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Buying Homeserver
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Buying Homeserver

CabbageCabbage Member
edited January 14 in General

Recently, home servers, especially setting up my own Intranet, got my attention, but my personal circumstances prevented me from actually working on it. Now that that is coming to an end, I am planning on buying a server hardware to run in my home.

But what keeps me from just buying Synology and be done with it is that I'm getting the impression that they are primarily focused around storage and serving said data. My primary use case includes tinkering, expecting no less than 4 VMs, alongside your typical NAS use. I also plan to run Docker within that VM (I want to separate headaches from network isolation from headaches from trying to run programs), and maybe game servers. I am not interested in their softwares, which, from what I heard, is what I would essentially be paying for if I bought Synology device. I'd rather run VMs with various Linux distros loaded in each, and having to pay for them would be a waste for me.

Further search got me devices called NUCs, which, from my basic research, are basically small desktops, and are generally more powerful than NASes. Servers are pretty much like that too, so I supposed I can just attach disk to it, and make it into a home server. What would be the disadvantage of these as opposed to NASes, other than it won't be all-in-one (physically) solution? Direct comparisons between them were insufficient to decide.

So to summarise:
1. Are Synology NASes enough to do Docker within VMs, or are they not powerful for that?
2. Are NUCs suitable for server use? As in, would they be alright if I keep them on 24/7?
3. If possible, can you recommend me a device, whether it be as an advice or from your experience? Budget is around 600 USD (soft).

Thanked by 1greentea
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Comments

  • CalinCalin Member

    Why you don t bought HP gen 8 or Dell r720?

    Thanked by 1aaronstuder
  • CabbageCabbage Member
    edited January 14

    @Calin said:
    Why you don t bought HP gen 8 or Dell r720?

    Unless I'm mistaken, those hardwares look like they need a rack. Unfortunately, I do not have one, or the space for it (I think).

    Edit: By HP Gen 8, you must be referring to the MicroServer series, correct?

  • @Cabbage said: 2. Are NUCs suitable for server use? As in, would they be alright if I keep them on 24/7?

    Yes, I have 3 NUCS / SFF PC's I'm currently using all varying in specs, uptime of all of them is currently 90+ days, it would be higher but I moved homes.

    Look on Ebay for Dell OptiPlex 7050 & 7040's & HP Elitedesk 800 G2's you can normally get a i7 6700T with 16GB RAM & 256GB SSD for like $210 USD, if you want to go a bit more expensive, the Intel NUC unit brand new are pretty good, I'm currently running one with an i5 8529u 8GB RAM & 256GB SSD I picked up for about $450 AUD.

    Most of these devices are designed to be used as workstations & are set & forget devices a lot of the time so they're highly reliable with little to no maintenance.

    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • I have an old poweredge something something with 2 x xeon 2407v2, some random 3.5 sas disks and 16gb ram. Its a 2u, dont remember the model name, but can check up on this. If you pay for shipping, ill give it for free, or ill just trash it.

    Thanked by 2Cabbage greentea
  • henixhenix Member

    I just bought myself a Dell Optiplex 3040 couple days ago.
    I paid ~$70 for it.
    Here's a yabs.

    # ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## #
    #              Yet-Another-Bench-Script              #
    #                     v2022-12-04                    #
    # https://github.com/masonr/yet-another-bench-script #
    # ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## #
    
    Sat 31 Dec 2022 04:42:17 PM EET
    
    Basic System Information:
    ---------------------------------
    Uptime     : 1 days, 21 hours, 38 minutes
    Processor  : Intel(R) Pentium(R) CPU G4400 @ 3.30GHz
    CPU cores  : 2 @ 2275.944 MHz
    AES-NI     : ✔ Enabled
    VM-x/AMD-V : ✔ Enabled
    RAM        : 7.7 GiB
    Swap       : 977.0 MiB
    Disk       : 456.1 GiB
    Distro     : Debian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye)
    Kernel     : 5.10.0-20-amd64
    
