SFF Lian-LI PC-Q25B build - looking for build advice!


TaterSalad

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Hello! I'm a long-time unRAID user and I'm looking for some advice for my next SFF build.

 

Hardware Goals

 

  • small ITX build
  • with room for at least five 3.5" HDDs (moving my existing HDDs over)
  • I'd also like room for a full size dedicated graphics card (future purchase)
  • but I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want all of this in the smallest possible package.
  • dual-nics are a must for pfSense VM. Intel chipset preferred (no Realtek crap)
  • I also want an ITX board that supports mor than 32GB RAM. But that doesn't seem to exist in LGA1071...

 

Software Goals

 

I plan to run some applications and  VMs. Some will be always-on while others will be on-demand. Here's a short list:

 

always-on:


  • pfSense VM (for experimentation, maybe replace my router if it works well)
  • Plex Media Server (max 2 - 3 concurrent transcodes)
  • Sickbeard
  • Couchpotato
  • Deluge

 

on-demand:

  • Win10 VM (with GPU passthrough for gaming)
  • misc environments for testing

 

Case

 

I'm pretty set on the Lian-Li PC-Q25B. It's amazing and nothing else comes close IMHO.

 

Motherboard

 

I'm really split between these three:

 

 

The difference between the H170 and the Z170 is small. The Z170 has more chipset lanes and the ability to overclock. I have no intention of overclocking though. The chipset lanes are enticing for running the GPU and m.2 PCI-e SSD at full speeds.

 

The difference with the C236 is that it supports Xeon processors. It also has 8 SATA and onboard USB3.0. But no m.2 slot. The Xeon support is enticing for CPU upgrades down the road. But by the time I want a new CPU, am I just going to want another mobo too?

 

CPU

 

Here's where I'm mostly undecided. I've narrowed it down to these four:

 

  • i5-6400 2.7GHz CPU
  • i5-6500 2.8GHz CPU
  • i5-6600K 3.2GHz CPU
  • Xeon E3-1225 v5 CPU (cheapest Xeon with iGPU)

 

The Xeon would require the ASRock C236.

 

I'd like to do some light gaming in the Windows VM. I don't want to be too bound by CPU. (also, my gaming standards arent too high. I just want recent games to be mostly playable.) Also, no dual-parity.

 

Memory

 

I plan to use a 1x16GB with something like G.Skill Ripjaws V Series DDR4-3200. This will give me room to upgarde to 2x16GB down the road. Am I loosing much speed by using 1x16GB vs 2x8GB? Any chance that future 2x32GB DIMMs might "just work"?

 

Power Supply

 

Definitely going SFX. Probably something like the Silverstone 500W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular. Maybe something higher in wattage if I go with a Xeon.

 

Budget

 

$550 - $650. Cheaper or more expensive is ok too. I'm more interested in getting the hardware to best fit my needs with some upgradability rather than maxing out everything.

 

Any advice? I'd really appreciate it!

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I'd get the ASRock for more SATA ports (8 v 6). While the Q25 only has 5 slots, SSD's can be placed inside as well on the floor. A stock Q25 can hold up to 8 SATA devices with ease.

 

I'd also go bigger on the CPU (4 cores w/ HT) if you plan to game.

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I'd use the ASRock and Xeon option because I think ECC RAM is a great idea for an always-on fault tolerant storage server.  That said, lots of people run unRAID without ECC and the 6600k is a very capable chip.  I'd stay away from the Core i5 6400 given your desire for 2-3 transcoding streams + gaming and focus on the 7,000+ Passmark CPUs.  Given the CPUs you list, I think yes - you'll want a new mobo by the time you outgrow the CPU. 

 

I doubt that you'll automagically pickup 2x32GB DIMM support via a BIOS upgrade.  You'll pay a small performance penalty for using 1x16GB over a dual channel configuration, but it's worth doing if you have realistic plans to add another 16GB in the future.  unRAID probably won't need the additional memory, but your VMs might.

