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Is repurposing old Hardware as a Server "worth" it?

So, i recently upgraded to a Ryzen 3600. With that, i have some hardware left over.
In my specific case, an i5 6500, 16G of RAM and a Mainboard for it.

Would it be worth it to repurpose this as a home server? Some things that might play a role here:

  • I already have a QNAP NAS
  • I have no clue what the realistic power consumption on the 6500 is
  • I work in IT, so having something to play with would be nice

I’d have to buy an mATX Case, a PSU and that’s probably it. I have an OS SSD left over and will probably just throw some random HDD’s in to have something to play with. No clue if it would replace my NAS.

From my Research, at idle, the System would pull arround 10W, depending on how many Drives i throw in. Maybe more if i go with a cheaper Bronze PSU. At full tilt this could go up to 70 or 80W. So, if i go with the middle, this could be around 80 bucks a year in Electricity.
Am i just better off getting a more powerfull SBC at this point? If i factor in a really cheap mATX case and PSU, this could be quiet pricey. I might be able to also use it as an HTPC though, as the integrated GPU on the i5 might be enough to handle that, letting it pull double duty.

So, would you run this as a “Testserver” and “Playground”, or just don’t bother because running it 24/7 would be expensive?

If you’d run it, what budget option for Case and PSU would you recommend? The smaller the better. Max i’d need is 4x 3.5 inch drives.

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Yes.
No.
Maybe.

Considerations like whether to eat pizza or not to eat pizza.
The decision is entirely yours. Since you have it, make yourself a test machine. If QNAP is for some reason not ok then replace it. If you have a piece of internet connection then make a machine for fl1t to play with.

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You can get cases for like $30-40 and PSU for similar,

When you say you work “in IT” if you do courses, having the extra box might be useful for testing, practice and running VM’s

I don’t know if the 6700 has the vt-d / virtualisation parts,

You don’t need to run the machine 24/7 either.

though I would say spend a bit more on the PSU, and have it as a backup for your main- even if you don’t need it for 7-8 years, it doesn’t really fade in value, and if you need it, you have it…

Yes, of course it makes sense, though, as always - what do you want to use it for? Here are a few suggestions:

  • A self-hosted web server to test web development
  • A smart home controller (light switches and a whole lot of other things)
  • An HTPC / Tivo, though those are getting less and less important
  • Toybox server to play around with and practice new things on (like a new Linux distro, Mumble server or whatever have you)

At the end of the day, you decide if it is worth it, but there are a few things you can do with it. It is also o.k. to put it away in the attic or invest in a case + PSU and sell it as a functioning computer for $250 or so.

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Ok, i’ll elaborate a bit:
What i would definitly use it for:

  • Network Storage. My Qnap is 2Bay only and nearing full. This would allow me to throw more HDD’s at the Problem rather than going wiht bigger, more expensive drives.
  • Plex Server. Currently running on Qnap, but not as performant as i’d like
  • Nextcloud. Single User only. The Raspi or Qnap just don’t have the grunt for that
  • Docker stuff. Mostly for the things i’m planning to do anyways, but also to play around a bit for work.
  • Random selfhosted stuff (just playing around with some of the things that are out there.)

I’m not planning to run a Hypervisor on this. Virtualization isn’t a major thing i’d need. I’d probably just install Debian or Fedora and build from there, though FreeNAS and ZFS certainly looks interesting.

My HTPC needs are well taken care of by my Nvidia shield. I also have a 1050ti lying around i could throw in for a Living room Gaming rig. But tbh, having a 24/7 Server and Gaming rig in one isn’t what i’m looking for in terms of Power Usage.

So yeah, i’ll probably get a cheap case and PSU, set it up and see how it works out. Can always switch it off if i don’t need it.

I’m still interested in case suggestions. I don’t have an attic, and live in a smallish flat. So no decent way to hide it. The smaller the better.

In that situation I would use the components to build new NAS. It sounds like you don’t need new nas solution immediately, so here’s good opportunity for you to first test out FreeNAS and other os options for new NAS box and see what fits your needs.

If you go for a NAS then how many drives you want to include? I tried to look but didn’t notice any cheap mATX cases with lots of 3.5 drive bays. Maybe some cheaper regular ATX case with lots of drive bays?

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Definitly. FreeNAS looks nice, i’m just not sure how flexible it is when it comes to putting docker and random other hosted projects on it.

Tough one. I’m thinking 4x3.5 at a minimum. One 2.5 for OS, but that can be tucked anywhere. Maybe a second 2.5 for cache. I have one 120G that does nothing atm and a 256G i would pull out of my PC. Additionally, i already have the corsair H80 as a cooler. No Problem to get a 20 bucks air cooler, but reusing the corsair would be nicer. So, one 120mm fan mount would be appreciated too. And yes, at that point, we’re basically at midi tower teritory only.

Come to think of it, my old case might still be down in the basement :thinking: It was a corsair air 240 which was, what this rig was in before i moved to the Fractal Define Mini. Might have to dig a bit. But that would definitly fit all the hardware. Just not sure where i could hide that huge thing :wink:

Ok. I guess i’ll do some planning later when i’m home and come back with a better idea. Might be the case that all i need is a PSU. Man i have switched a lot of hardware and have no clue what of it is still arround :joy: I also had a Bitfenix Prodigy at some point and a corsair 200r. Both of which are probably gone, but i’m only 90% sure on that.

