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Cheap Solaris Server with ZFS – Round 2

March 8th, 2007 1 comment

The new parts are on order now. I ran into some issues with the previous gear, particularly with the Intel integrated graphics adapter and the onboard LAN. I decided to go with an AMD setup because it’s been reported to work with Solaris 10. I chose the Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard, which even has an entry on the official HCL, even if there are scant details available there. I expect the video and the LAN to be recognized on install so I’ll be disappointed if that doesn’t work out.

The one departure I took was to save $20 and go with GeIL memory rather than the Corsair XMS sticks I was looking at. I’ve been buying Corsair for a couple of years now, but the good reviews on newegg.com convinced me to try the GeIL. The ones I picked come with racing orange heat spreaders, so they have to be fast, right? It’s still DDR2 800 (PC2-6400) RAM and should run at 4-4-4-12 if I push the voltage to 2.1. One of the things I like about Asus boards is the easy tweaking for things like this.

The main reason that I went with this setup was to really try and push the cheapest build possible to get close to 1TB of raw storage. The M2NPV-VM has 2 IDE ports and 4 SATA ports. I’ve got four 250GB SATA drives for storage and a 120GB IDE drive for the boot volume. I’ve also got a spare 250GB IDE drive (in an external enclosure at the moment) so I could potentially hook up 1.25TB of raw storage. That should yield 1TB in a RAIDZ pool (with single parity). So here’s where I am with the gear right now…

  • $84 – Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard
  • $95 – AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+
  • -$10 – combo discount on CPU/MB
  • $84 -GeIL 2x512MB DDR2 800 RAM
  • $70 – Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 ATX12V 500W Power Supply
  • -$30 – rebate on PSU
  • $260 – 4x250GB SATA drives
  • $15 – shipping
  • Free – spare tower case, PS2 keyboard, mouse, SATA cables, Arctic Silver, IDE boot drive, etc.

So $568 total (assuming I can still drive a calculator) for 1000GB of storage. Maybe 1.2TB if I throw in the other drive (I already have a 500GB external – do I really need another one?). I would’ve been closer to $500 if I’d gone with something like the Celeron D or the Athlon 64 (non X2) and a slightly cheaper motherboard (w/ slower, cheaper RAM) but I figured the extra dough will save me some hassle when I’m all through with this. Considering that’s only $100 more than the external 1TB drives, I think I’m doing pretty well.

I think I’ll post some pics this time when I build the server. I always like seeing other people’s builds so I thought I could share mine with the world. In particular, I want to show some pics of the power supply (I know, I know – super geeky) because I really like the modular cable design on this unit.

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