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Replacing a Personal Rack-Mounted Server?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the microsourcing dept.

Data Storage 108

Starky writes "Many moons ago, I cobbled together a 1U rack mount from parts which has since been diligently serving up my homepage and web sites for family and friends. It's a truly "Mom and Pop Shop" setup, running on a rack secluded in a closet at home over a DSL line. At the time, I was able to piggyback my order on a large order placed by a company for which I was working, allowing me to get a substantial discount. Now, the time has come to consider a replacement. However, I no longer work at a company that orders chassis and chips by the dozen. I would like to get a rack-mountable chassis, but don't know where to go as a lowly individual consumer looking for a box with minimal specifications (1 processor, dual drives, and 1G RAM is about all I need) at a reasonable price. Any recommendation from Slashdotters who maintain their own rigs?"

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Are your needs that great (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419576)

Granted, my home server isn't rackmounted (exactly because I don't know where to get the rack, etc...), but it runs OpenBSD and currently uses a whopping 31Meg RAM. It does routing/firewalling, DHCP server, NTP server, Samba Server, DNS server (not forwarding, but a full one), email server, webserver including a webmail interfact, IMAP and I'm most likely skipping some stuff.

It's only a P-III 800MHz with 768Meg (my old desktop) and I have playroom if you consider the load average: 0.32, 0.19, 0.12

Hey, but you most certainly have your reasons. I guess eBay is a way to get what you look for...

Re:Are your needs that great (3, Informative)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419898)

I am just in the process of evaluating a new server to replace my home rack-mount.

As the previous poster mentioned, if you don't need a lot of power, the D-Link DNS323 [] with two SATA drives might fit the bill. I just got one and put in two 500GB drives. So far, it is doing a good job replacing my home server for file serving, web serving, email, dns, dhcp, and rtorrent.

It cost about $300 ($160 for the unit, 2 x $70 for the drives on sale). The big payoff is that it uses (well, supposed to use since I haven't thrown the kill-a-watt on it yet) about 50W instead of the 250W that my current server uses.

200W * 24 hrs * 365 days / 1000 * .17 = $297.87 savings in power per year

It will pay for itself in 12 months.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421448)

For exatly those reasons, and the fact that we don't have a basement, so the machine makes noise in our office room, I want to go Soekris [] . Small, silent, power efficient. It's a bit more expensive than your solution though...

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423804)

Soekris is great! Check the link in my sig, I've got a post on using one as a router.

Re:Are your needs that great (3, Informative)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420076)

I've been running whitebox servers like that at home for years but recently decided, like the original poster, that I wanted to go with a rackmount setup. If you're deadset on building a custom system, then I can't offer much advise. Me, I picked up a couple of these. []

Even after paying shipping and picking up a could of larger hard drives, I don't think I could have build a similar system any cheaper. One is my mail/web server and the other is an internal domain controller and file server.

They don't come with rails, so they're sitting on shelves in my rack rather than actually installed but I can live with that.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421888)

What's the advantage of a rackmount setup? I can see it if I could put it in your basement in a real rack, but sitting on shelves? I'm just wondering, really... Any reason?

Re:Are your needs that great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23423220)

I don't see any reason if there is just one box in it (other than racks are cool), but they are nice if have several devices in the same place.

I have a POE switch in mine, 2 servers, a NAS, a KVM and monitor, and a UPS to keep it all running.

Once you start getting cables all over the place just the cable management of a rack makes it worth the effort.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23424020)

The biggest advantage is space used and organization. The cable managment on a rack is phenomenal compared to sitting 4 or 5 boxes in a row and attempting to hit a switch then playing with power cords. 1U systems are around 2 inches thick. (1.75 inches or 44mm I think to be exact.) If I remember correctly, the U denotes 1.75 inches so to get the hight of the server, you would multiply that by the number in front of it. So a 4U chassis would be about 7 inches tall. If you had three 1U servers and two 3U servers, you would only need around 15-16 inches of space in hight plus any space between servers on the rack for the servers. I have seen them with around 1/4 inch space between them and a KVM over IP setup going to a 1U keyboard and monitor setup that slid out like a drawer like in this setup [] . The entire unit was only 30 inches tall sitting in a custom filtered positive air ventilation box and had some room for growth.

Of course most already built rack mount server systems are more reliable then off the shelf built systems or desktop servers but that is only because of the intended audience and the intentions of the manufacturer. If your building your own, there is no reason you can't get just as reliable of a setup or almost just as cheap of one as if you used desktop products. The main differences is going to be costs and space, you need to use Riser cards for some expansion and low profile add on cards but the biggest costs usually is the chassis/case and the custom challenges they present compared to other solutions like a tower or something.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422606)

Why do you need that much horsepower for home?

My home file/mail server is a P233, and if anything it's overpowered for the job.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23425058)

Not very helpful as those systems are out of stock and being refurbished who knows if they will get anymore.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422084)

I suspect he is wanting something new for fear of something breaking or failing unexpectedly. Otherwise his used system that works right now would be as sufficient as a used system for what he described the usage for.

He could still get the basics like the chassis, power supply and maybe with a backplane for SCSI drives so they would be hot swappable. The rest of it, I would think he would want new stuff. Most ATX and extended ATX form factor main boards will work in a 1 us chassis. For a limited volume server sitting on a DSL line, I would probably skip the 1U chassis and just build a consumer level white box with maybe a singles drive for the operating systems and a SATA raid for the data store.