    fio Disk Speed Tests (Mixed R/W 50/50):
    ---------------------------------
    Block Size | 4k            (IOPS) | 64k           (IOPS)
      ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ----
    Read       | 748.00 KB/s    (187) | 9.88 MB/s      (154)
    Write      | 782.00 KB/s    (195) | 10.42 MB/s     (162)
    Total      | 1.53 MB/s      (382) | 20.31 MB/s     (316)
               |                      |
    Block Size | 512k          (IOPS) | 1m            (IOPS)
      ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ----
    Read       | 33.54 MB/s      (65) | 41.32 MB/s      (40)
    Write      | 35.67 MB/s      (69) | 44.67 MB/s      (43)
    Total      | 69.22 MB/s     (134) | 85.99 MB/s      (83)
    
    iperf3 Network Speed Tests (IPv4):
    ---------------------------------
    Provider        | Location (Link)           | Send Speed      | Recv Speed      | Ping
    -----           | -----                     | ----            | ----            | ----
    Clouvider       | London, UK (10G)          | 845 Mbits/sec   | 796 Mbits/sec   | 47.6 ms
    Scaleway        | Paris, FR (10G)           | 875 Mbits/sec   | 773 Mbits/sec   | 51.7 ms
    NovoServe       | North Holland, NL (40G)   | 873 Mbits/sec   | 898 Mbits/sec   | 44.9 ms
    Uztelecom       | Tashkent, UZ (10G)        | 805 Mbits/sec   | 437 Mbits/sec   | 107 ms
    Clouvider       | NYC, NY, US (10G)         | 656 Mbits/sec   | 525 Mbits/sec   | 119 ms
    Clouvider       | Dallas, TX, US (10G)      | 602 Mbits/sec   | 345 Mbits/sec   | 153 ms
    Clouvider       | Los Angeles, CA, US (10G) | 501 Mbits/sec   | 433 Mbits/sec   | 175 ms
    
    iperf3 Network Speed Tests (IPv6):
    ---------------------------------
    Provider        | Location (Link)           | Send Speed      | Recv Speed      | Ping
    -----           | -----                     | ----            | ----            | ----
    Clouvider       | London, UK (10G)          | 851 Mbits/sec   | 721 Mbits/sec   | 47.6 ms
    Scaleway        | Paris, FR (10G)           | 722 Mbits/sec   | 774 Mbits/sec   | 46.8 ms
    NovoServe       | North Holland, NL (40G)   | 857 Mbits/sec   | 886 Mbits/sec   | 44.9 ms
    Uztelecom       | Tashkent, UZ (10G)        | 691 Mbits/sec   | 534 Mbits/sec   | 107 ms
    Clouvider       | NYC, NY, US (10G)         | 734 Mbits/sec   | 485 Mbits/sec   | 121 ms
    Clouvider       | Dallas, TX, US (10G)      | 582 Mbits/sec   | 217 Mbits/sec   | 153 ms
    Clouvider       | Los Angeles, CA, US (10G) | 589 Mbits/sec   | 175 Mbits/sec   | 168 ms
    
    Geekbench 5 Benchmark Test:
    ---------------------------------
    Test            | Value
                    |
    Single Core     | 926
    Multi Core      | 1750
    Full Test       | https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/19619711
    
    YABS completed in 12 min 53 sec
    
    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • CabbageCabbage Member
    edited January 14

    @Snusboks said:
    I have an old poweredge something something with 2 x xeon 2407v2, some random 3.5 sas disks and 16gb ram. Its a 2u, dont remember the model name, but can check up on this. If you pay for shipping, ill give it for free, or ill just trash it.

