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Is a Server motherboard worth the extra money?

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Fellow Forum Members,

From what I gather building an UnRaid system using good server type hardware components such as a good Supermicro server motherboard, XEON CPU, enterprise level hard drives and 36GB of ECC Buffered (Registered) RAM ends up costing more money to build compared to building a comparable UnRaid system using regular desktop  type hardware components such as a desktop motherboard, I7 CPU, non enterprise hard drives, and just regular non-ECC RAM. 

 

I plan to use my UnRaid system mainly as a media server and a basic data storage NAS device. Nothing more fancy than that.  Therefore, I'm asking myself several questions:

  1. Does it make economic sense I spend the extra money for an UnRaid system built using server type hardware components?  Or going the cheaper route using regular desktop type hardware components good enough?
  2. Does the UnRaid OS software work better on a system built using server type hardware components?
  3. Or does the UnRaid OS software operate just as well on  a system using regular desktop type hardware components?
  4. Will my data be safer stored on a system using server type hardware components?
  5. Or is my data just as safe stored in an Unraid system built using regular desktop hardware components?

Any opinions welcome. My goal is to make a more informed decision on whether it is smarter to build an Unraid system using server type hardware components or one using desktop type hardware components.  Thanks in advance for any opinions. 

Edited by binar
typo

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Server grade hardware is designed to be error free and reliable while running 24/7/365.

 

Since unraid users have all different usage patterns and expectations, no single answer is correct for everyone. If you want to build a machine once and not touch the hardware for 5+ years leaving it on the whole time, you need server grade stuff. If you want to have more than a few drives running constantly you need server grade.

 

Data loss is much more likely as a result of user error or failure to stay alert for warnings that unraid will give you through the notification system. Desktop or server grade doesn't make much difference if the hardware stays healthy. Unraid disk redundancy only covers drive failure. You need a backup in place to guard against accidental deletion, corruption, and a whole bunch of other risks that unraid can't cover.

 

If you said I can either build a single server grade system and have no money left over for offline backup drives, or I can build a desktop system and have full backups, I'll recommend the scenario with backup drives every time.

 

Obviously the ideal setup is server grade with full backup offsite, but that's for you to decide how valuable your data is to you.

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In addition to what @jonathanm explains, server grade hardware usually runs in remote data centers and has provisioning of remote access (IPMI. iLO) to have access to the system without a local screen and keyboard attached. This maybe a 'feature' you like to have, but when everything is in the same room - including yourself - it is of lesser importance.

 

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The short answer is no, unRAID is perfectly happy on consumer grade hardware. However there are advantages to using 'server grade' hardware such as:

 

The ability to use more than one processor
The ability to use ECC RAM
The availability of more expansion slots and memory slots
The availability of IPMI which can allow you to remote into your system when powered off and power it on or off.
 

There are also some downsides, such as:

 

Physical motherboard sizes that don't fit in off the shelf cases, meaning you can put many server motherboards in a standard case because the mother boards are larger than standard ATX boards.

CPU selection can be limiting depending on the age of the board you choose and sourcing CPU's can often lead to eBay which is fine, but takes some work.

Heat and noise,  you often have to have a large case, in some cases rack mount with any fans to keep the system cool and they can be loud.

Physical space, the cases are often larger than standard PC cases, so you have to plan that out.

 

So there are definitely some considerations to be made for going with server grade hardware.

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For me, building with removable drive bays, then keeping my hands out of the box unless absolutely necessary, has added more to the reliability of my hardware than any other factor.

 

+1 for using server class hardware. 

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Thank you to all for your posts. I found them very helpful.  After thinking about it, I think the best decision is to build an UnRaid system utilizing server grade components.  I like the server build shown in the YouTube video below a lot:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCt0JQ9sTd0

 

However, the one thing I'm going to change is the dual Xeon motherboard. I think that is overkill for me. I think a single Xeon CPU motherboard is okay for me because all I really plan to do is just use it as a media server and not anything as crazy as a virtual machine software tester.  I'm thinking about acquiring a server motherboard similar to the  Supermicro X10SRA-F. I say similar because I would like my server board to offer more onboard SATA ports.  I would like to have 14 to 16 SATA ports on my Supermicro motherboard. 