 

Definitely go with the SFX power supply in the Q25.  A gaming GPU is a bigger power user than a modern E3 Xeon, though.  E3 Xeons are very similar to their Core i5/7 counterparts, they just run at different clocks and add hyperthreading at different points in the line.  The 6600k actually has a higher TDP than the 1225v5. 

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Thanks to you all!

 

Here's some comments on your suggestions.

 

I'd get the ASRock for more SATA ports (8 v 6).

 

True, but the Z170 also has a m.2 slot while the ASRock does not. So, the difference is arguably 6 SATA+1 m.2 vs 8 SATA ports. m.2 is attractive for a cache drive or any fast I/O VMs. 8 SATA is nice, but it's hard for me to justify the extra cost for that additional port.

 

I think ECC RAM is a great idea for an always-on fault tolerant storage server

 

Agreed, but I'm having a hard time justifying the extra costs of ECC and the server-grade board. I too have been running non-ECC for a long time without issue.

 

I doubt that you'll automagically pickup 2x32GB DIMM support via a BIOS upgrade.  You'll pay a small performance penalty for using 1x16GB over a dual channel configuration, but it's worth doing if you have realistic plans to add another 16GB in the future.

 

You're probably right. I guess I am dreaming on 2x32GB support. The VMs are important to me and I could easily outgrow the 16GB. I will probably start with 1x16GB for now. I foresee 2x16GB not too far down the road.

 

I'd also go bigger on the CPU (4 cores w/ HT) if you plan to game.

 

It's tempting, no doubt. But there's quite a premium on HyperThreaded CPUs. I don't think I can justify the extra costs my casual gaming habits. Currently, I occasionally game on console (gasp! the horror, I know). PC gaming is just something I'd like to dabble in when time allows. If I'm hooked, maybe I will upgrade my CPU and pour some money into a nice GPU.

 

For now, HT would be more appealing for the virtualization use-case.

 

The i5-6600k is 3.5gHz, but you're paying for it being unlocked for overclockers.

 

This is something that I realized last night and a very important point. The 6600 non-K is a bit cheaper and includes the stock cooler. That can be a significant savings over the 6600K. Thanks!

 

Definitely go with the SFX power supply in the Q25.

 

Judging by the pics of other builds, I agree. The ATX builds look significantly more crammed.

 

Here's what I'm leaning towards currently:

 

  • Lian-LI PC-Q25B
  • Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI
  • i5-6600 3.3GHz CPU
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 1x16GB DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) RAM
  • Silverstone SFX Series SX500-LG

 

I can get all of that for $576.79 shipped. Jet.com is running a deal to save up to $30 on your first three orders ($90 total). This is well under what I could find across NewEgg, MicroCenter, Frys, Amazon, etc.

 

I'm coming from a AMD FX-6300 (passmark of 6333) so I think the i5-6600 (passmark 7652) will be a nice bump. My current machine runs everything nicely, but without the gaming. When I decide to fire up the gaming VM, I may be CPU-bound on some games. And that's ok (for now). Gaming performance will also be very dependent on how much I invest into a GPU later down the road.

 

My only small concern now is going from 6 threads with the AMD down to 4 with the i5. From all the multi-core benchmarks I've read, the i5-6600 will always beat the FX-6300 despite the 2 less threads. So that's promising.

 

Anyways, thanks for all the input. I will probably pull the trigger tomorrow unless you guys can convince me otherwise! This community is awesome!  8)

 

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I'd bite the bullet and go with the server-grade board and a higher-end Xeon ... perhaps the E3-1245v5.

 

Start with a 16GB ECC module, and add a 2nd one later when you want to expand to 32GB.  Yes, this will cost a bit more upfront ... but it will be a FAR nicer system than the other options.

 

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I priced out a ES-1245v5 / ASRock C236 build and it's about $170 more at $746. PassMark showing a score of 10053. And the ES-1245 has Hyperthreading. So tempting...