    If that's the case, I am very interested, even if it's a rack server. Guess I'll just buy a rack myself. I live in Korea, and surely, getting this delivered and getting a rack would be cheaper than getting a new one myself. Can you tell me the model number once you check up on it?
    Regardless of whether I end up accepting this deal or not (most likely due to potential shipping issue), your generosity is appreciated.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Member
    edited January 14

    You MUST account for power usage.
    I have been running blade servers at home for many years and I can tell you this: While the used hardware can get you great bang for the buck in terms of performance, the power usage would be stratospheric, at half idle, a mid-range blade typically uses about 400 Watt which, at Korean (low) tariffs, would be like 30 dollars a month only for the power. Then it comes the noise, at full power an 1U sounds like a plane taking off (I don't have that issue due to my specific circumstances, but you might need to account for it).

    A tower would still be power hungry, but it would sound much more reasonably.

    I suggest a laptop, find one with a broken display, no battery or a dead one, they are pretty cheap, stuff it with 32 GB ram and you can run Proxmox on it at 1/4 the power a real server would "eat" and at much more reasonable sound levels. You could use VLANs, no need for multiple NICs for home networks, but USB adapters could be found.

  • @Cabbage said:

    @Snusboks said:
    I have an old poweredge something something with 2 x xeon 2407v2, some random 3.5 sas disks and 16gb ram. Its a 2u, dont remember the model name, but can check up on this. If you pay for shipping, ill give it for free, or ill just trash it.

    If that's the case, I am very interested, even if it's a rack server. Guess I'll just buy a rack myself. I live in Korea, and surely, getting this delivered and getting a rack would be cheaper than getting a new one myself. Can you tell me the model number once you check up on it?
    Regardless of whether I end up accepting this deal or not (most likely due to potential shipping issue), your generosity is appreciated.

    Just checked, it is a R520. Also it has 8 x 2tb sas disks in it

    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • henixhenix Member

    @Snusboks said: 8 x 2tb

    @Snusboks said: ill give it for free, or ill just trash it.

    why?

    I'm interested!

  • ardaarda Member
    edited January 14

    I've been using an Intel NUC for like 6 years, and I never had issues. It's running 24/7. However, I use it for my personal needs. I even replaced its fan because it died on me, and it's still going strong.

    Thanked by 1kait
  • Ooooooh boy. Good luck with the noise.

  • kaitkait Member

    @arda said:
    I've been using an Intel NUC for like 6 years, and I never had issues. It's running 24/7. However, I use it for my personal needs. I even replaced its fan because it died on me, and it's still going strong.

    NUC's are the best thing ever for a small homelab where you don't need many cores or super powerful hardware. planning on buying some to put proxmox on it.

    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • @henix said:

    @Snusboks said: 8 x 2tb

    @Snusboks said: ill give it for free, or ill just trash it.

    why?

    I'm interested!

    Hard to sell locally. Also it is useless for me

  • The Dell and HP SFF computers are perfect for homelabs, tinkering, NAS duty, etc., as others have mentioned. I picked up several on Ebay and use them for everything. I prefer the Dell SFF machines, but I found some even better deals on HP SFF machines and those are fine too. The Dell SFF chasis is a little better IMO, very very easy to swap parts when needed. Great price/performance ratio. What's great is that they also usually come with a license for Windows too so if you need a quick Windows machine, just reformat and go. The Windows license usually will auto-activate. So these are super flexible for many use cases. Then reformat back to your favorite Linux distro (server or desktop) when needed.

    I run some of my SFF machines 24/7 and they've been very solid. Reasonably low idle wattage, plenty of performance when needed. If you are lucky you can buy 3+ nice SFF machines for your $600 budget that will serve you for years to come. Or at least 2 with better specs. Or 4-5 if you go with much older models with low specs.

    A typical SFF machine that I use has an i5-7500 + 16GB RAM + 500GB SSD. Works like a charm, and in fact overkill for most things I throw at it.

    If you need more hard drive bays, then I'd suggest you build your own machine, get a nice Fractal Design case which will have all the bays you need, runs pretty quiet, good reliable hardware, put whatever motherboard/CPU you need in there. Never skimp on a high-quality power supply though. I've built numerous servers this way and run 24/7, all have been reliable for all the tinkering and NAS duties you could ever want to do at home.