There is no real advantage to a rack with just one server on it and a switch. It would actually cost a lot more money then it should for the same level of performance and reliability with a small setup like what would be used at home and on a DSL line. Like you already mentioned, a p3 and lots of memory is probably more then enough. The DSL line is going to have more limitations then the server would likely have.

Re:Are your needs that great (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430684)

I suspect...
Yes, but it would be nice to actually know. All he gave is "Now, the time has come to consider a replacement.", to which my first thought was "why?", and my second is, "why not just leave it well alone and let it do the job it's been doing just fine for so long?".

I think knowing why the existing equipment is no longer good enough is actually very good information to have when recommending a replacement.

Reuse the chassis (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419646)

The rack-mounted chassis is what costs more than the normal PC parts, so just re-use the one you already have and order the rest of it from anywhere. You should be able to buy what you're looking for for less than $400 if you don't have to order the chassis.

Consider the Geode (2, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421050)

I would consider an AMD Geode chip. It likely faster than you need, and you can get a motherboard/cpu/heatsink combo for around $100. They usually take DDR1 memory and 1GB DDR1 is very inexpensive. Video is built in, like most proper server boards. The power savings will probably be substantial over a "server motherboard" type computer also.

Re:Consider the Geode or a Via C7 (3, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421710)

I have seen Via cpu/motherboard combos on newegg for under $50. Really cheap and low power. The motherboard for the GPC that Walmart was selling also runs about $50.

Re:Reuse the chassis (1)

Loualbano2 (98133) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422104)

If you cannot reuse the current chassis, I would take a look at these guys:

They have about the dirt cheapest bare rackmount chassis and accessories that I have run across.


Re:Reuse the chassis (1)

W. Justice Black (11445) | more than 6 years ago | (#23426040)

You could also try some of the lower-end Supermicro Chassis:

(SuperMicro SC512 - roughly $80) []

Rackmount chassis, in my experience, only get really expensive if deep (requiring more oomph from the rail kits) or have hotswap bits.

Re:Reuse the chassis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23428400)

Don't waste your time on some generic rack-mount chassis. Just go to ebay or search on the web. An old HP DL320 would suit your needs, is cheap ($1k), and is far better than some generic case.

If you want something mainstream that you can upgrade with off-the-shelf parts, stay away from rack mount gear.

Shop around (1)

Pengo (28814) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419670)

You can get a low cost dell server for cheap, 1u or even cheaper if you go with a low end desk-side server.

Why do you need a rack mount? Seems like for a home server a quiet desk-side server would be easier to keep cool and quiet, and more space conservative.

Re:Shop around (1)

emag (4640) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420054)

You can get a low cost dell server for cheap, 1u or even cheaper if you go with a low end desk-side server.
I'm going to have to second this. As much as I loathe Dell's consumer products, and especially their laptops, I'm really in love with their rack-mount servers. The last I checked, there are often deals on low-end servers in their SMB server section. Granted, it's not going to be a $199 PC, but it's still in the "reasonable" realm for rackmount... (ie, just speccing out a 1U PowerEdge R200 using the specs given, it comes in at under $1k. If you look at over the course of "many moons", that's a decent price for rackmount. You'll do a LOT better going desktop/tower though, in terms of prices.

Keep in mind though that lately I've been speccing a half-dozen 4U 16-core systems in the range of $20k-$30k to (eventually) replace multiple racks of older equipment[1], and so my views of "reasonable" might be skewed...

[1] ...once I can prove to the middle people that it's at least as acceptable in terms of power/performance/reliability as using ancient EOSLed random systems pulled from surplus...

Re:Shop around (1)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422082)

If your quality/reliability target is that of 'off the shelf' parts anyway, you can get the R200 for around five hundred bucks and spend another five hundred upgrading the hard drive and ram. Heck, you could hit 2x2G of ram and 2x1TB SATA hard drives for not that much more. If you don't need a DRAC then you're saving a nice chunk of change at that price point.

Re:Shop around (1)

QuestionsNotAnswers (723120) | more than 6 years ago | (#23426986)

Use ebay.

1000s of rackmount servers being sold second hand cheaply (and you can find trustable sellers - most sellers are businesses regularly selling old equipment)... (We got a 1U Proliant DL360 cheap however it sounds like a jet engine -- I would't want one in the house!)

Re:Shop around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23420392)

Agreed on Dell. I know the requirements are only for something basic, but Dell often has deals where they toss in more ram or a second CPU or hard drive free. They start at around $800.

Sure, you can toss something together on Newegg with a Supermicro case for around that, but having a 5 year warrenty is nice.

Desktop chassis is more appropriate (3, Informative)

Ted Cabeen (4119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419726)

The one thing I will note about rackmount servers is that they are all very noisy. For home installation, a desktop chassis will nearly always fit your needs and will be much quieter and more power-efficient than a rackmount. I recently replaced my home server with about $850 in parts from newegg. If you're interested in making a quiet desktop, take a look at SilentPCReview [] .

If you're set on a rackmount server, I've been very happy with Silicon Mechanics [] , but their cheapest machine is still ~$1000.