 

The SuperMicro MBD+H11SSL-i-B ATX Server Motherboard  shown in the link below has the 16 SATA3 ports which I think is awesome, but I wish it was running on an older XEON CPU and not an insanely expensive AMD EPYC CPU:

 

https://www.newegg.com/supermicro-mbd-h11ssl-i-b-single-amd-epyc-7000-series-processor/p/1B4-005W-001V5

 

In closing, can anybody out there in this community recommend a good  single CPU, ATX sized server motherboard that runs on an older Xeon and has anywhere between 14 to 16 onboard SATA3 ports.  I'm not looking for the latest and greatest in technology. I think a socket 2011 server board is good enough for what I want my Unraid system to do. As for RAM, I think 32GB of ECC Registered RAM is adequate for me.  Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Edited by binar

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10 hours ago, binar said:

Thank you to all for your posts. I found them very helpful.  After thinking about it, I think the best decision is to build an UnRaid system utilizing server grade components.  I like the server build shown in the YouTube video below a lot:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCt0JQ9sTd0

 

However, the one thing I'm going to change is the dual Xeon motherboard. I think that is overkill for me. I think a single Xeon CPU motherboard is okay for me because all I really plan to do is just use it as a media server and not anything as crazy as a virtual machine software tester.  I'm thinking about acquiring a server motherboard similar to the  Supermicro X10SRA-F. I say similar because I would like my server board to offer more onboard SATA ports.  I would like to have 14 to 16 SATA ports on my Supermicro motherboard. 

 

The SuperMicro MBD+H11SSL-i-B ATX Server Motherboard  shown in the link below has the 16 SATA3 ports which I think is awesome, but I wish it was running on an older XEON CPU and not an insanely expensive AMD EPYC CPU:

 

https://www.newegg.com/supermicro-mbd-h11ssl-i-b-single-amd-epyc-7000-series-processor/p/1B4-005W-001V5

 

In closing, can anybody out there in this community recommend a good  single CPU, ATX sized server motherboard that runs on an older Xeon and has anywhere between 14 to 16 onboard SATA3 ports.  I'm not looking for the latest and greatest in technology. I think a socket 2011 server board is good enough for what I want my Unraid system to do. As for RAM, I think 32GB of ECC Registered RAM is adequate for me.  Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

If you want SATA3 and SAS3, I’d go with a LGA2011-R3 CPU and Motherboard.

 

The X10SRH-CF looks to be right up your alley:

 

https://www.supermicro.com/en/products/motherboard/X10SRH-CF

 

https://www.provantage.com/supermicro-mbd-x10srh-cf~7SUPM4A7.htm

 

You will have to flash the SAS3008 controller but it shouldn’t be too difficult and there are instructions out there on how exactly to accomplish this.

 

Match this with a E5-2640 v3 or a E5-1650 v3 and you got a decently powerful CPU for around $100. You should be able to get 4 x 8GB DDR4 ECC RDIMM’s for around $145 (that way you saturate the quad channel memory).

Edited by ramblinreck47

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Ramblinreck47,
Thank you for your very helpful post and your excellent recommendations to some great and sensible server grade components. 

 

I spent some time doing some research on the CPU. Based upon what I learned at the link below I have decided the "E5-2640 v3" Xeon is what I'm going to buy. I like it because it does not draw as much WATTS compared to the "Xeon E5-1650 v3" and also how it offers more cores. 

 

http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/405/Intel_Xeon_E5-1650_v3_vs_Intel_Xeon_E5-2640_v3.html

 

In short, I think this "E5-2640 v3" XEON CPU is good enough to support a PLEX media server. At least that is my hope. 

 

As for the motherboard, I ended up calling SuperMicro tech support because I was not clear why the flashing you mentioned is necessary. After talking with the SuperMicro Tech I learned the 3008 controller has an IT mode for those interested in using the two SAS onboard connectors to support 8 SATA3 ports using the cables shown in the link below:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Internal-SFF-8087-Breakout/dp/B012BPLYJC

 

In short, if the flashing is not done then the 3008 controller can only support a RAID configuration and not the 8 SATA3 ports. 

 

Overall, I think the X10SRH-CF server motherboard is a good fit for me. It has 10 onboard SATA3 ports. But after flashing the SAS 3008 controller you got an additional 8 SATA3 ports for a total of 18 SATA3 Ports. The way I see it 18 SATA3 ports offers plenty of future growth. The price of the board seems to be as low as $360 and as high as $500. I'm thinking of buying it at Newegg, eventhough EBAY has it for a lower price but then it is not the safer option:

 

https://www.newegg.com/p/09Z-01PF-00004?Item=09Z-01PF-00004&Description=X10SRH-CF&cm_re=X10SRH-CF-_-09Z-01PF-00004-_-Product

 

Regarding the RDIMM RAM. Through some Googling I found 64GB of Samsung DDR4 RDIMM RAM for around $180. I would appreciate any opinions if my  X10SRH-CF server motherboard is going to work nicely with this Samsung RDIMM RAM or am I obligated to buy a specific brand of RDIMM RAM for my X10SRH-CF server motherboard to work correctly?