    I have also owned many Synology NAS units and they were great. Think of them as appliances first, that you can also do some level of tinkering with, but it's usually best to keep the tinkering to a minimum. They are excellent devices, I highly recommend them, but when I discovered little SFF machines and took the time to price out my own custom builds as well (settling in on Fractal Design cases which balance space, quality, price, and noise pretty well), I sold all my Synology units and haven't regretted it.

    Have fun while you're doing it. It's amazing what you can do these days with very little money if you are creative, especially with used hardware.

    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • stefemanstefeman Member
    edited January 14

    Don't get HDDs, you will thank me later. It's not white noise, and it will drive you insane in a single night.

  • @stefeman said: Don't get HDDs

    Might be used for backups.

  • @gdnotme said:

    @stefeman said: Don't get HDDs

    Might be used for backups.

    Have fun sleeping: https://voca.ro/1aV05oCbZWpg

    It's not the noise really, its the random clicking that can be heard from rooms apart.

  • @stefeman said:
    Don't get HDDs, you will thank me later. It's not white noise, and it will drive you insane in a single night.

    Put the server in a different room, and if you are doing a custom home server build (instead of buying a used server), buy a case with noise dampening materials built-in as well. Noise can be greatly reduced. But yes, if you are keeping the home server in a common area, an array of hard drives can be very noisy indeed!

  • YABS of my HP Elitedesk 800 G2 paid about $270 AUD for this.

    Sun 15 Jan 2023 12:24:23 AM AEST
    
    Basic System Information:
    ---------------------------------
    Uptime     : 2 days, 5 hours, 10 minutes
    Processor  : Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6700T CPU @ 2.80GHz
    CPU cores  : 8 @ 2800.000 MHz
    AES-NI     : ✔ Enabled
    VM-x/AMD-V : ✔ Enabled
    RAM        : 7.6 GiB
    Swap       : 7.0 GiB
    Disk       : 479.2 GiB
    Distro     : Debian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye)
    Kernel     : 5.15.83-1-pve
    
    fio Disk Speed Tests (Mixed R/W 50/50):
    ---------------------------------
    Block Size | 4k            (IOPS) | 64k           (IOPS)
      ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ---- 
    Read       | 37.80 MB/s    (9.4k) | 141.56 MB/s   (2.2k)
    Write      | 37.89 MB/s    (9.4k) | 142.31 MB/s   (2.2k)
    Total      | 75.70 MB/s   (18.9k) | 283.87 MB/s   (4.4k)
               |                      |                     
    Block Size | 512k          (IOPS) | 1m            (IOPS)
      ------   | ---            ----  | ----           ---- 
    Read       | 132.76 MB/s    (259) | 209.44 MB/s    (204)
    Write      | 139.82 MB/s    (273) | 223.39 MB/s    (218)
    Total      | 272.58 MB/s    (532) | 432.84 MB/s    (422)
    
    Geekbench 5 Benchmark Test:
    ---------------------------------
    Test            | Value                         
                    |                               
    Single Core     | 921                           
    Multi Core      | 3170                          
    Full Test       | https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/19882795
    
    YABS completed in 4 min 47 sec
    
    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • davidedavide Member
    edited January 14

    I've run my own dual socket workstation for a decade but with electricity at the current price it has become anti-economical in Italy: nowadays it is cheaper to rent an instance from Azure cloud with the same CPU performance and better network than to run my workstation at home, solely considering electricity, ignoring the costs of initial purchase and occasional replacements.

  • jsgjsg Member, Resident Benchmarker

    For the kind of tinkering use you seem to have in mind I'd advise against both cheap 2nd hand rack servers and NUCs. The former are very loud and consume lots of electrical power (and their footprint isn't exactly small), the latter are too small (e.g. max. 1 SSD) and are lacking flexibility.

    So my advice is to look for a small "mini server" (e.g. IBM/Lenovo) with maybe even a 5.25" (originally for DVD but you also can put e.g. a tape drive in it) and min. 2 (and better 4) 3.5" and/or 2.5" drive slots, preferably 4 RAM slots and min. 1 halfway decent (>= 4x) PCIe slot.