Re:Desktop chassis is more appropriate (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423444)

I can't agree more. For something of his needs, something like a MacMini or a small Shuttle XPC would be perfect, and very cheap to build.. (if your insistant on using a "rack" you can get a shelf for your rack for dirt cheap. On the mac-Mini, the lack of a fan in the chasis, as well as the external power supply work great. Less moving parts to break, and less heat from the power supply. You can find them on Ebay cheap.

Re:Desktop chassis is more appropriate (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423686)

newer mini's do have a fan. It only comes on with certain temperatures though and doesn't last long. The loudest part of my mini is still the Hard drive. In a quiet room I can hear it spin up. of course with the lack of blinking HD activity lights that noise is the only way to know the unit is active. I routine can her my mini's fan kick on while playing games(unreal, homeworld, etc) even then it is so quiet I have to try to hear it.

Just upgrade (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419740)

NewEgg or ZipZoomFly have motherboards, CPUs, Drives, and memory. But the big question is why update? What is wrong with the current server? I am sure you could saturate that DSL line with the server you have so why upgrade? Maybe just upgrade the disk? Or maybe more memory.

Your other option is to watch Every now and then they have cheap refurbished servers.

Re:Just upgrade (2, Funny)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23425796)

But the big question is why update?

To impress the babes, dude!

I Second the Geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23426214)

Take a look here [] at what The Computer Geeks has available for servers. One of the listings is for a new 1U Pentium IV server w/ 1GB RAM & 120 GB HD for $320. Add a second 120 GB HD for $50 and a slimline combo optical drive for $25, and you have a basic 1U server for about $400.

ebay (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23426480)

If you really don't want to just swap out the guts, I bought one off ebay several years ago. Mine happened to be from Berkeley Communications, but any high volume refurbisher or reseller with a clean record who resells good, working gear, probably has a deal for you.

My personal hobby: misusing internet memes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23419752)

Perhaps you should look into setting up a beowulf cluter!

Pogo Linux (1)

mauryisland (130029) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419776)

Pogo Linux [] has some nice gear for cheap.

Re:Pogo Linux (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421618)

Agreed, Pogo's stuff is good, and their people know what they're doing there. Plus, you can buy servers and workstations with or without the MS tax; your choice.

ebay! (1)

Grey_14 (570901) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419784)

You really even need to ask? E-Bay! That or suck it up and just use a desktop tower, it'll take more room but give you much more flexibility on the cheap,

Pricewatch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23419854)

Looks to me like someone has never heard of Pricewatch.... Since you seem incapable of using a search engine, I'll help you out... here is one that I found for you []
Its $200 and surpasses your demands.... should you need more, they sell a dual core for about $100 more. If that will be all, I'm outta here. Thank you, I'll be here all week.

New Egg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23419866)

Try They have barebones rackmount servers starting at $350 or so.

eBay (1)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419870)

Actually, I've had some good luck finding older but still very very usable rackmount systems on eBay. Seems there's never a shortage of companies getting rid of year-old kit they just upgraded.

Re:eBay (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420940)

or buying even older kit and throwing away the P3 system that was inside it.

Go with a Barebones Rackmount (1)

casualsax3 (875131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419896)

NewEgg has some relatively inexpensive Asus and SuperMicro chassis to chose from: []

Re:Go with a Barebones Rackmount (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420084)

Second that on! Also, if you're looking for a true telco-style rack, look no further than [] , although they probably charge enterprise prices, they do have just about everything. I would suggest if you don't really need a full-on, telco rack that needs to be mounted to a cement or other reinforced flooring go with a rolling 19" guitar effects rack. They are usually sturdy enough to support a 1U or 2U racked computer as well as your sweet guitar effects, plus you don't need to brace the damn thing.

A one server rack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23419948)

What a waste of space and energy. One rack mounted server in your closet makes about as much sense as hamburger ear muffs.

Get a tower. Cheaper, takes less space and is quieter.

Re:A one server rack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23420950)

hamburger ear muffs

Congrats on my first LOL of the day!

Dude, (2, Interesting)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419952)

You're getting a Dell! Srsly tho, you can get rackmount servers from them for cheaper than you can build them yourself.

Re:Dude, (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420190)

Dead on. If you really need a rackmount server, dell has low prices on single units that you can NOT beat. But the question remains, if you only need one why the heck are you getting a rackmount? Taking a serious look at your logic behind this decision is in order. Here is a start: they DO make server-class computers without 19" rack ears on them.

Re:Dude, (1)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421104)

While I've always been a big 'do it yourself' (coming from a geek who has a 42U rack cabinet full of servers in his living room), for 1U or 2U systems I'd say to go Dell. Their systems are reliable and dirt cheap. Try to find a vendor that offers one of their 'special buys,' which also have support contracts for 1/5th the usual cost.

surpluscomputers or (3, Informative)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 6 years ago | (#23419996)

both have slightly older rack mounted computers on the cheap. in the order of $100 - $400. I've seen a dual xeon with 4 drives for like $250.

Re:surpluscomputers or (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420268) have just jumped on this market. They have a couple of really nice lowish-end (in terms of expandability) 1U servers that would be great for such projects. I don't know if I'd use those in my datacenter, but they're great for home use.

I was looking at some of their dual-core xeon options with 2 SATA bays. You can get one of those for $400.