 

Lastly, I already bought my case, fanless CPU radiator and fanless power supply. I want to build a server that is as quite as possible. Therefore, I bought the components shown in the links below in an effort to cutback on the server noise: 


The fanless CPU radiator I purchased shown below:

https://www.newegg.com/silverstone-heligon-series-he02-sst-he02-v2/p/N82E16835220109

 

The sound insulated case I purchased shown below:

https://www.amazon.com/Silence-Sensitive-Workstation-Storage-Applications/dp/B00DSFDSUS

 

The 600Watt fanless power supply I purchased shown below:

https://seasonic.com/prime-titanium-fanless

 

I'm replacing the 5 included case fans with the Noctua ones shown below:

https://www.amazon.com/Noctua-NF-F12-PWM-4-Pin-Premium/dp/B00650P2ZC/ref=sr_1_7?crid=31N3TFBK12L26&keywords=silent+case+fan+120mm&qid=1569802422&s=gateway&sprefix=silent+case+fan%2Caps%2C169&sr=8-7

 

Any opinions from this great community will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

Edited by binar

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2 hours ago, binar said:

Ramblinreck47,
Thank you for your very helpful post and your excellent recommendations to some great and sensible server grade components. 

 

I spent some time doing some research on the CPU. Based upon what I learned at the link below I have decided the "E5-2640 v3" Xeon is what I'm going to buy. I like it because it does not draw as much WATTS compared to the "Xeon E5-1650 v3" and also how it offers more cores. 

 

http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/405/Intel_Xeon_E5-1650_v3_vs_Intel_Xeon_E5-2640_v3.html

 

In short, I think this "E5-2640 v3" XEON CPU is good enough to support a PLEX media server. At least that is my hope. 

 

As for the motherboard, I ended up calling SuperMicro tech support because I was not clear why the flashing you mentioned is necessary. After talking with the SuperMicro Tech I learned the 3008 controller has an IT mode for those interested in using the two SAS onboard connectors to support 8 SATA3 ports using the cables shown in the link below:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Internal-SFF-8087-Breakout/dp/B012BPLYJC

 

In short, if the flashing is not done then the 3008 controller can only support a RAID configuration and not the 8 SATA3 ports. 

 

Overall, I think the X10SRH-CF server motherboard is a good fit for me. It has 10 onboard SATA3 ports. But after flashing the SAS 3008 controller you got an additional 8 SATA3 ports for a total of 18 SATA3 Ports. The way I see it 18 SATA3 ports offers plenty of future growth. The price of the board seems to be as low as $360 and as high as $500. I'm thinking of buying it at Newegg, eventhough EBAY has it for a lower price but then it is not the safer option:

 

https://www.newegg.com/p/09Z-01PF-00004?Item=09Z-01PF-00004&Description=X10SRH-CF&cm_re=X10SRH-CF-_-09Z-01PF-00004-_-Product

 

Regarding the RDIMM RAM. Through some Googling I found 64GB of Samsung DDR4 RDIMM RAM for around $180. I would appreciate any opinions if my  X10SRH-CF server motherboard is going to work nicely with this Samsung RDIMM RAM or am I obligated to buy a specific brand of RDIMM RAM for my X10SRH-CF server motherboard to work correctly?

 

Lastly, I already bought my case, fanless CPU radiator and fanless power supply. I want to build a server that is as quite as possible. Therefore, I bought the components shown in the links below in an effort to cutback on the server noise: 


The fanless CPU radiator I purchased shown below:

https://www.newegg.com/silverstone-heligon-series-he02-sst-he02-v2/p/N82E16835220109

 

The sound insulated case I purchased shown below:

https://www.amazon.com/Silence-Sensitive-Workstation-Storage-Applications/dp/B00DSFDSUS

 

The 600Watt fanless power supply I purchased shown below:

https://seasonic.com/prime-titanium-fanless

 

I'm replacing the 5 included case fans with the Noctua ones shown below:

https://www.amazon.com/Noctua-NF-F12-PWM-4-Pin-Premium/dp/B00650P2ZC/ref=sr_1_7?crid=31N3TFBK12L26&keywords=silent+case+fan+120mm&qid=1569802422&s=gateway&sprefix=silent+case+fan%2Caps%2C169&sr=8-7

 

Any opinions from this great community will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

No problem. I just thought I'd share what I've learned since trying to figure out what I'm going to build here in the near future.

 

I found you a X10SRH-CLN4F for $300. It's not the exact same as the X10SRH-CF but the only difference is slightly less PCIe lanes due to having a 4 x 1GB NIC's. That's it. This guy also flashed the 3008 controller as well.