 

Besides the extra performance boost, the hyperthreading, and ECC benefits, is there any other benefits that I should be considering?

 

 

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If you'll have a GPU anytime soon, you could skip getting the Xeon with onboard graphics.

 

I'm currently upgrading my Q25B setup from an i5-4430 / Asus H87i-Plus / 2x8GB DDR3. I have the Asrock C236 WSI / Xeon E3-1230 v5 / 2x16GB DDR4 (non-ECC) on order!

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... I have the Asrock C236 WSI / Xeon E3-1230 v5 / 2x16GB DDR4 (non-ECC) on order!

 

"non-ECC" ==> WHY would you build a fault-tolerant server with a server-grade motherboard, a Xeon, and NOT take advantage of the error correcting memory support these components provide !!??

 

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ECC RAM is pretty much the same cost as non-ECC RAM these days, so I'd definitely consider switching.

 

 

Anyways, I think I'm closing in on a configuration. I priced out some low, medium and high-end options. I could have gone lower and cheaper, but those specs ended up not being worth it for me. The low option is not a bad choice, but I think I could get longer life from these medium and high-end options.

 

Low

 

PROS:

+ Motherboard connectivity WiFi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, and m.2

+ Cheapest

 

CONS:

- Slowest Passmark at 7652

- No ECC

- No hyperthreading

- only 6 SATA

 

BUILD:

  • i5-6600 3.3GHz CPU
  • GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 16GB RAM
  • Silverstone SFX Series SX500-LG
  • Lian-Li PC-Q25B Case

 

Price: $576.79

 

Medium

 

PROS:

+ Motherboard connectivity WiFi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, and m.2

+ Decent Passmark at 9969

+ Hyperthreading

 

CONS:

- No ECC

- Only 6 SATA

 

BUILD:

  • i7-6700 3.4GHz CPU
  • GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V 16GB RAM
  • Silverstone SFX Series SX500-LG
  • Lian-Li PC-Q25B Case

 

Price: $658.28

 

High

 

PROS:

+ Motherboard connectivity: 8 SATA + onboard USB3.0

+ Xeon support

+ ECC support

+ Best Passmark (by a hair) at 10053

+ Hyperthreading

 

CONS:

- No WiFi / Bluetooth / m.2

- Most Expensive

- Most TDP at 80W

 

BUILD:

  • Xeon E3-1245 v5 CPU
  • ASRock C236 WSI
  • Kingston 16GB Module - ECC DDR4 2133MHz
  • Silverstone SFX Series SX500-LG
  • Lian-Li PC-Q25B Case

 

Price: $737.34

 

I'm really leaning towards that Medium option.  The premium for the High buys me ECC and 2 extra SATA ports. That doesn't seem worth it to me. I've been running non-ECC for ages, and can live with a few memory errors. 8 SATA is nice, but 6 has always been plenty for my needs. And if the i5-6600 had hyperthreading, I'd jump on the Low option in a heart beat. Medium seems like the best bet (unless you guys can convince me otherwise).

 

I'll probably pull the trigger tonight. I've already put WAY too much thought into this. (You should see the complex spreadsheet I've built for this. It's embarrassing, really.)

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The difference in TDP (65w vs. 80w) for the Xeon is really irrelevant -- any of these processors is going to run at FAR lower power consumption 99+% of the time.    TDP simply measures the maximum the CPU can draw ... at 100% load with turbo clock speeds.    UnRAID virtually never gets to that point ... I suppose you could force it with enough VM's running very high CPU loads, but in real life it's simply not a factor.

 

As for whether it's worth $79 for ECC and two additional SATA ports => clearly that's a matter of opinion.  Personally, I think it's a no-brainer ... $79 is a pretty insignificant difference; and you gain a server-grade motherboard and chipset AND fault tolerant memory AND 2 additional SATA ports ... which let you max the capacity of the Q25B without the need for an add-in SATA card [This also leaves the expansion port free for a video card, should you ever decide to add one ... and one of your stated goals was "...I'd also like room for a full size dedicated graphics card (future purchase)"].