Does it have to be 1U? (2, Informative)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420052)

I am just wondering if it has to be 1U. You can get a nice 4U server complete for $350. It is close to your specs already. Just upgrade RAM, and add a second hard drive, possibly upgrade processor (it has an Intel 775 socket motherboard with 1066FSB Core 2 Duo processor support). So $30 for extra RAM, $60 for disk, and possibly $200 for new CPU, you are still just in the $500-600 range, which isn't bad at all. []

Re:Does it have to be 1U? (1)

joecasanova (1253876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422710)


I have a couple of the Antec 4U rackmount ATX cases that I use as "glorified servers" at home and they function great! You can get the cases for under $200, more like around $150 maybe less online. Then just buy whatever ATX-based components that you need and you are set.

Heat issues in the closet? (2, Interesting)

initself (582182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420064)

I am also in the market, but I am worried about heat issues in the closet. Are there servers that are more heat tolerant than others? I tried looking at some military grade stuff, but a lot of these vendors are hard to place orders with. Is there a way to build a machine that is very tolerant of heat?

Re:Heat issues in the closet? (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422740)

It's easier to just avoid making heat in the first place. Use old h/w or massively underclocked new-ish HW, with onboard video or a really crappy video card.

Re:Heat issues in the closet? (1)

initself (582182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23426690)

I agree with you, but closet get hot with the ambient air alone.

Ebay (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420164)

I agree with most of the points on here. 1) Rackmounts are excessively loud in "most" instances, so unless you need a small height factor or already have a rack to put it in, I'd recommend getting a desktop of some sort. Power usage should be another concern if you're going to have it running 24x7. That being said, ebay is a great place to pick up rack mount computers. One example are the IBM e326 servers which use AMD processors. You can pick up one of those for ~$250 with an Opteron 250 and 1 GB of RAM. (They went for about $2k new).

Is an ask slashdot necessary for this? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420370)

Come on, there are tons of rackable servers out there. If you don't feel like putting together parts, go to dell. They start at $800. []

If you don't want to spend that much, go to newegg, search for 1u and enjoy the 379 results.

If you want something in between; []

There's no need to place a huge order for this type stuff. And there's no need to ask /. I guess next we'll be asked

System76 (2, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420440) [] if you're into Ubuntu...

Whitebox vendors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23420470)

Not really an endorsement, but here's one: []

I'm sure there plenty more like them out there...

Where to buy a server (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420820)

My friends, their friends, and their friends (like, people I've never heard of), always end up coming to me for this same advice.

    Sometimes I give/sell them parts out of my garage, because their old equipment also somehow ends up in my garage. :)

    I tend to like SuperMicro equipment, so if you have a few bucks to spend, go find yourself a nice SuperMicro 1u. But since this is your personal machine, and you don't have a huge budget, you'll have to shop like I do.

    Check out the VisionMan machines on For about $550, you can get a 2Ghz dual core with 1Gb RAM, 2 160Gb SATA drives []

    I haven't bought any yet, but if I ever run out of parts in my garage for new servers, I'll probably buy one. :)

    You can always go browsing on eBay. Sometimes you'll find a good deal, but generally you're not going to get much decent for under $500. There are resellers on there all the time, who grab up anything cheap (or bid them up to over $500), that they're going to sell to their customers. If you do, be cautious of home built machines. They're the best thing in the world if they're done right, but if they weren't, you can experience lots of nasty problems. Like, if there isn't enough air flow, the CPU can overheat, and in a week or two you may end up looking for a new machine again.

    I was building my own 1u machines for quite a while. When we approached 1Ghz, I had to start doing some special cooling. After that, since the company was making good money, it was cost effective to get the SuperMicro machines.

    The final option is... I needed an incoming mail server to filter viruses and spam. This was a rather urgent matter, and I didn't really have time to go through my garage piecing a machine together and test it. I also didn't have time to order anything. I went down to CompUSA (they re-opened close to my house), and picked up an eMachines AMD64 with 1Gb ram for $250. It's a tower case, but if I felt ambitious (which I didn't that night), I could have easily rebuilt it into a spare 2u case. The memory was not seated well when I unboxed it, but that's the only problem that it's had so far, and it's been running hard for a few weeks.

When did Ask Slashdot become a Google Replacement? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23420938)

I mean seriously, a few minutes of quality time spent with Google shows many, many low cost server options.

I tend to agree with a lot of the posters here though who ask "Why rackmount?" I see no logical reason for it other than the 'cool/geek' factor.

Re:When did Ask Slashdot become a Google Replaceme (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421536)

Dude, you must be new here. 90+% of Ask Slashdot questions can be answered in some form by Google, people ask questions here to get a particular informed answer to the question from a group of fellow geeks.

Re:When did Ask Slashdot become a Google Replaceme (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422254)

I mean seriously, a few minutes of quality time spent with Google shows many, many low cost server options.

And almost all of them are worthless unless you already know exactly what you want. Hardware changes so fast that sometimes it's hard to know what the good gear is this month.

Re:When did Ask Slashdot become a Google Replaceme (1)

Sosarian (39969) | more than 6 years ago | (#23425134)

I've spent the last couple of weeks searching in Google, with 1U and various search terms like Taiwan, China, Ubuntu, Linux, etc.

