a reasonably priced server-board.  It has 2 built in gigabit eithernet ports, should you have a use for 2 of them.  It had all the drivers for WHS/Server 2003 that I needed, and I've had absolutely zero problems with the board or WHS.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008 4:44 PM
  • Hey 'caps'


    I was searching around for upgrades and cames across a good link. Haven't yet done the mods, and it isn't Intel based but AMD.





    Sunday, May 11, 2008 5:59 AM

    Excuse my ignorance, but what's the benefit or potential use for of 2 built-in gigabit ethernet ports (*** opposed to one)?
    Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:05 PM
  • Absolutely none for WHS. In fact, it could be a drawback trying to run two ports. Even though the underlying system is server 2003, WHS itself has no facility  make use of either teaming or fail-over, and, during beta when trying to implement either, I found that WHS would just get so confused, it lost all network connections.




    Sunday, May 11, 2008 4:35 PM
  • Caps - After running my first build on a 680i board and not having much luck with it. I too went with a server board - Asus P5M2-E. It has 4 sata ports and then I have a Promise sata300TX4 with 4 more ports.  All 8 ports are loaded with a mix of 1TB, 750's and some 500's.  Total space is just over 5TB.  Ripped all my CD's and DVD's.

    The Asus board was a snap to install and load.  It just worked. Only trick was to install a single drive first to get WHS loaded, then add in the other drives.  As WHS once to install on the 1st port it finds (port 0).


    Oh and you dont have to use both ethernet ports. I just use one - other is disabled.


    Your rig sounds like it will be cool (water cool that is)


    Thursday, May 15, 2008 6:39 PM
  • Not to mention you have to have routers or switches that support teaming and those are expensive to the point of not being financially viable for dubious benefit for home servers.


    how often have you had a NIC card go bad? I've never had one go bad.


     ColinWH wrote:

    Absolutely none for WHS. In fact, it could be a drawback trying to run two ports. Even though the underlying system is server 2003, WHS itself has no facility  make use of either teaming or fail-over, and, during beta when trying to implement either, I found that WHS would just get so confused, it lost all network connections.




    Thursday, May 15, 2008 7:11 PM
  • One of the uses for 2 NIC cards is ICS (internet connection sharing) or even acting as a router (almost same as ICS)..  I haven't tried it in server 2003 if it is even possible..  My asus board talks about 2 Nics are good for temporary networks and such for lan parties and junk.
    Friday, May 16, 2008 1:12 AM
  • It is possible to get 2003 to do both of those. However, do you really want all your important documents etc stored on something that is directly connected to the Internet?



    Friday, May 16, 2008 7:34 AM
  • As someone who owns both server and desktop Intel boards, I disagree with the *** comment. Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and others make some crappy boards too, but they're not all ***. You get what you pay for. Same goes for Intel. My WHS box is running on an Intel desktop board from the executive series, not the bargain basement essential series ones - oh, those would be the crappy ones:-) and mine's been problem free other than one driver issue, which was easily resolved. It's rock solid, stable and does it's job well. I've been through all the versions of WHS released since last May and finally rebuilt onto RTM in March. Just don't use the Express Installer cd to install your drivers, download individual drivers from Intel's site and you'll have no problems.
    Monday, June 30, 2008 3:55 AM
  • namecaps;


    I am one running an Intel Server board, the reasons why are as follows and from multiple experiences.  First off, I have ran WHS during Beta trials on MSI, ASUS, Gigbyt, and even Supermicro.  It all boiled down to a few things that does matter in a Home Server situation.  The primary issue I had with desktop boards is drivers, yes you can use XP drivers for most hardware, but imbedded MB hardware i.e. sound, video, ethernet controller, etc would cause problems.  Most desktop boards are designed to be "the all in one" solution for gamers and typical users so they include a lot of "fluff".  Turning off these devices in the BIOS will help, but on some boards the hardware is still recognized by the OS and causes event log entries not to mention tying up IRQ and system memory.  Another way to look at WHS is to think about your future requirements.  There is allready talk of the next version of WHS being based on Server 2008 and if the WHS team inserts more Media Center functionality, standard MB drivers will be an issue.  Most newer Intel motherboards are allready releasing drivers for the 2008 server OS.  Another thing to think about is expandability, most desktop boards are chock full of SATA connectors and PCI-E slots, that is fine and dandy, but look at getting a board that is using tried and true expansion slots ie PCI-X, PCI, and PCI-E as most RAID controllers are still using the PCI-X form factor.  Hard drives depending on how much you are saveing to your servers will become very important as you will want your server to grow as your needs grow, which is sometimes a drawback for standard MBs.  If you read the specs for most, you will find that out of the 6 or 8 SATA ports on the board up to half of them require a seperate raid driver and some of these will not support a non-raid function.  Server boards in general do not have this issue as there are designed to allow expansion.  Another thing to think about is heat and power.  Server boards generaly require less power and generate less heat, they do this by using server based processors like the XEON line and redundent power supplies.  You can save money with most server boards by using a standard processor and ATX power supply but be aware this will undermine the thermal specs of the board.  This is all personal opinion and please don't think I'm flaming the other board manufacturers, they all have there place in the IT world but just don't work well for a server role.


    Here are my setup and some specs that helped me make my decisions:


    Intel 3210 SHLX "Snowhill" Server Motherboard

     - 6 onboard SATAII that can be configured as RAID, IDE, and JBOD through the BIOS

     - 2 PCIX SLOTS

     - 1 PCI Slot

     - 2 PCIe Slots (1 16X, 1 4X)

     - Up to 8 GB DDR2 1066 RAM

     - Processor support for Pentium D, Dual Core, Quad Core, and Xeon based CPU (There are over 20 different processors this board can support)

     - Gigabit NIC (There are two, but one can be disabled TOTALY through the bios)

     - 6 USB ports (2 on the board, 4 external)


    I am running my primary hard drive off the MB SATAII Ports, and using 2 PCIX 4 port Sil3124 Multilane cards to run 8 drives in an external JBOD case.  I was able to add external SATAII internal to external adapters for the remaining 5 ports on the motherboard and using HD sleds use those with the PP1 release external backup capability.  I have 4GB of 800MHz ram currently and an Xeon 3210 Dual Core 3.0 processor.  It may be overkill, but the processor never uses more that 20% per core so that will leave me quite a bit more "umph" as I load more add-ins for additional capability and will ensure I have enough resources to upgrade in the future.


    Last a couple of things to keep in mind, as others have stated "you get what you pay for" addage is very true, invest in something solid and issue proof, because in the long run if your data is that important to you, you will want to try and insure it stays intact.  Being an IT technician, it is also very important to remember simple maintenance procedures that will help keep you system trouble free.  1.  Keep it cool, 2.  Keep it clean, 3.  Budget for hardware replacement.  All moving parts wear, so it is wise to change your system fans once a year, keep a spare hard drive handy, and shut down the system and blow it out about every 6 months to keep the dust down.


    Hope this helps and best of luck on your Motherboard indeaver.




    Monday, June 30, 2008 3:56 PM