 

 

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As for whether it's worth $79 for ECC and two additional SATA ports => clearly that's a matter of opinion.  Personally, I think it's a no-brainer ... $79 is a pretty insignificant difference; and you gain a server-grade motherboard and chipset AND fault tolerant memory AND 2 additional SATA ports ... which let you max the capacity of the Q25B without the need for an add-in SATA card [This also leaves the expansion port free for a video card, should you ever decide to add one ... and one of your stated goals was "...I'd also like room for a full size dedicated graphics card (future purchase)"].

 

+1.

 

You might decide to run dual parity.  You might decide to run a couple of SSDs in a cache pool for some redundancy for your Dockers and VMs.  Either are realistic possibilities during the lifetime of this box and would require more than 6 SATA ports.  If that happens then you either want 8 SATA ports on the motherboard or would have to forgo the support for a dedicated GPU.

 

If you were building in an mATX case then this might be a different decision.  But you want to max out the capabilities on your motherboard in a mITX case - it's a great form factor but requires different planning.

 

By the way - WIFI is pretty useless, you'll always want your server on a wired connection.  M.2 would be nice but even there be careful.  I spent some time in the GIGABYTE GA-Z170N-WIFI manual trying to figure out what combinations of drives and M.2 SSDs it supports and didn't have time to figure it out, but it's clear you're trading off connection types at some level.

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As for whether it's worth $79 for ECC and two additional SATA ports => clearly that's a matter of opinion.  Personally, I think it's a no-brainer ... $79 is a pretty insignificant difference; and you gain a server-grade motherboard and chipset AND fault tolerant memory AND 2 additional SATA ports ... which let you max the capacity of the Q25B without the need for an add-in SATA card [This also leaves the expansion port free for a video card, should you ever decide to add one ... and one of your stated goals was "...I'd also like room for a full size dedicated graphics card (future purchase)"].

 

I'm of the opinion that ECC is a luxury. Sure I provides additional security but I've YET to hear about a regular stick of ram causing issues that ECC would correct. Given the non-ECC and ECC modules are equal in price might as well go for the ECC, but pesonally I wouldn't pay extra JUST for ECC support....however.....

 

The additional SATA ports are worth their weight in gold, especially since mITX boards only have 1 PCIe slot and you'll want to reserve that for a GPU definitely, by your own admission.

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I'm of the opinion that ECC is a luxury. Sure I provides additional security but I've YET to hear about a regular stick of ram causing issues that ECC would correct. Given the non-ECC and ECC modules are equal in price might as well go for the ECC, but pesonally I wouldn't pay extra JUST for ECC support....however.....

 

Just an example, without ECC server could have crashed, corrupted data, etc

 

Quick question, i am trying to identify which DIMM is giving some correctable errors, but freeipmi isn't very useful.. is there any way i can get ipmiutil/selview installed here?

 

http://www.xkyle.com/an-ipmi-sel-viewing-shootout/

 

My error:

Correctable memory error ; OEM Event Data2 code = 3Bh ; OEM Event Data3 code = 80h

 

It happens relatively frequently, 10 times a month since March.. i only just noticed!

 

 

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In addition, a LOT of "random crashes" that happen infrequently enough that they're often just considered "one off events" and blamed on power fluctuations, software "glitches", etc. are in fact memory bit errors.  Simple fact is that bit errors occur, and if not corrected they can result in system crashes or in data corruption, depending on where in memory they occur.    Google did a large scale study of this several years ago and found an average of 3.75 errors/DIMM/year.    Note that it's even worse with unbuffered memory if you've got more than 2 modules installed, since this results in a very degraded waveform that can induce errors from incorrect signaling in addition to the errors on the DIMMs themselves.

 

I definitely do NOT consider ECC a "luxury" -- no more so than a parity drive is a "luxury" => they are both simply protection against failures that can, and DO, happen.