Google doesn't have an informed opinion about what I'm searching for, and doesn't really give me any of the options I've even seen posted in these responses.

I grant you, I'd get some sort of answer from Google, but not necessarily a good one.

Check out Epic Systems (2, Informative)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421232)

They specialize in like new lease returned hardware, including Big Iron. I got an HP Proliant from them for a song last year.

Quiet low power 1U (2, Informative)

DDumitru (692803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421244)

I have build a couple of these for colos, but they are low cost, quiet, and low power, so you might be interested.

Start with a Supermicro 1U 510. This is 11" deep with an 80+ efficiency 200W power supply. It will house most uATX motherboards, although you will have to nibble out the back panel to get non supermicro boards to fit.

Then add a low cost AMD socket-AM2 motherboard.

Put a low power 45W dual core like a BE-2400 or one of the newer series. You will need a 1U blower for this.

Put one 3.5" drive (or up to 4 2.5" drives).

With a Gigabyte board and 1 2.5" HDD + 1 2.5" SSD, my system draws 37 watts in use as measured from the power line. It is not 100% quiet, but is the quietest of any 1U I have worked with.

Re:Quiet low power 1U (1)

brobak (683932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422930)

I just put together a rig based on your suggestion on newegg. Looks like a decent setup, but I'm wondering which CPU cooler you run with?

Re:Quiet low power 1U (1)

DDumitru (692803) | more than 6 years ago | (#23425300)

we use dynatron A48G for AM2. Not quiet, but if the OS can fan control it stays reasonable.

Hey! Me too! Help me pick a CPU (3, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421434)

I'm replacing a dying server, and for various reasons I'm getting a Dell [] , probably the PowerEdge 840. My questions:

  • AMD or Intel? It seems like the ball's back in Intel's court these days, but I don't track hardware news so closely anymore.
  • Pentium E2180 @2.0GHz (free), Core 2 Duo @2.2GHz ($50), or dual core Xeon at 1.86GHz ($100)? Cycles aren't everything, but I'm guessing that the Core 2 Duo at 18% higher clock speed ought to be the sweet spot.
  • For RAM: 1GBx2 or 512MBx4? In some systems, more sticks == more interleaving == faster. In others, more sticks == more latency. What's the current thinking?
  • Why doesn't Slashdot display bulleted lists correctly anymore?

To those who would tell me (and this story's poster) to Google it: I'd rather get today's recommendations from an interactive forum than try to find a website with the same information from the last year or so. Besides, what geek doesn't want to talk about hardware?

Why? (2, Informative)

leoxx (992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421452)

1 processor, dual drives, and 1G RAM is about all I need

Perhaps I am confused. Why exactly do you want a rack-mounted server for this? Why not just use an old PC, most people have scads of these things sitting around. Better yet, use something like the VIA NAS 7800 [] and throw it in a nice small quiet case. Compared to some crappy old 1U server, you'll save hundreds of dollars a year in electricity costs alone if the thing is on 24x7.

Soekris 5501-70 (1)

JustShootThemAll (1284898) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421574)

I have a Soekris 5501-70 in a 1u case. Currently it serves 14 smallish websites that get about 5000 hits a day (combined) and does DNS, email and several Postgress databases for my own use. It feels snappy enough.

I'm thinking about adding another 5501 in the same case for firewalling, routing and providing wireless for the rest of my network.

Power usage is minimal, it is *completely* silent (no fans) and it has been proven to be rock solid.

More info at Soekris [] or kd85 [] .

Disclosure: I'm just a happy customer.

Rack mount is dying (2, Informative)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421764)

Are you #()*& insane? Why would you want a rack mount anything, especially in your home? Rack stuff, especially 1U, is noisy (it has to have small fans that spin really fast) and it's an inconvenient form factor unless you really need to pack a lot of equipment into a space. The rack alone takes up 21"x42"xheight, so unless you actually need something on the order of 336 CPU cores (42U of two-way quad cores), rack mount is a horrible idea. Ditch the rack and buy yourself a Shuttle barebones P238 (no, I don't work for them, but I do have shelves, not racks, full of them and they work great). Put 8G of memory, a few Raptor HDs, and a quad core in it and the whole thing will be less than $2500 from NewEgg for a sweet system. Then, put it any where you please because it's dead quiet and always ice cold (we do weather modeling on them, so we run the CPUs at 100% for days at a time).

Use a hosting company... (4, Informative)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23421928)


I used to have a dual CPU P3 1U rackmount server I used for those sort of things. A day of running it through a Kill-A-Watt showed me it was costing almost $40 a month in electricity.

That buys a LOT of hosting when you look at places like dreamhost, etc.

Re:Use a hosting company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23427232)

You're not kidding: I bought a used off-lease Dell 6850 from Dell and have steadily built it up over the last 2 years: 24G RAM (Xen virtualization using CentOS), plenty of internal and external SCSI disks, DRAC card, 3 Xeons @ 3.66GHz, etc. The major problem is that it had dual power supplies and *only* runs on 240V (it honestly can't handle 100-120V AC!). I had to use the dryer outlet at one house and now I'm using a 1500VA step-up transformer (120->240V) to power this monster. It is 800+Watts of power per power supply (excluding the external SCSI array), and untold Btus of heat, and while it heats the basement nicely it costs $$$ to run 24/7...