 

Link: https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/fs-2x-sm-x10srh-cln4f-o-xeon-e5-v3-4-boards-with-ipmi-license.25863/

 

Word of caution on the Deep Silence cases. I've heard they have a bad reputation when it comes to air flow even with Noctua's. Have you thought about going with a rackmount case? I've heard good things about the Rosewill RSV-L4500 and RSV-L4412. I also have a Norco RPC-4116 if you wanted to go that route (just to throw it out there).

 

If you are set on a tower case, I think the Fractal XL R2 and the Corsiar Obsidian 750D Airflow are really good options for great airflow and tons of hard drive bays (with a couple more cages). 

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Ramblinreck47,
Thank you for the lead to the motherboard. I will reach out to Jeff Robertson. Additionally, that is a cool website. It seems to be an online marketplace for used server grade components. I will keep an eye on this website to see if in the future it can source a small quantity of 10TB and/or 12TB enterprise grade hard drives I plan to buy soon. 

 

To answer your question, yes I thought about a rackmount case. However, I decided not to go down this path because aside from spending on the rackmount case there is also the cost for the sound proofing cabinet on wheels shown in the link below: 

 

https://www.quietpcusa.com/XRackPro2-4U-Quiet-Rackmount-Server-Cabinet-Black-P443.aspx

 

I just find it more easy on the wallet to get a tower case that offers some sound proofing and then just add my own caster wheels to it. Nevertheless, I am surprised to hear about the Deep Silence case having a bad reputation for bad airflow. I have spent a lot of time researching this case and have not become informed about this. 

 

Once I move out of my Condo and buy myself a house with a two car garage I will upgrade to a full size rackmount cabinet on wheels and set it up as the IT professionals do in a server room using up part of my garage.  In short, I think a rackmount case is definitely the way to go. Not only for the better airflow you get but also because of that hot swappable drive technology you usually get in a rackmount case but not in a tower case.  

 

Thanks for the tips on the Fractal XL R2 and the Corsiar Obsidian 750D. I plan to call them up and talk airflow with them and also the Nonaxia case people. 

 

Again thanks for your help with this matter. 

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You can probably get a server chassis for a good deal if you look at the local marketplaces in your region. As to hardware, go with a LGA 2011 V3 motherboard and scout on Ebay for one that suits your needs: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=supermicro+lga+2011&_sacat=0

 

When it comes to connecting everything together, you should move away from pure SATA and go for SAS2 cables. In that way you will be able to connect the same amount of harddrives with less cables. That makes cable management and airflow better to manage. Also: You might think that remote management like IPMI is unnecessary, but trust me, once you get in to the game, you will benfit from it greatly. Especially if your server is somewhat inaccessible. 

Edited by SpecFroce
Added more info.

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45 minutes ago, binar said:

Ramblinreck47,
Thank you for the lead to the motherboard. I will reach out to Jeff Robertson. Additionally, that is a cool website. It seems to be an online marketplace for used server grade components. I will keep an eye on this website to see if in the future it can source a small quantity of 10TB and/or 12TB enterprise grade hard drives I plan to buy soon. 

 

To answer your question, yes I thought about a rackmount case. However, I decided not to go down this path because aside from spending on the rackmount case there is also the cost for the sound proofing cabinet on wheels shown in the link below: 

 

https://www.quietpcusa.com/XRackPro2-4U-Quiet-Rackmount-Server-Cabinet-Black-P443.aspx

 

I just find it more easy on the wallet to get a tower case that offers some sound proofing and then just add my own caster wheels to it. Nevertheless, I am surprised to hear about the Deep Silence case having a bad reputation for bad airflow. I have spent a lot of time researching this case and have not become informed about this. 

 

Once I move out of my Condo and buy myself a house with a two car garage I will upgrade to a full size rackmount cabinet on wheels and set it up as the IT professionals do in a server room using up part of my garage.  In short, I think a rackmount case is definitely the way to go. Not only for the better airflow you get but also because of that hot swappable drive technology you usually get in a rackmount case but not in a tower case.  

 

Thanks for the tips on the Fractal XL R2 and the Corsiar Obsidian 750D. I plan to call them up and talk airflow with them and also the Nonaxia case people. 

 

Again thanks for your help with this matter. 

It has more to do with the lack of airflow over the 5.25” bays, which can be a great use if you want to expand your number of hard drives. There aren’t any vents for airflow to come in there with the Deep Silence cases. If you add a hard drive cage (such as a Supermicro CSE-M35T-1B or iStarUSA BPN-DE350SS), you won’t be able to keep the drives cool with the door shut.

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