 

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I have the Gigabyte Z170N-Wifi, it's a good enough board as long as you don't intend overclocking or using a high wattage CPU.  The dual Intel NIC is nice, you get a i219V and a i211.  The wifi chip is also Intel.

 

I ran a 91W 6600K in mine, and it was never terribly stable.  However, it runs great with a 51W Pentium G4520.  I use it currently as my HTPC machine with the Pentium, and I've had no problems at all with it.  The power delivery circuit is pretty weak on the board, so if you want to run a higher power CPU I'd go with something else.

 

I find Gigabyte boards to be basic but on the whole solidly built and very stable.  They certainly are more stable than some others, perhaps even more than Asus.

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Well. I pulled the trigger.

 

I was able to score an open box deal on NewEgg for the motherboard and saved $50. Hopefully, it won't be too sketchy. If it is, I will just return and order a new one. I combined the open box deal with the Jet.com TRIPLE15 promotion for the other components, which ended up saving me another $75. (You can save up to $90 with this promotion, but I wasn't able to maximize the promotion. The motherboard wasn't available on Jet.com. It's a great deal if you're looking for a new build.)

 

Anyways, here's what I ended up with:

 

  • Xeon E3-1245 v5 CPU
  • ASRock C236 WSI (open box)
  • Kingston ECC 16GB Module - DDR4 2133MHz
  • Corsair SF Series SF450
  • Lian-Li PC-Q25B Case

 

Total: $680.94

 

Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I think the ECC, the extra 2 SATA ports, and higher-end CPU will ultimately be a wise-choice. My last rig lasted me 6 years. And I'm hoping to squeeze another 6 out of this one! I'll throw some pictures up once I get running.

 

Also, unrelated... this board+CPU is a beast for an ITX. I may have considered it too if my budget was a little higher.

 

SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SDV-TLN4F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard Xeon processor D-1541 FCBGA 1667

 

 

 

 

 

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... this board+CPU is a beast for an ITX. I may have considered it too if my budget was a little higher.

 

SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SDV-TLN4F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard Xeon processor D-1541 FCBGA 1667

 

Agree ... I'll well aware of this nifty board => I've used it for a couple builds (not UnRAID) and it's GREAT.  Registered RAM plus superb performance in a very low-power tiny form-factor.  But clearly not for a low-budget build  :)

 

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Well. I pulled the trigger.

 

I was able to score an open box deal on NewEgg for the motherboard and saved $50. Hopefully, it won't be too sketchy. If it is, I will just return and order a new one. I combined the open box deal with the Jet.com TRIPLE15 promotion for the other components, which ended up saving me another $75. (You can save up to $90 with this promotion, but I wasn't able to maximize the promotion. The motherboard wasn't available on Jet.com. It's a great deal if you're looking for a new build.)

 

Anyways, here's what I ended up with:

 

  • Xeon E3-1245 v5 CPU
  • ASRock C236 WSI (open box)
  • Kingston ECC 16GB Module - DDR4 2133MHz
  • Corsair SF Series SF450
  • Lian-Li PC-Q25B Case

 

Total: $680.94

 

Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I think the ECC, the extra 2 SATA ports, and higher-end CPU will ultimately be a wise-choice. My last rig lasted me 6 years. And I'm hoping to squeeze another 6 out of this one! I'll throw some pictures up once I get running.

 

Also, unrelated... this board+CPU is a beast for an ITX. I may have considered it too if my budget was a little higher.

Thats a great setup and for a really nice price. Well done!

 

... I have the Asrock C236 WSI / Xeon E3-1230 v5 / 2x16GB DDR4 (non-ECC) on order!

 

"non-ECC" ==> WHY would you build a fault-tolerant server with a server-grade motherboard, a Xeon, and NOT take advantage of the error correcting memory support these components provide !!??

Not sure if it's fate, but my Amazon package with the non-ECC RAM was lost in transit. So I ordered 32gb of ECC RAM instead!  ;D

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