Hosting companies are sounding better and better every year...

Re:Use a hosting company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23427286)

Or get more efficient parts. I have a core2duo running 24/7 at home, and my electricity bill is $31/month (_total_).

It's not 1U, but if you're buying a new home server you're probably more likely to buy a bigger, cheaper box than you are to use a hosting company.

Why use 1U? Use a Mac mini (3, Insightful)

pugdk (697845) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422270)

Seriously, I had the exact same concerns recently, however I refuse to listen to the insane noise usually coming from an 1U rack..

I bought a cheap mac mini (intel core solo) on ebay, gutted it, replaced the CPU, added 2 GB RAM and a 250 GB drive.. I then put an external 250 GB drive on top of it. Alternatively buy a brand new Mac mini with the specs you need.

There you go - $600 or so and you have a totally silent "home server".

Re:Why use 1U? Use a Mac mini (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23424708)

Dead on. I used to have a whole server room in my house, and replaced it with two Mac Mini's that quietly sit in my living room. I've given away anything bigger, noisier, and more power-consuming.

Really, for the size, noise, and economy of the Mac Mini... its not worth having a server room/closet at home anymore.

Re:Why use 1U? Use a laptop (1)

oboreruhito (925965) | more than 6 years ago | (#23427784)

I bought a cheap mac mini (intel core solo) on ebay, gutted it, replaced the CPU, added 2 GB RAM and a 250 GB drive.. I then put an external 250 GB drive on top of it. Alternatively buy a brand new Mac mini with the specs you need.

There you go - $600 or so and you have a totally silent "home server".
If all you're going to do is gut a Mac mini and add components, get a POS laptop off eBay instead. Same thing, no Mac markup.

Re:Why use 1U? Use a laptop (1)

pugdk (697845) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430116)

Most likely not as silent. The mac mini is surprisingly silent compared to all laptops I've ever used.

eBay (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422336)

I bought a pair of 1U dual PIIIs on eBay for about $50 each. The drive bays were missing of course but they can also be found on eBay. Toss in a couple of drives and away you go. Cheap and effective.

weird stuff warehouse (2, Informative)

Polo (30659) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422390)

I got a small 1U 150w celeron system for less than $50, but you have to go in to find that kind of stuff.

They have nice current systems too. []

highly recommended

Mini-ITX Solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23422406)

I was recently looking for a low end 1U server, and the cheapest that I could find was at [] for ~$500. They specialize in mini-ITX systems so the systems don't draw too much power.

Re:Mini-ITX Solutions (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430728)

I would also like to recommend [] which I've used for various bits in the past.

Ebay, Craigslist, too. (1)

millia (35740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422420)

For my home server closet and rack, I found a nifty 5u unit on ebay for about $75; there's a vendor out of LA who sells them for about $40+$35 shipping on a 'buy it now' basis. It's not the best engineered case, but it was also easy to take apart and noise-reduce with massed vinyl and rubber grommets, etc.

Personally, I wanted a rack server for several reasons:
a) more space for hard drives
b) easier to fit in than putting a server on a shelf unit.
c) looks cool, and is easy to cool.

It is still loud, but it's also got 6 hard drives in it, and it's only really loud when it's actively engaged in serving video or storing backups, but not for DNS queries.

Craigslist, if you're near a major market, should have plenty of used units too. Be sure to buy one that takes ATX mobos- it is definitely not worth your time to modify an AT case for ATX. It's easy to put a via or other small mobo in an AT case, though, and that's how I'm building the rack mount for the home theater pc. It'll look close enough to Hal for my purposes. :) (1)

jacks smirking reven (909048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422524)

For rackmounts, after searching for a place for decent custom rackmounts i finally found this shop: []

Unlike most custom shops they dont totally rape you on component upgrades and they have a wide selection of form factors and options, and anything they dont offer on the site they're pretty open about customizing. And everything if very cleanly laid out and tied down, very professional and its all standard form factor parts. And theyll preload many flavors of linux at minimal cost. No i don't work for them, but they've done me right.

Want a cheap refurb with serious geek cred? (2, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422616)

Consider [] , where you can get dirt-cheap Sun gear. Check out the Ugly Duckling specials for working systems with cosmetic damage dirt cheap. They sell IBM server stuff, too, but that's pretty much all marked "call for pricing".

Building your own (2, Informative)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23422836)

Unless you're really strapped for space, you can save a good chunk of money by going with something other than a 1U chassis. 2U costs less than 1U (generally). 3U costs less than 2U, and 4U is generally way cheaper than 3U. 4U is the sweet spot since it's little more than a mid-tower case turned on its side -- not that there's anything wrong with that, of course!

There's other reasons to go with a 4U case. You can use standard PSU's in a 4U case. You can use standard PCI/PCI-X/PCI-E cards in a 4U case (or a 3U in some cases). For 1U or 2U you'll either need low profile cards (2U only) or you'll need a riser card.

Another nice thing about any case bigger than 1U is that you generally don't need any special motherboard. You'll need a special heatsink that blows from the side for a 2U, but 3U and 4U can typically use any old HSF you have laying around.

