To widen the capabilities of my home network, I incorporated a small home server. The HP N40L Microserver was chosen due to its low power consumption (average 44watts~ over 1 week using power meter) , low noise output (1x 120mm fan, 1x 40mm PSU fan) and for its eco but robust AMD Turion dual core processor that enables multiple virtual machines running their own software to run simultaneously.
HP Microserver N40L – £239.99 (£100 cashback offer)
Corsair Memory XMS3 8GB DDR3 1333 Mhz CAS 9 Dual Channel – £33.36
XFX Silently Cooled HD 6450 Low Profile AMD Radeon Graphics Card – 1GB – £29.98
Samsung F4 2TB 5400RPM Hard Disk Drive – Already Owned
Samsung F1 1TB 7200RPM Hard Disk Drive – Already Owned
Samsung F3 1TB 7200RPM Hard Disk Drive – Already Owned
Total Cost: £203.33 (after cashback)
Additional to the above specifications, the system came with a 250GB disk drive pre-installed which will be partitioned into four drives for future virtual machine installations. The pre-installed 2GB of ECC memory was replaced with the Non ECC 8GB kit and a 24 hour Memtest86+ full scan was carried out with zero errors to check that system stability was optimal. The server can only occupy low profile add-on cards however the ATI 6450 HD graphics came supplied with a low profile bracket which removes the unneeded VGA port but still provides full functionality. Additionally the graphics card has HDMI output which allows sound to be carried in this way (no other audio output source) and supports video transcoding which was vital for the servers purposes.
The home server is currently running Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter as its primary operating system and is serving the following purposes:
- Media Server – stream movies/music to PC’s/Laptops/Xbox/PS3/iPads/iPhones and android handsets on the network.
- Active Directory – manage user accounts and permissions across the network.
- Virtual Machine Box – for testing out software or linux distros.
- DNS Server – running a home for grouped computers on the network.
- File Server/ NAS – Over 4TB data capacity available to selected network users.
- Print network – Connected to a printer for all connected peers to use 24/7.
- Computer Backup – Full system images can be automatically configured and stored.
Future planned uses will include.
- Web Server – existing solution adequate for current uses.
- Virtual Private Network – To connect to the home network from any location.
- Home Security – I have already experimented with webcam 7 which allows IP cameras to be installed but currently lack the recording hardware.
- DVR (PVR) – Install a TV card into remaining PCI-E expansion slot to record TV shows for playback on connected devices at a later date.
Future upgrades will include a solid state disk drive for the operating system to increase access speed and read/write speeds and a PCI-E x1 Dual/Quad Tuner TV Card
Update [December 2012] – Due to the current network layout in my current home, the signal strength and wireless range struggled at times when streaming video files over the network. This has since been eradicated by installing 2x 500mbps power-line adapters and a spare wireless n+ router which is now serving as an access point – article to follow.
Update [January 2013] – To allow faster file transfer speeds between wired devices a gigabit switch has been implemented to alleviate the previous 100 Mbit transfer speed restriction – article to follow.