    Also (potentially in addition) also have a look at HP thin clients. Older ones (but still 4core) are cheap and somewhat versatile (which most Dell/Wyse thin clients are not). I just recently got myself a couple of T630 with 8GB RAM, 128 GB M2 Sata (with even a 2nd but smaller (2242) slot) for, in my case, testing diverse Unices. They draw very little power are silent (no fans at all) and "damn fast enough".

    One "mini server" plus n x thin clients offer a lot, incl. plenty flexibitily and low power usage/cost and can, just as an aside, serve as a home NAS and/or backup too.

    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • @beanman109 said:
    YABS of my HP Elitedesk 800 G2 paid about $270 AUD for this.

    Yep, those HP SFF machines are great options!

  • SpecsblueSpecsblue Member
    edited January 14

    I was looking for the same as you do. I also checked Intel NUC, Thinkcentre from Lenovo and some more. Now I'm using Minis forum, good small mini PC's with a very nice price & performance ratio.

    I prefer AMD because of the wonderful power and NVME. 2.5 GBit Ports, two pieces.
    Check out thier website
    https://www.minisforum.com/front/product/amd

    And compare prices on amazon, bestbuy or wherever. Definitely worth it.

    And for OS you should definetly check UNRAID. Best choice for home Server, you have a App Store with a lot 1-click Docker Containers, KVM Machines, almost everything you like you can do with it. For me, it is a blessing to have it.
    https://unraid.net/

    Thanked by 1Cabbage
  • @Specsblue said:
    And for OS you should definetly check UNRAID.

    +1 for UNRAID. Very good option for home server, flexible environment, good community, reasonable price for license.

  • CabbageCabbage Member
    edited January 15

    Looks like SFFs (or similar, like @jsg mentioned) seems to be the best choice, in terms of home use, price and flexibility.

    Thank you all for the suggestions.

    @jlet88 said:

    @Specsblue said:
    And for OS you should definetly check UNRAID.

    +1 for UNRAID. Very good option for home server, flexible environment, good community, reasonable price for license.

    Yup, that's one of the things I had in mind to run. Maybe it's just that I'm not good with tech, but installing custom OS hasn't been smooth when done on VPS. Really looking forward to installing it once I get a chance.

  • @Cabbage said:
    Looks like SFFs (or similar, like @jsg mentioned) seems to be the best choice, in terms of home use, price and flexibility.

    Thank you all for the suggestions.

    @jlet88 said:

    @Specsblue said:
    And for OS you should definetly check UNRAID.

    +1 for UNRAID. Very good option for home server, flexible environment, good community, reasonable price for license.

    Yup, that's one of the things I had in mind to run. Maybe it's just that I'm not good with tech, but installing custom OS hasn't been smooth when done on VPS. Really looking forward to installing it once I get a chance.

    If your primary plan is to run UNRAID, then it's just a question of how many hard drives you want to attach to the machine. Great thing about UNRAID is that the license is not tied to a specific machine, but rather to a USB stick, so you can start on something really simple, try it out, get comfortable with it, and then move it to another machine later if you need to upgrade hardware with more bays, etc...

    I've done that several times, run it on a variety of hardware, and I currently have two licenses of UNRAID, one of which is attached to a Dell SFF machine like the one I described above in a previous post, and another attached to a custom built machine with many hard drives. Both work beautifully with UNRAID.

    Once I saw what I could do with UNRAID and eventually installing various distros and configuring them however I wanted, I no longer had any need for Synology. But Synology is great for those that don't want to bother with all this, and it does its job well. But it sounds like you're more of an UNRAID kind of person, and the risk is very low to try it out -- so go for it and enjoy.

  • AXYZEAXYZE Member

    Get Dell/Fujitsu/Lenovo SFF desktop with i3/i5 4gen.
    Low power usage, PSU with 92/95% efficiency, designed to run for extended periods of time in not-ideal conditions, very cheap, replacement parts easily available.

