So as you can imagine and if you are actually here probably know already... I love technology. It is something that definitely gives me joy, I love to tinker, to build, just explore the almost endless possibilities. So for my birthday my lovely partner got me computer parts to build a new server to house my various experiments and other associated technological toys. There is just so much satisfaction in putting these parts together you have sourced, and to see it working.
I spent quite a bit of time actually researching what parts would be best for my server at home. I didn't need something massively overpowered but some grunt would help in both server media (TV Shows + Movies) as well as more technical objectives such as ad-blocking (via PiHole), network control (DHCP etc), local file storage (such as backups) as well as various test vm environments. I quickly realised I could spend the rest of my life looking at hardware and decided to just pull the trigger.
- Asus ROG Maximus XI Extreme
- Intel Core i9-9900K
- 2 x Samsung EVO 970 plus NVMe M.2 SSD 500GB
- Corsair AX1000 Power Supply
- Thermaltake Riing Fans both for CPU and case
- Thermaltake Core W200 Case
As you can see it is a fairly high end machine but I have made some compromises in overall ram expansion availability (max 64gb) as well as total number of SATA ports available (for HDDs). Having said that I am quite happy with the current performance profiles but more on that later.
I do love putting together a new PC and this one was no exception. The Thermaltake Case is a monster and requires building. It is extremely modular and completely customisable. Here is the product page, it'll give you an idea as to exactly what's involved (Thermaltake). I took some photos at various stages of the build process just to showcase exactly how big and spacious this case really is.
As you can see by the photos it is a bit of a process to actually build it but it will give heaps of space for the future in terms of storage space and other enhancements. One of the other excellent features of this case is the ability to have two motherboards in the one case.
Server Operating System (OS)
There are numerous operating systems for a server like I wanted to build. Windows 10 or a Windows server variant, some sort of Linux Distro though having played around with both Unraid as well as FreeNAS the capabilities of the last two are just too strong to go past. They are slightly different to a normal OS like Windows 10, ChromeOS or MacOS - It is essentially a neutral layer that you install virtual machines (VMs), Dockers and other apps onto. FreeNAS and Unraid are lightweight and are almost infinitely expandable. I went with Unraid over FreeNAS for a number of reasons but their Docker support was more to my liking. Furthermore, Unraid runs off a USB rather than a hard drive, maximising my ability to add drives for storage. Adding to this unlike FreeNAS where you can lose your entire data pool, Unraid data drives can be read by any modern computer. I won't go into the technical details of how Unraid datapools work but there are many videos and how-to guides out there but suffice to say storing non-critical data is perfectly fine. It is still recommended you have a backup plan in place either cloud or on-site but that is a story for another day. Having said all that there is a cost for Unraid compared to FreeNAS which as the name suggests is free, though it is quite reasonable.
The server has been running for about a month and the performance has been quite good. I run Plex for my media consumption needs and so far it has run without a problem, barely taxing the server. I am investigating running Rstudio server to help with my data analysis needs and it is looking promising. I, of course, couldn't go past adding some fancy LED's to the unit.
If you have any questions about any of the components or the build process in general, please hit me up on any of the channels located here.