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If space is premium, I have my eyes set on a little project from the SFF forums that might fit your bill;

It only supports two 3.5" bays, but you can stack something like eight 2.5" in there, plus an m.2 as a boot drive. It’s $185 + shipping though, so more expensive than you might like it to be, and it’s not available quite yet (my best guesstimate is orders arrive in mid October, case ships late November / Early december)

Something a little cheaper and more available might be this?

http://www.lian-li.com/pc-m25

I turned my old 7700k into an unraid server. 10/10 would do again. I’ve replaced my nas, and a server and rolled it into one machine.

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I don’t know about you, but for me, IPMI (and its OEM derivatives) has saved my bacon and has been extremely helpful an inordinate amount of times.

Even mounting ISOs at 500KB/sec from an HTML console from my desktop has been preferable than going to the next room next to my (OK loud) server, having to stand up, connect monitors and keyboards etc.

A dual 8 core HP DL360e or DL380e G8 only costs around 100 bucks you know and the DDR3 ECC RDIMM RAM for it is dead cheap. Granted, it consumes nearly 70W at idle and you definitely need some sound deadening between it and yourself but the possibilities are endless and the value for money insane.

Edit: IMO, any server type machine (NAS, Plex server or whatever) needs to have IPMI, especially if you spend time away from it as I do and have to wake it up remotely, troubleshoot networking, BIOS or any low level problem that SSH or remote desktop would not allow you to do so if you could not wake it up remotely or if something went wrong with its networking, drivers, etc. I have had Wake-On-Lan not work for me so many times that I am looking at DIY IPMI solutions for machines that I own that don’t have IPMI.

hardware you have is better than hardware you dont have

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Here’s a scenario I had at work a year ago that may help your decision.

For about 5 years a Sun Microsystems server sat in our server room doing nothing. On a slow day I want in booted into it and found it was blank, with 16 cores (2x Xeons) 16gb and 4 256gb SSDs in RAID 6 with a PCI raid controller.

After raiding our discard pile and junk we made it into a behemoth with 16 cores, 1tb (4SSDs) with 40TBS (5x 8tb drives) in ZFS with 2 ssds being the cache targets and the other 2 being root/boot.

Needless to say it has sat unused for over a year due to lack of time, and any real purpose or need for the machine. We already have a local Vmware cluster and some cloud servers so we really had no need for it other than to fuck around.

There were plans for a Nas, virtualization box, developement/coding box. But honestly it’s like the 10th time I’ve seen old hardware and revamped it and not done shit with it. Reduce clutter unless totally necessary.

Hope that helps lol

That’s more than my i5 at Full tilt. Plus 100 bucks is more than even a new PSU AND Case would wost.
Since i live in a 3 Room Apartment without a Server Room, it’ll likely sit under my desk. So, a cheap USB switch and hooking it up to the second input of my Monitor should be fine for the two or three times i need actual physical access.

Sure, if you already have other Server around doing stuff and can see why that is. A lot like i like collecting old Laptops i never do anything with.
This will be my first “Home Server” though, so usecase is already there.

If it doesn’t work out and my QNAP is good enough, i just switch it off and give it away.

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It depends. :man_shrugging:

It depends because of these few of things:
1. Having a test system for migration tests or testing particular updates with software before deployment in an enterprise environment.

I work for the FAA and we are always testing new software with different software packages, so in my use case, it would be beneficial to have something that isn’t attached to anything mission critical to potential “wreck havoc” to our stability.

2. Using it as a potential plex server.

I personally use an older Xeon on a x79 platform as my UnRaid/File Share/FREEipa/Plex machine for everything media/administration related at home. It’s really awesome to have it to play with and to learn different technologies and figuring out popular software and how they work to help me understand it in the real world (my job). However, to specifically apply that to the Plex side of things, Plex doesn’t use a lot of ram and necessarily require a lot of horsepower in terms of CPU because of the integrated GPU inside of the 6500. You can easily host streams with a mix of 720p and 1080p trans-coding, not to mention streams of direct play since that uses the least amount of power in terms of compute.

3. Using it as a play thing for WHATEVER!

You can use this to fire up different OS’s because, why not? (It’s something that I find fun, but some may not so it may not be for you). The experience of doing this gives you a great well-roundness in the knowledge you can acquire from doing this. You can become a better IT person when you expose yourself to different things. Knowledge is power right? lol

Regardless of what you decide, keep in mind that you don’t need to have it on 24/7. That is your decision to do so and if you don’t want to, then that’s fine too. Depends on what your inspirations are for it. You have it with really no cost other than space in your house at this point and you can get second hand parts pretty cheaply to get it running. So, why not? Have some fun with it.

having a couple extra machines around comes in handy when (in the instance of a server) redundancy with machines is great when failures arise as you have a machine ready to take its place immediately with little preparation.
spare machines can be used for distro and software testing as long as you take into consideration the limits of the spare machine.
I have one spare that’s dedicated to forensic copying of evidence drives and recovery purposes.
( it"snot connected to any network to prevent cross contamination of either)
but it’s up to you to use or get rid of them as you choose!