As I mentioned recently, I am planning a new media system for a new residence. Having already experimented successfully with dvblink, I decided it was time to move my TV cards from my HTPC to my server and hand the duty of recording, transcoding and storing TV to the server.
I decided it made sense to replace the core system (motherboard, cpu, memory) since I need more PCI–E slots, and DDR3 memory is much cheaper than DDR2, as well as a touch lower powered. The lowest powered modern system out there is the AMD E350. I have an E35M1-M Pro in my HTPC and have been impressed with it, however it doesn’t really offer the grunt that I want from the server, in fact it is generally slower than the Sempron it would be replacing! The same reasoning also rules out any Atom based system. All other AMD platforms are significantly more power hungry than modern Intel systems of the same performance. I already have a desktop Core 2 Duo system which would meet the requirements, but then that would need replacing with a new system.
Either way, I needed a new system, and it made sense to get an up-to-date one with DDR3, and since I’m happy with my current desktop, and would like lots of memory in the server, it made sense to put the new system into the server. According to an article on SilentPCReview, the Core i5-2400 can be undervolted which results in power draw very similar to the low powered (and lower performing) Core i5-2400S. The 2400 has performance approximately 4x that of the sempron and given the doubling of memory, and swapping of an old 300Gb Maxtor system drive for a spare WD Raptor that I have, I anticipate a huge performance boost — exactly what is required.
SPCR undervolted their 2400 to 1.08v, but I have seen reports of chips undervolted a touch more, down to as low as 1.045v, 1.040v or even 1.000v. As with overclocking, this will depend on the individual chip, but I’m optimistic I can drop the voltage and thereby drop the power usage too.
I eventually settled on the Core i5-2400, along with 8Gig of DDR3 and the Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3-B3. I selected the Gigabyte because I have had their boards before and been at least as happy with them as with other makes. I opted for a Z68 board because I wanted a board with lots of PCI–E slots and also onboard graphics. H67 boards don’t have enough PCI–E lanes to accommodate my RAID and TV cards. A final bonus is that in future when I eventually next upgrade the server, the new board will get redeployed, and being Z68 is more flexible for other uses.
Once the new system is up and running, with both dvblink and flexraid I will write-up a review and build guide.
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