    But also calculate cost of power,
    You can get Kimsufi/SyS box for 7-20euro which is basically electricity pricing, you'll get public IPv4, they replace faulty parts for free.

    But if you want to do it for tinkering... you can install Debian on old Android phone, but you would need to connect power to battery pins to bypass battery as it will fail very fast on 24/7 charge. You can connect external SSD via usb otg.
    Galaxy S8 costs like $30 with broken screen and it scores 1487 multicore Geekbench 5 snd you get 4GB ram. Pretty nice. Power consumption is like 2-4W.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Member
    edited January 16

    @AXYZE said: you can install Debian on old Android phone, but you would need to connect power to battery pins to bypass battery as it will fail very fast on 24/7 charge. You can connect external SSD via usb otg.
    Galaxy S8 costs like $30 with broken screen and it scores 1487 multicore Geekbench 5 snd you get 4GB ram. Pretty nice. Power consumption is like 2-4W.

    in that case, this:

    offers regular USB, HDMI, ETH port, AV, IR and you can run straight from the card, dont even need to remove the Android it comes with. Same power usage (more or less) and similar price new. 2 GB ram, albeit versions with 4 exist at a bit higher price.
    I use a couple, one for a ftp/smb/nfs share and one as entry point to route everything over IPv4 in house (port forwarding, ACL, VPN). Got them for free, second had, one 1 GB, the other 2.

    Thanked by 1darkimmortal
  • AXYZEAXYZE Member
    edited January 16

    @Maounique said:

    @AXYZE said: you can install Debian on old Android phone, but you would need to connect power to battery pins to bypass battery as it will fail very fast on 24/7 charge. You can connect external SSD via usb otg.
    Galaxy S8 costs like $30 with broken screen and it scores 1487 multicore Geekbench 5 snd you get 4GB ram. Pretty nice. Power consumption is like 2-4W.

    in that case, this:

    offers regular USB, HDMI, ETH port, AV, IR and you can run straight from the card, dont even need to remove the Android it comes with. Same power usage (more or less) and similar price new. 2 GB ram, albeit versions with 4 exist at a bit higher price.
    I use a couple, one for a ftp/smb/nfs share and one as entry point to route everything over IPv4 in house (port forwarding, ACL, VPN). Got them for free, second had, one 1 GB, the other 2.

    TV set-boxes are indeed nice choice, but I'm not sure about their reliability 24/7 as I already had similiar box (TX3 mini) waaay back and saw that they cut corners on everything (including power supply). Could you comment on this? How long do you use one 24/7?

  • MaouniqueMaounique Member
    edited January 16

    @AXYZE said: How long do you use one 24/7?

    Only one I use 24/7, the "home guardian" one I use only when I am out, but my problem is not the box itself, but the flash card. I use samsung ones and optimizing writing a lot after I had 3 failed already. Fortunately, the last ones are holding for almost a year, I think.

    24/7 is ok, I have stabilized power from USB specialized power supply.
    That being said, I have no idea why you think a phone would do better running hot a job it was not designed for.

    As I see it, phone and set-top box pros and cons vs x86 platforms:
    1. Phone/box use way less power than any x86 equivalent box;
    2. No noise at all;
    3. Learning new things for many people as ARM platforms have their quirks;
    4. Ideal for a set and forget kind of scenario, albeit that is more like for a set-top box because the phone would likely not last long (I had a broken display one used nonstop and it failed within months);
    5. Very cheap, mostly free as opportunities to get them from friends and family are not rare.

    Cons:
    1. Phone would run hot and doesnt have much in terms of connectivity;
    2. No disk, albeit USB 2.5" ones could easily be added to the set top box as I did;
    3. CPU comparatively low power compared to most x86 alternatives;
    4. Phone is full of proprietary peripherals (set top box in a much lesser degree) and running linux on those might not be so straight forward, albeit specially tailored distros exist for some phones and definitely for some set-top boxes, like the x96 mini, albeit there are hundreds of versions out there so it might be harder for newbies.

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