Now, that being said, I just built four 2U servers for my home rendering studio. This is what I bought:

Chenbro 2U (PN# 21508B) []
This is an excellent server case. It offers eight hot-plug SATA drive slots (SAS is optional). It holds any typical ATX/E-ATX server board. 2U PSU's up to 650W are available.

Tyan Thunder S3992-E dual Socket-1207 []
I've got four of these, each with two Opteron 2220 CPU's and 8GB of RAM. One of them has an Areca SATA RAID controller running eight 1TB drives as my primary file server. These come with dual Gigabit Ethernet links and a single 10/100 link.

Good luck!

Re:Building your own (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423206)

Since this is a home server I'd second this recommendation. 1Us are great for colo because they generally charge you per rack unit, but they're really poor value for money where space isn't a premium.

Penguin Computing (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423180)

Although I tend to go with them at work, I've been happy with Penguin Computing, and their prices are reasonable enough that they'd be good for home use too.

Newegg, or even Dell (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423372)

Newegg always has rackmount chassis and such available. I've never ordered that stuff from them so I can't vouch for any of it, but I've priced it out for comparison purposes before.

Dell will also sell rackmount servers to individuals. I'm not horribly impressed with their servers, but I'm forced to use them because my employer contracts with them and unless there are some very, very big exceptions, we buy all of our hardware through them. Ironically the prices listed for home users are often a lot higher than the prices listed for businesses because they start the business systems at higher base specs, but even with that aside they'll (much like a car dealer) start the list price high and then work it down through negotiations to make you feel like you're getting a better deal.

Given what I've seen comparison pricing though, if I were to build my own rackmount system, I'd almost certainly assemble it from parts from somewhere like Newegg. I'll admit though that while I favor 1U units for most everything except database servers (where I generally want to stuff in more drives than a 1U can handle for redundancy), I'd probably go with at least a 2U case if I were building it myself. Just more room for the system to breath, which is important when using commodity parts that weren't necessarily designed with a tiny little enclosure in mind.

Re:Newegg, or even Dell (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423688)

EDIT: should read prices listed for home users are often a lot lower

4:00pm so I can't claim lack of coffee as the culprit. Just weird typo :).

DL360 off ebay (1)

hpa (7948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423504)

I would get an HP DL360 series machine off eBay, at whatever generation you happen to need (G2 should be OK given your specs.) They are quite inexpensive by now, *very* well built, and remote-manageable. The downside is they take only SCSI disks, which would be a problem if you need more than a few tens of gigabytes of storage, but if you can spare a second U you can buy an inexpensive eSATA enclosure and put in an eSATA card in the machine.

IBM Servers / eBay (1)

Fescen9 (1030850) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423724)

I recommend getting IBM xSeries servers off eBay. Most of the ones you find are returned leases which have been checked out and re-sold. I've personally purchased three x330 eServers (1U/2xP3 1G+/2GB memroy, etc..) for $100 each and have seen many x345's (2U/2xXeon) for as low as $350.

Does it have to be a rackable system? (1)

t-maxx cowboy (449313) | more than 6 years ago | (#23423932)

Don't get me wrong, I would love to put a rack in my house, and several rackable systems most likely of the Apple - Xserve variety (definitely not low power).

In the past year however I have dumped the over sized, excessively power hungry gray box servers for an Intel based Apple - Mac mini, only a 110W power supply. Then opted for a couple of external SATA drive enclosures for additional storage, the power bricks / wall warts used for the external drive enclosures are low wattage (though I do not have the numbers for them at the time of this posting.)

Net result, likely similar overall foot print, though the Mac mini is a little taller than 1u.

When the original G4 Mac mini was really wanted a Mac mini just so it could sit on top of my PowerMac G5, cause it would look cool. However after the time it took to finally purchase a Mac mini, I ended up using it to off-load the background server processes I had setup on the client version of Mac OS X, and not have to worry about the services impacting video editing and other processes in the foreground. Also I had chose to place it in my stereo rack, and use it as a media center to play back DivX, XviD, and other video types.

Go with cheap 3U cases (1)

NecroBones (513779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23424218)

eBay is your friend, as is google. :)

Seriously, I've found many sources for inexpensive rackmount chassis online. Often you get what you pay for, of course, but places like "" have some great deals on generic ATX rackmount chassis that will probably be good enough. I have several of the 3U chassis, and I think they're great. They're just tall enough to support a standard ATX power supply and full upright cards instead of using a PCI riser board or some-such. (one caveat-- don't buy anything electronic from, such as power supplies, KVMs, etc... bad experiences on 100% of those!)

Most of these sorts of chassis will support 80mm or larger fans, which of course can be run relatively quietly, just like your desktop.

People put a lot of emphasis on 1U servers, but unless you're really pressed for space, why bother? Those high-RPM 40mm fans are ridiculously noisy. And when parts fail, you need specialized 1U replacements, such as low-profile heatsinks and CPU fans, and 1U power supplies.

Just get something bigger that will take 100% standard ATX components.

Rack shelves are the solution (2, Insightful)

kriston (7886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23424482)

First, if you're looking for inexpensive rack-mounted servers, check which sells several machines of recent vintage.

However, you might consider this idea. I decided to be more flexible for my own home after observing a small dotcom that acquired several smaller dotcoms, some of which used towers and others that used rack mounted machines.

