Home server - January 2014
The home server. It's subject to heated debate on Hardware.Info. Opinions differ widely on subjects like the necessity for keeping the design compact, the advantage of hot-swap bays, acceptable energy consumption, how much CPU power is needed, what type of storage and so on. It's safe to say that the "ideal home server" does not exist, because its intended use differs widely among our readers.
This doesn't mean that we can't provide a good guide to effective home servers. There are two options, either you buy one off-the-shelf or you build one yourself. While there are a number of pre-assembled home servers available that have advantages in terms of compact design and price-performance ratio, the seasoned Hardware.Info reader of course prefers building one themselves. Our guide will focus finding the right balance between energy consumption, affordability and expandability.
Power usage is essential. A NAS with two disks uses no more than 35W, and an Atom-based PC can easily stay under 50W as well. Both of these solutions lack the all-important aspect of expandability, so we are more flexible in how much power can be used. Our recommended configuration uses between 55W and 65W. You can achieve lower energy consumption, but at a significant trade-off in terms of processor power and upgrading options. A compromise in other words, like with all our recommended systems (except for the Ultimate PC of course).
The system we recommend will cost around £330, which is barely more than an off-the-shelf home server. The advantages of our system are obvious: more SATA ports, more space for expansion, more options for upgrading the CPU and RAM, and even the possibility of adding more storage controllers. And last but not least, you get to choose the operating system.
This home server is perfectly suited for making back-ups, streaming media, and it has enough power to act as a basic server for FTP or your photo albums for example.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
CPU cooler - Boxed cooler
Graphics card -
Optical drive - No optical drive
|CPU coolers||Boxed cooler||–|
|Memory modules||Kingston ValueRam 4GB DDR3-1600 CL9 XMP kit||£43.00|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB (SATA3, 64MB)||£166.74|
|Optical drives||No optical drive||–|
|Cases||Cooler Master N300||£35.26|
|Power supplies||Be quiet! System Power 7 300W||–|
|Add as wish list||Average total price:||£273.82|