It all starts with a Dell PowerEdge T410 purchased on eBay for $130 and free shipping. It came configured with a single Intel Xeon E5620, 4GB DDR3 ECC REG Memory, 2- 250GB SATA 6Gbps hard drives, and a Perc 6I Raid Controller. 6 HotSwap SAS/SATA bays are located behind the front bezel and 2 - 5.25" drives bays located near the top.
The specs listed above are a great starting point for a budget media server after replacing the Perc 6I raid controller and cables with an H200 or H310 controller card and a pair of Mini-SAS to Mini-SAS cables. Allowing the user to install whichever size hard drives they prefer.
I went all out on this server upgrade/build and purchased the following components:
1 - Dell Poweredge T410 - 4c/8t,4gb ram, 2x250gb sataII, Perc6i 6x3.5" Drive Bays. iDRAC6e - $140.00
2 - Intel Xeon X5670 CPU - 6-Core / 12-Threads - $40.00
1 - T420 Heatsink F847J 0F847J - For 2nd CPU install - $47.00
4 - 8GB DDR3 PC3-10600 ECC REG - 32GB - $42.00
2 - Dell Perc H310 SATA/SAS HBA - $45.00
3 - WD 3TB 3.5" SATA Drives - 1 for Parity drive - 2 for Array - $180.00
2 - 500GB 2.5" SSDs (Cache Drives) - Installed in Icydock 5.25" Hot-Swap - $100.00
1 - IcyDock 4x2.5" to 1-5.25" Hot-Swap Drive Cage - $55.00
2 - Mini-SAS to Mini-SAS Cables (Connecting H310 to Backplane - Port A, Port B) - $15.00
1 - Mini-SAS to 4x SATA Cable Breakout Cable (Connecting H310 to 5.25" Hot-Swap Cage) - $8.00
1 - Sandisk 16gb Flash Drive (For unRAID OS) - $6.00
With my selection of hardware the server is capable of hosting:
6 - 3.5" SATA/SAS hard drives for array and parity disks.
4 - 2.5" SATA/SAS SSDs or "laptop" hard drives for additional array or cache configurations.
4 additional 2.5" SSDs or hard drives with the addition of a 2nd Mini-SAS to SATA breakout cable.
Note: Some prefer to use a H200 HBA with IT enabled firmware but I have found the H310 to work without a firmware swap by utilizing the passthrough feature of the firmware. Ive been running like this for a month with no drive issues and all SMART data and drive specs registering with the unRAID operating system.
On idle power the server the server uses about 120watts of power and runs very quite with the single exhaust fan in the rear. I have yet to push the system to its limits so I dont have the wattage readings under full load.
I currently run the following list of Docker Containers:
And the following Virtual Machines:
Ubuntu Server 18.04.2
Ubuntu Desktop 18.04.2
Windows 10 Pro
You can easily save a couple hundred dollars on this build if you stuck with the single 4c/8t Xeon CPU and 4gb ram for media management and plex server. I ran the server that way for a week while waiting for most of the parts to arrive and streamed media to my FireTV Cube with no issues.
Future upgrades include installed upgrading to 64GB ram, adding 2 - 1tb SSD for Steam Cache and Virtual Machine storage and slowing adding 8 or 10tb hard drives as I fill up the 3tb disks installed.
Would I do this build over again? Absolutely!
Would I recommend this build for a someone with minimal hardware experience? Yes. A programmer friend of mine purchased one and with my minimal guidance upgraded his to similar specs.
Plenty of power, lower wattage, low noise in comparison to a rack server, and room to expand.