I opted to install a two-post rack, the kind some people call "relay racks," and I installed shelves on them. The shelves allow me to install whatever computer I want, whether rack-mounted or tower configuration. They also allow me to use non-rack-mount communications gear like routers and modems. I also have punch-down blocks at the top for cabling and power hanging off the side. Naturally your four-post 19-inch rack would have similar if not somewhat less expensive shelving available for it.

Back to my setup, the all-aluminum two-post rack came from American Power Conversion and only cost me $150.
The shelves vary from $35 to $70 each. The shelves holding the smaller gear are cantilevered and vented. The rest are center-mounted.

For your rack you can use your old rack-mounted computer as a shelf for the other components.

There shouldn't be a reason to restrict your options to just rack-mounted computers. The more flexible and less expensive tower form factors are definitely going to satisfy you more.

Cheap rack mount equipment (2, Informative)

Xoc-S (645831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23424624)

First you need a rack. I got my rack at the local used computer equipment store in Seattle, RE-PC. Got a 75U rack for $75. Didn't need that much U space, but allows for further expansion. 45U takes as much floor space as 12U!

Next you need cases. I got 4U cases. There are lots around. As others have mentioned, 4U cases allow you to use any standard hardware.

Next you need slide rails. Search for "rack mount slide rails" on eBay. I bought from ArrowMax for $18, plus shipping. The shipping is expensive, so buy all the rails you will need at once. Rails work just fine.

Since I use 4U cases, almost any motherboard will work. I had to search to find a commodity motherboard that supports ECC memory. They don't tend to say that in the descriptions for non-server motherboards on NewEgg, so you have to look in the downloaded manual for a BIOS setting that allows you to turn on ECC support. I wouldn't run a server without ECC memory.

Many KVM's are rack mountable already--you want the little L shaped mounting brackets. Don't need a KVM for a single server, of course. Also bought 24 port network switch at RE-PC for cheap. Works just fine. Use a small keyboard and minimal LCD screen.

I'm really happy with my rack. All blinken-lighten and all.

Re:Cheap rack mount equipment (1)

Xoc-S (645831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23424894)

Of course, I mean 45U rack for $75. 75U would be a little tall!

Ask yourself why you want a home server (1)

renfrow (232180) | more than 6 years ago | (#23424956)

I've run a home server of one kind or another since the early nineties. But, because of having to move, I reconsidered why I wanted one, and decided that using a hosting service was more cost effective(money AND time) for a 24/7 server. Not having to maintain the hardware/software, deal with the heat and noise issues made it an easy choice for me. When I was learning it was helpful to have my own server to monkey with, but, now that I'm beyond that, I let someone else do that work. For local file servers NAS servers are cheap, quiet, and low power. They can be tucked away in a closet or cupboard and ignored for the most part.


Don't buy any more parts, rent a dedicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23426672)

There are many joys to running a server in meatspace. As recently as 2001, I was able to see and touch the machines for which I was responsible as a system administrator. After going through the dotcom thing, I've been independent since 2002, and have been able to stay self-sufficient with a
very small capacity since then. In 2002, I had 3 servers connected to a DSL line at home, as you do now. You have to balance the costs involved
versus the benefits you will get back.

I started using dedicated servers with month-to-month arrangements starting in 2003, and have never looked back. I still have a test server
in my apartment that is connected to the net via a cable modem (port 80 blocked, no static IP) and I have a server with a static IP and port 80
visible on a DSL line at the office of a customer, I run his DSL server in return for a free spot for my server.

I've looked at VPSs, but I find that they do not really give you enough storage or RAM for the money, and are slow relative to real hardware. I wouldn't try to run serious production
on a DSL line, but if you are happy with the server, good for you.

Before you spend any money on new hardware, consider this: I just arranged to lease a dual core (AMD X2 2.2) with 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive, 100Mbps connection, 3TB/mo., 5 IPs, for $70 one-time and $65/mo., no contract. So bear those numbers in mind as you consider the business case
for investing in new hardware.

My suggestion: don't spend anything on new hardware on your home server. Use it as a test server, use it for your worst experiments before you apply them to your real, "production" server, which should be a dedicated you lease month-to-month.

If you already have a static IP address on your home server, then you'll have a 2-server farm, enough to run your own pair
of DNSs and with the ability to have timed rsync offsite backups from each server to the other.

Is it your OWN closet? (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23428090)

Then, unless you've got a blistering need to fit it into a rack, consider either a small PC (Compaq Deskpro EN comes to mind) or a Mac mini (with an external HDD, I guess.) The Mini in particular is low power, low heat, low noise. I've had one in my bedroom doing hosting duties since February '05. Before that, it was a Compaq Deskpro EN SFF for a few years.

Tyan Transport... (1)

ltning (143862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23429840)

...has some core2duo mobile based 1U barebones with room for a CF card, two SATA HDDs and "enough" memory, which make almost no noise at all unless under heavy load, and even then probably a lot less than your current box.

I use them for firewalling, and they are teh sweet, with 2 gigabit and 1 FE intel NIC onboard. /Eirik

SGI server (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23430786)

I recommend an SGI server : []

They start with the minimal specs you quote (I think) and they tend to scale quite well, so I'm lead to believe, in case you increase the size of your family and/or circle of friends...and they start at a very reasonable price, I'm sure.
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